March 14, 2005

Links for March 14, 2005

Downloading Democracy (National Interest)
Robert Conquest: "Everywhere we always find the human urges to preserve at least a measure of personal autonomy, on the one hand, and to form communal relationships, on the other. It is the latter that tends to get out of hand. To form a national or other such grouping without forfeiting liberties and without generating venom against other such groupings--such is the problem before the world. To cope with it, we need careful thinking, balanced understanding, open yet unservile minds."

The Two Totalitarianisms (London Review of Books)
Slavoj Zizek: "Till now, to put it straightforwardly, Stalinism hasn’t been rejected in the same way as Nazism. We are fully aware of its monstrous aspects, but still find Ostalgie acceptable: you can make Goodbye Lenin!, but Goodbye Hitler! is unthinkable. Why?"

Oy Vitae (Slate)
Jews vs. Catholics in the stem cell debate.

Kasparov Quits Chess in Biggest Gambit Yet (Moscow Times)
I had a feeling this was going to happen: Garry Kasparov, the world's top chess player for two decades and considered by many the greatest player in history, has announced his retirement from professional chess in an ambitious gambit and vowed to devote his energy to battling what he called the "dictatorship" of President Vladimir Putin. You go, Garry!

Why it is Hard to Share the Wealth (New Scientist)
Are economic disparities a law of nature? Jenny Hogan: "In 1897, a Paris-born engineer named Vilfredo Pareto showed that the distribution of wealth in Europe followed a simple power-law pattern, which essentially meant that the extremely rich hogged most of a nation's wealth (New Scientist print edition, 19 August 2000). Economists later realised that this law applied to just the very rich, and not necessarily to how wealth was distributed among the rest. Now it seems that while the rich have Pareto's law to thank, the vast majority of people are governed by a completely different law. Physicist Victor Yakovenko of the University of Maryland in College Park, US, and his colleagues analysed income data from the US Internal Revenue Service from 1983 to 2001. They found that while the income distribution among the super-wealthy - about 3% of the population - does follow Pareto's law, incomes for the remaining 97% fitted a different curve - one that also describes the spread of energies of atoms in a gas."

Mass extinction comes every 62 million years, UC physicists discover
Uh, oh. Seeing as the last major event happend 65 million years ago, I guess that means we're living on borrowed time...

Evolution as a Team Sport (Rushkoff Blog)

Japan Embraces New Generation of Robots (MSNBC)
The Japanese are investing billions of dollars to develop humanoid robots that can take part in everyday life.

No Plan B for Outer Space (Economist)
America's plans for humans to explore space may cause it to relax its laws on weapons proliferation.

Pulling Back the Curtain on the Mercy Killing of Newborns (LA Times)
Ethics expert Peter Singer urges us to think twice before decrying Dutch doctors' report.

The Nature of Normal Human Variety
Armand Leroi discusses the science behind what makes as all so profoundly different.

Getting to know Michael Griffin (The Space Review)
Griffin’s comments to date suggest that he may want to speed up the pace of the Vision for Space Exploration, potentially at the expense of the shuttle and ISS.

UN, Jimmy Carter Say Time Is Ripe to End Hunger (National Geographic News)
The time is now for the richest nations to share their cash, food, and knowledge with the hundreds of millions of people enduring extreme poverty and hunger, according a recent UN report.

Electronic Prescribing Systems: Making It Safer to Take Your Medicine? (RAND)
Electronic prescribing systems may greatly reduce medication errors and help to maximize patient safety and health.

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