YIAAL writes: Bob Zubrin — probably better known to Slashdot readers for as President of the Mars Society and inventor of the Mars Direct mission architecture — has turned his sights to energy with a new book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. Zubrin's plan isn't especially driven by new technology — instead he calls for a requirement that all new cars sold in the United States be flexfuel vehicles capable of running on gasoline, ethanol, or methanol in any combination. That technology already exists, and Zubrin says it would cost about $100 per vehicle to deploy. This would create competition among fuels and fuel producers, and allow alternative fuels to compete without having to set up a nationwide infrastructure of pumps and stations. (Plus, you can make methanol out of kudzu.) Zubrin is interviewed here on the book, and here's an article about his plan from The Register, and another item from MSNBC's Alan Boyle. Zubrin makes a strong argument, and it would be nice to see people asking the Presidential candidates about his plan.
YIAAL writes: "Two lawyers from the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology look at the Sony BMG Rootkit debacle: "The Article first addresses the market-based rationales that likely influenced Sony BMG's deployment of these DRM systems and reveals that even the most charitable interpretation of Sony BMG's internal strategizing demonstrates a failure to adequately value security and privacy. After taking stock of the then-existing technological environment that both encouraged and enabled the distribution of these protection measures, the Article examines law, the third vector of influence on Sony BMG's decision to release flawed protection measures into the wild, and argues that existing doctrine in the fields of contract, intellectual property, and consumer protection law fails to adequately counter the technological and market forces that allowed a self-interested actor to inflict these harms on the public."
Yes, under "even the most charitable interpretation" it was a lousy idea. The article also suggests some changes to the DMCA to protect consumers from this sort of intrusive, and security-undermining, technique in the future."
YIAAL writes: Claudia Rosett reports on the Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro to the effect that the United Nations is looking "to confiscate management of the World Wide Web and turn it over to the same grand conclave of UN potentates whose members include the web-censoring likes of dissident-jailing China, monk-murdering Burma, terrorist-sponsoring bomb-making Iran, and 2008 members-elect of the Security Council, Libya and Vietnam." Sounds bad. Proceedings are being webcast at this link, so you can watch and make up your own mind.
YIAAL writes: Indian journalist Amit Varma reports that Mumbai's police are requiring Internet cafes to install keystroke loggers, which will capture every keystroke by users and turn that information over to the government. Buy things online, and the underpaid Indian police will have your credit card number. "Will these end up getting sold in a black market somewhere? Not unlikely."
YIAAL writes: We're hearing more talk about videogame addiction again, but Star-Tribune columnist James Lileks isn't having any of it: "If everyone who was addicted to games spent six hours in front of the TV every night, what would we call them? Right: normal. . . . Every kid has a misfit stage, unless they're a pearly-toothed Class President type. Every kid spends some time in a fantasy world. In the 50s they worried terribly about comic books, and the effect they had on tender minds; kids were getting hooked on the gore and horror. It's always something. The difference today: we develop names and syndromes and diagnoses, which somehow makes basic human behavior seem like a mechanism we can fine-tune back to perfection." How about less social-engineering and more leaving people alone?