trbdavies writes: Reporting from the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) gene-editing summit in d.c., the Washington Post quotes Harvard genetics professor George Church as expressing "confidence that in just five or six years he will be able to reverse the aging process in human beings." He says: “A scenario is, everyone takes gene therapy — not just curing rare diseases like cystic fibrosis, but diseases that everyone has, like aging,” CISPR is a powerful technology, but many at the summit have expressed caution about both the ethics and the feasibility of using it to cure disease. The story quotes Klaus Rajewsky, of the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine saying “We have become masters in the art of manipulating genes, but our understanding of their function and interaction is far more limited.”
trbdavies writes: "Only in San Francisco" used to refer to issues like whether public nudity should be restricted to certain hours of the day. Now I hear it most often in connection with the interplay between the city and tech companies. SF Weekly reports on one such development: "Anyone who's visited San Francisco for 35 minutes knows that easy parking is a rare find. Enter Paolo Dobrowolny, an Italian tech bro who decided San Francisco was the perfect spot to test out his new experiment. Here's how it works: You find a parking spot, revel a little, let Monkey Parking know where you're located, and watch the bidding begin. Finally, give your spot to the wealthiest victim willing to pay the highest price for your spot. Drive away that much richer. "
trbdavies writes: Associated Press reports: "President Dilma Rousseff ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to U.S. tech companies such as Facebook and Google. The leader is so angered by the espionage that on Tuesday she postponed next month’s scheduled trip to Washington, where she was to be honored with a state dinner." Among Brazil's plans are a domestic encrypted email service, laying its own fiber optic cable to Europe, requiring services like Facebook and Google to store data generated by Brazilians on servers located in Brazil, and pushing for "international rules on privacy and security in hardware and software during the U.N. General Assembly meeting later this month."
trbdavies writes: "In "Living Under Drones" (http://livingunderdrones.org/), investigators from Stanford and NYU Law Schools report on interviews with 130 people in Pakistan about U.S.-led drone attacks there, including 69 survivors and family members of victims. The report affirms Bureau of Investigative Journalism numbers that count "474 to 884 civilian deaths since 2004, including 176 children" while "only about 2% of drone casualties are top militant leaders" (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-drone-study-20120925,0,5793737.story). It also argues that the attacks violate international law and are counterproductive, stating: "Evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/25/drone-attacks-pakistan-counterproductive-report)."
trbdavies writes: Last Saturday evening, standing on the corner of 24th and Church in san fran, my Nokia N810 found about 20 wifi signals, all but one of them locked down. And the unlocked one wouldn't validate. Earlier in this decade, there would have been fewer routers on that corner, but there would have been a few open ones. Others have complained about the disappearance of free wifi at cafes and the like. ShareYourWifi.org pushes back against this trend, but a campaign to bring back free wifi needs more than a website. How about t-shirts, stickers, and window signs?
trbdavies writes: As the Galleon Group insider trading case moves toward a trial, John Tamny at Forbes.com makes a pretty good argument that laws against insider trading are incoherent, and offers a full-blown "defense of the much-maligned practice". It does seem puzzling what the main principle should be here. As Tamny says, "information asymmetry is what makes investing a worthwhile pursuit to begin with. If everyone had access to the same information, there would be little opportunity for gain when investing." A better approach might be to require more detailed and immediate disclosure of every trade, which seems like it would drastically limit the timeframe and magnitude of insider deals. The methods used in the Galleon case also raise questions about whether future enforcement is really viable. The case against Raj Rajaratnam and 5 others is based on wiretapping evidence with cooperating witnesses — the first time such evidence has been used in an insider trading case, a la cases against the mafia. It seems very likely, now that everyone is aware of the possibility of such wiretaps, that future inside information will simply not be passed by cell phone, but through less tappable backchannels or even steganography. How is the FBI going to detect that two people are passing messages to each other by rearranging the stones along a hillside trail?
trbdavies writes: "The Honolulu Advertiser reports that the Honolulu City Council is considering a bill to make it illegal to "bring onto transit property odors that unreasonably disturb others or interfere with their use of the transit system, whether such odors arise from one's person, clothes, articles, accompanying animal or any other source." So if you stink up the bus, you could "be fined up to $500, spend up to six months in jail, or be both fined and jailed." Councilman Rod Tam explains, "As we become more inundated with people from all over the world, their way of taking care of their health is different. Some people, quite frankly, do not take a bath every day and therefore they may be offensive in terms of their odor." The ACLU is predictably "concerned about laws that are inherently vague, where a reasonable person cannot know what conduct is prohibited." Is this country becoming Singapore?"
trbdavies writes: "We're officially launching our Who Voted? website today after a long period of pre-launch limited availability. As of today the site provides web access to voter lists for all recent elections in four states, with more to come in the future (we hope). There are two main motivations behind the site: (1) to promote the need for better public access to voter lists as a check in verifying elections, and (2) to promote voting itself. There's more info on the site. This is a research prototype, with the aim of sparking discussion. Tell us what you think, but read the site first as it may answer your initial questions."