My Thoughts Exactly

Nanomachines manipulating DNA– and Grigory Perleman

Yesterday on Slashdot, a link to an article about nanomachines that can target individual genes — in this case to cure cancer. A long discussion follows in the comments (500+ comments) about implications of this technology, whether it might be used for ill as well as good.

I have not yet had the heart to read many of the comments. The technology described, and the implications thereof, are, of course, are pretty much the essence of my novel Acts of the Apostles, which I began writing 15 years ago and published more than ten years ago. Every time I see life imitating (my) art like this, I confess, my inner Grigory Perleman kinda starts to make rumbling noises deep in my bosom. Perleman’s the math genius & Howard-Hughes style recluse who refuses to accept $$ millions prizes for his solution of the Poincare conjecture because he’s evidently pissed off that his genius wasn’t recognized earlier. “You are disturbing me! I am picking mushrooms,” he hollers through the door to reporters who want to ask him about his mathematics and his opinion on prizes.

I did make a comment on Slashdot posting a link to this glowing Slashdot review of Acts by Slashdot co-founder Hemos. He at least recognized my genius. The other Slashdotters have probably modded by comment into oblivion by now. Such is the fate of us geniuses.

But just for the record, if anybody wants to give me a million dollar prize for writing Acts of the Apostles, I promise you I’ll accept. In fact, I’ll be happy if you just buy a copy.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Taking a flyer

My father is among many people who use the idiom “take a flyer” to mean “take a risk”. (I know that millions of other people use the expression also, but I always hear it in my father’s voice: “Go ahead, take a flyer. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” etc, etc). Well, I certainly took a flyer when I got laid off from the proverbial day job sixteen years ago and decided to move to Martha’s Vineyard & try to make a living as a freelance technical writer. And I took a flyer when I then took a few years to write a novel in between stints as truck driver, construction laborer, etc. And I took a flyer when I decided to self-publish. But today I’m going to talk about when I took a flyer & crafted a cheesy hand-drawn flyer as a marketing tool for my books, making me look perhaps even more of a crackpot than I actually am, if that’s possible. In some ways it was the most successful of all of these flyers.


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My Thoughts Exactly

Greg Rose and the evolution of a wet machine

Sometime right soon, Dr. Gregory Rose, he of the brilliant fisking of the spectrum auction scam, will be making his inaugural post at his new Wetmachine blog Econoklastic. So may I be the first to welcome him: Welcome, Greg! Welcome to Wetmachine! I have no idea what he’ll write about, but his background leads me to expect good things. Greg describes himself thusly:

I’ve been an academic economist for more than 20 years. My
dissertation was on developing mathematical techniques for aggregating
affective variables in utility functions. I left OSU Tulsa to come to
DC in 2004 to set up a consulting company. I’ve been doing consulting
for the public interest community on telecoms ever since. And I’m a
very unconventional economist: I’m probably the only socialist member
of the Public Choice Society.

Adding another name to the Wetmachine masthead seems as good an occasion as any to launch into some meditative malarky I’ve been cogitating on for some while about where Wetmachine came from, has been, and is tending. Especially since the one-two combination punch of Harold Feld and Greg Rose should pretty much establish Wetmachine as a premiere telecommunication/first amendment/innaleckshul property policy wonk “destination shopping” blog. Which is kind of cool, especially since it’s nothing like what I set out to create when I launched Wetmachine seven years ago. At that time I was mostly trying to pimp my books (still am), and I also was pretty irritated by the technological utopianism of blogs like Slashdot and Boing Boing & I wanted to do something in the same basic zip code as those blogs but much more curmudgeonly and technoskeptical. Sort of a blend of Slashdot and Boing Boing on a bad acid trip by way of the Unabomber Manifesto was what I had in mind. I also imagined that that the now-atrophied Bonehead Computer Museum would evolve into the central attraction of the site. Guess I missed that guess. I had no idea when I invited Harold Feld to blog with me that I was snagging a world-class policy expert with a major talent for snark, nor did I know that Howard Stearns would emerge up to his eyeballs in Croquet at the head of the Web 3.0 movement. Much to my astonishment, and with little help from me, Wetmachine has become of blog of substance (by some definition of “substance”.) Who woulda thunk it? Any of y’all as may be interested in some more of my navel-gazing, feel free to follow me below the fold.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Wetmachine use marketing mixes for good marketing

By way of Slashdot I come across this marketing professor’s test case of bad prose that he uses against grammar checkers.

Actually I thought his paragraph contained some useful insights that I might profitably use in my unending quest to build the brand loyalty and success and memic mindshare of Wetmachine(tm) home of “One-stop-shopping for all your technoparainoia needs(sm).” I’ve modified the text below accordingly.

—————————Demonstration Paragraph Begins—————————-

Marketing are bad for brand. Wetmachine is good brand. Wetmachine’s is good brand. Wetmachine’s are good brand. Wetmachines’ are good brand. Finance good for marketing. 4P’s are marketing mix. Wetmachine use marketing mixes for good marketing. Internets do good job. Internets help marketing. Internets make good brand. Gates do good marketing in Wetmachine. Gates build the big brand in Wetmachine. The Gates is leader of big company in Washington. Warren Wetmachine do awesome job in marketing. Wetmachine eat Wetmachine.

—————————Demonstration Paragraph Ends——————————

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My Thoughts Exactly

Crass Commercial Anouncement

Crass Commercial Announcement

The bill for Wetmachine’s hosting is coming due pretty soon. Sure would be nice to sell a few books to help pay the freight! Why not take this opportunity to buy one!

The wonderfulness of same is attested to not only by me, but by the following reputable(!?!?) sources:

Acts of the Apostles:

Salon

Slashdot

Kuro5hin

Geek.com

SFSite

BioInformatics.org

Newstrolls

and many more about which Google can inform you.

Cheap Complex Devices:

Slashdot

Kuro5hin

And Google. . .

Don’t forget that you can try before you buy. The complete sources of both books are available for free download — gust glance to the left side, under “read my books” and follow the links. The all important “buy my books” section is just below that.

Wetmachine will resume its regularly scheduled programming as soon as Harold or Gary or Peg or Howard or Bremser gets around to posting something to push this story down the page.

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General Exception

Why science reporting sucks

I saw Slashdot’s link to this article over at the Columbia Journalism Review, regarding problems with the standard media coverage of science issues.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: UTX, OTARD, UH-OH!

As readers of Slashdot may have seen, The University of Texas at Dallas has prohibitted students in certain dorms from setting up wireless access points. If you read the policy, you will find out that the University is not simply amending its acceptable use policy (AUP), it prohibits setting up access points using residential DSL or cable.

Rather than break into the raging debate in the comments on how this policy meshes (as it were) with the FCC’s recent ruling prohibiting landlords from mandating such things, I’ll use Wetmachine to say what I want (but feel free to refer anyone from Slashdot over here to our humble corner of the internet if they would like to hear from a lawyer who dabbles in such things).

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Inventing the Future

where does the Wetmachine crowd go for breaking news?

With Saddams capture last night, I’d like to know the implications for trial. If we turn him over to an international court for, say, gasing Kurdish forces, won’t he want to tell the court where he got his intelligence reports? Could that lead to a subpoena of previous US administrations? What happens at trial and in world opinion if he’s tried by us or by a US-controlled Iraqi “government”.

Where can one go to get the poop? Google isn’t current enough. CBS, ABC, and NBC (GE and Microsoft, my two least favorite corporations) are covering the story, but say nothing of relevence about trial. NPR has an audio report that hasn’t been transcribed yet, so I can’t search for the word “trial”. Slashdot and kuro5hin aren’t on to this yet. (I wonder if I should check Urban Legends.)

My regional newspaper has some coverage (go print media!), but the New York Times and the Washington Post want me to fill out forms before they tell me anything. (And besides, the stuff about trial at the NYT isn’t transcribed from audio yet. Odd, for a newspaper.)

The day after the last election, and on the moring of 9/11, I was at work and had the resources of a hundred well-informed people. While getting paid a lot of money to come up with technology to change the world, we had each other and the best broadband money could buy to get info throughout the day. Now we’re all isolated in our homes. Where do you go for the real deal?

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