Thursday, September 20, 2007

In their quest for less bloody approaches to crowd control, the American defense contractor Raytheon unveils "Silent Guardian", a gizmo that broadcasts a beam of pure pain up to a quarter mile (in the form of microwaves tuned to resonate with the pain receptors in your skin), with no lasting physical effects. Hardened Marines can't take it for more than a second --- they involuntarily turn tail and run. As would anyone else, if they can. If they can't, well, quoth the reporter...

[These weapons] are quick, clean, cheap, easy to use and, most importantly, leave no marks. What would happen if they fell into the hands of unscrupulous nations where torture is not unknown?

What, indeed?

(via slashdot)

Monday, September 17, 2007

It's a sad story. People arrested, plunged into a "justice" system that's wholly unaccountable, vanished, out of sight:

Solomon describes how his brother-in-law was arrested on trespassing charges when he went to check on storm damage to his father's home. His cousin was also arrested for a nonviolent crime weeks ago, and no one in the family has been able to make contact or even determine where he's being held.

As you can tell from the names, we're not talking Baghdad here. This is life in New Orleans. But should we expect a difference? The grand unified theory of Republican disaster management suggests we should not.

Further support for this theory: One of the remarkable things about the aftermath of Katrina is how little there is in the American media about how, or even where, the diaspora from New Orleans is being housed. Just like the exodus of refugees Iraq that is already happening, as Dubya pretends that it isn't (though he's terrified that if we withdrew troops, beyond his "proposed" rollbacks that will be forced on him anyway as "surge"-extended tours of duty come to an end, it might begin).

Of course, it could be worse. We haven't yet seen the emergence of anything like the "Emergents" from Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky". Or have we? Heck of a job, Brownie...