Monday, August 29, 2005

Home sweet home

MESSENGER captures Earth's rotation

As the MESSENGER probe headed off to Mercury, it turned its camera on Earth and took a series of photos. Combined into a video, these show the dwindling Earth through a full day's rotation. The result looks like something from a science fiction movie, but it is absolutely real and absolutely stunning.

[via somewhere, but I forgot!]

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Talk

I don't know if Google's new chat client is going to catch on like wildfire but if you decide to give it a whirl I've added it to my Adium buddy list along with all the other usual services. If you want to add me as a buddy, my email address is rmcreynolds (at) And in the interest of completeness, you could also use AIM (RLMcRey), ICQ (291510719), MSN Messenger (, or Yahoo! (ryanmcreynolds). I'm polymessageable.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Watch this space


There's a new mailing list for progressive-minded techies who are tired of the uncritical libertarian political economy that tends to dominate discussions of a radical technological future. For people who think that advanced technology is only as good as the use it is put to, and recognize that it has the potential for reducing suffering and empowering individuals on a vast scale--but only if it is under distributed democratic control. For people who believe in peace and social justice and environmental protection, but who reject the notion that there is anything free about the free market; people who don't believe that the natural is always and inherently the best.

From the home page:
Using technology to deepen democracy, using democracy to ensure technology benefits us all.

The technoliberation list is a welcoming space for conversation, collaboration, organization, and debate among liberal, social, and radical democrats from around the world all of whom share the sense that emerging, converging, disruptive global technological developments threaten unprecedented harm while they promise unprecedented emancipation for humanity. We want to think about the ways in which technology provokes us to rethink and reimagine the left wing of the possible.
Dale Carrico describes the list as a "cyborg feminist, post-natural Green, post-humanist humanitarian, prostheticized queer, morphological freedom fighting, global fair trade and sustainable development advocating, democratic world federalist technoprogressive salon and incitement to activism and organizing."

Sounds like fun to me.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

It's funny . . .

Now that I've given my blog address to a bunch of people at Armadillocon, I'm actually feeling a certain obligation to post more than once a week. I think I'm about to be back in the habit. With a vengeance. But what other way is there?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


How Not to Make Me Ex-Gay

Jason at Positive Liberty gives the perfect response to homophobia. Touching.

[via Pandagon]

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thursday, August 4, 2005


If there are two people whose writing inspires me the most, they are Bertrand Russell . . .
Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth--more than ruin--more even than death . . . . Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.
. . . and Carl Sagan.
But for us, it's different. Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Could it be?

Astronomers to decide what makes a planet

Apparently the great planet controversy will officially come to an end this week. The International Astronomical Union has been discussing the issue for a year and planned to make an official statement next summer. However, the announcement of three potential planets in one day, one of which is larger than Pluto, was enough to inspire them to make a decision just a little bit quicker. It does make me wonder just what the IAU folks needed two full years to discuss; it's a controversy, but there aren't that many different choices to choose from. Review the facts, take a vote, and then we have an official definition.

I have a feeling that while officially there will be word, unofficially this debate isn't going to end any time soon.