Link Salad 11/18/10

I’m on the road, writing short stories and a little on the novels, and exploring the murky rainy depths of the Pacific Northwest. But it’s hard to get the hang of Thursdays, which is why they’re salad days. Neither fabulous restaurants, nor rain nor bad traffic nor dark of overcast day shall keep me from my appointed task of preparing your Link Salad.

A brief note: My apologies for all the politics this week — it’s been an uncommonly threatening week for netizens and travelers alike, and as I’m on the road right now, I’m both. I’ve separated everything out by subject so you can skip that which you find annoying, though I sincerely hope you won’t.

Bring on the leaves!

Culture
David Brin writes a graphic novel called “Tinkerers” about the maker culture, manufacturing, and the future of progress, and puts it online for public reading.

On the indie film front, here comes a new farm system that might take a couple years to become completely clogged: Amazon is launching a sort of on-line film festival that looks like a hybrid of Project Greenlight and what Sundance used to be. Worth keeping an eye on.

I’ve talked from time to time on Dealing In shows about the unique political history of the United States, and how that has directly contributed to our current culture wars. Here’s some news that dovetails with the discussions about the Civil War and Reconstruction — for some people, the Civil War never ended.

Sexuality
For some reason–maybe because both Down From Ten and And Then She Was Gone featured elements of the BDSM culture?–I’ve gotten a number of people recently asking me how people could possibly get pleasure from pain. I’ve never been a fan of Freudian explanations for this — they’re too much like just-so stories, and they rely on a theory of mind that’s now totally discredited. So, in the interests of science, here’s some interesting neurological research that bears on the question of how pleasure and pain relate in the brain.

Space Science
First ever exoplanet from outside our galaxy. Yes, Virginia, our galaxy does seem typical of this universe.

The Telegraph runs a story on being homesick from orbit, which contains some of the most gorgeous astronaut photography yet published.

Project M, the weridest space travel project to date. This is what you get when engineers get really pissed off — and it’s kinda cool, too.

TSA Security Theater
Like a lot of you, I’ve been seriously apalled by what’s been going on the last ten years with air travel. This week, the policy wonks might actually have gone too far by requiring a strip and/or grope search of everyone flying through one of about 68 airports around the country. So I’ve got three links to help you out if you have to travel by air thruogh any TSA occupuied airport.

First, for those of you who have to fly before this mess is resolved, at the bottom of this page is a list of the airports who currently have the new pornographic version of security theater scanners in place.

And if you’re looking for something you can do about it, check out this most creative (and potentially effective) response I’ve yet seen. November 24: opt out of the scanners, force a backlog of pat-downs, and wear kilts to really embarass the fondlers. Full details here.

Finally, a heartening tale of Citizen activism against the TSA

Internet Civil Liberties
For those of you who have been following COICA, the internet censorship bill, it’s been voted out of committee and onto the floor. There’s a big fight coming up on this one — if you’re a fan of social media, art and science on the net, or an author or content creator, this is your fight. Find details here.

Biology, Geology, and Energy Research
Life really is everywhere, and a new discovery makes the question of the origin of oil even more murky. Thomas Gold (and the Russian scientists he plagerized) might have been right after all. Time will tell.

Materials Science
Carbon is your friend, really. It’s at the heart of the current materials revolution that’s giving us both radical life extension and sustainable space travel. Today’s news? Ultra hard graphite, harder than diamonds, developed in a lab.

And then there’s the quantum supersolids–a holy grail of materials science–and the new evidence that they may actually exist http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19748-new-evidence-that-weird-quantum-supersolid-exists.html

And that materials revolution that you’ve been hearing about for years? It’s officially here. First molecular manufacturing tools are in the works.

Medical Science
They’ll fix you with a ray gun! Radio wave-based treatment for hypertension more effective than drug cocktails, and might prove permanent.

I saved this week’s coolest link for last. A new (and replicable) stem cell therapy can now reverse some of the symptoms of Autism. Check it out!

I’ll be at Seattle Steamcon II this weekend — hope to see you there!

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