Monthly Archives: April 2009

Spock and Spock


Image via Getty.

Atheist Geeks


Atheists of Silicon Valley offer an array of articles, research and critical examinations of religious texts and beliefs.

The comprehensive site is mainly, but definitely not solely focused on Christianity: there is a section on Islam, and “other,” so it does leave room for desire.

However, it offers the arguments from a science based perspective, which can provide for hours of entertainment. Check out the godless geeks.

Japan Food Much Smaller


Mmmm. The best find of the day is Tokyo Damage Report on Japanese food: its size and packaging. One of my favorites is the miniature Kirin beer cans.

Check it here.

EU Internet Blackout: Another Copyright Move


by Irma Arkus

Newly proposed rules in EU will enable broadband providers to manipulate users in an unprecedented ways.

Under the suggested Telecoms Package, Internet Service Providers will be able to “limit the number of websites you can look at, and to tell you whether or not you are allowed to use particular services.”

Similarly to Canadian ISPs, the EU ISPs are attempting to package more expensive “consumer options” in order to manipulate use of content at a far greater degree than ever before.

In this case, the ISPs will be able to restrict what users may or may not access. The type of “walled garden” approach will allow access to only certain content, rather than Intenet as we know it.

The Blackout Europe warns of the legislation, and describes in terms of corporations and governments reasserting their control over what citizens can and cannot do:

“It means that the Internet will be packaged up and your ability to access and to put up content could be severely restricted. It almost certainly means an end to free sharing online. It will create boxes of Internet accessibility, which don’t fit with the way we use it today. This is because Internet is now permiting exchanges between persons that cannot be controled or “facilitate” by any middlemen (the state or a corporation) and this improve the citizen life but force the industry to lose power and control. That is why they are forcing government to act those changes.” (Blackout Europe)

What is the reason for this type of legislation?

Why Copyright, of course.

This latest attempt of government interference on behalf of corporate interests is naturally tied to attempts to control piracy. However, issues of free speech, freedom of information, for that matter, consumer or any of civil rights that may be impinged upon, are undermined by the proposed legislation.

Additionally, any imposed limitation to Internet access will ultimately result in that dreaded economic slowdown of new enterpreneurs. But we will end up saving the industry dinosaurs from extinction.

Read more here.

Thanks to Jelle for the tip.

“A Game of Thrones” Coming to Small Screens


by Irma Arkus

George R. R. Martin’s incredible series of books will see the light of day on the small screen. Or so he says on his blog.

“A Game of Thrones” is coming to HBO, and the pilot will be shot in October in Northern Ireland.

For the most part, the readers of the George R.R. Martin will probably say: “it’s about damn time!” And they would be right, too.

Martin’s “A Game of Thrones” was nominated for a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award and won a Locus. And that’s quite the roster.

Once it made the splash, back in 1966, it immediately inspired six sequels to the storyline, a board game, some trading cards, a role-playing game, and now *pheew* a TV show.

Like all fancy fantasy, George R. R. Martin’s “A Game of Thrones” is set in Medieval times. The setting is complex, as it encompasses not one, but seven kingdoms that are naturally prone to war.

I consider myself generally allergic to fantasy, am cheering for the albino direwolf, and am actually looking forward to seeing the pilot.

Pirate Bay Case: Request for Retrial


by Irma Arkus

The breakout news of the day is that judge who presided over the Pirate Bay trial, has been found to be a member of numerous pro-copyright groups. According to TorrentFreak, the judge belongs to a rather pro-industry exclusive club, whose members are also Henrik Pontén, Monique Wadsted and Peter Danowsky.

Who are these people? What do these names represent?

Well, Henrik Ponten, for example, is a member of the Svenska Antipiratbyrån, or in translation, The Swedish Anti-Pirate Bureau, a lobby group representing large corporations and media industry.

While the judge, Tomas Norström, is obviously not working as a lobbyist, he does however participate in groups affiliated with the lobbying efforts.

Tomas Norstrom is an active participant in Swedish Association of Copyright (hello Henrik Ponten, you again!), an organisation working towards “tougher copyright laws,” as well as holding fun think-tank sessions, such as Nordic Championships in Intellectual Property Rights Process Strategies. Another prominent member of this organisation is Peter Danowsky, the prosecution lawyer in the Pirate Bay case, representing music and film industry interests.

But that is not all. Tomas Norstrom is also an active member of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, as well as The Internet Infrastructure Foundation.

In other words, the presence of the judge in this case is extremely biased, and riddled with ethical concerns. The ombudsman at the Stockholm court expressed his dismay at the fact that Norstrom has not take a chance to recuse himself from the case on the grounds of a possible perception of a bias, especially since the case has international prominence, as well as political and social repercussions.

According to Norstrom, his participation in these extremely polarized groups, associated with heavy industry lobbying, somehow did not constitute a bias: “I made the judgment that the membership in the Association for Copyright did not constitute a bias that would rule me out from participating in the case. The association works to promote knowledge of copyright.”

This revelation has prompted the defense to start the process of requesting a retrial.

The bias is, by association, definitely present in the case of judge Tomas Norstrom. However, being that this is not an episode of Law and Order, but rather grittier, real life drama, the courts have to actively decide that Norstrom has been in fact biased. And that may be more difficult than one may initially suspect of.

In case of a successful appeal, the bias of the judge would dismiss the current verdict for the Pirate Bay Four. Currently, they await a one year incarceration, and are expected to pay a sum of $3.6 million in damage fines.

But that does not mean that the case itself would be dismissed. The Pirate Bay Four in that case, would have to endure a new trial.

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Store at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F) away from moisture, light and heat. Keep container tightly closed. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date. Keep out of the reach of children.

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Read This: “Bugs in the Arroyo” by Steven Gould


by Irma Arkus

Tor Books publishing had a brilliant idea, and since 2008, they decided to throw us a bone. A literary bone. Their occasional short stories, available for free on site, prompt readers to a) read more brilliant short stories, and b) get introduced to new, brilliant writers they would never have heard of, and finally c) visit Tor Books and glance at their latest offerings.

This is, in my humble opinion, a win win win win for everyone involved, and all it took was a little digital magic, and some “open source reading.”

Latest offering is that of Stephen Gould’s “Bugs in the Arroyo,” a short story about a society confronted with a sudden metal scarcity, due to a metal-eating invasive species. A la “Creature of the Pit” with Tom Baker, if you may, Stephen Gould writes some fine, imaginative stuff.

Responsible for writing the ever popular “Jumper” (yes, the movie with the one we dare not speak his name) Gould has been enchanting us for a while. Nice to see his flexed muscles on some rather smaller bit, like “Bugs in the Arroyo.” Illustration is by Mark Zug, a master of fantastic meets cool, whose illustrations are quite frankly, breathtaking (yes, yes! like the baby!).

HiSciFi – EFF on US Gov’t Sovereign Immunity for Wiretapping, Plus The Sad Sad World of The Pirate Bay


by Irma Arkus

Admittedly, I am crushed. The recent decision to pronounce the Pirate Bay owners guilty of crimes (what crimes, do tell?) something akin to “aiding and abbeting” to distribution of copyright materials, has me reeling in pain. I sat down in the studio on Friday and could not believe my eyes when I read the verdict.

That aside, glum news are neverending, so we decided to also bring you the latest updates of the EFF case files: they have a pending lawsuit against the Bush administration and FBI, but since the fun never ends, we also find out the dark side of the Obama administration work, as well as get the goods on some outrageous warrants issued for a Boston College student’s posssessions. It appears that the world is made up of either very old, or probably, and more likely, very ignorant people, who suffer from severe case of ephiphobia, as well as allergies to digital technology in general.

Either way, tune in and get some popcorn and tissues…

Also in the news, we cover COWS, and use of fiber optics in brain tissue! Ta da!

Send us mail! Email us at hiscifi@gmail.com, or just send money.

HiSciFi – EFF on US Gov’t Sovereign Immunity for Wiretapping, Plus The Sad Sad World of The Pirate Bay

Sam Rockwell’s “Moon” Is The Film to Watch Out For


by Irma Arkus

Despite the fact that sci-fi offerings seem relatively prodigious this year, comparatively to that of previous few, I have been left relatively unsatisfied in my anticipation.

Worst of all, with my brain scalded numerous times with misleading coolness (read = lies, all lies) of trailers, touting the film to somehow be THE last film we will need to watch, I have been progressively staying clear of their beauty, preferring instead to watch them first, and then declare my delight.

Many of you have appreciated this fact over the years. But this year, there is a film that has actually captured my attention. And it isn’t just me – the Internets are abuzz with new Sam Rockwell film, “Moon.”

“Moon” is promising to both tickle the brain and the eyes, as Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an employee working the moon-mines for solid, lonely, three years.

He talks to his family, recalling memories of the happier, less solitary days. His contract is about to end, when strange events occur. In fact, the trailer shamelessly shows a second Sam Bell appearing in the base. And a wiley computer, convincing Sam that he is the sole, and only person on board the base.

The lick is two-fold. On the one hand, visually, the film possess the kind of beauty that we expect from Tarkovsky or Kubrick. The sets clearly imitate the “2001: A Space Odyssey,” an homage to the great visual aspects of the film that has captivated us for decades.

On the other hand, the original story penned by Duncan Jones, whose credits are far shorter than this blog, allows for some speculation – mainly that Jones is mixing his science and fiction rather well, by introducing good corporate schemes, cloning, and psychological warfare against the employee, Sam.

Even if I am entirely correct, the film, also directed by Duncan Jones, is still promising to bring a hard sci-fi story to the silver screens. One that we have not seen probably since “Solaris.” Looking forward to it.

See trailer here.