Sunday, July 27, 2008

Recommended Reading/Multimedia

Anyone interested in the scientific and political aspects of climate change should definitely keep up with Climate Progress. On the scientific side of things, one post today discussed how increasing energy efficiency is currently by far the best "source" of cheap power. And in the political sphere, another post notes the enormous increase in campaign donations from the oil and gas industries John McCain has seen since changing his previous position and coming out in favor of offshore drilling.

Likewise, anyone interested in thoughtful insider analysis of American military policy should always pay attention to what Thomas Barnett has to say. In the current installment of his weekly column, he lays out the reality of the military situation the next American president will inherit: consuming so much of America's military force during these seven long years of nonstop, high tempo, high rotation action, the Bush administration basically condemned its successor to what will probably be an additional seven lean years of military operations.

Whether it's simply winding down Afghanistan and/or Iraq and "replenishing the force," or shifting dollars from operations and maintenance funds to cover a plethora of Cold War "programs of record" that the Bush Administration has refused to scale back, the next administration has been handed a veritable train wreck in terms of future budgetary crises. Something will have to give.

What does that mean for the next president? It means ingenuity and inventiveness will be at a premium, because our incoming president's grand strategy is necessarily one of realigning America's trajectory to that of a world being transformed by the simultaneous rise of numerous great powers.

Continuing in my attempt to point to examples of the mainstream media doing an excellent job whenever I think they are, I'm happy to note that ABC has finally picked up on the horrible, tragic case of Rachel Hoffman, who was brutally murdered when a poorly planned police sting went terribly wrong.

However, an area where most journalists don't seem to have caught on yet is how technology is rapidly dissolving our traditional notions of privacy. For one thing, Google continues to take pictures for its maps service that are likely to reveal all sorts of formerly hidden things. Furthermore, cameras and robots are getting so small and efficient that an insect-sized flying machine is now capable of capturing video. Though this prototype can't staff aloft very long, that is sure to change in the near future. This puts a whole new meaning behind the age-old wish to be a fly on the wall in a secret meeting.

Another powerful technology that is likely to impact society's notions of privacy is quantum computing. Quantum computers are just now reaching a point where they're advanced enough to be commercially useful. When their full potential is realized in coming years, current data encryption techniques will become trivially easy to circumvent.

Finally, the most recent edition of the Free Will series of diavlogs focuses on the fascinating philosophical question of the nature and origin of human morality.

As always, go here to see more items I find interesting online.

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