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Technology

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Technologies I find significant, good or bad.

Caterpillar Kills Palestinians

Stop Cat and catdestroyshomes.org is a movement to highlight the use of Caterpillar D-9 and D-10 armoured bulldozers by the Israeli occupation forces to destroy the homes of Palestinians. This has resulted in over 1000 homes being destroyed and several deaths, including that of a U.S.

Chomsky on the Militarisation of Space

A recent seminar by Noam Chomsky on the militarisation of space, given at MIT.

Balance of Trade in Advanced Technologies

I've been reading Emmanuel Todd's "After The Empire", in which he references the Census bureau statistics on balance of trade in advanced technologies.

The numbers speak for themselves, the U.S. is importing more advanced technologies than it is exporting, consistently, since 2001. This is less an indictment of the Bush administration specifically and more a global trend of post Y2K outsourcing of technology services.

Get sent down for sharing files

In a bid to imprison the entire U.S. population, congressional committees are currently considering a bill which would lead to imprisonment for people caught sharing 2,500 files via peer-to-peer networks.

Java scores big in China

The Register is reporting a very large Chinese cellphone (90m subscribers) contract with Sun using Java.

I'm not trying to be Chicken Little, but this does lend weight to my concern that there is a technology shift occurring towards open standards in developing markets that may lead to U.S. technology stagnation or bypass for home grown products.

Open Source Software in Iraq

The geek blog Slashdot has an interesting interview with a journalist in Iraq who is a member of the Iraq Linux User Group. As the country emerges from political (incl. internet) repression, the open question is whether it will then come under corporate oppression, namely beholden to Microsoft's pricing.

Eco-Friendly Bio-Plastics

Courtesy of Kirsty, a report of a plastic and clay composite which reduces hydro-carbon use. Also, use of feathers in plastic production has recently been reported. While we shouldn't need further animal products to replace wood fibre use, clearly other fibre products could offer similar benefits, particularly hardy fibres such as hemp and flax.

Vegan Boots

Being vegan, when I finally retired a pair of 8 year old Doc Martens, I was on the lookout for an alternative to leather. Materials science has progressed to the point that we no longer need to use animals for our clothing needs. Neither do we need petrochemicals for plastics; Henry Ford built a plastic car in the 1930s from Hemp, Flax and other cellulose biomass crops. It's all just a question of our will to question our habits.

Plants that detect landmines

Wired has an article on a fascinating approach to landmine detection. The plant is genetically modified to react to nitrogen dioxide emitted into the soil by immediate vicinity landmines, thereby indicating their location. Hopefully such an approach lives up to it's promise.

This would not seem to address unexploded cluster bombs, which unlike landmines, are not banned. Unexploded cluster bombs have taken a terrible toll on Iraqi children.

Outsourcing, Monopolisation, Stagnation

U.S. technology pundits, analysts and political commentators have understandably lamented the outsourcing issue, that is, the rapid transfer of technology jobs to countries such as China and India.

As Robert Cringley noted, the technology industry was the last U.S. industry left that had trade surpluses. If this industry does truly transfer it's main centre of gravity out of the U.S., the country will be floundering with little in the way of underlying economy to fund and prop up it's war economy.

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