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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Rational Voices

P2P Cellular Networks for Citizen Disaster Response

by Ken Newquist / January 23, 2007

Over at Contrary Brin, science fiction author David Brin laments the collapse of our high tech cell phone network during the Katrina disaster and proposes a way to avoid subsequent cellular catastrophes: peer-to-peer networking.

His idea is so simple that you have to wonder why it isn't being done: when cell phones lose the ability to contact their local tower, switch to a back-up mode that allows them to find and talk with other phones. While voice would probably be too much for an ad hoc network, text messaging would work just fine.

Reason: South Park Refugees

by Ken Newquist / September 4, 2006

A while back, there was talk on certain libertarian-leaning web sites, like Reason and Tech Central Station, about the rise of the curious creatures known as South Park Republicans, of which South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were the poster children. South Park Republicans were the younger, hipper Republicans -- ones who grokked the importance of small goverment and free markets, but also valued free minds and social liberalism.

Reason: Don't Be Terrorized

by Ken Newquist / August 11, 2006

Reason science correspondent Ronald Bailey crunches the numbers and finds what deep down we already know: the chances of getting killed in a terrorist attack are exceedingly slim -- to quote from the story:

"your risk of dying in a plausible terrorist attack is much lower than your risk of dying in a car accident, by walking across the street, by drowning, in a fire, by falling, or by being murdered."

And yet, many people are willing to give up libertiy after liberty in a vain effort to feel safer ... and in the process fail to notice that onrushing garbage truck that just blew through the light on Broad Street.

Books & Culture Corner: Truth, Justice, and…

by Ken Newquist / July 11, 2006

Jeremy Lott writes about conservative reactions to Superman Returns, who are upset that Superman no longer stands for truth, justice and the American Way. Their logic is that since the editor of the Daily Planet replaced "the American Way" with "all that stuff", the movie itself rejects America despite the fact -- as Lott points out -- that Superman's primary task in the movie is to save America.

This film has problems, including the Man of Steel's sudden ability to throw mountains of kryptonite into orbit, but anti-Americanism is not one of them.

TPM Cafe: The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics

by Ken Newquist / July 10, 2006

The geek in me loves whenever folks manage to combined politics with comic books in new and interesting ways. Case in point: The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics, in which all it takes for good to triumph over evil is the power of positive thinking. Author Matthew Yglesias argues that makes for a good comic book, but doesn't work so great as a basis for foreign policy.