Via Wired, a company has apparently come up with a laser gun to kill mosquitoes in flight. Comes in handy in developmental countries, where people use mosquito nets for fishing rather than fending off airborne insects.
But this is not a new idea of course, as it was already elaborated back in 2006:
The most famous invented drug is probably soma in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It was an integral part of the story because it was an integral part of the authorities’ control mechanism – they were literally keeping the people doped up and happy. Sounds alright to me: a permanent state of blissed-out semi-catatonia. In fact, given my choice of fictional narcotics, soma would probably be first.
Nor would I mind sampling some melange/spice from Frank Herbert’s Dune (long life, heightened awareness and possible extrasensory properties, cool blue eyeballs); septus from Iain Banks’s Transition (the ability to flit between parallel worlds and inhabit others’ bodies); Dylar from Don DeLillo’s White Noise (no more fear of death); the various hallucinogens drunk with the old moloko in A Clockwork Orange (a nice quiet horrorshow starring Bog and all his angels); Can-D in Philip K Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (allows you to participate in a group hallucination). I also quite like the sound of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster in Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, described as “like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick”. Well, it beats aspirin and sniffing exhaust pipes.
But as in life, so in literature, and not all fictional drugs are this appetising. Pretty much anything in William Gibson’s work, for instance, gives me the heebie-jeebies (betaphenethylamine from Neuromancer, Dancer in Virtual Light, whiz in Mona Lisa Overdrive, The Fear in Red Star, Winter Orbit). Substance D in Dick’s A Scanner Darkly is an unholy combination of LSD and crack cocaine: super-addictive, immediate, neurologically corrosive, brutal, deadly. Mimezine in Bruce Wagner’s brilliant graphic novel Wild Palms is the designer drug from hell. Serum 111 in A Clockwork Orange rewired Alex’s brain, destroyed his free will and damned him to an eternal purgatory of existential and biological nausea …
In what critics are calling “musicblogocide 2010″, Google has deleted at least six popular music blogs that it claims violated copyright law. These sites, hosted by Google’s Blogger and Blogspot services, received notices only after their sites – and years of archives – were wiped from the internet.
“We’d like to inform you that we’ve received another complaint regarding your blog,” begins the cheerful letter received by each of the owners of Pop Tarts, Masala, I Rock Cleveland, To Die By Your Side, It’s a Rap and Living Ears. All of these are music-blogs – sites that write about music and post MP3s of what they are discussing. “Upon review of your account, we’ve noted that your blog has repeatedly violated Blogger’s Terms of Service … [and] we’ve been forced to remove your blog. Thank you for your understanding.”
Jolly as Google may be, none of the bloggers who received these notices are “understanding” in the least. Although such sites once operated on the internet’s fringes, almost exclusively posting songs without permission, many blogs are now wined, dined and even paid (via advertising) by record labels. After the success of blog-buzzy acts such as Arcade Fire, Lily Allen and Vampire Weekend, entire PR firms are dedicated to courting armchair DJs and amateur critics.
This is what I would like to see Obama do more. Simply use the power that you have, play hardball, use every kind of congressional trick to get your stuff passed. Fuck the Republicans. You’ve got nothing to lose, and no reason to expect cooperation from them anyway.
Today, the United States Senate confirmed 27 of my high-level nominees, many of whom had been awaiting a vote for months.At the beginning of the week, a staggering 63 nominees had been stalled in the Senate because one or more senators placed a hold on their nomination. In most cases, these holds have had nothing to do with the nominee’s qualifications or even political views, and these nominees have already received broad, bipartisan support in the committee process.
Instead, many holds were motivated by a desire to leverage projects for a Senator’s state or simply to frustrate progress. It is precisely these kinds of tactics that enrage the American people.
And so on Tuesday, I told Senator McConnell that if Republican senators did not release these holds, I would exercise my authority to fill critically-needed positions in the federal government temporarily through the use of recess appointments. This is a rare but not unprecedented step that many other presidents have taken. Since that meeting, I am gratified that Republican senators have responded by releasing many of these holds and allowing 29 nominees to receive a vote in the Senate.
While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess. If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.