Slashdot has a post entitled Stephen Hawking Warns Against Confining Ourselves To Earth.
Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s greatest physicists and cosmologists, is once again warning his fellow humans that our extinction is on the horizon unless we figure out a way to live in space. Not known for conspiracy theories, Hawking’s rationale is that the Earth is far too delicate a planet to continue to withstand the barrage of human battering. ‘We must continue to go into space for humanity,’ Hawking said today, according to the Los Angeles Times. ‘We won’t survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet.’”
It’s not just the battering from humans. Space is, fortunately, very, very aptly named. But, still, there is a lot of stuff hurtling around out there. One bad collision and we, as a species, could pretty well be done. If we can figure out how to travel to and live on new planets, we can hedge our bets.
There’s a lot of work to be done to get to that level of technology; but at the moment it seems like we’re mostly killing time anyway. Might as well get started.
SB 226 – Suspension of state and local officeholders has passed the House as a study committee bill as opposed to the more substantive version that passed the Senate. It’s now in conference committee to see if the chambers can work out a compromise.
In its current form, it urges the legislative council to assign to a study committee the issue of the suspension from office of state elected officials and local elected officials who are charged with the commission of a felony. (Judges and Prosecutors are specifically exempted from the bill – on the theory that the Supreme Court can take action in those cases.) The Senate version had put forth a process for suspension.
The problem, I imagine, comes from the tension between a presumption of innocence on one hand, and a desire not to have known felons at the controls of government while the prosecution of the felony grinds along; potentially for a substantial portion of the officeholder’s term.
SB 24 concerning the county extradition and sheriff’s assistance fund has passed both houses and is ready for the Governor’s signature. It changes the name of the county extradition fund to the extradition and sheriff’s assistance fund and expands the uses to which the money may be put.
Money in the fund, both currently and under the terms of the bill, comes from late surrender fees imposed when bail agents and surety’s don’t produce a criminal defendant out on bail when ordered by a court. What the bill changes is that, currently, money in the fund can be used only to offset the costs of extraditing criminal defendants. The bill adds to that permission to use the money to train and equip law enforcement officers in the county and offset the costs of providing law enforcement services.
Talking Points Memo has an interesting article entitled Bitcoin Bursts: Hacker Currency Gets Wild Ride. Bitcoins have been in the news lately and, as an investment vehicle, have undergone a speculative bubble. I’ve been dimly aware of Bitcoin for awhile. I don’t know if its model as a currency is fundamentally sound or not; but it seems plausible.
It’s a decentralized currency, not issued by banks or governments. New coins are created through computing power applied to (I think) an encryption problem. As supply of bitcoins grow, the problem gets more difficult and, therefore, requires more computing power.
As a currency, I don’t know that it’s any more or less arbitrary than using gold or fiat money. A currency will work or not depending on whether people can and do trust that the currency will enable them to store value such that they can later receive value for the currency that is comparable to the value they supplied to obtain it in the first place.
I stumbled across an article from a couple of years ago by Neal Stephenson from a couple of years ago entitled Innovation Starvation. (Seems like I read it a while back as well; I’m not sure if I commented on it.) He generally laments the seeming inability of our present culture to execute on the big things, as opposed to, say, the America of the early and mid 20th century where we created the airplane, the automobile, nuclear energy, and the computer; not to mention getting people to the moon. He quotes one grizzled NASA veteran as saying, ” A grizzled NASA veteran once told me that the Apollo moon landings were communism’s greatest achievement.”
Stephenson sees a role for science fiction in setting a coherent narrative that will inspire inventors and engineers. He sees current sci-fi as more involved in creating dystopian narratives about the downsides of the technology we currently have.
While I agree that new and coherent narratives facilitate invention; on executing the big stuff, I think our bigger obstacle is probably individualism. Individualism is a good and useful concern; but I don’t think it’s an accident that some of the big accomplishments Stephenson cites, e.g. nuclear energy, computers and rockets, came out of World War II. An existential struggle between nations has a way of bulldozing through a lot of individual or factional disagreements about whether and how to get things done. Not that I’m recommending war – you don’t ask for the mushroom cloud just so you can have a silver lining.
HB 1093 would add a penalty to the sentence of someone convicted of interfering with or mistreating a law enforcement animal. It would require the person to pay the cost of replacing the animal if the animal is disabled or killed. It also allows the law enforcement agency to apply to the violent crime victims compensation unit for reimbursement of expenses associated with an animal that is killed or disabled.
SB 238 passed the Senate by a vote of 66 – 29. I haven’t read it in full; but generally it allows higher interest rates and charges for consumer loans and credit sales. If you have money, that’s probably good. If you don’t, not so much.
SB 204 alters the conditions under which a not for profit sewage company or regional sewer district may require a property owner to connect to its sewage disposal system. Currently, the company or district may require connection to its sewer system of property producing sewage or similar waste and require the discontinuance of use of a sewage disposal system if there is an available sanitary sewer within three hundred (300) feet of the property line. Under SB 204, which passed the House on a 76 – 16 vote, the 300 foot radius from the property line would be apply where the property is located in Indianapolis, located adjacent to a body of water (including a lake, river, or reservoir), or located in a subdivision or other planned development. For all other properties, the 300 feet would be from the point of discharge.
HB 1082 was signed into law by the Governor. It removes the provision that requires the person whose name appears on a vehicle registration to sign the person’s copy of the registration in ink.
Signatures are interesting. In the legal business, we give them more weight than is probably reasonable. They are a symbol of acknowledgment by the signer. We’re probably getting to where written signatures will be an anachronism. Ideally, to accomplish their purpose, signatures should be unique to the individual “signing” and obtainable only through affirmative (preferably voluntary) action of the signer.
In any event, they’re no longer requires on your copy of the registration.
Also, on the topic of signatures, HB 1394 addresses signatures filed by business entities with the Secretary of State; declaring them sufficient if “the person transmitting and filing the document:(1) has the intent to file the document as evidenced by a symbol executed or adopted by a party with present intention to authenticate the filing; and (2) enters the filing party’s name on the electronic form in a signature box or other place indicated by the secretary of state.”
A friend on Twitter posted this link: Associate attorney is the unhappiest job in America, survey says. Along with that, legal assistant was #7.
The top five unhappiest jobs are:
1) Associate attorney
2) Customer service associate
4) Registered nurse
The top five happiest jobs are:
1) Real estate agent
2) Senior quality assurance engineer
3) Senior sales representative
4) Construction superintendent
5) Senior applications designer
Not sure I buy real estate agent as happiest.