The White Geek’s Burden

assangeJulian Assange is a lot of things to a lot of people. Traitor. Hero. Visionary. Megalomaniac. Gentleman. Asshole.

He’s a cipher; a tabula rasa onto which anyone with a perspective and/or an axe to grind can project their hopes, fears, and particular worldview.

He’s also really good at reviewing books.

“THE New Digital Age” is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century.

The book proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world’s people and nations into likenesses of the world’s dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not.

Wouldn’t it be something if China ends up being the last bastion of freedom in a world gone Google? For now, that notion is little more than a fever dream in the minds of some of our more senior literary figures, oft as not writing in the throes of late-stage Brain Eater Syndromebut our grandchildren may look to the East, as the people of Russia and Eastern Europe once looked west, and long for whatever they have over there.

Like Wearing Nothing At All

PNAS: “A thin polymer membrane, nano-suit, enhancing survival across the continuum between air and high vacuum.” Abstract:

Most multicellular organisms can only survive under atmospheric pressure. The reduced pressure of a high vacuum usually leads to rapid dehydration and death. Here we show that a simple surface modification can render multicellular organisms strongly tolerant to high vacuum. Animals that collapsed under high vacuum continued to move following exposure of their natural extracellular surface layer (or that of an artificial coat-like polysorbitan monolaurate) to an electron beam or plasma ionization (i.e., conditions known to enhance polymer formation). Transmission electron microscopic observations revealed the existence of a thin polymerized extra layer on the surface of the animal. The layer acts as a flexible “nano-suit” barrier to the passage of gases and liquids and thus protects the organism. Furthermore, the biocompatible molecule, the component of the nano-suit, was fabricated into a “biomimetic” free-standing membrane. This concept will allow biology-related fields especially to use these membranes for several applications.

PNAS May 7, 2013 vol. 110 no. 19 7631-7635.

This is going in my next short story. I’m calling it “Nudes in Space.”