Smart Mobs: Baja Beach Club in Barcelona

VIP members of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona can choose to have RFID chip implanted in their arm instead of carrying an ID card. The chip is the size of a grain of rice and can be scanned at 10 cm. Drinks can be charged to the users account by scanning the chip.

Will we all soon carry a microchip in our skin instead of a wallet? Before that happens they will have to figure out how privacy rules apply, how an individual can control what gets scanned by different vendors, and develop a standard. Nobody’s going to want 10-15 chips like we have 10-15 cards in our wallet!


Intelliseek’s BlogPulse is a website that tracks popular topics in blogs. They maintain three main lists: Top Links, Key People, and Key Phrases that appear in blogs.

My favorite, Brad Pitt has consistently ranked #1 in the most featured people list. Right before John Kerry and George Bush today.

Mesh Forum

Here’s another form of social networking – a conference you can only attend if someone else invites you. Sounds like a party not a conference to me!

It’ll be interesting to see how it progresses over the years. On a related note, Google’s gmail beta service is only available via invite by somebody else who has service. I think that definitely adds to the mystic and gives them great publicity.

British Editor Fired for Use of Fake Photos of Iraq Abuse

The editor of the Daily Mirror was fired for posting fake pictures of British soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners, but Rumsfeld hasn’t been fired for allowing real abuse to take place. As a matter of fact, nobody has really been punished for allowing real abuse to take place. From what I can tell that’s not because Americans – nor the President – think the abuse was justified. Do our military leaders think it was justified?

Judge rules that couple can have no more children

A woman who has four children in foster care was ordered not to have any more until she can take care of them. (Turns out she was pregnant again by the time the ruling happened!)

I certainly understand where the judge is coming from. This couple should not have any more children. However, must not? Can the courts endorce that order? And without taking any kind of preventative action, can they enforce it all? Here’s what the judge said:

“In a March 31 ruling made public last week, the judge said she was not forcing contraception or sterilization on the couple and was not requiring the mother to get an abortion should she become pregnant. But the couple could be jailed for contempt if they have another child.”

The two costs to consider here are the costs to society of caring for these children temporarily (and probably permanently) and the cost to the children who will most likely have a more difficult time growing up in foster care and homeless shelters than they would have had they been born to more stable, well off parents. Balancing those two issues is very difficult. Whether children in this situation are better off with their parents or better off with others is a highly debated situation. Is the parents’ situation temporary (and foster care is justified) or is it permanent in which case the best thing for the children might be to be adopted by someone looking for children to love?

I think the correct “punishment” for failing to agree with the judge’s ruling would be to have the next baby put up for immediate adoption. (Especially if the mother continues her drug usage while pregnant, a serious abuse to the child.) However, that ruling implies so much power to the courts that it has serious, scary implications to our society.

How much would you spend on your pet’s health?

I just read this blog entry, collision detection: Fixing Nemo, on Clive Thompson’s blog yesterday about how much would you be willing to spend to save your pet’s life.  Clive says he’d pay $1000.  I say it would depend on the expected outcome.  I’d pay a lot more if I was guaranteed a 100% recovery.  But if you said I was only prolonging life by a month or two or my dog would be in severe pain forever, I probably wouldn’t pay anything.  For problems in between, it’s a hard decision, as I was reminded this morning.

How much you’d pay for a pet’s health is a debate that I’ve had with many of my friends.  I’ve also seen couples get into very heated arguments over how much was appropriate to spend on their dog’s hip surgery or their ferret’s cancer.  It hit home this morning when I took my dog Teddy to the vet.  When I watched them writing "acting funny" as the reason for the visit, I felt kind of stupid.  It took a force of will to stay – to remind myself that I really did think there was a problem and what I had described was more than "acting funny" in my opinion.  I felt stupid because I was about to pay $38 to find out if why my dog was "acting funny".  That would pay for a very nice dinner tonight. 

As it turns out, Teddy is in pain, so I was correct in thinking that "acting funny" might be serious.  However, I spent $150 to find out that she has a disk protrusion, i.e. a slipped disk, so while I was right, something was wrong, I spent $150 to learn that Teddy should take it easy for a while (no running!) and take doggie aspirin.  Was it money well spent?

See more dog posts at my Humans for Dogs blog.

Party members are blind

I think that most people blindly follow the beliefs of their party.

I bet 80% of you that agree with the above statement agree because you think members of the opposite party are stupid, bull headed and blindly follow their party. They never listen to you. Right?

We waste way too much time pitting Democrats against Republicans and vice versa. And in reality both parties are so close to each other on the political spectrum that it makes our debates ridiculous. I mean look at the grand scheme of politics, the extreme right is some sort of dictatorship and the extreme left is some form of communism. Our Democratic and Republic parties (with capital letters of course) are right next to each other somewhere in the middle. And the members of those parties cross the lines quite a bit. I mean, how many Republicans do you know that are prochoice? And I know a few Democrats that are prolife. And that’s just one issue in the larger portfolio of war, terrorism, voting, and educational systems to name a few.

Yet an independent will never make it in our political system because they don’t have the financial backing of a party and all the votes a party can pull in.

I think debate is absolutely necessary. But a debate that only has two sides – the same two sides! – for the hundreds of issues that face us today is bound to reach some strange compromises. Compromises that we can’t afford.

A friend of mine just pointed me to (See his writeup.) If you sign up, it adds a toolbar to your browser. You can then rate web sites. Your friends can see which web sites you like, and you can tell Stumble to show you websites that you might like. As Tim says, it’s like channel surfing for the web.