‘You do not exist,’ said O’Brien

“Once again the sense of helplessness assailed [Winston]. He knew, or he could imagine, the arguments which proved his own nonexistence; but they were nonsense, they were only a play on words. Did not the statement, ‘You do not exist’, contain a logical absurdity? But what use was it to say so? His mind shrivelled as he thought of the unanswerable, mad arguments with which O’Brien would demolish him. (…)

‘The second thing for you to realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body but, above all, over the mind. Power over matter — external reality, as you would call it — is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute.’ (…)

‘But how can you control matter?’ [Winston] burst out. ‘You don’t even control the climate or the law of gravity. And there are disease, pain, death –‘. O’Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. ‘We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation — anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.'”

“Não há indício de plano do PM para controlar a imprensa”

Confrontado com o teor das escutas telefónicas divulgadas pelo semanário Sol, o PGR contrapôs que estas “valem o que valem” (…)

O PGR notou ainda que, uma vez declaradas “nulas e de nenhum valor” as escutas na parte respeitante ao primeiro-ministro, a “partir daí não existem”. “Não existem. São irrelevantes. Quanto ao resto, não é da competência do PGR”, conclui Pinto Monteiro.

Steven Weinberg cancela visita ao Imperial College

US laureate calls off UK visit

Steven Weinberg, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979, was planning to visit Imperial College London in July to speak in honour of Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam and to give a talk at a conference on particle physics.

Letter to Michael Duff, Abdus Salam chair of theoretical physics at Imperial College London

I am writing to let you know that I will not be coming to the Abdus Salam commemoration or the Pascos conference [the 13th international symposium on particles, strings and cosmology at Imperial College] this July. For some time, I have had mixed feelings about visits to Britain, due to my perception of a widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current of British opinion, especially in the intellectual establishment. When I heard of the boycott of Israeli academics by (the lecturers’ union) Natfhe in 2006, I cancelled a visit I had planned to a conference at Durham University. Continue a ler “Steven Weinberg cancela visita ao Imperial College”

Não faz mal, o que conta é a intenção

Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops (New York Times, via Slashdot)

The students at Liverpool High have used their school-issued laptops to exchange answers on tests, download pornography and hack into local businesses. When the school tightened its network security, a 10th grader not only found a way around it but also posted step-by-step instructions on the Web for others to follow (which they did).

Scores of the leased laptops break down each month, and every other morning, when the entire school has study hall, the network inevitably freezes because of the sheer number of students roaming the Internet instead of getting help from teachers.

So the Liverpool Central School District, just outside Syracuse, has decided to phase out laptops starting this fall, joining a handful of other schools around the country that adopted one-to-one computing programs and are now abandoning them as educationally empty and worse. Many of these districts had sought to prepare their students for a technology-driven world and close the so-called digital divide between students who had computers at home and those who did not.

“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement – none,” said Mark Lawson, the school board president here in Liverpool, one of the first districts in New York State to experiment with putting technology directly into students’ hands. “The teachers were telling us when there’s a one-to-one relationship between the student and the laptop, the box gets in the way. It’s a distraction to the educational process.” Continue a ler “Não faz mal, o que conta é a intenção”

All your base (pairs) are belong to us

Governo avança com proposta de lei para criar base de dados de ADN

Foi hoje [24 de Maio] aprovada em Conselho de Ministros uma proposta de lei para a criação de uma base de dados de perfis de ADN com fins de identificação civil e criminal. A iniciativa tinha já levantado bastante polémica e avança agora para a Assembleia da República, salientando o Governo os “visíveis benefícios da identificação genética para fins criminais e civis”, embora um parecer da Comissão Nacional de Protecção de Dados levante reservas em relação a vários aspectos.

A base de dados de perfis de ADN, nas suas duas vertentes, está sob a responsabilidade do Conselho de Fiscalização, que assume poderes de autoridade e responde apenas perante a Assembleia da República, diz o documento.

A proposta de lei agora aprovada contempla dois tipos de ficheiros diferentes, um para identificação civil e criminal, com regras de inserção de dados diversas. No caso da base de dados de identificação civil o fornecimento de informação é voluntário e deverá ser feito segundo a prestação de consentimento livre, informado e escrito, podendo este ser revogável.

Por enquanto, se a proposta avançar, apesar da Comissão de Dados a ter chumbado, a listagem numa base de dados civil terá apenas carácter voluntário. Falta somente saber quanto tempo levará o governo a tentar forçar o registo de todos os portugueses obrigatório na prática, por exemplo, exigindo-o para ter acesso a determinados serviços. Para quem já não se recordar, ou admitir excessiva esta conclusão, recomenda-se a leitura de uma das notícias, originalmente de 2005, em que António Costa explicava qual era a intenção do governo.

O que leva dentro dessa mochila? Essa barba parece suspeita

More stop and quiz terror powers

Proposed new anti-terror laws could give police greater powers to stop and question anyone in the UK. The proposal, allowing police to ask people about their identity and movement, is among measures being considered by Home Secretary John Reid. The new legislation would be similar to that already used in Northern Ireland.

Police are still likely to need a “reasonable suspicion” a crime may be committed. Anyone refusing to co-operate could be fined up to £5,000. At present, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, officers already have the power to stop and search people or vehicles in an area seen as being at risk from terrorism even if they are not suspected of any breach of the law. A Home Office spokeswoman said that the new proposals would give officers an automatic right to stop and question anyone in the UK about suspected terrorism.