Friday, October 21, 2016

Freaky Friday News: October 21, 2016

Rome Graffiti

Street artist Mauro Pallotta created graffiti of the Pope as a graffiti artist.  Sadly, the Rome "Decor" police removed it with pressurized water already.
Credit Reuters

Britain Pardons Over 60,000 Men for Sex Crimes

Alan Turning, aged 16
This story begins in the 1950s with Alan Turing.  For those not familiar with him, Mr. Turing provided immeasurable service to Great Britain during World War II by decoding Germany's Enigma coding machine and acted as the head of the British signals intelligence agency.  For readers of science fiction, you might recognize the term "Turing test"; this is a test created by Mr. Turing to establish a baseline for artificial intelligence.

In 1952, Alan Turing was charged and convicted of "gross indecency" under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885.  Why?  What could this man have done to deserve such a charge?  Mr. Turing publicly admitted to a homosexual relationship with another man.

It wasn't until the late 1960s that parts of the United Kingdom decriminalized sex between same sex partners; even then it took 15 years for the legal precedent to spread through the entire UK in the following laws:

  • Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 (Wales and England)
  • Criminal Justice Act 1980 (Scotland)
  • Homosexual Offences Order 1982 (Northern Ireland)
These laws made sex between two men aged 21 years or older legal.  It wasn't until the passage of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 where the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual people became 16.

To get back to the present, a new law has passed that pardons over 59,000 dead men of these types of crimes.  In a twist, the approximately 16,000 men still alive have to file paperwork to obtain their pardons.  It feels like the law almost makes the situation right, but fails in the end.  Dead men aren't effected by their convictions anymore, so the pardons feel hollow and falsely symbolic.  But those among the living need the pardons, yet these men need to jump through more hoops to clear their names.

First Look at the Nintendo Switch

OMG!  I'm really excited about this!  Admittedly, I'm not a huge console player, especially since I have an awesome PC for gaming.  But this looks like fun. :-)

Welcome to Asgardia!

Igor Ashurbeyli
Founder of Asgardia

On October 12, a group of men held a press conference in Paris, France to announce the formation on a new nation called Asgardia.  This nation will hopefully draw members from every other country on Earth, be dedicated to science and creativity, and, oh, yeah, it will be located in space!!!

Named after Asgard, one of the Nine Realms in Nordic mythology, Asgardia is the brainchild of Igor Ashurbeyli, a scientist and entrepreneur from Baku, Azerbaijan,  Ashurbeyli believes that we can create a new society in space without some of the problems plaguing current societies, focusing on the freedom of the individual, and allowing each citizen the opportunity to develop their creative spark to innovate space technologies.

The current goals for Asgardia are:

  • Get 100,000 registered citizens
  • Form a working government
  • Get a livable satellite into a low orbit
  • Get recognition from other countries
These goals reflect the larger goal of gaining recognition from the United Nations as a sovereign nation.  So far, almost 500,000 people have signed up to be citizens of Asgardia; and work is progressing on building and launching a satellite, with a tentative launch date in 2017.

The idea behind Asgardia of living in a man-made platform might sound like science fiction, but current technological advances have made outer space a viable living space.  The International Space Station provides an excellent example of how this can work.  Plus various organizations have been researching how limited human contact effect people's mental and emotional health. As for food, a variety of plants have already been grown in outer space:
  • Arabidopsis (Thale cress)
  • Mizuna lettuce
  • Super dwarf wheat
  • Apogey wheat
  • Brassica rapa
  • Rice
  • Tulips
  • Kalanchoe
  • Flax
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Garlic
  • Cucumbers
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Cinnamon basil
Overall, I think that Asgardia might be more than one man's dream; this new space nation has the potential to not only bring humans into outer space, but to act as a neutral party in the politics that will inevitably follow mankind wherever it goes.

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