Monthly Archives: September 2020

‘Fusion Power Just Ten Years Away!’

So suggests the New York Times in Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Is ‘Very Likely to Work,’ Studies Suggest,

Scientists developing a compact version of a nuclear fusion reactor have shown in a series of research papers that it should work, renewing hopes that the long-elusive goal of mimicking the way the sun produces energy might be achieved and eventually contribute to the fight against climate change.

Construction of a reactor, called Sparc, which is being developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a spinoff company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, is expected to begin next spring and take three or four years, the researchers and company officials said.

Although many significant challenges remain, the company said construction would be followed by testing and, if successful, building of a power plant that could use fusion energy to generate electricity, beginning in the next decade.

Before you get too excited, however, consider my previous post on this topic — in 2018, under the headline Fusion Allegedly Just Five Years Away — BBC:

I’ve written before on how fusion power is always coming, never here. About a year and a half ago I posted this:

Fusion Power is Only 15 Years Away, we’re told. I guess that’s progress since in just the last few years people have said its Always 50 Years Away, or maybe Always 30 Years Away, or maybe formely 30 years away, now its more like 50 years away, or maybe just forever 20 years away, or 13 Years Away.

So ten years away is progress, right? Then again three years ago it ten years away so maybe we’re going backwards?

Or maybe we’re looking at the wrong scientific advance here: what we really have is an odd form of time travel?

But comes now the BBC to tell us that according to some startups, maybe fusion power is just five years away, which certainly seems like the frontier is getting closer…or some startups have at least got fusion going on their hype…

I’m sure someday one of these predictions will be right. Someday. Meanwhile, however, the hype frontier has moved back to ten years from five…

Posted in Science/Medicine, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Comments Off on ‘Fusion Power Just Ten Years Away!’


What do you get when VoteVets and the Lincoln Project team up? You get this:

Posted in 2020 Election | Comments Off on Devastating

Funniest Software License Ever?

There have been funny terms of service and software licenses in the past, like the TOS that demanded your first-born son, and the one that offered $10,000 to the first person to read it and get in touch, but I think this, via BoingBoing might be my favorite:

Voynix recently wrote something he calls The Spite License. They say it is, “in essence, a trapdoor — it allows potential licensees to use the software under the terms of the secondary license (as shown here, the standard MIT license) if and only if they do not read the license file itself.”


Permission is hereby granted to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated materials to make use of the software and associated materials according to the terms of the MIT License (see included file `LICENSE_MIT`) IF AND ONLY IF they have not read any portion of this file.

Any person who has read any portion of this file may not make any use of the software and associated materials for any purpose whatsoever. Any permissions previously granted to any person to use this software and associated materials terminate and are revoked with immediate effect upon their reading of any portion of this file.

Why did they create this? Voynix offers two reasons:

  • Because it’s funny
  • Because you want randos on the Internet but not big companies with lawyers who make their engineers actually read licenses to use your software
Posted in Law: IP | Comments Off on Funniest Software License Ever?

My Brother is Shrill Today

Dan is very shrill today. And it seems like the the right response given the provocation.

Posted in Dan Froomkin | Comments Off on My Brother is Shrill Today

Signs and Portents

No, I’m not referring to birds falling out of the sky, nor to the hellish coloration of California last week.

I’m thinking of Trump’s amazing descent into full-throated fascism and even eugenics. If you follow just one link in this post, follow that one. There is no low so low we cannot go lower.

I’m thinking of this ad — which is apparently not a parody other than perhaps a self-parody — for Sen. Kelly Loeffler, in which her spokesperson brags that  Loeffler is “more conservative than Attila the Hun”; the ad then cuts to Loeffler’s idea of Attila ordering a minion to “attack big government” — and concludes with his order to “eliminate the liberal scribes”.

In this context, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s spineless about-face on Supreme Court nominations seems almost banal.

Update: and now I can’t tell if this fake focus group introduced by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog is a real fake, or a fake fake where everyone is an actor. I really hope they are actors.

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze, The Scandals | 2 Comments

Reminder: Faculty Senate Event 5pm Today

UM Faculty Scholarship Medal (reverse)It’s not too late to register for the (Zoomed) Faculty Senate awards ceremony this afternoon at 5pm. (It was supposed to be in-person last semester, but it got postponed to all-Zoom this semester.)

As the recipient of this year’s Faculty Scholarship award, I’ve been invited to give a 10 minute talk related to my work, that I’m calling “Disruptive Technology and the Law”.

Posted in Personal, Talks & Conferences, U.Miami | Comments Off on Reminder: Faculty Senate Event 5pm Today