I'm at SETIcon 2 this weekend. It's a mix of science, sci-fi, religion and general speculation.
What really strikes me is that a couple of years ago at the first conference a handful of exoplanets had been found but the Kepler scientists were grinning away, not allowed to say much.
This time round it's hard to find a star without a planetary system. The (silly) Drake equation is falling term by term.
Next SETIcon it has to be some evidence of life...
"In the 30 years since Gallup started asking people whether they believe humans evolved, evolved under the guidance of God, or were created fully formed by God, the percentage of people adhering to the creationist view has actually gone up slightly over time, and now stands at 46 percent of the population."
I recently got back from a trip back to the UK. Every time I go back these days something about the country has fundamentally changed. This time it's that every petrol station and motorway services has a Marks & Spencer or Waitrose supermarket embedded in it. On the motorway there are generally several large branches, and then a smaller branch in the toilet hand-washing area, and finally a tiny shop selling sandwiches and a small selection of ready-made curries in each cubicle.
At first pass this seems very convenient, but you can't fill up the tank in the smallest BP (paying at the pump being virtually unheard of in the UK) without getting stuck behind someone doing their weekly shop.
No book reviews this month.
Penn Jillette's rant against Obama's drug policy http://t.co/Ri5HAqxH
Why your camera's GPS won't work in China (maybe) http://t.co/FQIFN8wI
Sigh, obvious, invalid, bullshit -- BBC News - Microsoft wins patent fight with Google's Motorola unit http://t.co/0PENWTCV
BBC News the secret links between Star Wars and Wales http://t.co/T8yEulCu (is there any tenuous link with Wales you won't publish?)
:) Hot weather to continue next week http://t.co/izAc2yA1
Not Skip's Tavern any more... http://t.co/dPx1NIj8
Reality rocks in San Francisco earthquake exhibit http://t.co/yo82B38b (Looking forward to this!)
BBC News - In pictures: Annular eclipse http://t.co/YA5F6or2 (Check out the Lemurs checking out the eclipse)
ITHCWY: Annular Eclipse at SFO: The only solar observatory outside the international terminal at SFO (some… http://t.co/ZqMXm8Ec
Beer was near, sadly earlier. http://t.co/2BeMAJZj
1906 earthquake refugee cottage at The Presidio. http://t.co/pof5LotA
ITHCWY: Gopher Snake: Bernal Heights Park http://t.co/OoHYDU0y
Turned out nice... http://t.co/G2pHtgbd
ITHCWY: Open Immigration: I'm increasingly in favor of opening up immigration. Partly it's a general sense that a… http://t.co/cBLQT2rI
ITHCWY: Snake rests on Toad: At the California Academy of Sciences. http://t.co/YTQh682A
New Golden Gate Visitor center - lots of tat, no food :( http://t.co/vXmZn099
President Obama: 'I Think Same-Sex Couples Should Be Able to Get Married'; http://t.co/CtC6k2A8 (shameful that it has taken this long)
Post Doyle Drive detour quite pleasant on the way home tonight. http://t.co/fSK8e4v9
ITHCWY: Bottled Water: A company called Evive launched this week to battle the evil of bottled water with reusable… http://t.co/5X9e3emO
ITHCWY: Pelicans http://t.co/0xoup7z5
The only solar observatory outside the international terminal at SFO (some binoculars and a complicated harness of cardboard cup wrappers). Gathered quite a crowd!
I'm increasingly in favor of opening up immigration. Partly it's a general sense that a person shouldn't be tied to a country by the accident of birth. Being free to migrate seems to me like it should be a basic human right.
Partly it's the economic benefit. I'm in the software/Internet industry and I've been lucky enough to work in Silicon Valley via visa, green card and eventually citizenship. I hope I've also been a net benefit to my adopted home. I've certainly paid plenty of tax and helped to create a fair number of jobs. Vijay Govindarajan writing on the same topic lists a few more illustrious transplants:
"Consider that the co-founder of Google is Sergey Brin, a Russian. The co-founder of Sun Microsystems is Vinod Khosla, an Indian. eBay was founded by Pierre Omidyar, who is French. The co-founder of Juniper Networks is an Indian, Pradeep Sindhu. YouTube was co-founded by Steve Chen, who is Chinese. Yahoo! was co-founded by Jerry Yang, a Chinese immigrant. Andy Grove, a Hungarian, co-founded Intel."
Not that you need to create a billion plus dollar company to have a positive impact.
There are of course economic risks - primarily cheap labor lowering wages (albeit also lowering prices) and freeloaders benefiting from social programs without contributing back.
But cheap labor is getting those jobs anyway. It's a fundamental inequality that companies can shop around internationally for cheap employees but people can't shop around internationally for a job. And the impact of the freeloader problem can be reduced by requiring some length of residency before providing benefits.
Of course some jobs require physical proximity and can't be outsourced and some level of freeloading will always be possible. This brings me to the third reason I support open immigration. It would bring a huge amount of focus to international development. If people are free to live and work where they want then there will be a huge motivation to improve living conditions and economic opportunity around the world. It might be the only way to make real progress in this area.
This policy could be unilateral, or it could be based on reciprocal treaty - the latter probably being more practical, and hopefully fostering immigration in both directions.
 More in the sense of greater, not additional.
 More in the sense of closer to, I don't think it's actually very likely to happen.