The Null Device
The ATA committee have voted down the "son of CPRM" proposal. Also known as "generic functionality", the plan was seen by many to be a back-door method of introducing trusted-client copy control mechanisms into computer hard drives. Now that it's gone, it is unclear whether the prospect of integrated hard disk access control is vanquished (for the time being), or simply driven underground into more insidious forms.
Are hacking, fondness for computers or miscellaneous geek tendencies a sign of Asperger's Syndrome, a condition related to autism? Some experts believe so, others doubt it.
Math and engineering skills are common among patients diagnosed with autism or AS, both of which are genetic. Baron-Cohen's study of families with histories of autism or AS found twice as many immediate relatives (parents, siblings and grandparents) who are engineers as in the general population.
Assuming for a moment that "geek" tendencies and AS are the results of a genetic condition, this has potential evolutionary implications. Given that computer skills and similar cognitive abilities are a more adaptive trait in the modern environment than physical strength or fertility, such a condition may well be a mutation leading to more technologically adapted humans in the future. Whether Asperger's Syndrome (which some classify as severely socially debilitating) fits that bill, though, is an entirely different question.
Fun for the whole family:
"In every country the Communists have taken over, the first thing they do is outlaw cockfighting."
- Rep. John Monks, defending the "sport of all free countries", 1975
Fortunately for freedom and the American Way, the Republican Senate majority leader, Senator Trent Lott, has blocked anti-cockfighting laws proposed by prissy liberals and comsymps. So the sun of freedom still shines on America, and decent, God-fearing folk and their kids can gather to watch roosters pumped up with stimulants gouge each other to death with razor-sharp metal spurs. (via Plastic)
If you've read any William Gibson, you've probably noticed his obsessions with all things Japanese. You can't pick up a Gibson novel which doesn't tie into Japanese pop-culture or society somehow; even his Victorian-era steampunk collaboration with Bruce Sterling, The Difference Engine, had a Japanese delegation visiting London. Now Gibson has written an article on Japanese culture, and why it fascinates him. (via Plastic)
Wired News, veering ever further from its mid-90s WELL-digerati origins, has a brief history of ways to determine if a corpse is really dead, to prevent premature burials, These included everything from tongue-pulling machines and smoke enemas to devices such as the "security coffin" and the "vitae dubiae asylum". And it warns that to this day, we may well be sending the comatose to wake in horror in a buried coffin, especially where the cosmetic practice of embalming isn't practiced.
Long pig: Two men in Moldova have been arrested for selling human flesh as meat. The human flesh was apparently removed from a cancer clinic.