The Null Device
Hacker turned theologian Simon Cozens puts forward an argument that the belief system known as "Christianity" in America is not Christianity. By which he means not that is a weird form of Christianity, or even that it is heretical or flawed, but, quite literally, that it is a completely different, unrelated, belief system that happens to have the same name:
The situation only makes sense if you consider a separate entity called "American Christianity" which is an entirely separate religion to Christianity. Not a branch of Christianity, not a form of Christianity, but something with absolutely no connection to Christianity at all. It's a separate religion. And what is the goal of this religion?
look at it phenomenologically, look at it sociologically, and what do you see? Basically a syncretic folk religion, based primarily on American nationalism, an expression of the "pervasive religious dimension of American political life". (Bellah; see also "Civil Religion in America") Its purposes are basically civil and political. Its morality is taken from a highly selective and individualistic reading of the Old Testament, and it mixes in bits of consumerism, Zionism, Republican political values, and corporatism for good measure. Add to this an almost romantic sentimentality concerning the person of Jesus, much like the contribution of Catholicism to Vodou religions, and suddenly it all makes sense.
Another dispatch from the escalating shadow-boxing match between China and the Dalai Lama:
Then, in January, in a religious address delivered in India, the exiled Dalai Lama called on Tibetans to stop wearing wildlife skins, to save animals from extinction.
The results were dramatic: from Lhasa to Gansu, Tibetans gathered for public fur burnings.
Confronted with this evidence of his continuing influence, the Government accused the Dalai Lama of promoting "social disorder" and responded, bizarrely, with a pro-fur campaign in which TV presenters were ordered to wear fur on air.
Laptop thieves in Malaysia have apparently developed a device that can detect and locate laptops, even when they are switched off. Details of the device are unclear, but it appears to be something more sophisticated than looking for Bluetooth devices within range.
Some speculate that it involves homing in on telltale radio-frequency emissions from the laptop's real-time clock and/or battery-management circuits, which are always on. If this is possible and within reach of ordinary criminals (who, after all, can assemble sophisticated ATM card skimmers), expect an epidemic of targeted laptop theft across the world, followed by a boom in the sales of Faraday-cage laptop bags.
Scientists have created a mouse that's permanently happy. The mouse lacks the TREK-1 gene, which affects the transmission serotonin in the brain, and as such doesn't suffer from depression (which, presumably, normal mice do):
Mice without the TREK-1 gene ('knock-out' mice) were created and bred in collaboration with Dr. Michel Lazdunski, co-author of the research, in his laboratory at the University of Nice, France. "These 'knock-out' mice were then tested using separate behavioral, electrophysiological and biochemical measures known to gauge 'depression' in animals," says Dr. Debonnel. "The results really surprised us; our 'knock-out' mice acted as if they had been treated with antidepressants for at least three weeks."