The Null Device


A man in China has devised a technique for growing his own chairs, by moulding elm branches into a chair shape while the trees are growing.

Mr Wu has one tree chair in his home, which he harvested last September, and six more growing in his field.

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A h4x0r group named Shmoo has revealed a new web-spoofing attack which takes advantage of Unicode characters which look like ASCII characters but aren't, allowing spoofers to register sites like http://www.pа (note that the first 'a' isn't an 'a', but rather Unicode character #1072, the Cyrillic small 'a'). A demo page with two dodgy links is here.

Such attacks, of course, only work if Unicode domain names are allowed. This is one of the few times that Internet Explorer users are safer than Mozilla/Firefox users, as IE doesn't support international domain names out of the box. If you're using Firefox, you may be able to fix it by following the following procedure (via bOING bOING):

1) Goto your Firefox address bar. Enter about:config and press enter. Firefox will load the (large!) config page.
2) Scroll down to the line beginning network.enableIDN -- this is International Domain Name support, and it is causing the problem here. We want to turn this off -- for now. Ideally we want to support international domain names, but not with this problem.
3) Double-click the network.enableIDN label, and Firefox will show a dialog set to 'true'. Change it to 'false' (no quotes!), click Ok. You are done.
4) Go check out the shmoo demo again and notice it no longer works.

Of course, if you practice safe web access, you won't be entering your bank details or whatever after following a link (however kosher-looking) from an untrusted source in the first place, but only after having typed it in with your own hands or selected it from your local bookmarks.

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In this pre-Valentine's Day romance-related-article silly season, health experts are claiming that unrequited love is a real illness that can kill.

He said many are "destabilised by falling in love, or suffer on account of their love being unrequited" and this could lead to a suicide attempt. Few studies deal with the "specific problem of lovesickness", he said.

Which sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me; I don't doubt that unrequited love has caused many mental breakdowns and suicides, though I wonder how much of that comes from the biology of the condition and how much comes from the social expectation that, when someone you fancy doesn't fancy you, you're entitled to whine, pout, go all emo and become temporarily unresponsible for your behaviour. For example, during the Victorian era, many women would faint in certain social situations. This was not due to the biology of the female gender being susceptible to sudden consciousness loss, but due to programmed-in social expectation. Could it be that losing one's shit over that one special person in the world who doesn't reciprocate one's passion is a similar case of cultural conditioning?

(Which is not to say that romantic love or sexual attraction is culturally constructed; I don't for a moment entertain the blank-slate theory of human nature. However, it's more than conceivable the expectations of how such urges are expressed, and how much they can affect one's behaviour, are strongly influenced by cultural expectations, and that, as biological and physical causes of behaviours are revealed, they gain more influence as the self-sustaining illusion of the sovereign free will becomes weakened.)

Then again, now that unrequited love is recognised as a bona fide medical condition, perhaps some pharmaceutical company will seize the opportunity and bring out an anti-unrequited-love drug, a sort of Prozac for the heart which quickly and conveniently cures this debilitating ailment, further streamlining the human condition.

better living through chemistry culture-bound syndromes love medicalisation psychology sex suicide unrequited love valentine's day 11

Japan will soon have musical roads; the Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute has developed a way of encoding melodies in patterns of grooves on road surfaces so that, when a car drives over them, the vibrations reproduce the encoded melody. They are planning to encode different, locally appropriate, melodies on specific sections of roads.

Also on Dottocomu, special Valentine's-day RAM modules.

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Panzerfaust Records, one of the largest record companies in the neo-Nazi "white power" music scene, appears to have gone out of business after one of the owners accused the other of being half-Hispanic:

As a result, and Pierpont's refusal to take a DNA test, Calvert wrote last month that he would quit the company and so would its webmaster. The center reports that influential hate groups Hammerskin Nation and Volksfront also denounced Pierpont.
The Free Your Mind site said that any business done with Pierpont should be considered "an act of treason."

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