April 08, 2005

LinkNews Digest [04/08/2005]

"Right-to-Kill" Legislation Gathers Support in FLA

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Reuters) - People in Florida will be allowed to kill in self-defense on the street without trying to flee under a new law passed by state politicians on Tuesday that critics say will bring a Wild West mentality and innocent deaths.

The Florida House of Representatives, citing the need to allow people to "stand their ground," voted 94-20 to codify and expand court rulings that already allow people to use deadly force to protect themselves in their homes without first trying to escape. The new bill goes further by allowing citizens to use deadly force in a public place if they have a reasonable belief they are in danger of death or great bodily harm.

The "Stand Your Ground" bill passed the Senate last week on a 39-0 vote and now goes to Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who indicated he will sign it. "For a House that talks about the culture of life it's ironic that we would be devaluing life in this bill," said Democratic state Rep. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach. "That's exactly what we're doing." (LINK)
Jeb's Rationale: "It's wrong to pull the plug on a loved one in accordance with their wishes, but it's okay to shoot someone in cold blood if they threaten you."

Gov't Turns in Internet Report 7 Years Late

Lawmakers had demanded the $1 million study, ultimately called "Signposts in Cyberspace," under a 1998 law. Passed almost at the dawn of what became the Internet boom, the law required the Commerce Department to seek a study about Web addresses and trademarks by the National Research Council and wrap up the report within nine months.

The council published its findings Thursday -- two presidential administrations later and years after the implosion of what had been a bustling Internet economy.

"Time got extended," said Charles Brownstein, director of the research council's computer science and telecommunications board. "This was eagerly awaited for about 6 1/2 years ago," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wisconsin, who ordered the study in 1998 as chairman of the House Science Committee.(LINK)
Some Key findings reportedly include:
  • Predictions about an e-commerce site named after a very long river that sells books, movies and music
  • A warning about some university student's file-sharing application called "Hapster or something."
  • An exiled prince from Nigeria contacted one researcher by e-mail, and he is still waiting for the "borrowed" money to be returned to his bank account, which he furnished to the prince.

    Burton Trains Squirrels for "Charlie"

    MADCAP movie-maker Tim Burton blew millions on new film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ? training squirrels to crack nuts. The Batman director was determined to recreate the ?nut room? scene in Roald Dahl?s novel for his movie starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

    He spent six months teaching the 200 rodents to crack hazelnuts, sort them and load them on a conveyor belt. He then spent ANOTHER ten weeks filming the scene at London?s Pinewood Studios. Burton, 46, said: ?We used actual rodents. From birth, we sent them to training school for six months.? (LINK)


    Sony Patents "Brain-Beam" Technology

    The technique suggested in the patent is entirely non-invasive. It describes a device that fires pulses of ultrasound at the head to modify firing patterns in targeted parts of the brain,
    creating "sensory experiences" ranging from moving images to tastes and sounds. This could give blind or deaf people the chance to see or hear, the patent claims.

    If the method described by Sony really does work, it could have all sorts of uses in research and medicine, even if it is not capable of evoking sensory experiences detailed enough for the entertainment purposes envisaged in the patent. (LINK)


    Korea Launches Trans-Gender Pop Sensation

    Pretty pop princesses are a dime a dozen, but meet ?Lady,? not your typical girly group. These four foxy sirens are creating media frenzy as they poise to take the entertainment industry by storm. Korea's first transgender group is set to release its debut album in a Euro-dance style. And its members -- Sine, Sahara, Binu and Yoona -- born as 'he's are now 'she's with looks that many natural-born women would kill for.

    "We love chocolate, shopping and gossip. Mentally we were always women, the only difference being that we changed something physical, simply we are women with an extra scar," said one group member. (LINK)


    New PC Cookie Monster To Give Up Cookies

    First PBS announced that "Sesame Street" would kick off its 35th season this week with a multiyear story arc about healthy habits. No problem there; childhood obesity rates are soaring. Then I learned of changes that turned my "Sesame Street" world upside-down.

    My beloved blue, furry monster -- who sang "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me" -- is now advocating eating healthy. There's even a new song -- "A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food," where Cookie Monster learns there are "anytime" foods and "sometimes" foods.

    "Even Cookie Monster is learning to control his cookie cravings," Frist told me by e-mail. "His sage advice opened our eyes to the simple joys of a tasty cookie and now reminds us that moderation is the key to healthy living." (LINK)
    I almost cried. The politicians missed the point entirely on this one. Cookie Monster was not a role model, but a tragic figure on "The Street", showing the horror of over-indulgence as a warning to young viewers. "Do not become like me," he said (figuratively), "so addicted to a food that you devour anything remotely resembling it, like the Moon."

  • Talk about too much free time: A scale-model Disneyland, complete with Railroad, out of Legos.
  • Too much free time #2: The Mr. T Cabbage Patch Doll Competition
  • TheSneeze.com's popular feature "Steve, Don't Eat It!" conquers Cuitlacoche, a Mexican "delicacy" of fungus-infected corn.
  • The AKIRA Bike scooter Mod.
  • New Product:The Scrolling LED Belt Buckle
  • My 25 Favorite Things about Sesame Street. Yes, the counting pinball machine makes the list...
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