May 20, 2005

LinkNews Digest [05/20/2005]

E3 Gaming Conference Marred by Power Outage

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It is hard to hold a video game trade show during a power failure, as attendees of the Electronic Entertainment Expo learned the hard way on Wednesday, just as the show was getting underway.
The power went out to mainly the media and administrative facilities at the Los Angeles Convention Center, though it was available on the show floor where games publishers, developers and hardware makers had set up their booths, said Carolyn Rauch, vice president of the Entertainment Software Association.

"The power outage stemmed from a problem with the city's power grid. We're working with them to rectify it as soon as possible," Rauch said.

The E3 gathering is the gaming industry's top deal-making and media event, with thousands of participants congregating each year in Los Angeles to learn about the latest and greatest in gaming. (LINK)

Bush Seeks "Death From Above" Space Weapons

The Air Force, saying it must secure space to protect the nation from attack, is seeking President Bush's approval of a national-security directive that could move the United States closer to fielding offensive and defensive space weapons, according to White House and Air Force officials.

A senior administration official said that a new presidential directive would replace a 1996 Clinton administration policy that emphasized a more pacific use of space, including spy satellites' support for military operations, arms control and nonproliferation pacts.
Another Air Force space program, nicknamed "Rods From God", aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground, striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles an hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon.

A third program would bounce laser beams off mirrors hung from space satellites or huge high-altitude blimps, redirecting the lethal rays down to targets around the world. A fourth seeks to turn radio waves into weapons whose powers could range "from tap on the shoulder to toast," in the words of an Air Force plan. (LINK)
"The Crossbow Project... Because there's no defense like a good offense."

Swiss Put Blanket on Glacier

GEMSSTOCK, Switzerland, May 10 (Reuters) - Alarmed by the retreat of its Alpine glacier, a Swiss ski resort on Tuesday wrapped part of the shrinking ice-cap in a giant blanket in a bid to reduce the summer melt. If successful, officials at the Gemsstock resort above Andermatt in central Switzerland expect the example to be followed elsewhere in the Alps, where scientists say glaciers are under threat from global warming.

"We think it will become common practice to cover parts of the glaciers," Urs Elmiger, a board member of Andermatt Gotthard Sportbahnen, the cable car operator behind the project, told Reuters.

A thin protective layer of artificial textiles, including polyester, was laid over an area of 3-4,000 square metres (yards). The fleece-like material, hard to distinguish with the naked eye from snow, will reflect the rays of the sun. The 100,000 Swiss franc ($83,000) blanket will protect one of the main glacier access ramps, which has to be rebuilt each autumn at the start of the ski season to cover a yawning 20-metre gap opened up by the ice melt. (LINK)

Kansas Schools Disbelieve Science Itself

Just when I thought this whole evolution fiasco was over, Kansas takes it a step further...
TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas school board's hearings on evolution weren't limited to how the theory should be taught in public schools. The board is considering redefining science itself. Advocates of "intelligent design" are pushing the board to reject a definition limiting science to natural explanations for what's observed in the world. The proposed definition has outraged many scientists, who are frustrated that students could be discussing supernatural explanations for natural phenomena in their science classes.

The conservative state Board of Education plans to consider the proposed changes by August. It is expected to approve at least part of a proposal from advocates of intelligent design, which holds that the natural world is so complex and well-ordered that an intelligent cause is the best way to explain it. (LINK)

Technology Makes Virual Chicken-Petting Possible

Researchers have developed a cybernetic system to allow physical interaction over the internet. The system allows touching and feeling of animals or other humans in real time, but it's first being tried out on -- chickens.

"This is the first human-poultry interaction system ever developed," said professor Adrian David Cheok, the leader of the team, who has been developing the technology for nearly two years.

"We understand the perceived eccentricity of developing a system for humans to interact with poultry remotely, but this work has a much wider significance," he added. Remote haptic interaction could allow people who are allergic to dogs and cats to caress their pets remotely. Used in zoos, it may allow visitors to pat a lion or scratch a bear. A security officer could remotely and silently signal a dog wearing a haptic suit, giving the animal instructions by simply touching it, which could be useful in rescue work or homeland security applications. (LINK) via WIRED

Singapore Fights Spread of "Singlish"

SINGAPORE (AP) - Singapore's prime minister launched the country's latest behaviour modification campaign on Friday, urging teachers to use hip-hop and rap music to teach proper English and warning that continued use of the mutated local form of the language could make Singaporeans unintelligible.

Lee was referring to two words commonly added to the end of sentences in "Singlish" - a mishmash of English and local dialects. "Can or not? I think can," he said, using another commonly used phrase in Singlish.

"If our English becomes too mutated, then we become unintelligible to others," he said. "If we speak in a dialect which only some Singaporeans can understand, then we are handicapping ourselves and cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world." (LINK)
See also: Engrish

Gotta love Google Maps

A wonderful internet tool intended to show you points of interest...bastardized by the masses. Now you can use it to pinpoint the locations of first degree murders in the Chicago Metro area.

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