Magic Bullet Links Teen Pregnancy to iPhone Location-Tracking

Obama sees no magic bullet to push down gas prices – via – Well, let’s see…It’s easy to TALK about energy independence, but where will the money come from?  Oh, I know!  Stop spending HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS fighting multiple wars and invest a bit into infrastructure, education, and research into domestic energy sources.

Washington teen fakes pregnancy as school project – via Yahoo! News – Not only is this a great prank, it also must have taken a lot of courage for this girl to voluntarily subject herself to the social stigma that goes along with teen pregnancy, all for a social experiment.  I hope she got an “A” on her project.

Why You Should Care About the iPhone Location-Tracking Issue – via Wired Gadget Lab – While this issue is being somewhat blown out of proportion, I still feel it’s necessary to call attention to it.  If you use a cell phone at all, you need to be aware that data about your location could be collected.  Whether or not you’re interesting enough for anybody to give a shit where you go and when you’re there is debatable, but that doesn’t change the fact that this data is immensely valuable.  It boils down to this:  Never assume you are invisible or anonymous.
Now, storing a database with your whole location history in an unencrypted file right on the mobile device AND the computer you connect it to is not only bad data management, it’s also a horrible practice from a security standpoint as well.  At a minimum I expect Apple will cover their ass and add an option to opt out of the location tracking, or at least add an option to wipe the data every so often.


Less Lethal Links

Here’s two links on the same story.
Police Pepper Spray 8-Year-Old in Colorado Elementary School – via AOL News
Colorado police pepper-spray misbehaving boy, 8 – via Yahoo! News
When I first heard about this story but before I learned any details, my first reaction was to think this was another case of law enforcement using excessive force.  After hearing the details, I think this was probably one of the safer courses of action the police could have taken.  There easily could have been much more severe injuries to either the boy or the police officers if they had chosen to physically disarm him instead of using pepper spray.  I still think it presents a potentially dangerous precedent and could serve to desensitize the public to this kind of actions in our schools, but in this case it was warranted.

Non-Lethal Weapons That Still Hurt Like Hell – via – Since we’re talking about pepper spray, let’s take a look at some of the other less-lethal weapons that are available.

Nine Inch Links – 2010-10-13

Interview: Trent Reznor discusses The Social Network soundtrack – via – Interviews with Trent Reznor are always interesting.  If you can get past the (very) many spelling and grammar mistakes in the transcript you won’t be disappointed with this one.  Among other things, the interview touches on the creative process of scoring the movie, the philosophy behind free (and pirated) music, and my personal favourite, the concept and implementation of Facebook itself.  It’s a bit out of context but here’s a quote – “I don’t think it’s actually executed that well.  The layout’s kind of foolish and the processing is terrible…he [Zuckerburg] was in the right place, at the right time, with a functional tool.”  Hit the link for the whole transcribed interview.

Outrageous School Punishments – 10 Examples of Punishment Gone Too Far – via – I’ve commented here before about disciplinary actions taken by school officials.  Here’s a list of 10 that are notable for how far overboard they went.  To reiterate what I’ve said before – Schools have no business interfering with what their students do outside of class time and off school property.  School officials have no right to physically repremand or punish a child.  Strip searches?  Nope.  Last but not least, this “Zero Tolerance” bullshit has to stop…see number 3 where a six-year old boy was suspended for making a gun shape with his thumb and index finger.

Race China to the Moon, Stop ‘1000 Pearl Harbors,’ Says Controversial Candidate – via – Yup, another interview but a completely different topic.  Here a political candidate argues the extremely alarmist idea that China could use Cuba to stage a second “Cuban Missile Crisis” resulting in the “1000 Pearl Harbors” from the title.  He also states that a new moon race is necessary to maintain technological superiority over China.  The bit about “1000 Pearl Harbors” goes too far, but I’m with him on the moon race part.  Diverting the money that would be necessary for such an undertaking into the branches of science involved would be hugely beneficial to everybody.  Think about it – A Second Space Age.  Why does it have to be a “race”, though?  The benefits of sharing the research burden with China seems to be a better plan.  Draw your researchers from the best and brightest of a larger candidate pool and split the costs between the two countries.  Even better, let any country that wants to shoulder some of the cost participate.  Science doesn’t care about borders.

Voodoo Software Removes Objects From Video In Real Time – via – Take a look at this video.  I’m still skeptical.  If it’s real you can never believe anything you see on TV ever again. The changes to the video shown wouldn’t be that impressive, except this apparently works in real time.  I need to see this for myself. Maybe they can use it on the “footage” from the new moon landings…

Just kidding.

Absolink Power Corrupts Absolinkly

New technologies confuse reality and fiction: Pope – via – I’ll admit at first I jumped to the conclusion that this was going to be the Pope railing against science.  I figured what it would boil down to was “reality is whatever the church tells you”.  To my surprise this was not the case at all.  In his statement, he cautions that technology can lead to “the risk of indifference towards real life.”  It’s hard to disagree with that statement.  While we’re still many years from virtual reality technology that’s passable as actual reality, the concept is sound.  I see it as a form of escapism.  Even today there are people who spend more time playing video games than doing any of their other daily activities.  Other people get lost for hours on end living vicariously through celebrities and their friends in social media circles.  However, I don’t think any of these people are “confused” on the line between real and virtual.  These technologies offer an escape from the monochromatic boredom of everyday life.  Where things will get interesting is when technology is actually able to simulate reality in a convincing way.  Then you’ll see people giving up on the real world to retreat into whatever virtual world they like.  What is the Matrix, indeed.

Robots Guarding US Nuclear Stockpile – via – Our robot overlords are almost upon us.  This is some pretty cool tech.  Between this and the cool shit Google has been driving around lately, pretty soon I shouldn’t have to deal with all you assholes cutting me off.

Ars Technica: Banned in Iran! – via (shocker!) – It looks like Iran’s government maybe didn’t like the reports Ars Technica was publishing on the Stuxnet infection wreaking havoc on Iranian computer networks.  It’s scary how a government with the proper infrastructure in place can effectively cut off whatever website or content they want without any notice.

Superhero or supervillain: Which lurks inside you? – via – Results from a study asking people if they would do good or evil if they were to one day find themselves with superpowers.  I like to think I would be a benevolent dictator.

With secret work on self-driving cars, is Google = Cyberdyne?

Google is a frickin’ amazing company.  It seems they’re working on a little bit of everything.  Today the project of note is work on self-driving cars capable of functioning in traffic.  Currently they still need a human inside for safety reasons, but this is just plain cool.

What we’re driving at – via the Official Google Blog

Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic – via

The one legitimate caveat that I see with this technology is the same as with so many others.  What happens when people develop a dependence on this tech and it fails?  The closest current example I can think of is something that I am guilty of, myself – reliance on in-car GPS navigation.  How screwed would you be if you were in an unfamiliar location, your GPS unit stopped working and you didn’t know how to read a map?  That assumes, of course, that you even have a map.
When people get used to technology they take it for granted.  Don’t believe me?  Try to leave your cell phone off and not use the internet for a week.  Unplug your land line (if you even still have one) and forget about the TV and the radio, too.  One of two things will happen.  Either you’ll realize you don’t need these things or you’ll go batty from the isolation and inconvenience inside of a day or two.

For those unaware – In the Terminator movie franchise, Cyberdyne is the company that created the artificial intelligence that eventually triggered a nuclear war.  Everybody knows that if it’s not zombies, it will be sentient robots that take over the world.  Make sure your kill switch is hardwired, Google.