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A patriotic sentiment I

A patriotic sentiment I can get behind. Link Discuss (via GregLog)

Novelty coffins inspired by

Novelty coffins inspired by the accomplishments of the deceased, like this airplane coffin, are traditional among prominent Ga families in Ghana, Africa. Link Discuss (via MeFi)

Pepsi launches new wireless soda

Pepsi launches new wireless soda machines nationwide this week. The machines use a wireless Internet connection to process credit-card transactions and report on inventory via a Web browser -- it's the fingerable pop machine, Mark II! Link Discuss (via Meerkat)

E-Lang, a way-cool language for

E-Lang, a way-cool language for creating secure Peer-to-Peer transactions, has been ported to MacOS X. Link Discuss (via Meerkat)

The terrorists have already won.

The terrorists have already won. A blogger's 70-year-old mother is visited by the CIA when her son ships the grandson's xmas gifts to her ahead of their visit. The Feebs want to know why she's taking delivery of a large, ticking box (it was the battery-powered Tonka truck, whirring). Link Discuss (via Meerkat)

Monty Python's Terry Jones critiques

Monty Python's Terry Jones critiques the War on Terrorism.
However, finally the 'War on Terrorism' is achieving its policy objectives. Osama bin Laden is looking haggard. We may not have caught him or brought him to justice but, at the cost of thousands of innocent Afghan lives, billions of dollars of US citizens' money and the civil liberties of the Free World, we have got him looking haggard.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Simon!)

More evidence of the power

More evidence of the power of patents to stimulate innovation. The inventors of a fast and accurate HIV test have exclusively licensed the patents in the US to companies that provide slower, more expensive, less accurate, more profitable tests. These companies are using their license to keep the technology out of America, so that they can continue to profit from their inferior technology. Link Discuss (via Plastic)

Revolting criminal gets 20 years.

Revolting criminal gets 20 years. This Florida man prank-called women and impersonated a doctor, talking them into mutilating their nipples and genitals. The link below is to the newspaper story on his sentencing, but if you've got a strong stomach, go have a look at The Smoking Gun, where they've got court documents detailing the crimes. I can't imagine anyone being convincing enough over the phone to convince the party on the other end to mutilate herself -- if this were a horror novel, no one would believe it. Link Discuss (via Plastic)

So much for actually improving

So much for actually improving airline security. The Feds are dropping the high-school diploma requirement for airport screeners who've worked a year on the job, on the grounds that anyone who lasts a year in such a crappy, dead-end low-paying job really must be extraordinary. Link Discuss

RSA announces a WEP improvement

RSA announces a WEP improvement that allegedly secures 802.11 networks (unlike the current WEP, which is basically useless). Any bets on how long it takes for this rev to be cracked? Link Discuss (via /.)

Good, in-depth look at the

Good, in-depth look at the tech behind the XBox, PS2 and GameCube. Link Discuss (via /.)

Internet Freak Show. Siklink's got

Internet Freak Show. Siklink's got all kinds of nifty pix and text about human oddities, freaks and the weird. Unfortunately, it's really badly organized and hard to navigate, but there are some real nuggets here for the diligent surfer. Link Discuss

Infringing while framing. Swedish cops

Infringing while framing. Swedish cops faked up video evidence used to frame a protester, and now the cops're being sued by the TV networks whose copyrighted footage they used without permission in the fake evidence. Link Discuss (via On Lisa Rein's Radar)

Fantastic Metropolis has published my

Fantastic Metropolis has published my "(non-exhaustive, non-proscriptive) list of several noteworthy books that I read this year (including one book I'm in and a bunch of books by my pals and cronies)"
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link (Small Beer Press, 2001)

Kelly's first short story collection is wondrous, an 11-pack of fanciful gems. Link writes these understated, surreal gems that stick in your head for weeks and months after you've finished 'em. Summarizing a Link story is nearly impossible, as is figuring out how they work, so strange is their structure and style. That they are wonderful is indisputable, but it's one of those deals where you gotta read 'em to get 'em. Count yourself lucky to be alive and reading in the oughts, when Kelly Link's work is being published.

Link Discuss

Unicode is imperialism! Here's a

Unicode is imperialism! Here's a long, detailed and fascinating history of character codes, from Morse Code to Unicode. Unicode, it turns out, is a bit of a raw deal for the Chinese:
The reader might be asking him/herself how could all the world's characters be squeezed into 65,536 character points when it was mentioned above that a character set of about 65,000 characters is being developed at the University of Tokyo just for Japanese? The answer is that this was to be achieved through the "unification" of similar characters. No, all the 'A's in alphabetic scripts were not to be unified into one character point. What was to be unified were the thousands of Chinese characters that make up the scripts of East Asian languages. In fact, the Unicode Consortium has set up a Chinese/Japanese/Korean Joint Research Group (CJK-JRG) that is busily carrying out the Unicode Consortium's main goal, "Han Unification," even though the vast majority of the people living in the Han cultural sphere are probably not aware of what they are doing. To date, they have assigned approximately 20,000 Chinese characters to code points, and there are another 30,000 code points left to be filled. Although Unicode has been criticized as being little more than an exercise in
Link Discuss (Thanks, Allen)

StatsCan! The Globe and Mail's

StatsCan! The Globe and Mail's omnibus statistical roundup of Canadian survey responses in 2001:
88% of Canadians oppose human cloning while 4 per cent would want themselves to be cloned.

78% of Canadians eat peanut butter for breakfast; 54 per cent have it on toast and 9 per cent say they consume it straight from the jar.

58% of Canadians prefer sleep over sex.

48% of the population say the best remedy for depression is to spend more time with friends and family; 17 per cent say it's best to go shopping and 14 per cent advocate drinking more alcohol.

40% of men would have sex with a total stranger, compared with 12 per cent of women (16 per cent of men and 3 per cent of women also say they would make love to their best friend's partner).

Link Discuss

Cheating gift-cards. It turns out

Cheating gift-cards. It turns out to be fantastically easy to hack the magnetic in-store gift-cards sold at the point-of-sale of many chain stores.
A thief at a store buys a single gift card, but while standing in line, looks at the account numbers printed on the next 10 cards. Since the store’s cards are only glued to a piece of cardboard, rather than encased in packaging, the account numbers are easy to see.

The thief then goes home, and using a credit card encoder, reprograms the magnetic stripe to one of the account numbers lifted while in line. He then calls the 800 number provided by the store and finds out how much value was placed on the “stolen” card by a consumer who has since purchased it. The moment he is sure the card has been charged, the thief goes back into the store and spends the victim’s funds. Even though the account being drained is different from the account printed on the card the thief is using, the store is never the wiser, because clerks rarely check to see if the numbers match.

Link Discuss (via /.)