Friday Roundup

  • Fish from the sky: “As if the denizens of London did not already have enough to worry about trying to safely navigate muggers, backpackers and street performers, they now face a new threat: piranhas falling from the skies.” (yes, this is an actual quote from the article)
  • Answers to the age-old question, “Has Text-porn finally made computers ‘human’?” A jaunty pop-culture take on the Turing Test challenge that looks at, among other things, spam (the e-mail kind) and salacious SMS chat. Interesting thought: a porno-bot (aka the Natachata chatbot) that dupes people into believing it really is another person was, in fact, conceived by a rocket scientist.
  • Arianna Huffington’s Latest Column talks about, curiously enough, porn. Arianna points out that, amidst cuts to housing, veterans’ programs, and the NIH, the current administration is actually dumping more money into fighting porn. Which, maybe they think it’s a gateway vice to terrorism —who knows.
  • Lies, lies, lies. Quick: who’s more likely to lie, someone talking on the telephone or someone writing an e-mail? Answer: person on the telephone. Surprised? Apparently (at least according to the research cited in this article) several factors come into play. One is the immediacy of phone calls vs. e-mails, e-mails giving the would-be liar a chance to come clean. E-mails also giving the would-be liar a potential source of embarassment later on, when the saved e-mail, lies bald-faced (or in some cases bold-faced) and intact, comes back to haunt her. I.e., “People appear to be afraid to lie when they know the communication could later be used to hold them to account.”
  • Harper’s Weekly Review (2/3): “A federal judge tried for the third time to impose punitive damages on the Exxon Mobil Corporation for the Exxon Valdez oil spill fifteen years ago; Exxon Mobil said it would appeal the $4.5 billion judgment.” (compare: Exxon’s profit in 2003 was $21.51 billion). More here, here and here.