Saturday, July 26, 2003

I can't wait to hear all the protestations that might emerge from this new facet of airport security. The US government is considering using X-ray vision at airport security checkpoints to give a naked image of passengers.
    The magnetometers now in use at airports cannot detect plastic weapons or substances used in explosives.
    Susan Hallowell, director of the Transportation Security Administration's security laboratory, demonstrated the system which bounces X-rays off her skin.
    To the eye, she is dressed in a skirt and blazer. On the monitor, she is naked - except for a gun and a bomb that she hid under her outfit.
    "It does basically make you look fat and naked - but you see all this stuff," she said.
    The technology is called "backscatter" because it scatters X-rays. Doses of rays deflected off dense materials such as metal or plastic produce a darker image than those deflected off skin.
    Backscatter machines are already in use in prisons, to screen visitors, and in South African diamond mines where they are used to check workers at the end of shifts.
    But they have never been used in airports. Ms Hallowell said the radiation dosage is comparable to sunshine but she accepts that passengers might not like the idea of staff seeing them naked.
    The agency is trying to find a way to modify the machines with an electronic fig leaf - programming that fuzzes out sensitive body parts or distorts the body.
--via Ananova News

Soon we won't have to dread going to the dentist's office any more. Special glasses have been invented to help patients overcome their fear of the dentist's chair..
    The glasses feature a screen and headphones to entertain patients and block out the view and sound of the drill.
    The Dental-Eye-Trek, developed by engineers from German company Olympus, will be unveiled for the first time at the International Dental Show in Cologne this week.
    A spokesman for Olympus said: "It really is like being in the cinema when you are wearing the glasses. The only thing missing is the popcorn."
    Dentist Dr Karl-Heinz Sundmacher says he thinks the glasses are an excellent way to calm nervous patients.
    He said: "The patients get so involved in the film that they forget where they are and completely relax."
--via Ananova News

Clever girl.

A young caver who was rescued after being trapped underground for 24 hours with an injured pelvis recited her favourite Blackadder and Monty Python comedy sketches to ease her suffering.

Laura Trowbridge, 22, was recovering in hospital yesterday, three days after falling from a ledge 800 yards inside the Otter Hole cave complex at Chepstow, South Wales.

The Aberystwyth University student has been praised for remaining cheerful during her rescue, giving "a yelp now and again" but otherwise remaining calm as she was brought to the surface by 100 volunteers.

"The rescue team was amazing," she said at Nevill Hall hospital, Abergavenny, Gwent.

"They made a makeshift stretcher out of a camera tripod and made me as warm and comfortable as possible. We spent the next 10 hours drinking hot soup, eating Mars bars and reciting all the Monty Python and Blackadder sketches we could remember.

via The Telegraph (UK)

Friday, July 25, 2003

In yet another attempt by the French to stop the American "incursion" on their culture, the French government has banned the use of word 'email' in all its ministries, documents, publications and websites.
    The Culture Ministry says the term should be replaced with 'courriel'. The commission ruled: "Evocative, with a very French sound, the word courriel is broadly used in the press and competes advantageously with the borrowed mail in English."
    The commission has links to the Academie Francaise, the prestigious institution that has been one of the top opponents of allowing English terms to seep into French.
    Some internet industry experts say the decision is artificial and doesn't reflect reality.
    Marie-Christine Levet, president of French internet service provider Club Internet, said: "The word courriel is not at all actively used. Email has sunk in to our values."
    She said Club Internet wasn't changing the words it uses, adding: "Protecting the language is normal, but email's so assimilated now that no one thinks of it as American. Courriel would just be a new word to launch."
--via Ananova News

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Finally!! A curfew for men on an official "Ladies' Night."
    The mayor of a southern Spanish town has declared Thursdays "ladies' night" and says he will fine any man found strolling about town in the evening, in an attempt to encourage them to stay at home and do the chores.
    A spokeswoman for recently elected Andalusian regional party mayor, Javier Checa, said on Thursdays from October, the streets would be the preserve of the town's women and a five euro ($5.67) fine would be slapped on any man found out and about.
    The men of Torredonjimeno, a town of 14,000 people in the olive-growing province of Jaen in Spain's southernmost region, were not impressed by the attempt to tie them to the kitchen sink.
    "Who does the mayor think he is to fine me if I go to a bar?. I'll go to a bar on Thursday, and if they fine me I'll pay it...but we'll be seeing each other in court," resident Jose Damas told state television.
--via Reuters at YahooNews

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Well, this sounds special.

Arcadia couple Joyce and Daryl Sickafoose didn’t say “Na-nu, Na-nu,” “May the Force be with you” or even “Live long and prosper” Saturday when they renewed their wedding vows. Instead, they said something only a few die-hard “Star Trek” fans know how to say: “HIja’,” “Yes,” in Klingon.

Married in 1990, the couple renewed their vows Saturday in a traditional Klingon wedding service at the Children’s Science Center in Cape Coral. The couple and the other members of the Hands of Kahless, the Klingon club of Southwest Florida that stretches from Naples to Port Charlotte, have been raising money for the center, Daryl said. Holding the ceremony at the center was a way to draw the public’s attention to the center and its needs, he said.

Jeff Rodgers, executive director of the science center, said it was the first Klingon wedding vow service at the center. Before the ceremony, Rodgers said he didn’t know much about Klingon weddings other than “it involves a rock, a dagger, a flame and some wheat.”

The ceremony conducted before 13 others started with a procession of music from the first 30 years of Star Trek. The couple stood with their backs to each other while Phyllis Csaszar, a real-life notary public from Port Charlotte, conducted the ceremony. She repeated in English the taped Klingon words of the ceremony. The words described the traits of a Klingon warrior and described how, according to the alien Klingon culture, the warrior takes a mate and creates a household, and that houses become armies that build the empire. Then the couple lit a candle designed to look like a rock, the foundation of Klingon unions.

“The Klingon wedding,” Joyce said, “is about living your life on a stable rock. It’s all about one’s character.” They left the altar under an arch of crossed Bat’telh (arced blades that look like giant dough cutters), passed the science center’s red-caped human skeleton and began the reception featuring cold cuts and chicken.

via the [Fort Myers] News-Press, including picture.

Interactive Billboards - another step toward sci-fiction becoming reality. Hypertag technology will allow mobile-technology users to point-and-click on certain advertising posters.
    Point and click your mobile phone at a poster in London movie theaters this July and you'll be able to directly access the movie's Web page.
    Due to be launched in 20 cinemas in mid-July, Hypertag technology is the real-world equivalent of hyperlinks, the small battery-powered electronic tags use infrared signals to send Web links to mobile phones. Developed by the Cambridge, U.K.-based company Hypertag, these smart tags can be discreetly attached to any information display surface, such as advertising panels, billboards or walls, enabling any mobile-phone user with an infrared port or Bluetooth to access digital content by downloading a small software application.
    "This imaginative use of communications technology has scope across a wide range of possible applications, from purely commercial to broad social benefits such as education," said Joe Meaney at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, which awarded a grant to Hypertag earlier this year for developing the technology.
    For example, it could be used in museums and galleries, where visitors could download high-quality audio and visual content about exhibits. Tourists could retrieve sightseeing information as they walk through a city. Users could even leave contact details like their e-mail addresses to receive updates on events, exhibitions or special offers.
--by By Lakshmi Sandhana via

Beautiful Movie!
Don't miss WhaleRider. Wonderfully acted, terrific story. I can't say enough good things about this film. Just go see it.