Security officials realize that putting explosives in people's baggage is maybe a bad idea…

So, you’re managing security at an airport. How do you train your bomb sniffing dogs? Well, you might just set up some dummy luggage at a remote site and let the dogs check them out. Or, you could actually put explosives in people’s bags, just to give the dogs something to find…

Which works nicely, in theory… train like you work is a good idea. But what happens when they don’t find the explosives? Right, they get loaded on aircraft, and present a rather nasty surprise for the unsuspecting airline passenger.

Put on your thinking cap

Neurologists at the Wadsworth Center in Albany have designed a cap that allows people to manipulate a cursor on a screen by just thinking. Previously, this has been achieved only by invasive methods where small wire arrays were placed within the brain to monitor individual brain regions.

The focus of the research is on helping the disabled be able to control computers and by extensions, lights, robotic arms, etc. Personally, I can’t wait until they just release the cap for general use. Not having to push a mouse around would be a big relief to my wrist, but I wouldn’t want to have brain surgury just to be free from the threat of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Living rat brain in a jar controls flight simulator

Well, this one is just…. out there. Researchers at the Univeristy of Florida managed to grow neurons from a rat’s brain in a jar, and have it control a flight simulator.

It appears the primary goal of the research was to determine how the brain processes information. So, this really isn’t a mad scientist trying to create a race of rat-brained killer robots. At least, not yet.

(Link lifted from BoingBoing.)

FDA approves RFID chips for human implantation

Oh boy! The FDA has approved the same RFID technology that is used to identify pets for human implantation. This particular take on the technology over at Ars Technica is a bit off the mark, though… all an RFID does is broadcast an ID number. It’s up to whoever is doing the scanning to figure out what that ID number is for, and what database the ID number is a key to. It wouldn’t give someone a copy of your medical records unless they could look up any and all medical records in the first place. And if they can do that, they can probably look up your medical or financial records without the RFID ID number anyhow.

Continue reading

Judge overturns ISP provisions of PATRIOT act

A judge has struck down a portion of the PATRIOT act which requires ISPs to hand over records on their customers and keep silent about the handover. The ruling means the FBI can no longer use National Security Letters to demand an ISP’s record on a customer without any sort of recourse.

The enforced silence is one of the more nasty aspects of the PATRIOT act… in fact, we covered one aspect of this earlier when the ACLU was prevented from discussing a lawsuit they filed against the NSL provisons of the PATRIOT act itself.

Read more over at

More Artificial Stupidity, Coming Up…

Hey, whattaya know… they held another Turing Test, run by the man the A.I. cognoscente love to hate: Hugh Loebner. You of course know Lobner from John’s story at Salon about Loebner’s fight with the A.I. community.

And… surpise! A program that sucked at pretending to be a human being won… but as is the nature of these schemes, it was the program that sucked the least that took home the prize money. According to the Slashdot story, the bronze medal and $2000 boobie prize was awarded to ALICE, which has won three times in the past.

They're after our precious BBQ!

In a sinister move hastening the day that we all have govenment chips implanted in our heads to monitor ThoughtCrimes,

CNN is reporting
about a chip being implanted in pork butts.

OK, so the chip was (allegedy) accidentally lost in some meat packing plant. But I don’t buy this for one moment. I encourage you all (well, OK, those of you who aren’t wisely keeping kosher) to use preventative measures normally reserved for your own person to secure your precious BBQ supply from the sinister secret government!

(link shamlessly stolen from boing boing)

Kafka alive and well, and working for the NYPD

Emmanuel Goldstein, one of the guiding forces behind the hacker magazine 2600, was arrested and detained for over 33 hours during the RNC, for doing nothing more than covering protests which are supposed to be every American citizen’s right. The story of his arrest, and the long, slow, grinding process of being processed through the “justice” system is available over at 2600.

Continue reading