Nuking North Carolina and other close calls

In 1961, a B-52 came apart in the air over North Carolina.  The hydrogen bomb it was carrying fell towards the earth, its systems acting like it had been dropped intentionally.  Its parachute and its trigger mechanism deployed.  There were four safeguards to prevent the bomb from exploding unintentionally.  Three of them failed.  One electrical switch, which could easily have shorted out, held, preventing the nuking of North Carolina.

We’ll probably never know all of the other close calls we’ve had, not just these big dramatic potential disasters as a nation, but also in our personal lives.   Have any of you had any close calls that you’d like to tell us about?

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Virtual evil in video games

“How Evil Should a Video Game Allow You to Be?”  That’s the title of a provocative essay for the New Yorker by Simon Parkin.  When you read a work of literature featuring an evil person, you are in the mode of an observer.  But when you  play certain popular video games, you enter into the point of view of the evil person and are implicated in what he does (since, after all, you cause them).  The article isn’t against video games as such–indeed, it shows how this ability to put the player into a particular point of view has great artistic possibilities.  But still, as the article recounts some of the depravity that video games cause us to act out, it raises important questions, especially for Christians for whom sin “in the heart” can be as soul-destroying as sin acted out. [Read more…]

Birds as Bloggers

Researchers often tag birds and other animals so that their movements and activities can be traced and studied.  A website entitled Blogging Birds takes data about kites (a kind of hawk) in Scotland and applies language algorithms, translating it all into a narrative of the bird’s day. [Read more…]

Storming Wikipedia

Wikipedia depends on readers and volunteer editors to write, edit, and correct its entries.  Theoretically, the vast network of contributors will make for an online encyclopedia that is accurate, objective, and self-correcting.  But this also leaves Wikipedia open to contributors with an ideological agenda.  Which is the plan for an organized effort–for college credit, no less–“to advance feminist principles of social justice” by “writ[ing] feminist thinking” into Wikipedia.  The project is called “Storming Wikipedia,” an image from the French Revolution, with the revolutionary masses storming the Bastille.  But the feminists doing this could inspire other sans-culottes. [Read more…]

Pay per emotional response

Chris Taylor at Mashable discusses how Google Glass (a set of glasses connected to Google) will change advertising.  According to the patent application, the technology will track gazes, charging advertisers for what ads  the wearers look at and for how long they do so.

But that’s nothing:  These glasses are also looking back at the wearer.  The patent application includes a method for determining how much the wearer’s eyes dilate when they see an ad.  (Our pupils get bigger when we see something we like.)  So advertisers will be charged more when the ads create an emotional response.

After the jump, an excerpt from the patent application and some serious questions.

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