Notre Dame: A Genuine Example of Rape Culture

Salon has a really sad article contrasting all the coverage of the bizarre story of Manti Te’s hoax girlfriend–an imaginary dead girl–with  the very real death of Lizzy Seeberg:

Less than a day into the Manti Te’o revelations, we’ve heard more about a fake dead girlfriend of a Notre Dame football player than a real dead girl. Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide, not long after being intimidated by Notre Dame football players for reporting a sexual assault by one of their teammates. A second woman who was taken to the hospital for a rape exam declined to formally accuse another Notre Dame football player after getting a series of bullying texts from players.

Read moreNotre Dame: A Genuine Example of Rape Culture

AutoRip: Another Reason Record Labels Suck

Amazon recently announced a service that would have been cutting edge in 1999. AutoRip lets you buy a physical CD and automatically get sent the MP3 files to go with it. Why didn’t someone think of this in the last century? Someone did. Michael Robertson started companies to offer this service in 1999, 2005, and 2007. Each and every one was torpedoed by the industry (with the occasional help of incompetent courts). Turns out some kind of stupid are just beyond helping.

Michael Robertson, whom I imagine saying, “I told you so!”

Read the ArsTechnica article for more of the sad story, and some excellent quotes from Robertson.

Don’t Blame This Man (For Your Lost Cell Phone)

The Las Vegas Journal-Review has an interesting article about what happens if Sprint decides to use the GPS coordinates for your home as the reference point for GPS navigation in your area. The answer includes numerous middle-of-the-night interruptions from people with phone-locating software who are convinced you have their device. Oh, yeah, and lots more interaction with the neighborhood cops than you might otherwise have.

The Minority Report UI Has Finally Arrived

You have to watch the video to believe it, so here goes:

This technology, as the Wired article makes clear, is not some academic prototype in an MIT basement lab somewhere. Nope, this puppy is ready for primetime. You can preorder it now, and it’s going to be bundled with Asus computers. The technology is incredibly well-timed because Windows 8 (which is being adopted at rates slower than Vista) is touchscreen-ready, and the Leap Motion allows users to access all the touch-screen options of Windows 8 without touching the screen. This is good if the screen is out of comfortable reach or if you don’t want to smudge your screen, and it means that Leap Motion isn’t just a shiny gadget. It’s a tool you can actually use.

I don’t know who is more excited right now, me or Steve Ballmer.

Penny-Arcade on Faith

So… I’m still having trouble picking my jaw up off the floor after coming across Extra Credit’s Religion in Games (part 2 of 2) over at Penny-Arcade TV. In response to the question, “Why aren’t there more examples of examining faith in video games”, they respond simply: “Because gamers are antagonistic to faith.” (I’m pararphrasing, these quotes aren’t word-for-word.)

As if that little nugget of honesty wasn’t enough, they followed it up with the bold claim that all science is faith-based. This is absolutely true, but I’m utterly shocked that a prominent voice in the gaming community would A – hold that opinion and B – have the temerity to state it publicly.

So, both as as a stunning departure from the party-line of secularism and as a pretty good explanation of reasonable faith in its own right, I commend this video to your eyeballs.

Why Banning Assault Weapons Is Futile

This is another really informative article on gun control and, specifically, on the futility of an assault weapons ban. Even though I’m generally well-informed on gun-control there were a lot of very surprising facts in here.

For example, the Virginia Tech shooter had nearly 20 magazines in his backpack, which is the reason he was able to reload so quickly. I’d always known that even 10-round magazines (the proposed limit in Senator Feinstein’s new version of the assault weapons ban) would provide ample bullets in theory, but I didn’t realize there was such a stark and tragic real-world example of this fact.

The article also includes two examples of assault weapons being used in actual home defense stories. In one, a 15-year old boy protected his 12-year old sister when 2 men broke into their home by firing at them with an AR-15 rifle. The story was actually well-publicized, but most journalists left out the fact that the rifle he used was an assault rifle.

In any case, read the entire thing and send it along to your friends.

Humble Indie Bundle 7, Ads, and Modernity

So, Humble Indie Bundle 7 is live.  You best believe I got in on that: it was just $6 to unlock all the games and soundtracks earlier this morning. I’m especially psyched for Dungeon Defenders as well as Shank 2. (Not to mention the soundtracks!)

I like the way they incentivize faster sales and a higher price (since you get to pick) by saying that if you pay more than the average paid to that point you get the extra unlocks, but there’s another wrinkle that’s either new or I simply hadn’t noticed before: the live dashboard of their current sales. 

Read moreHumble Indie Bundle 7, Ads, and Modernity

Bullet-proof Backpacks for Kids

MotherJones has an article detailing several companies that make backpacks that include hidden bullet-proof plates.

Each of these backpacks includes a bullet-proof plate.

I think the article is meant to be sarcastic or just sort of “What is the world coming to?” because it also includes both children’s bullet-proof vests (clearly not for every day use) as well as a combined body-armor/weapon system that allows you to quickly deploy a chest-plate with a Mac-11 machine pistol. This is not something I imagine Mother Jones would ordinarily be willing to advertise, but effectively they’ve just done that. For free. Politics makes people do strange things.

As far as terrible gun-related advertisements go, these are pretty tame. I once got an ad from The Blaze (run by Glenn Beck) advertising a model of a new civilian rifle that came broken down in a carrying case and could be unpacked into a sniper configuration. At that point you might as well just label the gun “Assassination Model”, and that’s just a little insane.

I'm a fan of guns, and I think the carrying case is neat, but the way the advertisement was structured weirded even me out.
I’m a fan of guns, and I think the carrying case is neat, but the way the advertisement was structured weirded even me out.

I have two kids who go to school, and I’m not really interested in this product, but I wouldn’t look down on someone who bought one (just the backpacks, I mean). The reasons I’m not interested are first of all: my kids are about as likely to be involved in a school shooting as to be struck by lightning. Secondly, I’m not sure that the limited protection of a single plate would really do that much good. And finally, the armor in these backpacks is only rated for handguns, not the rifle that was used by the shooters at Sandy Hook, Aurora, or many other public mass shootings.

Still, I thought it was interesting enough to share.

Don’t Expect Major New Gun Control, This Is Why

It’s just a local article from the CBS Denver affiliate, but I have a hunch it actually speaks volumes about the state of gun control in our country:

The day after the shooting in Connecticut a lot of people in Colorado tried to buy a gun.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation says it received 4,154 requests for background checks from potential buyers on Saturday. That was so many the CBI couldn’t process them all and the backlog grew to nearly 18 hours. The Unit could only process 3,001 checks on Saturday.

Extra staff was brought in over the weekend and workers are still trying to clear the backlog.

There are a lot of ways you could interpret this, and a lot of potential conclusions you could draw. (Some would probably be true, others might not be.) The one stark reality seems to be that, no matter how much Americans may fear guns in the hands of ruthless killers, they see putting a gun in their own hand a part of the solution.