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Your Rights Online

Arizona Attempts To Make Trolling Illegal 474

LordofEntropy writes "Though unlikely to pass any First Amendment test. Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer has a bill on her desk that would in essence make 'trolling' illegal. The law states 'It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.'" This did indeed manage to pass through both houses of legislature and only needs a signature to become law.

Is Science Just a Matter of Faith? 1486

Hugh Pickens writes "Pastabagel writes that the actual scientific answers to the questions of the origins of the universe, the evolution of man, and the fundamental nature of the cosmos involve things like wave equations and quantum electrodynamics and molecular biology that very few non-scientists can ever hope to understand and that if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we accept the incredibly complex scientific phenomena in physics, astronomy, and biology through the process of belief, not through reason. When Richard Fenyman wrote, 'I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics,' he was including himself which is disconcerting given how many books he wrote on that very subject. The fact is that it takes years of dedicated study before scientific truth in its truest, mathematical and symbolic forms can be understood. The rest of us rely on experts to explain it, someone who has seen and understood the truth and can dumb it down for us in a language we can understand. And therein lies the big problem for science and scientists. For most people, science is really a matter of trusting the expert who tells it to us and believing what they tell us. Trust and belief. Faith. Not understanding. How can we understand science, if we can't understand the language of science? 'We don't learn science by doing science, we learn science by reading and memorizing. The same way we learn history. Do you really know what an atom is, or that a Higgs boson is a rather important thing, or did you simply accept they were what someone told you they were?'"

Official Kanji Count Increasing Due To Electronics 284

JoshuaInNippon writes "Those who have studied Japanese know how imposing kanji, or Chinese characters, can be in learning the language. There is an official list of 1,945 characters that one is expected to understand to graduate from a Japanese high school or be considered fluent. For the first time in 29 years, that list is set to change — increasing by nearly 10% to 2,136 characters. 196 are being added, and five deleted. The added characters are ones believed to be found commonly in life use, but are considered to be harder to write by hand and therefore overlooked in previous editions of the official list. Japanese officials seem to have recognized that with the advent and spread of computers in daily life, writing in Japanese has simplified dramatically. Changing the phonetic spelling of a word to its correct kanji only requires a couple of presses of a button, rather than memorizing an elaborate series of brush strokes. At the same time, the barrage of words that people see has increased, thereby increasing the necessity to understand them. Computers have simplified the task of writing in Japanese, but inadvertently now complicated the lives of Japanese language learners. (If you read Japanese and are interested in more details on specific changes, has some information!)"

Nation-Wide Internet Censorship Proposed For Australia 424

sparky1240 writes "While Americans are currently fighting the net-neutrality wars, spare a thought for the poor Australians — The Australian government wants to implement a nation-wide 'filtering' scheme to keep everyone safe from the nasties on the internet, with no way of opting out: 'Under the government's $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety, users can switch between two blacklists which block content inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material. ... According to preliminary trials, the best Internet content filters would incorrectly block about 10,000 Web pages from one million."

Esther Dyson To Train For Space Flight 38

DynaSoar writes "Esther Dyson, known to many as a founding and consistently guiding member of ICANN, and for working with the startups of Flickr,, Medscape and others, is now expanding her interests upwards. She recently announced that she will be heading to Moscow to train as backup astronaut for Charles Simonyi, who plans to fly aboard Soyuz TMA-14 next year. The US$3 million price tag won't be her first cash contribution towards personal space flight. She's already an investor in Space Adventures, the company that arranges the space tourist flights on Soyuz."

Police Director Sues AOL For Critical Blogger's Name 282

Pippin writes "Memphis Police Director, Larry Godwin, is suing AOL for the names of the authors of the Enforcer 2.0 blog. The blog is rumored to be authored by a Memphis police officer, and is critical of the department, Godwin, and some procedures. Godwin is actually using taxpayer dollars for this and, interestingly, the complaint is sealed".

Intentional GPS Jamming On the Increase 243

benst writes "Here's yet another way to measure the success of GPS: by the efforts to negate it. While unintentional jamming continues to rise, intentional jamming by both foreign military forces and at-home miscreants of various stripes has shown increased vigor in the past six months. Related here are recent instances of intentional jamming on each side of the border, and (briefly outlined) one initiative mounted by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) to counteract it. Also, here are some ways to detect and prevent jamming."

Entertainment Weekly Bemoans Lack of Great Science Books 257

Bryan writes "A recent headline at Entertainment Weekly suggests that the '100 Best Reads' of the last 25 years do not include a single science book (not even a popular science book). In response, cosmologist Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance has given an interesting analysis of EW's disappointing list, and Soul Physics is calling for suggestions on the Greatest Physics Books of the Last 25 Years. For all the great literature that science has produced in the last 25 years, EW's list seems to represent a major shortcoming in the field: it still isn't diffusing into popular culture." I'm not sure what Entertainment Weekly's standing to complain would come from. That aside, have science books ever in modern times been a driving force greater than ones intended as (mere) entertainment, religious instruction, etc? I'd put anything by Richard Feynman on this list, though.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson