tverbeek writes: Michael Fassbender (best known among nerds for playing young Magneto) is still inked to play Jobs, and Seth Rogen (best known for playing assorted lovable tubby dudes) will be playing Woz, but Natalie Portman (best known for playing Padmé Amidala and her association with hot breakfast food) will not be playing the female lead in Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle's biopic "Jobs", based on the authorized bio by Walter Isaacson. No reason was given... nor has anyone confirmed for sure who she isn't playing.
tverbeek writes: Russian scientists believe they have found a wholly new type of bacteria in the mysterious subglacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. "After putting aside all possible elements of contamination, DNA was found that did not coincide with any of the well-known types in the global database," he said. "We are calling this life form unclassified and unidentified."
tverbeek writes: The US-based Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the Canada-based Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund have announced that the Canadian government has withdrawn all criminal charges in R. v. Matheson, a case which involved a US citizen who was arrested and faced criminal charges in Canada relating to manga found on his computer when he entered the country. Customs agents declared the illustrations of fictional characters to be "child pornography". The defendant, a 27-year-old comic book reader, amateur artist, and computer programmer, has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. Despite financial assistance from the CBLDF and CLLDF, he has an outstanding debt of $45K for his defense.
tverbeek writes: Not to be outdone by Netflix's bumpercar strategic planning, HP's current CEO has announced that they will not be divesting themselves of their Personal System Group, which makes some of the world's bestselling laptops and desktops. No word on what this means (if anything) for the fate of WebOS and its mobile devices.
tverbeek writes: Leonard Nimoy announced at the Creation Con in Chicago, celebrating the 45th anniversary of Star Trek, that this would be his last appearance at a Trek convention. He spoke for an hour, which at least suggests that he's making this move by choice and not out of necessity. He's 80 years old. "Live long and prosper," he told the crowd.
tverbeek writes: After nearly four months of delays to fix the external fuel tank, space shuttle Discovery roared off launch pad 39A on her 39th and final flight Thursday afternoon on an 11 day mission to the International Space Station. Apparently several pieces of foam insulation broke off from its fuel tank but NASA says it should be OK.
tverbeek writes: After more than half a century of stifling the comic book industry, the Comics Code Authority is effectively dead. Created in response to Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, one of the early think-of-the-children censorship campaigns, and Congressional hearings, the Code laid out a checklist of requirements and restrictions for comics to be distributed to newsstand vendors, effectively ensuring that in North America, only simplistic stories for children would be told using the medium of sequential art. It gradually lost many of its teeth, and an increasing number of publishers gave up on newsstand distribution and ignored the Code, but at the turn of the century the US's largest comics publishers still participated. Marvel quit it in 2001, in favor of self-applied ratings styled after the MPAA's and ESRB's. Last year Bongo (publishers of the Simpsons comics) quietly dropped out. Now DC and Archie, the last publishers willingly subjecting their books to approval, have announced that they're discontinuing their use of the CCA, with DC following Marvel's example, and Archie (which recently introduced an openly gay supporting character, something flatly forbidden by the original Code) carrying on under their own standards. The Code's cousins: the MPAA and ESRB ratings, the RIAA parental advisory, and the mishmash of warnings on TV shows still live on, but at least North American comics publishers are no longer subject to external censorship.
tverbeek writes: David Silverman of the American Atheists was a guest on The O'Reilly Factor to talk about the billboards the AAG has put up recently, including one declaring the Christian Nativity story a myth. O'Reilly, playing to his home-field advantage, figured he could show up his guest by citing a daily miracle that proved the legitimacy of religion, a mystery beyond the ability of science to grasp: "The tide comes in and it goes out, Mr. Silverman," he lectured. "It always comes in, and always goes out. You can't explain that."
tverbeek writes: "IBM is in talks with Sun Microsystems for a buyout. IBM would get Sun's hardware business and some substantial software (especially web and virtualization) expertise. Sun would get the financial support and the stability of being part of Big Blue. The merger would create a company with an increasingly attractive alternative to Wintel systems, with strong support for open-source technology."
tverbeek writes: "Majel Barrett Roddenberry, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and the only person to appear — in one form or another — in every Trek TV series plus the movies, has died of complications from leukemia. She was 76. In addition to her ongoing involvement in Trek and its fandom, she produced her late husband's series Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda, and made an appearance as a key character in an episode of "rival" series Babylon 5."
tverbeek writes: MiCAUSE (Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science & Experimention) — a political organization opposed to embryonic stem cell research on "moral" grounds — has launched a sneaky media campaign that pretends that the issue is the state's economy and taxes. Referring (without detail) to measures in states where stem cell research has not only been legalized, but also received investment funds, the TV ads claim that approval of Proposal 2 on the Michigan ballot this November wouuld not help the state's recessionary economy by stimulating the creation of jobs (on one of the few industries with growth potential in the Midwest), but would instead hurt the taxpaper by (somehow) forcing them to subsidize it.
tverbeek writes: Good news and bad news on the RFID privacy front. The good news is that U.S. citizens may not need to carry an RFID-embedded passport just to cross the border with Canada. The bad news is that the driver's license you carry with you nearly everywhere would be embedded with an RFID chip instead. That's the scenario that's going to be tested in the state of Washington as a pilot program starting in January 2008, according to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Washington is anticipating loads of border-crossing traffic for the 2010 Olympics in adjacent Vancouver BC, shortly after the federal passport requirement goes into effect in June 2009. The "enhanced" licenses would require applicants to submit to an in-person interview and show proof of citizenship to get one.