New submitter sHr0oMaN writes with news that Diane Franklin, a Republican member of Missouri's state House of Representatives, has proposed a sales tax on violent video games. The proposal, HB0157I, is one of many responses to the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The proceeds from the tax would go toward mental health programs and law enforcement in the hopes that future shootings can be prevented. The total amount taxed would be small — 1% — and would be applied to video games rated Teen, Mature, or Adult-only by the ESRB. Of course, many games earn the "Teen" rating without having violence in them, like Guitar Hero. The Entertainment Software Association responded to Rep. Franklin's bill with a statement: "Taxing First Amendment protected speech based on its content is not only wrong, but will end up costing Missouri taxpayers."
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cylonlover writes "The two Star franchises (Wars and Trek) and countless science fiction movies have given generations of armchair space travelers an idea of what to expect when looking out the window of a spaceship that's traveling faster than the speed of light. But it appears these views are – if you'll excuse the pun – a bit warped. Four students from the University of Leicester have used Einstein's theory of Special Relativity to calculate what faster than light travel would actually look like to Han and Chewie at the controls of the Millennium Falcon. The fourth year physics students – Riley Connors, Katie Dexter, Joshua Argyle, and Cameron Scoular – say that the crew wouldn't see star lines (PDF) stretching out past the ship during the jump to hyperspace, but would actually see a central disc of bright light."
skade88 writes "This story should remind us all that air pollution controls are not just about addressing global warming. They also help us have cleaner air and fewer health problems resulting from smog and haze. Starting earlier this month, Beijing, China started having worse than normal air pollution issues. On January 14, 2013 the U.S. embassy's air pollution sensors in Beijing found the density of the most dangerous small air particles, PM 2.5, at 291 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The World Health Organization's guidelines for air pollution state that PM 2.5 above 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air is dangerous to a person's health. To put the problem into perspective, NASA has released two orbital photos of Beijing showing before-and-during images of the air pollution. The photo from January 4 shows parts of Beijing still visible from space. The photo from January 14 shows nothing but a huge, thick cloud of haze with no buildings visible."
New submitter trekkie314 writes "Reuters reports that a Manhattan District Judge has ruled that AFP and the Washington Post infringed a photographer's copyright by re-using photos he posted on his Twitter account. The judge rejected AFP's claim that a Twitter post was equivalent to making the images available for anyone to use (drawing a distinction between allowing users to re-tweet within the social network and the commercial use of content). The judge also ruled against the photographer's request that he be compensated for each person that viewed the photos, ruling instead that damages would be granted once per infringing image only. This last point might have interesting implications in file-sharing cases — can it set a precedent against massive judgments against peer-to-peer file-sharers?"
tsamsoniw writes "More new tech jobs have emerged since the end of the past recession than during the same recovery timelines following the dot-com bubble burst and the early-1990s recession. What's more, the unemployment rate among technology professionals is now half that of the national average — with especially low unemployment rates for database administrators and network architects. What's not clear, though, is how many unemployed techies aren't being counted because they've abandoned job searches."
The Bad Astronomer writes "News is going around the web that a scientist in the UK has found life (in the form of microscopic diatoms) in a meteorite, and has even published a paper about it. However, there are a lot of reasons to strongly doubt the claim. While the diatoms appear to be real, they are certainly from Earth. The meteorite itself, on the other hand, does not appear to be real. Many of the basic scientific steps and claims made in the paper are very shaky. Also, the scientist making the claim, N. C. Wickramasinghe, has made many fringe claims like this in the past with little or no evidence (such as the flu and SARS being viruses from space). To top it off, the website that published the paper, the Journal of Cosmology, has an interesting history of publishing fringe claims unsupported by strong evidence. All in all, this claim of life in a space rock is at best highly doubtful, and in reality almost certainly not true."
ananyo writes "Back in August last year, we discussed a study reportedly showing heavy marijuana use in teenagers had been linked to a decline in IQ in later life. Now, a new analysis suggests that the study may have been flawed. Using the same data, the researchers found that they could explain the IQ drop by properly accounting for socioeconomic factors — such as individuals from poorer backgrounds being more likely to smoke cannabis as well as having reduced access to schooling."
NSD people at CES. If we were giving out a "best huckster" award, NSD booth dude Doug Lo would surely be a finalist for it. He's one heck of a talker. The exercise balls he's pushing? A number of companies have been making and selling similar products for many years. They seem to have some medical benefit as physical therapy aids for people with wrist or carpal tunnel problems, and may also be useful exercise devices for people who want to strengthen their hands and fingers. Have you used a gyroscope exercise ball? If so, did it help cure a wrist problem or help strengthen your hands and fingers? And which of these brands (if any) did you try?
Today at a press conference in California, Mark Zuckerberg announced a big new feature from Facebook: Graph Search. It's a set of tools designed to quickly bring together social information involving "people, photos, places, and interests" in response to a user's query. Zuckerberg was quick to point out that they aren't indexing the web, and thus aren't challenging Google. However, it will use the vast volumes of data already stored on Facebook to answer questions like "What kinds of movies do my friends like?" and "Who are friends of friends that are single in San Francisco?" Addressing the obvious privacy concerns, the company said it wouldn't allow users to search content that wasn't already shared with them (or already public). The searched data does, however, include location data, if it's been shared — you can search by places your friends have been. Significantly, the official site also mentions that Graph Search will help you meet new people, something Facebook hasn't really highlighted until now. Graph Search is being rolled out as a limited beta, with only a few thousand participants. In the coming months, they'll open it to more users and continue working on mobile and non-English versions.
chicksdaddy writes "The University of Michigan will be among the first to offer graduate students the opportunity to study the security of advanced medical devices. The course, EECS 598-008 'Medical Device Security' will teach graduate students in UMich's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science program 'the engineering concepts and skills for creating more trustworthy software-based medical devices ranging from pacemakers to radiation planning software to mobile medical apps.' The new course comes amid rapid change in the market for sophisticated medical devices like insulin pumps, respirators and monitoring stations, which increasingly run on versions of the same operating systems that power desktops and servers. In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that software failures were the root cause of a quarter of all medical device recalls (PDF)."
CWmike writes "It's starting to look like the BlackBerry store will be well stocked with apps when Research In Motion launches BlackBerry 10 (see YouTube preview) at the end of this month. The company held an event over the weekend where it offered app developers incentives to port their programs to the BlackBerry 10 platform and managed to attract 15,000 app submissions. 'Well there you have it. 37.5 hours in, we hit 15,000 apps for this portathon. Feel like I've run a marathon. Thanks to all the devs!' wrote Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations at RIM, in a Twitter message. The 'port-a-thon' event was held in two parts: One aimed at Android developers and the other at apps written in other platforms, including Appcelerator, Maramalade, Sencha, jQuery, PhoneGap and Qt. RIM was offering $100 for each app ported and subsequently approved for sale in the BlackBerry 10 app store, up to certain limits. Developers could also win BlackBerry 10 development handsets and a trip to RIM's BlackBerry Jam Europe developer event." It's hard to believe that many current iOS or Android users are leaping toward Blackberry, though. If you're in one of those camps, is that so crazy?
jones_supa writes "Shawn McGrath, the creator of the PS3 psychedelic puzzle-racing game Dyad, takes another look at Doom 3 source code. Instead of the technical reviews of Fabien Sanglard, Shawn zooms in with emphasis purely on coding style. He gives his insights in lexical analysis, const and rigid parameters, amount of comments, spacing, templates and method names. There is also some thoughts about coming to C++ with C background and without it. Even John Carmack himself popped in to give a comment."
netbuzz writes "A mysterious GPS-tracking glitch has brought a parade of lost-phone seekers — and police officers — to the front door of a single beleaguered homeowner in Las Vegas. Each of the unexpected visitors – Sprint customers all — has arrived absolutely convinced that the man has their phone. Not so, police confirm. The same thing happened in New Orleans in 2011 and Sprint got sued. Says the Las Vegas man: 'It's very difficult to say, 'I don't have your phone,' in any other way other than, 'I don't have your phone.''"
ultranerdz writes "Fedora 18 has been released. Featuring a new installer UI, GNOME 3.6, Clojure, DragonEgg, KDE Plasma Workspaces 4.9, MATE Desktop, Samba 4, Secure Boot, and updated major packages versions, this is one of the most anticipated Fedora versions yet. After more than two months of slips and delays, Fedora 18 is finally here." I'm glad to see MATE becoming more widely available; it suits me, as a GNOME 2 fan but not a complete troglodyte.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Over the past weekend, Defense Distributed successfully 3D-printed and tested a magazine for an AR semi-automatic rifle, loading and firing 86 rounds from the 30-round clip. That homemade chunk of curved plastic holds special significance: Between 1994 and 2004, so-called 'high capacity magazines' capable of holding more than 10 bullets were banned from sale. And a new gun control bill proposed by California Senator Dianne Feinstein in the wake of recent shootings would ban those larger ammo clips again. President Obama has also voiced support for the magazine restrictions. Defense Distributed says it hopes to preempt any high capacity magazine ban by showing how impossible it has become to prevent the creation of a simple spring-loaded box in the age of cheap 3D printing. It's posted the 3D-printable magazine blueprints on its website, Defcad.org, and gun enthusiasts have already downloaded files related to the ammo holders more than 2,200 times." Update: 01/15 23:15 GMT by T : Mea culpa; please blame my flu for mistakenly letting through that headline with "clip" where it should say "magazine." I know the difference — and I don't own any clips.