Links for 15th June 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. The Dalai Lama’s Buddhist Foes

    "What had prompted the unnerving Buddhist-on-Buddhist confrontation was an intra- Tibetan problem that seems poised to go international. The protesters, devotees of a fierce "protector deity" called Dorje Shugden, claim that the spiritual leader of Tibet has curtailed their civil rights as part of a religious vendetta. For now, the allegations of the Shugdenpas (as they are known) are hard to prove or disprove. But even a brief investigation provides a vivid look into what experts call "the shadow side" of Tibetan Buddhism, contrasting the tolerance and rationalism that the Dalai Lama represents globally and the theological hardball over mystical principles that he seems to play on his home turf."

    Tagged with: politicsreligionBuddhismTibetDalai-Lamaschism

  2. Creating user-defined RSS feeds in WordPress

    "If you need a custom RSS feed, like for example, a feed indexing only somes categories + tags, or if you redirected all WordPress RSS feeds to Feedburner but still want to be able to get a category feed, the solution is to use a page template."

    Tagged with: wordpresswebdevcustomRSSfeedtemplatecode

  3. How to detect the visitor browser within WordPress

    "To ensure maximum cross-browser compatibility on your blog theme, you have to be able to detect the browser used by the visitor. Sure, you can use conditionnal comments, but WordPress itself can detect client browser." Actually, this is a PHP hack, so should be portable to almost any CMS… provided you know enough PHP, which I don't. Yet.

    Tagged with: webdevwordpresscsshacksphpbrowserdetectioncode

  4. A Virtual Bank With Real Woes

    "It’s not clear how much of that virtual money was embezzled and now needs to be found, somehow, by Ebank. But if the Eve chatter is accurate, it could amount to 10 percent of deposits withdrawn. That could wipe out whatever capital was used to finance Ebank’s loan book. As in the real world, that would spell insolvency.

    […]

    … the word from Reykjavik isn’t likely to comfort Ebank’s depositors. Eve’s creators at CCP — which employs its own economist and philosopher — take a laissez-faire approach, leaving most such matters to the game’s users to sort out. Unlike the Icelandic government, which allowed three local banks to nearly bankrupt Iceland with unchecked expansion, CCP is determined not to encourage entities to become too big to fail.

    Whether and how Ebank can get out of its mess without a protective cocoon of support from Eve’s ultimate powers is unclear. But policy makers around the world, who bailed out greedy bankers, might want to monitor the situation. "

    Tagged with: metaversebankingfinanceeconomicsEVE-onlinelaissez-faire

  5. Immortal Information

    "The system consists of a minuscule particle of iron encased in a carbon nanotube and represents information in binary notation—the zeroes and ones of “bits.” Using an electric current, information can be written into the system by shuttling the iron particle back and forth inside the nanotube like a bead on an abacus—the left half of the nanotube corresponds to zero, the right half corresponds to one. The encoded information can then be read by measuring the nanotube’s electrical resistance, which changes according to the iron particle’s position.

    Because of their very small size, a square-inch array of these nanotube memory systems could store at least one terabit—a trillion bits—of information, approximately five times more than can be packed into a square inch of a state-of-the-art magnetic hard drive. But Zettl believes the technology could be pushed to much higher information densities."

    Tagged with: technologynanotechdatastoragenanotubeterabitubicomp

  6. Tag networks on social sites may predict next Internet fad

    "When comparing individual random walks with one another, researchers noted that tags that appear close together in a non-obvious semantic network were likely to be visited by the same user, and tags that were far apart were visited together less often. Although no individual user might be aware of following these obscure connections, they became obvious when the data was examined in bulk.

    These findings suggest that there are associations among concepts and users at work on the Internet that have yet to be taken advantage of by websites."

    Tagged with: internetsocialnetworkstaggingdataminingfolksonomysocial-mediaemergence

  7. Has the mystery of sex been explained at last?

    "The issue isn't just explaining why almost all plants and animals engage in sex. It is also explaining why the life forms that ruled the planet for billions of years and remain by far the most abundant – the bacteria – manage fine without it.

    That suggests that the ubiquity of sex among complex organisms has something to do with their ancient evolutionary history, not just the more recent past. Could there be some deep connection between the evolution of sex and the evolution of complex cells more than a billion years ago?"

    Tagged with: physiologybiologyreproductionevolutiongeneticssex

  8. In a freed market, who will stop markets from running riot and doing crazy things? And who will stop the rich and powerful from running roughshod over everyone else?

    Answer: *we* will.

    "In a freed market, if someone in the market exploits workers or chisels costumers, if she produces things that are degrading or dangerous or uses methods that are environmentally destructive, it’s vital to remember that you do not have to just "let the market take its course" — because the market is not something outside of us; we are market forces. […] and the regulating in a self-regulating market is done not only by us equilibrating our prices and bids, but also by deliberately working to shift the equilibrium point, by means of conscious entrepreneurial action — and one thing that libertarian principles clearly imply, even though actually-existing libertarians may not stress it often enough, is that entrepreneurship includes social entrepreneurship, working to achieve non-monetary social goals.

    Tagged with: anarchocapitalismfreed-marketmarketsmarket-forceslibertarianismdemocracy

  9. Fed contractor, cell phone maker sold spy system to Iran

    "Two European companies — a major contractor to the U.S. government and a top cell-phone equipment maker — last year installed an electronic surveillance system for Iran that human rights advocates and intelligence experts say can help Iran target dissidents.

    Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), a joint venture between the Finnish cell-phone giant Nokia and German powerhouse Siemens, delivered what is known as a monitoring center to Irantelecom, Iran's state-owned telephone company.

    A spokesman for NSN said the servers were sold for "lawful intercept functionality," a technical term used by the cell-phone industry to refer to law enforcement's ability to tap phones, read e-mails and surveil electronic data on communications networks." It's probably not a good sign that these sorts of stories no longer surprise me at all.

    Tagged with: securitysurveillancecensorshipcorruptionIranNokiaSiemens

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