Friday, May 18, 2007

Let's Make A Deal

Occasionally something does get done in Washington, despite the gnashing of teeth from the grizzled graying "gub'mint" watchers here at your Lightning Round. This week's accomplishment is a bipartisan immigration reform bill. It's bipartisan in the truest sense of the word because both conservatives and liberals think it bites.

BUCKING THE SYSTEM. The immigration reform proposal dangles citizenship in front of millions of illegal immigrants, provided they go through the motions to get legal.

From the AP:
The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a "Z visa" and - after paying fees and a $5,000 fine - ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of households would have to return to their home countries first.
It's that five-large fine that gets our attention. Given that many illegals send much of what they make back to Mexico or make way less than minimum wage, how does the government expect the average UDA to afford it?

Just for grins, we did some math. The AP mentions a figure of 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. If every one of them forks over the money, the government would make $60 billion -- about 15 percent of what it has spent on the war in Iraq so far: $426 billion as we went to press, according to Don't even think about balancing the budget on the backs of the border-crossers.

SELF-DEFEATING PURPOSES DEPT. Commuters rioted in Argentina this week, enraged over slow train service.

From the AP:
Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas as rioters pelted them with rocks. The fighting at Buenos Aires' Constitucion station spilled into a nearby street as demonstrators shattered windows, set fire to a ticket sales area, looted shops and ripped pay phones from walls.
Total anarchy -- what encouragement for engineers to get to the station on time.

THEY CHOOSE FREE WILL. Fruit flies may have a spark of free will within their tiny brains. Ironically, this could lead to more sophisticated robots.

From LiveScience via MSNBC:
The result, joked neurobiologist Björn Brembs from the Free University Berlin, could be "world robot domination."

"Seriously though," Brembs said that programming robots with aspects of free will "may lead to more realistic and probably even more efficient behavior, which could be decisive in truly autonomous robots needed for planetary exploration."

Better understanding aspects of free will in humans also could aid in the treatment of mental disorders where people face problems controlling how they feel, think or act, such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia nervosa, schizophrenia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Brembs told LiveScience.
Maybe this also explains what happened to all those bees. Goodbye, and thanks for all the honey!

WHAT'S YOURS IS OURS. Microsoft claims the Linux operating system and several free pieces of software violate 235 of its patents. Gates' guys want to be paid for that.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Some of the patents that Microsoft claims have been violated relate to the Linux graphical design, e-mail, the operating system core and the Open Office word processing and spreadsheet programs that compete with Microsoft Office.
This is like Cadillac suing Ford because a Lincoln Towncar looks too much like a Deville, or Coke suing Pepsi because it tastes too much like the "Real Thing." Microsoft has this annoying tendency to think it not only owns software, but also the look and feel of software. In a legal showdown between Apple and Microsoft during the 1980's, a judge ruled you can't copyright look and feel.

The real villain here: the convoluted world of software patents, which can be just as bad as drug patents when certain companies think only they have the right to make a buck.

WE DO IT BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU. Gunmen attacked sixth-graders at a school in Murfreesboro, Tennessee during a field trip. But it was all fake, and all cooked up by faculty.

From the AP:
During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on a locked door.
The students' response:
After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.

"I was like, 'Oh My God,' " she said. "At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out."
The school's response:
The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.

"We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation," he said.
Your Lightning Round gathers they're now discussing the need for good attorneys.

WORSE THAN PSYCHO. Your Lightning Round photo editor was aghast to run across this: a gas mask shower head.

From Gizmodo:
It's the details that make it special: the eye-holes hold your soap, and it appears to be coming out of the wall rather than being simply attached to it.
Coming next: the knife-shaped back scrubber.

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