News for 01/10/2008

Wow – I’ve got a lot of stuff for today… so let’s just get right on it!

dakigokochiThe latest craze in Japan? “Dakigokochi”, or bags of rice shaped like babies. When a woman gives birth in Japan, it’s a big deal – much like it is here in the US. However, instead of just sending pictures of the newborn to family and friends that couldn’t be there for the birth, Japanese parents order a dakigokochi. It’s a bag filled with rice. The bag is carefully weighed to match the baby’s weight, and the newborn’s picture is printed on the front of the bag. Relatives can then “hold” the baby and love on “it” as if the baby were there with them. And when the relatives are done cuddling the baby, the bag is opened and the rice is eaten. That so typically Japanese: completely sensible on one hand, yet totally unsettling on the other.

Imagine how awkward it would be: your wife just isn’t “cutting it” anymore. You’re a man with needs. So you pay a little visit to the local brothel for a little “somethin’ somethin'”… and find your wife working there! It happened in Poland recently. The wife told the husband that she was working at a store in a nearby town for some spending money. He believed her… until he walked into the brothel and saw her there! The couple, which had been married for 14 years, is divorcing.

Former Talking Head David Byrne has written an excellent article at about the future of the music industry. In short, Byrne envisions a world where record companies are far smaller, yet still exist. Because technology has reduced the cost of recording music to almost nothing, Byrne feels that musicians will have their choice between signing a “traditional” record contract and going it all alone – with several options in between. The article is all about finding a happy balance between “selling out” to the labels to take advantage of their mighty marketing machine or going it alone and having 7 people visit your website every month, only 1 of whom buys the CD (and that visitor is your Mom). It’s a really good read, especially considering that it’s written by a man that was in a band, owned his own record label, and looks forward to receiving publishing payments as a kind of “pension plan”. You should really read it!

The town of Peterborough, England offers trash bins to its citizens, much like many cities in the U.S. do. For some reason, however, people love stealing the ones from Peterborough. The city council recently announced that 2,351 of the bins have been stolen over the past couple of years at a cost of £70,000 ($137,585) to local taxpayers. From now on, residents will have to pay £30 ($60) for a new bin, or £20 for “a ‘pre-used’ bin that has been steam-cleaned”. Anyway, my point behind telling you all this is that this article about the bins notes that stolen bins have been spotted “as far afield as Bulgaria”. Who the hell steals a trash bin in the middle of England and ships it all the way to Bulgaria?

You’ve heard of the “No Fly List, right? It’s a giant database that contains the names of people that are suspected of various crimes, mostly terrorist activities. You’ve probably also heard stories about people that have the same name as someone on the list and all the hassles they have to go through to get this names off the list. But check this out: 5 year-old Matthew Gardner and his mother were flying out of SeaTac airport. Poor Matthew has the same name as someone wanted by ICE, so the family was stopped by TSA. The TSA agents, instead of realizing that this was just a silly coincidence, subjected the two to an extensive search. And during the brouhaha, Matthew started to cry, so his Mom went to pick him up… only to stopped by the TSA agent and told that doing so would be a “national security risk”. After putting him down, she was even searched again, to make sure that Matthew hadn’t “passed materials” to his Mom. This is why I don’t fly any more, people. Watch the local news clip about it here.

And lastly for today, you geeks out there might want to check out this article over at Engadget, which has the first pictures (that I’ve ever seen) of a USB 3.0 device. USB 3.0 is significantly faster than USB 2.0 (4.8 Gbit/s, as opposed to 480 Mbit/s for USB 2.0). USB 3.0 will also include intelligent power design that shuts off power to unused devices (which is neat) and will also sport plugs that have a slight depression on the top (so you’ll be able to tell which side is “up” by feel only – something looooonnng overdue in my book!). Sadly, we’ll have to wait until 2010 for this technology to be unleashed.

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