The No-Fool’s Friday Round-Up

My virtual desk is creaking under the load of news I have for you… so let’s get to it!

– Unless I’ve missed it, it seems like the US media has been awfully quiet about Vice-President Joe Biden locking a journalist in a closet for several hours so that he (the journalist) couldn’t ask questions during a fundraiser. Seriously – this is borderline kidnapping folks… why do I have to read about it from British newspapers?

– Monsanto, the biotech firm that’s been genetically altering crops for years, is now facing a giant lawsuit. You see, Monsanto’s seeds are sterile, meaning the farmers have to buy new ones from the company every year… which is one thing. But Monsanto has (allegedly) sued some farmers who have had their crops contaminated by Monsanto products. The charge? Patent infringement. What’s worse, many of these farmers are organic, and they want nothing to do with Monsanto’s seeds, since cross-pollination can cause them to lose their “organic” status. So, basically, a conventional farmer plants Monsanto seed. Some of it gets picked up by the wind and lands on organic farms… and instead of the organic farmer suing Monsanto for creating the mess, Monsanto sues the organic farmer for using their seeds without permission. Nice!

– Speaking of “nice”… you know how airlines are supposed to compensate you if your flight is cancelled or if you’re bumped because of overbooking? Well, cheap-ass European airline Ryanair doesn’t think its fair that they should have to pay for that, so starting April 4, the airline is going to charge a £2 “compensation levy” on all airfares. So you can pay for their screw-ups!

– One of the first real-time “instant message” chats on the Internet (well, ARPANET) took place in 1975. Participants included Ronald Reagan, artist Marcel Broodthaers, cultural anthropologist Edward Said and actress Jane Fonda. Someone somewhere made a transcript, and it’s an interesting read. It’s funny how novel the idea seemed at the time, and you can actually see the moment Reagan went from “old fuddyduddy who just doesn’t get it” to “man who understands the awesome capability of such a tool”. Check it out!

– There’s yet another possible HIV vaccine out there. The difference with this one? It’s completely artificial (it’s not modified pig genes, for instance) and it has the ability to change along with HIV. Human trials could start in a year.

– Speaking of medicine, HuffPo (I know, I know) has a nifty post about a woman who had a botched eye lift and now cannot close her eyes. And yes, a lawsuit is pending.

– It’s come to this: four cans of vegetables can get you FOUR free tickets to a Timberwolves game. It almost doesn’t seem worth it (the team is 17-58 at the moment).

– Speaking of sports, I found this great article about soccer in the US, and why it never took off the way gridiron or basketball did (short answer: stupid business practices, but be sure to read the whole thing).

– Lastly, it looks like Yahoo! Messenger is now censoring links sent in instant messages. Basically, there’s a site out there called FilesTube that indexes public file sharing sites like RapidShare and MegaUpload. It’s kind of a Google for pirates. Links to FilesTube in Yahoo conversations are quietly deleted, with no warning given to the sender or recipient. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal… except how is Yahoo! doing this? Is this something built-in to the client? Or is Yahoo! actually searching and filtering millions of messages a day?

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