Last week saw the tragic shooting of members of Tel Aviv’s gay youth center, bringing on a period of mourning and sympathy throughout Israel. Previous to this tragedy, Tel Aviv had been seen as “the iconic big city into which anybody can integrate, or at least be tolerated.” Since Saturday, orthodox parties and MKs were quick to release statements condemning the murder, despite their disagreements over the gay community’s rights. Where Shas party leader Eli Yishay has referred to gays as “sick,” “perverse,” and “filth” in the past, one of their spokespeople has been quick to condemn the “murderous crime against the gay community.” However, political backtracking to cater to the hurt and mourning of the populace isn’t the same as a change of heart. And unlike what the above quote about Tel Aviv suggests, being “tolerated” isn’t the same as being accepted or supported. (more…)
Remarkably, it’s just been announced that elephants have passed the test for self-awareness. The Mirror Self Recognition (MSR) test is exactly what it sounds like, testing an elephant’s reaction to the one in the mirror. The Asian elephants tested by researchers at the Bronx Zoo responded to the placement of marks on their faces by attempts to remove them, after quickly ascertaining that the marks they saw were actually on their own skin. With behavior matching apes and dolphins, also self-aware animals, elephants have finally proved that having 14 pounds of brain has its benefits. Since the club of self-aware mammals is still pretty exclusive, I’m thinking we’d better get matching outfits and make a secret handshake before everybody tries to get in. While humans are pretty lonely in the meta-awareness club (being aware that we’re aware), at least it means no other species will start writing more bad lyrics about trying to find themselves.
I’ve been doing what everyone else has: reading opinions about Apple, about how AT&T is comparable to Jack Nicholson‘s character in A Few Good Men, and how Google is a delicate flower in all of this. It is true: Apple’s policy of rejecting applications that duplicate services hasn’t been applied uniformly. Apple has approved VoIP and roundabout text messaging apps in the past, and applications using Google Voice didn’t appear so different. Although the service’s feature set is quite basic right now (the usual VoIP, 3rd-party text messaging, visual voicemail), the scope of Apple’s move suggests they wants to avoid being vulnerable to potential service upgrades. So, what service features could the Google backbone be key to producing? (more…)