After Suicide Streamed On ‘Net, Should ‘Duty to Rescue’ Law Be Enforced?

Internet

Several days ago Abraham Biggs, 19 years old, took a cocktail of medications after he had chatted online about killing himself for most of the day during a video conversation with strangers. He died. While some of the folks in the forum pleaded with him to get help, some of them urge him on, laughing at him, calling him “faggot” and “coward.”.

Now the police are looking at the role played by the site, Justin.tv that hosted the video and BodyBuilding.net that hosted the chat bulletin board and whether the moderators and discussion board members acted inappropriately. Apparently one of the moderators at BodyBuilding.net called him an attention whore which certainly could be interpreted as contributing to the delays in trying to get this kid help.

One of the threads Abraham started discussing his suicide was on BodyBuilding.net, on this thread (“I’m gonna have 40 2mg bars of Xanax Tonight!“) he uses the alias CandyJunkie, and starts soliciting people to watch him online.

In my opinion, the streaming provider may not be culpable, but I’d need to see more details on when they learned of the event and the actions taken or not taken. Bodybuilding.net on the other hand appears to be more at risk here to legal action from the family. Also, I suspect any individuals that may have spurred this event along can or should be held accountable under the “duty to rescue” laws (note: i’m no experts in Torts law, there appears to be wiggle room in the interpretation of this).

An Epic Story Told Through Verse

uniman

A while ago, Andy asked me to review a book, The Unicorn Man, a collection of stark poetry and short stories with a skewed view toward the (supposed) coming apocalyptic end in 2012.

To be honest, not my bag of tea.  But, in order to give it a fair shake, I read through the book with a feeling of trepidation, and a cocked eyebrow to the intense nature of the authors’ focus on the prevalent darkness forever omnipresent in man.  Unless your state of mind closely follows the author, don’t expect this to be an easy read.  I found it difficult to keep a constant train of thought throughout the read, and had to break it up into several pieces, allowing myself to absorb what I’d read before continuing on.  Despite the content, I actually did enjoy Vox Anon’s writing style; it will be a bumpy ride in the beginning, but after figuring out what’s going on, its easier to follow.

So, first you follow the protagonist through three short stories – first as he has to deal with the spontaneous growth of a unicorn-like horn from his forehead, and the trials he has to deal with in trying to have it removed, and then finally realizing what significance it may bring into his life and society around him.  The second reads like a mythical tale following the conventional idealisms of a fairy tale unicorn and his tenuous relationship with a beautiful princess.  And finally, the third tale is a journal of the unicorn man in the future that describes his actions and events leading up the final moments before the end.  In all, very well written, provided you can follow the rhythm and intent of the tales.  In my opinion, the author uses these as a springboard to launch the reader into the fantastic worlds of grotesque and suicidal situations of the poems that follow.

Definitely the poems are the product of a mind entirely sunk into a dark process that has been bent by an imagination that I had seen very seldom to date.  Get ready for a journey through the mind of a person that holds nothing back!  Also of note are the last few dozen pages full of mystical collages of images ranging from the simple, to ultra-confusion with the unicorn as the main theme.  Truly a glimpse into the mind of a person with a lot of time to contemplate the future as he sees it.

Grab your copy at Amazon.com!

News Links That Matter – 11/18/08

Pocket Protector

Just Geeky:

New Visa Card, Generates Random Security Codes [Switched] – In response to popular concerns with online credit card fraud, Visa Europe has announced a newly designed credit card, complete with a keypad and digital number display, according to the Daily Mail.

Ubuntu to run on ARM-based netbooks [ZDNet] – Canonical has announced it will be developing a version of its Ubuntu Linux desktop operating system specifically for ARM’s Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 processor architectures.

Science

Science:

Doctors hoping for new era of artificial ankles [Physorg] – What was left of Dan Sivia’s ankle simply didn’t work. He limped through his 30s by sheer force of will, one foot almost completely immobile from repeated broken bones and surgeries. Then a doctor offered his last hope: An ankle replacement. A what? Sivia knew about hip, knee, even shoulder replacements. But ankles?

‘Jelly balls’ may slow global warming [Sydney Morning Herald] – VAST numbers of marine “jelly balls” now appearing off the Australian east coast could be part of the planet’s mechanism for combating global warming.

Detecting Disease In Less Than 60 Seconds [Science Daily] – Chemists and immunologists devised a new rapid system for detecting and identifying viruses. It uses surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy to measure the frequency of near-infrared laser light as it scatters off viral DNA and RNA. After a swab of a person’s nasal passage, the technique can detect individual virus particles quickly and identify many types.

Games

Just For Fun:

Marvel is Developing Animated Thor Series [SuperHeroHype] – Marvel Animation is developing and self-producing a 26 half-hour episode series based on its long-running comic book “Thor,” with the series targeted to launch in fall 2010, following Marvel’s live-action feature Thor , which hits theaters on July 16, 2010.

Lego Batman Demo Impressions [The Download Munkey] – An enjoyable romp through a bright and shiny Lego (Legoized / Legofied ?) Gotham City with excellently animated Lego minifigs of familiar characters from DC Comics’s Batman universe.

Pocket PC

Gadgets:

Asus to Launch World’s ‘Fastest’ Smartphone [PCWorld] – Asus is calling its new P565 smartphone the “fastest business PDA phone in the world.”

Lunar Baby Thermometer [Forever Geek] –  A simple temperature checking device for the mother or father, aunt or uncle; whoever’s doing the placing of the hand on the head. Check the child’s temperature without uncomfortable placing of glass sticks in places of discontent.

Christmas Gifts For Geeks – 11/18/08

Wild Wild West DVDs

We have another gift idea, in fact if the wife is reading this maybe I’ll be lucky enough to receive it! 🙂

A few weeks ago on Nov 4 2008, The Wild Wild West TV Series on DVD was released as a complete series in a single package and Amazon has it on sale for $90. That’s all four seasons on 27 disks / 104 episodes, including the 2 television movies with original cast that aired in 1979 and 1980.

The Wild Wild West TV series aired on CBS from 1965-69. If you’re not familiar with it, it can be described as “James Bond on horseback”. The show incorporated classic Western elements with an espionage thriller, as well as science fiction/alternate history ideas and plenty of comedy.

James West and Artemus Gordon are two agents of President Grant who take their splendidly appointed private train through the west to fight evil. Half science fiction and half western, Artemus designs a series of interesting gadgets for James that would make Inspector Gadget proud. A light hearted adventure series that is still a fan favorite today.

New Nano Coating Boosts Solar Efficiency

Green Earth

Researches from the Future Chips Constellation have developed an anti-reflective film for solar panels to take efficiency from 67% today up to 96% within a few years. The film is made of seven layers of silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide nanorods positioned at an oblique angle. These nanorods effectively bend the light down towards the next layer, each one taking its part to reduce the solar loss of ultraviolet, infrared and visible light.

Highlights from the CNN article:

  • Scientists create a new coating that could make solar panels more efficient
  • The coating boost sunlight-absorption rates from 67.4 to 96.21 percent
  • The seven-layer, anti-reflective coating also captures sunlight from all angles
  • Researchers hope to have the product on the market within two to three years

The World Has Never Seen Such Freezing Heat

Global Warming

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) announced that last month was the hottest October on record. At the same time in October, countries from America to China to New Zealand and more have reported over a hundred record low temperatures and snow storms aplenty. Is it a cock-up at GISS? Yes, and it appears their data collection assumptions that were also used by the UN and Al Gore have been exposed with a significant flaw they failed to previously report.

From the Telegraph:

GISS’s computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission

Stan Lee Producing Gay Superhero Project

Variety is reporting that Showtime is developing a project from comic god Stan Lee that tracks the life of a gay superhero. The story is based on Peter Moore’s book ‘Hero‘.

To get a sneak peek at the storyline, here’s a synopsis of the book:

The protagonist is Thom Creed, a teen coming to terms with his sexual orientation. In an attempt to break away from his seemingly non-understanding father (an ex-hero with something to hide) and homophobic community, Thom runs away from home, only to find himself in the middle of a multi-hero rescue operation.

Using his ability to heal, he keeps an injured woman alive until the League superheroes arrive and impresses them enough to get an invitation to try out for a hero apprentice position. Thom is teamed with an old woman who can see into the future, a spiteful girl who unleashes her power through fire, a sickly boy who is able to inflict disease on anyone, and a demoted hero with insane speed.

Batman Kissing Robin

This pic is a t-shirt of Batman Kissing Robin.

[Picture is courtesy of wili hybrid via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0]

More Geeky Christmas Gifts

Interactive EVE   Interactive Wall-E  Interaction Eve, talk to her, watch her light up with expressive features, and works best when communicating with Interaction Wall-E (sold separately). Eve is available on Amazon for US$30, and her interactive companion Wall-E is US$45. 

 

Wall climbing RC The first wall climbing car. This gravity defying Super Climber Remote Control Mini Car climbs wall, for real. It drives anywhere – Floors, Walls or Upside Down! This RC car comes with working headlights and tail lights, and an infrared remote controller which allows the car to move forward, reverse, left and right. It’s only US9 .

 

Book of games The Book of Games Volume 2: The Ultimate Reference on PC & Video Games (Book of Games series)6 this is a good value .

It’s 448 pages of game geek reference, at US$16 this is a good value if you’re tightening the belt this Christmas.

This second volume is a compendium of video game synopses as well as a feast for the eyes with literally thousands of vivid, high-resolution screen shots; it provides a comprehensive visual tour through the world of PC and video gaming. Sorted by genre, more than 100 of the latest, most exciting software titles are reviewed with information of interest to players, parents, and industry professionals.

Behind the Koi Pond Craze

Koi Pond

Koi Pond is the hottest app in the Apple App Store and has been leading in downloads for quite a while (download here). If you’re not familiar with this app by Blimp Pilots, it serves no function other than to turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a virtual fish pond. You can view it in action below.

It’s been an amazing and puzzling phenomenon and Macworld interviews the developer for Koi Pond to learn why this thing is doing so well.

Military Bans YouTube, Launches TroopTube

Military

Last year the military banned service personnel from posting videos to Youtube. Apparently some not so nice things or classified things were on full display for the public. And as we all know by now, the public is not to be trusted. Hey, I don’t trust you, why would the military?

In any case, today the troops have their own video hosting web service, TroopTube: http://www.trooptube.tv/.

Not too many videos are up yet, I’m looking forward to some Submarine vids, in the meantime here’s one from a pair of wives with a shoutout to their men in 3rd Brigade 133 Cavalry.

(MSNBC) The U.S. military, with help from Seattle startup Delve Networks, has launched a video-sharing Web site for troops, their families and supporters, a year and a half after restricting access to YouTube and other video sites.

Collecting Whale Snot. Not The Dirty Job You Think It Is

Helo collecting snot

Until recently, most of what scientists know about whales comes from dissecting the ones that have washed ashore or through examining captive specimens.

Now scientists are using small, remotely controlled helos to maneuver above a whale’s blowhole and sample the mist it blows into the air. Their blowhole could be thought of as somewhat similar to our nostrils in the sense that during exhale there’s an accumulation of mucus and other interesting matter. These samples can reveal bacteria lurking in these beasts.

Christmas Gift Idea #1 – Kota The Triceratops Dinosaur

Make friends with your new pet: a baby dinosaur! Never mind that it’s for kids, it’s animatronic!

KOTA The Triceratops Dinosaur from Playskool is a 35 lb, 3 foot long animatronic that’s going to be all the rage this year for Christmas….well, was going to be the rage before the recession finally settled in for a long winter’s nap recently.

This monstrosity costs US$300 (on sale at Amazon for US$239.99, get yours today!), it roars a dino greeting, waggles its tale, rears its head and chomps on whatever you stick in it’s mouth.

And since Playskool is encouraging kids to hop on his back, you better have your insurance details handy for the medic or your attorney’s mobile number on file because I’m assuming little junior will be falling off (this dire warning is based on the numerous reminders to parents in the toy description that kids should be supervised while ‘riding’ Kota due to possible injuries).

Wall-E Bot Save yourself a few hundred bucks and get yourself a U Command Wall-E bot instead (w/ 1000 action combos!), it’s only US$71. Oh, wait a minute, that makes Christmas Gift Idea #2!

Pixar’s UP Trailer

Curmudgeons like me love movies about other curmudgeons. Take for instance WC Fields, or Felix from The Odd Couple, and then there’s Grumpy Old Men, and who could forget about Al Bundy from Married with Children or Ebenezer Scrooge? Or even better, how about Gregory House from the Fox show….House?

Who are some of your favorite curmudgeons?

Now I have this to look forward to:

What Kinds Of Poker Software Should I Use?

Editor’s Note: Today we have a special guest post from Jennifer Curtis. The topic is Poker software, I have to admit that I’m a horrible poker player and stand to learn something here. In fact, I’m one of the worst gamblers out there and when I’m in Vegas I stick to nothing more than quarter slots and set a limit of around $50 per day. Otherwise I’d be walking out without my shirt on and trust me, you don’t want to see that. 😉

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It’s a commonly accepted fact of life in the 21st Century that there’s almost nothing that can be accomplished these days without the help of a software program. This general trend certainly applies if you choose to play online poker as much as any of life’s most important pursuits. With Internet poker becoming an increasingly popular diversion for gaming fans all over the world, a lot of people is realizing that they can use their computer for more than having fun at online casinos. In fact, there are a number of excellent software programs out there that can be used to have a tremendously positive impact on your own personal poker skills. Furthermore, many of these programs are designed in a way to make the use of them as much fun as it is educational. So without any further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best poker software available to the discerning consumer.

MNA Texas Hold’em Assistant – this program is noteworthy in that it is entirely web-based, so there’s no need to download anything. Designed to make the mastery of Hold’em attainable for all players, this killer program calculates the probabilities for all of the hands that can be produced from a combination of 2 hole cards and a flop, with additional options for the turn and river.

Pokenum: Poker Hand Analyzer – this is an invaluable aide for determining hand strength applying to Texas Hold’em, Stud and even Lowball. The software simulates many hands so you can figure out the winning percentage of your hand against others. You can even add more cards to the board and see how your strength changes as the board progresses.

Frugal Gambler Video Poker Teacher – this is a downloadable software program that easily teaches you to play video poker. It charts your winnings and loses so you can keep close track of the progress you are making. A review of these programs (representing only a small portion of all on the market) should give you a good idea of how much great poker software is out there. Stay updated to the latest poker news to find a program that delivers exactly the combination of features you are looking for.

Mobile & Gadget News – 11/10/08

Pocket PC

Silverlight on Windows Mobile Devices [Channel 9] – This PDC 2008 session recording is for you if you’ve been developing Silverlight apps and wondering when/if you can port them to mobile devices.

Microsoft Tries to Snatch Verizon Deal from Google [Wall Street Journal] – Microsoft is working to lure from Google a mobile deal with Verizon Wireless by offering a sweeter bid to put its search service and related advertising on Verizon phones, sources say.

Sprint Struggles to Keep Pace with Rivals [InternetNews] With a big payoff from its WiMAX efforts still a good distance away, the No. 3 U.S. carrier has a long road ahead of it.

Tethering App Coming To iPhone [InformationWeek] An approved way to use the iPhone 3G as a wireless modem for computers is expected soon, but there’s no definite timetable and it will most likely cost more per month.

Should Apple Free the iPhone? [InternetNews] – Harvard law professor takes aim at device makers’ restrictive app policies.

J.D. Power: iPhone Tops in Customer Satisfaction [Fortune]  – Apple’s iPhone ranked highest in customer satisfaction in a smartphone survey by J.D. Power and Associates, surpassing handsets by Research In Motion and Samsung.

Huawei to Launch Android and Symbian Smartphones – [InfoWorld] – Chinese network company Huawei Technologies is planning to launch smartphones based on the Android and Symbian operating systems in the first half of 2009.
Services

AT&T to Buy Wi-Fi Firm Wayport [CNET] AT&T will acquire Wayport for $275 million, extending its Wi-Fi reach amid growing demand from customers for wireless Internet access.