News roundup: our evolving language, cyberpunk now, and our President takes a breather

1 Mar

From today’s Seattle Times:

Mr. McBeth is allowed to teach as a lady tells of a male New Jersey schoolteacher who underwent “gender-reassignment surgery” in order to scare the living shit out of his young charges. Or maybe it’s just a bad photo.

Regardless, I’m fascinated by the different descriptions of the procedure. In the lead, the writer uses the familiar term “sex change”. A few paragraphs down, it becomes “gender-reassignment surgery”. I love this, because it implies that the decision was out of McBeth’s hands – Headquarters decided that his skills and talents were needed elsewhere, and ordered him to report to the OR at 0900 hours for feminization.

Man grips future with microchip implants in hands sits smack dab on the front page and will probably be the article that introduces the general public to human-implanted radio frequency identification (RFID) and its implications.

As troubled as I am by the privacy implications, even the minor superpowers that Bellingham entrepreneur Amal Graafstra has as a result of his recent cyborging sound awfully cool. If I had electronic locks on my apartment, opening the door with a wave of my hand would be awesome.

I sensed trouble brewing, though, when the article revealed that Graafstra’s girlfriend had a chip implanted that gives her access to his apartment. So if they break up, he can’t just ask for the keys back: he’ll either have to change the code on the lock and reprogram his chip, or fire a powerful electromagnetic pulse rifle at his ex’s hand.

Trip offers Bush a break from troubles back home is positioned on the front page of the Web site in such a way that it looks like Bush’s troubles are so bad that he’s escaping his cares and worries with a trip to Afghanistan. Jesus, I thought, the poor bastard.

However! The article is about his trip to India, which is not at the moment riven with sectarian violence and where his approval ratings are higher than pretty much anywhere else. I wonder if we’ll get a postcard saying that he’s decided to stay and be Prime Minister of India?

* I have stolen the phrase “enormous, terrifying womanoid” from Spy magazine‘s description of actress Brigitte Nielsen.

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