Interesting links

I’ve been remiss in updating lately, mostly because I’ve been embroiled in yet another personal programming project. So here are a few of the more interesting articles I’ve read recently to tide you over:

  • Probably due to the dysfunction exhibited by the U.S. government over the past year, libertarians have recently been abuzz about creating new countries of their own from scratch, Ayn Rand-style. The most impressive projects are the sea-steading ones of course that so eerily mimic the underwater city of Rapture from the BioShock games, but these are pipe dreams with not much chance of coming to fruition. Surprisingly, the most realistic of these initiatives is Honduras’ attempt to create a Hong Kong-style charter city which would be autonomous from the host country. Even Honduran police and the court system will not have authority in the designated zones as they will outsourced to the private sector and the courts of Mauritius respectively. The Economist has the details.
  • So Kim Jong Il died last month and the North Korea population promptly exploded into an orgy of mass grieving. This short article from MSNBC offers a few tantalizing glimpses of how this works in the hermit kingdom, which includes people being punished for not participating in organized mourning sessions or even not being seen to cry in a genuine manner.
  • By now everyone has heard of the cruise ship that sank off the coast of Italy and the idiot captain whose latest claim that he accidentally fell into the lifeboat and thus didn’t mean to intentionally abandon ship. But do you wonder what happens next to that ship? Do they let it sink? Do they try to refloat it? Well, this amazing feature from Wired covers an international team of experts who specialize in just this sort of thing, traveling all around to refloat capsized ships or just salvage what can be saved. They’re paid big bucks but their company earns money only if they succeed as their contracts are based on a percentage of the value recovered and as the article makes it painfully clear, theirs is a mortally dangerous job. The article is so good it could be made into a summer blockbuster, highly recommended.
  • Finally, on a more light-hearted note, I’m sure what with the Wikipedia blackout and all, everyone knows about SOPA and how it’s supposed to help with copyright violation, i.e. IP piracy. In a move that combines the futility of fighting against file sharing and the ridiculousness of organized religion, Sweden has officially recognized the Church of Kopimism as a religious organization. This church was founded in 2010 and upholds the right to file-share as a sacred tenet. Its religious symbols are CTRL+C and CTRL+V, i.e. copy-paste. PCMag has the story.

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