Apple hit with bizarre iPhone browsing patent suit

Granted, there aren’t that many original ways to sue Apple anymore, but this one is just peculiar.

Elliot Gottfurcht, a successful commercial real estate developer, is suing the company because he claims to hold a patent for “the way the iPhone navigates the Internet.” He was indeed granted an internet-ish patent in late October, but it’s hard to see how exactly it relates to Apple, or how this isn’t just another example of Hail Mary patent extortion plot. It looks like the crux of Gottfurcht’s claim against Apple is buried in the middle of the patent, and regards a number of methods for navigating web content.

The wording is vague, and whether or not this holds up will remains to be seen, but the claim is probably not centered around the reformatting of web pages, as described elsewhere in the patent.

Further reading…helped confirm what looked obvious from the description: Gottfurcht is suing Apple because they think they hold a patent on the entire mobile web. Never mind the fact that the iPhone was touted as the first phone not to need mobile-optimized websites — even if the iPhone only visited stripped-down WAP sites, that would have almost nothing to do with the iPhone itself.

Patent Trolls are right up there with the RIAA on the Contempt-O-Meter.

Green Taxi revolution on the streets of Tehran

When Roqaya Khalili wants to visit friends or relatives, or do the weekly shopping at the supermarket, she picks up the phone and dials a four-digit number.

A few minutes later, a bright green taxi draws up outside Roqaya’s home in a suburb of west Tehran.
At the wheel is Sahar Foghani, one of around 700 women cab drivers in Tehran who are making a living, or supplementing the family income, working for a taxi agency run by women, for women.

It’s a scenario that would be unthinkable in nearby Saudi Arabia, where women are banned from driving.

Women’s rights in Iran may have some way to go. But they are free to go out on their own, to drive their own vehicles, or to take taxis driven by men if they like.

But Roqaya Khalili is one of around 40,000 registered customers who prefer to move around in cabs with women in the driving seat.

The article illustrates another of the many contradictions remaining in the nation that characterizes itself officially as the leading voice of Islam in the world – but, gained its first real independence from colonial shackles led by a secular insurgency.

Japan’s carmakers travel a different route

Honda Insight – sub $20K hybrid

At a time when U.S. automakers are telling taxpayers and lawmakers that they are on the brink of financial collapse, Japan’s biggest automaker is still investing in its business.

Toyota’s top brass pledges that this year more money will pour into research and development for the cars of the future. Toyota isn’t just trying to survive this economic downturn; it’s planning its success well into the future…

Koji Endo, Credit Suisse auto industry analyst who has been studying the global auto market for more than 20 years, says the reason is quite simple. The American Big 3 “never changed, basically. That’s why they’re facing this tough time.

They just kept on keeping their business model: in other words, relying on SUV’s and pick up trucks, never looking at small cars because profitability from small cars tends to be very low.”

Analyst Koji Endo says union contracts and health care costs alone don’t account for the different financial pictures facing the two countries’ auto companies. Endo points to a cycle of U.S. management focusing on profit instead of company growth in the future.

You could say the Big 3 reflect life on Wall Street. No one considers it worthwhile looking forward more than a quarter or two. That’s not good enough in an industry – at least the U.S. model – that needs three years to offer anything different to consumers.

Think I don’t see you recording this?

Psychosis in the 21st century looks something like this: You think your every move is being filmed for a reality television show starring you, and that everyone in your life is an actor.

If you have delusions of grandeur in this century, you are probably not Napoleon, but you may be Bill Gates.

The Truman Show delusion, or Truman Syndrome, has drawn attention in recent months, in the United States and Britain, as psychiatrists in both countries describe a small but growing number of psychotic patients who describe their lives as mirroring that of the main character in the 1998 film “The Truman Show…”

One way of looking at the delusions and hallucinations of the mentally ill is that they represent extreme cases of what the general population, or the merely neurotic, are worried about. Schizophrenics and other paranoid patients can take common fears — like identity theft because of information transmitted on the Internet, or the loss of privacy because of the prevalence of security cameras to fight crime — and magnify them, psychiatrists say…

One patient reported that he came to New York to see if the Twin Towers were still standing, because he believed that seeing their destruction on Sept. 11 on television was part of his reality show. If they were still standing, he said, then he would know that the terrorist attack was all part of the script.

Most of the spin from 9/11 makes about as much sense as any other mass hysteria. Only the United States ended up spending trillions of dollars and killing hundreds of thousands of people.

If only we could have gotten Bush & Co. into counseling. Or at least well-medicated.

Stephanie the Screener explains TSA security

The group that created Smokey Bear and McGruff the Crime Dog has a new potential icon: Stephanie the airport screener.

A $1.3 million ad campaign launched this month teams the Ad Council and the Transportation Security Administration trying to change behavior of passengers who no longer automatically accept post-Sept. 11 airport security procedures. The public relations push explains the terrorist threat and the reasons behind annoyances at checkpoints…

In a 97-second video, Washington National Airport screener Stephanie Naar gently explains that homemade bombs “are the No. 1 threat to aircraft, and we know terrorists have concealed these items in shoes.” The TSA hopes to make passengers more accepting of removing footwear at checkpoints.

The campaign also tries to prepare inexperienced travelers for screening. “It will help to relieve a lot of stress and anxiety people have when they’re traveling,” Ad Council CEO Peggy Conlon said.

Because fear has receded since Sept. 11, the TSA needs a new “spirit of cooperation” with passengers, Blue Lime said. Explaining security procedures to passengers “should translate to greater compliance,” the company concludes.

I like the part where the “TSA has been training screeners to better interact with passengers, urging them not to shout across security lanes and to chat quietly and warmly with people in line”.

Makes it all better, eh?

Senator says U.S. should get serious about nuclear power

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, expects soon to become the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water. So he just spent a week in Europe looking at its energy industries for lessons he can use here.

A key lesson he says he learned is that America will soon need to depend much more on nuclear energy if it is serious about reducing carbon emissions — which environmentalists want to help stop global warming.

And he says to do that, America will need to become serious about reprocessing and reusing nuclear waste…

Bennett added that reprocessing in France reduces the final amount of waste to only about 4 percent of the volume created by nuclear plants in America. “Nuclear energy makes far more sense if you are going to do the reprocessing,” he said.

Plus, the French have [1] the most up-to-date nuclear power plants in the world and [2] demonstrate significant leadership in next-gen design and construction.

That also has something to do with it.

Guilty plea from makers of phony penis

The makers of a prosthetic penis to help men cheat on drugs tests have pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy in a US federal court.

The two men, George Wills and Robert Catalano, had been selling the device – known as the Whizzinator – over the internet for three years.

The device was sold with a heating element and fake urine to help people test negative for illegal substances.

“The Whizzinator is the ultimate solution for a drug testing device,” says a statement on the website of the California-based company, which calls itself the “undisputed leader in synthetic urine.”

Their website is down [this morning – perhaps forever] and Amazon says they’re “currently unavailable”. They only carried three of the five colors, anyway. 🙂

Greenland to vote on loosening ties with Denmark

Greenland, the world’s largest island, is to vote Tuesday on whether it wants greater independence from Denmark, which colonized it nearly 300 years ago.

Greenland – 2,200,000 square kilometers, or 850,000 square miles, some 80 percent of which is covered by ice – has steadily been gaining more autonomy for decades and has had its own home-rule government since 1979. But it still depends on Denmark for much of its budget and is bound by Danish decisions in a variety of policy areas.

If it passes, the referendum on Tuesday will pave the way for Greenland’s eventual independence from Denmark. The measure would allow Greenlanders to be recognized as a separate people under international law; make the Eskimo-Inuit tongue known as Greenlandic the island’s official language; and give the home-rule government the option of taking more responsibility over areas like justice, defense and foreign affairs.

Perhaps more importantly, a “yes” vote would allow Greenland the opportunity to wean itself from its annual grant of $550 million by giving it control of the revenues from potential oil, gas and mineral finds. Experts say that huge quantities of natural resources are lurking offshore and under Greenland’s melting ice cap, but it remains to be seen exactly what is there and how much it is worth.

Denmark really doesn’t have a great history of equitable relations with its former colonies. I don’t find it at all surprising that Greenlanders move steadily towards independence.

They’ll probably beat Puerto Rico into the U.N..

UPDATE: The turnout was more than 70 percent and almost 76 percent of the voters were in favor.

UPDATE: First day of self-rule, Sunday 21 June 2009

Italian Fascists offer cash to name babies for Mussolini

A far-right Italian party is offering 1,500 euros to parents who name their children after the fascist dictator Mussolini or his wife.

The small Movimento Sociale-Fiamma Tricolore (MS-FT) party denies its gesture is racist and says the names Benito and Rachele are merely “nice”.

The cash incentive is available in five areas of southern Italy and is designed to help the region’s low birth rate.

Together the names Benito and Rachele mean only one thing to Italians – they signify their former dictator and his wife.

But the party says the choice of names is what it called “purely casual”.

At least one parent has to be Italian. Just in case the question of nationality came to mind.

Noise polluters sentenced to listen to Barry Manilow

Judge Paul Sacco says his unorthodox punishment of forcing noise ordinance violators to sit in a room and listen to music they don’t like has cut down on repeat offenders in the small prairie town of Fort Lupton, 25 miles north of Denver.

Four times a year, offenders troop into a room and endure one hour of hits from Barry Manilow and Barney, the purple dinosaur…

Mr Sacco did not feel that the message that noise pollution was unacceptable was getting through, so he decided to give the teenagers a bit of their own medicine.

The playlist at a recent session included: Barry Manilow’s I can’t smile without you; The Platters’ Only You; Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning.

Cripes. Except for Barry Manilow, I like the others.

I own the others!

Thanks, K B