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Raised by Wolves

Gaki: writing myself Real

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"I ride my board fast and danger..."

My stomach has been giving me hell on and off at odd hours, for what must have been weeks now. I guess I haven't been treating it particularly well... but I haven't been being mean to it either, I thought. Maybe it's just my odd swing shift hours. Maybe I have an ulcer (thanks for the genes, dad. I better be keeping my hair). Maybe I'm carrying a living Alien parasite, and eventually it will burrow it's way out of me with a hideously gory flourish. Ideally, this will happen at work, where I can collapse across my boss's desk, gurgling "The company used me!" before horror and blood loss blot out the world. The look on everyone's face would nearly be worth it.

Maybe I'm a dying star. Bright so you can't stare at me, warm at a distance, built around a core of nuclear ash formed by such intense pressure as to beggar the imagination. Did you know that it has been observed that there are more stars winking out than flaring to life right now? After 13.7 billion years, the Universe is middle aged. And yet, for all those aeons of evolution behind me today, I still can't think of an explanation for the existence of Ill Mitch.

Still, even several billion years left to the universe leaves us with a lot of time to waste. And we do it so well. Did you know that you can build a Beretta out of Lego Blocks? I know, this'll never make Toys R Us... but I want one.

China Readies Super ID Card, a Worry to Some

BEIJING, Aug. 18 — For almost two decades, Chinese citizens have been defined, judged and, in some cases, constrained by their all-purpose national identification card, a laminated document the size of a driver's license.

But starting next year, they will face something new and breathtaking in scale: an electronic card that will store that vital information for all 960 million eligible citizens on chips that the authorities anywhere can access.

Officials hope that the technologically advanced cards will help stamp out fraud and counterfeiting involving the current cards, protecting millions of people from those problems and saving billions of dollars. Providing the cards to everyone is expected to take five or six years. But the vagueness and vastness of the undertaking has prompted some criticism that the data collection could be used to quash dissent and to infringe on privacy.

The project comes at a time when China is doggedly remaking itself into a leaner economic machine in line with the standards of the World Trade Organization. But China is also struggling to track a restless and poor rural population that continues to gravitate toward the cities. So officials are no doubt gambling that the cards can help them juggle two important if conflicting interests: promoting economic liberalization, while monitoring citizens in an increasingly fluid society.

There has been little public discussion or news about the new cards. Brief but rapturous accounts in the official press say the cards will "protect citizens."

Yet many of China's toughest critics, at home and abroad, are skeptical, objecting to the concentration of so much information at the government's fingertips.

"Given the record of the Chinese government on protecting the privacy of its citizens and given the prevalence of corruption, how can we ensure that this information will be managed properly?" asked Nicolas Becquelin, research director at the Hong Kong office of Human Rights in China. "It's scary what the Chinese government is doing, because there is no counterweight."

Alright, enough slacking. I can feel the great Monkey Machine of American Productivity lagging, even as I type...