Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sick and moving

Hey folks - a combination of moving house this weekend, limited
Internet access and a nasty cold means no meaningful blog post today.
Excuses, I know, I know. I should be back up and running full tilt
later this week. Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Monday, September 28, 2009

The problem with porn and net neutrality

I'm on this week's episode of CBC Radio's Spark, talking about net neutrality. If you want to have a listen, that stuff starts at about the 49:27 mark. We're discussing the events of the past week down in the United States, where the regulating body - the Federal Communications Commission - announced it will enshrine net neutrality principles as law.

The FCC's move comes at a time when our own telecommunications regulator, the CRTC, is mulling whether it should recommend new rules here in Canada. The CRTC held hearings this past summer, attracting an unprecedented level of interest from the public. With the United States moving towards adopting new rules that will prohibit internet service providers (including cellphone carriers) from unfairly interfering with their customers' traffic, the pressure is on the CRTC - the regulator is supposed to announce its opinions some time this fall. Some have argued that our telecom laws are already strong enough - others have suggested that Telus's blocking of access to a union website a few years ago and the ongoing situation with Bell throttling peer-to-peer file sharing are just two examples that our laws are too lax.

Ultimately, the power and decisions rest with the government, and it's here that Canada and the United States couldn't be further apart. President Obama immediately voiced support for the FCC's plan, but in Canada, the Conservative government is the only party that has not voiced explicit support for net neutrality. The best we have is this statement in the House of Commons last year from former Minister of Industry Jim Prentice:

I bring up net neutrality here not only because of my personal interest in the issue, but also because it has significant implications on pornography. Invariably, the first sort of content that internet providers and governments alike target for blocking is porn. I've written on numerous examples of this, from to the to to .

Personally, I take a pretty hard line on this - if the material, regardless of what it is, is legal within a country, adults should not be blocked from accessing it online in any way, shape or form. In other words, if you can buy a Vivid DVD down at the local sex shop, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to get it online too.

Porn producers feel the same way, so they're generally big supporters of net neutrality.

There is one big problem, though: it's ridiculously easy for anyone - children included - to get access to porn online. If you go to any number of porn sites, you're simply asked to verify that you're over 18. Click a button and you're in. In the case of the plethora of YouTube porn clones out there, you've got instant access to a veritable cornucopia of porn video, all for free.

I've yet to hear a decent explanation as to how this has been allowed to happen. I remember in the early days of the web, there were a number of adult verification services out there and you generally couldn't get easy access to such sites without a credit card. Somehow over the years, that's gone out the window and now it's like the wild west. I imagine that competition and piracy pushed producers to offer more and more of their stuff up for free, without age verification, and nobody stepped up to police them. As many countries have found, it's just easier to block them all outright.

If net neutrality is to apply to porn companies, to where ISPs in developed countries such as the U.K. and Australia don't try to block access, they're going to need to come up with a solution to this problem. Otherwise, they're going to continue to get targeted no matter what kind of neutrality rules are in place.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Don't let armageddon catch you with your pants down

Have you ever wondered what to do if a nuclear bomb should go off near your house? I know that's something that keeps me up most nights. Cold War be damned - I've watched enough 24 to know we're only minutes away from that stuff happening every day!

Well there's no need to worry anymore because the people at Nukepills.com have got us covered with their new "Dirty Bomb Emergency Kit." According to the website (which I found out about thanks to Defense Tech), the kit "detects radiation and significantly removes radioactive material from human skin and other surfaces after a dirty bomb attack or other radiological events." Whew. Thank goodness.

The kit contains Nukepills' "Quick Decon Mass Effect" radiation decontamination spray. These "water-based liquids come in convenient-to-use color-coded 32 oz. bottles with accompanying trigger sprayers. Our solutions are made from cosmetic-grade, FDA-approved materials and are not radioactive before use." Also included are enough face masks for the whole family, towelettes, rad-waste bags, and to be sure, PDF instructions. All of this can be yours for the low, low price of $250.

Awesome. Just awesome.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Jedis hate our way of life

This blog may be one-third about war, but that doesn't mean I always have to stick to real war. Today, I'm posting about my favourite fictional war, or wars, to be more accurate. Star Wars, to be exact!

Somebody posted the video below on Facebook the other day, and I laughed myself silly. It's three stormtroopers talking about their own personal September 11, the destruction of the Death Star (the first one). It's satire at its finest, with the troopers quoting many of the same lines and conspiracy theories we've heard in the eight years since the real September 11. My favourite is the theory that the Emperor was secretly behind the Death Star's destruction just so he would have an excuse to invade Hoth. "Jedis - they hate our way of life."

Now, to quote Lance Storm, if I could be serious for a minute...

Like many people, deep down, I still find 9/11 humour a little unsettling. Three years ago, when I was working at the National Post, I had the privilege of going down to New York to cover the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. I interviewed the heads of two financial companies - Cantor Fitzgerald and Alger Management - that had been all but wiped out, yet against the odds they had managed to survive and rebuild.

Interviewing their respective CEOs, Howard Lutnick and Dan Chung, was a profound experience. During our talks, these two grown men became very emotional and came close to tears as they told stories of their slain friends and colleagues. As a business/tech reporter, you don't often experience real emotion on the job, so the interviews moved me pretty deeply. Although I didn't lose anyone I knew in the attacks, they did become a little more real for me.

I wish I could link to that story as I think it was one of the best things I've written, but alas, it has somehow been scrubbed from internet history (perhaps if any Posties are reading this, they can help out?).

In any event, the beauty of comedy is that above all, it is a medium of truth. Just as court jesters were the only ones allowed to tell the truth in medieval times without fear of execution, so too are today's comedians and satirists the people we rely on to express things we maybe don't want to face up to.

At the risk of overthinking this harmless Star Wars skit, it does expose how absurd some of the analysis of 9/11 was and continues to be, doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Subway challenging but McD's is still king

Advertising Age reports that Subway is on the verge of surpassing McDonald's as the world's biggest fast-food chain, at least as far as number of restaurants is concerned. Subway is expecting to have 31,800 locations open as of this week, about 500 shy of McDonald's 32,158.

In terms of how much money the chains earn, though, McDonald's has little reason to sweat. The average U.S. McDonald's made $2.3 million in sales last year, compared to a relatively minuscule $445,000 for the average Subway. All told, Subway - which is owned by Connecticut-based Doctor's Associates Inc. - is only making about half as much as McDonald's.

Market share-wise, as the pie chart at right illustrates, McDonald's is also still king, nearly doubling Subway. Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, is running a close third to Subway.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

World's largest burger: 185.6 pounds

Sometimes words just don't do justice. Behold the new Guinness record holder for world's biggest burger, at Mallie's Sports Bar and Grill in Southgate, Michigan. It weighs 185.6 pounds.

Check out the video of one of Mallie's previous record holders. The burger weighed 134 pounds, cost $350 and took 24 hours to prepare.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Time to clean up the space junk

I'm as sad as the next person to see that summer is almost over, but to be honest, this past summer has got to be one of the worst we've had here in Toronto. Tornados, bug infestations and of course, the garbage strike that refused to end.

Still, if the Torontonians out there reading this think our streets looked bad, it's too bad we can't easily take a look upward - into space. You want to talk about garbage, let's talk about all the crap we've been shooting up into the heavens for the past 50 years. And for the most part, we've been leaving it there.

The photo at right (click to enlarge) shows the Earth surrounded by all the satellites and debris we've left up in space since the fifties. Pretty impressive, huh? According to the U.S. government, there are more than 20,000 objects up in orbit today, 94% of which aren't functioning.

The folks at DARPA, the U.S. military's advanced tech lab, have realized this is a problem, according to Wired's Danger Room. The smallest piece of debris - even a paint chip - could prove to be catastrophic if it hits a functional satellite, the space shuttle or the International Space Station. The agency has therefore opened the floor to suggestions on how to clean up this mess. As Wired puts it, there is likely to be "a good mix of creative, unusual and bizarre suggestions."

With that in mind, let me be the first to suggest it: a giant vacuum cleaner based on the moon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two all-beef patties, special sauce... and ink

Ah China, land of melamine (a plastic) in milk and clenbuterol (an asthma drug) in pork. Now we can "ink in French fries" to that list.

The Standard in Hong Kong reports that people who spread their fries on paper place mats at fast-food establishments may be risking ink leeching into the food. Apparently, random inspections of KFC outlets on Hong Kong's mainland found written warnings telling customers not to put their food on mats.

Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety says the allegation is without merit. What's less reassuring, however, is the centre's statement that there is no scientific evidence that ink on food is hazardous to your health.

Mmm... ink. Just think of it as a new kind of special sauce.

While it's easy to believe food horror stories coming out of China, the source of this news - The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - should raise some eyebrows. The group is a pro-communist, pro-Beijing party operating in the territory. This sort of thing sounds like pretty clear agitation for more government oversight of the food industry in Hong Kong.

Even still, I'm going to think twice about spreading my fries onto anything now. I'm also reconsidering those claims that it's okay to use newspaper as a substitute for toilet paper!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Leaping Lizards! Errr... robots!

Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, one of the three research labs responsible for stewardship of the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile, has released a video of its new invention: a jumping robot.

The "Precision Urban Hopper," built by Boston Dynamics and funded of course by DARPA, is designed to perform reconnaissance in spots that soldiers can't get to. A powerful leg on the small robot propels it up and over obstacles, such as fences (as seen in the video below). It can jump over or onto obstacles up to 25 feet tall, the lab says.

The idea is that a wheeled robot that can jump over obstacles is more fuel efficient than Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which use up a lot of gas by hovering. Check out the robot in action:

Given military designers and their penchant for pun-ny acronyms, I'm surprised they didn't call this invention something along the lines of "Fully Robust Observational Ground Robot," or FROGR.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The double standard of porn piracy

There's an interesting case of double standards going on in South Korea, as it relates to prosecuting copyright pirates. A group of more than 50 American and Japanese porn producers are upset that authorities in the country don't take violations of their copyright as seriously as they do with mainstream entertainment companies. Well, duh.

According to Torrentfreak, the porn producers in July filed a complaint against 10,000 alleged uploaders with the South Korean authorities. Prosecutors in the country, however, only went after 10 of those individuals named. But when Haeundae, a Korean disaster movie (and we're not talking about the car), was leaked onto the internet at the end of August, police took swift action.

The porn producers have upped the ante by registering another complaint, this time against 65,000 alleged pirates. Where these violators are uploading to hasn't been disclosed, but it can be safely assumed that a large portion of the content is going to YouTube porn clones such as YouPorn and RedTube.

If the ratio of the previous complaint holds up, does this mean prosecutors will go after 65 individuals? It probably shouldn't surprise anyone that authorities are indeed applying double standards. After all, the public doesn't usually shed too many tears when they hear that porn producers are losing money.

A lot has been written about how the uploading and sharing of content is hurting the industry, which means producers are having to rethink how they do business. Some are going after file-sharers with lawsuits while others are trying to come up with ways to deliver content that .

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Norman Borlaug, greatest humanitarian

I was a little saddened yesterday to learn of the passing of Norman Borlaug. If you don't know who Borlaug is, you might want to do a little reading on him because he is possibly the greatest humanitarian who ever lived (that's what Forbes called him in their obituary, and I agree).

Borlaug was an American scientist recruited to help solve the issue of hunger in Mexico in the forties. At the time, Mexico was experiencing major food shortages and importing more than half the wheat it needed. Borlaug introduced a new hybrid kind of wheat that resisted the "rust" plant disease commonly found in the country. Along with new pesticides and irrigation techniques, Mexico used the new "dwarf" wheat to first become self-sufficient in food, then to become a net exporter of wheat. Borlaug's agricultural techniques are considered a cornerstone of the so-called Mexican Miracle, which saw the country post impressive economic growth rates until the 1970s.

Borlaug's techniques were then exported to India and Pakistan, and then to the Philippines, where they had the same effect. The "Green Revolution," as his techniques were nicknamed since they produced fields of green crops, helped turn those countries into net exporters of food, thus elevating them out of abject poverty.

Over his lifetime, Borlaug had honour upon honour heaped upon him, including the Nobel Peace Prize. It's estimated that he saved at least 240 million lives (some say it was up to ) - a number that no other humanitarian can even come close to.

He was also a big supporter of food technology, including genetically modified seeds. He even appeared in videos from the big evil Monsanto, defending the company's pushing of GMO technology:

I tried to track Borlaug down months ago for an interview for my book, unsuccessfully. I didn't know he was in poor health, although at the age of 95, he lived longer than most of us can hope to. Through the course of reading his writings, speeches and opinions, I came to be a big believer in how food technology can help fight poverty and the conditions that cause war. He had his share of critics, but I think he answered them nicely in a 1997 interview:

They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rest in Peace, Boobs

The big news of the day is that my book has officially had its title changed. The new name, as you can tell from the above banner, is Sex, Bombs and Burgers: How War, Porn and Fast Food Shaped Technology As We Know It.

The story behind the title has seen many twists and turns (and we may not be done yet). Penguin Canada has had some trepidation about it since we signed our deal early last year, but the understanding was we'd keep the original name - Bombs, Boobs & Burgers - as a working title, and see if something better emerged.

Allen & Unwin, my publisher in Australia, also didn't like it, and the editors there spelled out why. They said it sounded "," which for a while I couldn't quite understand. It was through Ricky Gervais, and his show , that I finally figured out what they were talking about. On Extras, Gervais plays Andy Millman, who's a self-centered actor trying to make it in film as, of course, an extra. He finally lands a starring role in a sitcom, but the show is all low-brow humour based on his character, who wears a funny wig and glasses and continually spouts his one catch phrase:

There's one episode of Extras where Millman is , which is kind of like the UK's Emmy and Oscars all rolled into one, and he realizes that he gets no respect from his peers. While everyone there considers themselves serious actors, they see Andy as a hack who's lucked out by appealing to the lowest common denominator.

I think this is what Penguin and Allen & Unwin were thinking. They believed that I'd written a serious book, yet people may not take it seriously with the word "boobs" in the title. The alliteration also didn't help.

The problem was, Bombs, Boobs & Burgers was also a very memorable title - it wasn't one people were likely to forget if they heard about it on the radio or TV, or whatever. So the trick was to come up with something that didn't sound low-brow, but that was also memorable.

Many people (myself included) tried for many months, and we all failed. Finally, the folks at Allen & Unwin came up with Sex, Bombs & Burgers, with the subtitle a variation from something I had in the original proposal. Pretty much everybody agreed that this is a worthy compromise name - it has enough of the original idea, it's still memorable and it's a little less "Benny Hill" (which I think is a fine show, by the way). In the interest of a unified title, Penguin is also going with the Australian name.

The book is being pitched to U.S. publishers this week. I've heard that a few are interested, but they also didn't like "Boobs." I hope they like the new title, or it could be back to the drawing board.

By the way, if you're in Canada and have already pre-ordered the book on Amazon.ca or Chapters.ca, I'm told the title change will have no effect. If you haven't pre-ordered, well what are you waiting for?!?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is Microsoft wooing porn fans to Bing?

Just how much does Microsoft depend on porn to fuel its business? Enough to buy ads with its sworn enemy, according to bloggers.

Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch made an interesting discovery two days ago. He typed the word "pornography" into Google and found that an ad for Microsoft's Bing search engine came up as the top result in the sponsored links column. This means that Microsoft has bought the keyword "pornography" from Google. Interesting, no?

Bing, as Arrington points out, has a pretty good video search feature - "it may be the best porn search engine ever created" - which could explain why the ad was there. Microsoft, however, denied buying the keyword:

Microsoft has not purchased the keyword 'pornography,' and this term has never been in our AdWords account. It is our policy on the Bing marketing team that we do not have any adult content as part of any of our keyword buys or other marketing campaigns. The keyword that seems to be triggering these results is 'free videos.' We are following up with Google to understand why this ad is showing up in these types of queries.

The whole issue got the folks over at CNET suspicious. Chris Matyszczyk, who writes the Technically Incorrect blog, wonders why Microsoft would buy the word "pornography" but not the much-easier-to-type "porn." He says: "Is the suggestion that only those of a elevated snootiness, those who refer to pornography by its full name, get the Bing ad?"

That discrepancy seems to give weight to Microsoft's denial, but Matyszczyk is right when he sarcastically says the company would never seek out porn business. After all, this is the company that put together a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" video to promote the new "private surfing" function of its latest web browser.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vivid calls on Sony to allow porn on PS3

Nothing goes together like video games and porn. Or so Steven Hirsch, the head of porn giant Vivid Entertainment, seems to believe. Hirsch has called on Sony to make high-definition porn movies available for download over the PlayStation network, for viewing through PlayStation 3 consoles.

"As long as proper age verification is in place there is no reason why consumers should not be allowed to view adult movies on any device that they desire," Hirsch told video game site MCV. "It's too early to say to what extent this could help our business, but it certainly has real potential."

Last month, Japanese firm DDM.tv announced it was making downloadable HD porn available for the PS3, sort of. The company provides customers with a Blu-ray disc that then allows them to access pay-per-view content online through their game console (the system is only available in Japan). According to MCV, neither Sony Computer Entertainment in Europe or North America has received a formal request from Vivid - the company that made Jenna Jameson (nearly) a household name - for its material to be hosted on the system.

All I can say to Hirsch is: good luck. Giving the official green light to porn on the PS3 would be highly unusual for Sony, which has historically opposed adult entertainment using its technology. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sony eventually shut down DDM.

Many industry experts have argued that Sony's refusal to initially license its Betamax VCR format to porn in the late 1970s doomed the technology. Porn producers instead flocked to the rival VHS format, which of course ultimately won out.

More recently, Sony looked poised to repeat that mistake by refusing to license its Blu-ray technology to adult producers, thereby pushing them into the arms of the rival HD-DVD camp. That format war was short-lived, though, with Sony paying off movie studios to adopt its technology. The company quietly changed its tune and allowed Blu-ray to be used by porn companies, which of course they are now enthusiastically pumping out (no pun intended).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Star Wars probe droids headed for Iraq

Check out this video of the U.S. Army's new unmanned aerial vehicle, the T-Hawk Class 1. It's essentially a reconnaissance vehicle that can fly around and hover, all the while spying on enemies:

Now take a look at this (slightly rejigged) clip from Empire Strikes Back.

Is there any doubt that military engineers are big sci-fi geeks?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Say goodbye to sodium stearoyl lactylate?

One of the bonuses of working the Labour Day holiday yesterday (besides the crazy overtime pay) was getting to dabble in non-tech areas. Y'see, when you work a holiday in the CBC's special sections area, you're the only one there so you end up caretaking the Money, Consumer, Health and Technology sections.

Here's a cool story I came across for the Health/Consumer sections: scientists at the University of Alberta are trying to replace chemical food preservatives with natural alternatives. That means that rather than using a bunch of unpronounceable chemicals and a whole lot of things ending in "ose," scientists are looking to things like mango pits and the fatty acids found in wheat and barley to prevent harmful bacteria from forming in food.

"If you replace chemicals with a natural preservative, without compromising safety, the [food] quality is better," says Michael Gaenzle, a professor in the department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the university.

This is a pretty nifty development that's clearly being driven by consumer demand. Because we've got so much food here in the developed world, people are demanding healthier options - yet they're not willing to give up convenience or cost. This sort of research seems to be addressing all of these concerns.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Smart arms dealers don't use Gmail

It's not often you come across a story that crosses the "dumb criminal" with the "evil corporation," which is why I found the tale of Belgian arms dealer Jacques Monsieur particularly noteworthy.

Mr. Monsieur (ha!) was arrested last week in New York after he stepped off a flight from France. Known as the “Field Marshal,” Monsieur was trying to sell American F-5 fighter jet engines to Iran. He's had a long history of arms dealing, going back over 20 years, according to Wired, and he's escaped prosecution several times.

Authorities nailed him after getting his email records from Google - it seems Monsieur was a big Gmail user. Google was also ordered to keep quiet the fact that they'd turned over the records, so that Monsieur wouldn't be tipped off that the authorities were on to him.

On the one hand, if you were an international arms dealer (and man of mystery), you might want to use something more secure than Google's free, public email (especially when it seems to suffer ). On the other hand, even though Google clearly spells out in that it can turn your over your records if required by law, it seems pretty happy to do so without much resistance.

Oh well, at least Google isn't
asking to be paid for the information (as far as we know), like certain internet service providers are doing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

iPhone making fast food even faster

Chipotle Mexican Grill, the chain that makes pretty tasty burritos, has rolled out a new iPhone app that is just fantastic - and a wave of things to come for the fast-food business.

First, you sign up for an account on Chipotle's website, then you download the app onto your iPhone or iPod Touch. From there, the device's GPS finds the nearest restaurant. You then punch in what food you want, including the toppings, drinks, etc., and your account is charged. Your food is waiting for you when you get to the restaurant.

I played around with the app and, short of actually going through with an order, it's just that elegant, simple, and ingenious. It makes fast-food even faster, and if McDonald's and the rest of the gang have any brains, they're working away on creating similar apps right now.

Ironically, Chipotle used to be majority owned by McDonald's, but the godfather of fast food divested its interest in 2006 to concentrate on its core burger business. Now it seems like the student is surpassing the master (of technological innovation).

Chipotle is pretty widespread in the United States, but the chain only opened its first outlet in Canada - at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square - a year ago. The chain is a bit of mixed bag when it comes to fast-food; its burritos have been found to be incredibly unhealthy because of their high caloric content (packed with nearly 1,000 tasty calories!), but the company also prides itself on using organic ingredients.

I guess that means you can get fat eating their burritos, but feel good that you're not harming the Earth doing so.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Exposing porn surfing hurt Firefox 3

Just in case anybody needed more evidence about how porn can make or break a new technology, the Telegraph has a story about how Mozilla botched its latest web browser, Firefox 3, by making it hard for the user to hide what websites they've been visiting.

Mozilla released Firefox 3 in June and touted its "awesome bar," a toolbar that predicted where you wanted to go based on your browsing history and bookmarks, as one of its cool new features. But it turns out that people didn't exactly flock to the new version of the browser. When Mozilla asked users why, they said the browser was flawed - the awesome bar wouldn't hide websites that they'd visited.

Here's how Firefox developer Alex Faaborg explained it on his blog:

When we expanded the capabilities of the location bar to search against all history and bookmarks in Firefox 3, a lot of people contacted us to say that they had certain bookmarks they didn’t really want to have displayed. In some cases users had intentionally hidden these bookmarks in deep hierarchies of folders, somewhat similar to how one might hide a physical object. Having something from your previous browsing displayed to someone else who is using your computer (or even worse) to a large audience of people as you are giving a presentation, is really one of the most embarassing things that Firefox can to do you.

Of course, there are many types of potentially embarrassing websites you wouldn't want other people knowing you visited. Like if you were researching that rash of herpes you got over the weekend, or perhaps you were using your computer at work to look for another job. But as the Telegraph and several commentators on the Mozilla blog pointed out, porn sites would be the number one reason for why users were miffed at this particular flaw. Mozilla has fixed it with the release of Firefox 3.5.

The issue is also reminiscent of Microsoft's launch of Internet Explorer 8 back in March. The company touted the browser's "private mode" as a way to look at websites without them being tracked, with a to porn.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Even falling from a plane needs technology

It sort of says something about humanity - I'm not sure what - that we're always trying to improve things, no matter how basic and how well they might already work. Case in point: parachutes. Just when you thought that laughing in the face of death by jumping out of a plane couldn't get any easier, someone had to go and prove you wrong.

Indeed, the U.S. military has invented new chutes that offer a "softer" landing than existing models. The T-11 Advanced Tactical Parachute System, which is expected to go into service later this year, features a bigger canopy and a lower "opening shock rate," which means the paratrooper will get less of a jolt when the parachute deploys.

The parachute also slows the rate of descent, so the soldier will have a considerably less abrupt landing. Military brass are saying this will greatly reduce the number of injuries. Check out the video:

It kinda makes you wonder about things that we would generally think have reached their technological zenith, doesn't it? Is the military spending tons of money and years on making softer pillows? Spoons that stir better? Garbage cans that hold trash better?
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