A technical demo of the Oculus Touch controller rings, which have a gun-like grip, took place in a second room. Once I slipped on the headset and grabbed the new controller, Brian Hook, who heads Oculus's audio team, appeared as a floating head and a pair of floating hands. (Not his real face, but an avatar more akin to a department-store mannequin.)
Hook's avatar instructed me to point my finger. When I did, my own digital hands floated in front of me. I pulled a trigger under my middle, ring and pinky fingers, and my fist came to a close. When I gave a thumbs up or waved, my on-screen hands did the same.
During the demos, Oculus Chief Executive Brendan Iribe said multiple times that virtual reality is in its infancy, and that the company envisions a day when the goggles are as unobtrusive as a pair of sunglasses. He said Oculus is nearly ready to ship a consumer product, but he also admitted the consumer market for virtual reality is currently "at zero."
He's right. These are the early days. What matters at this point is that developers and hardware makers prove that they can build headsets and high-quality software that don't make people feel sick or hurt their necks after long sessions in virtual reality.
Still, virtual reality is evolving fast. In the span of a few years, Oculus has moved from market leader to laggard and then back to the front of the pack, neck-and-neck with Sony, Valve and HTC.
Iribe framed things a bit differently to me after my demos. "Right now, we have no rivals," he said. "Everyone in VR is a pioneer and nobody has Rift or any other consumer VR headsets hooked up to their PCs and consoles at home. We need to build an actual market for this before we really can talk about competition. But, we're finally ready."
In 2008 Congress amended the governing law to allow victims who obtain a court ruling against a terrorist country to lay claim to its commercial assets—potentially allowing the victims of the Beirut bombing to satisfy their judgments from funds flowing between Iranian-controlled firms (such as the Iranian National Oil Company) and Western businesses.
Sufficient funds exist: For example, beginning in 2012, pursuant to the Iran Threat Reduction Act and other laws, Congress established special escrow accounts that hold much of the money paid by purchasers of Iranian oil. This money, now amounting to tens of billions of dollars, can and should be used to pay judgments against Iran, and not only in the Beirut embassy case. Iran also has judgments against it for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1996 bombing of the U.S. Air Force facility in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
Obama cannot accomplish that without resolving this dark chapter in our relations with Iran.
the president and Congress have a moral obligation to ensure that these judgments, which represent Iran's legal debt to the victims of its official policy of terrorism, are paid. Lawmakers told victims like me to go to court to obtain justice, but they have not provided us with a mechanism for satisfying the resulting judicial orders.
We have waited since 1983. The time has come for President Obama and Congress to make sure that justice delayed is not justice denied—and that victims of Tehran's policy of terrorism finally receive what they have long been owed.
DHAKA, Bangladesh—On the first Friday of every month, Sabina Begum makes the short trip from her single-room shack in a crowded Dhaka slum to a nearby grocery. The grocer, in addition to selling her much-needed supplies, doubles as her financial-services provider.
Ms. Begum hands the grocer cash, and with a few clicks on a basic key-press mobile phone, he sends the money on its way.
At roughly the same time, in a village 300 kilometers away, Ms. Begum's father, Bosir Uddin, partially blind and slowed by arthritis, walks to a tea shop in the village square, where he waits for the money transfer from Dhaka. It duly arrives in the form a text message to the tea shop owner, who pays out the money Mr. Uddin's daughter sent.
As we move through the exhibition, which is organized roughly by sultanate, we encounter elaborate weapons, many of them decorated with fabulous beasts, along with elegant brass incense burners, spittoons and ewers.
We find, too, fanciful carpet weights, and spectacular dark, burnished metal objects inlaid with complex floral patterns in silver and brass—a specialty of Bidar. There are gilded palanquin finials, sprouting enormous sunflowers; a nifty helmet; vast painted cloths, some used as tent hangings, packed with floral motifss*, figures, and animals; pages of calligraphy in many languages; and much more.
Enter Ms. Swift, who wrote an open letter to Apple on Tumblr, complaining about the unfairness of the tech giant's plans. "Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months," she wrote. "I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company."
She called for Apple to change its policy and added: "We don't ask you for free iPhones. Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation." She backed it up with a threat to withhold from Apple Music her mega-popular album "1989"—a threat that had credibility because she earlier withheld her entire catalog of songs from Spotify, another music-streaming service, over compensation disagreements.
In one of her most popular songs, Ms. Swift notes how people say of her: "Got nothing in my brain." If that's what the execs at Apple were thinking when they thought they could take her songs for free, the savvy songstress taught them a good lesson about intellectual property rights—and the danger of taking on a woman who knows what she's worth.
In her 1961 book "The Savage My Kinsman," she wrote that "the Aucas are men. Human beings, made in the image of God. . . . We have a common source, common needs, common hopes, a common end." The "lucid recognition of the Auca as my kinsman was at the same time a new acknowledgment of Jesus Christ, of our common need of Him." The two American women worked to decipher the tribal language and they shared meals, traditions, and most important, the news of Jesus Christ. The tribe numbers around 2,000 people—up from about 250 in the 1950s when the tribe settled disputes by spearing one another—and about a third have become Christians. .........Then there is the larger picture. The first post-Cold War decades featured a secure Eurasian maritime sphere from the Mediterranean across the Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific. Thus, the weakening of Greece's ties with the West in the eastern Mediterranean has to be seen alongside the ascendancy of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the rise of China in the South and East China seas as a singular process in the chipping away at American power.
The EU, as frustrating as its policies can be, represents the ultimate triumph of American power emerging from the bloodshed of World War II. If Greece does leave the eurozone, whatever the country's sins, it is demonstrably in Europe's and America's interest to nurse it back to health to keep, for example, Russian warships away from Greek ports. Greece, whether with the euro or the drachma, is in need of nation-building. Europe, after all, to be true to its own values, must give hope and succor to its periphery.
The "Phony War": That's how history recalls the meager Allied effort in Western Europe early in World War II. Despite having declared war on Germany in September 1939, the Allies shrank from a major offensive for months. They considered real war too painful and themselves unprepared. Nonetheless, what quickly followed was France's capitulation on June 22, 1940—75 years ago last week.
Today, another phony war is being waged, this time in the Middle East. Those opposed to Islamic State—the Saudis, Iraqis, Kurds, Turks and, yes, Americans—mostly squatuat* and occasionally harass, unable or unwilling to strike decisively.
The Obama administration lately projects an anti-Islamic State campaign of three to five years at best, or a decade perhaps at worst. Meanwhile, U.S. leaders hope to tame Iran's nuclear hunger and it's bloody misdeeds with inspections and respect, a coin that must be paid in years of restraint. Maybe the administration believes regional powers can be goaded into not just pricking, but, with limited U.S. aid, defeating Islamic State and Iranian ambitions.
Whatever the reasoning the net consequence is the same: Iran and Islamic State have won years to gather weapons and riches, inflame hatreds, reap recruits and plot. The time will come, Islamic State and Iran know, to settle scores between them. But that will be another day. In the interim, both prosper.
Ché Ruddell-Tabisola, a food-truck owner in Washington, D.C., told me that he and his partner wanted to open a butcher shop in 2011 but couldn't get a half-million dollar loan. Instead, they borrowed $98,000 to start BBQ Bus. Four years later, they operate both the truck and a kitchen at a local brewery.
Mr. Ruddell-Tabisola told me that some two dozen food trucks in the D.C. area have taken that route, opening traditional restaurants after finding sidewalk success. Ditto for food trucks elsewhere—Korilla BBQ in New York City, for one. And while some bricks-and-mortar owners fear that food trucks are eating into their bottom lines, the restaurant industry is still expected to surpass $700 billion in revenues this year, up from $683 billion last year and $585 billion in 2010.
Tinkerers, aftermarket repair shops and copyright activists are lobbying for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 to guarantee car owners the right to alter the software in their vehicles.
Dozens of "electronic control units" in modern cars regulate emissions, steering and other aspects of automotive performance.
The nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Automobile Association—speaking for car owners—back the exemption, as do security researchers who want to probe auto software for vulnerabilities. Ford, GM, Toyota and other major car makers are adamantly opposed. Their argument is that a car buyer merely licenses that software code from the auto maker and cannot break the security measures walling it off without violating copyright law.
This claim could end the American pastime of tinkering under the hood.But the precedent will reach beyond the auto shop, particularly as more everyday products begin to include software code. Futurists talk of an "Internet of things," a world in which everything from your thermostat to refrigerator is run in part by networked electronics.
The entire Idea is to protect the software because this argument assumes that code is more secure when it is tightly held, a notion sometimes described as "security by obscurity." The truth is the opposite: When systems are closed, through copyright or other means, they become less secure.
Wednesday's unsettling events—nearly simultaneous computer glitches that shut down the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and this newspaper's website—have again raised the specter of malicious hackers. "We do not see any indication of a cyberbreach or cyberattack," FBI Director James Comey told the Senate. "But again, in my business, you don't love coincidences."
Some hackers are engaged in state-sponsored espionage. But many other attacks are conducted by global crime rings. Operating on hidden parts of the Internet known as the dark Web, they sweep up and sell massive amounts of personal data, which is then used for nefarious purposes. Money is wired from bank accounts, fake tax returns are filed to redirect refunds, credit ratings are spoiled, extortion schemes are executed, and confidential emails are posted online. These breaches cost the global economy more than $400 billion a year, according to an estimate by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.