O.K., so I'm listening to commercial radio on the way home, and I hear an add for... DNA storage kits. Advertised for your "safety" and "just in case", this kit (unlike the one I link above, which is for posterity and personal curiosity) was playing on the fear of anyone who believes a disaster might befall them. Sick puppies those jerks are. Which is why I linked someone who's a little more responsible.
Maybe, just maybe, if you wanted to keep it around for identifications purposes for yourself -- if you lived alone and had no living relatives, and were afraid that if your body were stolen they couldn't identify it from the usual dental records that your dentist keeps. Say, you were dipped in acid or burned at an extraordinarily high temperature.
But this is what gets me. I can give you, right now, your own guaranteed DNA storage kit for free. Ready?
You've got it. It's your body. You store your own DNA. And, you store much of the same DNA as your relatives, enough so that making a match between you is quite easy. Plus, you're constantly keeping it up to date, and have billions of billions of cells to sample.
At some point, I have to put up the most aggregious example of fearmongering I found, just so I can get it out of my system. But as for this piece of crap, save your dough and use it to buy an ice cream, just to remind you life isn't what you see on TV.
Under the Patriot Act, the FBI can acquire bank records and Internet or phone logs simply by issuing itself a so-called national security letter saying the records are relevant to an investigation into terrorism. The FBI doesn't need to show probable cause or consult a judge. What's more, the target institution is issued a gag order and kept from revealing the subpoena's existence to anyone, including the subject of the investigation.
The new provision in the spending bill redefines the meaning of "financial institution" and "financial transaction." The wider definition explicitly includes insurance companies, real estate agents, the U.S. Postal Service, travel agencies, casinos, pawn shops, ISPs, car dealers and any other business whose "cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax or regulatory matters."
Those jerks. Remind me to tell my congresscritter to stick his hand in a live piranah tank because it's "patriotic". "If you pull your hand out before it's nothing but skin and bones, you're not really an American!"
The Sunnyvale, California man now faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for next month on charges of threatening to injure someone.
And lemme see... these spammers at worst can get, oh, say, $1000 fine per mail. Yes, the guy went too far. But there was no effective way of getting rid of spam completely, aside from direct action. The "Sunnyvale man" was being harrassed by e-mail. How do you stop someone who's got your address but will not stop sending mail to you?
And if you believe the owner of the company the person was harrassing when he says "we don't spam", please, please, please go away. I don't need any more stupid people in my life.
Let's see -- The government puts together a $400 billion plan to overhaul medicare, giving seniors drug plans. But what does this plan really do?
There's a good deal of confusion about exactly what the bill would and would not do, [Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa] complained. "It's about 1,100 or 1,200 pages," Harkin said, "and we got it dated November the 20th. No one's read this bill. Nobody knows what's in it."
The drug benefits, he said, "don't go into effect until 2006. So what's the rush? The only rush is the pharmaceutical companies and the HMOs, they want their money. Big bucks -- billions of dollars of taxpayer money going to bribe them to come in and to provide drugs and benefits to seniors."
At best, it's suspicious. At worst, it's chicanery at its worst.
A bullet fired in the air during a Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony came down and struck a participant in the head, critically injuring him, authorities said.
I shouldn't laugh... but I can't help it.
Tom Daschle's is one of many Democrats asking for the RNC to pull an ad portryaing Democrats as un-American. Here's their response.
"We have no doubt that Sen. Daschle and others in his party who oppose the president's policy of pre-emptive self-defense believe that their national security approach is in the best interests of the country," RNC spokeswoman Christine Iverson said. "But we also have no doubt that they are wrong about that, and we will continue to highlight this critical policy difference as well as others."
The whole quote isn't necessary, but it's interesting to see the full thoughts of the RNC on this. Especially the phrase, "pre-emptive self-defense".
Last time I checked, "pre-emptive self-defense" is called "offense" by most people.
So just a couple of days ago, the government panel charged with looking into the PATRIOT Act decided that the ACLU was panicking people unnecessarily. Here's your answer: they're not. The FBI is now monitoring protest groups because they're prone to violence.
A lot of '60s and '70s protestors liken it back to earlier attempts at the FBI to "get the goods" on protest groups... personally, I'm not sure I care if it's the same. It's still screwy, unless they've actually done something.
BTW, in case they're watching: Hi, Mr. or Ms. FBI Person. I hope you enjoy my site. I suggest that you note that I'm non-violent, and don't side with groups that are violent. On the other hand, I certianly don't approve of governments who watch their people and analyze what they do and say for "suspicious signs". Thanks for playing.
Finally, after a whole lot of half- and sorta- solutions, there's a single solution for people who want to use a GPS to do road mapping and tracking.
See, for at least the last 6 months that I've been checking, there had been no Mac OS X solution per se for doing road mapping and tracking for a GPS, without building your own maps. Several solutions were out there -- using Virtual PC and MS Streets & Maps, using a ton of really nice, but someone incomplete, shareware solutions, using GPSy, which was Mac OS 9 only and didn't work with some of the newer GPSs, etc. You get the idea.
Well, about a month ago, National Geographic updated TOPO! for mac, so you can get good topographical maps, and now Route 66 came out with the above product.
Now all I need is a GPS. :)
"People freak out about Ebola," said Margaret McCluskey, the director of nursing at the NIH's vaccine research center...
Need I say more?
Yes, someone's gone and done it... estimated the airspeed velocity of an unlaiden swallow. Complete with Monty Python references.
I love the internet.
Cripes, this is the bad idea of the century that won't go away. I'm not usually the one who brings up morality, but this one's pretty patently obvious. Come ON. Have a little decency, you're talking about betting when groups will kill people.
Besides, if nothing else, it's way too easy to rig. One bomb could earn you millions.
So I'm looking through Clark Howard's site, and found this juicy tidbit....
Telemarketing big wigs registering for the DNC list - October 1, 2003
...You may have heard of the Direct Marketing Association, the largest telemarketing organization. A reporter at the Hartford Courant found out that eleven of the big wigs at the DMA have registered for the “Do Not Call” list. They said they registered because they don’t want to be bothered either. Yet this company is in court, fighting the list, at the same time.
It's great that we're such a sane country.
According to this article, the california Secretary of State showed that the number of people who skipped voting on the recall was zero in three different counties.
The first thing I thought of was, "well, maybe they're small counties." I took a look. The largest of the three had 300,000 voters.
The next thing I thought was, "Hey, the system prompts you so that you can't *not* vote -- every question has to be answered." OK, that's possible -- but other counties using Diebold systems got fairly large undervotes... like 3% for Fresno, 2% for Humboldt and tiny Modoc county, with a little over 3000 people voting, got 2.3% undervoting on this question. Which means at least for some of the people voting with Diebold machines, it's possible to undervote.
Which means that either the Diebold machine's software was changed so that you couldn't -- or that there's something amiss in 3 counties in California.
This deserves investigation, serious investigation.
One morning, a woman walked from her apartment on Peachtree Hills Circle to her gray Honda Accord. She noticed seven pieces of chicken and a package of pork on her car. On top of the car was a sack of bacon. A table was on the hood, and a cutting board was on the windshield. On the trunk: a wooden owl and a wooden duck. The woman, age 28, said this is the second time this has happened to her (italics mine). No suspects.
I'm in agreement with Max Cleland -- this is unconscionable. Literally, the White House gets to EDIT THE EVIDENCE as part of a "deal" with the 9/11 Commission to get the evidence that the White House should have to give up in the freaking first place.
This... this bites.
It seems that Urinal.net got hit with a cease-and-desist from posting the name of Toronto's Pearson International Airport -- and took an unusual route to solving it, as the name above implies.
Do take a look around the site. Many interesting places are shown, including the Urinals of DNA Lounge. Fun site
I browse the web often; I read politics more than I probably should. It's amazing what you can read online. But while browsing a corporal's pictures of her deployment in Iraq, I was struck by this picture. It's a picture I've seen hundreds of times before, pictures I've been in before. Someone making a goofy face while hanging out with friends. This woman could be in college, could be at a bar, could be bumming at a friends house.
Somedays, we forget that it's very, very real people over there. Left, right, really neither matter. We get passionate about our positions, we forget to be polite, we skip being nice and demonize others whom we do not agree with. We toss people around as if they do not matter, and they do. Very much.
Take a moment today and be nice to someone.
Neat, neat Flash file showing how Legos are built. Coolest part: The machines that make the pieces themselves can tell when they're full up, and signal robots via radio to come pick them up. There's no human intervention at all. Sweet; it would only be cooler if the robots were Mindstorm inventions....
If you think this is a waste of time, reading Dave Barry's blog will suck more time out of your life than I can think of.
You'll get wonderful bits like this gem:
This one just made my day.
Officially, these cartoons are the least funny thing I've ever seen. Not offensive, not annoying, just plain unfunny. Flat. Like week-old-root beer. I'm impressed, you really have to go a long way to actually be specifically unfunny.
So ITMS got the coolest invention of 2003: this one's my pick for coolest, personally. Ever try and get rid of a credit card? Shredders can barely get through them and don't even kill the raised numbers. But this shredder flattens the numbers, then shreds the cards -- and does CD-ROMs, paper, disks, and all the rest. Now *that's* an invention.
Summary: Apple's not making money off of iTunes Music Store. Why? The RIAA is taking most of the 99 cents.
Think about this: 99 cents for a track, and you can't make money off of it because the RIAA charges a good portion of that.
Now, think about this: why would Apple go into a deal so that they could not make money? Why would the RIAA, for that matter, go into this deal and make it so that no one except them could make money?
Apple first: Jobs says it's a loss leader, and that he's taking the route to sell more iPods. Eh -- OK, but it's a little iffy. I suspect that Jobs is more concentrating on getting the first-mover position on this, and as such is doing it without any profit 'cause it'll help sell their equipment.
Now the RIAA: they don't want this to work, and are doing so only so that a) they can legally cover their buts for some reason, or b) they can make some money quick and then cut. You don't kill your cash cow if you plan on having the milk later, so it's likely the RIAA don't believe that Apple can make money doing this. But I also might suspect that they're in a stronger legal position if they have a legal service that is out there, doing what the illegal services are doing.
Should be an interesting run around the block for both of them.
A little odd, to say the least... Pop-up ads which use Windows Messenger to advertise something that blocks Windows Messenger, and the FTC is suing for extortion.
Normally, suing a spammer and highligting a Windows problem are two things I delight in regailing. But this one's a little weird: extortion? I mean, come on -- EXTORTION?
I can see the FTC spokesperson's point if you couldn't stop it yourself. But it's actually pretty easy to stop: I found one that disables it because my team lead was hitting me with messages all the time. It's free. I did it in less than 10 minutes. Microsoft has instructions on their web site to disable the function.
It's reactions like this that make it more difficult for people to sue when they're actually wronged: how many times have you heard the "little old lady and Micky D's coffee" story when someone's talking about making it harder to sue? We really need to get the FTC chairman some Valium and a geek to hold his hand.
From Metafilter, we have this wonderful sentence and the link to go with it
The Patriot Act turned two years old recently. To celebrate its birthday, its buddies took it to a strip club.
The statement itself deserves comment; but the article behind it is incredible, with quotes like the following....
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Congress intended the Patriot Act to help federal authorities root out threats from terrorists and spies after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"The law was intended for activities related to terrorism and not to naked women," said Reid, who as minority whip is the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate.
"Let me say, with Galardi and his whole gang, I don't condone, appreciate or support all their nakedness. But having said that, I haven't heard anyone say at any time he was involved with terrorism."
And this wonderful bit of observation that no one seemed to notice at the time...
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said she was preparing an inquiry to the FBI about its guidelines for using the Patriot Act in cases that don't involve terrorism. The law makes it easy for citizens' rights to be abused, she said.
NPR's doing an amazing series on Democracy, along with lots of public radio stations and independent producers across the country. It's really quite well done.
Around Atlanta, Georgia Navigator is the place to check up on your commute -- the Georgia DOT does the whole camera, map, speed thing, but at best this was an iffy thing to find information. But they redesigned, and did a fantastic job! Easy to find, easy labeled, and most importantly they put the most serious traffic blocks at the top of the first page.
Also, their maps are a lot more accurate and easy to read; their system for errors is actually marked with a severity legend. Also, there's a trip time calculator and a weather guide.
Seriously nice job, guys!
I suppose this one isn't the weirdest idea. For example, spray-painting your lawn was hip a few years ago. But this still seems a little goofy to me.
Of course, then again, I think spray-on clothes are a neat idea...
A few different sets of people are having their anniversaries around now: Backup Brain is celebrating their 4th, Adventures of Accordion Guy is nearing his 2nd, and K Chronicles, the comic strip, is celebrating a 10th (Wow!) anniversary. Congrats to everyone!
What is it about November that gets people off their duffs and doing things?
Seriously bad stuff happening. Seems that there's cases going before the court system that are so sealed, it's not on court dockets, not in public files, and no one's even supposed to know the legal proceedings are going on.
In case you're thinking, "Well, it's a terrorist, come on..." -- he's been out on a $10,000 bail since March 2002.
In her petition to the court, Miami federal public defender Kathleen Williams says the judges' actions authorizing the secrecy without any public notice, public hearings, or public findings amount to "an abuse of discretion" that requires corrective action by the justices.
"This habeas corpus case has been heard, appealed, and decided in complete secrecy," Ms. Williams says in her petition.
Frightening that this happens in America, ever.
Yeah! Huzzah! Wonderful news! The BBC is going to do a Third and a Fourth series of H2G2 radio dramas!
I only PRAY that the Beeb does them right. Douglas Adams deserves only the best.
Well, it's November 4th... and while I missed voting (by 2 minutes, dammit.) I did see that Georgia was still using the same voting machines used in the 2002 elections. Despite being flawed. And hackable. And un-auditable. But still usable!
Well, I got a copy of Panther for TenCon (AKA, the O'Reilly Mac OS X convention -- I think the guys at MacSlash coined it, and I like it, so there ya go.), and I'm kind of middling about it.
Partially because anything that causes me to go through grief makes me a little suspicious, and a few days of hacking away at an OS to find out the details of some obscure functionality is definitely not what you'd call "fun".
But, I can say this; Expose is cool, and the upgrade I did to a Carbon Copy Cloner copy of my 10.2.8 installation worked swell -- a lot better than I expected. There's a few new quirks, but no severe problems.
To give some summaries about it...
Fun all around. I'll shoot some onto the site as I get them, just for fun.
Someone at the Mac OS X convention asked about last year's presentations, so here they are... one titled Frankentosh: Building Robots with Mac OS X, and the other one titled Use of Unix Tools For Graphics Professionals. Enjoy!
I've gone on about 5 airplane trips since 9/11. Aside from having to take my belt off a few times, it had been... I won't say OK, but I would say more of a personal annoyance than a direct threat. It's been something that I oppose on moral grounds, rather than it actually affecting me.
So, I get home. Actually, to my parents, as I'm feeling ill with a cold and not about to do battle with Saturday night Atlanta traffic with a belly full of Dayquil and not nearly enough sleep. They let me do laundry this morning; so I open my luggage and find....
A TSA Notification of Baggage Inspection.
Now, you're probably asking what's so bad. I mean, they got a peek at my clothes, that copy of A People's History of the United States, a stuffed Minotaur from friend Cecil, a m500 Palm bought off of Cecil for a minute sum, a few copies of my comic book, and such. Heck, I just announced what was in my luggage right here, which will become searchable by Google and forever embedded in the web. I'm just getting upset over nothing.
I don't know.
At first, I'm thinking "What right do they have?" It is, after all, my luggage. My undies are private, and I want to keep them that way. And I'm not exactly sure that the TSA are the people who I want searching these -- at best, they're trained about 50% less than most beauticians attempting to get their license. Also, this kind of searching, at best, gets the stupidest people going to do dastardly deeds; if it looks like a bomb, it'll get stopped, but if it doesn't....
But I do understand basic safety precautions. Things like, "do a simple search of everything just in case." I won't be an apologist for the way these laws were forced in, but it does make a certian amount of sense.
I guess the best I can say is that I brought home something I wasn't expecting. Not the little piece of paper saying I've been searched, but the weight of knowing that I don't know what's best, being safe, or maintaing privacy.