Something best be wrapped in this under my tree this year…
Archive for November, 2007
Privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, universal accessibility, network neutrability, interoperability, use of format and open standards, free access to information and knowledge, right to innovation and a fair and competitive market and consumers safeguard.
On these principles the Internet Bill of Rights will have to be set up, an idea produced by our country and supported by the Italian delegation, led by the Communications’ Undersecretary, Luigi Vimercati, during the UN internet Governance Forum concluded today in Rio de Janeiro.
Well that’s all fine and dandy, but the vast majority of the Internet infrastructure is built and funded by private, capitalistic minded folks who just might have other ideas. Now what? Pontification at a conference is all fine and dandy, but like the IBM commercial mentions, I also stands for “implementation”.
This year has marked the end of a tradition for us. We have had the same glass bulb Christmas ornaments for decades. We’ve been using them over and over and even keep them on display in a giant glass vase during the rest of the year. What we haven’t had was Kidney. She of the demonically possessed feline persuasion. Kidney is enamored of the glass ornaments and is convinced she can be “just like Mike” with them. Six crashes later, all the glass is off the tree. The other cat just watches all this and snickers in lazy kitty derision. So how am I rewarded? Kidney decides that the tree (artificial with a VERY sturdy base) is now her own very personal jungle gym and pilates studio. I’m sauntering through the house this morning, bedecked in my boxers and a t-shirt from the 80′s, mug of cafe crema in hand… when I stop to admire the tree. Not too bad for a Jew, I think. And then two paws flare out of the tree at head level just like a giant squid’s grasping tentacles. I bobble the coffee but Kidney stays neatly ensconced in the tree… daring me to reach in and retrieve her. Wonderful.
One of the favorite red herrings that anti-gun groups like to toss around is that anyone can buy any gun on the Internet. It’s just not so. A November 24th story in the Vancouver Sun chronicles how a 19-year-old attempted to purchase three fully automatic weapons over the Internet. At least this story got the attempted part right. The teenager did, in fact, get in touch with a US firearms dealer and tried to purchase a Heckler & Koch MP5K machinegun with silencer, a Glock 18C with a 33-round magazine and a Beretta 93R machine pistol. However, the US dealer did what he was supposed to do: he contacted the BATFE who began working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the attempted purchase. The teen, Octavian Emilian Olaru, was arrested as he waited for his package to arrive. Police say that Olaru was not previously known to them and they don’t think these guns were related to a spate of recent gang activity in Vacouver. Right… Why hasn’t anyone asked how the kid came up with the many thousands of bucks needed for this purchase in the first place? Follow the money…
So many chances for so many seasons, just slipping out of reach. It was possible for the weekend to get even sillier and provide even more BCS chaos. Not only did the #1 team (LSU) get beaten, but so did the #2 team (undefeated Kansas) by #3 Missouri. And #19 Tennessee did manage to beat unranked Kentucky, but it took them 4 overtimes to do it! Unranked UCLA knocked off the #9 Oregon Ducks to dash their hopes of a Rose Bowl appearance. In case anyone is wondering, Hawaii remains undefeated and is currently ranked #14. But they didn’t really play anyone of much consequence. Again, can you say PLAYOFFS?
Yep, another top ranked college football team got spanked by an unranked team. This time, LSU got upended by the Arkansas Razorbacks in triple overtime. I didn’t even know that Arkansas had cheerleaders with more than one tooth each… The number #13 Texas Longhorns also got spanked by their rival Texas A&M. After that, A&M head coach Dennis Franchione resigned in disgrace for being a greedy idiot. We haven’t even had the Saturday games yet and the BCS is already wobbling again.
Major US lenders have already taken write-off’s in the tens of billions of dollars. Heads have rolled, rates are still resetting (such a polite term for going up), homes have been lost, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says that we have yet to see the worst. Although current write downs are inthe $50 billion range, the OECD says that we need to strap in for an ultimate cage match of calamity that will see an overall loss of $300 billion. Okay class, let’s review: Too many people bought homes they could not afford. Too many people were given loans that they could not repay. Too many people were given loans that they really didn’t qualify for. Too many lenders gave out too many stupid loans. And now there is finger pointing and blame a-plenty. To my thinking, lenders that are stupid deserve what they get. Borrowers who can’t afford what they bought do not deserve to keep it. BUt don’t worry, I’m sure that there is some kind of government bail out headed our way. Something that is NOT needed, but will happen anyway.
The Palm Beach School District had their computer system hacked by a student. Grades and attendance records were manipulated. A year after that, another student broke in, too. So they spent $1.5 million to harden their security. In an act of bravado, “it’s dared students and hackers to crack it, offering a free wireless router for anyone who could.” While the prize isn’t reall a big deal, one has to question the sanity of making themselves such a public target. Oh, they are spending another half million bucks on sensors designed to defeat “war drivers” and “sniffers“.
Here’s a tip for all of you would-be prize winners: go low tech. The easiest way to get into these kinds of systems is to capitalize on human laziness. Some already vetted user is going to make it really easy for you to pinch their credentials… and then the router is yours!
Sun Yatsen first proposed building a dam on the Yangtze River in 1919 for power generation purposes, but the idea was shelved due to unfavorable political and economic conditions. The following decades witnessed much discussion and disagreement on many aspects of this monumental project. In spite of this, the project was approved and work began in 1992. With an estimated cost of between US $25-75 billion, this is reported to be the largest construction project in the world. 40% of the project cost is associated with relocating the towns and villages along the river, necessitated by the increase in the river height when the reservoir is filled. When completed, the hydroelectric generating capabilities will be about 18 gigawatts (18 x 10^9), approximately equal to the electricity produced by 18 nuclear reactors or burning 40 million tons of coal. Even though we’re talking about relocating towns and villages (about 1.3 million folks) and the flooding of an amazing amount of land (how about a nearly 400 mile long new reservoir?), Wang Xiaofeng, director of the dam’s construction committee, said that the impact “is not as severe as predicted“. Yikes. Of course, it’s water powered (forget about all the crap that’s spewed to build the thing) and the government says that it’s the right thing to do, so there
Let’s face it, people fart. And although many find this hysterical, the effects can be stupifying. Especially after a big meal. Like Thanksgiving. Thankfully, there is a solution. Yep. US Patent 6,313,371 is a clandestine way to contain the wild beast. Who would a thunk such a thing?