Monday, June 28, 2004

2,754 gather for nude photo shoot: "Saturday between 4 and 8:30 a.m., 2,754 art lovers shed their clothes to be part of one of New York artist Spencer Tunick's installations. They set the North American record for the largest number of naked people in a photograph."

Hopefully, the record will only last until August. One more way to be alone in a crowd.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Canada's Marijuana Party sells pot seeds to finance campaign: "The party buys seeds in bulk from Canadian suppliers, including Willy Jack and Sensi Seeds, then sells packs of 10 at prices ranging from $10 (US$7.40) for nonviable 'decorative' seeds to $400 (US$296) for 'thoroughbred, Cannabis Cup-winning' varieties."

This would be more impressive if the article didn't state that they've sold "five or six packs."
Pot-Smoking Dominatrix Jumps Into Election: "'I can't believe Elections Canada allows this kind of stuff. I'm not uptight but I can see how some people would consider this to be pornographic,' one Senate employee said. 'I'm shocked, and a little aroused.' "

Honestly, I can think of worse people to represent me than a pot-smoking dominatrix.
High-tech hood put on Mequon suspect: "A man died in Mequon police custody Saturday after an officer placed a high-tech protective hood over the man's head to shield the officer from saliva, the lead investigator on the case said Tuesday.

"Sheridan was arrested Saturday evening on a drug paraphernalia possession charge when the car in which he was riding was stopped after an attendant at a Citgo gas station, 11147 N. Port Washington Road, reported that the vehicle drove off without paying for gas at 5:18 p.m."

Here is the lesson: Stealing gas could cost you your life. Do something stupid, and the cop who arrests you may do something stupid, too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

More False Information From TSA: "Delta, Continental, America West, JetBlue and Frontier Airlines secretly turned over sensitive passenger data to Transportation Security Administration contractors in the spring and summer of 2002, according to the sworn statement of acting TSA chief David Stone. In addition, two of the four largest airline reservation centers, Galileo International and Sabre, also gave sensitive passenger information, including home phone numbers, credit card numbers and health data, without disclosing the transfers to travelers or asking their permission.

"This is the third time in the past nine month that knowledge of the scope of secret information disclosures by airlines has expanded, and now six of the 10 largest airlines are known to have given data to the government secretly. Stone's disclosure also raises questions about whether TSA officials intentionally withheld information from previous inquiries by the Government Accounting Office, members of Congress and the Department of Homeland Security's chief privacy officer, Nuala O'Connor Kelly."

Let's review. The airlines broke the law by violating their own privacy policies. The TSA broke the law by repeatedly denying what they now admit, even in the face of court orders and FOIA requests. The TSA or its contractors broke the law (The Privacy Act) by compiling a secret database on Americans. It also appears that the TSA lied to the GAO and to Congress directly.

To date, none of the passengers whose data was provided to the TSA by six of the ten largest airlines and the two largest airline reservation systems have been notified that their information has illegally been transferred to the government and aggregated into a database system by contractors.
Spicy jambalaya leads to lawsuit: "In the second such complaint lodged against the restaurant, the mother and daughter filed a civil lawsuit Monday in federal court, naming the restaurant, a manager and an officer with the Merrionette Park Police Department as defendants. The suit charges that the plaintiffs were falsely arrested, wrongfully detained and their civil rights were violated. "

The first suit was from a customer who received potatoes on the side instead of a potato-crusted fish, and refused to pay when they wouldn't give her a new fish, just the old one newly potato-crusted. This suit is from two women who asked for Jambalaya spicy and couldn't handle it. They should have had a clue -- the restaurant is named "115 Bourbon Street." They may not know about spicy food in Chicago, but they live and breathe it in New Orleans.

The real question is whether you're obligated to pay for a meal that doesn't meet your expectations. The unstated question is why a restaurant is so unwilling to write off a meal here and there to keep their name out of the paper for silliness like this.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

At graduation, parents get a dressing down: "Generating boos and red faces, a speaker from an American Legion post lashed out at parents for how they were dressed yesterday during a fifth-grade graduation ceremony at PS 8 in Great Kills.

"After presenting two students with awards for patriotism and citizenship, Harry Krone of the Watkins-Kellett Post said, 'This is a special day for your children. This isn't a bowling alley or a supermarket.' "
"If they see their parents dress up for an important meeting or function, and yet they don't dress up for their graduation, they will assume that it really isn't that important," he said. "It's about the occasion and the respect that the children deserve."

Ahem. Point taken, but this is a fifth-grade graduation ceremony. It really isn't that important. They'll be back next year, in the sixth grade, in the same building. It used to be that you "graduated" when you completed school. This is one of those politically-correct gimmicks used to make every child feel special. Wear what you want.
Tech heavies support challenge to copyright law: "Skirmishes between content-producing companies seeking expansive copyright protections and hardware and telecommunications corporations on the other side have resulted in a legislative deadlock on Capitol Hill.

"Some of the most influential technology companies are planning to announce on Tuesday an alliance that they hope will end the impasse. Called the Personal Technology Freedom Coalition, its purpose is to coordinate lobbying efforts in opposition--at least initially--to the most controversial section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. "

Do the telecommunications, software, and consumer electronics industries have enough collective clout to out-lobby the entertainment industry? Why no mention of Fritz Hollings (D-Disney) as he has been the leading proponent of the DMCA and is generally considered the entertainment industry's lackey?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

SurfControl distributes email mailing list: "SurfControl yesterday issued an exciting press release outlining 'the dangers facing businesses who do not protect their e-mail communications against confidential data loss'.

As is the local custom, the release was sent by email to a long list of eager recipients. Sadly, the operative responsible has clearly never considered protecting their email communications against confidential data loss by using the handy blind copying facility:"

I've been amazed at the number of companies who seem to think nothing of disclosing their customer list by refusing to understand the BCC feature. This is the first time I've seen such an ironic context. If you're using SurfControl, the page may be blocked...

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Making Votes Count: Gambling on Voting: "If election officials want to convince voters that electronic voting can be trusted, they should be willing to make it at least as secure as slot machines. To appreciate how poor the oversight on voting systems is, it's useful to look at the way Nevada systematically ensures that electronic gambling machines in Las Vegas operate honestly and accurately. Electronic voting, by comparison, is rife with lax procedures, security risks and conflicts of interest."

The slot machines are probably a safer bet than the politians, too.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Redneck IT Admins: "TOP 11 signs you may be a redneck IT administrator

"8) You're not surprised to discover your child process is also the parent of your other child process"

There are four pages, and the external links are usually worth it.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A Jet-Powered PDA for Astronauts: "Astronauts want to use handheld computers, said PSA lead systems engineer Keith Nicewarner. But they need their hands free to do experiments -- and they don't want their Treos to float aimlessly around the space station. The PSA, in contrast, can move around and hover in near-weightlessness, thanks to forced air jets about as strong as a small hair dryer's.

"Budget cuts mean astronauts in the station are overworked, and asked to keep on top of experiments and procedures that are so complex that 'it's impossible to remember all the steps,' Nicewarner said.

"The PSA, running on a Pentium II processor and GNU Linux OS, would store the steps instead, and use a built-in speaker or LCD screen to tell or show the astronauts what they need to do. The orb could also keep tabs on some experiments by itself. 'Instead of waking up the astronauts, you could have the PSA snap some pictures and send 'em down,' Nicewarner said. "

Think of a 1' diameter cherry-red whiffle-ball floating in mid-air. Try not to think of HAL.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Scientology link to public schools / As early as the third grade, students in S.F. and elsewhere are subtly introduced to church's concepts via anti-drug teachings: "A popular anti-drug program provided free to schools in San Francisco and elsewhere teaches concepts straight out of the Church of Scientology, including medical theories that some addiction experts described as 'irresponsible' and 'pseudoscience.' "

Friday, June 04, 2004

Ducks have regional accents: "According to the research team, Cornish ducks have a 'chilled out' rural quack while wide-boy London ducks have an unpleasant shouting quack which they used to distract hapless foreigners before making off with their wallets and mobile phones."

I'll take two chilled-out ducks with plum sauce, please.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

School yearbooks recalled to remove racial epithet: "Perry Hall High School officials are recalling about 450 yearbooks that were distributed to seniors before the officials discovered that a racial epithet had been inserted next to the name of a biracial student.
Yesterday school officials were calling seniors individually and asking them to return their yearbooks, said school system spokesman Charles A. Herndon. Students who will not return their yearbooks might not be allowed to participate in tomorrow's graduation ceremonies, he said."

It's only that last part that I have a problem with. That you won't be allowed to graduate if you won't return your yearbook for censoring. I'd damn well keep mine...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Rumsfeld Fighting Technique: "You may have defeated my Southern Hook Palm technique, but can you defeat the 1000 styles of Rumsfeld?"

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Goth grant runs course: "Two years ago, Blue Springs got word the Youth Outreach Unit received $273,000 to 'combat' the Goth culture, and emotions flew. Blue Springs received national attention, and local youth who dressed in Goth-like clothing worried about being singled out.

"But plans for the grant never unfolded, and Blue Springs has returned $132,000 of the money unused. Officials concede today they never found much of a 'problem' at all associated with the Goth culture, and instead have developed a new understanding and acceptance."

In unrelated news, the bill to criminalize low-rider jeans also failed. Kids have to do things that piss off their parents, why should we make every passing fad illegal? At least these people did some rational things -- their Youth Outreach Unit actually seems to have reached out to youth, and the money that was spent was spent on developing understanding, tolerance, and acceptance.

There is also the predictable lack of understanding of how federal grants work. One set thinks the money could have been better used for other things (though of course expressely prohibited), while another set objects to giving back money when spending it would have been silly at best. The question isn't what the money could be used for, but whether it's defined purposed has merit. No merit, nothing to see, keep moving.