December, 2002

Friday, December 27, 2002

The front page is now in the usual New Year's semi-hibernation mode. Read Boing Boing in the meantime.

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Friday, December 20, 2002

'28' Likely to Be Retired

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Jim Henley: A Brief History of the Future - "Both of these tend toward positive (from the state's perspective) feedback loops - the greater the advantage in information and violence, the more you can command a revenue stream to get both cooler weapons and fancier spy systems. What's the obvious counter to the state's overwhelming advantage in guns and armor and target acquisition technology? Uh huh. Gas, germs and nukes."

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Thursday, December 19, 2002

Peering Through Saturn's Gloom - "They are so detailed that we can almost begin to speculate about Titan's geology, if only we knew for certain what the bright and dark regions represented."

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Patent creates IM wrinkle - "With the new patent, AOL could legitimately ask a court of law for protection against other services emulating it." - The patent appears to make no claims that weren't implemented in 1991 in Carnegie Mellon's version of MIT's Zephyr software.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Bill Of Rights Pared Down To A Manageable Six - "As visionary as they were, the framers of the Constitution never could have foreseen, for example, that our government would one day need to jail someone indefinitely without judicial review."

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ElcomSoft verdict: Not guilty

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US Iraqis: a will to oust Hussein - "Like Mr. Kalabat, the vast majority of Iraqi-Americans are Chaldean, Roman Catholic descendants of a Semitic people who settled in Babylonia."

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Jordan queen's decree stirs tempest over citizenship rights - "Much of the anger has focused on King Abdullah's decision to suspend elections, dissolve the parliament - hitherto an outlet for tribal grievances - and rule by decree."

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Monday, December 16, 2002

Carl de Marcken: Inside Orbitz - "This may make many Lisp programmers cringe, but with a 250 meg image and real-time constraints, we can't afford to generate garbage."

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RIAA's Statistics Don't Add Up to Piracy - "Something is missing from the 2001 statistics, at least the ones I could find. Singles. For some reason they stopped reporting this information. The reason is obvious. The single is dead."

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Is it really such a crime if poetic justice rhymes? - "You have an obligation as a judge to be right ... but you have no obligation to be dull."

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In Foreign Parts: GI Janes flaunt their sports bras as body search arrives in cultural minefield of Afghan frontier - "In the Northwest Frontier provinces no one is prepared to check out a person's bum in public, certainly not in mixed company, not even in a photo. Men and women customarily cover their backsides with long tunics."

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Fake tree may hide new cellular tower - "Our position is that cell sites can be designed that are cohesive with their environment [,,,] Having an 80-foot stealth pine does not sound to me like it is going to blend with the environment at all."

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The Register - "esterday it issued a press release announcing a piracy bust in New York which unearthed 421 CD-R burners. Only there weren't 421 burners, but 'the equivalent of 421 burners.' In fact, there were just 156. How did the RIAA account for this discrepancy? 'There were only 156 actual burners, but some run at very high speeds: some as high as 40x. This is well above the average speed,' was the official line yesterday."

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Saturday, December 14, 2002

Chess and GO no-brainers? - "As expected, GO players use the right half of their brain, which works out position and orientation, more than the problem-solving left half used by chess aficionados."

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Rock-ribbed Republican -- and anti-Bush - "We're dealing with pseudo-conservatism that's very accommodating of big government instead of resisting big government and promoting individual freedom."

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Iraq Opposition Is Pursuing Ties With Iranians - "embrace of democracy and human rights prevented them from obtaining support from Saudi Arabia"

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Friday, December 13, 2002

Earth's volcanism linked to meteorite impacts - "This would also explain why our planet has so few impact crater remnants."

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Thursday, December 12, 2002

What's in a Name? Perhaps Plenty if You're a Job Seeker - "the likelihood of being called for an interview rises sharply with an applicant's credentials ? like experience and honors ? for those with white-sounding names, but much less for those with black-sounding names"

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Wednesday, December 11, 2002

The Corporate Pyramid Scheme - How WorldCom Lost Billions in the Biggest Pyramid Scheme of All Time - "That's missing the point - and dangerously so. The real power from these recent Tech Bubbles comes from the incredible economics of these corporate pyramid schemes."

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Cory Docctorow: notes from David Isenberg's talk about the "stupidnet" - "The telcos know how to string wires and put up poles, but not how to make money on 'em. That's why all the winning apps weren't built by telcos: email, ecommerce, the Web, blogging, etc."

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Peter Merholz: Is There A UI Generation Gap? - "I would argue that, primarily, its simply one of desire. Kids are better than adults with these tools because it satisfies a need that is greater in kids than adults -- connecting with peers."

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Who was Tom Barry? The Law of Unexpected Iraq Blowback - "But the Law of Unexpected Iraq Blowback is not an isolated case. It's a pattern that goes beyond the early part of the 20th Century."

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Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Human or Computer? Take This Test - "The puzzles have the property that computers can generate and grade the tests even though they cannot pass them."

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Monday, December 09, 2002

Cell-Phone Ban Not a Good Call - "while having kids in the car is apparently much riskier than using a cell phone, nobody has suggested banning children"

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California Is at Fiscal Brink

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United Set to File for Bankruptcy

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Vampire Ecology in the Jossverse - "The spiral pattern is referred to as a 'stable focus', and it indicates that the ecological system in Sunnyvale is probably fairly tolerant of the ebbs and flows of vampire activity. Of course, there is always a possibility that some combination of events (such as, by way of illustration, the Apocalypse) that would bump this system out of its comfy little trough, and then all bets are off."

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Sunday, December 08, 2002

New CU-NASA Research Belies Previous Idea That Mars Was Once Warm, Wet Planet - "In between such catastrophic events, the planet was likely very cold, dry and inhospitable to any life forms"

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Branson's Main Man - "You have to give value for money, but it's not just about price. It's much more sophisticated. The industry has done a good job in bombarding the hell out of people with tariff changes and options - different pricing, claims of free this and free that. Now the consumer just doesn't trust any of it."

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Saturday, December 07, 2002

Venture capitalists' forecast is pessimistic - "The VC industry is about to report five years of record low returns, he said. They've already reported two."

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Friday, December 06, 2002

Man who took credit for 'Bigfoot' dies - "The fact is there was no Bigfoot in popular consciousness before 1958."

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Feds Label Wi-Fi a Terrorist Tool

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Optical Camouflage

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Internet spammer can't take what he dishes out - "They've signed me up for every advertising campaign and mailing list there is ... These people are out of their minds" - I'm up to 80% spam but still at 0% sympathy.

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Beware the Pension Monster - "even though pension plan assets do not belong to shareholders (they are the legal entitlement of a company's current and future retirees), accounting rules nonetheless require companies to book the gains and losses on those pension assets in reported earnings. Up until recently, not too many companies were complaining about that quirk in the rules. Back in the heady days of the stock market bubble, pension surpluses bolstered many a bottom line. In 2000, for example, pension gains accounted for $1.74 billion, or 9%, of GE's pretax earnings. IBM's pension plan contributed $1.2 billion--more than 10% of its earnings. But now, as once-overfunded plans become underfunded, pen- sion income is being replaced by pension expense."

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Thursday, December 05, 2002

Usability Is Next to Profitability - "its emphasis on usability didn't really gain momentum until 1998, when CEO Larry Ellison began to notice that potential customers frequently cited an inability to figure out how to use Oracle's products as a reason for turning away its sales reps"

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Court May Decide on Dirty - Bomb Suspect - "Mukasey said he would resolve the issue of whether Padilla was lawfully detained and whether Bush has evidence to support his finding that Padilla was an enemy combatant at a later date." - but he does have the right to counsel.

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The Secret Life of Henry Kissinger - "He is a slayer, once a generation born. He fights them with karate chops and plunges stakes into their hearts. One time, I was with him when he killed a demon in the cellar of a Los Angeles-area high school. 'I perform this role reluctantly,' he said. "But my destiny was foretold in the great book." Then we went out for beers."

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Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Online retailing - "Amazon has also responded to one of its customers" biggest gripes: paying for delivery. By reducing its charges and offering free delivery on orders over a certain size during the run-up to Christmas, the company has increased its sales; and, in doing so, it is proving what many predicted about the Internet when it first took off: that it drives down prices for consumers."

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"You've got music!": Dave Winer thinks AOL/TW should add an mp3 service to their AOL service. I think he's right. The target markets match up. The integration could make things even easier for users than Napster did, and make it easy to sell CDs of the music people are listening to as they are listening to it. AOL/TW could cut a deal with Apple to integrate with the iPod, and then use the AOL service to resell iPods. AOL's marginal cost of adding such a service is trivial (they have the hosting facilities, pipes, expertise, and vast library of music), and the service should drive adoption of both the AOL service and the broadband cable service. This is the kind of synergy the AOL/TW merger promised but failed to deliver.

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Monday, December 02, 2002

Turn out the stars - "Running just below the main storyline is an undercurrent of philosophy. Scientists have long believed -- or hoped -- that the basic laws of the universe would be beautiful. They had in mind a simple, austere beauty, with an air of inevitability, like a sunrise or a short mathematical proof."

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Sunday, December 01, 2002

Judging a Mother for a Crime by Someone Else - "The prosecution also presented extensive evidence about Ms. Pollock's mothering. Her children were often dirty, some witnesses said. She let them walk alone in the dark. There was testimony about insufficient hugging."

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