December, 2003

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

The mother of all Quadrantids / Once-great hunk of rock pegged as source of yearly meteor shower: "Too dull and puny to be classified as a comet, the object is now only an asteroid, a rock about 2 miles in diameter that is orbiting the sun between Earth and Jupiter. When it was a star that exploded, astronomers theorize, debris flew into solar orbit..."

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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Muscle cuts are mad-cow safe? Bull! - I gave up finding a pull quote which wasn't vaguely nauseating.

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Monday, December 29, 2003

Maybe Parents Don't Like Boys Better - A follow-up to the recent column about whether daughters cause divorce.: "Since then my e-mail box has overflowed with objections, alternative theories, and requests for clarification. In the meantime, I've changed my own mind."

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The Marriage Trap: "People are more than happy to talk about how unhappy their individual marriages are, but public discussion assumes that in each case there is something wrong with the marriage—not marriage itself."

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Saturday, December 27, 2003

Mobile phones safe in gas stations: "Sky One's Brainiacs team filled an old caravan with petrol and petrol fumes then placed six mobile phones inside it. Calling all the handsets had no ill effects whatsoever."

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Thursday, December 25, 2003

The Wal-Mart You Don't Know: "'People ask, 'How can it be bad for things to come into the U.S. cheaply? How can it be bad to have a bargain at Wal-Mart?' Sure, it's held inflation down, and it's great to have bargains,' says Dobbins. 'But you can't buy anything if you're not employed. We are shopping ourselves out of jobs.'"

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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I am always amazed by the economic value of pretense in the American economy. This week's episode: I ordered new brakes. The rotors came with stickers to put on the car so you can show that you're driving with the cool brakes. Mind you, this is for a Saturn.

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Could Mad-Cow Disease Happen Here?: "'Whatever is causing this disease is unique; it falls out of the realm of all other disease agents,' says Richard Rubenstein, the head of the molecular and biochemical neurovirology laboratory at the New York State Institute for Basic Research, in Staten Island. 'We feel that it is probably a virino -- a nucleic acid protected by a host protein that camouflages it so that the immune system doesn't pick it up. There is no antibody reaction to the agent at all. The body simply does not recognize it as foreign.'" - This is out of date -- we have reason to believe the disease can be passed through blood.

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Monday, December 22, 2003

Dave Winer repeats the standard observation that politics is increasingly about polish rather than about anything substantial. I repeat my standard recommendation for Stephen Bury's Interface, which puts an entertaining spin on the problem. (Stephen Bury is a pseudonym for Neal Stephenson and his uncle, George Jewsbury.) Dave challenges candidates to put their campaign funds to use helping people now rather than later. Which might just work.

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Romance health alert splits sexes: "The study also found that women take longer to recover after a break-up than men. In fact, they may be best to avoid men altogether."

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Friday, December 19, 2003

Shirky: The RIAA Succeeds Where the Cypherpunks Failed: "Note that the broadening adoption of encryption is not because users have become libertarians, but because they have become criminals; to a first approximation, every PC owner under the age of 35 is now a felon."

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Goodbye sunshine: "As the Earth warms, you would expect the rate at which water evaporates to increase. But in fact, study after study using metal pans filled with water has shown that the rate of evaporation has gone down in recent years. When Farquhar compared evaporation data with the global dimming records he got a perfect match."

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Thursday, December 18, 2003

New arm of Milky Way galaxy discovered: "We have known there was gas out there but we haven't known that there was a structure out there. We thought there was just a smooth drop-off, that the galaxy just sort of slid away"

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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The Universe May Be Littered with 'Water Worlds': "'The more eccentric giant planet orbits result in drier terrestrial planets,' Raymond said. 'Conversely, more circular giant planet orbits mean wetter terrestrial planets.' In the case of our solar system, Jupiter's orbit is slightly elliptical, which could explain why Earth is 80 percent covered by oceans rather than being bone dry or completely covered in water miles deep."

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Monday, December 15, 2003

Microsoft Powerpoint fingered in space shuttle crash

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Sunday, December 14, 2003

4ID++

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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Scientist Links Man to Climate Over the Ages: "The stability is an accident"

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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Steve Jobs: The Rolling Stone Interview: "Well, it would be very easy for us to sign up a musician. It would be very hard for us to sign up a young musician who was successful. Because that's what the record companies do. We think there are a lot of structural changes that are probably gonna happen in the record industry, though."

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Monday, December 08, 2003

"Rings" director wants to film "Hobbit"

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No Confidence Vote: Why the Current Touch Screen Voting Fiasco Was Pretty Much Inevitable - "Forgetting for a moment Diebold's voting machines, let's look at the other equipment they make. Diebold makes a lot of ATM machines. They make machines that sell tickets for trains and subways. They make store checkout scanners, including self-service scanners. They make machines that allow access to buildings for people with magnetic cards. They make machines that use magnetic cards for payment in closed systems like university dining rooms. All of these are machines that involve data input that results in a transaction, just like a voting machine. But unlike a voting machine, every one of these other kinds of Diebold machines -- EVERY ONE -- creates a paper trail and can be audited. Would Citibank have it any other way? Would Home Depot? Would the CIA?"

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Hackers Steal From Pirates, to No Good End: "'A self-replicating peer-to-peer network is kind of scary,' he said, not just because a less easily detectable network is bad news, but because it offers proof that hackers, once primarily interested in breaking into systems for thrills, now have a profit motive."

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Sunday, December 07, 2003

Testimony of Frank Partnoy, Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law, Hearings before the United States Senate, Committee on Governmental Affairs, January 24, 2002 : "Even after Enron restated its financial statements on November 8, 2001, it could have clarified its accounting treatment, consolidated its debts, and assured the various analysts that it was a viable entity. But it could not. Why not? This question leads me to the second explanation of Enron's collapse: most of what Enron represented as its core businesses were not making money."

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Saturday, December 06, 2003

Jet Lag - How Boeing blew it.: "Boeing's diminished clout in commercial aviation is also bad news for the U.S. airline industry, which may soon find itself with only one viable source of aircraft: Airbus. Goodbye to all the sweet deals the airlines extracted from Boeing or Airbus when the two were fiercely competing."

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Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The housing market: "Fallacy number three is a favourite claim of Alan Greenspan, chairman of America's Federal Reserve. This is that price bubbles are less likely in housing than in the stockmarket because higher transaction costs discourage speculation. In fact, several studies have shown that both in theory and in practice bubbles are more likely in housing than in shares. A study by the IMF finds that a sharp rise in house prices is far more likely to be followed by a bust than is a share-price boom."

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Bush's PR Problem: "How does the chief representative of the world's oldest constitutional democracy lose a popularity contest to the leader of a Leninist party?"

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Letter From Asia: China Is Romping With the Neighbors (U.S. Is Distracted): "Most disturbing for the United States, China's surging economy has much to offer America's most important Asian allies. Japan's rebound is being driven by a surge in exports to China. Australia's healthy economy is being kept that way by Chinese investments in liquid natural gas projects. China is now South Korea's largest trading partner."

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Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Security D'ohLTs: "The goal of security is not to build a system that is theoretically securable, but to actually make it secure! The universities, at least as evidenced by their graduates, are only interested in theory."

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Low vitamin D linked to diabetes

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Who Lost China's Internet?: "According to James Mulvenon of Rand Corporation, Network Associates, a U.S. web security firm, gained entry to the Chinese market by helpfully donating 300 live computer viruses to the Public Security Bureau. The U.S. embassy has already monitored the picture.exe virus, which worms into a user's computer and then quietly sabotages the widely available encryption software Pretty Good Privacy by sending the personal encryption keys to China."

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Monday, December 01, 2003

It Doesn't Start in Kashmir, and It Never Ends Well: "Yet the danger is that Indian and Pakistani leaders still believe it possible to have a small conventional conflict. Soviet and American leaders didn't think that way during the Cold War. As a result, Soviet and American forces never traded shots across the Iron Curtain the way India and Pakistan have exchanged fire across the Line of Control in Kashmir."

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`Six Degrees' Theory Faces New Scientific Inquiry: "'The empirical evidence suggests that we actually live in a world deeply divided by social barriers such as race and class,' not one 'of elegant mathematical patterns where a random connector can zap us together,' she wrote in the journal Society. Milgram's study 'really doesn't test the idea that anyone on Earth can reach anyone else through a handful of intermediaries,' she said. And Watts, she said, is making the same mistakes by recruiting 'people who own or have access to computers and are better off, are predominantly of one race and centered greatly in North America.'"

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Eric Flint writes about giving his books away in the Baen Free Library: "The thing you should not overlook for a moment is that everyone's argument in this dispute is based entirely on anecdotal evidence. (Except for me, I should say. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only author who has put up free titles and then tracked the actual effect on royalty statements.)"

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Poverty Increases And Median Income Declines For Second Consecutive Year

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