Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Fox nearly sued itself over 'Simpsons' parody: Matt Groening

Heh. Fox nearly sued itself over 'Simpsons' parody: Matt Groening

According to Groening, Fox took exception took a Simpsons' version of the Fox News rolling news ticker which parodied the channel's anti-Democrat stance, with headlines like "Do Democrats Cause Cancer?"

"Fox fought against it and said they would sue the show," Groening said.

"We called their bluff because we didn't think Rupert Murdoch would pay for Fox to sue itself. So, we got away with it."

Other satirical Fox news bulletins featured in the show included: "Study: 92 per cent of Democrats are gay... JFK posthumously joins Republican Party... Oil slicks found to keep seals young, supple..."

As I said. Heh.

Processor Computes at Speed of Light

This would be neat, but sounds a bit overhyped - Processor Computes at Speed of Light

An optical processor is a digital signal processor (DSP) with an optical accelerator attached to it that enables it to perform functions at very high speeds.

"It is an acceleration of 20 years in the development of digital hardware," Lenslet founder and Chief Executive Officer Aviram Sariel told Reuters.

The processor performs 8 trillion operations per second, equivalent to a super-computer and 1,000 times faster than standard processors, with 256 lasers performing computations at light speed.

It is geared toward such applications as high resolution radar, electronic warfare, luggage screening at airports, video compression, weather forecasting and cellular base stations.

Of course, next thing you know Malaisian Prime Minister will accuse the Jews of inventing super-abundant computing power to better count monies stolen from other people...

The Economics of Suicide

A very interesting article that posits the question, and the possibility, of combating suicide as more of an illness than a moment-in-time lapse. The article also contains interesting statistics some of which are pretty shocking:

Approximately 2.9 percent of the U.S. population has attempted suicide—1,760 attempts per day.)

and found that after people attempt suicide and fail, their incomes increase by an average of 20.6 percent compared to peers who seriously contemplate suicide but never make an attempt. In fact, the more serious the attempt, the larger the boost—"hard-suicide" attempts, in which luck is the only reason the attempts fail, are associated with a 36.3 percent increase in income. (The presence of nonattempters as a control group suggests the suicide effort is the root cause of the boost.)

interesting if a bit disturbing read. I would also like to know what the post-attempt life is like for those who seriously attempt suicide and fail, but end up chronically injuring themselves in the process (losing limbs or becoming paralyzed, for example). Do their incomes also shoot up 36%?

Why cannot we make diplomats pay parking tickets in NYC? Now we can. Sort of.

That is one of RDK's favourite questions. The answers are manyfold, but finally something has been done about it - Zero Tolerance and Big Bucks

The Senate yesterday adopted a proposal by New York Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) that would cut foreign aid to countries that owe New York City for parking tickets. The move, Schumer's office estimates, could recover as much as $21 million for 186,000 tickets from as many as 175 countries.

Egypt, which gets $1 billion and change each year in U.S. foreign aid, leads the scofflaw coalition, with nearly 18,000 tickets totaling $2 million. Kuwait ($1.3 million), Nigeria ($982,000) and Indonesia ($731,000) follow.

A similar legislative effort two years ago got the State Department to work a deal with the city, and the diplomats paid million of dollars, but the number has climbed since then.

The numbers in more parking-friendly Washington hardly compare. Over the last three years, diplomats have piled up $126,420 in fines on 1,605 tickets. Saudi Arabia and Cameroon -- talk about a contrast in wealth -- lead the pack, each owing a bit more than $11,000; Guinea -- Guinea? -- has 61 tickets worth $4,400 outstanding, followed by Russia ($4,300) and New Europe ally Albania ($4,100). The French owe $1,730 on 27 outstanding tickets, the Vatican owes $40 for one ticket, and the Brits owe zero.

The legislation would allow the secretary of state to waive penalties against a country if he certifies it's in the interests of national security. Such a move might affect his ability to get a decent restaurant table in Manhattan, however.

I always knew we could count on the Brits.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

This is pretty neat - Window on the World
A window between cities that allows people hundreds or even thousands of miles apart to meet and talk could make its debut in Britain next year.

Tholos, named after a type of circular ancient Greek temple, consists of a large round screen nearly 10ft high and 23ft wide.Its designers hope to see one of the first two in the world become a new tourist attraction in the centre of London.The London Tholos would be linked to an identical one in Vienna. Through them, people in both cities will be able to see and hear each other in real time.

pointer by Future Now

This is something that you see in sci-fi movies, and really there is little reason a prototype could not have been built before. While the utility of this is more in the public curiosity segment, it could be made to look really interesting.

In general the name and the sketch remind me of some planet Star Trek crews visit. Neo-Greek civilization with a strong utopian component and all technology hidden or masked as much as possible.

Monday, October 27, 2003

once again i was looking at our little permanent house guest and noticed how
happy she looks when she is sleeping with both of her arms raised above her
head. then i realized, i don't remember last time when i was on the bed
that was big enough for me to raise my hands above my head and fall asleep
like that. must be nice, if only for a while

RDK about his newborn daughter.

The Shipping News - The best economic indicator you've never heard of. By Daniel Gross

interesting reading - The Shipping News - The best economic indicator you've never heard of.

Why I live alone.

True story.

I'm out this Friday afternoon on a date. What do women like to do? Based on my empirical observations, they want to shop for shoes. So, testicles first, I'm lead into the Aldo shoe shop, gay sales-creature and all. **Author's side note, guys get approached by hot sales women, girls, by homosexual salesmen. And by homosexual I mean better looking them me.

Back to the story. She tries on a pair of shoes, demonstrates, struts, I'm playing old hockey highlights in my head. When pried into divulging my opinion on the subject at foot, I, in my n-finite wisdom, reply, "Great looking shoes, a very hot look on you, and in excellent taste." Or something rectalingual like that. And by doing thus I score a point, which is to be redeemed later at night. I had experiments planned for comparing relative uses of polyurethane vs. latex. I excuse myself to walk around and look at men's price tags, which, given the state of my bank account, takes me approximately fifteen seconds. Then I turn around, and the girl just finished putting on a pair of pumps, gets up and faces me.

At this point, perhaps inspired by my earlier success, I decide to demonstrate my taste in feminine footwear. "These once I don't quite like, nope, let's try something else." All of a sudden, I detect an area of low pressure forming, as ice crystals begin to germinate into icicles. "These are the shoes I came in with."
[ed - a bit edited to protect the participants]

from our CA correspondent.

ps. A reader asks, "have you a first hand opinion on "polyurethane vs. latex" debate?"



This is indeed a good post. Clear, concise, and to the point. Summary highlight:
Zionism is not a continuation of classical nationalism: it is already a defensive reaction to it, its consequence, and also a historical novelty the trouble of which, a trouble that still makes it widely misunderstood, is that, due to Herzl’s prescience, in a way, it arrived not too late, but, if anything, rather too early.

Given in a single sentence this is a bit hard to swallow. The overall article lays out strong reasons for how Zionism was a very different nationalistic movement that those of the European countries Jews lived in. However, I do not wish to reproduce the whole article here -- click on the link to read it all.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Yahoo! News - 'Iceman' Grabs Shark to Save Men

'Iceman' Grabs Shark to Save Men

The skipper of the trawler "Erik the Red" was on a beach in Kuummiit, east Greenland, watching his crew processing a catch when he saw the shark swimming toward the fish blood and guts -- and his men.

Captain Sigurdur Petursson, known to locals as "the Iceman," ran into the shallow water and grabbed the shark by its tail. He dragged it off to dry land and killed it with his knife.

tough character indeed.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

The Atlantic College-Admission survey is really interesting. Lots of reading but worth the time.
Here is the problem with the college-admissions system. It is a vast and intricate bureaucracy designed to do one thing, and it does that very well; but it is under intense social and economic pressure to do something different—something more or less directly at odds with its supposed goal. The resulting tensions affect everyone involved: The high school guidance counselors who try to steer students toward the right school. The college admissions officers who sort through ever mounting piles of applications to choose an entering class. The college administrators who wonder how many of those accepted will enroll—and how many of them will need financial aid. The parents who contemplate what will be (after housing) the second largest financial outlay of their lives...


The New College Chaos
College admissions officers say they now have many, many more applications than they know how to handle—and, often, less reliable information to help them decide which students to admit
by James Fallows

The Late-Decision Program
Most people have heard of early-decision programs. But there's also a little-known safety net at the other end of the process, to catch those who don't get in anywhere
by V. V. Ganeshananthan

What Makes a College Good?
A new survey seeks to get beyond the well-publicized—and much criticized—college rankings and measure schools by how good a job they do of actually educating their students
by Nicholas Confessore

The Selectivity Illusion
Look at the data closely, and the neat hierarchy of selectivity begins to fall apart
by Don Peck

The Bias Question
In a surprising challenge to the SAT's reputation as an unbiased measure of student learning, one researcher has argued that blacks do better than matched-ability whites on the harder questions of the SAT—something he believes their scores should reflect
by Jay Mathews

Go. Read. Educate yourself.

As we have come to expect from VentureBlog an interesting article at here discussing ubiquitous wi-fi that is here today. Full text search Full text search - That's quite impressive.

You can now search full text of over 100,000 books. As I am somewhat familiar with that it takes to makes thing kind of search works -- I am more than a little impressed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Mail in my Inbox

I have been pretty good about keeping my inbox relatively clean. SpamAssassin does an admirable job of keeping junk mail out, and so I mostly receive mail that I want. So, I typically have 30-40 messages in at any time. That makes it possible to keep track of mail that just accumulates during the workday and that I end up truly sorting out and deleting when I get home. So far, the daily average hovers around 80. That means during the day I received 40 messages that I read or plan to read and that I did not delee immediately because I plan to use them for responses to people and the like. Forty (40!) messages that I find useful enough to keep for at least a few hours.


Chart Focus: October 2003 - The Real Economics of off-shoring

Interesting graph, even if I do not quite understand the math. What is not clear, is how much revenue was actually sent to India. Step #2 seems to imply it was $0.24 (Revenues + Taxes), step #3 implies that it was $0.42($1-Cost Savings of $.058). I do not know how to reconcile these. Moreover, the original definition of a $1 spent in US seems unclear - is that the salary? before or after taxes? Step #4 - Value from reemployed american worker is less than half of $1. Does that mean in order to increase the global pie we have to take a 55% salary cut? Why does not the graph include lost US federal and state revenue? Moreover, why does not it take the multiplier into the account? As I recall from my Economics class, US multiplier was incredibly high, somewhere around 5. I would imagine that India's multiplier is a lot lower, at best in the 3-4 range. Would not that change the results of the graph dramatically, at least as measured in absolute US Dollars?

Can someone enlighten me and point out my mistakes please?

Berezina in the fall

photograph by Sergei Plytkevich

Very difficult. First decided on the more interesting parts of the river using maps, then agreed with a pilot to take me there. Waited for 3 weeks for the weather and finally spent 4 hours yesterday flying over Berezina, Viliya, Naroch' and Blue Lakes. Sadly, photographing from the plane turned out to be much more difficult than from a helicopter or a tower. (unauthorized translation by me - ed)

Indeed. A very nice shot of one of Belarus' largest, and prettiest, rivers. The whole region is waiting to be discovered by tourists (that do not care about the half-life of uranium from the Chernobyl explosion)

Meeting Justice Kennedy

Good short reading.
Q: What’s the difference between being on the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court?

I wanted and still want to be a trial judge. I never had the political power to achieve that. (Laughs.) That’s the closest you get to touching real people. When I was in the appeals court, I didn’t want to burn out and get crochety. There are still real people involved. In a social security case, you have to remember that you’re talking about a real person’s aching back.

In the appeals court I tried to write decisions with enough generality to be useful to other cases, but not so general so that I could distinguish a later case if I made a mistake. I can’t really do that now. You’ve got to get it right, the Court can’t zigzag. I used to think stare decisis was an uninteresting, backwards-looking principle. But it has “a forward thrust of tremendous force”. You have to think carefully about the effects of your decisions. You’re bound by what you write.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Victim of the Media War

Followup, sort of, to the previous post - Victim of the Media War

Certainly I have done no checking of the veracity of this. Feel free to show me how this is not true. But my feeling is that it's true. I do not take this as an example of media bias or of anti-Israeli sentiment. Merely as an example of what sells -- Israeli on Palestinian violence. It is not the media that is biased -- it is its consumers.

After a Deadly Attack, Arab Rage and Israeli Videotape

After a Deadly Attack, Arab Rage and Israeli Videotape

NYTimes has a rare article questioning the heretofore assumed truth of statements by Palestenians, Iraqis, and others regarding their losses and wounds after Israeli and US military actions. A while ago I mentioned the still-simmerring controversy over the death of Mohammad Dura. There are certainly more. Since the Iraq war there have been numerous reports that the funerals for kids "killed by sanctions" were fake -- Saddam's regime collected bodies of infants and children just to display them in a procession.

This is not easy to take. What kind of people would lie about being wounded? Killed? If a person is wrongly reported killed, would it be ever possible to find out? Would Israeli's doctor a tape? From the Arab and Palestinian perspective they obviously would, but somehow I do not think so. Not only would that mean court-martial for everyone involved, but a scandal that could not be lived down.

Still, I am glad NYT reports it this way, and I hope other papers pick it up too. This conflict is always presented as a tennis match -- one serves and the other receives. Repeat ad nauseum. The article reminds the reader that the two sides to interact in the process of killing each other, and that the fog of war effects both parties.

Good photographer

Events Photographer I like and respect. The website could use a little work, but I like the overall work.

Why Put Roy's Skull in His Stomach? By Brendan I. Koerner

Why Put Roy's Skull in His Stomach?

Indeed. interesting description of an uncommon, scary, but apparently effective procedure.
the skull cannot simply be placed in a bedside jar. Fragile bone marrow will wither and die unless preserved under optimal circumstances—either frozen, or kept close to a warm, circulating blood supply. Some doctors choose to freeze the skull bit because it requires one less incision. But others prefer to place the skull piece within a subcutaneous pouch that's implanted in the abdomen, between the muscle and the fat. This is an ideal location since there is ample storage space and little danger of interfering with essential body functions. Also, keeping the skull nestled within the body is a good way of keeping the bone sterile; the second you start toting vital body parts around, there's always the danger they might pick up airborne germs or, worse, be misplaced.

Despite the delicateness of the surgery, as well as the grave conditions of many patients selected for such procedures, success rates are fairly high. A 1998 study at the University of Heidelberg found a mean survival rate of 72.1 percent, and of the 43 patients studied, none of those who survived were left in comas.

Beating the path to freedom

Beating the path to freedom

Another amazing shot by Mikhail Maksimov.

Molecular Expressions: Science, Optics and You - Powers Of 10: Interactive Java Tutorial

Good optical range - Molecular Expressions: Science, Optics and You - Powers Of 10: Interactive Java Tutorial
View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.

very neat.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Bio-battery runs on shots of vodka

Now that's an invention to power the economy - Bio-battery runs on shots of vodka

An enzyme-catalysed battery has been created that could one day run cell phones and laptop computers on shots of vodka.

The key to the device is a new polymer that protects the fragile enzymes used to break down the ethanol fuel, scientists told the American Chemical Society's annual meeting in New Orleans on Monday.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Easterbrook Apologizes

Ok. Let's say I buy it. But why would the nominal religious affiliation of studio heads, Christian or otherwise, haev anything to do with anything? Easterbrook writes
I wondered about the consciences of those running Disney and Miramax. Were they Christian? How could a Christian rationalize seeking profits from a movie that glorifies killing as a sport, even as a form of pleasure? I think it's fair to raise faith in this context: In fact I did exactly that one week earlier, when I wrote a column about the movie The Passion asking how we could take Mel Gibson seriously as a professed Christian, when he has participated in numerous movies that glorify violence.

Is is a fair question to ask Mel Gibson about the Letahl Weapons movies because he has come out and pushed a certain set of beliefs, rather incompatible with that of his Lethal Weapons impersonation, to be taken as beliefs he is very serious about. To my knowledge Eisner or Weinstein have never talked about how as Jews they abhor violence. At most they are both Jews inasmuch as Coppola or Scorsese are Italians. Easterbrook does not compare Scorsese's nationality to his religion, why should he do that for Eisner or Weinstein?

The issue here is again the confusion between Jews as a nation and Judaism as a religion. If supposedly educated and well-rounded writer like Greg Easterbrook cannot draw the difference, how can we hope that anyone else, especially intentionally malicious Muslim fundamentalists would?

I think this rift underscores the plight of Armenians. I mean it. If Eisner were Armenian, Easterbrook would never suggest that the violence is improper given Eisner's armenian heritage. And he could not be more wrong.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Heh - Identity Theft Backfires When Stolen Identity Is Worse Than Current One

With the rise in identity theft, this was bound to happen sooner or later. A guy with a number of drunk driving convictions stole the identity of his neighbor in order to get a driver's license. What he didn't realize was that his neighbor was a convicted sex offender.

read the whole thing. it is short.

That sounds pretty interesting -- via «Amodal Suspension»

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's interactive installation, «Amodal Suspension», will be presented by the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media from November 1st through the 24th. [From Josh Rubin's Cool Hunting].


Short text messages sent by people over the Internet or by cell phone will be converted into patterns of flashing lights in the sky, turning the Japanese city of Yamaguchi into a giant communication switchboard. The piece will be located in the public space around the new YCAM Center and will be viewable at

But what is the algorithm, and can a group actually influence the outsome by sending certain messages... There has got to be a way to hack this thing to write "Godzilla lives" - Mahathir attack on Jews condemned - NOT!!! - Mahathir attack on Jews condemned - NOT!!!

Condemned by who? The only people condemning are the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Israel's State Department. Meanwhile Putin is currying favour and Kofi Annan shows his condemn by saying

he understood "feelings of humiliation, anger and fear" among Muslims but condemned suicide bombings as detrimental to the Islamic cause.

"These acts of terrorism, abhorred and rejected by all of you, defile and damage even the most legitimate cause,"

Let me count the ways this condemned Mahatir's statement. Done - 0 (zero), none, nada, zip, zilch ways. No matter how you count it. It is nice that Jews are credited with inventing

"... socialism, communism, human rights and democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. "

The bastards (jews that is). They only invented human rights so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong. We must stop this menace by inventing .. Well, it is not clear what could be invented from scratch to alleviate these evils stalking our world. It is not like there are not alternatives, just that the Muslim world has tried most of them, from totalitarian regimes to lack of human rights and could not quite make the pesky problems of the Jews go away. I am not sure what new thing can eb invented that would obviate the need for human rights. The morons who founded the USA suggested some are even inalienable which would make them hard to take away, or invent by the Jews for that matter.

I want to see this story picked up.

full text here -- - Mahathir attack on Jews condemned - Oct. 16, 2003

Wow. That's pretty out there - MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has urged Muslims to wage war against Jews
The controversial Malaysian leader told a major Islamic conference that "the Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule this world by proxy".

Dr Mahathir claimed Jewish people "get others to fight and die for them", and said Muslims could fight Jews if they were smart.


"Of late, because of their power and their apparent success they have become arrogant. And arrogant people like angry people will make mistakes.

"They are already beginning to make mistakes. And they will make more mistakes.

"There may be windows of opportunity for us now and in the future. We must seize these opportunities."

Religion of Peace strikes again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Mock and Announce - How long does it take to flush the 9th Circuit down the toilet? By Dahlia Lithwick

I found this rather hilarious. I wish they carried these arguments on TV :) -- Mock and Announce - How long does it take to flush the 9th Circuit down the toilet? By Dahlia Lithwick

Yahoo! News - Sports Photos - Reuters

Yahoo! News - Sports Photos - Reuters

The Cubs fan (front center) who tried to catch a foul ball hit by Florida Marlins (news) Luis Castillo (news) sits in the stands in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League (news) Championship Series in Chicago, October 14, 2003. The ball would have been the Cubs second out of the inning and the Marlins went on to score 8 runs in the inning. The Marlins defeated the Cubs 8-3 to even the series at three games apiece. REUTERS/Allen Fredrickson

Wow. Is this a gift to all the people in Chicago who want to hurt the guy?

Florentine animals - Passeggiata
Animals aren't uncommon in Florence, and never have been: the Piazza della Signoria, home to the copy of Michaelangelo's David and a considerable amount of Pico wee, was once also home to a giraffe and a family of lions. Their peaceful existence was not the rule, however. On the 25th June 1514 the square was used for a wild animal hunt. The townsfolk built wooden grandstands around the square, placed fountains and fake trees in the middle, sealed the exits and introduced, according to an eyewitness report:

...two lions and bears, leopards, bulls, buffaloes, stags and many other wild animals of various kinds, and horses...All the stands and enclosures were crowded, as also the windows and roofs, such a concourse of people never having been known, for numbers of strangers had come from different parts. Four cardinals had come from Rome, disguised...

By the end of the day, three men had been killed, and many of the animals. The lions, cowed by the noise and numbers of the crowd - perhaps forty thousand in all - spent most of the day hiding in a corner.

bet you did not know that.

Why would I need a phone with a compass?

Well, if you were Muslim and needed to pray towards Mecca 5 times a day, or Jewish and needed to face Jerusalem 3 times a day...
Muslim faithful have used a short messaging service for years as a digital muezzin, texting them to prayer five times a day from the cellular towers instead of minarets.

Now, taking the concept further and pointing Muslims towards Mecca, LG Electronics (LGE) has developped a GPRS mobile phone equipped with a compass and programmed to indicate direction.

Moer information from Smart Mobs blog and from eTechKorea

Original article from Future Now - Global phones, local culture

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10

That actually looks like a really great camera for a serious consumer. 4MPs is a decent enough of a resolution for most tasks and the camera body and lense look just great. I am looking forward to learning more about it when it comes out.

Read the full press release - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10 : Digital Photography Review

Vietnam - a new food donor

In a nice example of how "what goes around comes around" game Vietnam donated food to Iraq
Vietnam, only three years ago a recipient of humanitarian aid, has shipped 1,467 tonnes of rice worth $500,000 to Iraq, due to be offloaded at the southern Iraq port of Umm Qasr on Wednesday or Thursday.

Courtesy of BBC article - Japan offers $1.5bn to Iraq

Lessig writes about great lawyers

It would have been easy to talk about any number of criminal cases, but that would not be Lessig. Instead he goes for the more interesting, and less well-known case
So imagine this: An employee works for a software company. He discovers a problem with the software, tries to warn the company, but it does nothing. He quits, and then sends email to all the customers of the company, informing them of the security problem with the software. (...)

The employee is found guilty. He is sentenced and serves (yes, he actually serves) 16 months in a federal prison.


In America, you ask? Well, in fact, yes — justice in the Central District of California. But it gets better. (...)

Indeed, America: Where defendants sometimes get great lawyers, and where governments let justice admit it is wrong.

I am proud, and moved, by both.

read the whole thing

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Two good photos

Two good photos

Alone, does not sleep and drinks champagne by Irakly and Mikhail Maksimov's Mit'ka

Oddly enough indeed

Yahoo! News - Man Attacks Stain in Trousers...Destroys Apartment
A Russian man may wish he had stuck with having dirty trousers after an imaginative attempt to purge a stubborn paint stain on them destroyed his apartment.
The unnamed Muscovite added a liter of petrol to his washing machine to help dissolve the stain, Itar-Tass news agency reported Monday, but the ensuing explosion wrecked his kitchen and demolished two internal walls.

Moscow police would only confirm that there has been an explosion in an apartment, and not the cause.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Non-Human repitles.

What Giant Reptile Can You Own? By Brendan I. Koerner:
"The New York City health code specifically forbids keeping caimans as pets—along with tigers, bats, 'all non-human primates,' Komodo dragons, wolverines, Tasmanian devils, 'all even-toed ungulates,' polar bears, and dozens of other potentially dangerous animals. "

Neato. I really like the non-human repitles part...

Friday, October 10, 2003

Yet another reason to monitor outgoing connections on your machine

In June, the Pennsylvania teenager paid $91,200 to buy more than 9,000 put options on Cisco stock, which gave him the right to sell the shares at or below $15 per share before July 19, 2003, according to a statement released by the U.S Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts, which is also pursuing Dinh.
In the weeks following his purchase, however, Cisco stock hovered around $19 per share, making Dinh's put options worthless, Stark said.
Instead, Dinh allegedly set up an elaborate scheme to unload the shares in a bogus transaction. First, the teenager allegedly lured participants in an online stock discussion group to download a key logging program that he claimed was stock-charting tool, the SEC said.
After using the program to monitor the information typed on victims' machines, Dinh allegedly obtained the login and password information for a TD Waterhouse Investor Services Inc. online brokerage account owned by a Westborough, Massachusetts man.
With the victim's account information in hand, Dinh used his own online brokerage account to create orders to sell the worthless options, then hacked into the victim's online account and created corresponding buy orders for the options, the SEC said.
The transactions depleted around $46,986 from the victim's brokerage account, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

More info: InfoWorld: SEC busts hacker for securities fraud, ID theft

Bill Gurley On The Digital Hand via VentureBlog

Bill Gurley's newest Above The Crowd updates Adam Smith's idea of the invisible hand. The digital hand, in essence, is the force of Moore's law and Internet time gradually wending its way through various industries, entertainment and consumer products most recently:

Like Smith's invisible hand, the digital hand is a true boon for the consumer, ensuring that fabulous products will be delivered in the most convenient way, and at ever lower prices. However, there is one big difference. The invisible hand suggests that both companies and customers can profit simultaneously. The digital hand is not nearly as charitable to the companies involved. In fact it can be downright brutal.


As we look towards the future of the consumer electronics industry, the digital hand will ensure two realties. First, consumers will be blown away by the incredible products they are able to buy at shockingly low prices. Second, companies will be blown away by how incredibly hard they have to work in a shockingly competitive industry. Never forget that the undisputed leader of the PC industry has a supply chain and distribution advantage, not a technological one.

Obviously, this is something that has been going on for some time. All you need to to is pick up an old VCR and a new one - feel the difference in heft - that's the new electronics instead of old electronics and mechanics. The most original line here is this,

"The cold fact of the matter is that most digital goods either work or they don’t. You lose the subtle continuum of quality that exists in an analog world. "

I think that is true only in the most general sense. There is still a huge continuum of product quality, and more importantly, design, that goes beyond the pure functionality embedded in the electronics that make the DVD player work. Majority of the consumers will always choose the $50 product over a $200 one, but plenty will consider a $100 device that is prettier and more easily managed and controlled. Additionally, let's not forget that it took *many* years for things such as Dolby decoding to become commoditized. Perhaps the next step in design for the higher end manufacturers is to build better "holding" boxes, akin to high-end receivers, that can easily accommodate additional add-ons inside their bodies or connect to new devices. If consumers are going to protect themselves against device obsolescence by buying the cheapest device, manufacturers should seek to provide easy integration of these new devices into the existing system - and the more high-end the device the more seamless and high-quality that integration should be. They can also use their superior R&D to produce improvements to processing and performing standard-based processing, like the Digic chip for Canon. It is obvious that all digital cameras work, but not all of them work the same. Educating consumers about differences beyond the number of pixels or formats played back will help retain the mid- and high-end of the market. As for the lower end - it was never a good place to be for a serious company.

Zipcar is making waves in NYC, and NYT

Some people in the city are trying to share a thing many Americans regard as the apotheosis of private property: the car.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Old man Kissinger (photo)

Wow. What an unbelievably good portrait!

Old man Kissinger.

More Useful Everyday

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Cheap Trick Avenue instead of Boardwalk? Hernando's Chop Shop instead of Reading Railroad? ... leaders are outraged over a new board game called "Ghettopoly" that has "playas" acting like pimps and game cards reading, "You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50."

indeed. Nevertheless,

The creator of Ghettopoly, David Chang, did not immediately answer e-mails or phone calls seeking comment about the game.

On his Web site, Chang is unapologetic, and promises that more games -- Hoodopoly, Hiphopopoly, Thugopoly and Redneckopoly -- are coming soon.

"It draws on stereotypes not as a means to degrade, but as a medium to bring together in laughter," Chang maintains, adding, "If we can't laugh at ourselves ... we'll continue to live in blame and bitterness."

I do not actually find it too funny. However, I do recall growing up hearing about a game caled monopoly. We could not buy one, so at one point everyone just built one of their own. We used whatever foreign labels or brand names we knew off to populate our boards. As the craze built in Junior High, boards grew more and more elaborate, some being done on 20"x30" pieces of or more with multiple concentric rings of placeholders going around the board.

I wonder if it is a copyright infrignment to build your own monopoly game?

From the "not so surprising but still kinda wierd" strand of research

Hearing Mozart makes you feel rich

Therefore you spend more money in restaurants, for the full story click here. You spend less when you hear Britney Spears, although you still spend more than when you hear no music. And how about Led Zeppelin? Co-blogger Alex noted not long ago that German music makes shoppers buy German wines, and French music makes shoppers buy French wines.

Here is a link to the original research, also connecting you to a variety of other pieces on music and psychology. Music also makes you more willing to wait in line. And people like pop music more, the more attractive the singer.

links courtesy of Marginal Revolution

Friday, October 03, 2003

Not Far Enough Out On The Lunatic Fringe

Techdirt:Negroponte Not Far Enough Out On The Lunatic Fringe. Comment #1 is hilarious and right on the spot:
Can't find it online, but the current issue of Popular Science has pictures of a subdermal video display system, which looks like a moving tattoo. Will future Palm Pilots consist of scratching at moving tattoos with a razor-shaped stylus, to appeal to the self-injuring instincts of teens?

Of course, subdermal displays are not exactly a new idea. Bradbury wrote about them in the Illustrated Man published in 1951 with stories written in the 40's.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

In defense of hypothetical questions.

Michael Kinsley has a good take on the refusal of politicians to answer hypothetical questions -- and why they should. One of the better quotes:
A refusal or inability to answer hypothetical questions is nothing to be proud of. In fact, it ought to be a disqualification for public office. Anyone who doesn't ponder hypothetical questions all the time is unfit for the task of governing. In fact, it's hard to see how any halfway intelligent person can manage to avoid taking up hypothetical questions a dozen times a day.