Our changing world

Posted on: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 10:00 By: Tom Swiss

The Earth's North magnetic pole is moving south at an accelerated rate, meaning that Alaska could lose the "Northern Lights" inside of fifty years.

And a 37-mile long fissure that split open in September in the Afar desert in Ethiopia could be the "birth of a new ocean basin," though that will take millions rather than tens of years.

These are reminders that our planet is on the move, that what we think of as "solid ground" is just an illusion of short timescales.

Human health linked to the health of the planet. Duh.

Posted on: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 16:35 By: Tom Swiss

Reuters reports on a World Health Organization report tying human health to the health of the ecosystem:

"Human health is strongly linked to the health of ecosystems, which meet many of our most critical needs," Maria Neira, director of WHO's Department of Protection of the Human Environment told a news conference at the launch of a new report.

As the kids say: uh, duh? Like you hadn't figured this out a long time ago?

Amusing password masking social hack

Posted on: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 17:24 By: Tom Swiss

bash.org is a website that collects amusing snippets from IRC discussions. I found this little bit of social engineering quite amusing:

<Cthon98> hey, if you type in your pw, it will show as stars
<Cthon98> ********* see!
<AzureDiamond> hunter2
<AzureDiamond> doesnt look like stars to me
<Cthon98> <AzureDiamond> *******
<Cthon98> thats what I see
<AzureDiamond> oh, really?
<Cthon98> Absolutely
<AzureDiamond> you can go hunter2 my hunter2-ing hunter2
<AzureDiamond> haha, does that look funny to you?

More from the "war on sharing"

Posted on: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 10:36 By: Tom Swiss

Slashdot refers us to this BBC story about the Music Publishers' Association trying to shut down web sites with music lyrics and scores, including wanting to lock people in cages for sharing the words to songs.

Somehow, it all seems...familiar. Back in 1998, I was interviewed for a piece in the Baltimore Sun about an attack on OLGA, the on-line guitar archive, where musicians share their interpretations of songs, by the Harry Fox Agency.

Excuse me while I repeat myself: Music is not a crime. Music is all about sharing. Performers share with the audience and performers share with each other. That's the folk tradition. We now have a new technology of information that renders the old laws obsolete. We need laws that recognize that the sharing of information is what makes us human.

Carl Ellison's padlock

Posted on: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 21:26 By: Tom Swiss

My first job out of graduate school was working at Trusted Information Systems, where I met some of the top people in the information security field. I briefly shared an office with cryptography guru Carl Ellison; I came across a great little story on his web site today:

I had this great bicycle, once. I kept it in the walkway under my rowhouse in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, locked behind a solid wooden gate. To protect it, I went out and bought a hefty padlock. The lock cost a fair amount, but my peace of mind was worth it...

Hillary Clinton - I'm becoming more and more glad she's unelectable

Posted on: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 09:55 By: Tom Swiss

As previously noted, despite her appointment by the media as a front-runner, Hillary Clinton is very unlikely to be elected president.

Given her refusal to resist the invasion and occupation of Iraq, that doesn't bother me at all, I've just been hoping that the Democrats will get serious and find a better candidate. (Both for president and for her Senate seat.)

Comes now news that makes me want to see her off the scene even more: she's co-sponsoring yet another attempt to make an end-run around the First Amendment in the form of a "flag protection" act. We can do without yet another Republican in Democrat's clothing.

Worst president ever?

Posted on: Mon, 12/05/2005 - 21:12 By: Tom Swiss

>Columnist Richard Reeves considers the question: is W the worst U.S. president ever?

The History News Network at George Mason University has just polled historians informally on the Bush record. Four hundred and fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered -- maybe they were all crazed liberals -- making the project as unofficial as it was interesting. These were the results: 338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever.

BTW, I find it helps take a tiny little bit of the sting out of enduring this administration if you say "worst president ever" in a Comic Book Guy voice...try it and see if you don't feel just a little better.

Christian Science Monitor: A culture of bribery in Congress

Posted on: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 17:59 By: Tom Swiss

I'm still not sure how such an... interesting... religion as "Christian
Science" gets a newspaper as generally level-headed as the
Christian Science Monitor, but they've
got a nice

editorial on the Cunningham case and state of corruption in Congress
:

Either way, money still talks in Washington and the legal/illegal
distinction gets easily blurred in all the backroom dealings with private
interests until, that is, a brazen case of bribery pops up. Then

Poets are sexy

Posted on: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 19:59 By: Tom Swiss

Reuters reports that creativity is sexy:

Pablo Picasso, Lord Byron and Dylan Thomas had more in common than simple creativity. They also had active sex lives, which researchers said on Wednesday was no coincidence.

Psychologists at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Open University in Britain found that professional artists and poets have about twice as many partners as other people.

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