Are there a large number of criminal convictions based on junk science? LiveScience briefly reports on a study by UC Irvine criminologist Simon Cole, who estimates that there may be as many as 1,900 mistaken fingerprint matches a year in the U.S.
Listening to To The Point while washing dishes last night, I found myself resisting the urge to throw things at the radio during an interview with wingnut Senator Rick Santorum (pick your link: Dan Savage style or Senate website style). No, not because of his famous homophobia (not this time), but because of his references to the inheritance tax as the "death tax".
The Baltimore Sun reports on a new grand jury convened to prepare a report suggesting ways to restore public confidence in the Baltimore Department.
As evidence that this is a problem worthy of its attention, McCurdy told the grand jury about two recent cases in which city judges doubted the word of police officers.
In the past two weeks, two weapons violations cases have crumbled - and convicted felons who admitted carrying loaded revolvers were able to avoid five-year prison sentences - because judges believed the guns might have been discovered illegally.
Freedom to Tinker summarizes a paper on snooping typed information by analyzing a recording of the typing sounds.
The recovered text gets about 90% of the words right and is said to be "quite readable". While passwords don’t have the same statistical properties as ordinary text, as long as the password-typing is accompanied by enough English-typing the algorithm can come up with a short list of possible passwords, which almost always includes the correct one.
"Sounds let eavesdroppers determine what you're typing" plus "cellphone companies can remotely install software to activate the microphone when the user is not making a call" equals "a creepy feeling up and down my spine".
I'm not quite sure when I first heard about how a hurricane like Katrina could destroy New Orleans; I know it was at least a few years ago. Mike Tidwell wrote a book about it in 2003: Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast. No one paid much attention to the book then, but since Katrina struck, he's been on "Meet the Press", CNN (three times), Fox, MSNBC, CBS, and NPR. He says, "[M]y main objective in all of these interviews is to raise awareness of how climate change will soon turn every coastal city in the world into a New Orleans unless we make a rapid switch to clean, renewable energy."
Since he pretty much hit it on the nose before, sounds like it might be a good idea to listen to him now, no? Read his essay, which makes clear just how much of the Katrina tragedy was a result of poor environmental policy, here.
Security guru Marcus Ranum writes about The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security. (Marcus worked at TIS the same time I did; he is an intensely clueful person whose advice on matters of information security should probably be heeded.)
Reuters reports on an apparent suicide note from Hunter S. Thompson. Perhaps the last thing he wrote:
The brief message, scrawled in black marker and titled "Football Season Is Over" (an apparent reference to the end of the NFL season he avidly followed as fan), reads as follows:
"No More Games. No More bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt."
Fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks today. I thought I'd post some things I've previously written. First, a little previously unpublished piece I wrote on the first anniversary:
Sept 11 2002
The Bards of 9/11
The show must go on.
Here it is, one year later. I'm back at the bar where I spent most of the day on that fateful famous Tuesday. I had a gig that day, my regular Tuesday evening gig at Leadbetter's. After spending the morning and early afternoon glued, like much of the nation, to CNN, I realized that I had an appointment to play music.
To play! Music! What a trivial activity at such a time. I wondered if I should bother, if anyone cared. But I also wanted to go somewhere, be around other people - a common impulse that day. So I threw my gear into the Toyota and drove down to Fells Point.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R) has proposed an Senate bill 385, an modest amendment to USDA appropriations that would cap federal subsidies to corporate farms at a quarter-million dollars per year and thus leave more funding for protecting hungry people and the land itself. You can write your Senator to support this bill through OCA's website.
Originally saw this on the Daily Show. Seems VP Dick Cheney was touring the second Gulf region he and George have helped to destroy, and while the cameras were on him, one of the locals summed up the resident's feelings for him with the same invitation Cheney delivered to Patrick Leahy a while back: "Go fuck yourself, Mr Cheney!"
I want to buy that man a beer.