news

PEARLS BEFORE BREAKFAST

This has nothing to do with technology – it’s just a fascinating, thought-provoking story.

The Washington Post arranged for violin virtuoso Joshua Bell to play in a DC subway station during the morning rush hour, like any other street musician, and filmed the reaction. Joshua Bell is considered one of the best classical musicians in the world; he played beautiful (and difficult) music that morning on one of the most valuable Stradivarius violins ever made. […] continued

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NSL GAG ORDERS

On March 9 the Justice Department’s inspector general revealed that the FBI has been systematically abusing its expanded power to issue “national security letters” and obtain private information about US citizens and residents from telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, credit providers, and other businesses.

Between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands, without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval, to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. […] continued

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BETTING ON TERRORISM

The Pentagon’s plan to allow betting on terrorist acts through a quasi-stock-market will likely die an early death. Before it’s gone, take a look at the Policy Analysis Market web site set up for the program. Despite your instincts and the appearance of the site, this is not a joke. (According to the New York Times, some specific descriptions of potential betting events – hijackings, assassinations, and the like – were removed from the site yesterday morning.)

Admiral Poindexter, the director of the Terrorism Information Awareness Office and proponent of the Policy Analysis Market, has, umm, interesting ideas. […] continued

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SLATE – TODAY’S PAPERS

Every day the online magazine Slate presents a wonderful selection of articles on politics, news, and culture. It’s one of my daily stops. One of its best features is Today’s Papers, which analyzes and compares the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. […] continued

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THE SEVEN WARNING SIGNS OF BOGUS SCIENCE

Robert L. Park is a physics professor at the University of Maryland, and the author of Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness To Fraud. He has written a wonderful short article on how to recognize scientific nonsense – an important skill for all of us in these confusing times.

“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is investing close to a million dollars in an obscure Russian scientist’s antigravity machine, although it has failed every test and would violate the most fundamental laws of nature.

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CYBERTERRORISM AND FUD

More interesting reading: this Slate article casts a jaundiced eye at the “National Strategy To Secure Cyberspace” pushed out by the Bush administration last month. Part of a broader strategy to fill the airwaves and the public consciousness with FUD – “fear, uncertainty and doubt,” this time by painting a picture of computer-savvy regimes ready to knock out our electricity and phone lines and electric blankets from their remote terminals. […] continued

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CNET RADIO GOING OFF THE AIR

CNET Radio (AM 910) has been my constant companion for the last year or more. It’s delivered technology news and talk all day, every day – and now it’s closing up the radio station on January 31. Sad news for anyone who had stumbled on its wonderful programming in the San Francisco area, or nationwide on XM Radio. […] continued

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FCC TO PERMIT TELECOM, MEDIA CONSOLIDATION

An article in today’s Washington Post reviews some of the major decisions the Federal Communications Commission will be making in the next few months, moves that could fundamentally rewrite the rules for the broadcast media and Internet service providers. The likely result is that a handful of mega-corporations will control virtually all aspects of our entertainment and our online experiences. […] continued

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NIGERIAN FRAUDSTER BAITING

With the raging popularity of the Nigerian e-mail scam (see my writeup and links on October 24), a new sport has sprung up – Nigerian fraudster baiting, leading the scammers on the road to ridicule.

Here’s a wonderful example – an exchange of e-mails between “Dr. Graham Douglas” in Nigeria, and gullible victim Norman Bettison. […] continued

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LORD OF THE RINGS UPDATE

Getting ready for The Two Towers? Here’s an early look from Time Magazine, which notes that “Fellowship was often quiet and deliberately paced. Two Towers is an unabashed action film.” They predict that we’ll like it even more than the first film.

There’s no introduction in The Two Towers, no prologue to remind you where the first film left off. […] continued

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THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT

MSNBC has a wonderful article about an unexpected side effect of global warming – huge ice blocks, 22 lbs or more, which form in the upper atmosphere on clear days and fall to earth, smashing car windshields and ripping holes in houses. Don’t look at me like that – I’m serious. […] continued

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GOOGLE NEWS

Google is bringing its remarkable technology to harvesting the news. Here’s a link to Google News, presenting the top news stories of the moment without any human intervention. Google News software continuously crawls more than 4,000 Web news sources, looking for the most relevant articles from the most reputable sources. […] continued

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DICTIONARIES

The Press Democrat just did a feature about the abbreviations invented for text messaging – they’re becoming second nature to many kids, and teachers are seeing them turn up in school assignments. FYI, here’s a dictionary that covers many of the basic text messaging abbreviations FWIW. If U R like me, it will make you feel old. […] continued

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FREE AMAZON SHIPPING

Amazon has improved its free shipping offer – starting today, you can get free shipping for any purchase over $25.

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LORD OF THE RINGS DVD

The Fellowship of the Ring will be released on DVD in the next few days. But if you’re considering it, be careful! There’s going to be two versions released on DVD, and they’re staggering the releases hoping to trap the unwary into buying both.

This month sees the release of a 2-disc set that includes the original version of the film, plus a disc worth of extras. […] continued

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