Saturday, April 29, 2006

Immigration Consternation

Fear of raids is causing illegal workers to stay away from their jobs across the country. The results show the level to which America has tolerated the flaunting of the immigration laws. This example shows one of the reasons why we tolerate that flaunting. Meanwhile in Mexico, they are giving us new reasons to make illegal immigration harder.

Why oh why, can't we make legal immigration easier for the candidates and actually enforce the law?

Watching the Watchers

Bush has announced his new spokesman, and I for one am happy about the choice. Snow is a conservative, and experienced enough to know how to hold his own against the hostile press corp. Whether that is good or bad for the people's knowledge remains to be seen.

Over in Iraq, there is interest in banning armed militias. The U.S. military believes that the country is not descending into civil war. And in the region certain fanatic factions don't want to be associated with other fanatic factions.

Here at home the DOJ wants to slap the secret label on domestic wiretapping programs and close down a lawsuit seeking to prevent it.

Nature One, Machines Nothing

In the epic battle between crocodile and chainsaw, it appears that the croc has claimed a win.

Crime vs. Opportunity

Guess what, when you provide prisoners who some some aptitude with real education and opportunity, it reduces future crime. And I even managed to make it through posting this without saying something snide about criminal-to-car mechanic not being that big of a leap. Well, almost.

The More You Eat, the More You... Nothing

Science continues its battle to increase quality of life with fart free beans. This could have also been under a Headline Hunters banner thanks to "Wind of change for bean eaters."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Gene Simmons Can Already Do It

Sometimes science leads to science fiction-like applications. Like routing sensors to one's brain via the tongue. That it has been under development for over thirty years and that there are testimonials about how it feels surprises me. That the Defense Department is the source of funding doesn't surprise me at all.

The Continuing War on Media Consumers

The DMCA may be about to get stronger. A frightening proposal would outlaw all software and hardware that could be used to bypass encryption. This would potentially outlaw everything from the general purpose computer to pencil and paper or even reading glasses, depending on the encryption in question.

And if buying the politicians by some miracle doesn't work, there are armies of sleazy lawyers willing to proceed with sketchy lawsuits intended to force settlement. Even if the accused file-sharers don't own a computer.

Headline Hunting

The story is interesting on its own for the implications to the modern workplace, but it is overshadowed by an application of ignorance.
Headline: "Judge: Web Surfing Worker Can't Be Fired"
In the body of the story: "Mayor Michael Bloomberg fired a worker... after he saw the man playing a game of solitaire..."

Perhaps I'm colored by my perspectives as a computer programmer, but playing solitaire is not surfing the internet!

A Sorry State

Reports say the Mexicans believe immigration to the U.S. is inevitable. A more eloquent comment on the failure of Mexico as a state I have never heard. There is not a clear or easy way out of the current situation.

Potential Cures for the Rare and Not So

I had no idea that a disease could cause rogue skeletal growth. Thankfully, a cure appears possible. And it's one that could lead to wider applications.

Autoimmune conditions reduce the quality of life of quite a few people, and one of the more serious ones is Type 1 diabetes. It looks like we are one step closer to a cure for that as well.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Nuclear Conservation

While this article contains some pretty wacky thoughts about how to keep humans out of the rain forests, the total environmental effects of removing humans from the Chernobyl area are interesting in their own right.

Law Enforcement Has Improved Since Rome Fell

To a mafia boss, secrecy can be important. Encrypting your correspondence would seem a simple precaution. And hey, using the same encryption scheme that Julius Caesar used is a good way to stroke the ego. Except that if an encryption scheme has been around for thousands of years, it is a good bet that law enforcement knows how to read it.

Camel, the Other White Milk

This is an interesting little story. Or you could just skip down to the last couple of paragraphs and read about camel milk chocolate.

Watching the Watchers

I'm a bit behind again, but if one were curious one could follow the ongoing administration shakeup. And they aren't the only ones having administration issues. Frankly it's more fun to see what the other guys are up to at the moment. Iran's President is using the best leverage he has against us: oil. Meanwhile, North Korea is accusing us of faking fake currency in order to make them look bad. Apparently we are willing to lose tens of millions a year to do so. Ties nicely into the propaganda campaign. Whether that is their campaign or ours, I leave to the determination of the reader...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Say Klaatu Berata Nikto Before Touching

From the yuck department, a three hundred year old book that seems to be bound in human skin has turned up in England. According to the report, the text is mostly French and it was "not uncommon around the time of the French Revolution for books to be covered in human skin." No word on the books contents. Or if it was written by the mad Arab Abdul AlHazrad?

[Now, I don't normally explain my posts within my posts. Or ever for that matter, but I'll make an exception this time because I stumbled across a link that is just pure Internet. The reference the AlHazrad above refers to H. P. Lovecraft's fictitious author of the equally fictitious book Necronomicon. The headline, refers to what Ash had to say in "Army of Darkness" before picking up a book of that name. (Some time ago, I posted about the phrase itself, which is from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and ties all this stuff together.) I was hoping for a simple Wikipedia entry, or something similar. That I found and used above. I didn't find it directly, however. What I did find is something conspiracy theorists (and conspiracy role playing gamers) will just love. I urge you to consider this link as pure entertainment and fiction, if only to keep the Fnord off my back. ;) And now you know why I don't usually explain these things...]

Watching the Watchers

Today I bring you a yonder 'cross that 'ere ocean edition. The EU is standing firm on cutting off aid to the Palestinians. Well, except for the huge amount they started just before Hamas took office. That's already "in the system."

Speaking of standing firm, French Pres. Chirac has abandoned his attempt at reforming his country's labor protection system. Wait, I'm sorry. Did I say standing firm? I meant folded under to a threat of violence. Insert superior sounding American joke about France here.

Silly Darwin Fish Actually Real

I can't add anything to the commentary from SJG, I'll just link directly to the Daily Illuminator. Creationist and evolution advocates everywhere should take a gander. And it's from CNN, so it must be true, right, RIGHT?!?

Too Late For My Physics Homework

The innovation train continues unhindered! Behold, the whiteboard that can print that which you scribble upon it!

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Common Geeky Health Problems

Sometimes a subject comes in groups. It wasn't long ago that I read about a particular trait commonly associated with computer programmers (the ability to enter hyperfocus/flow/the zone for mental tasks) is considered a symptom of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. Now comes an article about the typical health disorders faced by us geeky types. [Slashdot link due to the server of the original article being crushed by, well, Slashdot.] After reading that, I realize that I could walk into a doctor's office and convince them fairly easily that I have symptoms of both Adult ADD and depression. In fact, I am simply optimized for a set of tasks outside the realm of what is considered "normal."

Protection or Protectionism?

Netflix has been awarded a patent on a computer-implemented approach for renting items to customers. Naturally, they immediately use it to sue their biggest competition.

Here comes the editorial content: in what way is using a computer to communicate with customers an "innovation" worthy of patent protection? "Business model" patents rank right up there on my stupid list with software patents. The only thing they can possibly accomplish, as we are seeing in this case, is to prevent competition in certain markets. And that is not the way to award invention, it's the way to stifle it.

Even Silver Coins Have Two Sides

Restoration work is done on the Gospel of Judas. There are several levels of interesting here. First, we are talking about a document that is nearly two thousand years old. That's a really long time ago, and it is amazing that something so old survived in a restorable state. Second, it is another account of a pretty interesting point in human history. Whether you believe in the deity of Jesus or not, you can't discount the affect his story has had on humanity.

Movin' on Up (North)

I find the immigration debate somewhat amusing. Is it me or should there not be a question whether to enforce the law? If you want the law changed, that is a different story. But for now all the politicians are doing is admitting they have no interest in following the law of the land.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Headline Hunting

I nearly forgot to post the headline I saw on the Weather Channel a couple of days ago. "Catching Hail" (No link because well, it was TV...)

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Happy Accidents and a Secret Squirrel Army

Bob Ross. Video game.

Picking the Wrong Building

Sometimes, luck can be a factor. Imagine yourself as a robber. You just found an open door! That's lucky. Having twenty sumo wrestlers on hand for a citizens' arrest? Not so much.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Watching the Watchers

It appears that officials from the U.S. have some opinions on the type of person they would like to see as the Iraqi leader and out of the Iraqi government. We want to see a "strong, unifying government lead by someone who can bring stability and meet the challenges of the Iraqi people." And hey if the Iraqis can do it, we might be able to some day too!

The government managed to avoid having a case on a prisoner being held without charges heard by the Supreme Court. I agree on the letter of the law in this case not being heard, but it was an obvious dodge on the part Big Bro.