Waiting to get through security so you can be safe?

Boing Boing carried this story today about ridiculously long lines to get through security at Heathrow. Of course, this story is replicated anywhere in the world where there is a flight to the US. It occurred to me that the line to get through to security has now become a bigger target for a terrorist than what’s on the other side… and you don’t have to go through security to get there. As Alanis says… “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?”

Chinese County Beats 50,000 Dogs To Death.

Story on ABC News:Chinese County Massacres 50,000 Dogs

This is really sad. It’s one thing (not a nice one, but perhaps understandable) if it’s a humane culling – but this was a Casino style beating to death.

I should be surprised I suppose – if they can’t get their human rights in order; dogs aren’t going to be treated any better. Maybe they’ll sell the carcasses in WalMart.

Drugs-n-Sports-n-Rock-n-Roll

It’s a huge bummer to learn that Floyd Landis having won the Tour de France, was actually on the juice. Living in San Francisco – our local baseball team is the Giants (appropriate perhaps) who harbor Barry Bonds – who holds some sort of amazing baseball record – perhaps around numbers of substances abused or something….

I do wonder exactly what it is like to be on the juice, however, and what one could expect in terms of feelings and performance.
This article describes a journalist’s own 8 month experience of getting some “help” with his performance and makes for truly fascinating reading. Makes me wonder if some of the lower-level treatments such as growth hormone and testosterone will become more commonplace in the future.

Email signatures with legalese?

Some people add crap like this to the end of their messages.

This email and any attachments thereto may contain private, confidential, and privileged material for the sole use of the intended recipient. Any review, copying, or distribution of this email (or any attachments thereto) by others is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender immediately and permanently delete the original and any copies of this email and any attachments thereto.

I think this should read as follows:

This email and any attachments thereto may contain private, confidential, and privileged material. Since I sent it to you I recognize fully that there is no way for me to prove beyond doubt in a court of law that I didn’t actually intend to send it to you since your address is in the To:, CC: or BCC: field. Any review, copying, or distribution of this email (or any attachments thereto) by others is not something which I relish, but I can do nothing about it. If you are not the intended recipient, I’d really appreciate it if you contacted me to let me know of my mistake (I am an idiot, clearly, since I … errr… add this crap to ALL my emails) and if you could not keep a copy of it, that would also make me happy. I also wish to apologize profusely for the fact that in the course of an email thread, I will keep adding, automatically, copies of this stupid legal bullshit to every response. Since I am clearly an argumentative type, which means you probably have about 400 copies of this before you’re going to get any kind of resolution, so I apologize for that too. I also apologize for being too stupid to put this crap on a website somewhere and just put the URL in my sig, or maybe just having something witty that might actually endear me to you instead of just further harrassing you.

Grrr.

MILL VALLEY / Physics teacher under fire for gun experiment / Parent’s complaint raises issue about legality of stunt

MILL VALLEY / Physics teacher under fire for gun experiment / Parent’s complaint raises issue about legality of stunt

I’m really sad that this teacher is under fire. In my opinion this is the kind of teaching that we need. You can bet money that anyone who’s taken this class is going to remember the material that was taught – and how to apply it in the real world – it simply doesn’t get better than that.

The Broadcast Flag

Like the “Federal Marriage Amendment” anti-gay legislation, the “Broadcast Flag” has surfaced again in our nations capital. Like an Osama Bin Laden that refuses to be caught – these things just keep coming back and attacking us.

I am a member of the EFF and as such I mailed yet another letter to a couple of California senators asking for a NO vote. I was rewarded by yet another form letter telling me “how we have to consider new ways of protecting intellectual property”.

I get that intellectual property is very steal-able, and that the owners of said property have a right to want to protect their content. I am a software engineer – so I’m very familiar with the problem of writing something worthwhile and having someone steal it.

If I write something worth money however, my options are relatively limited – and the most likely form of remuneration for me is to stick it on the internet and ask for donations; and put some ads on the download page (while providing a torrent link). Who wouldn’t pay a $3 for a well supported torrent for a new Star Wars movie. I would – and I haven’t seen the last one yet.

What I don’t understand though is why it is government’s job to protect this intellectual property. If you don’t want people to capture your video from pay-per-view and copy it – then don’t broadcast it on pay-per-view, and don’t sent it out over the cable network. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

Why won’t the music industry take my money?

It’s 2005 and I can buy music on-line at any time and download it to my computer via iTunes. This is an awesome leap forward. It’s great. I love it. And I buy more music as a result. Everybody wins.

What I don’t understand is the following: It’s perfectly legal for me to buy a CD from Amazon.co.uk and have it shipped to my house in San Francisco, but I can’t buy music from the UK iTunes music store!

It turns out that I like a lot of British music, some of which doesn’t warrant being imported into the US. I understand that it’s worth selling American music to Americans and vice-versa, since the majority of the market doesn’t want to get their music from overseas. But I don’t get why I am prevented from buying joining the UK iTMS and buying stuff (you actually need a UK issued Credit Card to join the UK store, so even an American LIVING IN the UK might not be able to join unless they had British bank accounts.

Where’s Thomas Friedman’s Lexusy Olive Tree Flat Earth when it actually helps the consumer?

Nagios for New Orleans?

A lot of stories got out of New Orleans post-katrina. A lot of them talk about happiness immediately after the storm had past because people had survived, and it was all going to be okay. Nobody knew that the levees were damaged and perhaps already breached.

Now – In a city like Denver, I would accept that it would truly be a surprise that there was a flood. But in New Orleans, which is in a swamp and mostly below sea level, and also happens to be squarely in a hurricane zone (storm swells anyone?), there ought to be some monitoring – just in case something goes wrong.

I live in California. Sometimes you’ll be sitting in the office and all the blinds will start swinging and making noise because there is some small earthquake somewhere. Usually it is on the USGS website within 10 minutes. The same kind of monitoring is also utilized for volcanoes in Oregon and Washington states.

So you see – I find it shocking that a pager didn’t go off – or some sirens leap into action when a levee breaks, and water starts flooding in. And that certainly ought to be something that FEMA has visibility into.

At the same time, it’s not really surprising at all. All the time I see vital computer systems which go down because some log file fills up a disk partition, or because somebody makes some change on a networking device. It usually comes to light about a week later when someone (who is one of about 20 people who noticed it is broken and yet the only one who thought to ask about it) pipes up and asks why something is broken.

So the learning would be – make sure your stuff is monitored so you know when it breaks. Especially if there are lives at stake.