Friday, March 27, 2009

Internet Anonymity Getting More Difficult

I'm not really sure how to feel about this.

Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.

The legislation, which echoes a measure proposed by one of their Democratic colleagues three years ago, would impose unprecedented data retention requirements on a broad swath of Internet access providers and is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates.

"While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday.

"Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level."

On one hand, it's hard to argue with anything aimed at going after scumbags who target children. On the other, what happened to our right to privacy. Supporters of this measure will, of course, argue that the records are only accessed if someone is suspected of a crime, that honest, law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear. That sounds good, but where does it stop. This is a slippery slope. What if the government wants to start tracking where all automobiles to have GPS devices and a database tracking where each car goes? What if they want to track everything you purchase with your credit card? What if they want to put chips in people to monitor where they are?

Perhaps I am going to absurd levels, but the point I want to make is that we need to ask ourselves how much we are willing to curtail our civil liberties in the name of safety.

Teleportation is Coming

A group of scientists have succeeded in teleporting an atom. Well, more technically, they teleported the information encoded in the atom and not the matter of the atom.

Using a pair of ions, or charged particles, group leader Christopher Monroe and his team place each in a vacuum and keep them in position with electric fields. An ultra-fast laser pulse triggers the atoms to emit photons simultaneously. If the photons interact in just the right way, their parent atoms enter a quantum state known as entanglement, in which atom B adopts the properties of atom A even though they're in separate chambers a meter apart. When A is measured, the information that had been previously encoded on it disappears in accordance with the quirky rules of the quantum world. But all is not lost: because B is entangled with A, B now contains the information that was once carried on A. That information, in a very real sense, has been teleported.

Quantum mechanics is cool stuff. Now if someone would just get the Theory of Everything, worked out, we'd be getting somewhere.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Live Long and Prosper

Happy Birthday to Leonard Nimoy a.k.a. Mr. Spock on Star Trek. March is a good month for Trek.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hero of the Day


An Italian doctor completed a brain operation despite having a heart attack after realizing his patient would never recover if he stopped the surgery.

Surgeon Claudio Vitale started feeling pains in his chest half way through the operation but refused to stop despite his team's urging and the pain worsening.

After finishing the surgery, the doctor had an angioplasty operation to treat his attack.

Stories like this make me feel a little less cynical. Well, for a few minutes anyway.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Psychiatry is at the root of Osama's Problems

Seeing stuff like this really makes me wonder how anyone can take Scientology seriously or become a member. Yeah, yeah, different strokes and all of that; but, still...really? I mean does anyone listen to some guy claiming that psychiatry is why Osama bin Laden became a terrorist and then go, "Ah, ha! It is all clear now. I must become a Scientologist in order to garner more critical information about how the world really works." Shrug. I guess if Scientology floats your boat, great, more power to you.

Just don't expect me to take anything you say seriously.

The Reason for Twitter

Christopher Walken
Not too long ago, I started a Twitter account. Being a computer junkie, I was curious about it and how people use it. It's interesting in that it seems to be mostly random one-off thoughts or just what people are doing at any given moment. If I didn't have a gadget on my desktop for it, I probably wouldn't use it because having to click to a webpage every time I want to use it would be just irritating.

However, today I have discovered the true reason to be on Twitter. Christopher Walken. Seriously, you have to check it out to read gems like this:

She said, "What if you really are you?" and that blew my mind. Okay, it didn't blow my mind. It feels like a good answer though.

An associate told me that he'd been cheating on his wife. He asked me not to talk about it and I probably won't. Unless it comes up somehow.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cruelty to Cats

Some people just deserve a good, harsh beating.

A CAT was 'thrown' from a car outside the entrance of Tesco at Broadbridge Heath in full view of shoppers, animal rescue workers said this week.
"After ten days of hiding under the trollies, we eventually managed to catch her in a cat trap, lent to us by Andrea at Caring for Cats.

"She really was terrified and very thin. We're pleased to say that she has already learned to trust us and is very affectionate. We will be looking for a loving new home for her soon."

Don't mess with cats. That's just not right.

Jesus Dino Tamer

Freakin' awesome.

From a Flickr user.

Weekly Secret


Happy Birthday, William Shatner

Today is the birthday of William Shatner, best known, of course, for being the lucky person chosen to portray Captain James T. Kirk in the semi-autobiographical series, Star Trek. Truly he was blessed.

Happy Birthday, Bill!