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Slow Down, Technology!
Topic: Technology 1:37 pm EDT, Oct 26, 2007

The rest of the article isn't very funny, but this line (regarding the iPhone) gets my vote for quote of the year.

If I'm going to pay $300 for a telephone, it better be a really nice phone... strapped to $275.

Slow Down, Technology!

Drinking Stories That Put Yours To Shame
Topic: Society 11:18 am EDT, Oct 26, 2007

2. The London Brew-nami of 1814

The Industrial Revolution wasn't all steam engines and textile mills. Beer production increased exponentially, as well. Fortunately, the good people of England were up to the challenge and drained kegs as fast as they were made. Brewery owners became known as "beer barons," and they spent their newfound wealth in an age-old manner -- by trying to party more than the next guy.

Case in point: In 1814, Meux's Horse Shoe Brewery in London constructed a brewing vat that was 22 feet tall and 60 feet in diameter, with an interior big enough to seat 200 for dinner -- which is exactly how its completion was celebrated. (Why 200? Because a rival had built a vat that seated 100, of course.)

After the dinner, the vat was filled to its 4,000-barrel capacity. Pretty impressive, given the grand scale of the project, but pretty unfortunate given that they overlooked a faulty supporting hoop. Yup, the vat ruptured, causing other vats to break, and the resulting commotion was heard up to 5 miles away.

A wall of 1.3 million gallons of dark beer washed down the street, caving in two buildings and killing nine people by means of "drowning, injury, poisoning by the porter fumes, or drunkenness."

The story gets even more unbelievable, though. Rescue attempts were blocked and delayed by the thousands who flocked to the area to drink directly off the road. And when survivors were finally brought to the hospital, the other patients became convinced from the smell that the hospital was serving beer to every ward except theirs. A riot broke out, and even more people were left injured.

Sadly, this incident was not deemed tragic enough at the time to merit an annual memorial service and/or reenactment.

Drinking Stories That Put Yours To Shame

Carbon Dioxide Levels Rising Much Faster Than Expected
Topic: Science 11:22 am EDT, Oct 23, 2007

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are increasing much faster and will be harder to control than scientists have predicted, a study has found. An international team of researchers has found that, since 2000, the rate at which CO2 has been pumped into the atmosphere is 35 percent greater than most climate-change models have allowed for. The conclusions have serious implications for forecasts of how much and how quickly the world's temperature will rise and mean that global warming will be harder and more expensive to control than feared.

Carbon Dioxide Levels Rising Much Faster Than Expected

Cooking Meat At High Temperatures Produces Estrogenic Effect
Topic: Science 10:21 am EDT, Oct 23, 2007

Troubling Meaty 'Estrogen'
by Janet Raloff
Science News Online

High temperature cooking can imbue meats with a chemical that acts like a hormone. Women take note. Researchers find that a chemical that forms in overcooked meat, especially charred portions, is a potent mimic of estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. That's anything but appetizing, since studies have linked a higher lifetime cumulative exposure to estrogen in women with an elevated risk of breast cancer.

Indeed, the new finding offers a "biologically plausible" explanation for why diets rich in red meats might elevate breast-cancer risk, notes Nigel J. Gooderham of Imperial College London. Overall, women who ate the most red meat—typically 1.5 servings or more per day—faced nearly double the invasive breast-cancer risk of those eating little red meat each week.

Cooking Meat At High Temperatures Produces Estrogenic Effect

Comcast Hinders Customers' Internet Traffic
Topic: Technology 2:49 pm EDT, Oct 22, 2007

If widely applied by other ISPs, the technology Comcast is using would be a crippling blow to the BitTorrent, eDonkey and Gnutella file-sharing networks. While these are mainly known as sources of copyright music, software and movies, BitTorrent in particular is emerging as a legitimate tool for quickly disseminating legal content.

The principle of equal treatment of traffic, called "net neutrality" by proponents, is not enshrined in law but supported by some regulations. Most of the debate around the issue has centered on tentative plans, now postponed, by large Internet carriers to offer preferential treatment of traffic from certain content providers for a fee.

Comcast Hinders Customers' Internet Traffic

The Daily Show Arrives Online
Topic: Society 11:43 am EDT, Oct 18, 2007

After more than a decade on the air, Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” has its own online home. The new Web site will go live at noon EST, today, presenting nearly the entire video archive of the show for the past nine years.

The Daily Show Arrives Online

On the Web: Less Anonymity, More Privacy
Topic: Society 10:23 am EDT, Oct 17, 2007
October 10, 2007
by Sascha Segan

We need less anonymity on the Internet. And we need more privacy. And the two should go together.

Meanwhile, you may have a false anonymity, but you have no privacy—not from Google's database of Web searches, private addresses, and phone numbers, nor from goverment agencies' searches of your ISP's records. False anonymity leads to a complacency where we forget that we don't have privacy where it really counts—because we're able to act like idiots in front of strangers who don't matter. You may think you can pretend to be somebody else on the Internet, but the Department of Homeland Security doesn't see the distinction between you and your cyber-self.

Real privacy would help the people who actually need to be anonymous on the Net: corporate whistle-blowers, teenagers seeking advice from Planned Parenthood, that sort of thing.

So, minors need "real privacy" when going behind their parents' backs? Bad example... the corporate whistle-blowers made the point well enough. That aside, Segan has some interesting points, although I think he sees anonymity as a larger problem than it really is.

On the Web: Less Anonymity, More Privacy

What's Wrong with Open-Source Software?
Topic: Technology 12:20 pm EDT, Oct 16, 2007
October 15, 2007
by John C. Dvorak

I mention this only because over the weekend, Uncle Dave posted a rant on my blog by longtime network admin Marc Perkel. He went off on MySQL, Linux, and much of the open-source philosophy. You can read it here. I wasn't surprised that the number of comments immediately rose to over 100. But I was a little surprised at the sheer number of comments that featured that same peculiar whining you'd hear a decade or more ago, when you said something critical about the Amiga.

Among the comments in response to Marc Perkel's rant...

Comment 18.

This is just like arguing over Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge…

the people who are interested in what is going-on under the hood - and like to tinker with the internals - probably love linux & gnu.

the people who just want the damn thing to run - and could give a shit about what is under the hood - are left with the choice of windows or mac.

One side or the other claiming superiority is pointless.

Comment by Mike Voice — 10/14/2007 @ 9:49 am

Comment 20.


Comment by John C Dvorak — 10/14/2007 @ 9:54 am


What's Wrong with Open-Source Software?

Forecast: Sex and Marriage With Robots by 2050
Topic: Technology 10:27 am EDT, Oct 16, 2007

"My forecast is that around 2050, the state of Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize marriages with robots," artificial intelligence researcher David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands told LiveScience.

At first, sex with robots might be considered geeky, "but once you have a story like 'I had sex with a robot, and it was great!' appear someplace like Cosmo magazine, I'd expect many people to jump on the bandwagon," Levy said.

"Geeky"? So, if you show up for PhreakNIC 54 with your robotic other, do you have to pay two registration fees?

EDIT: Oops, Shannon had already posted the story, here. -Stef

Forecast: Sex and Marriage With Robots by 2050

Gore Gets A Cold Shoulder
Topic: Science 9:55 am EDT, Oct 15, 2007

One of the world's foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous" and the product of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works." Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the Earth.

"The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small to have a major effect on global temperatures," Dr Gray said. He said his beliefs had made him an outsider in popular science. "It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong," he said. "But they also know that they'd never get any grants if they spoke out. I don't care about grants."

Gore Gets A Cold Shoulder

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