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Hacker Marks 25th Anniversary of First Computer Virus
Topic: Technology 3:13 pm EDT, Sep  5, 2007

"Elk Cloner" — self-replicating like all other viruses — bears little resemblance to the malicious programs of today. Yet in retrospect, it was a harbinger of all the security headaches that would only grow as more people got computers — and connected them with one another over the Internet.

Hacker Marks 25th Anniversary of First Computer Virus

Personal info on 150,000 job seekers at USAJobs stolen
Topic: Technology 2:24 pm EDT, Aug 31, 2007

August 31, 2007 (Computerworld) -- The identity thieves who ransacked's database also made off with the personal information of 146,000 people who use USAJobs, the federal government's official job search site, federal officials said today.

Monster Worldwide Inc. operates the Web site for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the independent agency that manages the federal civil service. Like Monster's commercial sites, USAJobs lets job seekers post resumes and federal agencies post job openings.

Of the 2 million subscribers to the federal job site, about 146,000 were affected by the heist engineered by Infostealer.Monstres, a Trojan horse that used legitimate log-on credentials stolen from recruiters to sift through the Monster database. According to Monster executives, the Trojan absconded with the names, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of some 1.3 million people. Although stored in the Monster databases, some of those people were USAJobs users. No Social Security numbers were stolen, the OPM stressed in an alert posted to USAJobs.

Personal info on 150,000 job seekers at USAJobs stolen

Judge Rules Gay Couples Can Marry In Iowa
Topic: Society 11:57 am EDT, Aug 31, 2007

Associated Press
Roger J. Kuhle, an assistant Polk County attorney, argued that the issue is not for a judge to decide.

The issue is for a judge to decide, because the issue is the constitutionality of a state law, and that's precisely the domain of the courts. I despise activism on the part of judges (legislating from the bench), but this is a logical application of constitutional rights.

Associated Press
Hanson ruled that the state law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman violates the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection.

Initially, I had assumed the judge was applying the Iowa Constitution, but his language references the U.S. Constitution.

Iowa Constitution, Article 1, Sec. 1.
All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.

Iowa Constitution, Article 1, Sec. 6.
All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.

U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIV, Section 1
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

We'll see how this plays out. One would think that, if a county judge can apply the Fourteenth Amendment to overturn a state law (especially if the decision withstands appeal), then a case brought before the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn all state legislative and constitutional prohibitions against same-sex marriages, as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996.

Laws prohibiting interracial marriage were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1883, and that judgment was finally overturned in 1967, the court stating that such laws violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Likewise, I hope (if not expect) that the Court will eventually do the same regarding laws against same-sex marriages. I just hope something similar to last year's proposed Federal Marriage Amendment doesn't get passed first.

Judge Rules Gay Couples Can Marry In Iowa

60GB PS3s No Longer In Sony Inventory
Topic: Games 11:08 am EDT, Aug 30, 2007

I'm still using my PS3 as a BD player, primarily, so the hard drive space hasn't become an issue for me, yet. I've still got PS2 games that I haven't finished. Anyway, the last thing Sony needs to do is raise the unit price.

60GB PS3s No Longer In Sony Inventory

Survey: Less Than Half of all Published Scientists Endorse Global Warming Theory
Topic: Science 10:57 am EDT, Aug 30, 2007

The debate continues...

Survey: Less Than Half of all Published Scientists Endorse Global Warming Theory

PlayStation 2 Still Dominates Game-Console World
Topic: Games 1:58 pm EDT, Aug 29, 2007

Sony's David Reeves said there was a trend among publishers to subcontract the development of PlayStation 2 versions of a next-generation game.

While producing a game for the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360 was initially difficult, there are already many experienced programmers for the PlayStation 2, Reeves said.

"You can set up your external company now, and in the next five years you can become a billionaire just developing for PS2."

PlayStation 2 Still Dominates Game-Console World

How quickly can you identify these chess players?
Topic: Games 1:50 pm EDT, Aug 29, 2007

I got 100% in just under a minute, but I can't move the mouse much faster than that.

How quickly can you identify these chess players?

Finance by the Numbers
Topic: Business 9:42 am EDT, Aug 22, 2007

Physics and finance are only superficially similar. While theoretical physics captures the essence of the material world to an accuracy of 10 significant figures, theoretical finance is at best an untrustworthy, limited representation of the mysterious way in which financial value is determined. Yet Thomas Wilson, the chief insurance risk officer of the ING Group, wisely remarks: "A model is always wrong, but not useless." Despite the inadequacies of quantitative finance, we have nothing better. And, on the practical side, Andrew Sterge, the chief executive of AJ Sterge Investment Strategies, writes: "The greatest research in the world does no good if it cannot be implemented."

Finance by the Numbers

Criticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege
Topic: Society 10:53 am EDT, Aug 21, 2007

The central figure, J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University, has promoted a theory that his critics think is inaccurate, insulting, and potentially damaging to transgender women. In the past few years, several prominent academics who are transgender have made a series of accusations against the psychologist, including that he committed ethics violations. A transgender woman he wrote about has accused him of a sexual impropriety, and Dr. Bailey has become a reviled figure for some in the gay and transgender communities.

The hostilities began in the spring of 2003, when Dr. Bailey published a book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen,” intended to explain the biology of sexual orientation and gender to a general audience.

“The next two years,” Dr. Bailey said in an interview, “were the hardest of my life.”

Many sex researchers who have worked with Dr. Bailey say that he is a solid scientist and collaborator, who by his own admission enjoys violating intellectual taboos.

In his book, he argued that some people born male who want to cross genders are driven primarily by an erotic fascination with themselves as women. This idea runs counter to the belief, held by many men who decide to live as women, that they are the victims of a biological mistake — in essence, women trapped in men’s bodies. Dr. Bailey described the alternate theory, which is based on Canadian studies done in the 1980s and 1990s, in part by telling the stories of several transgender women he met through a mutual acquaintance. In the book, he gave them pseudonyms, like “Alma” and “Juanita.”

“I think for me, for the work I do, honestly, I don’t really care what his theories are,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, of Dr. Bailey. “But I do want to feel like any theories that affect the lives of so many people are based in good science, and that they’re presented responsibly.”

But that, say supporters of Dr. Bailey, is precisely the problem: Who defines responsible? And at what cost is that definition violated?

(Some of my comments below were previously posted on my own website.)

Autogynephilia is described as an attraction to the image of oneself as a woman (referring to M-to-F transsexuals). It is a controversial theory intended to explain transsexualism, originated by Ray Blanchard and advanced by Anne A. Lawrence and J. Michael Bailey, in which transsexualism is caused either by homosexuality taken to an extreme (in androphilic males), or by paraphilia in the form of a misdirected sex drive (in non-androphilic males), rather than being a matter of intrinsic identity, as indicated by traditional conventional wisdom.

I do think that the theory of autogynephilia could possibly explain why some M-to-F transsexuals are the way they are, but I don't believe that autogynephilia and/or homosexuality are the o... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

Criticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege

Scientists hail ‘frozen smoke’ as material that will change world.
Topic: Technology 3:15 pm EDT, Aug 20, 2007

Aerogel is nicknamed “frozen smoke” and is made by extracting water from a silica gel, then replacing it with gas such as carbon dioxide. The result is a substance that is capable of insulating against extreme temperatures and of absorbing pollutants such as crude oil.

It was invented by an American chemist for a bet in 1931, but early versions were so brittle and costly that it was largely consigned to laboratories. It was not until a decade ago that NASA started taking an interest in the substance and putting it to a more practical use.

I read something about this a few years ago, but it seems to be making headlines again.

Scientists hail ‘frozen smoke’ as material that will change world.

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