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Bill O’Reilly’s web site hacked, attackers release personal details of users
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:42 am EDT, Sep 24, 2008

In what is slowly turning into a endless loop of hacktivism activities, Bill O’Reilly’s has been compromised during the weekend, with personal details including passwords in plain text for 205 of the site’s members already leaking across Internet forums, as a response to his remarks regarding Wikileaks as a “one of those despicable, slimy, scummy websites” which recently published private information of Sarah Palin’s private email.

The bottom line - good time to point out why you shouldn’t use the same password on different web services, and that the big picture having to do with Wikileak’s vision of a little less secrecy, and a little bit more transparency, ultimately better serves the world and gives power to the people whose collective consciousness, if not brainwashed, is supposed to be shaping the way we live.

Bill O’Reilly’s web site hacked, attackers release personal details of users

First of 3 Chrysler electric vehicles by 2010
Topic: Technology 5:10 pm EDT, Sep 23, 2008

LaSorda said the Dodge sports car, which hasn’t been named yet, runs only on electricity from advanced battery technology and has a range from 150 to 200 miles. It will go from zero to 60 in under five seconds, he added. "It’s a great tribute to Chrysler engineers."

The vehicle would plug into a typical 110-volt electric outlet and its lithium-ion batteries would be recharged within six to eights hours, Frank Klegon, Chrysler executive vice president for product development, said. A 220-volt outlet could be used to cut the charging time in half.

Klegon said both the Jeep and minivan range-extended vehicles would be able to drive 40 miles on a single battery charge before the generator kicks in, giving the vehicle 400 miles of total range.

First of 3 Chrysler electric vehicles by 2010

269 tie: An electoral college 'doomsday'?
Topic: Society 1:06 pm EDT, Sep 23, 2008

On Nov. 5, the presidential election winds up in a electoral-college tie, 269-269, the Democrat-controlled House picks Sen. Barack Obama as president, but the Senate, with former Democrat Joe Lieberman voting with Republicans, deadlocks at 50-50, so Vice President Dick Cheney steps in to break the tie to make Republican Sarah Palin his successor.

Sound impossible? It's not. There are at least a half-dozen plausible ways the election can end in a tie, and at least one very plausible possibility - giving each candidate the states in which they now lead in the polls, only New Hampshire - which went Republican in 2000 and Democratic in 2004, each time by just 1.5 percent - needs to swap to the Republican column to wind up with a 269-269 tie.

269 tie: An electoral college 'doomsday'?

Record Labels to Sell Music on Memory Cards
Topic: Technology 10:23 am EDT, Sep 23, 2008

NEW YORK — Just as vinyl once gave way to compact discs as the main physical medium for music, could CDs be replaced now by a fingernail-sized memory card? Perhaps not entirely, but SanDisk Corp., four major record labels and retailers Best Buy Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are hoping that albums sold on microSD memory cards will at least provide an additional stream of sales. The companies unveiled plans Monday to sell memory cards loaded with music in the MP3 format, free of copy protections.

Called "slotMusic," the new format is meant to address two intertwined trends. Most albums are still sold in a physical format — 449 million were sold on CDs in 2007, while 50 million were sold digitally, according to Nielsen SoundScan — yet CDs are decreasingly popular. Albums sold on CD dropped almost 19 percent last year. Given this, the record labels — Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. and EMI Group PLC — are hoping slotMusic can be another physical revenue source, and one that is more versatile than CDs given the kinds of gadgets people carry around these days.

Unlike when the CD was introduced and people had to buy new players, many people already have the ability to play slotMusic albums, since many cell phones and multimedia players support microSD cards. These new albums will come with a small USB dongle that lets buyers use them with computers, too. [The USB dongle will also enable users to transfer the songs to iPods, which don't have memory-card slots, via a PC.]

"Particularly in this kind of economic climate, the idea of being able to use an electronic device you already own to enjoy music rather than going out and buying a dedicated player is pretty compelling," said Daniel Schreiber, who heads the audio-video business unit at SanDisk, which created the microSD card format and is working on the technology behind slotMusic. Schreiber said slotMusic albums will be sold on 1 gigabyte microSD cards, which means they will be able to hold a full album and related content such as liner notes and cover art. Buyers will be able to use extra space on the cards to hold songs and photos from their own collections.

[The files will be MP3s encoded at a bitrate of 320 samples per second, the highest possible setting ensuring roughly CD-quality sound.] The cards and dongles will come in boxes similar to current CD packaging, and Schreiber expects the cost of slotMusic releases to be "in the ballpark" of current CD prices. It's not yet known exactly when — or how many — albums will be initially sold in the format, but Schreiber expects retailers to give a "sizable amount of shelf space" to slotMusic albums. The albums are expected to debut at multiple retailers, including Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores in the U.S., and later in Europe.

Rio Caraeff, executive vice president of Universal Music Group's eLabs digital music unit, said the label will initially release about 30 titles in the slotMusic format. The titles will include old and new albums, such as one by singer Akon. "We want to provide the benefits of digital music to people who go to physical retail environments," he said. Asked whether he sees the format taking the place of the CD, Caraeff said, "I think we would certainly hope that would be the case, but I don't think we are so tied to that."

NPD Group entertainment analyst Russ Crupnick sees a potential for slotMusic to emerge as a compelling format. He said the industry needs "desperately" to give people a new reason to head back into the music sections at brick-and-mortar stores. "Not that we want them out of the gaming section, but once they're done looking at 'Guitar Hero' we want them to come look at the music section," he said.

Record Labels to Sell Music on Memory Cards

RE: Transsexual wins lawsuit against Library of Congress
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:06 am EDT, Sep 22, 2008

There was no immediate reaction from the library, which had claimed at trial that transgender people are not covered under federal anti-discrimination laws.

Unfortunately, that's been the historical interpretation: that "sex" (with regard to anti-discrimination laws) refers only to being male or female, and does not include the concepts of one's sex/gender identity and the presentation thereof, transsexualism, transgenderism, androgyny, etc. (see Ulane v. Eastern Airlines and Etsitty v. Utah Transit Authority). That's why explicit language (such as "sexual orientation," "gender identity") is considered necessary in such laws, even though "sex" should cover all of the above (as far as I'm concerned). It's refreshing to see this type of logical interpretation from U.S. District Court Judge James Robinson, especially when the decision points out the "legislating from the bench" of past decisions, which set bad precedent.

Excerpts from the court document:

Sex vs. Sexuality...

Schroer’s second legal theory is that, because gender identity is a component of sex, discrimination on the basis of gender identity is sex discrimination. In support of this contention, Schroer adduced the testimony of Dr. Walter Bockting, a tenured associate professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School who specializes in gender identity disorders. Dr. Bockting testified that it has long been accepted in the relevant scientific community that there are nine factors that constitute a person’s sex. One of these factors is gender identity, which Dr. Bockting defined as one’s personal sense of being male or female.7 Tr. at 210.

The Library adduced the testimony of Dr. Chester Schmidt, a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and also an expert in gender identity disorders. Dr. Schmidt disagreed with Dr. Bockting’s view of the prevailing scientific consensus and testified that he and his colleagues regard gender identity as a component of “sexuality” rather than “sex.” According to Dr. Schmidt, “sex” is made up of a number of facets, each of which has a determined biologic etiology. Dr. Schmidt does not believe that gender identity has a single, fixed etiology. Tr. at 372, 400-04.

To be fair, this is still being debated today, but based on my research over the years, the current majority opinion seems to be with Dr. Bockting. However, I don't necessarily consider the two explanations to be mutually exclusive. Transgenderism is a broad concept, and I think there are various reasons why some individuals don't neatly fit into the categories of male and female.

Here's the key aspect (for me) of Robinson's reasoning...

Imagine that an empl... [ Read More (0.4k in body) ]

RE: Transsexual wins lawsuit against Library of Congress

Tesla Building Silicon Valley Plant
Topic: Business 11:51 am EDT, Sep 18, 2008

California-based electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is building a $250 million plant in Silicon Valley south of San Francisco. The plant, which is set to open in time to have full production vehicles on public roads by late 2010, will build Tesla’s upcoming electric sedans (tentatively named “Model S”).

Tesla, which recently started production of a high-performance electric roadster, is hedging its bets on the Model S sedan. The automaker says it hopes to build 15,000 Model S sedans annually by the last quarter of 2011. The Model S will retail for around $60,000, according to Tesla CEO Ze’ev Drori in a recent interview on National Public Radio.

Tesla has received numerous tax breaks from the state of California and the United States Department of Energy has approved $150 million worth of loan guarantees, says Automotive News.

Tesla Building Silicon Valley Plant

Silent Hill: Homecoming
Topic: Games 5:20 pm EDT, Sep 16, 2008

Some of the main PS3 games I've been waiting for are finally being released. September 30 = Silent Hill: Homecoming (Amazon). :)

Homecoming's story follows the nightmare turned real life of Alex Shepherd, a war veteran returning to his hometown of Shepherd's Glen to investigate the sudden disappearance of his kid brother, Josh. From Shepherd's Glen to the foggy streets of dreaded Silent Hill, Alex must face the darkest of horrors in order to find his brother. Struggling with his own grip on reality, it's here that Alex must unravel the mystery behind his nightmares, discover the truth behind his brother's disappearance, and confront the evil that takes hold of his own flesh and blood in the process.

Also, Wipeout HD is supposed to be available for download on September 25. After these, the next two are Tomb Raider: Underworld (November 18, 2008) and Resident Evil 5 (March 2009).

Silent Hill: Homecoming

Who's next after Lehman Brothers is fed to the wolves?
Topic: Business 4:40 pm EDT, Sep 16, 2008

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
September 16, 2008

Unlike mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, broker dealers are not crucial pillars of the US housing market. Lehman is an optimal candidate for ritual sacrifice. While the appearances of free market discipline have been upheld, the reality of the weekend events is a further lurch towards socialism, or state capitalism if you prefer. The Fed's lending window has been widened, allowing all forms of investment grade paper to be used as collateral in exchange for taxpayer credit.

As this newspaper has long feared, the world is now faced with both a tightening credit squeeze and a synchronised hard-landing across most of the world economy. The eurozone and Japan are almost certainly in recession already. Britain will follow soon. America is plummeting into a second downward leg as the fiscal stimulus package fades and the exports mini-boom stalls. China cut interest rates yesterday following a sharp fall in property prices over the summer. Superficially, one can blame Lehman and its ilk for the excesses that led to this crisis. However, the root cause lies in the actions of governments across the Western world. They held interest rates too low for much of the past two decades, and encouraged the debt burden to explode to unprecedented levels.

Having caused this crisis, it would now be remiss for governments to pursue a policy of strict debt liquidation in the name of capitalist purity. As the bankruptcies mount, the state will have an obligation to step in to preserve social stability. If that means the temporary nationalisation of large chunks of the Western economy, so be it. This is too grave a crisis for ideological preening and free market infantilism. May those calling for debt liquidation ''a l'outrance" be the first in line to lose their jobs.

Clearly America is busily bankrupting itself, having lived beyond its means on credit, low interest rates, the yen carry trade and most damagingly, exotic financial instruments for years to finance its profligate lifestyle and debt - just like the UK. Its excursion into the financial alchemy of derivatives has been its attempt to avoid the inevitable demise of the US as a global financial power and the hegemony of the dollar in global markets.

We are witnessing the death of the USA as the leading world economic power and the passing of the hegemony of the dollar, as we witnessed the death of communism in 1991. Temporarily the ship has no anchor and is drifting in a storm in a sea on uncertainty, seeking a safe haven. The ECB and the Euro provide a harbour of tranquility and stability in these turbulent times. Yes, the EU has problems but they are risible compared to the disaster that is America.

The readers' comments are just as entertaining.

Who's next after Lehman Brothers is fed to the wolves?

Google planning offshore water-based data centers
Topic: Technology 12:18 pm EDT, Sep 15, 2008

Google may take its battle for global domination to the high seas with the launch of its own “computer navy”. The company is considering deploying the supercomputers necessary to operate its internet search engines on barges anchored up to seven miles (11km) offshore.

The “water-based data centres” would use wave energy to power and cool their computers, reducing Google’s costs. Their offshore status would also mean the company would no longer have to pay property taxes on its data centres, which are sited across the world, including in Britain.

I assume that the Gulf of Mexico has been ruled out.

Google planning offshore water-based data centers

Be sure to read Chrome's fine print
Topic: Technology 10:57 am EDT, Sep  3, 2008

Ina Fried, CNET

1. Google reserves the right to automatically update and install Chrome.

"The software which you use may automatically download and install updates from time to time from Google. These updates are designed to improve, enhance and further develop the services and may take the form of bug fixes, enhanced functions, new software modules and completely new versions. You agree to receive such updates (and permit Google to deliver these to you) as part of your use of the services."

2. Although you retain any copyrights to content you own and use in the browser, Google says it has a right to display some of your content, in conjunction with promoting its services. Here's their exact wording.

"By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the services and may be revoked for certain services as defined in the additional terms of those services."

Be sure to read Chrome's fine print

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