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Robot on the run
Topic: Technology 2:15 pm EDT, Aug 15, 2003

"Scientists running a pioneering experiment with "living robots" which think for themselves said they were amazed to find one escaping from the centre where it "lives"."

I am Not a Number!!! Well, maybe Number 5...

Robot on the run

Remains of up to 1,000 victims of WTC attack might never be identified
Topic: Current Events 2:15 pm EDT, Aug 15, 2003

] The remains of as many as 1,000 people lost in the World
] Trade Center attack might never be identified, according
] to the forensic biologist leading the monumental DNA
] identification project.
] The city medical examiner's office has identified
] slightly more than half of the 2,792 people killed in the
] attack -- only about 100 of those in the last year, as
] technicians struggled with DNA degraded and damaged by
] fire and the elements.
] Robert Shaler, chief of forensic biology, had once hoped
] to reach 2,000 identifications, but he told The
] Associated Press he no longer considers that a realistic
] goal.
] Now, Shaler said he hopes for about 1,700 identifications
] -- 1,800 at the outside -- by the time the office
] exhausts available DNA matching methods within a year.
] City officials recently notified victims' families of the
] outlook.
] "I think once we've done all of the testing on all of the
] remains using the technology we have, I think we're
] finished," Shaler said.
] He cautioned that he doesn't mean the trade center DNA
] effort would be closed forever, but said it couldn't
] continue until new DNA processes were developed.
] "If three years from now somebody comes up with something
] ... that really looks like it's going to work, then we're
] going to be poised to go after it," he said.

This is sad news for the families looking for closure.


Remains of up to 1,000 victims of WTC attack might never be identified

Wired 11.09: The New Diamond Age
Topic: Science 2:13 pm EDT, Aug 15, 2003

] Armed with inexpensive, mass-produced gems, two startups
] are launching an assault on the De Beers cartel.
] Next up: the computing industry.
] By Joshua Davis
] Aron Weingarten brings the yellow diamond up to the
] stainless steel jeweler's loupe he holds against his eye.
] We are in Antwerp, Belgium, in Weingarten's marbled and
] gilded living room on the edge of the city's gem
] district, the center of the diamond universe. Nearly 80
] percent of the world's rough and polished diamonds move
] through the hands of Belgian gem traders like Weingarten,
] a dealer who wears the thick beard and black suit of the
] Hasidim.
] "This is very rare stone," he says, almost to himself, in
] thickly accented English. "Yellow diamonds of this color
] are very hard to find. It is probably worth 10, maybe 15
] thousand dollars."
] "I have two more exactly like it in my pocket," I tell
] him.
] He puts the diamond down and looks at me seriously for
] the first time. I place the other two stones on the
] table. They are all the same color and size. To find
] three nearly identical yellow diamonds is like flipping a
] coin 10,000 times and never seeing tails.
] "These are cubic zirconium?" Weingarten says without much
] hope.
] "No, they're real," I tell him. "But they were made by a machine
] in Florida for less than a hundred dollars."

Wired 11.09: The New Diamond Age

Senator to hold hearings on recording industry's piracy crackdown
Topic: Technology 2:13 pm EDT, Aug 15, 2003

] A Senate panel will hold hearings on the recording
] industry's crackdown against online music swappers, the
] chairman said Thursday.
] Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) made the announcement in a
] letter to the Recording Industry Association of America.
] He had received information he had requested from the
] group about the campaign, which Coleman has called
] excessive.
] The Senate Governmental Affairs' Permanent Subcommittee
] on Investigations is reviewing the group's responses and
] declined to make them available Thursday, as did the
] industry group.
] The association announced plans in June to file several
] hundred lawsuits against people suspected of illegally
] sharing songs on the Internet. Copyright laws allow for
] damages of $750 to $150,000 for each song.
] In his letter, Coleman said he would look at not just the
] scope of that campaign but also the dangers that
] downloaders face by making their personal information
] available to others. Coleman said he would review
] legislation that would expand criminal penalties for
] downloading music.

Finally - a glimmer of hope the RIAA is going to be told to call off the dogs.

Senator to hold hearings on recording industry's piracy crackdown

Newsweek - This Could Be Your Kid
Topic: Current Events 9:30 pm EDT, Aug 11, 2003

] Like many teenage girls in Minneapolis, 17-year-old
] Stacey liked to hang out after school at the Mall of
] America, Minnesota's vast shopping megaplex. Cute,
] blond and chatty, she flirted with boys and tried on
] the latest Gap fashions. One day last summer, Stacey,
] which isn’t her real name, says she was approached by
] a man who told her how pretty she was, and asked if he
] could buy her some clothes. “He was an older guy,
] dressed really well,” she recalls. “He said he just
] wanted to see me in the clothes.” Stacey agreed, and
] went home that night with a $250 outfit.

Newsweek - This Could Be Your Kid

Unabomber seeks return of papers, bomb
Topic: Current Events 2:35 pm EDT, Aug 11, 2003

] Unabomber Ted Kaczynski has asked the U.S. government to
] return his personal papers and other materials, including
] a bomb confiscated by the FBI seven years ago.
] In papers filed at federal court in Sacramento, Kaczynski
] asked that the government ship the materials to a
] University of Michigan archive that already contains more
] than 15,000 of his papers.
] Those items include a pipe bomb and tons of documents
] including his voluminous autobiography, according to R.
] Steven Lapham, one of the federal prosecutors who tried
] the case. Also on the list: Kaczynski's tools, a can of
] matches, a pair of tweezers and a hatchet, which were
] confiscated when he was arrested at his Montana cabin.\

"GIMME BACK MY BOMB! Of course I promise not to detonate it in my cell."

Laughing boy

Unabomber seeks return of papers, bomb

AppleMaster Gregory Hines dead at 57
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:05 am EDT, Aug 11, 2003

] Tony-award winning dancer and actor Gregory Hines died of
] cancer Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 57 years old.
] Hines had a career on the Broadway stage, grabbing Tony
] nominations and a best actor award. In the 80s and 90s
] Hines appeared in a variety of motion pictures and
] television shows. He was nominated for several Emmy
] Awards, and won a Daytime Emmy.
] Hines had his own sitcom in the late 90s and had a
] recurring role on the NBC sitcom "Will And Grace,"
] appearing as Will's ruthless boss, Ben Doucette. He was
] also an accomplished director and producer.
] Apple named Hines an AppleMaster -- an honorary
] recognition Apple bestowed upon celebrities and
] luminaries in the '90s "who use Apple technology to make
] the world a better place."
] Hines attended Macworld Conference & Expo events, and was
] seen on stage extolling the virtues of PowerPC-based
] laptops when they were still a novelty.

Goodbye, Josephus. We will miss you.

AppleMaster Gregory Hines dead at 57

Inventor designs sign language glove
Topic: Technology 3:07 pm EDT, Aug  8, 2003

] An electronic glove that can turn American Sign Language
] gestures into spoken words or text, designed to help the
] deaf communicate more easily with the hearing world, is
] under development.
] Researcher Jose Hernandez-Rebollar of George Washington
] University has demonstrated that his "AcceleGlove" can
] translate the rapid hand movements used to make the
] alphabet and some of the words and phrases of sign
] language.

Pretty dang cool!


Inventor designs sign language glove

Refusing help, woman gives birth aboard T
Topic: Health and Wellness 3:06 pm EDT, Aug  8, 2003

] A 42-year-old Braintree woman gave birth to a baby boy
] while standing on an inbound Red Line train yesterday
] morning, refusing help from stunned passengers who heard
] her moan and seconds later looked down to find her baby
] on the floor.

] After leaving the train and heading for the stairs up to
] the station's main lobby, witnesses said, the placenta
] fell to the platform. Judge turned around, grabbed the
] afterbirth, put it in her shoulder bag, and headed upstairs.

Something is definitely wrong with this woman. Just read the rest of the article.

Refusing help, woman gives birth aboard T

RE: - England braces for rubber duck invasion - Jul. 26, 2003
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:59 pm EDT, Aug  8, 2003

crankymessiah wrote:
] ] LONDON, England (Reuters) -- An armada of small, faded
] ] yellow toy ducks is expected to make landfall in Britain
] ] within weeks at the end of an epic 11-year voyage from
] ] the Pacific Ocean.
] ]
] ] They are the survivors of a consignment of 29,000 bath
] ] toys washed overboard from a container ship in 1992 that
] ] have since floated across the ocean, round the United
] ] States, through the Arctic and past Greenland.

My first reaction when I saw this was, "hoax?" But I dug into it, and it seems to be real. There's a webpage here with links to the various stories about the ducks:

And a "beachcomber" site that even has an executable which tracks the locations of the ducks over time (it ran in full-screen mode on XP, though your mileage may vary on other OSes):
(click on North Pacific Toy Spill)

And here's a pic of one of the washed ashore ducks:

In my mind's eye, I was picturing a flotilla of rubber ducks dotting the waves as far as the eye could see, but it's actually probably more like an asteroid field, where you could go days without seeing one, even if you're right in the center of "duck-density". ;)

Fun story!

RE: - England braces for rubber duck invasion - Jul. 26, 2003

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