Archive for September, 2003

Lover Spy, Spying on Lovers


FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) — A company calling itself Lover Spy
has begun offering a way for jealous lovers — and anyone
else — to spy
on the computer activity of their mates by sending an electronic greeting,
the equivalent of a thinking-of-you card, that doubles as a bugging device.

Spy is being used today by private investigators worldwide, spouses
and parents who want to protect their children."

"You don’t need physical access to the computer," said Richard
Smith, an independent privacy and security researcher in Boston. "It
makes it so you can spy on anybody you want."

"That would be a felony," said Mark Rasch, former head of the
U.S. Department of Justice’s computer crime unit and chief security counsel
for security company Solutionary. "Loading a program onto someone
else’s computer without their authorization is patently illegal."

from CNN

See, They’re Just Like Us


Iraqis logging onto news and porn

LONDON, England (CNN) — The Baghdad bloggers became famous for their insights into life during the Iraqi war.

The Internet pioneers courted danger and risked death by messaging to the outside world. Now Internet cafes are opening up across Baghdad giving Iraqis the chance to connect without restriction or hindrance for less than $1 per hour.

from CNN

Role Models


When I was a child I had but one ambition for my future life and career.
All my friends wanted to be firemen and astronauts, certainly worthy
pursuits, to which I devoted occasional fantasies and game playing time,
but not what I had in mind for my future at all. My aspiration, since
I can first remember, was to grow up to be a Mad Scientist. My earliest
role models were Baron von Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll – not monsters themselves,
but rather good men who became the creators of monsters in the service
of science.

Now that I’ve reached a certain stature at the mid-century mark (in other
words, it’s all downhill from here), perhaps it is time to evaluate to
what degree (if any) I have realized this lofty childhood ambition.

First of all, let me say that at that age and at that time, my impressions
of what madness and science we all about were composed largely of images
from American classics like "The Bride of Frankenstein" (in which a compassionate
but misguided scientist tries to bring peace and marital bliss to his
poor creation), "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (which illustrated the timeless
theme "Don’t mess with mother nature") and Mad Magazine (scientists in
huge eyeglasses with kaleidoscope lenses). But those images merely adorned
a desire as deep as anything I can remember to harness nature through
science in previously unimagined ways.

It was probably not a true calling to science as a vocation. I guess
science was just the popular religion of the fifties. Its miracles were
all around us, in the news, in our skies, highways and kitchens. It was
a means to do the incredible, the impossible, the transcendent. Maybe
if I had been a little kid in the sixties it would have been Merlin and
magic. Still, I had an intense desire to create something truly new.

In third grade I formed a secret society called "The Bachelor Inventors
Club". The twin aims of the club were to eschew the incomprehensible
but obviously fatal temptations of what was still at that time widely
as the "weaker" or "Opposite" sex, and to invent all of the great stuff
we were sure was right around the corner, like videophones, anti-gravity
cycles and instant learning skullcaps to allow us all to be geniuses
without the need to go to school or study.

So how have I done, on the Mad Scientist scale? Answering this question
forces me to face one of the Fundament Questions of Life, a question
which obsesses some, but which is rarely asked by those who really need
to hear the answer. Am I mad?

Quite frankly, I consider myself the sanest person I know, although I
doubt many of my colleagues or acquaintances would agree. Years of psychedelic
group and self-therapy (statute of limitations long expired) and study
of arcane metaphysical disciplines (still practiced) as well as a long
apprenticeship with a legendary Peruvian shaman have allowed me to explore
the furthest nooks crannies of my mind. Despite some truly discombobulating
discoveries, I have come to know and love its weirdness and idiosyncrasies.

However, there are other meanings for "mad". There is the sense of "Angry",
or "Mad at the world", which I nearly never am, even perhaps when I should
be, for my own good. And there is the Kerouacian meaning, as in "Madcap,
inspired, manic, incandescent," which I aspire to but rarely if ever

The mad scientist role-models of my youth were not evil men, although
they could unleash great destruction on the world, unwittingly. They
were not Joseph Mengele or Hannibal Lector. They were closer to the edge
than the Nutty Professor who invented Flubber, or for you youngsters
Dr. Emmett Brown from "Back to the Future", but not demented to the point
of Drs. Strangelove or No. More like well-meaning, absent-minded, socially-inept
geniuses who end up wreaking havoc through flagrant disregard of the
laws of nature. Perhaps my career resembles theirs in the flagrant disregard
department, but in little else.

The question of whether I can call myself a scientist is quite a bit
easier to answer. The answer is "No". I studied Anthropology in college,
a "Social" science, but gave it up after concluding that 95% of what
I was reading was bullshit, and not especially clever or well-written
at that, and what I got out of the other 5 % could have probably been
more efficiently and effectively communicated through a short story or
a folk song.

I switched to Physical Anthropology in graduate school on
the theory, propagated by practitioners of that bastard discipline,
that numbers and measurements were more rigorously scientific than
that touchy-feely
cultural anthro. I subsequently gave that up upon realizing that
one could lie just as convincingly, and much more authoritatively, by
numbers and statistics rather than words.

Both of my stabs at a doctorate washed up on the shoals of my persistent
inability to abide fools. The articles and chapters I have published
were in obscure journals and out-of-print collections referred to
only by the most thorough or desperate researchers. Most of my career up to this point
has been
spent as a university lecturer and administrator, decidedly non-scientific

The only lasting legacy of my career are the students, strewn across
the map of the world, getting on with their lives and only occasionally,
and in isolated cases judging from my email, remembering their old
professor. Their names, however, are all in a book, and I dream of
someday, in a
comfortable retirement, taking a Global Grand Tour, visiting Princes
and Presidents. Dream on.

All in all I would have to say I failed miserably in my quest to
be a scientist. I’m not sure I even believe in Science anymore, as
a religion.
And although it may undermine any future attempts on my part to resort
to an insanity defense, I can’t honestly say I conform to any of
the commonly
accepted definitions of "mad". So it would seem safe to say that
I am closer today to being an astronaut or fireman than to being
an authentic

But this frank assessment doesn’t mean I am without hope for the
future. I have decided to reactivate the Bachelor Inventors Club.
Given the
increasing jealousy show by Norma Yvonne toward the time I spend
with my blog (which
she calls my "other woman"), I may be a bachelor again sometime soon.
And I am now really ready to invent all of the great stuff I am sure
is right
around the corner, like a cure for tennis elbow, a fat-free eclair
which tastes like the real thing, and instant learning skullcaps
to allow us
all to be geniuses without the need to go to school or study.

No Relation. Yeah, Right.


Manulife Financial
President and CEO Dominic D’Alessandro, right, smiles as John Hancock
and CEO
David D’Alessandro, no relation, answers questions at a news conference
in Toronto on Monday September 29, to announce the merger of
their two companies.

I think the word is out the fix is in: Manulife stock is
falling like a meteor.

The Boston Globe

BU Wins World’s Deadliest Pathogens


Finally! BU wins SOMETHING! As
here in August
, Boston
has been hoping to construct a $1.6
billion dollar biodefense facility in a crowded low-income neighborhood
in the Boston area. Neighbors are understandably upset, as the announced
facility would contain live smallpox, Ebola and plague viruses, as well
as an additonal assortment of the deadliest pathogens known to man.

Federal health officials are expected to announce today that Boston
University Medical Center has won a hard-fought national competition
to build and run a high-security bioterror defense laboratory in the
heart of the South End, a project with the promise of generating $1.6
billion in research grants. The lab would be unlike anything Boston’s
medical community has ever seen, with extraordinary measures taken to
assure that lethal
agents cannot escape.

Jeez Louise!! They can’t even keep a 300-lb gorilla from walking
out of the Zoo, and they’re gonna keep track of a few billion microscopic,
colorless, odorless deadly pathogens? Sayonara South End, there
goes the neighborhood….

from the Boston Globe

Woe Is Joe! Death Sentence Possible


Joe’s saga continues: (for those of you too lazy to scroll down to yesterday’s
entries, Little Joe is a teenaged 300-lb gorilla
who keeps sneaking out of the house and on Sunday was recaptured at a
bus stop in Dorchester). Zoo officials announced yesterday that they
were boosting security and launching 4 probes. Hey, lighten up, guys.
I’m sure Little Joe doesn’t like being probed any more than you do.

Four separate investigations were launched into zoo security and management
following the startling escape of the 300-pound ape, who bolted out of
the gorilla pavilion Sunday, attacked two people, ambled off the zoo
grounds, and shocked residents by showing up at a bus stop on nearby
Seaver Street.

For Christ’s sake, the guy is reduced to taking public transportation.
Isn’t that ipso facto punishment enough? He was probably hankering for
mussli or tapas, tired of the same ole same ole in the pen. Maybe he
just wanted to step out for some fresh air. Jeez, have you SMELLED the
air at the Zoo lately?

With recaptured gorilla Little Joe safely locked away in a holding pen,
police yesterday demanded that Franklin Park Zoo officials quickly upgrade
security at the popular gorilla exhibit and refused to rule out putting
the restless primate to death in order to protect the public.

they’re talking about the Death Penalty for Joe! This is Homeland Security
run amok. Whose fault is it that the damn gorilla got out? Who among
us would NOT try to escape 24-7 surveillence behind bars and the same
damn food every day?

Free Little Joe! OK, maybe not completely free, he is a 300-lb wild
animal, but there are over 1000 of those in the NFL alone, and they
let THEM walk around free. Maybe some kind of supervised field trips
to Boston area schools and cultural institutions, a ball game once
in a while, and a little variety in the diet, as a minimum for a public
servant in the exausting glare of near-constant scrutiny.

the Boston Globe

Dept. of Homeland Security to Unveil VISIT


The Federal governemt is about to unveil the new VISIT system, which aims to keep track of when and where each of the one million foreign visitors to the US each year enter and leave the country. In a way, it is incredible that they don’t already have a system to keep track of this. On the other hand, if the system is administered with the habitual heavy-handed inefficiency we have come to expect from large federal programs it is sure to cause ten times as many problems as it solves.

The new intensified scrutiny and delays facing student visa applicants have already decimated university-based programs that depend on them (like mine) and the hassels and glitches promise to get worse as SEVIS, another huge new Department of Homeland Security database, this one to track all of the foreign students in the country, down to their absences from class, comes fully on-line.

“The federal government is about to unveil a blueprint for one of its largest information technology projects ever, a vast automated system that will track every foreigner entering the United States with a visa. “

from the Washington Post

Plastic Banana Protection


I teach marketing and we get to the unit on packaging I always bring
a banana to class and use it as an example of perfection in packaging;
colorful, iconic, easy-to-open, bio-degradable. Common sense tells us
that in this case nature cannot be improved on.

Leave it to the Germans to prove common sense defficient. Detlef Kruse
has invented a special lunch box for bananas. "I’d take a banana in to work each day, and eventually, you get
angry because they end up all brown and mushed up," he said.


No Such Thing as Coincidence


It is my confirmed belief that there are really no such things a Coincidences.
Everything in this universe is connected, its just that some of the connections
are obvous and some are obscure and indecipherable. Like why a worldwide icon like Arnold Schwartznegger
would even want to BE Governor of California. Look, for example, at the
Saga of Little Joe.

Little Joe is a 300-pound gorilla, until recently happily enscounced
in Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo, or as happily as any sentinent creature
against its will and put on display before a voyeuristic public can be.
Then, this past August, as reported in the
Dow Brigade
, Joe escaped his
briefly until he was scared by some random Roxbury teenagers at the zoo
for a summer work/study program (who wouldn’t be) and promptly returned
to his enclosure.

Most of us had forgotten about the Saga of Little Joe until yesterday,
when the Boston Globe came out with a front page story under the title
," resurrecting the escapade and wondering how it could
have happened. "The
gorilla exhibit at the Franklin Park Zoo was supposed to be escape-proof..
Its 12-foot-wide,
12-foot-deep moat was intended to prevent even the most agile ape from
leaping across to the human side of the divide. Little Joe, a 5-foot-tall,
300-pound adolescent gorilla who, like human teenagers, was increasingly
restless with life at home, was able to scale a steep wall
and cross the moat because he has not yet gained the weight to fill out
his long arms and body. Though no one was hurt, the incident alarmed zoo
staff since there had never been a successful gorilla escape before."

Well, great. It’s good to see that the zoo was taking Little Joe seriously,
although slightly unnerving to find that the zoo was using drugs
to control his agressive behavior."Linehan said that the Franklin Park Zoo
experimented with low dosages of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications."
Well, that’s something else we have in common.

Appearantly, however, the drugs aren’t working or Little Joe is tired
of being grounded for life, because yesterday, THE SAME DAY the Little
Joe follow-up appreared in the Globe, the darn guy escaped again! Today’s
headline ran
Park gorilla escapes, attacks 2
" and describes a much more serious

"The gorilla escaped just before the zoo’s 6 p.m. closing time. According
to witnesses, the ape attacked 2-year-old Nia Scott and 18-year-old Courtney
Roberson, a family friend and off-duty zoo employee who was with her. The
animal bit Roberson and deeply scratched the toddler before attempting
to attack other zoo workers huddled in fear inside an enclosed ticket booth."

Now, I don’t know if yesterday’s article inspired or pissed Little Joe
off. Maybe he had issues with the Globe and was heading to Morrissey Blvd.
to discuss the matter with reporters and editors. Perhaps he was upset
to read in yesterday’s article that "Linehan said that the exhibit groups
might change or Joe may have to be moved to a new zoo in the future." Maybe
he just wanted to see Mary J. Blige at the College Fest at Hynes Convention
Center. But my bullshit detector is ringing off the wall when they try
to tell me it
is just a "coincidence" that the Globe publishes a front page article on
this incarcerated gorrilla and he makes a break for freedom THE SAME DAY.
How dumb do they think we are? What are they trying to hide?

Little Joe was finally subdued by FOUR shots of a powerful tranquilizer,
and returned to his pen. That party animal! He gets all the good drugs.

from the Boston Globe

No Such Thing as Coincidence part II


the biggest deal in recent Boston business history, the 141-year-old
John Hancock Financial Services has been sold to Manulife, a Canadian
insurance and financial services conglomerate, for $10.9 billion. In
an incredible "coincidence", the presidents
of the two companies HAVE THE SAME LAST NAME. And yet, an ingenuous press
expect us to believe they are NOT RELATED. According to the Boston
, Hancock chief executive David D’Alessandro and Manulife chief
executive Dominic D’Alessandro are not related.

For those of you not from around here, D’Alessandros are not exactly
running rampant through the streets of Beantown like Curleys, Kennedys
and Corcorans. When a 10 billion dollar deal goes down between two guys
with the same name, eyebrows need to be raised. I know that in Massachusetts
when you buy a used car from a member of your immediate family you can
avoid paying excise tax. Is that what’s going on here, or something even
more sinister?

the Boston Globe.

Russian Posters Depict Rape of Dollar



My God, is nothing sacred? Iconic Russian pornography espousing Eurosupremacy!
The US as Eurobitch! The Russian text reportedly reads "They all look the same in the dark!"

Advertising authorities in Moscow have banned a poster campaign showing
the euro having sex with the US dollar.

The campaign, by the Russian Finance magazine,
was judged immoral by the Moscow Committee for advertising and information,
reports Izvestia. Advertising company News Outdoor had to tear
down 100 posters overnight in Moscow, after receiving a warning letter
from the committee chairman Igor Presnyakov.

Magazine publisher Igor Maltsev said he did not realise what the posters were
supposed to represent.

" I thought the currencies were dancing on our poster," he said.
" But after hearing from Mr Presnyakov I saw that, yes, maybe, this is a
love scene."

LOVE SCENE, Igor? Taking it from behind from a swarthy blue-blood
Euro is a love scene? Where I come from its enough to turn any true-blue
Ameriucan green. This is not a romantic scene,
in my humble opinion, and would probably have required an American military
response had the posters not been torn down.


Ever Wish You Could Just Get Away?



Alanis Morissette shocked fans when she ended her first gig in Peru by
shouting: "Thank you Brazil!"

Morissette made the mistake in front of a 14,000 crowd at the Monumental
Stadium in Lima.

Before the gig Alanis Morissette visited the Inca town of Macchu Pichu.

from Ananova