February 09, 2002

Teleportation is as close (or as far away) as it's always been -- theoretically, in our minds. The stuff in this new scientist article doesn't sound any different than the stuff my old roommates were talking about in 1986. (Yes I was in high school - but they were chemistry graduate students at CAL.)

It's still nice to see these ideas in print in a popular magazine. Beam me up Scotty!

Check out:
Teleporting larger objects becomes a real possibility,
by Anil Ananthaswamy for New Scientist.

Kraft is using genetically-altered corn and soybeans in its food products (particularly Tombstone Pizza and Stovetop Stuffing).

Take a deep breath, and then read:
Kraft Target Of Anti-Biotech Food Campaign,
by Deborah Cohen for the Environmental News Network (ENN.com).

A coalition of green health-policy groups Wednesday called on Kraft Foods Inc., the largest North American food maker, to remove genetically altered ingredients from several of its popular products, including Tombstone pizzas and Stove Top stuffing.

The Washington-based coalition, called Genetically Engineered Food Alert, said an independent laboratory had tested several Kraft products and found they contained genetically altered corn or soybeans. The U.S. government has approved the use of the ingredients, but the coalition said they have not been adequately tested to determine their safety.

GE Food Alert is the same group whose findings in 2000 led to the recall of Kraft taco shells containing StarLink, a gene- spliced corn not approved for human consumption. The organization is also calling for mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which the government does not currently require.

February 08, 2002

Concise and easy-to-digest coverage of the ongoing Pressplay vs. MusicNet war, courtesy of Walter S. Mossberg for the Wall Street Journal.

The verdict: Pressplay wins. (But it still sucks.)

Looks like plans are right on schedule for implementing a biometrically-fueled "trusted-traveler" program.

See:
ID card for air passengers,
by Tom Ramstack for The Washington Times.

The trusted-traveler card is part of the Aviation and Transportation Security signed by President Bush Nov. 19 that authorized the Transportation Security Administration to "establish requirements to implement trusted passenger programs and use available technologies to expedite the security screening of passengers."

Trusted-traveler cards would authorize passengers to bypass extensive security screening at airport checkpoints. The Israeli government instituted a trusted-traveler program five years ago in an effort to speed up long lines at airport security checkpoints.

The electronic card would have an encoded biometric description of the owner to ensure that the person using it is the same person identified on the card. Biometrics refers to computerized systems that identify a unique part of each person's anatomy, such as fingerprints, facial structure or irises.

Eventually, the Transportation Department task force wants the cards to be used throughout airports and transportation services internationally. The card is intended to shorten lines at airports, but FBI background checks would disseminate information about the owners to many law enforcement agencies.

This NY Post article about Terry Gross' interview with Gene Simmons is really misleading. I heard this interview over the air live as it was taking place, and these quotes were taken totally out of context, not to mention out of order.

The article also misrepresents the facts surrounding why recordings and transcripts of the interview are not available, saying "The interview was apparently so controversial that NPR has declined to make it available on its Website where it posts at least portions of nearly all other interviews that appear on "Fresh Air," one of its most popular daily shows."

A quick search on the NPR website reveals that "Simmons declined to give permission for this Web site to offer audio of his interview, or sell tapes or transcripts of it."

Now that we've got the facts straight, I will agree that Simmons' behavior was rather surprising. I remember running into the next room to tell my friend when it happened -- but that was due to my disbelief in what Simmons' was saying, not my shock at Terry Gross' reaction to it, which was completely professional.

Gross didn't so much as raise her voice throughout the entire exchange. She conducted herself in her usual polite manner. Towards the end, she stopped speaking entirely, and just let Simmons babble away until the time ran out.

Simmons was a hostile guest to the nth degree. He was making personal attacks about NPR and Terry Gross within the first five minutes he was on the air.

Perhaps Gross' first question was a little pointed -- something about 'does he ever feel like he's hiding behind his makeup?' But this could also been seen as a fair question, considering the title of his new book is "KISS and Makeup". He was actually giving a great answer to that question for a little while. He was talking about the history behind Paul's makeup, and then Ace's makeup, and then he got to his own makeup and it was like he remembered who he was and that he had to be rude or something.

Most of the interview wasn't really about rock and roll, or women, or even the band at all. It was all about money. Simmons just could not stop talking about money: How it was the most important thing in the world. How he feels that if he has money, he can basically buy everything else -- love, sex, respect, whatever. Gross finally said a single sentence like: "you think money is the most important thing there is, huh?", and Simmons took it from there, for about 10 minutes straight. Why yes, he does feel that way, and Gross and the other bumpkins on NPR are idiots for not realizing that money is the most important thing in life. Etc. etc.

In conclusion, no one will ever know why Gene Simmons chose to insult NPR, its staff, and its entire listening audience instead of selling them all a couple hundred thousand books. Whatever the reason, the incident has left me a litle sad inside. I think, in part because I used to always have a more than a little respect for Gene Simmons -- ever since I put my first "Rock and Roll Over" sticker on my binder in the fourth grade.

Now I wish he would just grow up little.

February 06, 2002

The DMCA can't touch scientific research, for now. Thanks to the hard work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Check out Scientist Ends Crusade Against Copyright Law, by David McGuire for NewsBytes.

A Princeton University professor today announced that he would end his legal challenge of a controversial U.S. copyright law that he says was invoked to prevent him from publishing research that exposed holes in recording industry-backed anti-piracy technology.

Princeton professor Edward Felten and his team of scientists said they would not appeal a New Jersey federal court's decision to dismiss their case against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Felten announced the decision through the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which has been representing his scientific team.

Although the RIAA admits that it sent a letter to Felten last year warning him that he could face prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) should he publish his research, the industry group later retracted the threat, calling the letter a "mistake."

That retraction, coupled with assurances from the U.S. government that the DMCA does not apply to scientific research, prompted the New Jersey court to dismiss the case last November.

"I think the scientists decided that they would take the RIAA at its word," EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said of the Felten team's decision not to appeal the case. "They were quite anxious to get on with their work."

Another spammer is trying to get California's spam law overturned before it starts catching on in other states.

See:
Second Opinion Sought In California 'Spam-Law' Challenge,
by Steven Bonisteel for Newsbytes.

February 05, 2002

Darn. No room in Bush's new budget to help bridge the digital divide.

See:
Digital Divide' Plan In Peril,
by Jonathan Krim for the Washington Post.

PayPal will be going for their IPO soon. Good luck guys!

Sounds like they have a chance, too.

See the Wired News article:
Who'll Pay, Pal, for This IPO?, by Joanna Glasner.

I just bought the new itty bitty Noam Chomsky book, 911, and it looks pretty interesting.

How nice to see some coverage of blogging in the popular press.

See the Time Magazine article by Chris Taylor:
Pssst. Wanna See My Blog? .

I'm trying to do a more inclusive job of blogging the issues falling under my radar. If all goes well that means the amount and regularity of my postings will increase from this day forward. Wish me luck!