More Junkmail from Bob!
Wednesday, February 27, 2002
Get in Line
There seems to be untold billions being spent on the war on terrorism. The problem is, there is getting to be a shortage of places to spend the money. When there's lots of money trying to find a new home, it makes sense to try to be accommodating. I hear and read about people trying to make money fighting terrorism. Bear in mind, this is NOT trying to make a quick buck. This is NOT pork-barrel politics. This is patriotism at its finest!
You too can get in on this. Just write the powers that be, the press, and me with your problems and ideas. Then wait for the cash to come rolling in. I haven't actually done this, but it's bound to work. They're spending hundreds of billions of dollars (that's more than $100,000,000,000.00) on this "war". Surely they're running out of places to put all that money. Here's one idea:
I represent a group of people who have been seriously harmed as a result of the events on 9-11. Oklahoma goat herders have undergone extreme emotional, psychological, and monetary stress since that awful tragedy. As a minority in this great country of ours, our needs have been neglected and overlooked by our government. This is a travesty.
I'm sure you agree that the Office of Homeland Security is a fine, efficient, and competent organization. I am asking you to appeal to the gov and ask him to provide funding for our security. I'd like to invite Congalisa down to have a look round sometime, too. (How do you spell her name, anyway?)
What we need is some high-tech security. Our goat pastures down here in Oklahoma are COMPLETELY UNGUARDED and open to terrorist attacks, and we're at war! Any terrorist could come in here and wreak havoc with our goats. In fact, a terrorist could come down here and throw BEER CANS in our goat pastures and most likely get away scot free. Of course, if I saw this happening I could take care of it with my twelve guage. But I have to sleep, ya know? We are in dire need some government assistance.
What we're looking for is about four or five of these radio controlled model airplane drones that shoot missiles. You know, the ones you control by watching TV? The ones that the CIA use a lot. I could flat blow the heck out of a terrorist with one of those puppies. They'd be handy for coyotes and skeet shooting too.
I'd like to say I could volunteer my time to protect my goats with these, but I'm down in my back so I'll be needing about $14,236,486 for the labor, lawyers, public relation cookouts, and target shooting.
If you wouldn't mind, please send the money to this PO box so my wife won't find out about it. Thanks a bunch!
It's important to ask for lots of money. You won't get everything you ask for, so don't be ashamed to ask for 50 or 100 times more than you need. That's what Mayor Rudy ($54,000,000,000.00) and all the other politicians do. Also, don't worry about being practical or making sense. Just make sure you can get some good sound bites from your application. After all, look at some of the things that have been going on lately!
Be sure to mention that you've been terribly injured by the "tragic events of 9-11," mention "we are at war" a lot, and it make sure you're part of a small group that will sound interesting and needful in the news. You can hear some good examples on NPR every day.
One of the more creative ideas was some people wanting to get some money to keep them from recycling the steel from the World Trade Center buildings. They said the steel might be contaminated, and it brings up bad memories. That was good! First of all, the steel is heated up to a jillion degrees when it's recycled. Second, you have no idea what's being made from the steel, so who cares where it goes? It only makes sense to use it. I guess these people wanted to honor the terrorists by leaving a giant pile of rubble where the buildings were.
Six people were killed in the first trade center bombing a few years ago, and now their relatives are wanting to get in on the cash flow too. Why not? There are "Billions and Billions!"
One thing you should be aware of -- pick your terrorists carefully. You won't get any money providing protection from domestic terrorists. While some people consider eco-terrorism, animal rights bombings, and blowing up abortion clinics terrorism, many do not. And most politicians won't touch those groups because they vote. There is a lot more money in fighting international terrorism. Besides, if there was domestic terrorism then we'd be in a civil war, wouldn't we?
You might expect a football team or group of teenagers to occasionally misbehave on an airplane, but an orchestra? The United Airlines threw the St. Petersburg Philharmonic off a plane a week ago Monday because they were drunk and rowdy. United was considerate enough to land the plane before they ejected the Russians.
Unauthorized Internet Access
I've been whining and complaining for a good while about Windows Media Player and how it always wants to contact Microsoft when I play an MP3 file. I don't particularly care whether Microsoft or anybody else knows what music I listen to, but I don't like it slowing down my computer when it makes these internet transmissions without my permission. (Actually I gave them my permission when I clicked "I accept" whenever I installed Windows. As if I had a choice.)
Some privacy fans have gotten pretty excited about this. Maybe they don't want Microsoft to know they listen to songs that have naughty words.
What will Microsoft do with all this data about our listening habits? Micrososoft said they have no plans to sell the data. That makes me assume that they'll make plans to sell it before long.
Microsoft is not the only company with programs that access the internet behind your back. Lots of programs ask if I want them to check for update availability online. I always say no. Some of them, such as Installshield, think I'm just kidding and try to check anyway. It adds a few seconds to the Installshield startup time if you let it check. They must have a slow site.
I use the ZoneAlarm firewall program. It keeps people from the outside from accessing your computer, but that's not why I use it. I use it to keep my programs from slowing down my computer by accessing the internet all the time without my permission. It's surprising how many programs try to do this, and how often.
Web browsing is getting slower, too. But the internet is getting faster. The average web page seems to getting a lot bigger.
Part of the blame lies with the great dotcom bust. Companies need to make a profit on the internet now. They need to cater to advertisers, which is where many of them make their money. Some of the blame is that most people who design web pages have high-speed internet access so they and their bosses don't realize how slow the pages can be on a modem.
Large, macromedia flash files are common now. They're the ones with distracting animation, sound, etc. The vast majority are used for advertisements. You can disable flash if you want to -- run "regsvr32 /u c:\windows\system\Macromed\Flash\swflash.ocx" on Win98 or Winme). It will still download the flash files, but at least you don't have to hear and see them.
Some people, such as Yahoo, ask me if I want to install Macromedia flash every time I go to every page on their web site. So I don't go to their web sites much any more.
The Official Ninja
I normally don't put links to funny web sites in here, but this one is exceptional, and highly educational. (There might be some naughty words there.)
Equip Your Local Terrorist
The state of New York is taking data off the internet. Directory of Security James, a "former high-ranking FBI official", said "The intent, clearly, is to remove from the public web sites that information that serves no other purpose than to equip potential terrorists." I guess this means that all this time New York has been making web sites with the sole purpose of equipping terrorists.
You never know what could happen if the map of a lake fell into the wrong hands. James's next task is to close all highways in New York in order to prevent terrorists from traveling across the state.
Enron's Trading Studio
Lots of companies do lots of dumb things. Enron is no exception. But Enron has the luxury of having their past dumb things brought into the spotlight. Here's one I like. They made a fake trading floor and manned it with employees who pretended to trade whenever stock analysts visited. They did this to make it look like they were really busy. That's pretty funny.
Axis of Evil Author Got Canned
Remember Bush's "Axis of Evil"? The person who made that up is not Bush. He's a speechwriter for the Whitehouse. Rather, he WAS a speechwriter for the Whitehouse. Now he's headed home to Canada without a job
There must be a similar speechwriter in Iran. Former Iranian president Rafsanjani said Bush has the brain of a sparrow on the head of a dinosaur.
There is water on Mars, but it's not in canals. There are ice on the Martian north and south poles. I think this just happens during the winter. Here's a good picture of it.
AOL Forced Sales
Some people have been receiving surprise gifts from AOL. But then AOL quite rudely charges their credit cards. A lawsuit filed Monday complains about this and says that any unordered merchandise received should be treated as a gift, and that as punishment that Steve Case should be required to use AOL on a dialup line for one month. AOL replied to the suit saying there are no bugs in their system, AOL is hacker-proof, and the earth is flat.
"Just Make Up Some Numbers That Sound Good"
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (http://www.casacolumbia.org) is not a government organization, but their name sounds like they are. Yesterday they came out with a report saying that 25% of the alcohol consumed in the U.S. is done by underage drinkers. This was supposed to be current news.
I thought that 25% sounded a little high. Then today I read where they got their numbers. They came from a 1998 government survey. And the numbers were misinterpreted. The real number, according to the survey, is 11.4%. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse said it doesn't matter, kids are lie about their drinking anyway.
This organization does good things, but stupid mistakes like this destroy their credibility. Next time I see some statistics from them I'll assume they're inflated.
Private Speeding Fines
A rental car company in Connecticut was raking in the bucks for a while. They had GPS's installed in their cars, and charged renters an extra $150 every time they went over 79 mph. Now they have to refund the $13,000 they collected in speeding charges. The renters had to agree to pay the speeding charges when they rented the car, but some government people said that's not fair.
Death to Hackers!
Congress is getting a little carried away with their anti-hacking laws. Some politicians consider hacking the same as terrorism. The House is expected to pass a law (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c107:hr3482:) soon that imposes a life sentence on someone who "recklessly put others' lives at risk" by unauthorized access into a computer system. The Whitehouse supports the law.
That's a lot more than someone gets for armed robbery, manslaughter, armed robbery, driving drunk and killing someone, and most other crimes that put others' lives at risk. Something's not quite right here. The politicians don't understand computers, so they threaten people with life sentences.
It seems to me if a computer is important enough that peoples' lives depend on it, then someone should be responsible for making it secure from outside penetration. If a company leaves a life-critical computer system connected to the internet, they are asking for life-threatening problems. People from all over the world have some level of access to every computer on the internet.
Suppose I wrote a communications program that accidentally brings down a hospital's computer because I didn't test it well. Maybe I got an IP address wrong. Maybe nobody got hurt, but some people were in danger. According to this law, I'd go to jail for the rest of my life. But the next day I could go out and shoot someone and suffer less punishment. Someone has some priorities mixed up.
Pictures of Today
There was a model jet fly-in last weekend in Florida. These model jets are really jets, complete with turbojet engines. The engines have gotten very reliable. AMT had a jet engine running on a stand all day, non-stop. Some engines have electric starters now. A few years ago you typically had to use a weed-eater leaf blower to start them.
The planes use gyros for stability control. A lot of them go faster than 200 mph in level flight - actual speed, not scale speed.
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