More Junkmail from Bob!

Friday, October 22, 2004
Important Stuff.

Good News!

In this Junkmail I'm not going to mention Bush, Kerry, Cheney, Edwards, or even Lyndon LaRouche, except in this sentence. I'll make up for it with a jillion pictures.

Adenovirus vs. DNA

Some researchers have produced the first image of DNA binding to an adenovirus enzyme. This is apparently a pretty big deal for anti-virus research.

Terrorists are Everywhere!

Truckers can now report terrorists and terrorist sympathizers to the Department of Homeland Security through a national hotline. The big question is, how can you make something that simple cost $19,300,000? First, build a two-and-a-half-hour PowerPoint presentation, and then get a few thousand truck drivers to watch it. That still seems like a high price to me.,1282,65007,00.html

You really can't fault Homeland Security. It's their job to spend "billions and billions," and it's really hard to find places to spend it all.

D49.7 Problem

Yesterday I read that some software I was considering was Y2K Compliant. Yesterday I also noticed on a government web site that a date was specified as 2009 when it should have been 1999, but it didn't shut down society as we know it even if some consider it a Y2K problem.

A few weeks ago the Windows 49.7 day problem was a lot more relevant. Every 49.7 days, some Windows 95 and Windows 98 systems crash. The same thing may happen on other Windows systems, I'm not sure. The solution? Restart Windows before it happens.

Socal Approach, the air traffic controllers for the Los Angeles area, lost their radio system last month. Someone didn't restart the computers before the 49.7 days rolled around, and their backup system failed because of software problems. Woops! Total shutdown.

Nobody crashed, but 800 planes were left without radio contact for a while. There were 5 cases of too little separation between planes. Outgoing flights were stopped for about three hours.

I think the computers in question were running Windows 2000 Advanced Server. It would be interesting to know exactly what happened.

Meanwhile, in Colorado people couldn't renew their driver's licenses for a few days because their computers were temporarily brought down by computer viruses.,1413,36%257E33%257E2417722,00.html,1413,36%257E53%257E2420310,00.html

The Department of Revenue's Motor Vehicle Business Group alleges that this has nothing to do with the notorious Y2.004K problems.

Online Poker

Want to make money at poker? Use a bot for online poker. Is it cheating if I write the program for the bot that I use? It's not much different than using a calculator, in my mind.

Missing Oil Tanker

Nigeria, sometimes known as land of the scams, loses about 50,000 barrels of oil per day. It's not spilled. It's stolen. But that's not too bad. Last year 300,000 barrels per day were stolen.

About a year ago in August or October (depending on which news report you read), the oil tanker MT African Pride was seized by the Nigerian government for stealing oil. It remained in custody for about a year. It had a load of 11,300 tons of oil, worth $2.6 million. 20 other vessels were seized at the same time, although the others we not as big as the African Pride.

The ships remain in custody today, except for the African Pride. The Nigerian Navy lost it. On August 20 of this year, it disappeared. With the oil.

The news reports are not very consistent, but they are very entertaining (at least to a warped individual like myself):

Sierra Leone Fraud

Here's another news story the just doesn't seem quite right. It involves a $23 million bill for private military assistance during a civil war. It involves the U.S., Britain, Panama, and South Africa in addition to Sierra Leone. I'll have to wait for the book before I can figure it out.


If you're a spammer and actually try to sell something, you might have a hard time keeping your web site open. A lot of ISP's will shut you down if you are using millions of spam emails to market your goods.

You don't have that kind of problem with The Chinese web hosting company allows spam of most sorts. They do have morals, though. Their policy is "We do not allow: Scam or Anti-Chinese Government sites."

With you get a rotating IP address and no hassles from anti-spammers. However, Microsoft did sue the company over its support of spam.

Flyer ID

John Gilmore is fighting a legal battle with the airlines and the U.S. government. He wants to be able to fly without showing his picture ID. He says there is not law requiring it, as the Airlines claim.

I personally don't think anything is wrong with showing an ID to get on board an airplane, if the owner of the airplane requires it. But there is something unusual going on with this case. The U.S. government wants to present its side of the story in secret. The U.S. won't even admit that there's a directive requiring ID to board airlines.

How can you have a law if you won't disclose it to the people? Actually, it's a regulation rather than a law, but if it applies to the public then I think it should be made public.

Domestic Satellite Surveillance

The U.S. Government is now using satellites to spy on the U.S. That may have been done in the past, but it wasn't admitted. Today, with terrorists hiding in every back alley, it's no problem.,1282,65091,00.html

Even in Hamilton County, Ohio, Sheriff Simon issued a warning Thursday a few days ago urging vigilance against possible terrorism. The only problem was the FBI, Homeland Security, and even John Ashcroft was clueless to the basis of this warning. I guess Simon just had a vision.

Space wars are fair game now, too. The Air Force is now entitled to attack foreign satellites, according to the Air Force.,2697,65151,00.html

Kodak Patents

Kodak bought some patents from Wang about 7 years ago. Now they decided those patents cover a method by which a program can "ask for help" from another program. To me it sounds amazingly like a subroutine call to a DLL. However, Kodak sued Sun over Java, and won. Microsoft could be next. It is a really stupid decision, in my opinion.

Here's a great photo:


Oklahoma is the only state in the union where there are only two choices for president. All other states that have only two people on the ballot allow write-ins. I demand a box for "none of the above"!


After I read the decision, I wondered what would happen if the Supreme Court ordered Guantanamo detainees to trial, and the executive branch refused. I might get to find out.

Ashcroft Vows Piracy Assault

Attorney General John announced a crackdown on file sharing. Spamming, although illegal for 10 months, has not been prosecuted once by the government. (At least I cannot find a single case.) It sure shows who is making campaign contributions.,1283,65331,00.html

A Satellite Fell on my House?

That's almost as bad as "a dog ate my homework." But it really happened!

Watch your shirt!

Iraq Schools

Here is the Unicef report on primary schools in Iraq. It's bad, but not as bad as I had envisioned.


The U.S. is adding RFID chips to passports.,1848,65412,00.html

Driver's licenses could be next.,1848,65243,00.html

Some privacy fans don't like this because it allows your passport information and photo to be read without you showing your passport to anybody. Same for driver's licenses.

A Saturday Afternoon Drive

A few days ago I was driving along in Maryland, taking a "short cut" to the Goddard Space Flight Center. I happened by a moderately interesting security gate on Powder Mill Road. There was a guard shack and some 4-wheelers behind the gate. I turned around, took a picture of it, and turned around again. I noticed that a car leaving the place followed me as I turned around the second time, and then he went back through the gate.

I drove down the road, and I noticed some gates in a long, tall, barbed-wire topped chain link fence. The gates looked like they were rarely used, opening to grass or gravel roads, but they had vehicles parked sideways behind them, blocking the gates.

A few minutes later, I was driving along thinking about something unrelated to driving, and I noticed flashing lights behind me. The lights were in a black SUV. I stopped. A guy came up to the car with a gun and a uniform that said, "USSS Training." I thought it was a little odd that he didn't have a badge.

He asked me a lot of questions. He told me to put my hands on the steering wheel. He asked if he could see my license and registration. I said he could see my license but I wasn't sure about the registration. I took my hands off the wheel to get my license, but he didn't shoot me. By this time there was a second SUV behind him. He asked what I was doing. I said driving around. He asked if I had been taking pictures. I said yes. He asked what of? Just wildlife and stuff? I said there was some pretty interesting security stuff back there. Here's the picture. It didn't turn out to be very exciting:


He said something about video, but I said I was just using a camera and showed him. I remembered about the rental car agreement and how it could be used for the vehicle registration. So I rummaged around under the fast-food trash in the back seat to find it. He got pretty excited then, and said "Hey, hey, what are you doing" or something like that. But he didn't shoot me. He calmed down when I gave him my rental car agreement.

I asked the guy who USSS was. He didn't say. He asked if I knew what I was taking a picture of. I didn't. I asked what it was. He said he couldn't say. He asked why I was in the area. I was at the Annapolis Boat Show. He asked where else I'd been. I said that the day before I went to Washington DC, and started naming off places like the Capitol, the Supreme Court Building, the Library of Congress, etc., but he lost interest.

Sometime a third car came up. They asked me to get out of the car and stand between the cars. I didn't like that, so I stood off to the side. I knew a guy in college who got killed standing between two cars on the road after a minor accident.

The third car looked more like a police car, and the guy in there was a little older than the other two. He also had a badge. It said U.S. Secret Service. So then I knew what USSS was. He asked if he could search my car. Since they were all very polite and weren't hassling me, I said OK. In fact, I was impressed how they conducted themselves. Someone who is potentially smart-alecky (like myself) tends to rub authority people the wrong way sometimes, but these guys did a really good job. They didn't even make me mad.

He asked if I had any weapons, and I thought for a minute to make sure and said no. They spent quite a bit of time on the radio with my license, probably checking to see if I'm on a terrorist watch list like Ted Kennedy, Donald Young, and Cat Stevens.

I must have passed the check, because they turned me loose after explaining politely that I was never going to get to Goddard Space Flight Center on the road I was on.

I would like to have taken their pictures, but they probably would not have appreciated it. They never did tell me I couldn't take any more pictures of that gate, but I didn't take any more. Here is one interesting picture I did take. It's a high-security gate for the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Strange.


Those guys naturally made me wonder about what I had photographed, so I had to look it up. It's the James J. Rowley Training Center, an advanced training center for the Secret Service. It's not a secret installation. They have visitors regularly. But they apparently are pretty careful about who drives by and takes photos.

After that, I visited the Goddard Space Flight Center. Most of it is off limits to unannounced visitors, but they do have a visitor center. I watched "The Dream is Alive," although I've seen it several times. It's a good movie. They I headed back toward Annapolis and/or Baltimore.

I had noticed a sign for the National Cryptologic Museum earlier. I headed there. After a bunch of wrong turns, mostly because they had the roads blocked that I wanted to take, I finally found it:


However, it was closed on Saturday, Sunday, and Columbus Day. I took a picture of the NSA building on the way in.

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I didn't try to go in. I figured they wouldn't like weekend visitors any more than the Secret Service.

Between the NSA gate and the National Cryptologic Museum, there were some road signs with "Warning, Restricted Area" and a lot of fine print I couldn't read when I was driving by. I took a picture of one because I thought it was ridiculous to have a sign with so much fine print you can never read it all.


Among a whole bunch of other things, it says that photographic and imagery equipment are prohibited. Oops.

Pictures of Today!

I have entirely too many pictures for this Junkmail, but I included them anyway -- too bad!

Autumn clouds

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The wild life in Ft. Lauderdale:

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The wild life in the Everglades:

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An Everglades raccoon on Joe Kemp Key.


Washington DC

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Washington Wildlife


The Air and Space Museum


McDonald's has come to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum!


This X-15 has flown higher than any other plane. The X-15 at the Air Force Museum in Dayton is world's the fastest airplane.


On October 14, 1947, Captain Chuck Yeager gained the distinction of being the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound. This Bell X-1 was the plane he flew:


Corporate Sponsor: Lotus Development


Lindbergh flew this plane across the Atlantic in the first transatlantic solo flight:


This plane, the Voyager, made the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world in 1986.


The Russian SS-20 intermediate range nuclear missile was banned by the 1987 INF treaty.

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Here are some pictures of the Capitol:

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It looked like something important was going on, but maybe it's just business as usual.

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The suburbans on the right of this picture belonged to the Secret Service or some kind of police.


I like this sign. No cans, bottles, liquids, backpacks, and, oh yeah, no explosives either.


Here are a bunch of picture of the Capitol, the Supreme Court Building and the Library of Congress:

Georgetown, MD natives:


I went to San Diego to look at some boats. There are a lot of sailboats there.


Here's a view from above. The boats are along the upper left of the bay, the Naval Air Station is on the lower right of the picture, and San Diego International is near the center-right of the photo.


This is HMS Surprise, the boat used in Master and Commander:

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The Ronald Reagan is the newest U.S. aircraft carrier:

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Here are some Navy photos of the USS Ronald Reagan:

There were a couple guided missile destroyers docked when I was there:

Here's a navy supply ship, taken from a military cemetery at Point Loma:

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Point Loma has a Lighthouse...

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... a bent tree...


... but the barn was missing. Must have been shoplifters:


I was surprised to see a submarine coming into the harbor, but apparently that is pretty common there. This is a Los Angeles class attack sub. That hump behind the conning tower is a dry deck that special operations forces use to get on and off the sub, without the sub surfacing.

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This building with the flag on it is the submarine dry-dock:


The next day I saw the sub in dry-dock:


I saw this place the morning before I saw the submarine -- the anti-submarine warfare training center.


I wondered if that's what the funny round thing on the bottom of this helicopter is for:


Here are a bunch of Navy submarine photos.

I was out on a sailboat test drive, and the Sea Flyer passed us coming into the harbor. The Sea Flyer is a Navy experimental high-speed catamaran:

The buoys support the San Diego locals:


The Coast Guard passed us, too.


(~) 1955, all rights deserted. Any unauthorized duplication or distribution of this weak literary attempt will be met with vigorous apathy. Copy the heck out of it!

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