More Junkmail from Bob!

Sunday, April 9, 2000
Important Stuff.

Judge Jackson ruled against Microsoft this week, a week after he had promised to. He said, "Microsoft is baaaaaad." He told Microsoft and the Justice Department to come up with some suitable punishment in a month or two. The lawyers were stunned at having to get some work done in such a short period, and with a deadline no less. One possibility is that Microsoft's top executives would each be required to install Windows 98 on a clean computer, although Amnesty International claims this would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Last Wednesday, Mr. Gates went to Washington. Bill Gates of Microsoft visited both Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate. Then he headed to the White House to talk to Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan. While some political pundits accused Mr. Gates of improper conduct in visiting all he politicians just after Judge Jackson's ruling against Microsoft, others accused Mr. Gates of improper conduct because of millions in campaign contributions by Microsoft's PAC, and yet others accused Gates of improper conduct for using his notoriety to lobby for legislation favorable to Microsoft. Gates responded to this criticism saying, "You have all been assimilated. You just don't realize it yet."

This weekend in Toledo (Ohio, not Spain) was the Weak Signals RC Model Show. Radio Control modelers from all over the world attend this, with some very impressive model planes. There are also some nice helicopters, boats, and cars.

The model turbojet engines are getting more numerous, more available, and allegedly more reliable. You can now have your own model turbojet engine for under $3000. Most of them have 5 to 25 lbs. of thrust, which is quite a bit for a model plane.

Here's the largest and probably the most impressive plane at the show, a 1/10 scale Concorde powered by four turbojet engines. It was built by Jim Weigle:

        Concorde 1

        Concorde 2

        Concorde 3

Here are more models. All these have flown, except for the boats.


In South Dakota the fish and game department thinks they have too many coyotes. Their solution? Shoot them, of course. Therein lies the problem. Coyotes run faster than people. And South Dakota doesn't have nice section line roads all over the place like Oklahoma. So they get a couple of people up in an airplane, one with a shotgun, to go coyote hunting.

Mike Harmon was flying a Piper Cub a week ago last Thursday when an empty shotgun shell got stuck somewhere in his controls. He crash landed, but he and his shotgun-shooting passenger weren't hurt.

The South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Department's previous crash was in 1992, when Mike's dad crashed doing "predator work." This could be something for Craig Ventor to investigate.

Craig Ventor of Celera Genomics announced Thursday that his company has finished "sequencing the entire human genome." In other words they identified and mapped all 3-billion units of human DNA. Some competing researchers are saying "no big deal," and that there's quite a bit of work left, and that Celera didn't really complete the map. Celera has several months' worth of work left assembling their data. The people working on the public Human Genome Project are assembling the data as they go. At any rate, it's an impressive feat.

Last October I did some whining and complaining in Junkmail 12 about Celera's 6500 patents and how dumb I thought they were. The good news is that they decided they only want 500 patents. The bad news is that 500 is a bunch of patents, and I think nobody has the right to patent my DNA.

Last week some court of appeals said that computer programs are expressions of ideas, and are therefore protected under the 1st Amendment as freedom of speech:

No surprise here -- Donald Knuth has been calling programming an art for about 25 years. This decision limited the U.S. Government's restrictions on encryption software.

While on the subject of lawyers and suers, the ACLU is getting into the Cyber Patrol lawsuit business:

We have no close-up pictures of Pluto! Here's about as good as it gets:


Marc W. Buie of Lowell Observatory gets credit for these pictures, taken from the Hubble Space Telescope. The smaller ball is Charon, Pluto's moon. I didn't even realize Pluto HAD a moon. At least Pluto is now in its place as the planet farthest from the Sun. A few years ago it was flying around inside Neptune.

In about 4 years NASA will launch a spacecraft to go take pictures of Pluto. It will take about 8 years to get there, even with a big boost from Jupiter. Here's the trajectory:

Here are some details on the project:

The pictures of today are from the Florida Keys, and they were taken, by coincidence, today. James Sandusky and I overshot Lakeland, FL a bit yesterday evening on the way to Sun N Fun. Today we rented a boat and ran around, and here's some of what we saw.

Fort Zachary Taylor, in Key West, was one of several forts built along the Atlantic in the 1800's. It was started in 1845 and finished in 1866. It's being restored now. At one time or another over the years, they buried the old cannons in concrete.

Here's a picture down the hallway. Each wall separates cannons.

Here's a submarine that's seen better days. The sign on it says to stay 300 feet away. I think we got too close.

      Submarine 1

      Submarine 2

We pulled up to the Norwegian Majesty, but they wouldn't let us board. I think they thought we were pirates.

      Norwegian Majesty 1

      Norwegian Majesty 2

Here is the "Stars and Stripes." I'm not sure if this is Dennis Conner's boat that won the Americas Cup, but it looks like it. Here's an ugly navy ship, and Frank the Pelican.

And finally, here are some pictures of the Keys and Everglades from the air.

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