More Junkmail from Bob!

Monday, June 26, 2000
Important Stuff.


In New Jersey in 1916, a 25 year old guy named Charles went swimming at the beach a few miles north of Atlantic City. He was attacked by a shark a not far from shore. Someone he was with pulled him out of the water, but he died that night in the hospital.

Five days later, another guy named Charles was swimming on the beach and attacked by a shark. He died on the beach.

Six days later there was another shark attack, killing a 12-year old boy and a guy who tried to rescue him. A little ways downstream, some boys were swimming when someone warned them about the shark attack. They last guy out of the water was climbing up the ladder when a shark bit his leg. He lost some skin and muscle, but survived.

These are the true occurrences on which the book and movie "Jaws" was based. It was not a great white shark, though. It was a bull shark, or maybe more than one.

Bull sharks are arguably the most dangerous shark to people. They don't get as big as a Great White shark, but they swim close to the shore and up rivers. They don't mind fresh water. In fact, they've been seen 1750 miles up Mississippi River, and are common in the Ganges, the Amazon, and several rivers in Africa.

I had never even heard of bull sharks before, or if I did I didn't remember them. I had no idea that any kind of shark ever lived in the Mississippi. These sharks can even breed in fresh water.

Here's a picture of the lighthouse off Dauphin Island, near Mobile and Gulf Shores Alabama:


Charles, Richard, Karen, and maybe some others were swimming at the beach a few miles east of that lighthouse in Alabama two weeks ago Friday morning. Charles is a 44 year old assistant principal and coach at Robertsdale High School in Alabama. Richard is a 53 year old barber at Gulf Shores. They were practicing for a triathlon, swimming about 100 or 150 feet off shore.

A bull shark came up under Charles and bit his arm. He was pulled under a couple of times, but managed to get his arm out and get to shore. Richard saw Charles stagger up to the beach, and thought he might have been stung by a jellyfish. Then the shark attacked Richard. Richard made it to shore too, beating the shark in the nose when he came at him. Charles had to have part of his arm amputated. Richard should recover OK.

They closed 30 miles of beach after the attack. Apparently there were a lot of bait fish closer to shore than normal that morning, bringing the bull shark in closer.

Four days later, an 8-foot bull shark beached itself several miles east of Ft. Walton Beach. It had nothing in its stomach.

Later the same day, some people reported to the Coast Guard a bull shark attacking the swimming platform on their 22-foot boat near Pensacola. Some things I read treated this report as questionable, so I'd give it a 50% chance of being accurate.

This is pretty scary for me, since I'm 44 and like to swim in the ocean. No matter that I'm much more likely to be run over by a boat or struck by lightning. This is only the second shark attack ever reported in Alabama waters. The first was in the 1970's, when a shark bit a guy's leg who was swimming 9 miles off shore. Surely he had a boat somewhere close.

But it's still pretty scary. Maybe that's why they made a movie out of it, huh?

Here are the local news stories about the attacks in Alabama:

Here is the Real Jaws Story:

Here is an outstanding web page on bull sharks:

Mendel Would Be Proud

Today the Humane Genome Project and Celera Genomics Group have jointly announced rough drafts of the humane genome. This amounts to about 3,100,000,000 gene sequences.

This is a little confusing to me because Celera said they finished "sequencing the entire human genome" last April 6th. Did everyone forget about that? Maybe someone convinced Mr. Venter, president of Celera, that it was bad business to show up the international consortium of university researchers. Or maybe his original announcement was a bit premature.

At any rate, I think it will really make a difference in medical research over the next several years.

COPPA Unenforceable?

I did some whining and complaining about the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in Junkmail 40. The act hasn't ever been enforced, and on Thursday 3 judges in Washington said it couldn't be enforced for the moment because it will probably be declared unconstitutional soon.

Academy Awards

The Academy Award people decided last week that any movie that has been screened on the web before being shown in theaters is ineligible for an Academy Award. Those people just flat don't like technology! Maybe they should break down and get some online security cameras for their Oscar statues this year.

Down the Amazon stock has gown down from 113 to 33 since December. Some high-powered investment bankers decided that Amazon needs to make a profit in order to stay in business. They said Amazon, at the current rate of losses, will be out of cash early next year. Amazon said phooey, the laws of mathematics do not apply to dot-coms.

I would like to see Amazon stay in business, because it's a good place to buy books and because Mr. Bezos agreed that his patents were stupid.,1367,37209-2,00.html

Speaking of stupid patents....

There was water on Mars. Maybe.

It's not clear whether there is intelligent life on Earth, however, judging from the Presidential race.

How to Win at Slots

Late last year Zues Yaghi of Edmonton, Alberta discovered a flaw in the software of some slot machines manufactured by WMS Gaming, one of the largest slot machine makers in the world. This flaw would allow him to win money by entering a sequence of bets and commands.

He demonstrated this problem with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission last December. Then he offered his consulting services to WMS Gaming for $250,000. They counter offered with $50,000. Zues got mad and posted the information on how to beat the slot machines on the internet.

Although he never did use his knowledge to take money from slot machines, WMS Gaming got a search and seizure order and grabbed Zues's computers and data, and they filed a $10,000,000 lawsuit against him. Those guys just don't have a sense of humor.,1283,37190,00.html

Hyperlinks Illegal?

Last Friday, the Recording Industry Association of America filed a lawsuit against because they have links on their web site to MP3 files that the RIAA says are illegal copies. I think that's stretching the law just a bit. There is nothing illegal about links on a web site.,1283,37227,00.html

Maybe they should sue British Telecom too, since British Telecom claims to own the patent on all internet links.

Dianah Cummings, manager at Pryor International Airport, got 18th of 45 in an air race from Tucson, AZ to Hyannis, MA. Congratulations!

The Picture of Today

Cathy and a Wisconsin Rock


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