More Junkmail from Bob!
Tuesday, July 11, 2000
I'm back to text mode. The underprivileged who use AOL get a really ugly Junkmail when I send it out in html, and Hotmail users can't get to all the links. So if you'd like to see a nice pretty html version of today's Junkmail, click here:
<never mind, you're already here.>
Night Lights of the World
Here is an interesting picture of the United States:
It's a composite of over 200 satellite images. The Department of Defense sponsored these pictures. Maybe the lights are good targets? It's interesting that the lights follow interstate highways now instead of rivers.
For comparison, here are the lights of Africa. It really IS a dark continent!
More info on night lights:
Freedom of Speech?
Citizens of the United States of America are guaranteed Freedom of Speech, right? That means you're allowed to say almost anything without fear of reprisal. I think this may not apply if the audience of your free speech is a belligerent drunk. But on the internet you're out of reach of most belligerent drunks, so free speech should be a little easier.
However, it turns out that some speech is freer than other speech on the internet. You can say whatever you want on the internet, as long as you don't make the wrong people mad.
On the web site Grant Street 99 (http://www.crosswinds.net/~grantst99), an anonymous author writes editorials about Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania politicians. Judge Joan Melville didn't take the criticism very well and got her brother to file a defamation of character lawsuit against 13 unidentified people she think wrote bad things about her on the web site about a year and a half ago. I'm not sure how she knew there were 13 people if she didn't know who they were. Since then, she's been trying unsuccessfully to get the identities of the dastardly defamers from AOL.
What vile things were said about poor Joan? In January 1999, Grant Street 99 said that Joan asked Pennsylvania Governor Tom to appoint Joan's Clerk's husband to be a judge. Apparently that's against the code of ethics. It's apparent that the writer is a county employee, and Judge Joan is out for revenge.
Here's a column from last September about it:
Here's the latest:
It a country full of litigious lawyers, you might guess that Judge Joan is not the only one to file lawsuits to find out who said what on a web site, message board, or chat room. That would be a good guess.
It seems that employees who are less than happy about their employers may write some anonymous things that the company doesn't like. Then the company responds with a lawsuit naming a bunch of John Does. This is not to be confused with John Deeres. Then the court subpoenas the identity of the authors from the internet company. After the companies learn the identities of the disloyal employees, they typically drop the lawsuits and fire the employees.
Yahoo and AOL are getting less cooperative about handing out customer identities. Yahoo now give its customers 15 days to get the subpoena undone, which is usually pretty easy to do.
There are several ways to hide your identity on internet message boards and chat rooms, in case you want to write bad things about Junkmail without fear of reprisal. Here are a couple:
There was even a web message board dedicated to LookSmart.com for employees and ex-employees to trade horror stories. Until the lawyers pressured them into taking it down.
One of the more ridiculous lawsuits was from Value Line boss Jean Buttner. She sued Chris Bischof for calling her an "old dodo." He also said such outlandish things like she got to be Value Line boss because her father was the company founder. I'm sure the relationship is a mere coincidence. I think I won't be dealing with Value Line any more -- they might sue me if I say I don't like their service!
FBI and email
Speaking of privacy, the FBI told the Treasury Department that there are national security concerns over the sale of a large U.S. internet service provider to NTT, the Japanese phone company. The FBI is worried that they won't be able to monitor email and other communications if a Japanese company takes over.
The FBI's email reading has been used mainly to catch hackers. This seems to me like a waste of the FBI's talent. Shouldn't they should be catching drug dealers, terrorists, and other conventional "bad guys?" Here's an article on the FBI's new email eavesdropping system.
It makes a copy of any email sent to or from a "target" person. The FBI has to have a court order to collect this email. Some people are upset about it because the FBI can easily collect email going to or from anybody, leaving the door open for abuse. I think it's about like conventional wiretapping and should not be that big a deal.
Web site of today
Toysmart's site says they're down for inventory. I think they're really down for bankruptcy. They've finally learned through experience that you cannot stay in business indefinitely while you lose money. But this is hardly unique. (A few casualties of the week are apponline.com, aviationx.com, saltmine.com, envisionet.com, funpoints.com, gomingle.com, museumnetwork.com, pointserve.com, zedzed.com, fastv.com, totaldentist.com, tshirtguy.com, telstreet.com, homewarehouse.com, and 24-7.com, dreamlot.com, and doughnet.com.)
The unique thing about Toysmart is that they're trying to sell their customer data after they guaranteed their customers that the customer information would remain confidential. Oops! I guess they forgot about that promise. The FTC is getting into the act now:
How to beat the high cost of gas
In Nigeria there are a lot of very poor people. Some of them live in the village of Adeje. Yesterday some of them decided to puncture a nearby pipeline and get some oil. They can sell it or mix it with gasoline and use it in engines. There were dozens of people grabbing the free oil in buckets or other handy containers about the time it caught on fire and exploded. Collecting oil like this is a fairly common occurrence in Nigeria, which is not known for it's lawful society. A couple of years ago about 700 people were killed in a similar explosion.
And now, the moment we've been waiting for.... The Pictures of Today!
A couple of fishermen:
A tree near Telescope Peak, Death Valley:
Chimney Rock, Minnesota:
And finally, my 14 year old toddler Melinda asked about putting a picture of her spiked hair in here...
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