More Junkmail from Bob!

Monday, July 24, 2000
Important Stuff.

The Art of Negotiating

Barak from Israel and Palestinian Arafat were in the U.S. this week, arguing about who should own some land in the Middle East and what it will take to stop shooting at each other. Clinton was there too. Some people say he was working for peace, and some people say he was trying to make a name for himself (other than as Monica's boyfriend) before he leaves office.

Here's a secret transcript of the peace negotiations at Camp David:

Arafat:  Think! $40 billion dollars, that's with a B, and it's just for signing a peace treaty! Clinton's really gone crazy with his budget surplus.

Barak:  Yeah, but our military is afraid it might jeopardize our regular billions in U.S. aid if we have a rampant outbreak of peace.

Arafat:  I have that problem too. And if my people think I gave away too much here, they won't just dissolve the government like you guys do, they'll shoot me!

Barak:  Face it. You guys are nothing but uncivilized terrorists with very little value for human lives.

Arafat:  Not true!  I haven't hijacked a plane since a 2000-pound bomb leveled my house in Lebanon, and that must have been 20 years ago. Besides, you'll be getting more of the $40 billion than we will.

Barak:  Can you believe that stinking Clinton wouldn't let us go home? He's headed out to find a Geisha, and he left us here with that ugly Albright woman.

Arafat:  It's the darn press. It's a slow news week in the U.S. so we've been on the front page every day. Clinton's milking it for everything it's worth. We should up the ante for this treatment.

Barak:  Good idea! I think another billion dollars is in order. I hope those Japanese girls are worth it. We'll break the news to him on Sunday. After that, we can start talking details on the peace treaty. Care for another game of checkers?

Meanwhile, Russian President Putin was hollering at Bill Clinton because the U.S. military wants to make some anti-missile missiles. Clinton responded to Putin's fiery fury and said, "Are you nuts? It's an election year; we can't stop this project now. Besides, the missiles don't even work!"

The heads of the G-8 countries met and decided to pay money to make the internet computers widely available in underdeveloped countries. I'm not sure who's going to pay for the phone lines. Bill Gates said of the project, "Great idea! Everybody in the third world needs at least one licensed copy of Windows and Office. Please send cash."

The G-8 used to be the G-7, the 7 richest, most industrialized countries of the world. This morning I heard NPR describing the G-8 as the 7 richest, most industrialized countries of the world plus Russia. Maybe they let Putin in because Russia has potential?

Real Live Video. Or is it?

You've probably seen examples of doctored digital photos, where someone modifies or combines photos to make a picture of something that never happened. After people got good at doctoring photos, they started doctoring video.

This is common in TV advertisements now. I saw a TV ad yesterday showing a guy on a bicycle out run a cheetah, wrestle it to the ground, and pull a Mountain Dew out of it's throat. I'm thinking that maybe this was a doctored video and it really didn't happen.

It's possible to video someone talking, and take samples of the person's mouth making different sounds. Then you can assemble this, along with a fake audio, to make it look like the person said something completely crazy. Or in the case of politicians, you could actually make them say something sensible. Interval Corporation and UC Berkeley showed a demonstration of John F. Kennedy saying things like, "I never met Forrest Gump."

With computers and graphics getting much faster, it's possible to "doctor" digital images at a rate of 60 per second. This is important because it allows live video to be altered.

For example, last New Year's Eve the CBS Evening News showed Times Square in New York. If you were there, you would have seen the NBC Astrovision showing a Budweiser ad under the big ball. On CBS, you saw a realistic billboard advertising CBS News under the big ball. It wasn't real. The virtual billboard was digitally added to the image, overlaying the Budweiser ad. Since CBS said this was not unethical, that made it perfectly OK for CBS to alter the image and present it as an accurate representation of Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Virtual billboards have become fairly common in sporting events now. This is similar to technology used to display the yellow first down line in televised football games. As the technology improves, we can believe less and less of what we see. Live video has joined the world of zeros and ones, making it easy to manipulate, alter, edit, falsify, enhance, copy, and transmit it over the wires and fiber of the world.


Virus Myths

While computer viruses are real, most news reports I've read are a bit overblown. Some computer viruses are no more real than the billboards you see in sporting events. Here's a list of a bunch of fakes:

Third Party Cookies

Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer will have new and exciting feature that allows people to disable "third party cookies." These are cookies that have remained uneaten after three sequential birthday parties. But I think Microsoft was talking about information left on your hard drive that can be accessed by internet marketing companies such has DoubleClick. This news was considered a great breakthrough until people figured out that Netscape has had this feature for years.,1367,37723,00.html

The Spy Site

John Young is an architect in New York. He studies spies and intelligence organizations as a hobby. He's got a pretty extensive web site, too. (At least he did have one. I can't get to it at the moment.)

He put a bunch of stuff up about the PSIA, Japan's CIA equivalent. It's got lots of names and titles, which doesn't mean much to me but apparently got the Japanese government pretty upset. The Japanese State Department called the FBI, who asked Mr. Young to remove the information from his web site last Thursday. He said no thanks. The two FBI agents were polite, but offered "serious trouble" if he published their names on his web site. He thought about it for a couple of days and then put their names up on his site. He said it would be inconsistent for him to publish the names of everyone else except the FBI.

Note: I wrote this on Saturday, and the reason I couldn't get onto the site was apparently a Denial of Service attack mounted against the site:,1283,37746,00.html

Freedom of Criticism?

Some other people are getting upset about information on the web. Companies have started suing people who say bad things about them in chat rooms and on message boards. Even though these messages are supposed to be anonymous, the courts will order the Internet Service Provide (ISP) or whoever's running the message board or chat room to turn over the identity of the evil naysayers.

It seems to me like using this technique to silence critics should violate my constitutional right of privacy (although the word "privacy" doesn't appear in the constitution) or freedom of speech. Apparently if I "slander" someone important those rights don't apply.

A retired guy was bad-mouthing a stock analyst who worked for Credit Suisse, so they sued the heck out of him. Mr. Chang said bad things about the Credit Suisse analyst on a message board because the analyst was down on Elan pharmaceuticals. It turns out that Mr. Chang was right -- Elan stock has gone way up since then. It didn't stop Credit Suisse from suing him and 10 others.

And I thought the Swiss were supposed to be civilized. I wonder if they'll sue me now?

Stupid Pilot Tricks

There are lots of wilderness areas in the U.S. They are specially restricted sections of National Forests. Here's a picture I took today of some wilderness in the Maroon Bells Wilderness area, near Aspen, Colorado:


In a wilderness area, you're not supposed to have motor vehicles, bicycles, hang gliders, or much of anything besides yourself. In fact, airplanes are requested to stay a couple thousand feet above the ground.

A week ago Sunday morning, a guy decided to fly into the Mazatzal Wilderness Area in Arizona. He found an open area and landed. Then he decided to take off. But he had a problem. According to the NTSB, Aeronca N4462E "collided with a cactus during an attempted takeoff from an open field." He wasn't hurt, but the plane was. The pilot got in trouble. To make matters worse, he explained to the investigators that he'd landed there lots of times and had no problems. Woops! That could be bad for his pilot's license.

Here's the NTSB Report:

New Moon?

While the wayward Aeronca pilot was out terrorizing lizards, some people at Kitt Peak, Arizona were looking at a new moon. They think they've discovered the seventeenth moon around Jupiter. It's only about 3 miles in diameter, compared to 2160 for the Earth's moon. Why do we say "the Earth" and not "the Jupiter?" They should have verification in a few months.

Pictures of Today

The pictures of today are temporarily at the wrong place. It seems that has disconnected the Junkmail web site (among other things) from the internet last weekend, and they have been unable to get it restored. So today's pictures are on Mindspring. If for some reason you can't see them, after Thursday try and pick Junkmail number 50.

Also, you can't get to to sign up or read old Junkmails for the moment. By the end of the week either they'll get it working or I'll move it to a more reliable internet service. If these pictures don't show up, try and pick Junkmail number 50.

Here's a clasp view of the Eros asteroid. It was taken by the Near spacecraft. The photo is close to a mile across:


I took these pictures this morning. Here's some water, suitable for a background image:




Maroon Bells, Colorado:


This is North Maroon Peak (the closest one) from about 1/2 way up. Believe it or not, the top you see here is about 2000 feet higher than I was.


Here's the view of Crater Lake and Maroon Lake, from the same location. Maroon Lake is the lake that most pictures of the Maroon Bells are taken from. And I like ending (and beginning) a sentence with a preposition. Maroon Lake is the far one.


A couple of other mountain pictures:



Here's an optional page of wildflowers.


Several people have been asking me what camera and software I use. The camera is a Canon S-10. I use Paint Shop Pro for editing, and Multimedia Explorer for quick viewing. You can download both of those from You can't download the camera. I crop the pictures sometimes, but I usually leave the color alone.

If you're wondering where this email came from and how it ended up on your computer, you just might be a lucky new recipient to Junkmail. This is arguably better than being told, "You just might be a redneck." I copied a bunch of cc email addresses from my inbox yesterday into the Junklist. If you're new to Junkmail, you probably know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows me, and you got one of the same jokes I did. If you're wondering about the purpose of this email, don't fret. I'm wondering the same thing.

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