More Junkmail from Bob!

Tuesday, September 19, 2000
Important Stuff.

A Flooded Sea

A guy named Bob made a name for himself one day when he found a boat. He found one called the Titanic, laying on the bottom of the ocean. Actually, he already had his name (Ballard), but people got to know who he was after that. I think he might have had some help, and I'm pretty sure he was specifically looking for the Titanic. He also found the Bismarck, discovered some new organisms that live near submerged volcanic vents, and has explored lots of shipwrecks.

Bob's in the news again. This time he discovered a building. It's an old wooden building about 300 feet below the surface of the Black Sea. This might be significant because people think it's about 7000 years old, and that it may have been buried when the Mediterranean flooded into the then-freshwater Black Sea, raising the Black Sea's level about 700 feet. Some people think this may have been the flood underneath Noah's ark.

The Black Sea has an interesting feature. Below 300-400 feet deep it doesn't have much oxygen, so things don't rot very much. As a result, a 7000 year old wooden building can be discovered today, instead of being long dissolved as it would have been in the ocean. Click here for some details.

Equinox is Friday!

Fall has fell! The monarchs are passing through Pryor again.


This butterfly has never been here before. In fact, I don't think any of the butterflies in this annual migration were alive for last year's trek, so how do they know where to go? I also wonder where they end up spending their winter. They might take a different route back north because I don't see them headed that way in the spring.

6000 Tons?

Last week NPR reported that the space shuttle left the international space station after dropping off 6000 tons of supplies. I think they must have gotten some new solid rock boosters for the space shuttle if that's true! They actually left about 6000 pounds of supplies and equipment. Minor error.

The space station now weighs close to 70 tons, though, and that's BIG. But by comparison, the Soviet space station MIR was more than twice that size at its maximum. I'm not sure how big it is now.

Here's a picture of the International Space Station taken from the shuttle last week.

Right of Anonymity

I mentioned in Junkmail a time or two about how companies sometimes sue people who post critical messages on message boards. This is sometimes done just to discover the posters' identity. There are now over 100 of these "cybersmear" cases in the U.S. court system.

One of them, in Florida, was filed by a guy named Erik. He ended up losing his job as boss of Hvide Marine, after people said he cooked the books and was being investigated by the SEC. The SEC won't say whether they were investigating him.

He claims he was defamed by 8 people who posted on the Yahoo message board. Yahoo hasn't disclosed their identities for the past year or so since this lawsuit was filed. The ACLU is on the side of the Yahoo posters.

On Wednesday, an appeals court is supposed to decide whether these people are entitled to the "right to anonymity" when they publish on the Internet. I don't think they covered that explicitly in the Constitution. This decision only applies to Florida, but it's the first of its kind and will set a precedent. This is one of the few times I've ever agreed with the ACLU.

Napping a Computer

Oklahoma State University made the national news! Last Friday the Recording Industry Association of America apparently talked the OSU campus police into seizing a student's computer because he was using Napster to collect music. He was also making the music available for others to download. He had something over 1000 songs on his hard drive.

The Recording Industry people said they just notified the police and had nothing to do with the seizure. Somehow I find that hard to believe. If every college student in the U.S. with unauthorized copyrighted material on a computer has the computer seized, I think it would run into the millions of computers. Why was this guy picked out? I think they just should have told him to stop it.

According to the news reports, the student was not making money from the music, and he had not been charged with anything. The police did get a search warrant before they took his computer.

Can the IOC be Bought?

Two Romanian weightlifters flunked their drug tests last Friday. Another had failed last May. According to the rules of the International Weightlifting Federation, they entire team was automatically suspended from competition for one year. But in the tradition of the International Olympic Committee (not to mention Salt Lake City), Romania paid $50,000 and was let back into the competition.

This was actually legitimate. The International Weightlifting Federation does have a clause to let a team that flunks out on drugs buy their way back into competition, and the IOC does abide by their rules. It is pretty funny though -- "You're out of the game! That is, unless you have $50,000."

Web Bugs

In Junkmail 47 I talked a little bit about web bugs. They're small automatic links you can get in your html-format email that let the sender know that you read the email they sent. It can also be used to pass along things like your IP address. Someone sent me a neat example of a web bug that was embedded into a Word document. I didn't realize that was possible. You don't even have to open an email or a browser to unknowingly send information to someone's web site.

The Privacy Foundation is fighting web bugs. Here's their latest:

The Picture of Today is from the Hubble Space Telescope, of Saturn's Auroras. It's pretty interesting.


The other pictures of today are from Colorado last weekend. Here are some mountains:

...and a few rocks:

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