More Junkmail from Bob!

Thursday, March 08, 2001
Important Stuff.

You're lucky -- another short Junkmail!

Foot and Mouth

There is a serious outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in Europe. It infects livestock and is easy to spread. In Portugal they're making Brits wash their shoes when they enter the country. In France they're killing a whole lot of sheep, mainly for prevention. This is not to be confused with the Foot in Mouth disease that has ravaged Washington in recent years, where the victims are considered to be beyond help.,1282,42134,00.html


Want to know how to make a quick $13,000,000 dollars? Go to Ecuador (or Columbia) and kidnap some oil workers. That's how much some oil companies paid for the release of 7 people. 10 were kidnapped last October. Two escaped. One person, from Tulsa, was killed in January to show they're serious. The oil companies refused to pay 80 million, but came up with 13 million to save the seven.

This happens more than you hear about. Many companies keep kidnappings and ransom payments quiet. I guess it's are hard decision. If you pay, it adds to the growing business of kidnapping. Americans are prime targets. If you don't pay, you cost people their lives, if indirectly.

I heard of one Colombian businessman who had a pilot-employee kidnapped. They wanted one million dollars. He said they could go ahead and kill him, he's not worth that much. So they did. I don't think I'll be visiting Ecuador or Columbia any time soon.


Here's the invention of the week (even though it's three years old). It's weighs 11,384 pounds (about 3,109,648,391,535,280,000,000,000,000,000  atomic mass units) and is 12 feet 11 inches (397 cm) tall. It's Dino the robot! With a Pentium 700 in each of its 4 legs, it can walk around. What's it good for? I think the most promising application is as a dinosaur in a theme park.


Judge Marilyn told Napster to get all the links to copyrighted music off its servers. She also told the recording industry that they have to tell Napster whenever a copyrighted song appears on their servers. For a day or so, there was very little copyrighted music available on Napster. Then Aimster Pig Encoder came out. It's a front-end to napster that puts the first letter of each word last, converting metallica to etallicam, for example.

I checked it out. Yesterday there were no songs on Napster by Metallica, but there were lots of songs available by the new band etallicam. I downloaded one. But of course I didn't listen to it lest the internet police raid my house.

I think that's pretty funny. I doubt it will last long, but it sure made Judge Marilyn look dumb.

DVD Decryption

Speaking of judges, a little more than a year Judge Lewis declared that the program DeCSS is illegal. It's a program that lets you watch DVDs on your computer. It decrypts some data on the DVD. Lewis said that programs are not entitled to first amendment rights. The Bush administration agrees with him.

People who disagree have gotten quite creative since then. They put the decryption code on t-shirts, embedded it in poetry, and even embedded the program in some bits of a picture.

The latest is a program called qrpff, written in Perl. It's small enough that a lot of people are using it in the signature tags to their email. I think the motion picture association is fighting a losing battle on this one. It's tough to stifle information in the internet age. Here's qrpff. I haven't looked at this closely or compiled it, so I'm not sure if it works. It requires 5 title key bytes as an argument. 153, 2, 8, 105, 225 work fine.

# 526-byte qrpff, Keith Winstein and Marc Horowitz <>
# MPEG 2 PS VOB file on stdin -> descrambled output on stdout
# arguments: title key bytes in least to most-significant order


Polarity Swap

Imagine a huge world that reversed its north and south poles in the past few months, and in the process blasted tons of matter millions of miles from its surface. Awesome, huh? Here's a picture:


It's the sun.

Here are some details:

Pictures of Today

Tonight I was driving along looking at the full moon. I can do this while I drive because everyone else watches the road. I drove under a contrail and it looked like it moved across the moon. This was obviously the cirrus lunar equinox, so I am hereby declaring Winter over and Spring begun. Here's proof, except the contrail disappeared from the picture. I think aliens must have gotten it.


The other picture of today is of the Aircam -- it's still going, after almost 20 hours in the air. Mike took this picture of me from our Archer.


Yeah, yeah, this week's pictures aren't too outstanding. But maybe it will make next week's look that much better.

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I'm Bob Webster and I can be found occasionally at