Office workers give away passwords for a cheap pen:

“The second annual survey into office scruples, conducted by the people organising this month’s InfoSecurity Europe 2003 conference, found that office workers have learnt very little about IT security in the past year.

If anything, people are even more lax about security than they were a year ago, the survey found.

Nine in ten (90 per cent) of office workers at London’s Waterloo Station gave away their computer password for a cheap pen, compared with 65 per cent last year.” The Register [thanks, walker]

A new kind of literacy:

on the widening gulf between the science cognoscenti and Everyone Else : “Once we have a society where science is as exciting as football, and where attending a science lecture or debate is as relevant and fun as going to the cinema, only then will we be truly empowered as a society to harness science for what we want in life, rather than the other way round.” — Susan Greenfield, director of the Royal Institution and professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, Guardian/UK

Debunking the Beaver:

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“…(N)ostalgia buffs should look a little more closely before embracing the Cleavers as the ideal family they never had (and can’t hope to duplicate) because, when you penetrate the idyllic surface, it’s hard to imagine anyone really wanting to be like Ward, June and the boys. A close inspection reveals a familial purgatory worthy of Tennessee Williams–toned down for TV, certainly, but still consumed with rage, sexual turmoil and plain old mendacity. This family needs help.”

Annals of Depravity (cont’d.):

I’ll second what rebecca said:

‘Two California poultry farmers who fed some 30,000 live chickens into wood chippers will not face criminal charges because they had permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, prosecutors said on Friday.’ Brooke says it best:

Tell Ann Veneman, the head of the Dept. of Agriculture, that you think that’s deeply fucked up, won’t you? Call her at (202) 720-2791 or email her at

Update: DA to continue inquiry:

After receiving calls, letters and e-mails from across the country, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis yesterday decided to continue investigating two poultry ranches where workers dumped thousands of live chickens into wood chippers.

Investigators will conduct additional interviews so Dumanis can decide whether to reverse an earlier decision not to prosecute ranch owners Arie and Bill Wilgenburg for animal cruelty.

Gail Stewart, district attorney spokeswoman, said Dumanis decided to reconsider after she received a letter from the Humane Society of the United States. Sign On San Diego

The Second Superpower:

“As the United States government becomes more belligerent in using its power in the world, many people are longing for a “second superpower” that can keep the US in check. Indeed, many people desire a superpower that speaks for the interests of planetary society, for long-term well-being, and that encourages broad participation in the democratic process. Where can the world find such a second superpower? No nation or group of nations seems able to play this role, although the European Union sometimes seeks to, working in concert with a variety of institutions in the field of international law, including the United Nations. But even the common might of the European nations is barely a match for the current power of the United States.

There is an emerging second superpower, but it is not a nation. Instead, it is a new form of international player, constituted by the “will of the people” in a global social movement. The beautiful but deeply agitated face of this second superpower is the worldwide peace campaign, but the body of the movement is made up of millions of people concerned with a broad agenda that includes social development, environmentalism, health, and human rights. This movement has a surprisingly agile and muscular body of citizen activists who identify their interests with world society as a whole—and who recognize that at a fundamental level we are all one. These are people who are attempting to take into account the needs and dreams of all 6.3 billion people in the world—and not just the members of one or another nation. Consider the members of Amnesty International who write letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, and the millions of Americans who are participating in email actions against the war in Iraq. Or the physicians who contribute their time to Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres.” — James Moore

Bright Light Exposure Increases Male Hormone:

‘Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have found that the levels of a pituitary hormone that increases testosterone are enhanced after exposure to bright light in the early morning. The findings suggest that light exposure might serve some of the same functions for which people take testosterone and other androgens.

One of the study’s authors, Daniel Kripke, M.D. UCSD professor of psychiatry, added “the study also supports data that bright light can trigger ovulation in women, which is also controlled by luteinizing hormone (LH), the pituitary hormone we studied.” ‘ I wondered, reading this article (but not the actual scientific research paper) if the effect would persist with chronic rather than short term light exposure and whether, for example, there would be a biological difference between high-latitude and equatorial dwellers in this respect.

The impact of antisocial lifestyle on health:

A good summary of the current medical-psychological understanding of ASP (antisocial personality) and its consequences:

An antisocial lifestyle comprises a range of related behaviours that include violent and non-violent offending, substance misuse, truancy, reckless driving, and sexual promiscuity, some of which constitute self evident health risks. Overall, onset peaks at 8-14 years, prevalence peaks at 15-19, and desistance peaks at 20-29 years of age. Early onset predicts a long antisocial career. Since antisocial behaviour and risk taking is more prevalent in men, explanations may be biological as well as social. Antisocial individuals tend to be versatile in their behaviours, although early adulthood is characterised by a switch from group offending to lone offending. Overall, diversification in antisocial behaviours is seen up to the age of about 20, followed by gradual specialisation in particular types of antisocial behaviours, such as illicit use of drugs.

Independent precursors of an antisocial lifestyle include antisocial child behaviour, impulsivity, school failure, an antisocial family, poor parenting, and economic deprivation. Turning points away from an antisocial lifestyle include getting a job, getting married, moving to a better area, and joining the army. Weak bonds to society and individuals, self centredness, low empathy, and lack of religious belief are all associated with substance misuse and an antisocial lifestyle.

The impact of an antisocial lifestyle on health is increasingly well understood. For example, early contact with the police, truancy, school misconduct, and divorce are significant predictors of premature death. Higher death rates among offenders have been attributed largely to concurrent alcohol and illicit use of drugs. Impulsivity, aggression, alienation, and a tendency to experience anger and irritability in response to daily life hassles characterise those taking single health risks: rejection of social norms, danger seeking, impulsivity, and little need or capacity for relationships with other people have been found to characterise those taking multiple health risks. — Shepherd and Farrington, British Medical Journal 326 (7394): 834

Why the Web Will Win the Culture Wars for the Left:

“The architecture of the web, and the way users navigate it, closely resembles theories about the authority and coherence of texts that liberal deconstructionist critics have offered for thirty years. Deconstructionists believe that close analysis reduces any text — novel, statute, religious work — to meaningless blather. The popular response to deconstruction has always been that it’s counterintuitive, that no one reads that way, that it lacks common sense.

That will change. Like reading or breathing, web browsing itself is agnostic with respect to politics and culture. Unlike reading or breathing, however, surfing mimics a postmodern, deconstructionist perspective by undermining the authority of texts. Anyone who has spent a lot of time online, particularly the very young, will find themselves thinking about content — articles, texts, pictures — in ways that would be familiar to any deconstructionist critic. And a community of citizens who think like Jacques Derrida will not be a particularly conservative one.” — Peter Lurie, ctheory [via wood s lot]

What is Peter Falk Doing in Wings of Desire? I’m also indebted to Mark for pointing me to this delightful essay, re-enlivening one of my favorite films for me. Read it if you loved Wings… or if you’re prepared to.

We the Blog:

…in order to form a more artistic union — ‘a bold, new initiative to re-activate the ideals of democracy through discussion among artists, cultural critics and other creative people who are “repositioning themselves as new leaders in the governance of this planet, particularly in these times of crisis,” according to Founder Jeff Gates.’

“Perhaps the imagination is on the verge of recovering its rights.” — André Bréton

"Speech for the End of Time":

Secretary Randall M. Packer of the US Department of Art & Technology will conclude his nationwide tour at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC to deliver the “Speech for the End of Time.” The event will be a direct response to war cries from the Administration that are leading us quickly and inevitably down the path to a day of reckoning.

In Secretary Packer’s tour – which has included Los Angeles, Boulder, and New York City – he has announced the activation of the Experimental Party, the artist-based political party, the “party of experimentation,” and its latest initiative, “10,000 Acts of Artistic Mediation.”

In the “Speech for the End of Time,” Secretary Packer will call on coalition artists to “inspire other artists into action by undergoing aesthetic operation as a form of magic designed as a mediation between our strange hostile world and the human spirit.” For more than 100 years, the avant-garde has gone forth from its studios and garrets to fight for utopian aspirations and social transformation. Today’s artists have entered a fierce struggle against a grave danger, the existential darkness that has possessed our government, that grips its soul.

For according to William Burroughs, “Weapons that change consciousness could call the war game in question.”

Human clones doomed?

“Whether or not rogue scientists could clone a human is hotly debated. After 6 years trying, on over 700 monkey eggs, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh says not.

The current technique, his team conclude, robs primate eggs of proteins they need to survive. The ‘nuclear transfer’ procedure used to create Dolly the sheep “paralyses the egg”, Schatten says. Key proteins are sucked out when the egg is stripped of its DNA to be replaced with genetic material from another cell.” Nature

A new kind of literacy:

on the widening gulf between the science cognoscenti and Everyone Else : “Once we have a society where science is as exciting as football, and where attending a science lecture or debate is as relevant and fun as going to the cinema, only then will we be truly empowered as a society to harness science for what we want in life, rather than the other way round.” — Susan Greenfield, director of the Royal Institution and professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, Guardian/UK