Hard-Disk Risk

Declan McCullagh makes a hobby of buying used hard drives to see what data has not been erased from them. For example,

“I took the drives home and started my own forensic analysis. Several of the drives had source code from high-tech companies. One drive had a confidential memorandum describing a biotech project; another had internal spreadsheets belonging to an international shipping company.

Since then, I have repeatedly indulged my habit for procuring and then analyzing secondhand hard drives. I bought recycled drives in Bellevue, Wash., that had internal Microsoft e-mail (somebody who was working from home, apparently). Drives that I found at an MIT swap meet had financial information on them from a Boston-area investment firm. Last summer, I started buying drives en masse on eBay…

Much of the data we found was truly shocking. One of the drives once lived in an ATM. It contained a year’s worth of financial transactions—including account numbers and withdrawal amounts—from a organization that had a legal requirement to not divulge such information. Two other drives contained more than 5,000 credit card numbers—it looked as if one had been inside a cash register. Another had e-mail and personal financial records of a 45-year-old fellow in Georgia. The man is divorced, paying child support and dating a woman he met in Savannah. And, oh yeah, he’s really into pornography.” —CSO

…And it is so easy to completely wipe a disk irretrievably.

Top doc backs picking your nose and eating it

“Innsbruck-based lung specialist Prof Dr Friedrich Bischinger said people who pick their noses with their fingers were healthy, happier and probably better in tune with their bodies.

He says society should adopt a new approach to nose-picking and encourage children to take it up.

Dr Bischinger said: ‘With the finger you can get to places you just can’t reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner.

‘And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body’s immune system.

‘Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. In terms of the immune system the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine.

‘Modern medicine is constantly trying to do the same thing through far more complicated methods, people who pick their nose and eat it get a natural boost to their immune system for free.'” —Ananova [via dangerousmeta]

Can the revulsion that this image causes most people be explained entirely in terms of their socialized manners? Given the evidence that the emotion of disgust serves an important evolutionary purpose (BBC), could there be an evolved disincentive to picking one’s nose, in contrast the the advantages touted here??

Bush League Follies

As BillMon points out, the latest Rasmussen Presidential Tracking Poll, from a pollster who some have seen as biased toward the Republicans, puts Kerry at 46% and Bush at 45%. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld is singing out of the other side of his mouth these days (Village Voice), testifying to the 9-11 commission that the 9-11 attacks were a law enforcement issue and not under the mandate of the Dept. of Defense, which defends the US against threats outside our borders. So where does that leave the administration’s ignoring all the pleas in late 2001 to treat bin Laden’s actions as crimes rather than acts of war, and arrest and try him rather than bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age? And, of course, there’s Condoleeza Rice, who sings out of both sides of her mouth at the same time. And The New York Daily News reports that Richard Clarke turned the Bushies’ best week, when they “had John Kerry on the run” into one in which they are scrambling to spit the crow out of their mouths. Discrediting and refuting Clarke are now apparently the White House’s sole preoccupation. It seems to me that this puts the final nail in the coffin of the President’s claims to be a ‘war president’, which would depend on uniting the country behind his vision and leadership no matter how unpopular the decisions he had to make rather than descending to pitiful, politicized squabbling which divides the country further. But you already knew that…

The New York Times reports we are fashioning a legal subterfuge to keep US forces in control of the security situation after the June 30th deadline to hand over responsibility to the Iraqis. And the Washington Post has dismal reports on the level of the morale of US troops in Iraq.

The Brain? It’s A Jungle In There

The immensity of Dr. (Gerald) Edelman’s project — explaining the development of the human mind — overwhelms. Yet his ideas about how consciousness arises from the firings of neurons begin to seem eminently plausible because something similar seems to be happening in the hum and current of your own brain, in the excited state brought on by Dr. Edelman’s voluble mixture of calculation, charisma, enterprise and brilliance.” —New York Times

Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants

“It’s a groundbreaking court decision that legal experts say will affect everyone: Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business.

Leaders in law enforcement say it will provide safety to officers, but others argue it’s a privilege that could be abused.

The decision was made by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Two dissenting judges called it the ‘road to Hell.’

The ruiling stems from a lawsuit filed in Denham Springs in 2000.

New Orleans Police Department spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said the new power will go into effect immediately and won’t be abused.” —New Orleans Channel

It is inconceivable to me that this decision will stand on review by a higher court. It is unbelievable to me what abuses some try to push through…