Annals of the Invasion of Privacy (cont’d.)

Junk Faxes To Become Legal Again? “Congress is about to do for junk faxes what they recently did for spam: Make it LEGAL as long as a qualified advertiser puts an ‘opt out’ notice on the faxes!

They call it the Junk Fax Prevention Act, but as you can see from the bill text and testimony at the link at the bottom of this page, it will do just the opposite… it will legalize the sending of junk faxes from qualifying advertisers.

The way they are doing this is to allow unlimited faxing of ads (until you get sick enough of it to complain and your complaint meets certain requirements) if you have an ‘Existing Business Relationship,’ but the definition of an EBR is so loose that it will be trivial for junk faxers to establish an EBR with virtually any business or consumer. A spammer can establish an EBR with your company just by visiting your website, calling your phone, or sending an email (provided someone replies, even an auto-responder). That gives them the right to LEGALLY send advertising to your fax machine.

Not only that, the current bill creates a never-ending EBR, so they can junkfax you forever until you opt out. So someone who spoke with you 20 years ago can legally send you junk faxes as soon as this bill passes. And, like spam, once you’ve opted out, you’ve just proven that it’s a real fax number and you look at your faxes…now your number is more valuable to sell to others.” (The J-Walk Blog )


What Happens to BitTorrent After the Supreme Court’s Grokster Decision?

“BitTorrent and its creator, Bram Cohen, should be just fine. Some services that use BitTorrent to promote infringing file sharing for commercial gain, like the now defunct Suprnova.org, are most likely in trouble. The difference in results points to one fortunate aspect of today’s decision. The Court’s holding focuses on “bad actors,” not “bad technology.”” — Mark Schultz, Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois School of Law (Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog)

Road Rage

Relax and let a flip-book do the screaming: “Road Rage Cards™ is just what you need if you really want to make a statement.

The printing is large and easy to read from a distance. The cards are tabbed and arranged by topic, so you can find the right message fast.

The book includes a variety of uncensored and censored messages (for those with slightly smaller balls). We’ve included a message for just about every annoying driver you’ll encounter (43 messages in all), and we’ve also included some blank pages for you to write your own messages!”



“Make a ‘SORRY’ Sign: According to a regional survey conducted by Drs. Arnold P. Nerenberg and R. Jerry Adams, over half of drivers in the USA suffer from road rage. The average number of incidents per road rager is 27. That means that most of us will encounter road ragers many times in our lives. Road rage can lead to injuries or even death. The U.S. Highway Safety Office has testified to Congress that tens of thousands of accidents each year can be linked directly to aggressive driving, including road rage, and is now a leading cause of death for young children.

A road rager can become upset because you accidentally cut in front of him or her, or other reasons that were not intentional. A key factor in reversing the process is an apology. Over 85 percent of road ragers said that they would drop the matter if the other ‘careless’ driver simply apologized. Instead, road ragers claim, the ‘careless’ driver seems to be unconcerned about what they just did and, therefore, needs to be taught a lesson. In a car, only one method is effective in conveying an apology: A sign.”

I actually favor having one of those electronic displays in your window with marching programmable messages made from LEDs. You have your choice of conciliatory or inflammatory messages, of course.


Deep Impact

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“On the 4th of July, a NASA spacecraft will blast a hole in Comet Tempel 1. For the last five billion years of our planet’s violent history, Earth has been walloped by comets. These small bodies and their asteroid cousins whacked Earth often in its early years, knocking the stuffing out of our young world. As the solar system matured, impacts happened less often—but they have never ceased. Earth bears its scars in the form of weathered craters and extinct species.

This 4th of July is payback time. For the first time in history, Earth gets to strike back. The weapon: a NASA spacecraft named Deep Impact. The target: a 10-mile wide comet named Tempel 1.

Deep Impact is going to shoot an 820-pound projectile into the rocky, icy nucleus of Comet Tempel 1. The 23,000 mph collision will form a big crater, and Deep impact will observe the stages of its development, how deep it gets and how wide it becomes. Researchers expect a plume of gas and dust to spray out of the crater. Deep Impact will measure its composition and record what the billowing plume does to the comet’s atmosphere. In all, Deep Impact should be able to peer into the new crater for almost 15 minutes before the craft speeds away, continuing, like its cometary quarry, to orbit forever around the Sun.” (NASA)

The current planned time of impact is 05:52 ±3 min UT on the 4th of July (i.e. July 3rd at 10:52 p.m. PDT or July 4th at 1:52 a.m. EDT). The comet’s coordinates at that time: RA: 13h 38m, dec: -09° 35′, i.e. about 3.5° east northeast of Spica. Right now the comet is a faint 10th magnitude fuzzball, but it could brighten considerably, perhaps to naked-eye visibility, when Deep Impact strikes. It is expected to be an easy target through binoculars and may even be visible to the naked eye under dark sky conditions. It is not clear how fast the flare will fade.

“When Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 split after being catastrophically disrupted in July 1992, it remained pretty bright for several months, fading considerably about a year after the split. This impact will not be nearly as disruptive, so my guess is that it will continue to brighten for a day or so, then fade over the next several weeks. But since this type of experiment has never been done, we really do not know.”

Viewing tips here. (SpaceWeather.com)


MSNBC Analyst Says Cooper Documents Reveal Karl Rove as Source in Plame Case

“Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to federal court, presumably revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant on the name of that source, and what might happen to him or her. Friday night, on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show, Lawrence O’Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, claimed to know that name–and it is, according to him, top White House mastermind Karl Rove.” (Editor & Publisher)