All content on this blog from Tim McGhee has moved to the Tim McGhee Substack, and soon, Lord willing, will be found only on that Substack.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

NASA Research: Dust devils on Mars might have high-voltage electric fields: "Scientists have found clues dust devils on Mars might have high-voltage electric fields, based on observations of their terrestrial counterpart. This research supports the vision for space exploration by helping to understand challenges the martian environment presents to explorers, both robotic and, eventually, human."

"'Complex tracks, generated by the large martian dust devils, are commonly found in many regions of Mars, and several dust devils have been photographed in the act of scouring the surface,' said MATADOR Principal Investigator Dr. Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz."
Few solutions pop up at FTC adware workshop: "Spyware, adware and other code that lurks on hard drives has become so pervasive it's bedeviling home users, driving corporate technology managers to distraction and has become the top complaint in customer service calls to computer makers.

"But participants in a one-day workshop convened Monday by the Federal Trade Commission couldn't decide what to do about it."

"McAfee Security manager Bryson Gordon, whose company sells the McAfee AntiSpyware utility, says his company detected fewer than 2 million adware or spyware products in August 2003. By March 2004, the total number had zoomed to just more than 14 million. It's become 'a larger technical support problem than viruses,' Gordon said."

"Jennifer Baird, legislative counsel to Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., said the technology industry was naive to think that politicians would sit idle while companies debated definitions. 'What we're hearing is that, "This is a problem, it should be solved, but we don't know how to do that, hold on,"' said Baird, whose boss has introduced an antispyware bill. 'That's not how it works in Congress.'"

"Google senior policy counsel Andrew McLaughlin said his employer is 'probably a little less allergic to legislation,' but went on to say, 'the more that I look at the text of the bills that are floating around, the more nervous I become.' Google makes available a toolbar utility for Web browsers that eliminates pop-up ads and, if the user chooses, sends information about Web sites visited back to the company."
In Search of Gravitomagnetism: "NASA's Gravity Probe B spacecraft left Earth today in search of a force of nature, long suspected but never proven: gravitomagnetism. Gravitomagnetism is produced by stars and planets when they spin. 'It's similar in form to the magnetic field produced by a spinning ball of charge,' explains physicist Clifford Will of Washington University. Replace charge with mass, and magnetism becomes gravitomagnetism."

"What does gravitomagnetism do? 'It can make the orbits of satellites precess,' says Will, 'and it would cause a gyroscope placed in Earth orbit to wobble.' Both effects are small and difficult to measure."

"Gravity Probe B, developed by scientists at Stanford University, NASA and Lockheed Martin, … circles Earth in a polar orbit 400 miles high. Onboard are four gyroscopes, each one a sphere, 1.5 inches in diameter, suspended in vacuum and spinning ten thousand times per minute.

"If Einstein's equations are correct and gravitomagnetism is real, the spinning gyroscopes should wobble as they orbit the earth. Their spin axes will shift, little by little, until a year from now they point 42 milli-arcseconds away from where they started. Gravity Probe B can measure this angle with a precision of 0.5 milli-arcseconds, or about 1%.

"Any angle measured in milli-arcseconds is tiny. Consider this: One arcsecond equals 1/3600th of a degree. One milli-arcsecond is 1000 times smaller than that. The half milli-arcsecond precision expected for Gravity Probe B corresponds to the thickness of a sheet of paper held edge-on 100 miles away."
ACLJ Files Federal Lawsuit after National Park Service Revoked Permit to Display Pro-Life Signs in Washington, D.C.: "The American Center for Law and Justice, which specializes in constitutional law, today filed suit against the Secretary of the Interior and the National Park Service after the government revoked a permit issued to pro-life organizations to display pro-life signs in Washington, D.C. this upcoming weekend—to counter the pro-abortion message expected to be delivered at the upcoming March for Freedom of Choice.

"'The National Park Service maintains the sidewalks along the National Mall but it does not own them, and it cannot, barring exceptional circumstances, deny to citizens the right to use them for the purpose of expressing their views on important issues of the day,' said James M. Henderson, Sr., ACLJ Senior Counsel, who filed the suit this morning.

The ACLJ today filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the Reverend Patrick Mahoney and his pro-life organization the Christian Defense Coalition along with Brandi Swindell who heads up Generation Life—an Idaho-based organization of young Christian, pro-life activists."
Broad range of Jewish groups drawn to March for Women's rights: "This weekend's march on Washington for reproductive rights, an election-year exercise in mass message-sending, has a substantial Jewish component. Two major national Jewish women's organizations and three religious denominations are organizing busloads of participants for Sunday's March for Women's Lives on the National Mall in Washington."

"Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first woman ordained as a rabbi in the United States, said she is traveling to the rally because she wants to preserve women's rights and the rights of Jews to practice their religion. 'Judaism says very specifically that a fetus is not a person until birth and until it survives 30 days,' said Priesand, who is traveling with a contingent from her synagogue, Monmouth Reform Temple, in Tinton Falls, N.J."

To the Chief Musician. Set to 'The Deer of the Dawn.' A Psalm of David.: "But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother's womb You have been My God."

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.: "You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them."

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Google May Have Triggered Requirements to Become 'Publicly Reporting' Company: "Rampant speculation about a possible public stock offering has turned Google into the most closely watched technology company in the world. Now the Mountain View Internet company may be forced to show its hand.

"Privately held Google appears to have triggered a provision of the 1934 Securities and Exchange Act that requires it to disclose closely guarded financial details by the end of the month. The filing, with the Securities and Exchange Commission, would reveal so much about the secretive firm that many experts believe Google might take the next logical step and file for an initial stock offering, reaping the financial rewards that go along with having to open its books."

"Companies must report financial results to the SEC once they have at least $10 million in assets and more than 500 shareholders of record, including employees who hold stock options. Google's profits are thought to be $100 million or more. And the assumption—reinforced by Google's Web site, which touts "pre-IPO stock options" to prospective employees—is that the company has granted stock options to most of its more than 1,000 employees.

"If those assumptions are true, then Google should have to start making quarterly filings to the SEC by April 30, which is 120 days after the close of its fiscal year."

"Most companies view this middle ground with disdain because they spend millions to comply with government regulations and get nothing in return."
Marian Koshland Science Museum Grand Opening: "Discover DC's newest museum as its doors open to the public—revealing the science driving today's headlines and affecting our lives every day.

"The Grand Opening will spring into action with performances by Velocity Stilts—acrobats who have adapted the latest technology used in artificial limbs into high-performance stilts. The big-band sound of the Junkyard Saints will also entertain as museum interns from Banneker High School engage visitors in hands-on science activities.

"Museum admission will be free on opening day only—general admission rates will go into effect Saturday, April 24."

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Father's Love Letter: "The Cry Of A Father's Heart From Genesis To Revelation"

My Child…

You may not know me, but I know everything about you …Psalm 139:1 I know when you sit down and when you rise up …Psalm 139:2 I am familiar with all your ways …Psalm 139:3 Even the very hairs on your head are numbered …Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image …Genesis 1:27 In me you live and move and have your being …Acts 17:28 For you are my offspring …Acts 17:28 I knew you even before you were conceived …Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation …Ephesians 1:11-12 You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book …Psalm 139:15-16 I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live …Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made …Psalm 139:14 I knit you together in your mother's womb …Psalm 139:13 And brought you forth on the day you were born …Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me …John 8:41-44 I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love …1 John 4:16 And it is my desire to lavish my love on you …1 John 3:1 Simply because you are my child and I am your father …1 John 3:1

Friday, April 16, 2004

Read My Mail, Please: "The real threat of using Web mail—from Google or from anyone else—is having your mail itself subpoenaed or just plain leaked. Web mail accounts have been cracked despite the best efforts of their administrators.

"CNET cyber-rights advocate Declan McCullagh listed past security breaches at Yahoo! and Hotmail in a column this week, then slammed critics of Gmail's ad plan on his Politech mailing list. 'I'm starting to suspect that these pro-regulatory privacy folks who are so upset about Google are really just anti-advertising,' he wrote, because they haven't raised similar cries over antispam software."

Declan continued: "They claim Gmail's text scanning (done entirely by a machine) is so awful and invasive and intrusive. And of course they do this from the comfort of their own email accounts, which are text-scanned by an anti-spam program (also done entirely by a machine). What's the difference?"
NASA Soars to Top of Satisfaction Ratings Among Various Workers: "Best place to work in the executive branch if you're under 40: NASA. Best place to work if you're in a racial minority: NASA. Best place to work if you're a woman: NASA.

"Overall, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ranked No. 1 in eight of 10 categories analyzed by two outside groups that crunched federal employee survey data to create a 'Best Places to Work in the Federal Government' listing.

"The two groups, which published a government-wide ranking of agencies five months ago, offered a second round of data yesterday to show how agencies fared when ranked by demographics. According to the data released yesterday, the National Science Foundation ranked No. 1 among two sets of workers—men and headquarters staff—as the best place to work."
Channels a la Carte: "About 20 years ago, bar owners, hollow-dwellers and early adopters such as Cooper gravitated toward the big satellite dish. Attached to a motor, the antenna scans the satellites in orbit overhead, pulling down their low-wattage, analog transmissions, hence the need for a big dish to catch them.

"Customers pay programming distributors per channel, but in the big dish's early days, many channels were free. The analog satellite signals are called C-band, and big-dish owners, somewhat analogous to the ham-radio underground, call themselves C-banders.

"For Cooper, who also has a shortwave radio in his car, the big dish has been a unique window on the world. A Francophone, he has watched French-language programs from Canada, used the dish to listen to overseas radio and once accessed a special video feed and saw a Chinese rocket crash on takeoff. (He also saw the Challenger space shuttle explode while watching NASA's video feed.)"

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Just in case you were wondering, according to IRS Publication 525 (PDF), "Illegal income, such as stolen or embezzled funds, must be included in your income on line 21 of Form 1040, or on Schedule C or Schedule C–EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity." Good to know!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Two of these United States in which we live have decided that they like Sprint PCS the best for wireless voice and data services: Texas and Arkansas. (So points out Tim while he's online at his church over his Sprint phone.)
Partial Birth Abortion Judge Quizzes Abortionists about Fetal Pain: "Three courts scattered around the country began hearing testimony last week in cases that are testing the constitutionality of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. Court transcripts show how one Judge's intense interest in fetal pain has raised hopes among pro-lifers that the ban may be upheld. According to transcripts of opening statements, New York District Court Judge Richard Conway Casey repeatedly questioned abortionists about infant pain during the procedure known as partial birth abortion.

"Casey pointedly asked abortion advocate Dr. Timothy Johnson 'does the fetus feel pain?' Before allowing Johnson to answer Casey said, 'There are studies, I'm told, that says they do.' Johnson replied that he had not heard of such studies. Casey asked if the infant's pain 'ever crosses your mind when you are doing a dismemberment?' Johnson said no and Casey expressed surprise that fetal pain 'never crossed your mind,' commenting that 'although you have never done (a partial birth abortion), do you know whether or not the incision of the scissors on the base of the skull of the baby, whether that hurts? Did you ever ask one of those who perform them whether it hurts the fetus?'

"Casey also wanted to know if the infant was still alive during the procedure and if 'the fingers of the baby (were) opening and closing. Were the feet moving?' Johnson said that there could be such movement. Casey followed up with a question on the instrument used to remove the baby's head. Johnson described it as tongs such as those used in 'picking up salad,' but Casey interrupted and said, 'Except here you are crushing the head of a baby.'

"Casey was also concerned with how much information the doctors told the mother about the procedure. He asked, 'So you tell her the arms and legs are pulled off. I mean, that's what I want to know, do you tell her [that] you are going to remove parts of her baby?' Casey returned to the topic later in the examination, 'Do you describe in detail what the intact D&E or the partial birth abortion involves including sucking the brain out of the skull?' Johnson replied that 'I don't think we would use those terms. We try to do it in a way that's not offensive or gruesome or overly graphic for patients.' Casey asked in response 'Can they fully comprehend unless you do?' Casey accused abortionists of making abortion 'nice and palatable so that they wouldn't understand what it's all about.'"
Arrests key win for NSA hackers: "A computer hacker who allowed himself to be publicly identified only as 'Mudhen' once boasted at a Las Vegas conference that he could disable a Chinese satellite with nothing but his laptop computer and a cellphone.

"The others took him at his word, because Mudhen worked at the Puzzle Palace—the nickname of the U.S. National Security Agency facility at Fort Meade, Md., which houses the world's most powerful and sophisticated electronic eavesdropping and anti-terrorism systems."

"The Orleans arrest is considered an operational milestone for this vast electronic eavesdropping network and its operators. But Dave Farber, an Internet pioneer and computer-science professor at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said the circumstances are also notable because it will be the first time that routine U.S. monitoring of e-mail traffic has led to an arrest.

"'That's the first admission I've actually seen that they actually monitor Internet traffic. I assumed they did, but no one ever admitted it,' Mr. Farber said." "Google has teamed up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 16 other universities around the world in an effort to provide a way to search the institutions' collections of scholarly papers."

Sunday, April 11, 2004

NASA Considers Space Visitors: "NASA is weighing a Russian request that astronauts spend a year on the international space station to make visits possible for paying customers, and expects to decide in a few weeks."

Friday, April 9, 2004

Teens have different perspective on Capital than most: "Glistening marble and limestone monuments might inspire national pride when tourists young and old throng a National Mall now scented by cherry blossoms, but the truly studious student visitors to the nation's capital want answers. 'The eternal flame? When it rains, I wonder how it stays on,' said Amanda Smith, 13, of Memphis, Tenn., four days into a five-day Washington field trip with her eighth-grade class."
Consumers eager for Internet phone service: "A new survey provides encouragement to the cable TV and telecommunications companies that are rushing to launch discount phone services using Internet technology. But it also shows what a difficult time traditional phone companies may have in trying to hang on to their customers in the face of new competition.

"One in three consumers would switch from their existing land-line phone service to Internet-based phone service for a discount of 20 percent or more, according to the Gallup Organization survey, which was commissioned by the investment firm UBS.

"Three of every four consumers don't much care whether they are getting a package of telephone, TV and Internet services from their local phone company or their cable company, according to the survey. 'Without a clear preference for cable- or carrier-provided voice service, both sides still need to win the hearts and minds of the customers, suggesting competition will be fierce and costly,' said UBS analyst Aryeh Bourkoff."

Thursday, April 8, 2004

RIM enjoys another strong quarter, Sprint expected to sell BlackBerrys: "Research and consulting firm American Technology Research said it expects Sprint PCS to begin selling RIM's BlackBerry devices within the next two quarters. The deal is significant as Sprint PCS is the only remaining nationwide carrier in the United States that is not selling RIM's wireless e-mail devices. Officials from Sprint and RIM did not return requests for comment."
Massive Conference in Mexico City Advances Pro-Family Cause: "Possibly the largest pro-family conference ever held concluded last week with the passage of a declaration seeking to reestablish international recognition of the family as the 'fundamental' unit of society, and to seek protection for the traditional family from persistent cultural and governmental attacks."
Clear Channel Dropping the Howard Stern Show: "Federal regulators said on Thursday they will seek fines totaling $495,000 against six Clear Channel Communications Inc. radio stations for airing indecent comments made on the popular Howard Stern show.

"The Federal Communications Commission said the amount represented the maximum possible under current law of $27,500 for each of the total of eighteen violations."
Dr. Condoleezza Rice's Opening Remarks to Commission on Terrorist Attacks: "As your hearings have shown, there was no silver bullet that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. In hindsight, if anything might have helped stop 9/11, it would have been better information about threats inside the United States, something made difficult by structural and legal impediments that prevented the collection and sharing of information by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies."

"President Bush is leading the country during this time of crisis and change. He has unified and streamlined our efforts to secure the American Homeland by creating the Department of Homeland Security, established a new center to integrate and analyze terrorist threat information, directed the transformation of the FBI into an agency dedicated to fighting terror, broken down the bureaucratic walls and legal barriers that prevented the sharing of vital threat information between our domestic law enforcement and our foreign intelligence agencies, and, working with the Congress, given officials new tools, such as the USA PATRIOT Act, to find and stop terrorists."

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

SEO's Relationship With Website Architecture: "Search engine optimization for today's search engine robots requires that sites be well-designed and easy-to-navigate. To a great degree, organic search engine optimization is simply an extension of best practices in web page design.

"SEO's relationship with web design is a natural one. By making sites simple and easily accessible, you are providing the easiest path for the search engine robots to index your site, at the same time that you are creating the optimum experience for your human visitors."
A truly unique cover story: "There's little chance of the postman delivering the June copy of Reason magazine to the wrong address. The home of each of the 40,000 subscribers to the Libertarian publication will be circled in red on the cover, which will show an aerial photo of a subscriber's neighborhood.

"By marrying satellite aerial photography with the sophisticated technology of a donated Xeikon digital printing press, Cal Poly graphic communication students are creating 40,000 individualized covers for the upcoming edition of the monthly print magazine of 'free minds and free markets,' which started in 1968.

"The unusual covers go with a lead story by Declan McCullagh on privacy issues and the positive power of databases, which can be used to give consumers more options and greater convenience. The customized magazines—which only cost a few more cents per copy to produce than their regular issues—are a dramatic way to prove a point: The age of customized information is on the doorstep.

"'This is where print media are going,' said Harvey Levenson, head of the Cal Poly graphic communication department. 'Some day your newspaper may be personalized for the individual reader. It provides people with the opportunity to get the information they are particularly interested in.'"

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Don't Waste Your Life: "John Piper, senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church and founder of Desiring God Ministries, encourages Christians who've been called by Christ to live every day for Him."
Gay Marriage Activists Picket Marriage Conference: "FamilyLife has been organizing marriage conferences for over 25 years, but the Weekend to Remember™ conference in Kalamazoo, Mich., was the first one to be picketed by those who support same-sex unions."
Google PageRank Algorithm Explained
Mall project called damaging, illegal: "Construction around the Washington Monument to prevent terrorist attacks is damaging the National Mall and proceeding under an illegal contract, says a preservation group that is calling for an investigation.

"The National Coalition to Save Our Mall said the National Park Service is exploiting fears of a terrorist attack to restrict access to the Mall, and wants the Interior Department's inspector general to investigate the 1998 contract and numerous additional work orders issued before and after September 11, 2001."
Strategy Analytics: "Sprint PCS Users Lead Landline Substitution While Verizon Wireless Leads Customer Satisfaction"

Monday, April 5, 2004

Yahoo, Google to stop online gambling ads: "Web search engines Yahoo and Google will stop running online gambling ads on their U.S. Web sites, the New York Times reported Monday."

"Federal prosecutors are threatening to go after U.S. companies that are 'aiding and abetting' Internet casinos abroad. Operating online casinos is illegal throughout the United States, but in some states, placing bets at the casinos is legal."
Is NASA watching another catastrophe in the making?: "The two-man crew aboard the international space station reported a strange external noise early Friday—the same unexplained metallic sound that startled them just before Thanksgiving.

"The source of the noise outside the station's Russian crew module, which resembled the flexing of a metal sheet, has not been identified."

"Engineers speculated the first incident was caused by orbital debris striking the outpost, contraction and expansion as the station sailed between sunlight and darkness, or a loose fixture in the humidity control system.

"A February spacewalk in which the two men planned an inspection of the sound source was cut short by a spacesuit problem. Foale and Kaleri are due back on Earth on April 29, ending a 6 1/2-month mission."
Specter, Toomey Senate primary comes down to Fight of the Right: "Since he mounted his campaign more than a year ago, Toomey, 42, has pinned his hopes on getting Pennsylvania's conservatives to turn out in droves for the April 27 primary. The three-term congressman's campaign marks the strongest primary threat to a sitting senator this year.

"The Pennsylvania race is being carefully watched as Republicans' slim 51-seat majority in the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance. It also is considered a litmus test of the strength of the GOP's right wing by national conservatives who are pouring more than $1 million worth of contributions and attack ads into the state to help Toomey.

"Specter, the 74-year-old Senate veteran who is seeking an unprecedented fifth term in Pennsylvania, is campaigning like he's running for his political life. His politically moderate Senate voting record—supporting abortion rights, scaling back the first round of President Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and scuttling the 1987 Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork—has long angered conservatives."
Cellphones turn laptops into traveling Web connection: "Traveling business people make up the most obvious market for the services, which they can use to access e-mail or the Internet from hotels, airports, cars, cafes or nearly anywhere a cellphone works. For some, that anytime-anywhere connection is better than the alternative of hunting for places or services that offer wired Internet connections.

"After using both cards around town, I found Sprint PCS wins hands down on coverage and data rates" vs. AT&T.

Actually, I just returned from a trip on which I used my cellphone to connect my laptop to the Internet—not even with a data card. All I needed was a cable, two free software drivers from Sanyo and Sprint, and I was connected. My speed clocked as high as 300kbps! Not too shabby for a pre-EVDO wireless Internet connection.

I had planned on posting here from the road, but didn't get that far in my email for relevant items by the time it was my turn to drive. Instead, I was busy chatting online with friends. It was really quite fascinating in that it very much had the feeling of the first time I had a cellphone: when I could first talk to people on the phone from anywhere. Now, for the first time, I was connecting to people over the Internet from anywhere!

Friday, April 2, 2004

Boom naysayers lose their last refuge: "Every economic-growth indicator has been strongly positive since the president's tax cut last May. The employment reports were either bullish or flat depending on which ones you looked at. Bush supporters focused on the Labor Department's household survey while detractors focused on the payroll survey. In short, everything was good except the payroll survey. Well—now the payroll survey is booming, too."
World's Most Precise Gyroscopes Ready To Test Einstein Theory: "A NASA spacecraft designed to test two important predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity is set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1 p.m. EDT, April 17.

"NASA's Gravity Probe B mission, also known as GP-B, will use four ultra-precise gyroscopes, orbiting the Earth in a unique satellite, to experimentally test two extraordinary predictions of Einstein's 1916 theory that space and time are distorted by the presence of massive objects."

Thursday, April 1, 2004

Bush Signs Law Against Harming Fetus: "President Bush on Thursday signed into law an act that would make it a separate federal crime to harm a pregnant woman's fetus, in a move likely to bolster his support with conservatives in an election-year."
Arizona Daily Sun: "'Room available, needs work, great views ...' That's how the ad might soon read for a new affordable housing joint venture that, for the first time, will allow local residents to live in caves in the national forest.

"The initiative between the Forest Service and the city of Flagstaff is designed to place Forest Watch volunteers in the forest overnight during the fire season. The volunteers will be allowed to stay on in the caves year-round in exchange for performing other forest stewardship duties."
MSNBC - Judge: File sharing legal in Canada: "Sharing copyrighted works on peer-to-peer networks is legal in Canada, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday, handing the record industry a sharp setback in its international fight against file swappers."

"In a far-ranging decision, the court further found that both downloading music and putting it in a shared folder available to other people online appeared to be legal in Canada."

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