Air New Zealand and Qantas have banned men from sitting next to unaccompanied children on flights, sparking accusations of discrimination.
The airlines have come under fire for the policy that critics say is political correctness gone mad after a man revealed he was ordered to change seats during a Qantas flight because he was sitting next to a young boy travelling alone.
Adults who prey on children are the among the lowest of the low but presuming that any random man who is seated next to a child is dangerous is just plain wrong. As a woman, it's not offensive, but certainly unappealing, to think that I could be placed next to children to be an unofficial babysitter.
If airlines are going to accept unaccompanied children as passengers, it's up to them to care for the children without discriminating against or placing a burden upon other passengers.
Unless they want to upgrade me to first class. Then I'll be happy to watch over the little darlings. I'll even bring a book to read aloud.
A Reuters article reports the theft of "a lion cub and two Arabic-speaking parrots in a recent raid on Gaza's zoo" but it was the penultimate sentence that caught my attention:
Lawlessness in Gaza has increased since Israel completed its pullout in September, ending 38 years of occupation.
Lawlessness? Wow, I'm surprised no one saw that coming.
There are many people out there who have a day-after-Thanksgiving tradition of getting up early and joining large crowds of holiday shoppers for all of the "Black Friday" sales. I am not one of these people. I like shopping well enough, I just don't tolerate "early" or "crowds" well.
If you are one of these brave people, Google has launched a new Froogle feature that can help you plan your shopping trip. Go to Froogle and type in the product and your city or zip code and you'll get a list of stores with the product prices along with a map showing the stores' locations.
Google gets the inventory information from a third-party inventory database. For many items, this may work quite well but I did a search for "xBox 360 Louisville" and got almost 100 results. I'm guessing the results were stores that were advertising the xBox and not necessarily ones that had in stock.
I'm just glad I don't work in any of those stores. Their employees will be spending the next few days telling customers that they know what is in the store's inventory better than Froogle does. Many of the customers will refuse to believe this.
Anyway...this feature does look like a useful tool for most gift shopping. You can sort results by price, distance, and product rating to make your choices and then plan your route.
Internet users are being warned of an in-the-wild worm which is pretending to be an email from an FBI or CIA investigator.
The new version of the Sober worm arrives as an email attachment, with the following message body:
We have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Websites.
Important: Please answer our questions! The list of questions are attached.
Federal Bureau of Investigation-FBI-
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW , Room 3220
Washington , DC 20535
Phone: (202) 324-30000
It's easy to tell this is a fake email. The tip off isn't the part about "illegal Websites". (What is an illegal Website?) It's not the part about tracking my IP. (Google knows more about where I go and what I do online than I believe the government ever could.) It's the "!" in "Please answer our questions!". Agents just aren't that excitable.
THE drive for "green energy" in the developed world is having the perverse effect of encouraging the destruction of tropical rainforests. From the orang-utan reserves of Borneo to the Brazilian Amazon, virgin forest is being razed to grow palm oil and soybeans to fuel cars and power stations in Europe and North America. And surging prices are likely to accelerate the destruction.
Now I'm just waiting for the biofuel companies to get the same kind of public scorn that the petroleum companies have.
I think I'll take up a hobby to pass the time while I wait. Maybe I'll build a full-scale model of the Eiffel Tower. Out of toothpicks. That I carve myself. I bet I'd get more complaints about my destruction of trees than the biofuel companies do.
Machines will take over from humans as the biggest users of the Internet in a brave new world of electronic sensors, smart homes, and tags that track users' movements and habits, the UN's telecommunications agency predicted.
What the report talks about is less a "takeover" and more a parallel use of the Internet.
"Today, in the 2000s, we are heading into a new era of ubiquity, where the 'users' of the Internet will be counted in billions and where humans may become the minority as generators and receivers of traffic," it added.
It's the Internet, not an elevator with a limited occupancy. Improving technology, finding new uses for connecting inanimate things, doesn't reduce the possiblities for its use by people.
The ITU's vision goes further, highlighting refrigerators that independently communicate with grocery stores, washing machines that communicate with clothing, implanted tags with medical equipment and vehicles with stationary or moving objects.
Industrial products would also become increasingly "smart", gaining autonomy and the intelligence thanks to miniaturised but more powerful computing capacity.
"Even particles and 'dust' might be tagged and networked", the ITU said.
If they're worried that technology is moving too quickly they can begin tagging the dust in my house. That ought to slow them down for a century or so.
While the report laid out economic opportunities, a huge expansion of the IT industry and innovation in a wide range of fields from health to entertainment, it also warned of a number of challenges, including privacy issues.
Some of the applications envisaged for emerging RFID tags are to replace human ID documents, track consumer habits, or banknotes.
The ITU said tighter linkages would be needed between those that create the technology and those that use it to cope with its forecast new world.
"In a world increasingly mediated by technology, we must ensure that the human core of our activities remains untouched," the report concluded.
In my opinion, the best way to that end is keeping the Internet in the hands of the tech geeks and out of the UN.
I'm easily amused.
Killer bunny with big, pointy teeth.
Anyone know where I can find a Holy Hand Grenade?
"Eldest of all..." That's just what I want right after my birthday, a comment about my age.
(Link via Drumwaster's Rants)
A Florida law firm's television advertisement featuring a pit bull, a dog breed known for its aggression, is misleading and an affront to the legal profession, the Florida Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
...The advertisements "demean all lawyers and thereby harm both the legal profession and the public's trust and confidence in our system of justice," Chief Justice Barbara Pariente scolded a unanimous decision.
Considering how some people feel about lawyers, they may see this as more of an insult to the dogs.
The MIT $100 Laptop looks pretty good.
The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. This rugged laptop will be WiFi-enabled and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.
It will also be peer-to-peer capable right out of the box.
The laptops will not be available for sale and will only be distributed to schools directly through large government initiatives. They will begin manufacturing the laptops when they have 5 - 10 million paid orders and plan to begin shipping them in late 2006 or early 2007.
I'm kind of sorry that they won't be available for sale. I like gadgets and think it would be cool to have one of these. I'm guessing that the main reason they won't be for sale is that they will have enough trouble producing all the ones they'll need for the "One Laptop per Child" project.
I think it would be really cool if they had a "buy one, sponsor one (or more)" program. I'd do it and I imagine there are plenty of others who would too. The laptops would, of course, go to those who need them first. Once the orders for the children have been filled, the sponsors could receive theirs.
A sponsorship program would get more people involved and help finance the project. It would also reduce the potential customers for blackmarket sales of the laptops, further making sure that the computers get to the kids who need them.
We'll be going out to dinner this evening. Between now and then my plans are to take a nap, maybe do a little work (only because November's been a busy month so far and I don't want to get behind), and eat myself into a chocolate truffle stupor. If I only manage to get the last one accomplished, I'll consider it a day well spent.
Hugh Hewitt has posted about the CNN interview with Mary Mapes.
Mapes also clung to her new narrative that those attacking the documents were "anonymous." This is completely bogus, given that Powerline led the charge and all three contributors there were and have always been public.
Maybe her next book will be a dictionary where she gives new definitions to old words. In this case "anonymous" will no longer mean "unknown" but will instead mean "we couldn't find any dirt on them".
Dr. Sanity has an interesting post on Bush Derangement Syndrome.
Even my chldren have picked up on the illogic of the Bush-blamers' rants. Now when a pair of shoes can't be found, homework goes missing, Gameboy batteries die during a crucial part of a game, or any of the day-to-day mishaps occur, one of them is likely to say, "It's Bush's fault!".
After the Bush-blaming Katrina coverage, even rain and the seasonal change to cooler weather is open to a mocking, "I blame Bush".
Ask them why the dinosaurs became extinct and the answer will likely be, "Bush did it". The Krakatoa eruption in the late 1800s? Bush, again. It doesn't matter when, where, what, or who...the answer is always "Bush".
It's kind of sad when 9, 12, and 16-year-old children can see how silly it is to blame the president for everything while adult Bush-haters can't.
As concern mounts over the potential spread of avian flu to humans, researchers believe they've discovered one reason why the infection can prove so deadly.
A cytokine storm is an exagerated immune response resulting in a build-up of T-cells and fluids in the lungs. The experiments that show that this particular virus may trigger such a response may be new but the knowledge of cytokines is decades old. The article makes it all sound pretty frightening, doesn't it?
After infection with H5N1, levels of the chemokine IP-10 in bronchial epithelial cells reach 2200 picograms [a picogram is one-trillionth of a gram] per milliliter, compared with only 200 picograms per milliliter in cells infected with H1N1.
Other than giving possible clues for the treatment of H5N1, I can't tell from this article if the research on the immune reaction is significant. Wouldn't you expect a new strain to cause a stronger reaction than a flu with several variations that have been in circulation for years?
|You Passed 8th Grade Math|
Along with the ban on handguns in San Francisco, voters have approved "Measure I, dubbed "College Not Combat," opposes the presence of military recruiters at public high schools and colleges. However, it would not ban the armed forces from seeking enlistees at city campuses, since that would put schools at risk of losing federal funding."
"We now have the moral weight of the city behind us, and it's definitely a valuable asset to have in our corner," said Bob Matthews, a College Not Combat activist, adding that the victory would help put pressure on the government to someday institute an actual ban on campus military recruiting.
Moral weight? Accepting recruiters, even though you disagree with them, would be taking a higher moral ground than being willing to sell your beliefs for continued funding.
I don't understand the need to ban recruiters unless the San Francisco schools have done such a poor job of educating their students that they've never learned critical thinking. You know those wiley recruiters will dupe those poor dumb kids into signing up....
The military isn't for everyone, but neither is college. Even if you would never enlist, why should the only option for non-college bound students be the best McJob they can get with a high school diploma?
In science, the word "theory" doesn't mean the same thing it does when we use it in everyday life. (I have a theory on who raided the cookie jar.; It was a good idea in theory but not in reality.; The media offered multiple theories as to who was to blame for the slow response to the hurricane victims.)
When you make a guess that hasn't been tested, that's an hypothesis. A theory has been widely tested and explains a group of facts or phenomena.
The other day I as flipping through the channels on the TV and saw a show where some men were claiming to discuss ID. It was really a dressed-up version of creationism. If that's what they're passing off as intelligent design, then I'm not having any, thank you.
That doesn't mean that I reject the idea that God was the initial creative force of the universe and of life itself. But that is a matter of faith, not science. It does bother me that people on both sides seem to want us to make an "either/or" choice.
I have one question for the newspapers - How can you print articles that mock people for their lack of an understanding of science and their faith in God when you continue to print a daily horoscope section? I must have missed the memo with the scientific proof of astrology.
When I read about the NYT's selective editing of a letter from Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr to emphasize "the harsh life and nearness of death in Iraq" it made me think about another organization that sends volunteers to foreign countries with the goal of improving conditions there, the Peace Corps.
The Dayton Daily News did a series of articles in 2003 about the dangers these volunteers face.
Records from a never-before-released computer database show that reported assault cases involving Peace Corps volunteers increased 125 percent from 1991-2002, while the number of volunteers increased by 29 percent, according to the Peace Corps. Last year , the number of assaults and robberies averaged one every 23 hours.
About one-third of the volunteers leave for non-medical reasons before their two-year commitment is up. Between 1961 and 2003, more than 250 volunteers died: some were murdered, some died by suicide, and some under mysterious circumstances.
Where are the protests demanding to bring these volunteers home? Where are the defeatist headlines reporting each attack and declaring the program a failure?
There aren't any because people still recognize the good that is being done. According to the DDN, "Most of the more than 350 volunteers interviewed by the Daily News, even assault victims, looked favorably on their service. Many felt it was the most significant experience in their lives, giving them a new understanding of the world and leaving them with a new appreciation for the opportunities in the United States."
That's all we're asking for in the coverage of Cpl. Starr's letter, the rest of the story. The part of the letter that says, "I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."