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Desk jobs and getting fat (not phat)

Billosaur IT creep (2 comments)

I'm going through the same thing myself. The problem is that it's very hard to force yourself to go out and walk around at work. The most walking I do is to the cafeteria. When I worked in NYC, I had a lot more walking to do, because I walked from Penn Station to my office, 20 minutes each way. Now I'm much too sedentary; combine that with having too much work waiting at home (renovations, children, laundry, etc.), lack of sleep (5 hours or less a night), and bad eating habits (I find myself snacking after 9 pm), I've gone from a 36 inch waist to a 40.

more than 6 years ago

Submissions

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No Right to Privacy When Your Computer Is Repaired

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "ZDNet's Police Blotter bring us the interesting story of a Pennsylvania man who brought his computer into Circuit City to have a DVD burner installed on his computer and wound up being arrested for having child pornography on his hard drive. Circuit City employees discovered the child pornography while perusing Kenneth Sodomsky's hard drive for files to test the burner, then proceeded to call the police, who arrested Sodomsky and confiscated the computer. Sodomsky's lawyer argued in court that the Circuit City techs had no right to go rifling through the hard drive, and the trial court agreed, but prosecutors appealed and the appeals court overturned the lower court's decision, based on the fact that Sodomsky had consented to the installation of the DVD drive and the techs "weren't randomly perusing the drive for contraband, but instead were testing its functioning in a 'commercially accepted manner.'""
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John Haught on Theology and Science

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "Salon.com has this excellent interview with John Haught, a Roman Catholic theologian at Georgetown University, whose newest book ("God and the New Atheism") takes a look at how religion and science can co-exist. He testified in the landmark 2005 Dover trial, against intelligent design. He does not see evolution as something that invalidates theology, but pushes theology to re-examine its view of God. As well, he believes that the "new atheism" (proposed by Richard Dawkins and others), whereby God can be removed from the equation as some sort of delusion, as showing too much faith in science's ability to identify and explain the functioning of the universe."
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IT Pro Admits Stealing 8.4M Consumer Records

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "The Channel Register is reporting that a database administrator at Fidelity National Information Services, a consumer reporting agency in Florida, has admitted to stealing more than 8.4 million account records and selling them to a data broker. The DBA, William Gary Sullivan, faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of $500,000. He worked at a subsidiary of Fidelity and used his access to its database to steal customer names, addresses and financial account information, then used a business he incorporated to sell the list to an accomplice, who eventually sold it to direct marketing firms."
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Site to Resurrect Dead Forum Comments

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "May the airing of grievances commence! Via Wired, we find out that Billy Chasen, responsible for the exploded iPod display is starting a new website called "Don't Censor Me", dedicated to horror stories about online moderators and their negative treatment of comments/posts. It is described as a site to counterbalance unfair website moderation. Apparently Digg is such a large offender that it has its own tab."
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Flawed Online Dating Bill Being Pushed in NJ

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "According to a report on ars technica, a committee of the New Jersey Assembly is trying to push an on-line dating bill even though it contains significant flaws. The Internet Dating Safety Act would require dating web sites that interact with customers in New Jersey to indicate whether they do criminal background checks and if people who fail such checks are still allowed to register with the site. In addition, the warnings would be displayed in all emails and all sign-up web pages where the site interacts with a New Jersey customer, in a bold, 12-point font. For sites the do background checks, they would be required to inform NJ users of that fact, in the same type of font. And for sites that might allow convicted criminals to sign up, there would be a strict admonition that background checks are not infallible and that the data they use might be incomplete. While perhaps there is merit in the attempt to make online dating safer, you have to wonder what the NJ Assembly actually hopes to accomplish."
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Vonage Lose Appeal; Verizon Owed $120 Million

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "Things do not look good for Vonage. Yesterday, they lost their request for reconsideration of their settlement with Verizon. This means Vonage owes Verizon $120 million to end the patent lawsuit filed against them. The costs associated with defending the case have cut into Vonage's bottom line, and despite attempts to cut costs by laying off 10% of their workforce, they may be unable to make a payment against their debt come December. According to the settlement, Vonage will pay $117.5 million to Verizon and another $2.5 million dollars to charity. Vonage's shares have dropped 87% since their IPO, now hovering around $1.50 per share."
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Facebook App Exposes User Information

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "According to a report on Valleywag.com, the Facebook application Compare People contains a vulnerability that allows user information to be seen by search engines. What type of information? Age, gender, city, ZIP code, favorite music, favorite movies, favorite TV shows, favorite books, "about me," activities, interests, and political views are all searchable. Further, the company that built the app, Chainn, has no information available on their web site, save an email address."
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5 Not-So-Awesome Sci-Fi Inventions

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "Science fiction often makes the future seem like a wonderful place, with all sorts of cool gadgets and technologies that we can only dream of. However, the folks at Cracked.com took a hard look at what your average sci-fi enthusiast would consider some of the best inventions the genre has to offer and determined the 5 that would actually suck. They are:
  1. Matter Replicators
  2. Teleporters
  3. Holodecks
  4. Jet Packs
  5. Flying Cars


It's not so much the technologies themselves, but the reasons why they would suck that are at once funny and very cogent."

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MLB Fans Who Bought DRM Videos Get Hosed

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "Found via BoingBoing, Major League Baseball has just strengthened the case against DRM. If you downloaded videos of baseball games from MLB.com before 2006, apparently they no longer work and you are out of luck. MLB.com, sometime during 2006, changed their DRM system. Result: game videos purchased before that time will now no longer work, as the previous DRM system is no longer supported. When the video is played, apparently the MLB.com servers are contacted and a license obtained to verify the authenticity of the video; this is done by a web link. That link no longer exists, and so now the videos will no longer play, even though the MLB FAQ says that a license is only obtained once and will not need to be re-obtained. The blogger who is reporting this contacted MLB technical support, only to be told there are no refunds due to this problem."
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Note to Criminals: Don't Call Tech Support

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "Darwin Awards, here he comes: according to Ars Technica, a would-be identity thief did himself in by calling tech support about printer drivers. It seems that Timothy Short hit the mother-lode when he stole a PC and a Digimarc printer from the Missouri Department of Revenue, perhaps with dreams of cranking out thousands of fake ids. Problem: he could not unlock the computer he stole and without the necessary drivers, he couldn't use the printer. Ever resourceful, Short called Digimarc tech support a couple of days later (twice), which brought him to the attention of a Secret Service agent, who recognized his voice from a recording of the calls. Short now faces a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison."
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New England Patriots Get Ticket Sellers' Names

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "The New England Patriots sued on-line ticket re-seller StubHub (a subsidiary of eBay) to obtain the list of names of people who tried to buy or sell Patriots tickets using the service. StubHub lost an appeal in Massachusetts state court last week, and was compelled to hand over the list of 13,000 names. It is currently not clear what the Patriots organization intends to do with the names, but they have intimated that they may revoke the privileges of any season ticket holders on the list. The Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group, said the court order to turn over the names infringes on the privacy rights of Patriots fans. At issue, is whether using the on-line service allows an end-run around team rules and Massachusetts state law, by allowing ticket holders to charge extreme mark-ups on their tickets."
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Two Porn Spammers Get Five Years In Prison

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "InformationWeek is reporting that two spammers convicted under the Can-Spam Act for sending pornographic spam emails have been sentenced to five years in prison. According to the Department of Justice, "Jeffrey A. Kilbride, 41, of Venice, Calif., and James R. Schaffer, 41, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., had been sentenced to 72 months and 63 months in prison, respectively, for running an international pornographic spam ring that took in more than $1 million." Each was also fined $100,000, ordered to pay AOL $77,500, and together will forfeit the profits of their illegal business. This was the first case in which obscenity charges were included as part of the Can-Spam Act."
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T-Mobile Phone Unlocking Lawsuit May Proceed

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "Wired is reporting that the California Supreme Court has refused to review two lower court decisions involving a class-action lawsuit against T-Mobile over their policies regarding early termination and phone unlocking. The Court rejected the reviews without comment, opening the door to the lawsuit, which aims to block T-Mobile from collecting a $200 early termination fee from users. Also on the table: an order for T-Mobile to disclose the types of phone-locking technology that may be in use on customer's phones. The ramifications if the lawsuit is successful would be to allow phone users in California to unlock their phones, and might lead to further lawsuits nationwide."
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Missing Potenital Earth-busting Asteroid Found

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "A potentially disastrous 40-year-old mystery has been solved: Where is asteroid 6344 P-L? Back in 1960, asteroid 6344 P-L was identified and classified as a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid," meaning that it's orbit brings it perilously close to Earth's orbit (on the cosmic scale). Unfortunately, it then disappeared, or more precisely, was lost from view. Flash forward to 2007 and scientists believe that 6344 P-L has been rediscovered as 2007 RR9. Further, they are not sure it is an actual asteroid, but actually a comet fragment, which won't hit the Earth anytime soon but bears watching."
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Sony Exec Admits RIAA Lawsuits Are A Money Pit

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "Interesting testimony came out of the first RIAA lawsuit to go to trial in Duluth, Minnesota (Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas). Under cross-examination yesterday, Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, admitted that the RIAA's lawsuit campaign is a gigantic net loss for the music industry. The admission occurred during questioning regarding the damages Sony BMG was seeking against the defendant; as with all these suits, the RIAA is seeking punitive damages only, but Pariser could not in fact come up with a figure as to how much was actually being lost to downloading in this case or any other. Further, she did not know how many people were alleged to have downloaded music from the defendant. She was rather vague on the number of lawsuits that had actually been filed, but did admit that the record comapnies have spent millions on them and have recouped very little."
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PEBKAC Still Plagues PC Security

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "ARS Technica is reporting on a study release by McAfee and the National Cyber Security Alliance (as part of the beginning of National Cyber Security Awareness Month) that suggests when it comes to PC security, the problem between the keyboard and the chair is even worse. PEBKAC has always been a problem, but the study highlights just how prevalent it has become. 87 percent of the users contacted said they used anti-virus software, while 70 percent use anti-spyware software. Fewer (64 percent) reported having their firewalls turned on, and only 27 percent use software designed to stop phishing attempts. Researchers were allowed to scan the computers of a subset of the users, and while 70 percent claimed to be using anti-spyware software, only 55 percent of the machines of those users scanned showed evidence of the software."
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Disney Mobile Coming To An End

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "Not everything the Mouse touches turns to gold. CNet is reporting that Disney plans to end Disney Mobile phone service on December 31st. Disney got in the mobile market 18 months ago, offering phone service that would deliver services and applications designed around the family. Among those, was the ability of parents to track their children and limit their ability to use the phone. Disney did not own its own network, working with Sprint/Nextel to offer it services. The applications may live on and become available through another provider."
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Facebook Is Used As a Mug Book to Catch Suspect

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "CNN is reporting on the case of a Georgetown student, the victim of an attack near the university campus, who used Facebook to id his attacker. The unnamed victim was attacked by a person yelling homophobic epithets, and suffered cuts and bruises to the face and a broken thumb. He went on Facebook to see if he could identify his attacker, and upon finding someone who resembled the attacker, turned the information over to the police. Eventually the police created a photo lineup of possible suspects, and the victim was able to pick his alleged attacker, Phillip Anderton Cooney, from it. Cooney was arrested and has been charged with a bias/hate crime, increasing the potential penalty if convicted."
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The .name Domain: Haven for Cyber-criminals

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "In the war on cyber-crime, the bad guys have a new ally: the registrar running the .name domain. According to a Wired report, Global Name Registry (GNR), the registrar contracted by ICANN to run the .name domain, is charging money to do Whois lookups, frustrating security researchers who are attempting to trace zombie networks back to their source. ICANN normally requires registrars to make Whois data publicly available, but GNR's contract allows the to create tiered data, so that a public search reveals very little data and to find out who actually owns a .name domain requires a fee. Security researchers are balking at the fees, claiming it hampers their efforts if they have to pay to get at what should be publicly available data."
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NY State AG Taking Heat for Secret Porn Plan

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Billosaur writes "Wired is reporting that defense lawyers have become a bit wary of NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's plan to engage MediaDefender to help track down child-porn and its users on the internet. They are worried that the partnership could lead to favoritism in the AG's office later on if MediaDefender were to violate NY state law in the future. There is also concern that such a contract would lead to the incentive to "get results," leading to a host of legal problems. There is also the question of privacy, given the recent hack of MediaDefender's email system that led to the agreement coming to light. "Generally it is not looked upon favorably when a prosecutor engages a private company to collect evidence in a case or to ... partner with in a criminal case," says San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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My Reality Invaded By the Real World

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

So I am at work yesterday afternoon and I get a panicked phone call from my wife because neither of our sons (my stepsons) have shown up from school. Now one has an after-school program he goes to and she is supposed to pick him up at school, but our other son is nowhere to be found. She drives frantically to the school and upon arriving sees no buses anywhere, and more importantly the school is surrounded by police and fire department vehicles. She asks a police officer what is going on and he explains that all the kids were evacuated from the middle school to the high school (which is down the road about 3/4s of a mile), but has no information as to why.

The kids make it home all right, but they were forced to evacuate without being able to at least bring their coats, and yesterday was cold and rainy, which made neither of us happy.

When I got home, I went on the school district web site and sure enough, my guess as to what happened had been accurate: someone had made a bomb threat to the school. Now, we live in central NJ, basically out in the middle of nowhere important, midway between NYC and Philly. We're a fairly diverse, more upscale community, and up until yesterday, peaceful.

This was a middle school, for crying out loud! 4th through 8th graders! 1000+ kids! And someone, some moron, thought it would be funny (or perhaps mean, or even psychotic) to call in a bomb threat to the school about five minutes before dismissal.

I hope it was not a kid in the school, because if it was, I want the the child to watch their parents be flayed alive. Yes, I'm that mad right now. I suspect when I calm down, I will only want them stoned to the point of unconsciousness. If it was an adult, they better have a horrible mental illness, because that's the only thing that would keep me from finding them myself and stringing them up in the center of town. Again, when I calm down, I'll probably be human enough to allow them to live, but horribly crippled. I can't say.

I may be in this state owing to the 9/11 flashback I had when I read it was a bomb threat, for on that day, as I sat in my office, stunned and pretty much incoherent to the disaster going on around me, a higher up came through and told each person still there (there were only a handful of us at the time) that someone had called in a bomb threat against our building in Midtown. It didn't move me to leave, because I knew this was more idle threat than actuality, but it pissed me off that someone thought now was the chance to get in their licks while the lower end of Manhattan was smoking and burning. I don't know if they ever found out who did it, and that person should probably be glad I don't know who they are.

I've watched Oklahoma City, 9/11, Columbine, Virginia Tech... seen them come and go and promised myself I would do everything in my power to keep my kids away from those types of events, full well knowing it's impossible to predict the actions of madmen. And now I'm just so pissed off that it's hard to articulate. The world is so full of problems and we live with enough fear of the unknown now that something like this is unconscionable.

I only hope I calm down.

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Interesting Quote

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

From the Quote of the Day widget on my iGoogle page:

If you put tomfoolery into a computer, nothing comes out of it but tomfoolery. But this tomfoolery, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow ennobled and no-one dares criticize it. - Pierre Gallois

I want to start a software company just so I can make that our motto.

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Interesting Anniversary

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago Today marks the 67th anniversary of one of the most famous engineering disasters of the 20th Century: the failure of the Tacoma-Narrows bridge. "Galloping Gertie", as the bridge was referred to because of its propensity to move, was subjected to 35-40 mile per hour winds this day in 1940, causing the center span to begin a harmonic oscillation that eventually led to structural failure. It was a unique event for the time in that the collapse was filmed, allowing engineers a spectacular view of the bridge's failure.

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The Best Obsolete Technologies

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago Given the nature of the world today, where it seems a technology, application, or piece of equipment is rendered obsolete 15 minutes after it becomes available, Wired has gone back and looked at some of the best obsolete technologies. What's interesting about the list is that despite many of the items having been superseded by more modern technologies, several of them (like the Sundial or the Slide Rule) could still be useful and others have found new life (the Stock Ticker no longer relies on paper, but can be seen on CNBC, CNN, etc. as a crawl at the bottom of the screen).

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RIP, Paul Tibbets

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Paul Tibbets, the man who flew the B-29 bomber Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb, has died at the age of 92. The following is probably the best insight into his life:

Tibbets, then a 30-year-old colonel, never expressed regret over his role. It was, he said, his patriotic duty -- the right thing to do.

"I'm not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did," he said in a 1975 interview.

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Recruiters suck (RANT)

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Now happily ensconced in a new job, I still get a raft of emails from recruiters. No matter how you try to shut down a job search, their are always recruiters who have somehow not gotten the hint or have dredged up a copy of your résumé from 5 years ago and think you're still looking for a job. What cheeses e off most? Glad you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway:

  1. Farmers - recruiters so lazy that they simply do a bulk search, grab your info without reading it, and send you a job that you are clearly not qualified for
  2. Tech-ignorant - nowhere on my res does it say that I work with Java, but I get requests to look at Java jobs all the time. The only place Java appears on my résumé is in the word "JavaScript"
  3. Job-ignorant - I suspect a lot of recruiters simply use on-line tools to match jobs to résumés, because it's clear they don't read their own job copy. If I live in NJ, and a job is in Michigan, and they are looking for only local applicants, do I qualify?
  4. Used-car salesman - yes, the canned patter recruiting email... how I love them so.
  5. Do my job for me - of course, since you've done such a lousy job is sending me a job description that clearly doesn't fit me, I'd be more than happy to pass on the job description to my good friends in the tech business. I realize referrals are a great way to drum up business (I made the mistake of trying to sell life insurance), but I really don't think much of passing around jobs unless there's someone I know who is out of work and could use the help, which happens very rarely.

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An eventful weekend

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

So, it was not your typical weekend:

  1. Went to Boston to see my first ever Red Sox playoff game (got the tickets from a Yankee fan who mysteriously did not want to use them). So of course I get a pretty good game which goes extra innings and sees the BoSox get hammered in the 11th. On the up side, my boys got Steven King's autograph on their tickets, and they met John Kerry (for whatever that's worth these days)
  2. Saw the aftermath of two pretty bad accidents - one going up to MA, and one coming back. Second one closed I-84 in Connecticut for a while; I suspect they had to bring in a helicopter. One burned out pickup, one car with the roof torn off (no doubt by the jaws of life), and then one wrecked SUV.
  3. Went to Salem to see the Witch museum and of course, Halloween season was in full swing there. Strangely, I saw quite a few people missing front teeth -- must be where they congregate.

And to top it off, on my way to work this morning I saw a white Dept. of Homeland Security van crusing down the highway and watched a hawk swoop down and kill something by the side of the road. Autumn has definitely arrived.

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Non-tech Rant: Blender Magazine 40 Worst Rock Lyricists

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

OK, I'm going off on a rant here (apologies to Dennis Miller)... I hear something on the radio this morning about Blender magazine's list of the 40 worst lyricists in rock. Number 1 is Sting, and I'm on the fence about that, but then they get to Number 2: Neil Peart, drummer/songwriter for Rush. OK, now you've pissed me off.

I take enough flack for liking Rush (my wife doesn't get it, but then I don't get her love of Bruce Springsteen, though she grew up near his house... but I digress...) from those who don't consider them a real band, determine them to be formulaic, and generally have contempt for their music. Like being a Red Sox fan, you learn to live with it. But this just shows how far some people have their head up their ass. While no one will confuse Neil with Shakespeare, the songs he's written over the year have heft and resonance, and he does come up with the occasional turn of phrase that leaves you scratching your head, but then have you listened to some of today's pop tunes or rap songs? It just goes to show that intellectual snobbery is alive and well in the universe, especially when it comes to criticism.

I also found number 10 interesting: Jim Morrison. Now, you can go two ways here: his lyrics can be out there, but the fact is, backed up by the music, he created a lot of powerful stuff. Again, too intellectual for "the critics."

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Sulu Reaches New Heights

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

George Takei is now an astronomical object. Well, his name is anyway. The International Astronomical Union's Committee on Small Body Nomenclature approved the re-naming of asteroid 1994 GT9 to 7307 Takei in honor of the Star Trek actor.

It joins the 4659 Roddenberry (named for the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry) and the 68410 Nichols (for co-star Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura). Other main-belt asteroids have been named for science fiction luminaries Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.

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Quote of the Day

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  more than 6 years ago

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'

- Ronald Reagan

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China Attempts to Regulate Buddhist Reincarnation

Billosaur Billosaur writes  |  about 7 years ago It is bad enough that the Chinese government tries to control people in this life, now they are trying to do the same in the next life. According to a Newsweek article, the Chinese government is attempting to legislate reincarnation. Specifically, they have passed a law to regulate how Buddhists reincarnate themselves. This is seen as an indirect stab at the Dalai Lama, since theoretically he is reincarnated in Tibet, and the law would "prevent" Buddhists living outside Tibet from reincarnating in Tibet. This could lead to a scenario where Buddhists are faced with two Dalai Lamas: one the true reincarnation and the other a Chinese-picked version. No matter how you cut it, this has to be one of the more idiotic ideas ever posited.

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