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Boeing Patent Shuts Down AMC-14 Lunar Flyby Salvage Attempt

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 17:39 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, Intellectual Property


The AMC-14 commercial geostationary satellite was launched in March by a Proton launch vehicle into space just short of its minimum geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

SES Americom, the world’s largest commercial satellite firm, owns the satellite and was to lease capacity on AMC-14 to the Echostar group.

Following the failed launch, SES Americom looked into how they might salvage the satellite in a manner similar to the Asiasat-3 salvage in 1998.

However, SpaceDaily has now learned that a plan to salvage AMC-14 was abandoned a week ago when SES gave up in the face of patent issues relating to the lunar flyby process used to bring wayward GEO birds back to GEO Earth orbit.


Primarily this is because SES is currently suing Boeing for an unrelated New Skies matter in the order of $50 million dollars – and Boeing told SES that the patent was only available if SES Americom dropped the lawsuit.

Industry sources have told SpaceDaily that the patent is regarded as legal “trite”, as basic physics has been rebranded as a “process”, and that the patent wouldn’t stand up to any significant level of court scrutiny and was only registered at the time as “the patent office was incompetent when it came to space matters”.

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8-year-old girl asks for divorce in court

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 17:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


An eight-year-old girl decided last week to go the Sana’a West Court to prosecute her father, who forced her to marry a 30-year-old man.

Nojoud Muhammed Nasser arrived at court by herself on Wednesday, April 2, looking for a judge to handle her case against her father, Muhammed Nasser, who forced her two months ago to marry Faez Ali Thamer, a man 22 years her senior. The child also asked for a divorce, accusing her husband of sexual and domestic abuse.

According to Yemeni law, Nojoud cannot prosecute, as she is underage. However, court judge Muhammed Al-Qathi heard her complaint and subsequently ordered the arrests of both her father and husband.

“My father beat me and told me that I must marry this man, and if I did not, I would be raped and no law and no sheikh in this country would help me. I refused but I couldn’t stop the marriage,” Nojoud Nasser told the Yemen Times. “I asked and begged my mother, father, and aunt to help me to get divorced. They answered, ‘We can do nothing. If you want you can go to court by yourself.’ So this is what I have done,” she said.

Well done, Nojoud!

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Dangerous animal virus on US mainland?

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 17:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Bush administration is likely to move its research on one of the most contagious animal diseases from an isolated island laboratory to the U.S. mainland near herds of livestock, raising concerns about a catastrophic outbreak.

Skeptical Democrats in Congress are demanding to see internal documents they believe highlight the risks and consequences of the decision. An epidemic of the disease, foot and mouth, which only affects animals, could devastate the livestock industry.


The White House says modern safety rules at labs are sufficient to avoid any outbreak. But incidents in Britain have demonstrated that the foot-and-mouth virus can cause remarkable economic havoc — and that the virus can escape from a facility.

An epidemic in 2001 devastated Britain’s livestock industry, as the government slaughtered 6 million sheep, cows and pigs. Last year, in a less serious outbreak, Britain’s health and safety agency concluded the virus probably escaped from a site shared by a government research center and a vaccine maker. Other outbreaks have occurred in Taiwan in 1997 and China last year and in 2006.

Is there anything else the Bush administration didn’t fuck up yet? There’s only a few months left…

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  1. Well, the moon is still there.

Priorities in the USA

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 17:27 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008

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Abramoff ties cloud Schaffer’s ’99 fact-finding trip

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 12:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


Just before boarding a plane to the Mariana Islands in 1999, then-Congressman Bob Schaffer announced he was embarking on a fact-finding mission to get to the bottom of repeated allegations of labor abuse in the American protectorate.

“I plan to walk right into those factories and living quarters to see for myself what conditions exist,” Schaffer said in a news release in August of that year.

What he didn’t say was that the trip was partly arranged by the firm of now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who represented textile factory owners fighting congressional efforts to reform labor and immigration laws on the islands and who was being handsomely paid to keep the islands’ cherished exemptions.

Schaffer and his wife stayed for free at a palm-studded beach resort and, besides factories, also toured historical sites and met with clients of Preston-Gates, Abramoff’s firm, according to a copy of the trip’s agenda archived in Schaffer’s congressional papers.

He left believing that allegations of widespread abuse were largely unfounded — blaming them on Big Labor’s efforts to shut down a booming textile industry allowed to use the “Made in USA” label but dependent on tens of thousands of imported workers.

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Overestimating Threats Against Children

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 10:33 by John Sinteur in category: Security


This is a great essay by a mom who let her 9-year-old son ride the New York City subway alone:

No, I did not give him a cell phone. Didn’t want to lose it. And no, I didn’t trail him, like a mommy private eye. I trusted him to figure out that he should take the Lexington Avenue subway down, and the 34th Street crosstown bus home. If he couldn’t do that, I trusted him to ask a stranger. And then I even trusted that stranger not to think, “Gee, I was about to catch my train home, but now I think I’ll abduct this adorable child instead.”

Long story short: My son got home, ecstatic with independence.

Long story longer, and analyzed, to boot: Half the people I’ve told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It’s not. It’s debilitating — for us and for them.

It’s amazing how our fears blind us.

It’s also amazing to worry about the value of a cell phone this much. The things are dirt cheap these days, give one to the kid already.

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  1. Not sure it’s about the price. It’s more like the principle. She gives the phone to the kid. Kid looses phone.
    a) admonishes, punishes the kid which in not necessarily a good thing.
    b) she does not do anything and just shows the kid that it’s ok to loose a phone. Not necessarily a good thing.

    At least, that’s my take on it.

  2. If the kid loses the phone, you turn it into a lesson not to do that – admonishing kids isn’t a bad thing. A punishment isn’t required. Mobile phones are so cheap these days, it’s worth it to lose one or two to teach a lesson.

  3. I don’t know. I know people for whom a mobile phone is not a cheap thing. Even the cheap ones are a lot of money for them.
    Although, in the US mobile phones cost about the 3rd of what they cost around here. Well, that was her choice.

$100 billion cave-in

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 10:25 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


Democratic leaders, who vowed in 2006 and 2007 to deny Bush any more “blank checks” for the war, now concede that a new supplemental war appropriation bill will almost surely pass without any meaningful constraints on Bush’s war policies.

Rather than challenge Bush over that funding, Democratic leaders fired off a letter asking Bush to reconsider his approach.

Ooooh, a letter! Surely that’ll convince W!

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Windows is ‘collapsing,’ Gartner analysts warn

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 9:58 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Calling the situation “untenable” and describing Windows as “collapsing,” a pair of Gartner analysts yesterday said Microsoft Corp. must make radical changes to its operating system or risk becoming a has-been.

In a presentation at a Gartner-sponsored conference in Las Vegas, analysts Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald said Microsoft has not responded to the market, is overburdened by nearly two decades of legacy code and decisions, and faces serious competition on a whole host of fronts that will make Windows moot unless the software developer acts.

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  1. I think they are changing. Like, a lot of people won’t like it, but Windows will stop being the only backward compatible OS. Will do the same thing Mac OS did a long time ago.
    Of course, people will cry foul and bitch about it.
    To be honest, so far I had no chance to try the Mac OS, only the Windows and Linux distros. I always end up with XP SP2. Beats all the rest. I am curious about the Windows 7.

  2. Next computer you buy, buy a Mac. It runs windows very well, so if the Mac OS doesn’t turn out to be your thing, you can switch back.

  3. I honestly don’t want to spend 2000 USD on a computer. Really don’t want to.

  4. MacBooks are $1099, iMacs are $1199. Are they marked up that bad in your neck of the woods?

  5. Here an iMac is 331 990 HUF and up, depending on the shop – 1 998.55USD+ right now.
    MacBooks are 274 080 HUF and up – 1650.3 USD
    MacBook Pro : 494 640 HUF and up – 2978.5 USD

    So yes, pretty priced up.
    And not only the Macs, I saw an “independent” Nokia N95 for 299USD, here it is 1098 USD.

    But if you look around in Europe, you can see that all these stuffs are priced as 1USD = 1EUR.
    Or, 1USD = 1GBP if you look in the UK.

  6. Oh, plus the Apple service and warranty sucks here. If anyhing goes wrong with your MacBook, you can go an pray, maybe God will help. Who knows.

  7. That is indeed crappy. A MacBook here is EUR 999, and given the 19% tax that is part of that, it’s more like EUR 839,50 = USD 1099. Still not a very good exchange rate, but much better than yours. I’d suggest you buy one on your vacation and let the price difference pay for your trip…

  8. Well, if everything goes according to plan, then I will work in the UK in a few months time.
    But yes, previously I was planning to visit Barcelona, buy a Mac, and have a good weekend from the difference

  9. London is hideously expensive – I hope it’s somewhere else…

  10. Only one thing is sure: Not London.
    Was thinking more like somewhere around Leeds (yes, not cheap either) or some other city with IT jobs and a nice environement.

  11. About a decade ago I was in Wokingham, and it appeared there were lots of IT jobs in that area…

Quote of the Day

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 9:50 by John Sinteur in category: Quote

Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.

Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845)

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So Much for the Information Age

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 9:41 by John Sinteur in category: News


I teach a seminar called “Secrecy: Forbidden Knowledge.” I recently asked my class of 16 freshmen and sophomores, many of whom had graduated in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes and had dazzling SAT scores, how many had heard the word “rendition.”

Not one hand went up.

This is after four years of the word appearing on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers, on network and cable news, and online. This is after years of highly publicized lawsuits, Congressional inquiries, and international controversy and condemnation. This is after the release of a Hollywood film of that title, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, and Reese Witherspoon.

I was dumbstruck. Finally one hand went up, and the student sheepishly asked if rendition had anything to do with a version of a movie or a play.


That instance was no aberration. In recent years I have administered a dumbed-down quiz on current events and history early in each semester to get a sense of what my students know and don’t know. Initially I worried that its simplicity would insult them, but my fears were unfounded. The results have been, well, horrifying.

Nearly half of a recent class could not name a single country that bordered Israel. In an introductory journalism class, 11 of 18 students could not name what country Kabul was in, although we have been at war there for half a decade. Last fall only one in 21 students could name the U.S. secretary of defense. Given a list of four countries — China, Cuba, India, and Japan — not one of those same 21 students could identify India and Japan as democracies. Their grasp of history was little better. The question of when the Civil War was fought invited an array of responses — half a dozen were off by a decade or more. Some students thought that Islam was the principal religion of South America, that Roe v. Wade was about slavery, that 50 justices sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, that the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1975. You get the picture, and it isn’t pretty.

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  1. Ok, so. What are the teachers doing? I just ask…

Asked About the Deficit, McCain Cites Reagans Example

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 8:49 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008


When Senator John McCain was asked here this afternoon how he plans to balance the budget, he said that he hoped to do so by stimulating economic growth – and approvingly cited the example of President Ronald Reagan.

There was one thing he did not mention during his response: the deficit nearly tripled during the Reagan presidency, partly due to tax cuts and increases in military spending.

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Did you sign Google’s noncompete? Good, you’re fired

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 8:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


A recently departed DoubleClicker tells us that Google managers asked employees at the online ad company it acquired last month to sign one-year noncompete agreements. Most agreed, thinking that it would spare their jobs — but then layoffs came a week later.

These noncompete agreements very likely cannot be enforced, but there’ll be a few lawyers making a lot of money over it.

If you want to know where a company is going, look at the “mission statement” or “motto”, and assume that within five years, the company will be the exact opposite. The Google motto was “Don’t do evil” a few years ago, but “evil” sure is where they’re heading…

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Member of EU Parliament asks if Microsoft should be excluded from public procurement

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 8:32 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft, News


A member of the EU Parliament, Heidi Rühle, representative of the Green Party, has presented a question regarding whether or not Microsoft should be considered as having failed to fulfill the conditions to participate in public procurement procedures in Europe, as laid out in Article 93(b) and (c) of Financial Regulation. Here’s her web page, in German, telling about it. One computer translation of one paragraph:

Here the question arises whether Microsoft can be excluded in the future from all advertisements of public jobs – no matter, whether it concerns new software for the public library of a town or the mechanism of a database for a federal authority.

Here’s Heise’s coverage in German, and happily for us in the US, here’s the form [PDF] in English. Heise says the EU Commission has six weeks to respond in writing to such a question from a member of Parliament.

Of course, if the EU Commission wants to find a way to avoid such a penalty, no doubt it can do so. We saw how creative rule-bending/creating can be in the ISO. But the very fact that this question is being placed on the table is remarkable in itself, don’t you think? Something significant has shifted in Microsoft’s universe.

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Mediasentry Violates Cease & Desist Order

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 8:20 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


“On January 2, 2008, the Massachusetts State Police ordered MediaSentry, the RIAA’s investigator, to cease and desist from conducting investigations in Massachusetts without a license. Based on what appears to be irrefutable proof that MediaSentry has been violating that order, the Boston University students who tentatively won, in London-Sire v. Doe 1, an order tentatively quashing the subpoena for their identities, have brought a new motion to vacate the RIAA’s court papers altogether, on the ground that the RIAA’s ‘evidence’ was procured by criminal behavior.”

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Europe rejects plan to criminalize file-sharing

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 7:44 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


The European Parliament rejected attempts to criminalize the sharing of files by private individuals and threw out the idea of banning copyright abusers from the Internet, in a plenary vote Thursday.
The vote was close, with 314 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) voting in favor of an amendment to scrap what many consider draconian and disproportionate measures to protect copyright over the internet, and 297 voting against the amendment.

“The vote shows that MEPs want to strike a balance between the interests of rights holders and those of consumers, and that big measures like cutting off Internet access shouldn’t be used,” said Malene Folke Chaucheprat, a European Parliament spokeswoman, shortly after the vote.

The report isn’t legally binding, but it could help thwart efforts by France, which has already adopted such measures, to push the issue at a European political level.

France’s so-called Oliviennes strategy to combat copyright abuse includes a “three strikes and you are out” approach: Offenders lose the right to an Internet account after being caught sharing copyright-protected music over the Internet for a third time.

France takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union in the second half of this year and many observers, including the U.K.-based Open Rights Group, expect it to push for E.U.-wide rules similar to its own.

I haven’t looked in detail at the French laws, but I wonder… if a corporation gets caught violating copyright three times, does the corporation get banned from the internet, or is it yet another case where corporations get a free ride ?

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Network Solutions hijacks customer sub-domains for ad fest

Posted on April 11th, 2008 at 6:35 by John Sinteur in category: If you're in marketing, kill yourself

If you’re still doing any business at all with Network Solutions, here is another reason to dump them.

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