Sunday, October 29, 2006

TOPIC: Computer History - The Birth of the Internet
The Internet was "born" on October 29, 1969. UCLA computer science professor Leonard Kleinrock lead a team of engineers in sending the first message from one remote computer to another -- via the ARPANET. The actual message, sent at 10:30pm, from UCLA to the Stanford Research Institute was the text "lo". The intended message was "login". However, the computer crashed right after "l-o" was sent. About an hour later, the team was able to send the entire text.
Check out this link to the record of the first message sent over what would become known as "the Internet". Remember, "the Internet" really became publicly available during Operation Desert Storm -- when the US Armed Services allowed soldiers to communicate (pictures, email, etc) with family members. Prior to that time, the Internet was mostly used by military, business and government entities.

Friday, October 27, 2006

TOPIC: Amish Struggle with Forgiveness as Reality of School Killings Sets In
The Amish community which suffered the tragic schoolhouse shooting earlier in the month is taking it day by day to forgive the killer in the face of overwhelming grief.
by Maria Mackay
It is a daily struggle to live Jesus’ message of forgiveness for the Amish community in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, which lost five girls at the start of the month in a schoolhouse shooting. This week the President of US ministry Faith and Action, the Rev. Rob Schenck, hand-delivered hundreds of prayers in binders for the victims of the massacre and their families, as well as for the family of the shooter, married father-of-three Charles Carl Roberts.
Reverend Schenck was one of very few outsiders to be given the privilege of personally visiting the families of the children in the days immediately following the tragedy. The families of the slain girls generously allowed Rev. Schenck to participate in and witness firsthand some of their most intimate and private moments of grief, which included the preparations of the girls for their funerals by their grieving mothers and relatives. Rev. Schenck spent time with the family of Charlie Roberts shortly after Amish representatives assured them that the community forgave Roberts and laid no charge against the Roberts family.
Rev. Schenck’s experience with both the families of the victims and of the perpetrator was one that profoundly touched him and the extent of their forgiveness challenged immensely his own witness to the gospel’s message to "love our enemies". He noted that at the time of his early pastoral visits, Amish church leaders explained that it would become progressively more difficult to sustain forgiveness as time passes. Mr. Schenck saw that in his most recent visits. In a statement released after this week’s visit to the Amish families, he said,
“The Amish will tell you they are far from perfect. They struggle just as all of us do. Some of the family members told me this week they are having a very difficult time with their feelings as the reality of their loss settles in. The grandfather of one girl told me in tears he must depend on God each and every day for the strength to continue forgiving the man who killed his granddaughter and wounded the other children so terribly. Once again, these people are living out the gospel in front of us. Our experience with God's forgiveness is a daily one. Forgiving others is a process. No one is perfect. The Amish, like any of us, are struggling with their humanity. That's why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to us. And it's why we need His Spirit to help us. There are many dimensions to this terrible event. We are only now beginning to learn from it. The Amish say that's why God allowed it, to teach us something."
As someone who knows the loss of a brother, I can empathize and certainly understand the feelings these Amish families are facing. It is also with much sadness that I confess understanding for their struggle with forgiveness on a daily basis. Pray for the families, the community and our country. We ALL need to be more aware of and compassionate towards the people around us.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

TOPIC: 50 Years of Religious Trends in America
Christianity Today is celebrating their fiftieth anniversary. CONGRATULATIONS to CT! Their anniversary edition offers a comparison of statistics from the 1950s to more recent statistics -- revealing some trends regarding religion in America:
Americans who say that religion is very important in their lives.
1952 75%
2005 59%
Those who say they are members of a church.
1952 73%
2005 64%
Those who say they attended church or synagogue in the last seven days.
1956 46%
2005 43%
Those who say religion is increasing its influence on American life.
1957 69%
2005 47%
Those who believe in God or a universal spirit.
Mid-1950s 9 in 10
Latest 9 in 10
Those who pray to God or a higher power.
Mid-1950s 9 in 10
Latest 9 in 10
Those who say religion can answer all or most of today's problems.
1957 80%
2005 59%
Those who say the Bible is the Word of God and should be taken literally, word for word.
1963 65%
2006 28%

American religious preferences


















For all the anger and fear so often expressed about the intersection of politics and religion, I believe that a vision of public service based upon serving rather than being served is ultimately a vision of hope and not despair. -- Senator John Kerry (Pepperdine University on September 18 about how his faith shapes his political views)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

TOPIC: In Gainesville, Long-time Residents Recall the Terror
The mass murderer who caused that fear in 1990 is due to be executed today.
By JESSICA RIFFEL, Special to the Times-Union

October 24 - Danny Rolling's scheduled execution today has sparked memories in long-time Gainesville residents who vividly remember the terror they felt in 1990 when Rolling murdered five students. But many current University of Florida students do not recognize the name of the man who killed four UF students and one Santa Fe Community College student.
Jarrod Doll, 20, said he doesn't know much about Rolling or the murders that occurred when he was 4, so the execution today doesn't mean much to him. But his mother, Louie Doll, said she remembers the sleepless nights she spent living in Gainesville that fall. She worked as a nurse, living with her husband and her three young sons in the northwest part of town - several miles from where the murders took place. "Even though we knew it was students, I felt just as scared," she said. "He was after small, dark-haired women, which I am. ... It heightened my concern, and it made me more nervous." Even today, when she sees girls jogging alone at night, she remembers the events that made most Gainesville residents too afraid to walk or jog alone. "Your fear never leaves you," she said.

A panel on a wall of graffiti on the western edge of the University of Florida campus lists the names of Danny Rolling's murder victims. Several years ago, the UF Interfraternity Council took on the task of preserving the panel.

Scott Miller, a UF psychology professor, said the recent newspaper articles leading up to Rolling's execution have reminded him of the fear he felt for his daughter, Erica, who had just transferred to UF when the murders happened. "Nobody can imagine the [victims'] parents' perspectives, but if you were a parent in this town at that time, you can come closer," said Miller, who moved to Gainesville in 1977. "It really was horrible."
Erica Miller, who lived near UF's campus with her boyfriend, moved into her parents' home for a few weeks. Miller said he locked every door and used wood to double enforce sliding glass doors. Her father said he doesn't feel anything will be changed by Rolling's execution today, but he said he thinks the parents deserve a resolution to 16 years of pain. "I used to be more liberal on this issue than I am now," he said. "I think being a parent of a college student in 1990 changed me."
But for many students, who were in preschool in 1990, the murders are less personal. Instead, they say that the recent coverage of Rolling has made them think about the legal system and the death penalty. Most only know about the murders from what they've heard from parents and friends and the scene painted on a section of a wall along Southwest 34th Street, which states "Remember 1990" and lists the victims. The Interfraternity Council at UF maintains that section of the wall, hoping it will inform new students and perpetuate the memories of the victims: Tracy Paules, Manuel Taboada, Christi Powell, Sonja Larson and Christa Hoyt. Powell graduated from Episcopal High School in Jacksonville.
But many people who lived in Gainesville during the murders don't need a daily reminder. They think about the victims and their families and the scary, uncertain era in Gainesville - an era they won't forget.
I was living in the Brunswick/St. Simons Island, Georgia during the time of the murders in Gainesville during 1990. I vividly recall the long sleepless nights (my girlfriend was a coed in a nearby college), TV news reports and worries everyone in the region had at the time. Danny Rolling was a sick, sadistic individual -- going so far as to cut one girl's head off and place it on the bookshelf in her apartment. Many have deserved the ultimate punishment for their crimes, but none more than Daniel Rolling. I'm glad to know that the parents of the five young ladies brutally murdered by Rolling have some final closure.

TOPIC: Popular Open-source Web Browser Firefox Gets Update
Mercury News
/ Associated Press
The Mozilla Foundation released on Tuesday an updated version of its popular, free Web browser, Firefox, which features improved search functions and more protection against spyware. Firefox is the product of hundreds of volunteer software developers around the world, who collaborate to design new features and fix bugs - unlike proprietary browsers such as Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, whose source code is kept secret.
Mountain View-based Mozilla Foundation bills itself as a nonprofit "dedicated to improving the Internet experience for people everywhere." Firefox 1.0 was released officially in November 2004, and it quickly became one of the most downloaded open-source programs in the world. It's particularly popular among home PC users and college students. Within 99 days of its release, the program was downloaded more than 25 million times. By August, it had been downloaded 200 million times.
Mozilla officials estimate that more than 70 million individuals are using Firefox, which has been translated into 35 languages and is available for Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems. Improvements to Firefox 2.0 make it tougher for spammers and other advertisers to put "spyware" and other invasive programs on users' computers. Some changes, such as an integrated spell check, are meant to help Internet users who post text on blogs, community sites such as or YouTube, or on collaborative Web sites known as "wikis."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

TOPIC: Acceptable Conduct?
What is acceptable conduct? In a world where "it's all about me" is the main theme, it seems that ANYTHING is acceptable. That is an incorrect, selfish and destructive train of thought. Here is a good devotional expressing how we should conduct ourselves -- especially pointed towards Christian believers...
Sometimes we read signs that begin with the words, “Rules for Use of . . . .” They might be posted on the wall at a swimming pool or an exercise room. The purpose is to inform or remind you of how you are to conduct yourself there. Paul did that for the church. He made a list that could be posted by the door as a reminder of what is acceptable and unacceptable conduct.
Typically this list is applied only to the leaders of the church. Yet Paul said, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” Yes, these rules apply to leaders but they are the standard of conduct for all believers.
Now read again 1 Timothy 3:1–13, marking the specific “rules.”
1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,[a] he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. 8Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11In the same way, their wives[b] are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. 14Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
Imagine writing them out and posting them on the wall of the church. “Be blameless” would be rule number one, followed by statements on marital fidelity, temper, self-discipline, hospitality and gossip. Hopefully, this list would make quite an impression on Christians.
Far more significant than pool regulations against running and obeying the lifeguard is this list for conduct in the church. Those pool rules are for your safety, to keep you from getting hurt, and for your enjoyment so that your time at the pool will be pleasant. Following the list in 1 Timothy 3 will do the same: it will keep people from getting hurt at church and help make their time there a blessing.
It is easier to apply rules to others. But don’t miss how your life should measure up to this standard.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

TOPIC: I Finally Took a Bite From the Apple
In the scheme of technology things, I would be considered an early adopter. However, I must admit that I am late bloomer when it comes to the Apple iPod. Our music library has consisted of MP3 files for going on 5 years. But, we always listened to MP3's on our respective computers -- or via my laptop. After handing down my portable CD player to the kids, I bought MP3 players for my darling wife and me. She has a 1Gb Creative Zen Nano Plus. I have a small 256Mb RCA Lyra (upgraded to 512Mb). I don't use my player often -- mostly because I have the MP3's on my home computer, my work computer and my laptop. In the car, I have XMRadio, too. SO, there wasn't really a need for a large capacity, fancy MP3 player. That is, until two weeks ago.
As regular readers know, I am studying for my Microsoft MCSA certification. Upon finding that downloads of books, presentations and even seminars were available via podcasts or audio, my mind started reeling. The 45 minute drive home each night could potentially become a quiet, peaceful learning environment. The 25 minute drive to work (after dropping the kids off at school) could be a review session for the upcoming exams. WOW! OK, I'm not THAT excited about studying for the MCSA. But, the idea of being able to listen to audio books, music, seminars, podcasts, speeches, comedy, teachings and sermons is blowing my mind.
A coworker showed me his iPod Shuffleicon, which I thought was pretty cool. After researching the varying models (from all brands), features and pricing, I chose an Apple 4G 20Gb Color iPod. It should arrive any day now. Last night, an order for nicer headphones, a soft case, a hard case and an FM Transmitter were added to ye olde Visa card.
What will be the first thing loaded on my iPod? Well, BiblePlayer will certainly be one of the first few items loaded, along with some iPodHacks -- and my collection of a hundred of so CDs and MP3s, of course. I also plan to vist PodcastAlley and the other podcasting sites to find feeds for my 4G iPod. By this time next week, I'll feel like a new geek -- even though millions of other people have been iPodding for years already. Maybe I'll get to upgrade to one of these futuristic iPod ideas next year. Oh well, at least I finally took a bite from the Apple! HAHA!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

TOPIC: Character Counts
In their devotional entitled Character Counts, Tony Beckett and Woodrow Kroll quote Isaiah 66:3. Isiah is one of the biblical people I would like to meet and hang out with. He seemed to have a spirit focused on God, doing what was right and living a humble, yet rich life. That's the kind character I aspire to have. Here is what Beckett/Kroll have to say about character:
The world has its heroes. We find them in action figures, on trading cards, posters, Web sites and newsletters. From athletes to entertainers, from politicians to authors, people have their heroes, those whom they admire. They may like the sound of their voice, the emotions they invoke, the skills they possess or perhaps something as superficial as how the person looks. If you could meet one person who is alive today, or get his autograph, or spend some time with that person, who would it be? And why?
Now contrast that with the kind of person whom God esteems. It may surprise you that anyone would have God’s respect, but there is such a person. “‘
This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word” (66:2). Earning God’s esteem is not a matter of looks, abilities or talent but of character. Since character counts, being esteemed by God is within reach of all of us. If it were based on ability, talent or attractiveness, we could not all attain it. Remember that man looks on the outside, but God on the inside. While many are driven to earn the esteem and respect of others, our priority should be to gain that from God. So, work on humility, being contrite and responsive to the Word of God.
Is your character like the person’s who is esteemed by God?

Friday, October 20, 2006

TOPIC: Too Ridiculous for Words -- Gay Animals?!?
Oslo gay animal show draws crowds
Story from
Curators say a Norwegian exhibition on homosexuality among animals has been well received, despite initial indications of strong opposition. The Oslo Natural History Museum opened the show last week and says it has been well attended, not least by families. Organisers reported early criticism of the project, and being told by one opponent they would "burn in hell". But there has been strong interest in an aspect of animal behaviour the museum says is quite common. It says homosexuality has been observed among 1,500 species, and that in 500 of those it is well documented.
The exhibition - entitled Against Nature? - includes photographs of one male giraffe mounting another, of apes stimulating others of the same sex, and two aroused male right whales rubbing against each other. "Homosexuality is a common and widespread phenomenon in the animal world," says an exhibition statement. "Not only short-lived sexual relationships, but even long-lasting partnerships; partnerships that may last a lifetime."
The museum says it is the first exhibition in the world to touch on a subject that has been taboo in the past. It says sex between animals - as between humans - is often a matter of enjoyment, rather than procreation, and that this applies to animals of the same sex as well as opposite sexes.
'Bisexual species' -- While homosexuality would appear to contradict evolutionary imperatives, scientists involved in the exhibition say it appears to do no harm and may actually help in some circumstances. Sometimes a pair of male birds may rear eggs "donated" by a female. In the case of flamingos, for instance, "two males can hold a much larger territory than a regular flamingo pair, thus more chicks can grow up", the exhibition states. In some colonies, as many as one in 10 pairs of penguins may be same-sex, while "in some animals the whole species is bisexual", the exhibition says, giving bonobo chimpanzees as an example.
There has been some hostility to the exhibition. An American commentator said it was an example of "propaganda invading the scientific world". Petter Bockman, a zoologist who helped put the show together, admitted that "there is a political motive". In Norway there was a desire among publicly funded museums to be "deliverers of truth" and to "put on display controversial subjects, things that are not said and are swept under the carpet". The museum says one of its aims is to "help to de-mystify homosexuality among people... we hope to reject the all too well known argument that homosexual behaviour is a crime against nature".
This is definitely the most ridiculous thing I have ever had the displeasure to read. Mr. Bockman is using false evidence and pre-suppositions to come to the conclusion that some animals are gay. Preposterous! The Oslo Natural History Museum should be ASHAMED of allowing such a farce to take place.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

TOPIC: Internet Explorer 7 Released!
Why it happened during the evening is anyone's guess. BUT, BusinessWeek filed a report at 8:00pm last night -- stating that IE7 is live.
OCT. 18 8:01 P.M. ET - Microsoft Corp. is giving its Web browser software its first major upgrade in years, amid signs that Internet Explorer's market share is eroding. The release late Wednesday brings Microsoft's browser more in line with competing products such as Opera Software ASA's Opera and Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox. Internet Explorer 7, or IE7, adds features such as tabbed browsing, which lets people open several Web pages without cluttering their desktop with multiple open browser windows. Microsoft has been heavily testing the new browser, releasing five beta versions over 14 months, and has periodically offered security updates for IE6, first released in 2001.
Still, a lag of more than five years between official releases has cost the company. Web analysis company
WebSideStory estimates that Internet Explorer's U.S. market share is about 86 percent, while Firefox commands about 11 percent of the market and smaller offerings account for the rest. Two years ago, IE had about a 93 percent share. Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's general manager for Internet Explorer, acknowledged the company could have done more sooner, but he said the new version should address users' concerns. "We did have active development," he said. "The question is whether it was enough."
Matt Rosoff, analyst with independent researchers Directions on Microsoft, said Internet Explorer is important to Microsoft's business because most people believe an operating system should include a way to immediately access the Web. Still, he said, Microsoft may not have seen much reason to spend a lot of money upgrading sooner since most people continued to use the older version. Rosoff said the new product includes enough improvements to lure back some users. But Colin Teubner, an analyst with Forrester Research, said people already using Firefox and rival products might not immediately come back. That's partly because those users have soured on Microsoft, he said, and partly because IE7 doesn't break much new ground. "A year ago Firefox was head and shoulders above Microsoft's current offering, and I think even with IE7 it's mostly playing catch up," Teubner said. But he does recommend that IE6 users upgrade, and he believes Microsoft may surpass competitors with future improvements. Besides tabbed browsing, Microsoft has improved security to help keep users from falling victim to things like malicious software attacks and phishing scams. Microsoft products are a near-constant target of Internet attackers, and some people have recommended switching browsers because a less high-profile product might be more secure. The Redmond software maker also has added a box in the browser that lets people search the Internet without going to a separate Web page, much like competitors.
In a last-minute change, people who are upgrading from the previous version of the browser will now have a clearer way to choose whether they want to use Microsoft's search engine or a competing one from companies like Google Inc. or Yahoo Inc. The change announced Friday was one of several aimed at soothing antitrust worries in Europe, where Microsoft faces a longrunning regulatory battle. IE7 will be available as a free download beginning Wednesday evening. Next month, the company also will begin delivering it to Windows XP users who have signed up to automatically receive security fixes. Hachamovitch said that's because the product makes major security improvements. Such distribution also will provide a powerful tool in countering competition from rival browsers.
Security updates typically download with little or no user intervention, but with IE7 people will get an extra opportunity to elect not to upgrade. Also, even people using automatic updates will have to agree to let Microsoft check whether their copy of Windows is pirated before they can get IE7. Microsoft expects that it will take months to gradually release IE7 automatically. The browser also will be an integral part of Microsoft's new operating system, Windows Vista, due out for big businesses in November and for consumers in January.
I would suggest NOT switching back to Internet Explorer until it has proven itself not to be the security risk that was IE6. IE7 doesn't offer anything that Firefox hasn't had for months (or longer). Maybe I'm being cynical, but as an IT professional, I simply don't trust that Internet Explorer 7 will be as secure as advertised.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

TOPIC: Apple Computer Begins Selling IPod Under Product RED Label
Apple Computer on Friday began selling a red-colored iPod Nano and $25 iTunes gift cards under the label of Product RED. RED is a project created by Irish musician Bono
and Bobby Shriver that aims to raise money for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria by donating a portion of profits from a range of branded products -- the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. The announcement was made on Thursday during the filming of the U.S. launch of Product RED on the nationally syndicated "Oprah Winfrey Show".
American Express, Converse, Giorgio Armani and Gap were the initial partners in the program and are distributing credit cards and selling tennis shoes, sunglasses and T-shirts, respectively, carrying the Product RED label. The four partner companies have committed to the brand for five years and have pledged to give an average of 40% of profits from the products to the Global Fund. London's Independent in May announced that it would become the first media outlet to sign on as a partner in the project. In addition, Motorola in May announced that it will partner with Product RED.

Apple Store

According to Global Fund Executive Director Richard Feachem, Product RED has raised more than $10 million in the U.K. from February through September. The funds generated from U.K. sales will be allocated to HIV testing and treatment services for HIV-positive women and children living in Rwanda and to supporting AIDS orphans in Swaziland, he said. Feachem earlier this month announced that Product RED plans to partner with five additional corporations in the next few weeks.
Bono, Winfrey and other celebrities on Thursday shopped in downtown Chicago in an effort to enlist consumers. According to Leslie Dance, vice president of marketing for Motorola, celebrities -- including Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Garner, Chris Rock, Maria Shriver and Steven Spielberg -- will promote and represent various Product RED goods (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/12). The Product RED iPod will sell for $199, the same price as other versions of the product, and Apple will contribute $10 from each sale to the Global Fund. "We've moved from the philanthropy budgets to the marketing budgets, and guess what, there's no comparison in size," Bono said.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

TOPIC: My New Newz Blog...
The Sope-Bocks was created as a means of posting relevant information, along with the ramblings of a "kooky conservative" that lead the reader to THINK for themselves. Of late, The Sope-Bocks has become more of a news blog. The truth is -- I keep finding excellent news items that I want to post. Since I try to keep The Sope-Bocks limited to no more than two posts per day, I seldom find any room for personal views, editorial ramblings or responses to your comments.
Therefore, The Sope-Bocks now has a sister blog. It's title is simple, as is the message:
Previews, Newz and Reviews. The subtitle or description aptly represents the purpose for PNR: "Current News, Technology, Previews, Politics, World Views, Photography -- It's all on NewzReviews!" I sincerely hope you enjoy both The Sope-Bocks and Previews, Newz and Reviews. They are here to entertain, enlighten and provoke THOUGHT (and action).
TOPIC: Remember When I Told You The World Had Changed?
The Sope-Bocks made that statement on October 9th. Well, here's more proof that the world we live in has become a much more dangerous place. In an article published on, North Korea called U.N. sanctions imposed over its nuclear test a "declaration of war" Tuesday and warned of "merciless blows" if its sovereignty was violated.
The communist country's first official response to the U.N. sanctions came as Japan and South Korea said the communist nation appeared to be readying for a second atomic blast. U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill referred to unspecified reports from Seoul that the North was preparing for a second nuclear test, saying it would be "a very belligerent answer" to the world. Hill said the North's latest comments about the sanctions were "not very helpful" and added that Pyongyang was falsely assuming it would win more respect with atomic explosions. "The fact of the matter is that nuclear tests make us respect them less," he told reporters in Seoul.
Japan's government also had "information" about another possible blast, Foreign Minister Taro Aso told reporters, without elaborating. In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prepared to leave for Japan, South Korea, China and Russia on a tour to discuss how to enforce the U.N. sanctions against the North, approved Saturday.
The sanctions include a call to inspect cargo on ships sailing to and from North Korea. But China and Russia contend that interdicting vessels might needlessly provoke the North.
North Korea slammed the U.N. measures with a stream of bellicosity in a Foreign Ministry statement released on the official Korean Central News Agency. "The resolution cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of a war" against the North, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the statement said. The North also warned it "wants peace but is not afraid of war," and that it would "deal merciless blows" against anyone who violates its sovereignty. It said it wouldn't cave in to "the pressure and threat of someone at this time when it has become a nuclear weapons state."
South Korean nuclear envoy Chun Yung-woo said the North's reaction wasn't surprising, and was full of "the usual rhetoric." A senior South Korean official told foreign journalists that despite signs of a possible second test, it was unlikely to happen immediately. "We have yet to confirm any imminent signs of a second nuclear test," the official said on condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the information. China, the North's longtime ally and biggest trading partner, warned Pyongyong against aggravating tensions. "We hope North Korea will adopt a responsible attitude ... and come back to resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation instead of taking any actions that may further escalate or worsen the situation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a regular press briefing in Beijing. Liu wouldn't directly comment on why China refuses to board ships but insisted that "the Chinese side has always implemented Security Council measures seriously and in a responsible manner. This time is no exception," Liu said.
South Korea has said it would fully comply with the U.N. sanctions resolution. Seoul has also indicated that it has no intention of halting key economic projects with the North, despite concerns that they may help fund the North's nuclear and missile programs. "Sanctions against North Korea should be done in a way that draws North Korea to the dialogue table," South Korean Prime Minister Han Myung-sook said, according to Yonhap news agency. "There should never be a way that causes armed clashes."

TOPIC: Computer History -- Banner Ads
The inevitable occured in October, 1994. The first banner ad appeared on a World Wide Web page. HotWired, an early and prolific website content creator, is credited with inventing the banner ad motif. The first banner ad was a 320 x 40 pixel graphic with the text "Have you ever clicked your mouse here?" The ad appears on and is linked to the AT&T website.

Monday, October 16, 2006

TOPIC: Television Program on Call Center Data Theft Prompts Investigation
Original Source: The Register (UK)
A recent television program has prompted the UK's Information Commissioner's Office to launch an investigation into security breaches at Indian call centers that have exposed UK citizens' bank account information. The ICO will look into the practices of the mobile phone companies that have outsourced call centers to India. The ICO has the authority to prevent the companies from sending work outside the country.

[SANS Editor's Note (Pescatore): Will they also investigate the call centers that have *not* been outsourced? There is a lot of jingoism going on - an outsourced call center might be less secure, or it might be more secure, than the original corporate one. Enterprises who make security a top criterion in outsourcing decisions can maintain or increase security. Those who rush to outsource without considering security can drastically reduce security - but those enterprises are also the ones most likely to be doing a bad job at running their own call center securely. ]
[SANS Editor's Note (Schultz): The downsides of "offshoring," especially security-related liabilities, are becoming increasingly evident. I thus predict a reversal in the trend to outsource work to countries where it can be done much more cheaply.]
Personally, I've been complaining about this subject -- long and loud -- for quite a while now. There are several stories of employees from these outsourced call centers in India (and elsewhere) stealing financial data from customers. Since the laws for this type of crime are much more lax in foreign countries, US and UK citizens (who are the groups hit hardest) get little relief from law enforcement authorities in places like India. We ALL need to refuse to deal with outsrouced call centers -- and demand that companies such as Dell, Gateway, Alcatel, HP/Compaq (and many non-tech firms) bring call centers back home!
TOPIC: Animal Study Links Teen Aggression With Prozac
Source: HealthCentral by Amanda Gardner
Scientists have uncovered clues as to why children and adolescents may get more aggressive or even suicidal while taking the widely prescribed antidepressant Prozac. A new study has found that juvenile hamsters became aggressive on low doses of Prozac (fluoxetine) but less aggressive on high doses. By contrast, adult hamsters were calm on both high and low doses of the drug. The bottom line: Adult and juvenile brains are different.
While intriguing, the study has some clear limitations, experts cautioned. "Just remember that a hamster is a hamster is a hamster," said Dr. Jon Shaw, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Which is not to say that the findings don't have some value. "There are a lot of studies on the maturation and evolution of the central nervous system structure through adolescence, and nobody thinks the adult brain is [the same as] the child's brain. And this just reminds us that other studies are needed to try and understand what the difference means in terms of metabolism of drugs," Shaw added.
Pediatric use of antidepressant medications -- especially a newer class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), of which Prozac is a member -- has been the subject of extended controversy. In October 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration directed manufacturers of SSRIs, which include Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, to put a special "black-box" warning on the drugs' labeling. The warning alerts health-care providers about an increased risk of suicidality in children and teens using the medications.
In July 2005, the FDA issued a public health advisory that raised the possibility that the risk of suicidality also applied to adults taking SSRIs, after several studies pointed to that possibility. Other studies, however, have found a lower incidence of youth suicide related to Prozac and other SSRIs. Prozac is the only medication approved to treat depression in children and adolescents.
For the new study, which was published in the October issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, researchers at the
University of Texas at Austin injected hamsters with either high or low doses of Prozac. Two hours later, they created a threatening situation by putting a younger hamster in the home cage of another same-sex hamster for 10 minutes. Usually, male hamsters will respond to such situations with aggression. In these scenarios, the adult hamsters injected with either the high or low dose of Prozac were calmer. Juvenile hamsters, however, reacted differently to the different doses. Those on low doses were more aggressive while those on higher doses were less aggressive, though still not as calm as the adults. "We do know from adolescent studies that the brain continues to mature during adolescence, and even the early adult years," Shaw said. "So, this study is an important study in that it reminds us that further research is really necessary to look at how an evolving central nervous system responds to different stimuli."
The study authors also pointed out that teens may have lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in their system than adults, and it might
not be enough for an SSRI to work with. It's also possible that some teens who become more aggressive and/or suicidal while taking SSRIs may have an unusual reaction to the drugs. "There is this paradoxical situation that the use of antidepressants reduces suicidal behavior both in adolescents and adult and, at the same time, there are some idiosyncratic situations where some individuals are more hyper aroused and possibly more aggressive," Shaw said.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

TOPIC: World Food Day: Why Are There Still 400 Million Hungry Children?
Speaking to mark the occasion of World Food Day on October 16th, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, James Morris, appealed to the developed world to give a fairer chance to the world's 400 million hungry children, many of whose lives are still blighted by malnutrition in the first few months after being born.
The impact of hunger and malnutrition is often severe for children. New research has shown yet again that the rapid development of the brain during the early months and years of life is crucial and influences learning, behaviour and health throughout the life cycle. Hunger negatively affects the brain development of children, setting back their chances of success later on in life. "Given that 70 percent of brain development occurs in the first two years of our lives, malnutrition in early childhood can have a devastating effect," Morris said. "Even before they can walk and talk, these kids are already behind the curve."
Research in Chile has demonstrated that children who suffered from malnutrition before the age of two tend to have smaller and less developed brains than those who were well nourished and that correspondingly, their Intelligence Quotients (IQs) were also lower. Other studies show that iron deficiency among children under two can be associated with poor performance once they reach school age. Similarly, stunted children can lose years of education because they start school later than they should. By contrast, better nourished children perform significantly better at school.
"The conclusion we can draw from this is the importance of integrating food for education programmes - school feeding - with early child survival and development interventions to achieve the greatest nutritional impact on children," Morris said. "And interventions against child hunger need to start even before the child is born - they need to start with the mother." Morris contrasted the educational opportunities and technology at hand in the developed world to help children achieve their potential with the extremely limited resources available to boost child development in the world's poorest corners. In countries such as Niger, Chad or Bangladesh, millions of children do not go to school at all, as the households they come from need every hand to make ends meet.
"There's nothing wrong with wanting the best for your own children - it would be unnatural to wish otherwise," Morris said. "But next time you upgrade your child's laptop or book those extra tuition sessions, spare a thought for the millions of children whose fingers will never touch a keyboard. They will be lucky if they even learn to read and write or do basic arithmetic."
"We can make a difference. There is more than enough food in the world. For example in Italy, once the population's nutritional requirements are met, there would be sufficient food left over for all the under-nourished people in Ethiopia; in France the 'extra' could feed the hungry of the Democratic Republic of Congo, while in the United States it could cover all the hungry in Africa," Morris said. "Official Development Assistance has been rising steadily for several years and now tops US$100 billion. We can afford to help, but we need to develop a food first policy - poverty cannot be eliminated until hunger and malnutrition are laid to rest. And one way to start would be to prevent hunger from cheating children of hope."
The World Food Day and TeleFood theme for 2006 is "Investing in agriculture for food security". Visit the World Food Programme website to find out more about how YOU can make a difference.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Micheal Monsoor is a real hero. In a world bent on providing heroes for youth, this guy is the REAL DEAL. Read for the story of Monsoor's sacrfice for his fellow man...
A Navy SEAL sacrificed his life to save his comrades by throwing himself on top of a grenade Iraqi insurgents tossed into their sniper hideout, fellow members of the elite force said. Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor had been near the only door to the rooftop structure September 29 when the grenade hit him in the chest and bounced to the floor, said four SEALs who spoke to The Associated Press this week on condition of anonymity because their work requires their identities to remain secret. "He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it," said a 28-year-old lieutenant who sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. "He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives, and we owe him."
Monsoor, a 25-year-old gunner, was killed in the explosion in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. He was only the second SEAL to die in Iraq since the war began. Two SEALs next to Monsoor were injured; another who was 10 to 15 feet from the blast was unhurt. The four had been working with Iraqi soldiers providing sniper security while U.S. and Iraqi forces conducted missions in the area.
In an interview at the SEALs' West Coast headquarters in Coronado, four members of the special force remembered "Mikey" as a loyal friend and a quiet, dedicated professional. "He was just a fun-loving guy," said a 26-year-old petty officer 2nd class who went through the grueling 29-week SEAL training with Monsoor. "Always got something funny to say, always got a little mischievous look on his face." Other SEALS described the Garden Grove, Calif., native as a modest and humble man who drew strength from his family and his faith. His father and brother are former Marines, said a 31-year-old petty officer 2nd class.
Prior to his death, Monsoor had already demonstrated courage under fire. He has been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions May 9 in Ramadi, when he and another SEAL pulled a team member shot in the leg to safety while bullets pinged off the ground around them. Monsoor's funeral was held Thursday at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. He has also been submitted for an award for his actions the day he died.
The first Navy SEAL to die in Iraq was Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc A. Lee, 28, who was killed August 2 in a firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi. Navy spokesman Lt. Taylor Clark said the low number of deaths among SEALs in Iraq is a testament to their training. Sixteen SEALs have been killed in Afghanistan. Eleven of them died in June 2005 when a helicopter was shot down near the Pakistan border while ferrying reinforcements for troops pursuing al-Qaida militants. There are about 2,300 of the elite fighters, based in Coronado and Little Creek, Va. The Navy is trying to boost that number by 500 — a challenge considering more than 75 percent of candidates drop out of training, notorious for "Hell Week," a five-day stint of continual drills by the ocean broken by only four hours sleep total. Monsoor made it through training on his second attempt.

Friday, October 13, 2006

TOPIC: Antibiotics in Poultry May Pose Risk to Humans
Overuse may foster drug resistance in people, study suggests
By Randy Dotinga / HealthDay Reporter
I have been saying this for years! Everyone looks at me like I'm weird, but I keep telling them -- the junk growers force into chickens is hazardous to OUR health. Here's an article from HealthDay. A study by Marshfield Clinic Research in Wisconsin confirms my hypothesis.
Could a turkey sandwich or a bowl of chicken soup be hazardous to your health? Poultry has that potential, according to research that suggests people who eat drug-treated poultry may be at increased risk of developing antibiotic resistance.
Still, the findings are preliminary and shouldn't make anyone stop eating chicken or turkey, the study's lead investigator said. "We don't want to suggest to anyone that they should alter their diet based on this," said Dr. Edward Belongia, director of the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation's Epidemiology Research Center in Wisconsin. But federal regulators should consider the results as they make rules about the kinds of drugs given to poultry, the investigator added.
At issue is the use of virginiamycin, an antibiotic used in farm animals to boost their growth. The drug is banned in Europe, but farmers are allowed to use it in the United States. Some studies have suggested that virginiamycin can cause germs in poultry to become super-powered, much as overuse of antibiotics in humans has made some people immune to certain drugs. This phenomenon, known as drug resistance, happens when an antibiotic is used so often that germs mutate around it. It's possible for drug resistance to be spread through food. "When we consume food with organisms that have resistance genes, these genes can be transferred to our natural organisms, causing them to become drug-resistant," explained Molly Marten, a clinical epidemiologist at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego who's familiar with the study findings.
Belongia and colleagues launched their study to see if people who ate chicken or turkey treated with antibiotics would themselves become resistant to an antibiotic known as quinupristin-dalfopristin, or Synercid. Synercid treats disease caused by Enterococcus faecium, germs that are normally found in the gut and can cause disease in some cases. The illnesses caused by these germs are especially common in hospitals among patients whose immune systems are weakened.

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The study authors looked for signs of drug resistance by looking at enterococcus bacteria found in stool samples from 105 newly hospitalized patients and 65 healthy vegetarians, all living in the Midwest. They also looked for signs of drug-resistance in enterococcus bacteria found in 77 samples of ordinary poultry from retail stores and 23 samples of poultry raised without antibiotics. The findings of the study, which was funded by the federal government, are published in the November 1, 2006 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The researchers said they did not find any sign that the humans had developed resistance to Synercid from eating poultry.
However, they said that "plenty" of drug-resistant enterococcus was found in poultry treated with antibiotics, Belongia said. Furthermore, 38 percent of the hospitalized patients had a genetic trait that might make it easier for them to develop resistance to Synercid; none of the vegetarians had the trait. Patients who ate the most chicken seemed most susceptible to developing immunity to the drug, as did those who touched poultry. Right now, this isn't a major problem because Synercid isn't used a great deal, Belongia said. That means germs haven't had a chance to become immune to it. "But that could change," he said.
Belongia believes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should take the findings into account. In a written statement, Belongia said that antibiotics should not be used to promote growth in animals. "This research makes a strong case for limiting the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals," added Marten, the epidemiologist. "By using antibiotics for strictly therapeutic purposes (such as treating an infection), rather than as a growth promoter, we will slow the emergence of drug-resistant organisms in human populations."
Although the findings are not conclusive, they are something to seriously consider. THINK!
TOPIC: One of THE Most Important Historic "Computer" Events
Tim Berners-Lee began work on a hypertext GUI browser and editor in October, 1990. One month later, he produced the first web server and the very first ever "web" page. The first web server was, which was later called The first web page URL was Tim Berners-Lee is rightfully credited with inventing the World Wide Web.

J&R Computer/Music World

Thursday, October 12, 2006

TOPIC: U.S. Court Order Could Boost Spam By 50 Billion Daily
Sources: TechWeb / Digit-Life
I just ran across this in my morning news search. For the life of me, I cannot understand how a US court could 1) not realize the e360insight IS a spammer, 2) give a spammer a monetary settlement against a white hat team such as and 3) think that it can coerce a non-US group into settling by threatening to take away its domain name. This is a ludicrous situation that is sure to stir more revenge suits by other spammers. The worst part is that the article's title could be correct. We might all end up with MILLIONS more spam emails delivered to our inboxes. Here's the article, in its entirety... 234x40 Logo Banner
A September decision by a federal court may mean more spam hitting inboxes, an analyst said Wednesday. Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled in favor of e-mail marketing company e360insight, and ordered U.K.-based Spamhaus, a non-profit anti-spam organization, to pay $11.7 million in damages.
e360insight had argued that the Spamhaus blacklist -- a database of spammers and suspected spammers that is widely used by spam filtering services and software -- erroneously included its domain. Spamhaus did not contest the case, but has refused to pay the fine, issue an apology, or remove e360insight from the blacklist.
The fear, said Richi Jennings, an analyst with messaging research company Ferris Research, is that the judge will next order ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers), the U.S.-based organization which manages domain names, to strip Spamhaus of its domain in an attempt to force the company to comply.
"In the short term, any spam filter that relies on Spamhaus' blacklist will have a problem with its accuracy," said Jennings. "But I don't think it will come to that. Spamhaus will either find a way to make sure that U.S. law can't touch them, or some other group will step in to fill the hole." Spamhaus itself has said the U.S. court has no jurisdiction, stands by its categorization of e360insight as a spammer, and remained defiant at the news of a possible domain stripping.
"We think it can not actually happen, due to the effect it would have both on the Internet and on millions of users," Spamhaus said in a statement posted on its Web site Tuesday. Spamhaus claimed that its blacklist blocks 50 billion spam messages daily. "The effect of suddenly not blocking such a large amount of spam would mean that volume of unwanted junk hitting mail server queues all over the world. The effect of 650 million email boxes suddenly receiving a barrage of illegal spam, scams, and bank phishes is extremely dangerous. For this reason alone we believe that ICANN suspending is almost certainly a no-starter."
ICANN also issued a statement Tuesday, saying even if it was ordered, it had no authority to de-list Spamhaus' domain. "Even if ICANN were properly brought before the court in this matter, which ICANN has not been, ICANN cannot comply with any order requiring it to suspend or place a client hold on or any specific domain name because ICANN does not have either the ability or the authority to do so," the group said in an online posting. "Only the Internet registrar with whom the registrant has a contractual relationship, and in certain instances the Internet registry, can suspend an individual domain name," ICANN continued.
Spamhaus' domain is registered with Tucows, which is based in Toronto, Canada. Tucows was not available for comment on whether it would comply with a U.S. court order, if one is issued. If that happens, said Jennings of Ferris Research, users will be the ones to feel the pain, not Spamhaus. "There's the possibility that this will scare people off running blacklists in the future," said Jennings.
He also argued that if Spamhaus and its blacklist were to "go dark," it might kick up even more talk by other countries and international organizations to "wrest control of the Internet from the United States." Such efforts have included proposals that the United Nations administer the Internet, and has grown out of frustration with some ICANN decisions, such as its May rejection of the .xxx top-level domain.
Spamhaus suggested that if push came to shove, the all-volunteer organization would simply give up rather than continue to defy the U.S. judge. "The reality is that if Spamhaus gets around the court order by switching domain to maintain the blocking, the judge would very likely then rule us in criminal contempt," the group said. "We don't want a criminal record for the sake of fighting spam. We normally help fit the spammers with criminal records, not the other way round."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

TOPIC: Sweeping Changes Needed At US Food And Drug Administration
Five current or former members of the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called today for Congress to make sweeping changes to deal with a large number of longstanding problems at the agency.

The current FDA system of regulating drug safety has serious limitations and is in need of changes," they say in Archives of Internal Medicine, released today. Since Congress is ultimately responsible, "it is up to Congress to take the steps necessary to reinvigorate the FDA's ability to assure the public that approved medical products are safe."

Curt D. Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the lead author, said the five decided to write the analysis after becoming discouraged by the FDA's inability to fix its own problems. "Congress has not provided adequate funding and authority to the FDA," he said.
  • The group cites eight major problems impacting FDA performance, including:
  • The system of initial approval of drugs often fails to detect serious adverse drug reactions.
  • The same FDA center that approves drugs also has the responsibility of taking safety actions, creating a conflict-of-interest situation.
  • The FDA is overly dependant on user fees from drug companies.
  • The FDA is short on expertise in drug safety and public health.
"The key features of today's media stories about questionable drug safety are the same as with previous drug tragedies," Furberg said. "New drugs are introduced on the market with inadequate safety documentation; serious adverse drug reactions are later reported from the marketplace, and a large number of patients are unnecessarily injured before the drugs are withdrawn or better managed. The only difference is the name of the culprit drug."

Furberg and his colleagues recommend that Congress make five changes:
  • "Give the FDA more direct legal authority to pursue violations." The FDA's own report says that drug companies committed to 1,231 post-marketing safety studies that are incomplete; 797 were never started.
  • "Authorize the adoption of a conditional drug-approval policy, at least for selected drugs."
  • "Provide additional financial resources to support the safety operations."
  • "Mandate a reorganization of the agency with emphasis on strengthening the evaluation and proactive monitoring of drug safety."
  • "Require broader representation of safety experts on FDA's advisory committees."
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"Larger and longer clinical trials ought to be required for drugs that will be given for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease," said Peter A. Gross, M.D., chairman of medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center and professor of medicine and public health at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and a coauthor. "Trials should be required to have adequate numbers to assure the tested drugs are reasonably safe."

Safety evaluation should be given the same priority as efficacy evaluation," the authors wrote, calling for the creation of a Center for Drug Safety within FDA "for continuous post-marketing surveillance and regulation." They say the center should be given adequate funding and staff to take advantage of the valuable data for safety monitoring already collected in private and public databases.

The conditional drug-approval policy could be modeled on programs in other countries for those drugs that have clear benefits but also have lingering safety concerns, requiring a re-review after two to three years. "
A time-limited conditional approval status would place pressure on the sponsors to conduct and report post-marketing safety studies they commit to," said Furberg.

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