Category Archives: News

Missing Children Screensaver

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/09/screensaver.kids/index.html

If you love kids and want a practical screensaver, you might want to check out the Missing Children Screensaver to help find missing kids. I think it’s pretty cool that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has come up with a modern version of milk carton ads. Plus, instead of getting one photo per carton, the screensaver displays a continual slideshow of missing kids.

Score another point for the power of the internet.

<rant>It would be nice if online news organizations like cnn.com would link to the web sites that they write about. Sometimes I don’t even see the url in the articles. This one had the url at the end of the article, but it’s not hyperlinked. Whatever their reasons are, it’s user unfriendly.</rant>

Missing Children Screensaver

Devil Makes Man Microwave Infant Daughter

from CNN: Woman: Blame devil for infant in microwave

Um, wow. A man puts his baby girl into a microwave for 10 to 20 seconds and his wife claims that the devil made him do it.

When I described myself as an atheist to someone, he called me a “devil worshiper.” My response was that someone who doesn’t believe in a supreme being isn’t going to believe in his nemesis either. I can’t worship something I don’t believe in.

It irks me when religious folks assume that atheism is synonymous with amoral. It is possible to be a good person without the fear of some supreme being punishing one for being naughty. On the flip side, it’s possible to be a bad person without the devil’s influence. Depending on God or the Devil for one’s morality or lack thereof does not make a person superior over a non-believer who takes responsibility for their own actions and choices.

If anyone should be concerned that my soul will burn in hell for not believing in a god, we will all keep each other company.

As for souls entering hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell. Since, there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to hell.

- Author unknown. Excerpt from “Is hell exothermic or endothermic?”

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

- Stephen Roberts

Poor Risk Assessment for Improbable Events

From Wired: Virginia Tech Lesson: Rare Risks Breed Irrational Responses

The article discusses how our brains are not very good about judging the probability of rare yet horrible events, and consequently overreacting to them.

Here are some interesting tidbits:

  • “We fear being murdered, kidnapped, raped and assaulted by strangers, when it’s far more likely that the perpetrator of such offenses is a relative or a friend.”
  • “We worry about airplane crashes and rampaging shooters instead of automobile crashes and domestic violence — both far more common.”
  • “In the United States, dogs, snakes, bees and pigs each kill more people per year (.pdf) than sharks. In fact, dogs kill more humans than any animal except for other humans. Any given shark is more dangerous than any given dog, yes, but we’re far more likely to encounter dogs than sharks.”

I thought this comment on “news” was particurlarly interesting:

I tell people that if it’s in the news, don’t worry about it. The very definition of “news” is “something that hardly ever happens.” It’s when something isn’t in the news, when it’s so common that it’s no longer news — car crashes, domestic violence — that you should start worrying.

New: Skins for Google Personalized Homepage

http://blogs.pcworld.com/techlog/archives/003904.html

As someone who loves to read the news, the Google Personalized homepage is really handy for me. Now Google has added a new feature to add a little pizazz to the page: dynamic themes. When I first read the initial announcements I didn’t expect much… just the ability to change colors.

When the feature was finally live and I was able to check it out, I was quite impressed. The skins don’t just have different colors… they have artistic themes. I chose Seasonal Scape because it has a winter scene depicting a snowman. I don’t know about the other skins, but this one will reflect time of day based on zip code. It is almost 3am and the theme correctly shows nighttime.

It would have been interesting to have the weather match the zip code. However, since I am in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, the particular theme would be kind of boring since the weather doesn’t change that much. I wonder if the different hemispheres would show the right season. It would be weird to show snow for the Southern Hemisphere at this time. I tried it out by going to google.com.au. The feature isn’t available at this time.

We’re one day away from Spring, so I would guess that the scene will change to reflect it, since the theme is called Seasonal Scape and not Winter Scape. It’s great that Google released this feature at this time so we don’t have to wait long to see the transition.

Congrats to the team that worked on this!

This is how the theme looks like. Click on the image if you want to view the bigger image.

Screenshot of Seasonal Scape for Google Personalized Homepage

Woman Sues Archive.org

Colorado Woman Sues To Hold Web Crawlers To Contracts

The Internet Archive, archive.org, goes around the web and stores copies of websites indefinitely. This is a useful resource when the information is no longer available and you want to view a copy of it. It’s not so great for webmasters who want to have no evidence of old content, either to maintain privacy or avoid embarrassment, etc.

Personally, I can relate to how that woman feels about archive.org archiving my site contents, of which I felt embarrassed because I was a little silly when I started out on the web. Instead of suing them, though, I did what any reasonable webmaster would do. I added the following to that site’s robots.txt:

User-agent: ia_archiver
Disallow: /

Consequently, that site can’t be found in archive.org. You can’t see my Pooh bear-adorned website.

This woman’s lawsuit is ridiculous and frivolous. I hope it gets thrown out and she is forced to pay archive.org’s legal fees.

I got this story from slashdot, where I like to read the comments: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/17/1455214

Someone at slashdot found the site: profane-justice.org*. A whois lookup confirmed it is the same woman.

* This marks the first time that I have manually added nofollow code to my blog post. I initially wasn’t going to hyperlink it so she didn’t get credit, but then I didn’t want to inconvenience my visitors. I decided to hyperlink it but switch to html mode and added rel=”nofollow”.

Update: it looks like archive.org has indeed removed the site: http://web.archive.org/web/*/profane-justice.org/ is showing “Blocked Site Error.” FYI, if a site did the correct thing by setting up the robots file, the message would say: “Robots.txt Query Exclusion.”