Thar’s gold bars in them thar spams?!

CNN:  AOL is preparing to dig for buried gold and platinum on property in Massachusetts owned by the parents of a man it sued for sending millions of unwanted spam e-mails …

At the height of Hawke’s Internet activities, experts believe, Hawke and his business partners earned more than $600,000 each month — much of it cash — by sending unwanted sales pitches over the Internet for loans, pornography, jewelry and prescription drugs.


Which Universe are you from again?

To me the most appealing and mind-bending aspect of string theory – now considered a fairly mainstream approach to a mechanistic understanding of the world – is Brane Cosmology, which suggests we may be “surrounded” by inhabitants of other parallel universes.   More fanciful than any new age guru speak, Brane Cosmology opens an almost unbelievable world of possibilities that fit squarely within the theoretical constraints of this notion of how our mechanistic universe works.

We’d be unable to interact directly with these other systems due to complications that arise from living on a “brane”, or large extension of a string.  However we might be able to communicate using gravitational forces which may be the product of closed strings and can therefore move between Branes, visualized in Brian Green’s excellent book and PBS series “The Elegant Universe” as slices of bread within a multidimensional loaf.

Please pass the butter?

Reason Rules! Not.

Over at the House of J there’s some discussion about the irrationality of some security measures and about the AOL search results privacy scandal (which I also think is a questionably rational concern).

I’ll put up my comments from over there:

IMHO people are missing the key point about privacy — that cat is out of the bag. We need rules about how to penalize for abuses of information, not the pretense that AOL/Yahoo/Google/MSN will do a great job of keeping information away from Govt or commercialization. People worry about abstract Government abuses even as their search stream is processed to invoke better manipulation of their behavior.

RE screening pilots … sounds logical, but the FAA’s record of identifying flight school terrorists is not … impressive. I think the “answer” is for us all to realize that we can’t lower the risk threshold to zero so we should optimize the costs and benefits, allocating resources to the “low hanging fruit” problems in all sectors that are cheap to solve. Solving terror problems in the current fashion is so expensive it’s breaking the bank which will lead to more vulnerability.