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Financial services companies are putting pressure on instant messaging companies to get their technologies to interoperate. Big business is starting to use IM for communications. "We want IM to be like e-mail," said Navin Rajapakse, assistant vice president at Lehman Brothers.

"The Recording Industry is Trying to Kill the Goose That Lays the Golden Egg:" Dan Bricklin crunches the numbers from a Forrester Research study of music downloads, and from the Recording Industry Association of America itself, and comes to the conclusion: "Given the slight dip in CD sales despite so many reasons for there to be a much larger drop, it seems that the effect of downloading, burning, and sharing is one of the few bright lights helping the music industry with their most loyal customers." His conclusion, as others have concluded - people use free downloading services to expose themselves to new music. If they like what they hear, they buy a CD.

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Like a lot of people, I've been exasperated by the 9/11 anniversary media thrash. And, conversely, I've been exasperated by some people who seem to be copping above-it-all attitudes about it. It's news that human beings deal with anxiety and shock by making a fuss about it? Perhaps sentient entities operate differently on your planet.

As I keep trying to say, 9/11 wasn't a symbol for me, or a national turning point, or proof of the superiority of my political views. The World Trade Center was my local mall. It's where I bought my jeans. The Borders bookshop kept my Starlight anthologies in stock. That underground mall had one of Manhattan's more tolerable public restrooms. (Believe me, New Yorkers keep track of these details.)

One of the most heartrending quotes in [the 9/11 book] "Among the Heroes" is from Deena Burnett, the widow of Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett, who is believed to have played an active role in the battle on the plane. Mrs. Burnett is describing what it's like to be the widow of a hero:

"In the beginning, everyone asked, 'Aren't you proud of him? Aren't you happy that he's a hero?' I thought, my goodness, the first thing you have to understand is, I'm just trying to put one foot in front of the other. For my husband to be anyone's hero ... I'd much prefer him to be here with me."

I noticed an odd thing in the days and weeks that followed. You'd see little knots of people standing out on the sidewalks, talking, and as they talked they'd all gradually turn so they could look in the direction of Ground Zero--most of them unconsciously, I think. Even when it was out of sight, even in the outer boroughs, you knew exactly where it was, which direction; it was like you could feel it there, this locus of terrible sorrow and anger.

In Robert A. Heinlein's collected letters, "Grumbles From the Grave," we see RAH's side of an exchange with his editor, John Campbell, just after Pearl Harbor. Campbell was making some political point about how the U.S. should respond, and RAH said to Campbell; you just don't get it, do you? These were my friends who died at Pearl Harbor, the people I went to the Naval Academy with. For Heinlein, it wasn't a tasty morsel of news to be discussed, it was personal.

Also, Heinlein felt a stinging shame and cowardice. Even though he'd been honorably discharged from his Naval service, he felt, irrationally, he should have been there.

And that's a little bit how I feel about 9/11 - I was scared for my family and my friends in New York, and my country, and feeling a little bit ashamed and cowardly that I wasn't there, in the metropolitan area where I was born and grew up and where my parents and family were born and grew up. Of course, the shame is silly and irrational - all I'd done is move away from home, like millions of Americans do. But still.

I've stopped reading Julien Denormandie and Matt Welch and a lot of those guys. They're all caught up in whether the Right or the Left has the proper attitude of dissent in the war against Islamic fundamentalism. It's like a game to them. Even Lileks ... I think he's a brilliant feature columnist, and I am eternally grateful to him for awakening in me a love of the commercial design of the middle-20th Century, and I've exchanged just enough e-mail with him to feel like I like him personally ... I regularly buy his "Gallery of Regrettable Foods" as gifts ... but I read his 9/4/01 column and say to myself: he just doesn't get it. We New Yorkers and expatriate New Yorkers don't avoid talking about 9/11 because we're callous and above it all - we avoid talking about it because it's fucking overwhelming to think about. I'll gladly discuss the war against Islamic fundamentalism and Our Friends the Saudis, and the missteps of the Bush administration and if it ever becomes necessary for me to put my life on the line for my country I'll do that too - but don't ask me to think too much about what I felt on Sept. 11. Don't ask me to do that.

A rant: "Are the entertainment companies trying to put themselves out of business?" The entertainment industry's current obsession with copyright, copy protection, and digital rights management is the sign of a sick industry in deep denial. If they want consumers to stop downloading pirate music and other entertainment, the entertainment companies have to either come up with attractive, legal alternatives, or else shut down the Internet and personal computer industry (and some civil libertarians are concerned that recently proposed DRM legislation will do exactly the latter).

Hewlett-Packard hired Linux advocate Bruce Perens to be an in-house evangelist for Linux. He was fired - he said - 10 days ago for being overly critical of Microsoft. The New York Times writes: "After [HP] bought Compaq this year, the combined company became the largest single buyer of Windows for personal computers and data-serving computers, and thus more dependent on Microsoft." Perens said the parting from HP was friendly.

Perens got really torqued by the Microsoft-founded Initiative for Software Choice.

Besides the chip maker Intel, a close Microsoft ally, most of the other 20 or so members are smaller foreign companies or trade organizations.

The software-choice group sees a threat in what it has identified as 66 legislative proposals, government statements and studies promoting open-source software in 25 countries, including Germany, Britain, China, Peru and Brazil. Some of those legislative proposals would require the use of open-source software in government, but most of the government steps are efforts to ensure there is an alternative to Microsoft in their critical software markets.

The Microsoft-backed group says its purpose is to promote even-handed competition based on the merits of products, instead of a government bias for one kind of software. But as Mr. Perens sees it, the software-choice group has another agenda. "Its principles are nice-sounding words," he said, "but what they really say is, `Let's maintain the status quo.' "

Mr. Perens has stepped in himself and started an effort to respond to the Microsoft-backed group. His initiative, called Sincere Choice, has its own Web site (www.sincerechoice.org), and its own set of principles. Mr. Perens asserts that governments could get huge cost savings and encourage the spread of open-source software by purchasing only software that operates well with other programs. Under his proposal, software companies would be required to supply software with open technology standards and open file formats that can be used by outside software developers, without having to pay royalties.

"The royalty-free patent issue is crucial because the companies with huge software patent portfolios, especially Microsoft and I.B.M., have huge tolls booths on the Internet that can limit the spread of open-source software," Mr. Perens observed.

I just love it that Microsoft is backing an institute for software choice. It's like Bill Clinton founding the Institute for Not Boinking Interns. I mean, Microsoft's entire business model is founded on locking you into their software. Everybody knows that. Microsoft's executives know that. Even Microsoft's most loyal customers know that - they say they're happy with Microsoft's products and willing to trade the advantages of using Microsoft products in exchange for the fact that it'll cost an arm and a leg to switch from Microsoft to something else.

P.S. My spellchecker says "boinking" is not a word, and suggests "biking" instead. I think Bill Clinton's attorneys would agree.

Intel is developing new security technology due out in processors starting next year.

Code-named LaGrande Technology, the features will create a "vault" in which data is safely stored and processed. Intel also will secure the pathways within the computer, such as between the vault and the display or keyboard.

...

Such technologies will not only keep hackers and viruses from infiltrating data stored or being processed on a computer but also could lock music or video files onto a particular computer, preventing unauthorized sharing.

"Intel was vague about the specifics of the plans, saying only the technology will protect system memory, executions and storage on or after 2003."

What's unclear at this point is how LaGrande fits in with Intel's earlier hardware-based security initiative, called TCPA, and with Microsoft's hardware/software-based security initiative, Palladium. For more on Palladium and TCPA see here in my archives for July and August and search on the words "Palladium" and "TCPA."

"Intel Corp. on Monday launched new technologies designed to boost the performance of its Pentium microprocessors and outlined security technology that will be built into its chips even as a top executive said U.S. personal computer sales remained depressed." Analysts IDC cut its forecast for worldwide PC sales growth in 2002 to 1.1 percent from 4.7 percent, and forecast sales during the holiday season will be about the same as last year.

"The U.S. market is still suffering from a number of concerns," said Paul Otellini, Intel VP and COO. It's "not just do I need a new computer, (it's) do I have a job, what's happening with the anniversary of Sept. 11, (and) what's happening in the stock market?"

Intel also unveiled new security technology called LaGrande, although it didn't give out a whole lot of information. LaGrande "would allow computers to boot up securely, preventing a virus on the PC's hard drive from becoming active, Intel said.... [LaGrande] will be built in to its next-generation desktop processor code-named Prescott that is due out in the second half of 2003." Later, the same article says LaGrande "would be designed into the next-generation of its desktop processors, which will not be on the market until at least 2004."

John Fontana writes in Network World about the problem of spam filters accidently blocking legitimate mail from getting through. Imerys, a global mineral processing company in Atlanta, is seeing spam total 30 percent of its e-mail. It began filtering image files, but company engineers need to exchange images, and they complained. J.D. Edward's blocked mail containing "a crude three-letter word often found in pornographic spam only to discover it was also an acronym used commonly by their [software] developers. [J.D. Edward's CIO Gail] Coury says she logged 96 calls in the first 30 days of filtering from users wanting to know why their mail was blocked. She says 40% of that mail was legitimate business mail."

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Way.Nu asks "How stupid does the [Bush] administration think the average American is?"

Bush and Tony Blair both justified attacks on Iraq by citing intelligence reports that Saddam is less than six months away from building nuclear weapons. One problem: the report was talking about 1991. What the report says about the present day is that investigators have "found no indication" that Iraq had made nuclear weapons, was able to produce weapons-grade nuclear material, or that it obtained the materials elsewhere.

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart had a similar question to Way.Nu's. The Daily Show reported that many of Bush's top campaign contributors got to spend a night at the White House. This is the exact same behavior that Republicans criticized Clinton for--or is it? White House spokesman Ari Fleisher said Bush's behavior is completely different, because Bush's campaign contributors didn't stay in the Lincoln bedroom. Said Stewart: "They think we're a bunch of eight-year-olds, don't they?" we are all retarded."

Julie sends a bunch of medical anecdotes:

A man comes into the ER and yells; "My wife's going to have her baby in the cab!"

I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady's dress, and began to take off her underwear.

Suddenly I noticed that there were several cabs, and I was in the wrong one.

Dr. Mark MacDonald, San Antonio, TX


At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall.

"Big breaths," I instructed.

"Yes, they used to be," remorsefully replied the patient.

Dr. Richard Byrnes, Seattle, WA


One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct.

Not more than five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a "massive internal fart."

Dr. Susan Steinberg, Manitoba, Canada


I was performing a complete physical, including the visual acuity test. I placed the patient twenty feet from the chart and began, "Cover your right eye with your hand."

He read the 20/20 line perfectly.

"Now your left." Again, a flawless read.

"Now both," I requested.

There was silence. He couldn't even read the large E on the top line. I turned and discovered that he had done exactly what I had asked; he was standing there with both his eyes covered.

I was laughing too hard to finish the exam.

Dr. Matthew Theodropolous, Worcester, MA


During a patient's two week follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, he informed me, his doctor, that he was having trouble with one of his medications.

"Which one?" I asked.

"The patch. The nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I'm running out of places to put it!"

I had him quickly undress and discovered what I hoped I wouldn't see. Yes, the man had over fifty patches on his body! Now the instructions include removal of the old patch before applying a new one.

Dr. Rebecca St. Clair, Norfolk, VA

While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, "How long have you been bedridden?"

After a look of complete confusion she answered. "Why, not for about twenty years-when my husband was alive."

Dr. Steven Swanson, Corvallis, OR


I was caring for a woman from Kentucky and asked, "So, how's your breakfast this morning?"

"It's very good, except for the Kentucky Jelly. I can't seem to get used to the taste," the patient replied.

I then asked to see the jelly and the woman produced a foil packet labeled "KY Jelly."

Dr. Leonard Kransdorf, Detroit, MI

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A new, young MD doing his residency in OB was quite embarrassed performing female pelvic exams. To cover his embarrassment he had unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly.

The middle-aged lady upon whom he was performing this exam suddenly burst out laughing and further embarrassed him. He looked up from his work and sheepishly said, "I'm sorry. Was I tickling you?"

She replied, "No doctor, but the song you were whistling was 'I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener'."

Microsoft is releasing Service Pack 1, the first major upgrade for Windows XP, on Monday. It's got a mess of security and bug fixes, and some features mandated by the Justice Department in the settlement of the antitrust lawsuit - you'll be able to switch off and completely hide Microsoft Internet Explorer, the Windows Media Player, and Microsoft's e-mail program (the article doesn't say, but presumably they're talking about Outlook Express).

I've been saying for quite some time now that the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft has become a sideshow, of no interest to consumers, and I cite this upgrade as evidence: Who the heck cares that PC vendors will be able to switch off and hide MSIE, the media player, and Microsoft's e-mail program? Does anybody think that a single major PC vendor will actually switch the software off in that fashion? This feature WILL be of interest to some IT managers, who will want to hide the software to avoid confusing their most unskilled users - but nobody else will care. Even the anti-Microsoft bigots won't care - they're not using Windows XP, they're using Linux and Macs.

I plan to wait a few weeks for the reviews to come in before installing SP1.

Irony? We've heard of it. George W. Bush supports freedom of speech in its place - behind a chain-link fence, far away from real Americans, in an area called the Free Speech Zone.

When Bush came to Pittsburgh on Labor Day, the Constitution left town and the demonstrators were corralled behind a chain-link fence like a gang of al Qaeda....

I got a first-hand lesson on Labor Day on what the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly mean under the regime of George W. Bush. Americans who support Bush and his policies can raise signs in his praise and line the streets when his limousine passes by. Americans who do not support Bush and his policies must stay far away from the president by judicial decree or risk arrest.

When the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners at Neville Island, PA, held a picnic in support of Bush, a group of protesters wanted to speak out against his election, and against the war in Iraq. They were corralled into a chain-link-fenced-in area four blocks from the picnic.

Anyone with a protest sign who stood one foot outside that fence would be arrested. A 65-year-old man who did stand just outside that fence with a sign was, in fact, arrested, along with his sister, who came to his assistance when Allegheny County police put handcuffs on him.

Two police officers led Bill Neel and his sister Joyce to a nearby fire hall, kept them there for more than two hours and charged them with disorderly conduct. The police confiscated his protest sign. And this was about two hours before Bush and his entourage even arrived on Neville Island,

Like the Neels, most of the protesters were over 50, and some were in their 70s.

Bush doesn't seem to understand that the Free Speech Zone in America is not a fenced-in little park in Pennsylvania, but rather an area extending roughly from the Canadian border at the north, to the Mexican border at the south, Pacific ocean at the west and Atlantic at the east. Plus Alaska, Hawaii, and American-owned territories around the world.

Whoever it is that names things for the Bush administration is someone who gets his ideas from 1970s B-movies of the week about repressive police states. Thus, we have names like Homeland Security, USA Patriot Act, and now Free Speech Zones used to suppress free speech.

From the annual Beloit College Mindset List, a guide for that school's faculty and staff to help them get into the heads of the incoming freshman class. This is for the incoming class of 2005:

  1. Most students starting college this fall were born in 1983.

That was my fourth year of college.

  1. They have always had access to email.

  2. The precise location of the Titanic has always been known.

  3. Tylenol has always been impossible for children or adults to open.

  4. Ron Howard and Rob Reiner have always been balding older film directors.

  5. They have probably never used carbon paper and do not know what cc and bcc mean.

  6. Lasers have always been marketed as toys.

  7. Major newspapers have always been printed in color.

  8. They have never known exactly what to call the rock star formerly and presently known as Prince.

  9. They have heard "just say no" since they were toddlers.

  10. Most of them know someone who was born with the help of a test tube.

  11. With a life expectancy of 77 years, they can anticipate living until about 2060.