+quot;The Avalanche has begun. It's too late for the pebbles to vote.+quot; - The Vorlon A

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

"The Avalanche has begun. It's too late for the pebbles to vote." - The Vorlon Ambassador in Babylon Five ====================================================================== BBB III TTT SSS BBB Y Y TTT EEE SSS ONLINE EDITION: B B I T S B B Y Y T E S =THE ELECTRONIC BBB I T SSS AND BBB YYY T EEE SSS =NEWSLETTER FOR B B I T S B B Y T E S =INFORMATION BBB III T SSS BBB Y T EEE SSS =HUNTER-GATHERERS ====================================================================== Volume 2, Number 7 (November 8, 1994) ====================================================================== : CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE = PARITY BITS : = ================: Stay Awake!; Crazy Times, Crazy Organizations; = : Twilight of the Gods; Flame Form Letter; = : What Religion is Your Operating System? = NEW PRODUCTS : = AND SERVICES : = ================: Internet-In-A-Box; Media Magic; = : Microsoft's Ergonomic Keyboard = ONLINE NEWS : = ================: Online Service Provider News Roundup; = : Censorship in Cyberspace = NEWS BRIEFS : = ================: Democracy in the Information Age; Nap Time; = : Schmooze You Can Use; Pentium Update; = : Technology: Brains Over Muscle; = ====================================================================== "Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of congress, but I repeat myself." -- Mark Twain [Today is election day. Don't forget to get out there and vote for the lesser evil of your choice. A slightly cynical public service pronouncement from Bits and Bytes Online Edition.] ====================================================================== STAY AWAKE! (Jon Lebowsky) In the 1990's, with the Millennium approaching, so many of us who surf the fringes, within 'cyberpunk' or other alternative scenes, are working through a kind of disillusioned cynicism; our heroes have screwed the proverbial pooch and we've seen the human failings within everyone and we've seen the sleazy corruption at the core of our institutions and we've seen exploitation at the heart of our corporate structures and *this is our life*. In the 60's, when we had an early sense of the contradiction between the American middle-class fantasy of whiter whites and bluer blues and the intense suffering within our own ghettos and the ghetto nations of the world, we built an under- ground that merged with what we'd once called the death culture, and we acquiesced, hiding within air-conditioned nightmares across spaceship earth as it spun out of control. We were inoculated by daily doses of blandscrew representations of 'news' so that we could somehow ignore the content of the suffering described by the anchors and the correspondents and the victims-on-scene. If you read an account of this world in a science fiction novel, you'd say to yourself, I'm glad the world's not like that, BUT IT IS! So what do you do? If you can't save the world, save the neighborhood. This is similar to "think globally, act locally", but with stronger reference to human interdependence. Ignore geographical constraints and make community work wherever and however you can, i.e. plug into a network of folks with which you have an affinity, and support your friends. Ignore the established culture, which creates market blocks where there should be neighborhoods, which creates tightly controlled, highly manipulative mall environments when there should be interactive street markets. Above all, STAY AWAKE! (SOURCE: FringeWare Review #5, p. 4) [Editor's note to his (corporate) employer: Just kidding about those exploitive corporate structures!] ====================================================================== CRAZY TIMES, CRAZY ORGANIZATIONS (Tom Peters) These crazy times, with exceptional technology, are creating the fundamental ability of people to work in totally new configurations. Simultaneously, we're watching several hundred million Chinese and a couple of hundred million Indians -- not to mention Filipinos, Thais, and Latin Americans -- coming online. The long awaited global village is beginning to get into full swing. So between the technology and absence of geographical constraints, we have almost literally a new world. It's not an exaggeration to say that these two forces have come together with a multiplicative that's going to make the last 10 or 15 years look like small change. That's the nature of crazy times. It's just a simple, uncrazy statement of logic: If the times are rather frenetic, then organizations had best be at least as yeasty as the times. In times that are stable, organizations that are rigid and structured work very well, almost by definition. (SOURCE: Tom Peters interview in Information Week, September 5, 1994, p. 32) ====================================================================== THE ONLINE WORLD ==> BBSs: CENSOR YOURSELVES. In a speech this year at BBSCON ONE, an BBS industry trade show, Dennis Hayes, president of modem manufacturer Hayes Microcomputer, said that if the BBS industry does not police itself, the government will be more than glad to do it for you "in the guise of protecting your children from violence and nudity." Such a scenario will favor the most restrictive bulletin boards. Says high-tech lawyer Lance Rose, "Who wants that kind of environment?" Not me. ==> JILLETTE ON CENSORSHIP. Not Penn Jillette, either. Mr. Jillette, of Penn and Teller fame, also writes a very funny column on the back page of every issue of PC Computing. He has this to say on the subject: "We need as much peaceful anarchy as we can keep. We can suffer bores, but we musn't tolerate cops limiting or invading what we send or receive on the Net. I'm all for the Thin Blue Line between us and murderers, rapists, muggers, and thieves, but we can't have nosy, control-freak, bureaucrat "cops" walking that unconstitutional and immoral beat... History shows that when only the elite have something, the government doesn't give a good goddamn. ... The powers that be are usually pretty cool with fancy modern dancers hopping around nude, but when men and women start dancing around nude for the "No cover, no minimum, no buck knives, no colors" majority, the government is ready to protect us from what some of us are enjoying... The net is wild and free. It's a zillion anonymous conversations going on all at once, unfettered by time or space. Yup, it can be disgusting, unpleasant, or just plain straight-ahead wrong, but that shouldn't be stopped. Justice Brandeis was right when he said the answer to "evil" speech is "more speech." (In 1928, he tried to nip the clipper, voting against wiretapping) ... They caught us napping and we lost the battle for freedom on radio, movies, TV, and cable -- we can't afford to lose it on the net just because it's no longer elite. (SOURCE: PC COMPUTING, September 1994, p. 352) ==> ONLINE SERVICE NEWS ROUNDUP: COMPUSERVE will offer "state-of-the-art" Internet connections by year's end, starting with FTP (file transfer protocol) and telnet. FTP will be available in November as an extended service. Gopher and WWW servers will be added in the first half of '95. (SOURCE: InformationWeek 9/12/94, p. 22; PC Week, 10/31/94, p. 67) AOL will reduce its additional hourly charge beyond the first five hours (which cost $9.95) to $2.95 per from $3.50 effective Jan. 1. This matches a rate announced earlier by PRODIGY. AOL recently won a Dvorak Award at the BBSCON ONE convention for Best Commercial Online Information System. AOL is currently shipping version 2 of their software to it's customers. Two copies in fact, one to give to a friend. Available in both Windows and Mac versions, this is a nice- looking, multimedia-style interface with improved navigational features and some new departments, like Kids Only, Sports, Personal Finance, and Reference Desk. A new Post Office Center integrates mail-related functions such as fax, mailgram, and the Internet gateway. Nice Job on the look and feel! IMHO, If you're looking for one all purpose online service for the entire postnuclear family, I'd have to say AOL is the one to beat, unless Internet connectivity is your primary objective. But all the major services are promising increased access to the net in 1995, and all three currently give you at least email access. On the less happy side, I have picked up rumblings of complaints from a group of AOL users who are reporting problems with AOL's Internet Mail services. AOL officials issued a response saying there had been a specific problem but that the problem was resolved. But reputable sources report that systems accepting mail for AOL subscribers are "overloaded, down, or otherwise not processing incoming mail during the day and catch up some time in the evening. By means of comparison, COMPUSERVE seems to be taking mail all day." If email is your primary reason for seeking online access, maybe AOL is not for you. Their email access is kind of klunky for large volumes of mail anyway. (SOURCES: ONLINE-NEWS mailing list; AOL Press Releases; Boardwatch, October 1994; Newsbytes) DELPHI GOES HIGH SPEED. Delphi began supporting 14,400 bps access to their service at no additional cost, making a good deal even better. Delphi won a Dvorak Award for "Outstanding Global Connectivity" at ONEBBSCON. Of the big three (AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy and Delphi) online services, only Delphi currently offers full internet access (telnet, ftp, email, gopher, finger, etc) as part of the package. You can do World Wide Web, but only using the Lynx browser, which means you get the text and hyperlinks, but not the graphics. Still, $20 for 20 hours access time per month is a good deal, and their email works fine, thank you. With Rupert Murdoch behind the scenes Delphi will no doubt be making an end run for their fair share of the interactive media pie. (SOURCE: The evidence of my own senses) <<>> ====================================================================== NETIQUETTE 101: THE FLAME FORM LETTER [The following has been making the rounds on the net, and is presented here for informational purposes only.] =========== Dear [ ] sir [ ] clueless one [ ] twit [ ] great man on campus [ ] madam [ ] dweeb [ ] twerp [ ] comrade [ ] Elvis [ ] moon beam [ ] boor [ ] Obergruppenfuehrer [ ] citoyen [ ] Geek [ ] grad student [ ] cur You are being gently flamed because. [ ] you continued a boring useless stupid thread [ ] you repeatedly posted to the same thread that you just posted to [ ] you repeatedly initiated incoherent, flaky, and mindless threads [ ] you posted a piece riddled with profanities [ ] you advocated Net censorship [ ] you SCREAMED! (used all caps) [ ] you posted some sort of crap that doesn't belong in this group [ ] you posted the inanely stupid 'Make Money Fast' article [ ] you threatened others with physical harm [ ] you made a bigoted statement(s) [ ] you repeatedly assumed unwarranted moral or intellectual superiority [ ] you are under the misapprehension that this group is your preserve [ ] you repeatedly shown lack of humor [ ] you are apparently under compulsion to post to every threat [ ] you are posting an anonymous attack > Thank you for the time you have taken to read this. Live n' Learn.< ====================================================================== IN BRIEF... ==> DEMOCRACY IN THE INFORMATION AGE. Broadcaster Ted Koppell thinks opinion polls and focus groups are "Stone Age implements in the brave new world of interactivity," and says that an ongoing electronic plebiscite in which all Americans can express instantaneously themselves on any public issue would have a paralyzing impact on representational government. (SOURCE: New York Times, via the National Times 11/94 p.63, via EDUPAGE) ==> NAP TIME. The Better Sleep Council recently reported that one in three Americans gets sleepy on the job, and that a nap every now and then could make them more effective workers. Macworld magazine is reported to have a nap room in its editorial offices. (SOURCE: The National Enquirer, by way of InformationWeek!) ==> DYLAN SUES APPLE. It seems Apple Computer has a problem when it comes to code-naming their products. This time around, Bob Dylan (AKA Robert Zimmerman) is suing them for allegedly code-naming a new CD-ROM after him. Earlier this year, Astronomer Carl Sagan got upset when he learned that a new Apple product was allegedly codenamed Sagan in his honor. Apple allegedly renamed the product BHA. When Sagan learned that BHA (allegedly) stood for Butt-Head Astronomer, he sued for defamation of character. Sagan did not win his lawsuit. Lighten up, everybody! Can't we all just get along? (SOURCE: EDUPAGE) ==> REACH FOR THE SKY. This is old news, but instructive as to the difficulties faced by Artificial Intellligence researchers, and darned funny to boot. It seems the USDA encountered unanticipated difficulties in its project to develop robot fruit pickers. To contain costs, the robots were designed with monochrome scanners. Unfortunately, to the robots, an orange has the same size, shape, and brightness as a small cloud. Current [1987] robot pickers are often hung up literally reaching for the clouds. The USDA says it's back to the drawing board - this time using color. [I know how the robot must have felt every time I "cruise the net" -- I'm hypno-tized (to quote David Letterman) by the darn thing. -Ed.] (SOURCE: "Random Access", 11/21/87, by way of a humor mailing list) ====================================================================== TWILIGHT OF THE GODS (David Guterson) If the history of capitalism, from the perspective of our emotions (if not from the perspective of our material comfort), is understood as a series of thefts---the theft of nature, place, and family, of daily kinship and community---then it may be possible that in our time we are witnessing the theft of sport too. Having fathomed how powerful and fundamental is our yearning for sport, sport's profiteers are now proceeding with the ambitious work of wringing from it all that they can. ... When I see the athlete-cum-peddler on television, hawking hamburgers or deodorant, I suffer an emotional dissonance. It cannot be that this superhuman figure---a man or woman whom God allows to leap across the sky---is the huckster now gesticulating before me so shamelessly on the screen, asking me to buy a certain car tire. Though drones such as I sold out long ago in the knowledge that selling out is necessary, I nevertheless vaguely thought---or vaguely hoped---that our athletes, like angels, might be impervious. ... This is business's unkindest cut, this usurping of our athletic heroes ("I'm going to Disney World!" skater Nancy Kerrigan proclaimed in the afterward of her finest Olympic performance), or, rather, this remaking of our athletic heroes in business's own pandering image. Far too many of our gods have been purchased, and our only consolation is the understanding that at least they went for a hefty sum; we would have done the same. (SOURCE: Harper's Magazine, September 1994) [thanks to Ken Laws, the publisher of The Computist's Communique, for forwarding me this quote] ====================================================================== ...BUT FIRST THESE WORDS FROM OUR SPONSOR: ====================================================================== NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: ==> INTERNET IN A BOX, from O'Reilly and Associates and SPRY, Inc., is due to ship this month. The package will provide PC users with an all- inclusive Internet Access solution. The box contains (optional) connection to the net via a variety of access providers (fees vary); a multimedia Windows interface (based on SPRY's AIR Mosaic WWW browser; the full suite of AIR applications, including email, USENET news reader, telnet, and Gopher -- all served up with that point-and- click, drag-and-drop file kind of interface you know and love. Additionally, the package comes with two books: a guide to getting started, and a special edition of Ed Krol's terrific Whole Internet User's Guide and catalog. If this product is half as good as Krol's book, they've got a winner here. There are single user and a LAN versions of the product. The biggest selling point here is ease of installation: setting yourself up for internet access is notoriously tricky from the technical point of view, getting all the drivers to play nice together and so on. Here, everything is configured to work together right out of the box -- or at least that's the theory. I'm hoping to put this baby through its paces and report back to you in an upcoming Bits and Bytes Online Edition. In the meantime, if you want more information, call 800/998-9938, or email: info@ibox.com Tell them you heard about it in Bits and Bytes. ==> MEDIA MAGIC. Subtitled "Computers in Art and Science", this is one cool catalog, featuring books, magazines, videos, PC/Mac software, CD-ROM, mind machines, ties (go figure), and the ever-popular more. Subject matter includes fractals, scientific visualization, computer graphics, animation, chaos, medical imaging, virtual reality, the Internet, artificial life, mathematics, technology, multimedia, image processing, robotics, cyberculture, networking, and the Universe. Artsy-fartsy stuff for late night navel-gazing, technical stuff to make your head spin, proceedings from conferences, and popular-level intros to the outer limits of scientific knowledge -- it's all in here. I could drop a small fortune shopping out of this catalog and just begin to scratch the surface of what they have to offer. Don't say I didn't warn you. <<>> Media Magic, P.O. Box 598, Nicasio, CA 94946. PH 415/662-2426, 800/882-8284 ==> MICROSOFT'S ERGONOMIC KEYBOARD. Microsoft has unveiled the Natural Keyboard, which features 3 additional keys for Windows users, and a split-angled keyboard layout designed to help users keep their shoulders straight, and their arms relaxed. It looks kind of goofy, like it got left in a hot car all day, but it may be just the ticket for typists seeking a healthier lifestyle. The keyboard should retail for under $100. (SOURCE: Informationweek 9/12/94, p. 16) ====================================================================== HARDWARE NEWS ==> PENTIUM UPDATE. Intel is readying the next generation P54C-class chips, with new designs that will result in smaller, more energy efficient chips, with possible clock speeds of 120-130 MHz. The lower power requirements will pave the way for Pentium notebooks running in the 90-100 MHz range. Don't expect these chips to hit the market till mid-1995. In the meantime, be aware that manufacturers and end-users are reporting some problems with the current crop of Pentium 90 and 100 MHz chips, including problems due to the heat generated by the chip, and possible data loss due to improper communication between the chip and connected PCI bus and SCSI peripherals. (This is mostly due to the peripherals and not so much the Pentium chip itself) Bits and Bytes advice: hold off on those Pentium purchases till they iron the kinks out. Wish I'd followed my own advice: I am the proud owner of a screamin' P-90 machine, and a couple of weeks ago, experienced the sudden disappearance of an entire subdirectory. The problem repeated itself three weeks later when it trashed the subdirectory containing the World Wide Web version of Bits and Bytes. No, I did not have a backup. The problem has not occurred again. I backup compulsively now, and I'm still holding my breath, waiting for the other high-tech shoe to drop. Anyone who knows anything about these kind of things and has any advice for me, please contact me. Another important point is to make sure you buy your computer from a reputable dealer: I bought mine from Comtrade, a firm I cannot in all honesty recommend to anyone. I had to return mine to their shop, where they kept it for a month instead of the week to 10 days they had promised. They sent it back to me sans keyboard, and customer satisfaction apparently meant very little to them after they'd gotten my money in their coffers. I don't think I'll ever buy a mail-order PC again, it was that bad an experience. Plus, they still owe me 20 bucks. B&B advice: Think globally, buy locally. (SOURCE: InfoWorld 8/29/94, p.1; plus my own demented ravings) ====================================================================== BUSINESS BRIEFS ==> SCHMOOZE YOU CAN USE. (Mark Schogol) Don't make the mistake of thinking that office chitchat is idle talk. In an article in the Harvard Business Review, John P. Kotter describes top bosses who engage in apparently unplanned, casual conversation. With successful managers, he observed, "it looks like they are having these random conversations when what they are doing are quickie surveys." As to underlings schmoozing with bosses: "Don't think of it as kissing up," Hermina Ibarra of the Harvard Business School tells the Miami Herald. "It's really an exchange. You get a relationship, and they get informal information." (SOURCE: The Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/30/94, p. F1) ==> TECHNOLOGY: BRAINS OVER MUSCLE. 1991 was the first year in which companies spent more on computing and communications gear than on industrial, mining, farm and construction machines. And today, a typical new automobile has $675 worth of steel and $782 worth of microelectronics. (Fortune 4/4/94 p.25) ====================================================================== WHAT RELIGION IS YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM? (Umberto Ecco) Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war which is modifying the modern world. It's an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me. The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the 'ratio studiorum' of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the Kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation. DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment. You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions; when it comes down to it, you can decide to allow women and gays to be ministers if you want to. And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic... (SOURCE: The preceding excerpts are from an English translation of Umberto Eco's back-page column, "La bustina di Minerva," in the Italian news weekly "Espresso," September 30, 1994. They were originally posted (I know not where) by Hope Nilsson , and came to me by way of ====================================================================== ### ADMINISTRIVIA ### NEW ADDRESS. Please note my new email address for comments, questions, and problems with your subscription. The new address is: jmachado@omni.voicenet.com NEW SCHEDULE. Please note our new publication schedule below. Keep it handy for future reference. SPECIAL THANKS to Mr. Picks, proofreader extraordinaire. How does he spot all those typos? Any error in this issue are strictly due to me mucking about after Mr. Picks does that voodoo that he does so well. HEY SYSOPS! If you are archiving B&B on your BBS, please drop me a note. I'd like to mention your BBS in B&B. LETTERS. We welcome submissions and commentary. All mail sent to the editor or to B&B will be treated as a "letter to the editor" and considered printable, unless you request otherwise. <<>> BITS AND BYTES ONLINE EDITION BY LISTSERVER: Subscribe to B&B by sending email to listserv@acad1.dana.edu text: SUBSCRIBE bits-n-bytes To unsubscribe send a message to listserv@acad1.dana.edu text: UNSUBSCRIBE bits-n-bytes Retrieve back issues by sending email to listserv@acad1.dana.edu text: send in the body of your mail message, no subject. Example: send bitsv1n1.txt Issues 1-9: The file name is in the form: bitsv1n1.txt Issues 10- : The file name is in the form: bits1n10.txt (Remember to disable or delete your signature, as this will generate an error message) ONLINE ACCESS. B&B is available for downloading on America Online in their telecom files area, and in Compuserve's telecom forum library, and on various fine BBS systems all across this wunnerful wunnerful world of ours. BBSs like the MICRO BBS in Denver, CO at 303/752-2943. Or how about UpTown Station at 402/551-4216. INTERNET ANONYMOUS FTP SITES: ftp.dana.edu in /periodic directory (DOS Users go here) ftp.eff.org in pub/Publications/CuD/BNB/bnb????.gz (where ???? is volume & number, e.g. bnb0116.gz) (UNIX users go here) INTERNET GOPHER ACCESS. gopher.law.cornell.edu in the Discussions and Listserv archives/Teknoids directory gopher.dana.edu in the Electronic Journals directory ====================================================================== BITS AND BYTES ONLINE EDITION is the electronic newsletter for information-based lifeforms, and is printed using 100% recycled electrons. We use only the finest American electrons here at Bits and Bytes, handpicked by specially trained technicians and beechwood aged for extra smoothness and comprehensibility. Bits and Bytes Online Edition is published every St. Swithin's Day, Election Day (US), Valentine's Day, Groucho Marx's birthday, on the Summer and Winter solstices, and every third Sunday in all months that contain an "r", weather and authorities permitting. See you then! THE LEGAL BITS. Bits and Bytes is copyright (c)1994 Jay Machado. Unaltered, electronic distribution of this file for non-profit purposes is encouraged. Please contact the editor for reprint permission. The editor is solely responsible for the editorial content or lack thereof. ====================================================================== =============== End of Bits and Bytes Online V2, #7 ================= ======================================================================


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank