Friday, March 11, 2005

WTF is up with Australia???

As many of you already know, has introduced some customization options. You can delete categories, and add custom categories. As a joke, I added an Anna Nicole Smith category, and this was today's first article.

I post it because I can't for the life of me figure out why this was even printed, or why they seem to make a connection between this guy leaving his marketing job and having attended a party where Anna Nicole Smith was in attendance.

And what the heck does this mean?

A source from the partying group said last night that Mr Hoy "very kindly" paid for the drinks. Smith had apparently caught with "her bare hands" a live goldfish at the restaurant.

Of course, this line sounds like the Anna we all know:

"They were getting on well," the source said. "But she was getting on well with everyone, actually."

I've learned one thing from this story. They clearly have some strange ideas about what's newsworthy in Australia.

Heidi Fleiss is a moron and Martha Stewart is still a criminal

Heidi Fleiss was recently quoted as saying:

"It's so wrong what they did to her, just because she [Martha Stewart] is a powerful woman. "

Sorry Fleiss. Stewart happened to engage in what's called "Insider Trading." Ever since Stewart was accused, I've heard all kinds of rationales about why she shouldn't be punished for it, and why it shouldn't even be illegal.

On the surface, what she did was little more than the antics of almost every "Wall Street" Movie villain since the genre was born, but insider trading is illegal for a lot of reasons. I won't go into the details, but after six years of reading Securities Continuing Education courses, I think I'm justified in saying anyone who thinks insider trading is "OK" is speaking from a place of deep and profound ignorance about Finance.

As a quick example, insider trading is what allowed many Enron executives to dump their stock before the accounting scandal became public.

You see, Stewart has what's called a "Series 6 License" It happens to be one of the tougher licenses to get, and it's tightly regulated. It also means that you;re supposed to know better about how to behave. The actions that would get the random joe six months would literally get a Series 6 license holder Six Years, again because they're supposed to know better. As one friend of mine who HAS a series six license put it, "If I'd done exactly what Stewart had done, I'd be in Federal 'pound me in the ass' prison for six to ten years."

What Ms. Fleiss and the others who blithely and ignorantly worship Martha Stewart are ignoring, is that she got an absurdly mild slap on the wrist because she's a wealthy and powerful woman.

What people don't realize is that even though they don't understand it, what Martha did was illegal and carries stiff penalties for good reason. What they don't realize is that she got a sentence that was an insignificant fraction of what anyone else would have gotten. What the judge did in sentencing her was the legal equivalent of falling on his knees and kissing her toes.

So, Ms Fleiss, I'll keep reading your amusing comments, not out of any actual concern for what you have to say, but because I find painfully stupid people amusing whenever they're not in office. Besides, it reminds me why the best line of work you could come up with was as a whore.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

"Teddy" Story Contest

On March 3, 2005, ABC Online ran an Associated Press story about the "Teddy" prototype on display at Microsoft. also has a discussion about this story

On the surface, it's a baby monitor on Steroids, but as any imaginative soul can see from reading the article, there are a number of far more sinister implications afoot.

The teddy bear sitting in the corner of the child's room might look normal, until his head starts following the kid around using a face recognition program, perhaps also allowing a parent talk to the child through a special phone, or monitor the child via a camera and wireless Internet connection. ... "The vision behind this is to be two places at once,"

My mind began to whirl with ideas. How would this change the way we parent? How can something like this be abused? How would controlling parents use a device like this? How would something like this change our society?

What kinds of children will we be dealing with when parents use devices like this in place of their actual physical presence, or for pervasive monitoring?

A few years ago I saw a Mocumentary from the BBC that postulated what the future might hold, and one of the segments depicted a mother planting a tracking device in her daughter's arm that was part of a birth control implant, thus giving the mother the ability to track the daughter's motions 24/7.

So I propose a contest. Write a story involving "Teddy". Make it positive, negative, hopeful or pessimistic. Encase the hardware in different shells if you like (A clown or a Jack in the box spring to mind). Is it a gift from parent to child? Is a workaholic parent using it to "Spend time with the kids" while at the office? Is an obsessive individual or a stalker using it to monitor their prey? Is it being used as nothing more than a cuddly baby monitor, sort of a remote control Teddy Ruxpin?

Is the child's sense of "What's alive" being messed with? Does the distinction between human and machine blur, and what is the result?

Ask and or answer any of these questions.

Categories, judging criteria and prizes will be determined later. For now, just post your ideas and links to your stories.

Feel free to spread the word about this little contest, and get others involved. The topic fascinates me, and I'm intersted in reading what other people have to say about it.
The Associated Press

REDMOND, Wash. Mar 2, 2005 — The teddy bear sitting in the corner of the child's room might look normal, until his head starts following the kid around using a face recognition program, perhaps also allowing a parent talk to the child through a special phone, or monitor the child via a camera and wireless Internet connection.

The plush prototype, on display at Microsoft Corp.'s annual gadget showcase Wednesday, is one of several ideas researchers have for robots. The idea is to create a virtual being that can visit the neighboring cubicle for a live telephone chat even as its owner is traveling thousands of miles away, or let the plumber into the house while its owner enjoys a pleasant afternoon in the sun.

Plenty of companies are already building robots for the work place, and toy companies have created plush dolls that know a child's name or can incorporate other personal information. But Steven Bathiche, a research and development program manager with Redmond-based Microsoft, said his company's projects go further.
Top Stories

"The vision behind this is to be two places at once," Bathiche said.

The "Teddy" project was one of about 150 projects on display at Microsoft's TechFest, a two-day event that gives Microsoft's worldwide team of researchers the chance to show product developers their sometimes far-flung creations, and perhaps find a fit for the projects in a future, marketable product.

TechFest opened Wednesday, mainly to full-time Microsoft employees. The company expected about 6,000 to attend, including Chairman Bill Gates and other executives. A few government officials, academics and journalists also were allowed.

Raman Sarin, a Microsoft development engineer, was just looking for a way to learn more about programming smart phones when he decided to create a program to monitor traffic a constant complaint in the car-clogged Seattle area. The result is SmartPhlow, a program that not only monitors current traffic patterns but also uses real-time and archived data to predict when the next backup might occur.