links for 2009-12-05

  • Before President Obama even took office, there was a huge spike of threats against him that the Secret Service had to deal with. Many of those threats were made not because of his beliefs or actions, but because of his skin color.
  • A study of virtually the entire population of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden has found no correlation between mobile phone usage and brain cancer. Because if there was a link, the rate of brain cancer should have skyrocketed in the past 10-20 years. Instead there has been no change. Does this mean that we can stop talking about this now?
    (tags: health cancer)
  • A twenty-year-old downloaded a file from Limewire that turned out to contain child pornography. He immediately deleted it. A year later, the FBI came to his door and confiscated his computer. Now he's facing twenty years in prison after some of the deleted images were recovered from his drive. Everybody agrees that it was accidental, and that he'd deleted the images. But it doesn't matter. Now he's pleading guilty to get out in merely 3.5 years. The FBI's advice to others? Call them immediately if you accidentally download child pornography. Um. No, I don't think I will. The witchhunt mentality of child pornography has gone way too far. But good luck finding a legislator who will be willing to stand up and do something.
  • This is an interview with one of the engineers behind the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility, in which he goes into enormous detail about the planned transport and storage of nuclear waste. The level of caution is really impressive, but the really admirable thing is that the government standard for this project, the period for which there can be no leakage of materials, is one million years. We're planning for the year 1,002,010. When else have we ever done such a thing? As a culture, we can't agree to leave the world in decent shape for our grandkids, but we do want to make sure that whatever follows homo sapiens isn't poisoned by spent nuclear fuel.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

6 replies on “links for 2009-12-05”

  1. Here’s a fun thought:

    Pirating music can get you sued for loss of profits and “damage to the industry”.

    Pirating child porn can get you locked away… for helping the industry!

    I didn’t come up with this one, but it has stuck in my mind ever since I read it. I wish I could remember where I saw it, and give that person a cookie.

  2. There are going to be quite a number of really appalling results before the whole CP thing starts getting dealt with intelligently. And by “appalling results”, I mean lives permanently ruined for no particularly good reason.

  3. “Matt is pleading guilty on the advice of his public defender”

    Remember: The FBI has better lawyers than you.

  4. If cell phones caused cancer there would have to be a large cancer cluster from early adopters since the old brick phones had about 10X the wattage of current phones.

    I am always amazed that the people who worry about phones are often the same ones who insist on x-ray for minors ailments.

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