Representative Eric Massa has ably taken up the cause of fighting against The Cap at Time Warner, proposing a law against such policies across the country. Now his fight has caught the attention of a solid gold biggie in the tech talk world, Ars Technica. Hopefully, this new exposure garners his cause – and that of this website – the attention of even more influential press and activists.

In yet another sign of the slowly eroding rights we citizens of the U.S. thought the government was there to protect, DHS has announced that it has been tracking your every border crossing for the last year.  Even more worrisome, they cite an unspecified “new technology” that they’re testing out as a reason for tracking this data.  What is this new technology and what is it’s purpose?

Former Google executives and web gurus have gotten together – along with 33 million dollars in venture capital – to launch a new rival to the Google search engine, Cuil (pronounced “cool”).  Among it’s many boasts is that it contains three times the index, the total number of pages searched by the engine, as Google.

That might seem impressive at first, until you consider the fact that Google specifically banned a number of websites owing to the fact that they were either blackhat SEO honey pots or copyright infringers.  Take for example this search for “dragonflyeye,” Safe Search on, Safe Search off.  Neither yeilds the domain which bears the name.  There is, however, a ClaimID account I haven’t used in three years, some spam blogs and a bunch of comments I’ve made at PHP.net.  None of this is accurate to what one might expect to find when searching for my domain name.

So, they’ve got some room to grow.  It would be nice to have another competitor in the search engine market that provides something a little different, but relevant keyword searching is relevant keyword searching, and Google seems to have it down.  I do like the basic layout of Cuil and if they improve their back end, they might really have something.  Time will tell.

Sarah and I taped the landing show on the Science Channel. Thank god we did: it was the worst live television either of us can remember watching. They had some dude that was apparently Canada’s Wolf Blitzer, dubbed by my wife “Grizzly Blitzer.”

But the good news is: the Phoenix probe is safely down on the Martian polar cap, it’s solar panels are deployed and it is relaying it’s first pictures. This is sooooo cool!:

Phoenix Sends First Photos From Martian Arctic Surface | Wired Science from Wired.com

The Phoenix Lander has successfully transmitted a series of photographs from the arctic surface of Mars.

The pictures show the solar panels have deployed fully. Without the solar panels the lander would have run out of power within a few hours. Other photos show Martian terrain and a lander foot pad.

A poll conducted by Harris and commissioned by Research!America finds that 85% of Americans would like to see a science debate between the candidates for president, discussing the scientific means of solving our nation’s problems:

‘85% of Americans Want a Presidential Debate on Science’ by Science Debate 2008 – RichardDawkins.net

WASHINGTON—May 12, 2008— A new poll (charts, pdf, 3.1mb) shows that 85% of U.S. adults agree that the presidential candidates should participate in a debate on how science can be used to tackle America’s major challenges. The poll found no difference between Democrats and Republicans on this question. A majority (84%) also agree that scientific innovations are improving our standard of living.

I was initially skeptical of this finding, but if Harris did the poll, then even with a margin of error (3.1), this is a strong showing for scientific discourse. One might make the argument that many of those people want to discuss science so they can have it discredited publicly. But I think the really important point here is not so much support for or rejection of science so much as it is a profound desire for intelligent discourse on issues that matter. This one poll – in a bubble, at least – suggests that people are genuinely interested in something more substantive than lapel pins and pastors for this year’s election.

In other words, George Steppenwolf need not apply.

Microsoft is in the midst of a bid to buy Yahoo! Wonder why? Well, they’ve lifted the veil a bit on their newest product line, Live Mess Mesh:

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft unveils its web vision

Live Mesh is designed to blur the lines between running software and storing data on a desktop and “in the cloud”.

You know? The last thing I want Microsoft to *intentionally try* to do is “blur the lines” between anything. How ’bout you folks work on establishing something clearly-delineated first, and work your way up? I remember working for Comcast as a tech support rep, patiently explaining to customers that they didn’t need to be connected to the Internet to view their Word documents. Trust me, the lines are already plenty blurred.

Whoopsies. Every time the petroleum industry apologists come up with a new theory, science is there to bat it down:

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | More doubt on cosmic climate link

The idea that modern global warming is due to changes in cloudiness caused by solar influences on cosmic rays is popular with “climate sceptics”.

But scientists found changes in cosmic ray flux do not affect cloud formation – the second such report in a month.

Kodak’s technology blog, A Thousand Nerds, has an interesting post about the changing nature of consumer entertainment demand and how that will affect the way content gets delivered to its audience. It may be that we finally bridge the Television / PC divide by eliminating both from the equation:

A Thousand Nerds: A Kodak blog about innovation

What does this all mean? The TV and Internet as we know it are about to undergo massive change. TV will be replaced by connected displays able to deliver a full range of multimedia output. Sitting in front of the computer clicking away will also be replaced by new ways of interacting with these connected displays as the interaction transforms from passive consumption to two-way interaction. You can also expect more changes within the industry as companies consolidate, form new strategic partnerships, and realign offerings around multimedia.

Not that PCs will go away, or televisions either. But after decades of attempts to somehow merge the two (Windows Media Center, WebTV, etc), its seemed very clear that the two do not go together. The problem is largely one of furniture, however: people sit at desks to use their PCs and lounge on couches to watch TV, neither of which providing a comfortable environment to swap roles.
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From the house I’d thought least likely to do anything right comes what is easily the best version of the Telecom/FISA bill. Granted, it’s never going to pass through the Senate much less the president, but who gives a shit? The point is that someone at least tried to stand up for our rights, unlike the ball-less Senate.

And this runs out the clock, needing to be argued over in the Senate, putting the issue of Telecom Immunity on the front burner across the country. As it gets closer to election time, there’s a good chance that Senators from iffy districts may be less inclined to pass the Senate version. I suspect that, in the end, nothing will happen with this bill until possibly after the elections.

TPMMuckraker | Talking Points Memo | House Passes Surveillance Bill without Retroactive Immunity

The House Dem leadership’s surveillance bill just cleared the House by a vote of 213-197 with 1 vote of present. 11 Dems crossed the aisle to vote against it.

China Daily is trumpeting the recent Google China statistics that point out that on the search giant’s Chinese language site, the names of a few banks and the keyword “stocks” beat out the word “sex.” Isn’t that a hoot?:

“Stock” beats “sex” on Google China | Top News | Reuters.com

“On the Chinese mainland, it was money and technology that took the honors last year,” the China Daily said, pointing out that “sex” was the most popular keyword for Google users in some other countries.

Really? Hmm. Wonder if in “some other countries,” Google filters results or reports search queries to the government? Because I’m thinking that might have something to do with the statistical differences. . .