[NEWS]- Enron Exec Suicide - By now you've heard this story. A former Enron exec who made millions off the company but complained about their practices before leaving last year has been found with a shotgun wound in his head. Police Say Former Enron Executive Committed Suicide. To quote the above article:
She said in her letter that Mr. Baxter had earlier in the year confronted Jeffrey K. Skilling, Enron's chief executive, and others about the company's accounting procedures.

"Cliff Baxter complained mightily to Skilling and all who would listen about the inappropriateness of our transactions with LJM," Ms. Watkins wrote.

Earlier this month newspaper reports, citing people close to senior management at Enron, said Mr. Baxter had disagreed with Mr. Skilling over the appropriateness of the company's off-the-books transactions. But at the time of his resignation, Mr. Skilling praised Mr. Baxter as making a "tremendous contribution to Enron's evolution" and said that he had left the company to spend more time with his family.

Here's one executive that won't be answering any questions.
[ENTERTAINMENT] - Sneak Preview of the next "LotR" coming? Apparently sometime in March there will be footage added to Fellowship of the Ring that previews The Two Towers. It will be longer than a trailer, but they're not saying exactly what it will be. Read it here: Footage from second 'Rings' coming in March?
By the way, does it mean you're a geek if you know what "LotR" means?
[TECH] - Rock'em, sock'em robots - This is cool. Robocode is a Java-based project that allows you to program robots (robot tanks, actually) to fight it out in an arena. You program the tanks in Java, within their application. I believe you need Sun's JDK installed on your machine and that's it. I had the application running on my machine in minutes and edited my first robot.
If I had a lot more time, I would definitely be playing with this.


[UPDATE] - On the Harry Potter boycott story - A NYT article is now saying that it is a volunteer group that is objecting to the triathalon, not the police department itself. The story has obviously changed (notice that the link to the NYT story still has the word "police" in it: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Police-Boycott-Potter.html) In any case, the Four-Flush of Disgrace must pass from the Penryn Police Department to the hands of the volunteer group. Jolly good work whoever you are.
[CRIME] An iMac with a LoJack? - Well, sort of. An iMac running TImbuktu is stolen and the original owners prove they still have a few tricks up their sleeves iLoJack:
A fantastic story of how AppleScript helped keep sensitive data from the prying eyes of a thief and helped recover a stolen iMac.
[OUTRAGE] - Harry Potter is Evil - You have got to be kidding me. The AP reports that a police department in Penryn, PA has refused to assist with a YMCA triathalon because in the past that YMCA has read Harry Potter to children as part of an after school reading program.

This kind of pure, unadulterated stupidity really gets me going in the morning. The police department - the police department (a civil department, not a church or religious organization, mind you) is refusing to assist the Young Men's Christian Association triathalon because they question whether the YMCA is serving the will of God.

Dear Penryn PD, Since you apparently don't have the intellectual capital available to buy a clue, here is one for free: Is opposing reading programs and athletic activities serving the will of God? You'd hate to see people reading and exercising. Better that they find other after-school activities to engage in like, oh, I dunno, all those fun peer-pressure type vices.

In honor of this story I am awarding the first ever Aces Full of Links ignominious award, the Four-Flush of Disgrace.
[GOVERNMENT] - What good is a freedom of information act? Just take this for example:
"[...] in 1975, President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave Indonesian strongman Suharto the green light to invade East Timor, an incursion that left 200,000 people dead."

This undocumented event in our country's history was recently uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act of 1974. You might remember the scandal that prompted the passing of the FOIA, I think is was called "Watergate." Now, our current presidential administration is taking large steps to clamp down on one of the best sources of information regarding how our government behaves through the efforts of Bush's executive order and John Ashcroft. This SF Gate editorial goes into some detail: On the Public's Right to Know / The day Ashcroft censored Freedom of Information
[FUN] - Tangrams can be both fun and challenging Here's a website all about the chinese 7-piece puzzle. It includes instructions on how to make a set of tans and a buch of puzzles to download (and solutions, fo course). TANGRAMS website


[HEALTH] - Take two ibuprophen and remember to call me in the morning. Apparently, ibuprophen (aka. Motrin and Advil) may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's dramatically. I'm a big fan of NSAIDs, and this Dutch study is potentially very good news. New York Times reports:
In Struggle Against Alzheimer's, Hope May Be Over the Counter
[ENTERTAINMENT] - No time for love, Dr. Jones! There are reports that 'Indiana Jones 4' is finally a go. M. Night Shyamalan (writer/director of the The Sixth Sense) had previously been hired to write a screenplay, but it is unclear what screenplay they will use, or what the name of this feature will be.
[TOY] - Wireframe skeleton fun - Vector lounge brings you a skeleton you can control like a marionette. Falls into the "Neato" category.
[HOAX] - Coincidence Design Update! As usual, snopes has the skinny on what people are talking about. Urban Legends Reference Pages: (Design Flaw). A detailed article on the hoax is available on AlterNet: Rent-a-Stalker Online? Yes, the author claims the site is legitimate, but he's the author of a lot of hoax websites.

If you're not familiar with snopes it's a website run by Barbara and David Mikkelson which tracks rumors, hoaxes, urban legends and weird happenenings. It is a must-link in your favorites list.
[EDUCATION] - Want to learn to write a sitcom? UMass Dartmouth Continuing Education is offering PER 320-81 Boushell "Writing the Sitcom" a $200 weekend workshop led by Neal Boushell, a UMass Amherst graduate who has worked on "the Simpsons" among other ABC, FOX, and Disney projects. The workshop will be set up to resemble an actual Hollywood writer's room where all the participants are encouraged to contribute material.


[SCIENCE] - A possible alternative to Black Hole theory is the new idea of the "gravistar." See: CNN.com - Is black hole theory full of hot air? - January 22, 2002. The description on CNN does not make it really clear to me what the difference is, so I'll be on the lookout for a better description of the gravastar.
[FOOD] - Ramen noodles become a banquet in the hands of the right person. I'm not sure that Matt Fischer is that person, but you can judge for yourself. He has an over 200 recipe Ramen Recipe Database. Since the newer ones are on top, I'm willing to bet that you're better off reading this list from the bottom, because you have to figure that they get to be more of a stretch as time goes on.
[HUMOR] - Japanese Communication Breakdown - One of my favorite sources of natural humor is when translations go bad. Engrish.com chronicles some of the more interesting Japanese attempts at English found on products and buildings. If you're new to the site, or have seen it before, the place to start is on the Recent Engrish Discoveries page.
[NEWS] - Posterior vs. Negative Air Pressure. It almost sounds like an urban legend, but here MSNBC is reporting it.U.S. woman is trapped in airplane toilet by vacuum seal


[HUMOR] - This humor site is all over the place. The Brunching Shuttlecocks... the name sounds familiar but I don't remember exactly when I had visited it before someone (Patti) sent me back. She directed me initially to the facial hair ratings and the state quarters review. Personally, I thought that the rejected Penthous Letters bit was pretty dang funny. I'll be coming back here again, no doubt. They also do movie reviews.
[WEIRD] - Molasses Disaster! Most good Boston-area folk already know this story. But in case you don't you must read about The Great Boston Molasses Disaster of January 15, 1919.


[NEWS] - Two presidential lies? That's what Frank Rich contends in the New York Times Op Ed piece The United States of Enron. To quote:
As the world knows now, George W. Bush told two lies when first asked about his ties to the top guy in what may prove the largest corporate flimflam in history. The president said (1) that he only "got to know" Mr. Lay in 1994, when in fact their relationship goes back at least to 1992; and (2) that Mr. Lay "was a supporter" of Governor Richards, when in fact Mr. Lay told TV's "Frontline" last year that he "did support" Mr. Bush over Ms. Richards in their Texas race.

Even Ari Fleischer gets in on the act, telling people a couple of weeks ago that no one in the Whitehouse had ever discussed Enron's financial situation. Oops! But as there is no sex involved in this scandal (only a lot of people like you and me losing their life savings and a job) Washington thinks the story "has no legs." Nice. Also, both Dems and Reps are involved. Looking at the proportion of Enron money that went to Ann Richards compared to that which went to Bush, we can get a pretty good idea who Enron and the like are pulling for.

As Sen. Kennedy recently put it in the Boston Globe, "It's so interesting that the company with the leading Republicans that ... despise government, the first thing they do is pick up the phone and call the government for a bailout.''
[SCIENCE] - Alien life on Earth? Well, not quite. Scientists have identified a type of microbe that have a metabolism unlike other microbes found on this planet, leading them to believe that there may be similar alien microbes out there in the universe. CNN reports.CNN.com - Alien-like microbes found deep underground - January 17, 2002
[TECH] - Microsoft finally realizes that security is important. The new priority is
discussed in this ZDNet article. Bill Gates' memo: The end of innocence