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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some stories to check out

Here’s an interesting question for you to ponder - does your employer have the right to ask you for your FaceBook login? It seems that some think so. (Not your password, by the way, but your FaceBook identity so they can snoop on what you’re saying and when....)

Fascinating and scary – a seriously dangerous computer worm (virus) called Stuxnet infecting the main Iranian nuclear reactor and forcing a massive shutdown. Now I wonder how that got there?

Obama is acting so weakly over Libya. I’ve always thought US intelligence agencies were next to useless, as they were over Egypt and for decades before that. Worse than useless because of the damage they have caused around the globe over that time. It seems to have happened again. Maybe that explains so much of the bad judgement. Read this:
Why is it so critical for Libya right now? 

If you have the time and you really want to know what’s going on with Scientology, this explains it all. It’s long and you'll need some stamina, but it answers questions. It’s also disturbing. It's like poker machine addiction really, preferably the super-rich with super-egos, from the cult's point of view. And it has tax exempt status. Oh well. There are an awful lot of other institutions that have that and deserve it about as much. 

The addiction to gambling as an illness is real. Well, anyone could have seen that just by observation, if you notice the immense range of people who suffer from it, but this is the real scientific evidence that it's as hard to cure as addiction to crack cocaine. 
   Specially interesting is the fact that what keeps the poker machine addicts glued to their seats is when a near-miss at a huge payout is programmed in so that it comes up every so often. The rush the addict gets doesn’t come from smaller winnings even when the player is ahead (for the moment!), it’s getting close to the BIG one that really keeps 'em going. (Or, so the research shows, staying rather than going, even when they do literally wet their pants at the machine.)
NOTE: I once wrote rather a nice computer program for a poker machine and it made me realize how easy and imperceptible it would be to program in the occasional ‘near miss of the giant payout’ as well as to ensure that by the end of the day, the program would always make a profit of x% no matter how lucky someone might get for a while.

Here's another scary one. If you've watched the addictive Mad Men or the Gruen Transfer, then you'll find out from this story just how commercial and political advertisers and strategists are using the web to build an amazing false world to convince YOU of something that isn't so. 
   So what, you say, advertising agencies have been doing that forever. Not as well as this, they haven't. You're not concerned? I would be if I had to live in the world they're mapping out for you. You DO need to know this. I'm not sure what you do about it, but it's better to know if there's a pickpocket around rather than pretend there isn't.

And finally, here’s a really good one on the economics of sex, alcohol and happiness – how people adjust to what’s available!

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