Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving! We certainly did. My brother made it down from Washington and he and Justine (his daughter) were here a couple of times over the long weekend. What's he been up to? He says that they have four (4!) race tracks up there and that he's looking to buy a blower for his Camaro. This car of his already screams past 130 MPH... but then, that's why we call him "One More Part."
Marta and her kids were here, too. These guys are the pride of our whole family. They have an insatiable curiosity and love to read & learn. Each and every one of them has a genius level IQ and will probably be leaders in any endeavor they take up. The world will be changed in major ways because of the things that these kids will do.
This gang was joined by the energetic Jennnnn, the redoubtable Steven and the always skewed perspective of my Dad! I was glad to get back to work and give my cheeks and aching sides a chance to rest.
Anne laid out one of the most beautiful banquets ever. Along with the usual (25#) Turkey, dressing, real mashed potatoes, turkey gravy (from drippings), candied Yams topped with marshmallows, creamed onions, etc. we had Anne's home-made whole cranberry sauce followed by fresh pumpkin and Dutch apple pies. All of this was washed down with a very smooth White Zinfandel by Almaden, that Dad provided, or sparkling cider (for the kids).
Afterwards, Tara and Marta's girls fell asleep around the living room while the rest of us chatted around the dinner table. When things started winding down I put Shrek on the DVD player and we all laughed some more. If you've never seen the "Shrek in the Swamp" Karaoke Dance Party or seen the interviews with Shrek, donkey and Princess Fiona you should get your hands on it right away.

Mornin', my little "Missing Yer Bloomers, Are Ya?"

I was in Memphis waiting for my connecting flight back to Cow Town, Ohio, when this announcement came over the airport speakers: "Attention the terminal, to the owner of the black negligee, you left it at Gate 25."

If I hadn't been down at Gate 2, I would have mosey'd on down to Gate 25 to see who was walking 'round nekkid.

New Law Lets U.S. Nab Foreign Hackers 

WASHINGTON (AP) The recently approved antiterrorism law could be used to prosecute foreign hackers, a move critics say could make the United States the world's Internet policeman. The new prosecutorial powers, which have no parallel in other nations, affect computer hacking cases and take advantage of nation's pivotal role in Internet communications. The precedent could be used to apply to pornography or other crimes in which laws differ between nations, according to a former Justice Department computer crimes prosecutor. 

"It's a massive expansion of U.S. sovereignty,'' said Mark Rasch, now with computer security firm Predictive Systems. A prosecution can occur if any part of a crime takes place within U.S. borders. A large part of the Internet's communications traffic goes through the United States, even in messages that travel from one foreign country to another. 

The change was highlighted last month by the Justice Department in its field guidance to federal prosecutors. "Individuals in foreign countries frequently route communications through the United States, even as they hack from one foreign country to another,'' the recommendations said. "The amendment creates the option, where appropriate, of prosecuting such criminals in the United States.'' 

The FBI referred questions to the Justice Department. A Justice Department spokeswoman did not return calls for comment Wednesday. 

More than 80 percent of Internet access points in Asia, Africa and South America are connected through U.S. cities, according to Jessica Marantz of the Internet statistics firm Telegeography. So, for example, an e-mail sent between two cities in China probably would travel through the United States putting its contents under American jurisdiction. 

The Justice Department pushed for the legislation as a way to fight terrorism, and American interests overseas could be protected by the change. But the change in law creates a precedent that could be used to prosecute any computer crime, Rasch said, from basic data theft to sending pornographic pictures. Current law already allows pornography prosecutions in any jurisdiction the pictures pass through, but this has not yet been applied on an international scale to Internet transmissions. 

For example, an owner of a pornography Web site in Sweden might be prosecuted for sending a racy picture to a friend in Norway if the message happened to travel through a computer in Fairfax, Va. In that case, a U.S. prosecutor could try to extradite the sender and prosecute him for breaking Virginia law, using Virginia's standards for obscenity. 

"We haven't done that yet, because it's an affront to the way the Internet works,'' Rasch said. "But now we're criminalizing anything that happens over the Internet because traffic passes through the United States.'' "What it basically says is that we will impose our values on anything that happens anywhere in the world provided it passes through our borders,'' he said.

FBI agents complain about the difficulty of computer crime investigations that almost always venture overseas, requiring time-consuming search warrants at every step and the cooperation of foreign governments. They also are frustrated by offshore pornography and gambling Web sites, accessed by Americans, that are legal in their own countries. 

David Sobel, general counsel of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the change is particularly troubling when coupled with powers to send federal agents overseas to abduct and bring back suspects for trial. "It is a significant expansion of U.S. jurisdiction with respect to so-called cybercrimes,'' Sobel said. "It was enacted under the guise of counterterrorism, but it is in fact applicable to all types of crimes.'' 

Q: How damaging is blow-drying to hair? Can it cause baldness or skin problems?

Answer from Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD... Daily blow-drying can damage hair, especially dyed or permed hair.

Problems: The heat may cause strands to break or may lead to the development of little pimples (called folliculitis) on the scalp. It can also worsen facial acne.

In rare cases, if hair is often pulled tightly to straighten it during drying, hair may fall out, leaving bald spots. Frequent tight braiding/cornrows and constant twirling of hair also can lead to baldness.

Self-defense: If you use a blow-dryer, dry hair on a medium setting, not hot... keep the dryer at least eight inches from your head and face... don't pull hair tight while drying... use a cream rinse or detangler after shampooing and prior to drying.

Our inside source: Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology, New York University School of Medicine. She is author of Beauty and the Beam: Your Complete Guide to Cosmetic Laser Surgery (St. Martin's Griffin).

Over our Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I had time to reflect on something I'm grateful for: my neighborhood. Next door is an elderly couple who head to the Senior Center for lunch daily and drop their newspapers on our porch for us to read when they're finished. One neighbor's parents were born in Mexico. Across the street a young couple sometimes hosts foreign students, for example from Africa. We have one state-sponsored house for three disabled people who're on social security. One woman immigrated from China with her son, because post-divorce discrimination barred her from working. Two couples have lived here 50 plus years. A gal who grew up on this block saves "found" dogs by taking them until new owners can be found for them. Do we have characters? A 70-year-old grandma down the street broke her hip trying out her grandson's scooter last summer. One single mom has a miniature farm: two goats, a cat with kittens, two ducks, and four chickens. Do we have entrepreneurs? All working from home, we have: a cat-sitting business, a floral designer, a tailor, an editor :-), a metal sculptor, a house cleaning business, a lawn care business, and *of course* an assortment of kid entrepreneurs who knock on doors looking for chores to earn cash. Religions? Some Christians, a Buddhist, some no particular religion. There is an amazing web of interwoven relationships between these households. In summer you might see one neighbor out in the street with a wheelbarrow full of yard waste, taking it to add to a compost pile in someone else's yard, talking to a third neighbor who was driving by. Somehow in light of September 11th, our diversity and the fact that we all get along seems to have greater significance -- and I'm thankful for it.

Just before Thanksgiving, we got a note from a gal who set out on a one-woman giving spree. Roslyn in Ohio wrote: "Last week a local grocery store had frozen turkeys on sale for $.49 a pound -- and stuffing, cans of beans, broth, onions and a box of potato flakes thrown in free. I bought one deal to give it all away. I took the food down to the food bank, and discovered they had a goal of 3500 turkeys that week. They hadn't been doing well because money was going to NYC and Afghanistan. I decided to find a way to buy 15 more turkey deals. I went to the store and arranged it with the store manager; then started "begging". Thursday afternoon and Friday morning I hit our workplaces, my daughters' schools, various friends, and even some strangers on the street. Some of the giving stories were wonderful. My partner found that people with the least gave the most. A girl at my daughter's school counted out her bus fare and gave me her last 11 cents. 15 turkeys would have cost about $75. We collected $369.00!! When I put my hand out, I was never refused.

"It was fun shopping -- 15 of this, 15 of that -- the checker was great. We took the turkeys and the leftover money to the food bank. The food bank manager even wrote a thank-you note to the store manager. I did this because it felt like the right thing to do. Usually I don't buy into things that don't directly affect me or mine, but it is important to feed people. For the record, I am exhausted! I poured a tremendous amount of energy into others to facilitate their giving. Though I'm recuperating today, I can't wait until it strikes me again to do something like this. It was SO FUN! However, this isn't really *my* story. It's really the story of the plight of the local food bank, which I think is probably echoed in every other city in the world." When we wrote to tell Roslyn we'd use her comment in this issue, she replied: "This project keeps on giving. Every time I tell someone about it, they pull out their wallet. The original goal has been surpassed by about 400%. They don't really understand at the food bank why I don't need a receipt."

Joyce Schowalter, Editor in Chief Co-Conspirator to Make the World a Better Place 

Microshaft's Maxim's

I received a very curt response from MS today regarding my questions about the problems with their latest operating system. The one thing of benefit that the email contained was a reference to their web site "The Ten Immutable Laws of Security." Although I like my list better, I thought it was pretty good... considering the source.

Law #1: If a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, itís not your computer anymore.
Law #2: If a bad guy can alter the operating system on your computer, itís not your computer anymore.
Law #3: If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, itís not your computer anymore.
Law #4: If you allow a bad guy to upload programs to your web site, itís not your web site any more.
Law #5: Weak passwords trump strong security.
Law #6: A machine is only as secure as the administrator is trustworthy.
Law #7: Encrypted data is only as secure as the decryption key.
Law #8: An out of date virus scanner is only marginally better than no virus scanner at all.
Law #9: Absolute anonymity isn't practical, in real life or on the web.
Law #10: Technology is not a panacea.



Let go of your attachment to the outcome.