Resistance is … unreasonable?

Criminals ‘may overwhelm the web’

Up to a quarter of computers on the net may be used by cyber criminals in so-called botnets, said Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet.

Of the 600 million computers currently on the internet, between 100 and 150 million were already part of these botnets, Mr Cerf said.

While most owners are oblivious to the infection, the networks of tens of thousands of computers are used to launch spam e-mail campaigns, denial-of-service attacks or online fraud schemes.

Mr Markoff, who writes for the New York Times, said that a single botnet at one point used up about 15% of Yahoo’s search capacity.

Better days for the Valley?

Some good news this week about the Silicon Valley economy. A new report says that jobs are returning to Silicon Valley.

Employers in Santa Clara and San Benito counties added 15,800 jobs across a variety of sectors during the past 12 months, boosting the valley’s payroll employment by 1.8 percent between December 2005 and December 2006, according to a report released Friday by the state Economic Development Department.

The valley hasn’t experienced year-over-year job growth of this magnitude since April 2001, when the region gained 21,200 jobs — a 2.05 percent increase — over the previous 12 months, experts said. After that, local employment plummeted with year-over-year job losses each month until October 2004.

Got my mojo working

Superstitions. Lucky charms. Faith healing. Benedict Carey at the New York Times asks: Why Do People Cling to Odd Rituals? The conclusion, according to researchers, seems to be that people are wired for belief.

The brain seems to have networks that are specialized to produce an explicit, magical explanation in some circumstances, said Pascal Boyer, a professor of psychology and anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. In an e-mail message, he said such thinking was “only one domain where a relevant interpretation that connects all the dots, so to speak, is preferred to a rational one.”

So is faith in a lucky rabbit’s foot similar to faith in an all-seeing, all-powerful, benevolent deity? Of course not, says Mr. Carey, glancing nervously over his shoulder for unsheathed knives.

These habits have little to do with religious faith, which is much more complex because it involves large questions of morality, community and history. But magical thinking underlies a vast, often unseen universe of small rituals that accompany people through every waking hour of a day.

Right. Lucky charms are completely different from religious charms. And writing a letter to Santa is not at all like praying to St. Jude. But if that’s true, why is religion such a good substitute for magic in young children?

It is no coincidence, some social scientists believe, that youngsters begin learning about faith around the time they begin to give up on wishing. “The point at which the culture withdraws support for belief in Santa and the Tooth Fairy is about the same time it introduces children to prayer,” said Jacqueline Woolley, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas. “The mechanism is already there, kids have already spent time believing that wishing can make things come true, and they’re just losing faith in the efficacy of that.”

The Jules Verne watch

Here’s another stunning Vianney Halter watch design, courtesy the good folks at Watchismo Times.

Relic of the Future – Vianney Halter’s Antiqua

‘20,000 Leagues Under Switzerland’ starring Vianney Halter’s Antiqua. A Nautilus-tic time machine complete with riveted portholes, perpetual calendar, 100 year accuracy and 900 hours of watchmaker sweat into each watch.

Like the receding ocean before a tsunami, this was the predecessor to a wave of innovative Swiss watchmakers to follow. Or if H.G. Wells scripted it — Swiss watchmakers of the future’s past.

It also got an honorable mention on Boing-Boing, which calls it the Steampunk watch.

This Vianney Halter Antiqua watch appears to have sprung from the pages of a Victorian scientific romance. No doubt it costs more than god, and it leaves me frustrated that all the cheap knock-offs are of standard, slightly grotty, all-look-same status watches. What this world needs is some forgers with a little style.

Gold Antiqua

And you won’t be disappointed…

All Is Not So Bad in the State of Denmark

Over the past 30 years, the citizens of Denmark have scored higher than any other Western country on measures of life satisfaction, and scientists think they know why.

On surveys, Danes continually report lower expectations for the year to come, compared with most other nations. And “year after year, they are pleasantly surprised to find that not everything is getting more rotten in the state of Denmark,” the paper concludes.

Bob and Doug’s guide to manners

As an American, do you ever wonder about the manners and customs of your neighbors to the North? Do you worry about making some terrible Faux Pas in the front of Canadians?

Oh, right. Of course not. You’re American, after all.

Not to worry though, those know-it-alls at Wikipedia have it covered in their entry on Etiquette in Canada.

Some of my favorites:

  • Non-Canadians are not advised to initiate discussion on Anglophone-Francophone relations. Avoid faux-pas by respecting it as one would a private matter. Offering even well-intentioned commentary about issues such as Quebec separatism risks offending Anglophone and Francophone Canadians alike.

Oh yeah. Big time. Arguing about separatism in a Montreal bar is just begging for a whupping.

  • Living in a country that extends from the Northern Temperate Zone to the Arctic Circle, Canadians are generally willing to engage in humor regarding the harshness of Canadian winters or the relative isolation of many parts of their country. However, it is impolite to lay on humor about the “Frozen North” too thick, such as suggesting that a resident of Ottawa lives in an igloo or that Torontonians drive dog-sleds to work while dodging polar bears.

In Churchill, on the other hand, kids have to dodge polar bears while trick-or-treating at Halloween.
“Hey great costume kid, you look just like a bear! … Oh, snap!”