Gossip, Gossip, Gossip!

Dolphin couple gossiping

Oh, they saw us coming…   They drew us right in with their always-chipper smiles, perky chatter, and eternally-friendly dispositions.   We’ve been lulled into thinking of dolphins as our joyful & genial cousins in the sea.   But those sly devils had us fooled all along.   You see, dolphins are simply not to be trusted because, well… they gossip!

Not too long ago, I posted a blog entry about a group of Scottish researchers who had proved that dolphins have names.   Well, according to Bruno Maddox’s wry commentary in a recent Discover magazine article, the Scots have since gone on to show:

[Dolphins] gossip.   We know this because we know their names.   Each bottlenose individual identifies itself by a unique pattern of whistles and clicks.   What was not known until the Scottish research, however, is that a pair of dolphins use the name of a third dolphin when that third dolphin isn’t present.   In other words, dolphins gossip.

So, it’s not bad enough that our aquatic cousins are busybodies, but they’re rumormongers, too.   And just when we were starting to think they might truly be the superior species…

Oct. 3rd – A Day Against DRM

Many of you have heard (or read) my previous rants about the ills of Digital Rights Management, but this bears repeating…

You don’t buy DRM-enabled music — you rent it.

Imagine buying a music CD, only to find that you can play it at home but not in your car or at work.   Or what if the CD did play in your car, but only for a limited time?   Well this is nearly exactly the sort of limitations placed on DRM-enabled (or as some say, “DRM-infected”) music that you "purchase" from online music services.   These services place tight limits on how you can backup or make copies of music you’ve paid for.   Perhaps worse, they also reserve the right to change what you can do with the music you’ve purchased — at any time.   Some music sites offer the tempting option of unlimited downloads for a monthly subscription fee but are a bit coy about mentioning that if you miss a monthly payment, the DRM renders the downloaded music unplayable.   So, what have you bought?   Well, nothing.

Defeating DRM is all about awareness and DefectiveByDesign.org has declared October 3rd as a “Day Against DRM” as part of an international movement to protect consumer rights.

And remember that DRM doesn’t only affect you if you pay to download music. Last year, Sony’s Rootkit Debacle caused quite a stir when Sony BMG music CDs were sneaking spyware onto unsuspecting users’ PCs.   Sadly, uninstalling the spyware opened up gaping security holes and caused serious stability issue with some PCs.

Quick tip:
Windows users can avoid getting nailed by this sort of malicious copy-protection software by simply holding down on the left shift key when you insert a CD into your PC, thereby preventing it from autolaunching.


Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

And now a nugget of nutrition news from Mom: Besides being wasteful, there’s another really good reason to not trim the crusts off of your kids’ bread—according to a news item over on Ben Sullivan’s Science Blog, German researchers have discovered that the crust is a rich source of antioxidants and may provide a much stronger health benefit than the rest of the bread.

A recent study has identified an antioxidant called pronyl-lysine that’s 8 times more abundant in the bread’s crust. Interestingly, this compound is not present in the original flour. It is created during the complex chemical reaction of the protein-bound amino acid L-lysine and starch as well as reducing sugars in the presence of heat—a little something we amateurs call “baking.” What’s more, darker breads not only tend to have more dietary fiber but also higher amounts of this cancer-fighting antioxidant goodness too!

Cunning Linguistics

In preparation for a couple of upcoming major trips, we’ve begun the not-too-easy task of trying to master the basics of a new language. Suffice to say, Cyrillic letters roll off our Texican tongues about like butter off of a frozen knife.

     ?? ????????? ??-???????

At any rate, Dede, Marsha, & I are taking a course at U.T.P.B. led by a charming native-speaker Tatiana Tyutko. So far, we’ve learned just a few introductory phrases like:

     ???? ????? ???.

We’ve also been listening to the very helpful Pimsleur audio language programs, thanks to Brad & the Midland library. And we’ve stumbled across a few sites (like this, this, this, and this) that are helping us wrap our brains around this new stuff.