kwietman writes: "Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain has stated that he believes there is a causal link between thimerosal used as a preservative in childhood vaccines and the rising incidence of autism. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Campaign08/Campaign08/dh/8610 Despite the large number of studies which fail to show any association between thimerosal and autism, many people fix upon the preservative as a factor in its development. A spokesman for McCain indicated, "Sen. McCain understands there have been numerous scientific studies that haven't found a link. He also recognizes there are many people who've raised concerns about a possible link. He isn't taking sides. Until we better understand the root causes for the rising number of diagnoses, all concerns won't be put to rest. He's advocating greater research." McCain himself said he felt there was "strong evidence" linking autism to thimerosal, but did not provide any specific citations. Given that the research so far fails to show a link, is this a concern for a presidential candidate who plays to the fears of parents based on bad science?"
kwietman writes: "E. Gary Gygax, the original Game God, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, died Tuesday at the age of 69. http://blog.wired.com/underwire/2008/03/report-gary-gyg.html The cause of death was not immediately available, although Gygax had been in poor health for some time. An outpouring of support has already started on the Troll Lords message board http://www.freeyabb.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=4373&mforum=trolllordgames. Gygax was a legend in gaming circles following the publication of the original D&D rulebook (a copy of which I still have, dogeared though it is, blue cover almost white now) in 1974. He parted ways with TSR in 1985 and was sued by the company for his creation of a competing game system. The funeral will apparently be open to the public, according to Kerry Bourgoine of Troll Lords:
"Visitation is on Saturday, March 8 at 11 AM at:
Haase Derrick Lockwood Funeral Home
800 Park Drive
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
A Funeral Service will follow at 2:00 PM, also at the Haase Derrick Lockwood Funeral Home.
In the evening, there will be an informal gathering to remember Gary with food and beverage. Time and location to be determined.
More details as we figure them out.
The entire/. community has lost a great figure, an inspiration to many of us, a king among geeks."
kwietman writes: The FBI admitted that, for the fourth straight year, they improperly accessed phone and internet records of U.S. citizens(http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gxSQM-Pj5GvDDx_r9HNZvtF6JAGgD8V7HN7O0)
Director Robert Meuller testified that the abuses occurred prior to sweeping reforms enacted in 2007, and actually blamed the breaches in part on the telecommunications companies who, he says, submitted more information than requested.
In another unsurprising development, the FBI also underreported the number of security letters, used to authorize wiretaps and to subpoena internet and telecom records, by over 4600 in 2006. The use of these letters to identify potential terrorists has, according to government audit, increased by several orders of magnitude since the enactment of the Patriot Act. Over 1000 of these security letters were found to be improper in 2005, and similar numbers were expected for 2006 and 2007.
kwietman writes: Echoing the concerns of privacy and security experts across the nation, California's Secretary of State Debra Bowen has reported that electronic voting, which is common in California, is rife with security concerns. The report (http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vsr.htm ), conducted by computer scientists at the University of California, evaluates Diebold and other companies in terms of security, accuracy and verifiability. According to a story on Newsweek's web site (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20546322/site/newswee k/), Bowen says, "Things were worse than I thought. There were far too many ways that people with ill intentions could compromise the voting systems without detection." Bowen took the radical step of decertifying voting machines, allowing some to be used only with "hardening" of security. Manufacturers of voting machines, of course, are claiming that the tests do not reflect "real-world conditions." Will this study spark similar looks at electronic voting in other states, as election officials become more enamored of technology?
kwietman writes: "In a reversal of a 2005 policy that made Kansas the laughing stock of the nation, educational science standards have been rewritten to reflect current evolutionary theory, without language supported by proponents of intelligent design which claimed that current research challenged the scientific legitimacy of evolution. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17132925/) The new standards, the fifth revision in eight years, are free of any references to the supposed "controversy" over natural selection, and also reverses the redefinition of science to reflect only "the search for natural explanations of what is observed in the universe." The Kansas board of education has been the butt of jokes since the earlier decision, and both educator groups and science advocates loudly decried the action as political maneuvering by creationists rather than supportable science. The decision about what to teach in classrooms still rests with the 296 local school boards, but the new standards place strong guidelines on what is expected in order to comply with mandatory state testing of students. An additional action taken by the current board removes a paragraph describing abuses of science such as Nazi experimentation and the Tuskegee syphilis study, stating that these descriptions do not reflect on the teaching of the origins of life or on the discipline of science in general."