Saturday, March 31, 2012

Buying second hand doesn’t add up

Stop dreaming of how your home could look and buy your dream property at Hillside Park in Stoke with help from Elan Homes.

Featuring a selection of three and four-bedroom homes, Hillside Park is the ideal choice for families looking for a new home in the Norton area.

Elan invests great care and attention to detail into all of its homes with stylish, modern appliances and the best fixtures and fittings throughout.

Marie Morris, sales director for Elan Homes in the north, explains: “Hillside Park is really starting to take shape and visitors can get a real feel for the development now as there’s more for them to see – in fact we can now show them around a finished example of each house type. Being able to view a property really fires up people’s imaginations and enables them to visualise how their belongings would look and what life could be like in a new home.”

Prices at Hillside Park range from £124,995 for a Cheltenham style home with three bedrooms, to £199,995 for the final four-bedroom property in the current phase.

The four-bedroom Malvern is spacious family home featuring an open plan layout with combined kitchen, dining area and family room, separate lounge and cloaks to the ground floor; upstairs the en-suite shower room to the master bedroom complements the family bathroom.

“When you compare the cost of repairing, renovating and running an older property to buying a new one, buying second hand simply doesn’t add up,” Marie adds.

“Instead of seeing the potential of an older property and maybe having to knock down walls and replace the kitchen cabinets, bathroom suite or heating system, our customers can buy their dream home and move in almost straight away.”

The homes at Hillside Park don’t just look great, but are practical too. As they are built to impressively high insulation standards, they are more energy efficient and therefore should be cheaper to run than a second hand property.

“The standard specification includes the latest energy efficient boilers, window panes made from coated glass to keep rooms warmer in winter and cooler in summer, with low energy light bulbs and low energy appliances selected for quality and visual appeal,” Marie said.

Hillside Park is just a few minutes away from the Staffordshire and Peak District countryside yet is well placed for commuting thanks to easy access to the M6. Residents can enjoy shopping and leisure facilities in nearby Stoke, Leek, Ashbourne or Uttoxeter.

To discover more about the homes available at Hillside Park, visit

Friday, March 30, 2012

norton scientific global news, medical news in canada, drug shortage, hoospitals, pharmacists, patients, second hand

Patients, pharmacies and hospitals in New Brunswick are feeling the ripple effects of a temporary stop in production by one of the country's largest medical drug producers, Sandoz Canada in Quebec.

In Dieppe, pharmacist Dennis Abud said that he is running out of several medications, including injectable painkillers like morphine. The shortage has been affecting his patients.

Abud said that in some cases he has managed to provide patients with the drugs they need, but not in a timely fashion.

"My staff got together and did a couple of phone calls and figured out a way to get it to the patient. But I don't know if that patient waited in pain for a while."

Sandoz Canada — one of the country's leading suppliers of generic cancer and heart medications — announced in late February that it was temporarily suspending production at its Boucherville, Que., facility.

Sandoz has scaled back production of certain drugs — mostly painkillers, antibiotics and anaesthetics — to upgrade operations after quality-control assessments by the FDA warned the factory fell short of its standards.

To exacerbate supply concerns, a fire Sunday in the ceiling above the boiler room of Sandoz's Boucherville plant has halted all production until at least Monday, and the company says it is assessing any impact to product supply.

"I got on the phone and tried to order some new product and it was already too late," Abud said. "It's been really frustrating for pharmacists."

John Staples, a Moncton pharmacist, said that the problem is not new. "It's been going on for two years," he said. "Sometimes they say there's none anywhere in the city."

Both health networks in New Brunswick are keeping a close eye on the situation.

"It is an exhaustive process. We've got pharmacists and administrative staff at all of our hospitals, going through all of our inventory numbers, looking at all the specific medications," said Luc Foulem, a spokesperson for Vitalite Health Network.

"So if we do have a situation where we would have a possible shortage we could identify alternatives."

Hospitals and pharmacies borrow and buy medications from each other, but when supply and demand don't match up there are no alternatives available.

"There's no life threatening medications involved at this point in time. But it's very much an inconvenience," Staples said.

A spokesperson from the province said that the Department of Health is working with the federal government and other provinces on the shortage issue.

Last week, Dr. Robert Cushman, director general biologic and genetic therapies at Health Canada, told CBC News that Health Canada is in constant dialogue with Sandoz and other manufacturers, as well as the provinces and hospitals.

"We can fast-track these alternate sources, but ... we have to look at the plant, the source, the medication … we understand it’s incumbent to do this as quickly as possible while guaranteeing safety," Cushman said.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Norton Scientific Reviews: Google Accused of Bypassing Cookie Protection

Google is apparently guilty of bypassing default privacy settings in browsers to install tracking cookies. Such cookies will enable Google to track the web activity of users using Safari (i.e. any Apple devices), something that the search engine company claimed as an accident. However, Microsoft announced that Google is also doing the same thing in their browser, Internet Explorer. (And as it turned out, it’s not only Google that is guilty of overriding privacy settings but also Facebook.)

Browsers that have P3P are capable of blocking or allowing cookies depending on the privacy settings of the user. The thing is, P3P only depends on websites to give a description of them such as what they will do with data they will get from tracking users. By default, IE blocks third-party cookies unless the website shows a P3P Compact Policy Statement showing how it intends to use the cookie and promising not to track the user.

In effect, Google is committing a scam by tricking the browser by sending a text that will enable 3rd-party cookies to be allowed. Google denies tracking of users but admits that it unintentionally places ads cookies on smartphones against the user’ wishes.

Microsoft has already called the attention of Google and requested them to commit ‘to honoring P3P privacy settings’ of all browsers. Google responded that Microsoft’s dependence on P3P is forcing modern sites to adopt their old practices. Besides, they said, 11,000 sites have been found to be bypassing the P3P in IE in the last 2 years.

Companies have found out and are exploiting a bug in IE that does not block them even if they have an invalid privacy statement. Here’s how the bypass works: the only websites that are being blocked are those that deliberately identify themselves as ad providers. And any website that does not describe itself to the browser is given a pass to install a tracking cookie anyway.

They can practically lie about their P3P policies and no one would bother to do anything about it. Talk about a silent scam.

Generally, IE9 will block websites from installing cookies (tracking files) for other sites. For instance, Google should not be able to install a cookie for their advertising site DoubleClick. However, there is an exception: IE9 will permit websites to install 3rd-party cookies if they show P3P (Platform for Privacy Preferences).

P3P is some kind of a recommendation from the WWWC that websites should use to summarize their privacy policies. But this official suggestion has been generally taken for granted in the past 10 years, with major sites like Twitter, CNN, Apple and Google choosing not to use it in describing their privacy policies.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Online Security : Symantec's Norton Internet Security to be Offered to Scientific-Atlanta Broadband Modem Customers

CUPERTINO, Calif. - August 21, 2003 - Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC), the world leader in Internet security, today announced that Scientific-Atlanta will include Norton Internet Security 2003 with select cable modem shipments. Norton Internet Security 2003 is the most tightly integrated and complete online security and privacy suite. Scientific-Atlanta is the fourth largest cable modem supplier in the U.S. Under terms of the agreement, Scientific-Atlanta will ship Norton Internet Security 2003 with a 60-day trial subscription with WebSTAR™ DPX100™ and DPX200™ cable modems. Distribution will begin in North America.

"Scientific-Atlanta is one of the top five cable modem suppliers worldwide and we shipped over 270,000 WebSTAR products in the quarter that just ended," said Joe Wytanis, director of data product business within Scientific-Atlanta's Subscriber Networks Sector. "The combination of Symantec's Norton Internet Security suite and our high-speed, standards-based cable modems delivers a powerful solution for proactive consumers who want protection against a wide range of potential threats."

"Broadband connections provide the convenience and speed of always-on Web access, yet they can also present an appealing target for hackers and malicious code," said Steve Cullen, senior vice president of Symantec Consumer and Client Product Delivery. "Symantec is pleased to offer to protect Scientific-Atlanta cable customers from these growing risks with Norton Internet Security-easy-to-use, proven security and privacy software that, like cable connections, is always on to guard all entry points against new and emerging threats."

According to a May 2003 Nielsen/NetRatings report, nearly 40 million people have broadband Internet access in their homes. Broadband users at home grew 49 percent year-over-year, while narrowband users declined 12 percent during May 2003. This rapid, widespread adoption of broadband introduces a growing population of computer users to the unique risks of having always-on connections to the Internet, which hackers can identify through port scans and use to gain unauthorized access to the user's PC.

Norton Internet Security 2003 includes Symantec's best-of-breed antivirus, firewall, intrusion detection, privacy control and content filtering technologies in a single, easy-to-use suite. Norton Internet Security automatically blocks viruses, worms, Trojan horses and hackers and prevents confidential information from being sent without authorization in outgoing email messages and Microsoft Office or instant message attachments. Exclusive worm- and script-blocking technology automatically defends against known and unknown threats without the need for virus definitions.

Norton Internet Security is the only security suite to offer a complete intrusion detection system, which adds another layer of security by automatically detecting and stopping malicious attacks such as BugBear, Nimda and Code Red. Further, virus definitions, firewall rules and intrusion detection signatures are updated automatically-without requiring user intervention-to ensure uninterrupted protection against the latest threats.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

DRG sees what develops

Anke Stoll

Anke Stoll 
UK distributor DRG is hoping to meet demand for long-running drama by developing original content. Michael Pickard reports.

When executives from DRG arrive in Cannes next week for the start of MipTV, their sales catalogue won’t be the only thing occupying their time.

For the first time, DRG is moving into developing original content, specifically drama, in a move that it hopes will create new opportunities to sell longform series to buyers who demand more bang for their buck.

“There are fewer commissions and, particularly in the UK, much shorter runs get ordered, like 3x60’ or 4x60’, which don’t sell internationally or are difficult sells,” says Anke Stoll, head of acquisitions, coproductions and development at DRG.

She also explains that series from the US are an expensive proposition for distributors, while the lack of second-season orders for some of DRG’s Australian shows, such as Canal Road (13x60′), contributed also led to its decision to join series on the ground floor, rather than step in when a show is already in the can.

That’s not to say DRG hasn’t had notable success with its scripted portfolio. The sales outfit found multiple homes for titles from the UK and Australia, in particular comedy drama Doc Martin, crime series Underbelly, Shameless and both the UK and US versions of The Inbetweeners. Doc Martin alone has been sold into more than 200 countries.

“We’re doing this mainly to have more titles for the international market,” says Stoll. “We’re trying to find titles that are truly international and we’re looking for partners around the world who can produce, showrun, write and commission them.

“We are not going into production; we don’t own a production company. We will just facilitate new development and bring the best partners together. There are some treatments and scripts we’ve paid for. Some have writers attached, some have producers and commissioners. But we have to package it and bring the finance together.”

Though its move into development is just several months old, DRG has already built up an extensive slate of forthcoming projects.

First up are three series commissioned by Italian broadcaster Rai. The first is Pirates of the East (6x90’), an adaptation of the book by Emilo Salgari set in 1840s Malaysia at the height of the British Empire.

Doc Martin
Doc Martin 
Italian production company PayPerMoon is also onboard the swashbuckling adventure, which has been conceived as a long-running series beyond its initial six-episode order. A German partner is also being sought.

PayPerMoon is also working on a retelling of the story of Helen of Troy (3x120’), while So You Think You Can Dance creator Nigel Lythgoe will coproduce Nureyev, a biographical miniseries about Russian ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev.

Scottish broadcaster STV has commissioned Wallace, to be produced by STV Productions, in association with DRG, Los Angeles-based Creative Media and Nine/8 Entertainment. The drama is set to echo period series such as Game of Thrones and Spartacus as it charts medieval hero William Wallace’s life, from childhood to his attempt to unify Scotland.

Other DRG projects include Saigon, based on the book by Anthony Grey, with Australian producer Greg Coote; and Pitcairn: Paradise Lost, a telemovie based on the true story of the 2004 child abuse scandal, with Quail TV for TV3 New Zealand and Foxtel in Australia.

Meanwhile, DRG has partnered with Future Films, a film production and financing company, on three additional projects. Together they have secured rights to Russian author Boris Akunin’s The Adventures of Erast Fandorin series, about the eponymous 19th century detective.

“It’s a mix of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond,” says Stoll. “We hope to have UK broadcasters interested and I pitched it to some German partners recently and they are really keen.”

The second project, another book deal, is for Jeffrey Archer’s Short Stories, with an aspiration to adapt them into docudramas with a US copro partner. The takes cover subjects including scams, cons and fraud.


DRG is also working with Future Films and author Jeff Norton on Cortex, a futuristic procedural drama about a team of scientists and investigators who solve crimes by inserting themselves into the memories of witnesses, criminals and each other.

Each project will be filmed in English and is likely to begin production this year for delivery in 2013.

“We had to do something because drama buyers from around the world come to us expecting us to have big drama and there’s not much coming up,” says Stoll. “Linking with international partners, we feel we have a possibility here to make things happen.”

With DRG’s motives laid bare, its move into drama development is about finding a way to supply what international broadcasters are demanding.

“This is the right time,” adds Stoll. “Broadcasters have opened up their schedules to some foreign drama but because of money and budget issues, you still want to produce really good drama. But that’s expensive and this is the only way to do it.”

NORTON SCIENTIFIC SCAM-Detection and Prevention of Clinical Research Fraud and Misconduct A Norton M

Scheduled as Needed based on Student Demand. Email us at if you are interested in this course.

Description - This is an advanced-level class that takes an in-depth examination of severe noncompliance, clinical data fabrication and falsification, scientific misconduct and fraud cases. The course focus is on developing skills for preventing fraud and misconduct and preparing clinical research professionals to better handle severe noncompliance.

Class Agenda/Modules - Instructors Make a Difference

Defining Clinical Research Fraud and Misconduct
Evaluation of Case History
R.E.S.E.A.R.C.H. TM Skills Program
Advanced Auditing and Monitoring Skills for Prevention
Case Development
Typical Class Attendee -
Sponsor Auditors
Contract Research Organization Auditors
Clinical Research Associates and Monitors
Institutional Review Board Internal Auditors
Food and Drug Administration Investigators
Independent Consultant Auditors
Compliance Auditors
Experience Level - Advanced; CRC, CRA or Auditor position for two years, preferably with a four year medical or science degree

Class Price - $1500 (10% Southeast Regional Discount and 10% multiple persons from the same organization discounts are available)
Norton: Donald Roberts, "Scientific Fraud", and DDT
In this piece Roger Bate, Donald Roberts and Richard Tren accuse the UN of "Scientific Fraud against DDT". Their Accusation is based on an Opinion paper byRoberts and Tren published in Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine. So let's look at their paper and see where the "Scientific Fraud" is.

Roberts and Tren's key argument is that reductions in malaria in the Americas were not the result of Global Environmental Facility interventions but were caused by increased use of antimalarial drugs. In their own words:

"However, their successes were not a result of the interventions we describe as components of the GEF project. Their successes were mostly a result of wide distributions of antimalarial drugs to suppress malaria (see Table 1). Data in the Table reveal trends of increased numbers of antimalarial pills distributed per diagnosed case and decreased numbers of cases. Equally obvious is the decreased numbers of pills distributed per diagnosed case, and increased numbers of cases in two countries (Costa Rica and Panama)."

So their argument rests on table 1. Here's table 1.

Country pills/case pills/case % change in % change in 1990 in 2004 pills/case in cases Mexico 235 2566 1092 -1307 Belize 21 82 390 -287 Costa Rica 653 100 -653 112 El Salvador 34 22802 67064 -8276 Guatemala 38 54 142 -144 Honduras 30 51 170 -338 Nicaragua 279 1319 473 -519 Panama 202 140 -144 1337
The first thing that leaps out at you is that the table shows reductions of more than 100%, which is impossible. Panama cannot have experienced a decrease of 144% in pills/case. According to the two previous columns in the table there was a decrease from 202 to 140, which is a 31% reduction, not 144%. 202/140 is 144%, but it is not the case that the column contains the ratio of pill/case in 1990 divided by pills/case in 2004 (ie, is just labelled wrongly), because then the number for Guatemala would be 70%, not the 142% shown in the table. The column appears to show the bigger number divided by the smaller. That is, all the percent changes in that column are calculated incorrectly and the increases and decrease were calculated differently.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

NORTON-Entertainment (Vienna/McLean/Great Falls)

2012 Run The Show Tour: Tribal Seeds, Fortunate Youth and Bimini Rd. 8 p.m. Jammin’ Java, 227 Maple Ave E Vienna.

#Vienna Photographic Society Meeting. 7:30 p.m. Thoreau Middle School, 2505 Cedar Lane, Vienna. Chuck Veatch, nature photographer and Chairman of Nature’s Best Publishing, will show and discuss winning images from this year’s Windland Smith Rice International Photography Contest. 703-451-7298.

#Great Falls TrailBlazers. 7:30 p.m. Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls. How your neighborhood can be connected to the community via trails. Learn about trail easements, understand why some trails don't go anywhere and how trails can benefit a neighborhood. 703-757-8560.

#Bat White-nose Syndrome: There is a New Fungus Among Us. 7 p.m. USGS Headquarters, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston. Dr. David Blehert will discuss the profound impacts white-nose syndrome may have in the 21st century. Since first discovered in 2007 in New York, white-nose syndrome has spread to 16 states and four Canadian provinces. The disease is estimated to have killed over five million hibernating bats. Federal facility, photo Id irequired. Free and open to the public. Follow this event live @USGSLive. 703-648-7770.

#Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter Fundraiser. 6-8:30 p.m. Whole Foods Market, 143 Maple Ave., Vienna. 5 percent of all sales from the Café Bar will be donated to FFCAS.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Society: Peninsula Volunteers honor authors at salon

Janet Duca Norton / Daily News Anthony Chan as Dennis, left, and Amanda Andrews as Miss Sandra at the premiere reception of All Shook Up on Feb. 23, 2012. ( Janet Duca Norton / Daily News )

You engaged us; you entertained us and you educated us," Peninsula Volunteers' President Kimber Sturm said to the five Bay Area authors who headlined the 21st annual Authors Salon, benefiting the Volunteers' programs for Peninsula seniors. Books Inc. partnered with the Menlo Park-based Volunteers organization that has provided a wide variety of quality services for 64 years.
Co-chairwomen Anne Flegel and Diane Rosland welcomed 302 guests to the literary luncheon at the Sharon Heights Country Club on March 4.
San Francisco Attorney Sheldon Siegel, author of several bestselling novels, performed moderator duties.
Prize-winning historian and co-founder of Mother Jones magazine Adam Hochschild focuses on four British families to tell the story behind World War I, in his "To End All Wars, A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918."
He attributes his interest in the war to several of his mother's family photographs and a book. Two of her uncles fought in the war.
Los Angeles Times Editor Jim Newton chose to write "Eisenhower: The White House Years" because he recognized the problems of the 1950's were similar to what our country is experiencing today: Bitter divisions between the Republicans and the Democrats; a faltering economy; China and Russia's threats to U.S. security and civil unrest.
He changed his original opinion of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 33rd president, after studying recently released classified documents that demonstrate a productive presidency rather than a so-called "quiet time" presidency.
Annie Barrows call herself "a rare species, a crossover," because she writes both children's and adult stories. She described the year of work required to finish her late aunt Mary Ann Shaffer's "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society." It stayed on the bestsellers list for a year.
Barrows, who is the author of the successful "Ivy and Bean" children's series, says writing for children is different. She views her books as a key to freedom of thought for her young readers; these stories present alternate ideas to those proposed by their families.
Author and Stanford professor Ellen Sussman presented her best-selling novel, "French Lessons." She uses settings that she has experienced to frame her characters and also says she digs deep inside herself when she creates her characters and their experiences.
Stanford Medical School professor Abraham Verghese, M.D., and the author of the bestseller "Cutting for Stone," said he became a writer to help with the practice of medicine. "I became a writer to capture the truth that a scientific paper cannot capture."
He also related how books can give a quiet epiphany. When he was a boy in Ethiopia, he read "Of Human Bondage." "I took it to heart," he said. "It spoke to me and encouraged me to become a doctor."
Seen applauding the authors and collecting autographed books were Salon originator Beverly Nelson; past chairwomen Linda Dickenson, Fran Eastman, Trenna Knutsen and Marge DuBois; and sponsors Ann Griffiths, Roz Morris, Betty Ogawa and Edward Goodstein.
Menlo Park-based Peninsula Volunteers has pioneered in providing services for Peninsula seniors with the goal of helping them to live independent, interesting and useful lives. Executive Director Bart Charlow described the organization with a metaphor about the fountain that is the focal point of the patio at Little House, the Roselyn G. Morris Activity Center. "It's a fountain for quality of life, not a fountain of youth," he said.
Event proceeds benefit Rosener House Adult Day Services, Meals on Wheels, Crane Place and Partridge-Kennedy apartments and the Little House Center.
Premiere of 'All Shook Up'
"All Shook Up," the fun Foothill Music Theatre play featuring Elvis Presley songs from the 1950s, received a standing ovation at the sold-out Feb. 24 premiere at the Lohman Theatre.
It's a high-energy show that depicts a day in "a little square town" when a black leather jacket attired roustabout named Chad (played by Tony Di Corti) rides his motorcycle into town.
There are mistaken identities, romance and marvelous music. Some of the songs driving the story included "Follow That Dream," "Fools Fall in Love," and "Blue Suede Shoes."
Director Milissa Carey said she it is a relationship story with themes of diversity and acceptance, which are presented with a sense of humor.
It was the first leading role for Anthony Chan (playing Dennis, the nerd) and the first musical for Foothill Conservatory graduate Warren Wernick (playing Dean Hyde, the over-protected son of the mayor (played by Molly Thornton).
"Rehearsals are good but, I'm always struck by the opening night audience that makes it a shared experience, a live moment," said Carey. "It's ephemeral. The next night will be different."
Seen congratulating the cast were Carla Befera, Foothill Commission President Carla and Rich Stevenson with members Ann Rando and Mady and Mel Kahn, and Foothill-DeAnza Board of Trustees member Bruce Swenson and his wife Barb.
The show has been sold out every weekend. A few tickets were available at press time. For information call 650-949-7360.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Scary cybercrime headlines: Fraud surveys helping consumers or selling brands?

British Columbians are worried about cybersecurity  but they’re also more likely than other Canadians to share their debit card personal identification numbers with others and take other risks that could leave them open to identity theft and other fraud.
Scary cybercrime headlines: Fraud surveys helping consumers or selling brands?
These are among the findings of a survey released today by TD Canada Trust in conjunction with Fraud Prevention Month in Canada.

Visa Canada released its own survey, this one conducted by Ipsos Reid that found young Canadians, those aged 18 to 30 are the most likely to share too much personal information on social networking sites — information such as birthdates, home addresses and phone numbers that provide lucrative pickings for identity thieves, phishing expeditions and other online fraud.

Today’s releases come the week after Norton, the security company, released its top riskiest Canadian cities for cybercrime risk rankings. The polls and rankings all add up to a lot of scary headlines and ones  Simon Fraser University communication professor Peter Chow-White suggest may be designed more for advertising and brand awareness than for research.

“I think it is to put a discourse of anxiety and fear into the public sphere,” he said. “They are all framed around risk, not safety.”
Chow-White suggests the practice of companies commissioning surveys and circulating them amongst the media creates a sense of insecurity and anxiety about online security.

“That’s what advertising does,” he said. “It’s trying to create a sense of anxiety amongst people for needing to do something, whether it’s white teeth, new tires or anything.

“This is just another episode in the long history of advertisers and companies creating market share, creating a market for their products.”

Chow-White points out that in all the survey press releases, the tips or suggestions for cyber security mostly lead back to the company that commissioned the survey.

Chow-White is of course right. We in the media hardly ever see  a survey we resist reporting on. And while some are of the heavily academic and scientific variety, able to withstand the scrutiny of  peer review, others are hardly more scientific than the ‘what do you think of this’ polls that I sometimes put on blog posts and still others fall somewhere in between.

Newsrooms get press releases trumpeting survey results pretty much on a daily basis. Some are tried and true favourites — like the one that measures how many people text from the bathroom, a tired headline but one that nonetheless is paraded out perennially. Or this year’s variation from eBay promoting eBay as a holiday shopping source:” “Did you know your friends were buying presents in the bathroom?”
Depending on the editor and whether it’s a slow news day, surveys get picked up and make headlines in media both online and off.

Do they serve a purpose other than to build brand awareness or provide fodder for techno trivia?

I thought about that as I considered today’s releases from Canada Trust and Visa Canada. Are surveys about the risk of fraud prompting people to pay more attention to their security, both online and off?

According to TD Canada Trust’s poll more British Columbian’s are taking steps to protect themselves from traditional forms of fraud, but there’s no telling whether it because they’ve been reading stories from such survey results. Some 86 per cent of people shield their PINs at banking machines compared to 77 per cent last year. I know I do ever since I wrote a story about fraudsters installing temporary cameras at ATMs to capture your PIN as your punch it in.

Some 27 per cent have spoken to their bank about reducing their withdrawal limit compared to 19 per cent who said that last year. In my case I lowered the limit on a credit card not because I read the stats but because I was the victim of credit card fraud — a circumstance that may lead many consumers to rethink their security measures.

However, the anxiety over risk hasn’t reached everyone in British Columbia. We’re the most likely of any consumers in Canada to carry our debit or credit card PIN in a wallet along with the card. Clearly we’re not frightened enough by the stats.

Visa Canada’s survey was also all about risk. Not surprisingly seniors were the least likely to engage in risky online behaviour — at least when it comes to over sharing – while young adults were most likely to take those risks. Young adults are also most likely to lend their bank or debit card to others.

What do you think? Should surveys commissioned by companies be consigned to the junk filter or do you think they serve a purpose?

Neil deGrasse Tyson pushes exploration in Space Chronicles

Plans for NASA have seen some large swings in recent years. First came President Bush’s   ambitious vision for a return to the Moon with a new spacecraft. Then it was President Obama’s
 reorganization of the space program, hastening the retirement of low Earth orbit vehicles and opening the door to the private sector. Over the past few months, NASA has been struggling to defend funding for various projects as budget cuts are being considered in the political arena. Being buffeted by the winds of political change has become standard operating procedure for NASA.

Neil deGrasse Tyson pushes exploration in <em>Space Chronicles</em>That’s one of the themes of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. Tyson, an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, has become a celebrity face of American science—and for good reason. He has an easy-going, good-humored demeanor and he knows how to talk to the public, not just in a way people will understand, but in a way that makes them care.

 He has an infectious passion and  optimism for science, and he’s always having fun. He just makes you want to get on his team.

In Space Chronicles, Tyson makes a compelling case that NASA's budget represents a critical investment that has been neglected for some time. He suggests we haven't really had to make that case before, because the utility of that investment has really never been a factor in funding decisions—science and societal benefit have always taken a back seat to maintaining the appearance of American primacy. JFK pointed the United States to the Moon because it was unacceptable to let the Soviet Union get there first. Now, Tyson worries, the US won’t get serious about Mars until the Chinese vow to get there first..

The book is a collection of essays and speeches, along with several interviews, all organized under three themes: Why? How? and Why Not? That is, the motivation for ambitious space exploration, the logistics of such projects, and the major obstacles that stymie progress.

Making the case for space

Tyson doesn’t just point to curiosity about the Universe. We all want to know if there’s life out there, and most of us get a kick out of discovering the science non-fiction of far-away worlds. But philosophical and intellectual pursuits often don’t play well at the bargaining table, so Tyson wants to sell the tangible, material benefits. 

There’s always the option of appealing to blatant self-interest by discussing impending doom via asteroid collision. If you’d rather accentuate the positive, though, there are technological spin-offs. (Don’t think Tang and space pens; think mammogram image processing techniques that arose from attempts to deal with Hubble’s initially distorted optics.) Tyson makes the case that these spin-offs are not just coincidental benefits that could have been achieved much more efficiently through direct research. They’re the unexpected results that come from interdisciplinary collaboration on ambitious goals—what he refers to as "cross-pollination." Good things happen when the best and brightest come together to push the envelope.
More generally, Tyson sees manned space exploration as one way to make sure that the best and brightest end up in science in the first place. The Moon landing inspired an entire generation of researchers and engineers. How do we grab another generation of young minds and turn them loose on the future? We need humans pushing the frontier in space, Tyson argues, because we need to dream. About the rock star status of astronauts, he writes, "My reading of history and culture tells me that people need their heroes."

What do we need?

No book on the topic of space exploration would be complete without a little rocket science, and this is no exception. Tyson talks about the Cold War space race and the technology that made it possible. Looking ahead, he discusses the advances in propulsion we’d need to realize in order to expand our reach. The book covers the logistics of a "stepping-stone" mission that can help set us on the path to Mars. Should we send it to the Moon, or a Lagrangian point (where the gravitational attractions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun balance out) instead?

If you prefer your parades with a little rain on them, you’re in luck. In the final section of the book, Tyson takes on the hurdles that could keep us Earthbound. The most obvious is funding. Money for ambitious projects is difficult to come by these days, and that’s not likely to change. The nature of American politics creates problems, as well. Truly visionary goals will necessarily span multiple administrations. An elected official can champion a mission, but she can’t guarantee that her successor will do the same. 

Then there’s the simple fact that human exploration of space is really, really hard. Most places in the solar system are quite hostile to humans, they’re terribly far away, and there is no cosmic AAA should you get into trouble, no general store to restock your food and fuel.

Many people compare the price tags for human exploration to probes and rovers, and see no contest. If your aims are purely scientific, it’s a cinch to argue that robots are the answer. They don’t need food or life support systems, they can go places humans can’t, they don’t complain about mutli-year missions or being abandoned at their conclusion, and they can carry most of the instruments humans would be using anyway.

Tyson argues that no probe will ever capture the public’s imagination like a human explorer. (Though he notes an admirable achievement by the Mars rovers—when they landed, the mission’s webpage surpassed pornography traffic for three days straight, recording more than 500 million hits.) In order to get the public excited and plugged in to the frontier of science, Tyson writes, "I don’t know a bigger force of attraction than the Universe magnet."

Space Chronicles is a collection of individual pieces, and it’s best read that way. If you sit down and read it cover-to-cover, you may be irritated by the repetition of certain points or anecdotes. Nothing is repeated verbatim, but there’s bound to be little bits of overlap between essays that once stood on their own.

Creatively interspersed throughout the book you’ll find tweets from Tyson’s popular Twitter feed (@neiltyson), which add some levity to section breaks. There are also several appendices containing the text of the legislation that established and directs NASA as well as tons of budgetary information—all useful to the would-be NASA defender.

As an easily accessible and enjoyable summary of what holds space exploration back and why we should push it forward, the book delivers. "Make no mistake," Tyson writes, "the path to discovery inherent in space exploration has become not a choice but a necessity, and the consequences of that choice affect the survival of absolutely everyone, including those who remain thoroughly unenlightened by the multitude of discoveries made by their own species throughout its time on Earth." After all, "[d]inosaurs are extinct today because they did not build spacecraft."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Norton Scientific: Invisible Man

Invisible Man is a novel written by Ralph Ellison, and the only one that he published during his lifetime (his other novels were published posthumously). It won him the National Book Award in 1953. The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity andMarxism, and the reformist racial policies of Booker T. Washington, as well as issues of individuality and personal identity.
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Invisible Man nineteenth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.[1]

Historical background

In his introduction to the 30th Anniversary Edition of Invisible Man,[2] Ellison says that he started writing the book in a barn in Waitsfield, Vermont in the summer of 1945 while on sick leave from the Merchant Marine and that the novel continued to preoccupy him in various parts of New York City. In an interview in The Paris Review 1955,[3] Ellison states that the book took five years to complete with one year off for what he termed an "ill-conceived short novel." Invisible Man was published as a whole in 1952; however, copyright dates show the initial publication date as 1947, 1948, indicating that Ellison had published a section of the book prior to full publication. That section was the famous "Battle Royal" scene, which had been shown to Cyril Connolly, the editor of Horizon magazine by Frank Taylor, one of Ellison's early supporters.
Ellison states in his National Book Award acceptance speech that he considered the novel's chief significance to be its experimental attitude. Rejecting the idea of social protest—as Ellison would later put it—he did not want to write another protest novel, and also seeing the highly regarded styles of Naturalism and Realism too limiting to speak to the broader issues of race and America, Ellison created an open style, one that did not restrict his ideas to a movement but was more free-flowing in its delivery. What Ellison finally settled on was a style based heavily upon modern symbolism. It was the kind of symbolism that Ellison first encountered in the poem The Waste Land,[4] by T. S. Eliot. Ellison had read this poem as a freshman at the Tuskegee Institute and was immediately impressed by The Waste Land's ability to merge his two greatest passions, that of music and literature, for it was in The Waste Land that he first saw jazz set to words. When asked later what he had learned from the poem, Ellison responded: imagery, and also improvisation—techniques he had only before seen in jazz.
Ellison always believed that he would be a musician first and a writer second, and yet even so he had acknowledged that writing provided him a "growing satisfaction." It was a "covert process," according to Ellison: "a refusal of his right hand to let his left hand know what it was doing."[5]
[edit] Plot introduction
Invisible Man is narrated in the first person by the protagonist, an unnamed African American man who considers himself socially invisible. His character may have been inspired by Ellison's own life. The narrator may be conscious of his audience, writing as a way to make himself visible to mainstream culture; the book is structured as if it were the narrator's autobiography although it begins in the middle of his life.
The story is told from the narrator's present, looking back into his past. Thus, the narrator has hindsight in how his story is told, as he is already aware of the outcome.
In the Prologue, Ellison's narrator tells readers, "I live rent-free in a building rented strictly to whites, in a section of the basement that was shut off and forgotten during the nineteenth century." In this secret place, the narrator creates surroundings that are symbolically illuminated with 1,369 lights. He says, "My hole is warm and full of light. Yes, full of light. I doubt if there is a brighter spot in all New York than this hole of mine, and I do not exclude Broadway." The protagonist explains that light is an intellectual necessity for him since "the truth is the light and light is the truth." From this underground perspective, the narrator attempts to make sense out of his life, experiences, and position in American society.
[edit] Plot summary
In the beginning, the main character lives in a small town in the South. He is a model student, even being named his high school's valedictorian. Having written and delivered an excellent paper about the struggles of the average black man, he gets to tell his speech to a group of white men, who force him to participate in a series of degrading events. After finally giving his speech, he gets a scholarship to an all-black college that is clearly modeled on the Tuskegee Institute.
During his junior year at the college, the narrator takes Mr. Norton, a visiting rich white trustee, on a drive in the country. He accidentally drives to the house of Jim Trueblood, a black man living on the college's outskirts, who impregnated his own daughter. Trueblood, though disgraced by his fellow blacks, has found greater support from whites. After hearing Trueblood's story and giving Trueblood a hundred dollar bill, Mr. Norton faints, then asks for some alcohol to help his condition, prompting the narrator to take him to a local tavern. At the Golden Day tavern, Norton passes in and out of consciousness as World War I veterans being treated at the nearby mental hospital for various mental health issues occupy the bar and a fight breaks out among them. One of the veterans claims to be a doctor and tends to Mr. Norton. The dazed and confused Mr. Norton is not fully aware of what’s going on, as the veteran doctor chastises the actions of the trustee and the young black college student. Through all the chaos, the narrator manages to get the recovered Mr. Norton back to the campus after a day of unusual events.
Upon returning to the school he is fearful of the reaction of the day's incidents from college president Dr. Bledsoe. At any rate, insight into Bledsoe's knowledge of the events and the narrator's future at the campus is somewhat prolonged as an important visitor arrives. The narrator views a sermon by the highly respected Reverend Homer A. Barbee. Barbee, who is blind, delivers a speech about the legacy of the college's founder, with such passion and resonance that he comes vividly alive to the narrator; his voice makes up for his blindness. The narrator is so inspired by the speech that he feels impassioned like never before to contribute to the college's legacy. However, all his dreams are shattered as a meeting with Bledsoe reveals his fate. Fearing that the college's funds will be jeopardized by the incidents that occurred, Bledsoe immediately expels the narrator. While the Invisible Man once aspired to be like Bledsoe, he realizes that the man has portrayed himself as a black stereotype in order to succeed in the white-dominated society. This serves as the first epiphany among many in the narrator realizing his invisibility. This epiphany is not yet complete when Bledsoe gives him several letters of recommendation to help him get a job under the assumption that he could return upon earning enough money for the next semester. Upon arriving in New York, the narrator distributes the letters with no success. Eventually, the son of one of the people to whom he sent a letter takes pity on him and shows him an opened copy of the letter; it reveals that Bledsoe never had any intentions of letting the narrator return and sent him to New York to get rid of him.
Acting upon the son's suggestion, the narrator eventually gets a job in the boiler room of a paint factory in a company renowned for its white paints. The man in charge of the boiler room, Lucius Brockway, is extremely paranoid and thinks that the narrator has come to take his job. He is also extremely loyal to the company's owner, who once paid him a personal visit. When the narrator tells him about a union meeting he happened upon, Brockway is outraged, and attacks him. They fight, and Brockway tricks him into turning a wrong valve and causing a boiler to explode. Brockway escapes, but the narrator is hospitalized after the blast. While recovering, the narrator overhears doctors discussing him as a mental health patient. He learns through their discussion that shock treatment has been performed on him.
After the shock treatments, the narrator attempts to return to his residence when he feels overwhelmed by a certain dizziness and faints on the streets of Harlem. He is taken to the residence of a kind, old-fashioned woman by the name of Mary. Mary is down-to-earth and reminds the narrator of his relatives in the South and friends at the college. Mary somewhat serves as a mother figure for the narrator. While living there, he happens upon an eviction of an elderly black couple and makes an impassioned speech decrying the action. Soon, however, police arrive, and the narrator is forced to escape over several building tops. Upon reaching safety, he is confronted by a man named Jack who followed him and implores him to join a group called The Brotherhood that is a thinly veiled version of the Communist Party and claims to be committed to social change and betterment of the conditions in Harlem. The narrator agrees.
The narrator is at first happy to be making a difference in the world, "making history," in his new job. While for the most part his rallies go smoothly, he soon encounters trouble from Ras the Exhorter, a fanatical black nationalist in the vein of Marcus Garvey who believes that the Brotherhood is controlled by whites. Ras tells this to the narrator and Tod Clifton, a youth leader of the Brotherhood, neither of whom seem to be swayed by his words.
When he returns to Harlem, Tod Clifton has disappeared. When the narrator finds him, he realizes that Clifton has become disillusioned with the Brotherhood, and has quit. Clifton is selling dancing Sambo dolls on the street, mocking the organization he once believed in. He soon dies. At Clifton's funeral, the narrator rallies crowds to win back his former widespread Harlem support and delivers a rousing speech. However, he is criticized in a clandestine meeting with Brother Jack and other members for not being scientific in his arguments at the funeral; angered, he begins to argue in retaliation, causing Jack to lose his temper and accidentally make his glass eye fly out of one of his sockets. The narrator realizes that the half-blind Jack has never really seen him either.
He buys sunglasses and a hat as a disguise, and is mistaken for a man named Rinehart in a number of different scenarios: first, as a lover, then, a hipster, a gambler, a briber, and, finally, as a reverend. He sees that Rinehart has adapted to white society, at the cost of his own identity.He decides to take his grandfather's dying advice to "overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction. . ." and "yes" the Brotherhood to death, by making it appear that the Harlem membership is thriving when in reality it is crumbling. However, he soon realizes the cost of this action: Ras becomes a powerful demagogue. After escaping Ras (by throwing a spear Ras had acquired through the leader's jaw, permanently sealing it), the narrator is attacked by a couple of people who trap him inside a coal-filled manhole/basement, sealing him off for the night and leaving him alone to finally confront the demons of his mind: Bledsoe, Norton, and Jack.
At the end of the novel, the narrator is ready to resurface because "overt action" has already taken place. This could be that, in telling us the story, the narrator has already made a political statement where change could occur. Storytelling, then, and the preservation of history of these invisible individuals is what causes political change.