Serious stuff

AOL "mistakenly" exposes customers' perversions

A couple of weeks ago AOL made a(nother) big mistake. They released a big pile of people's web search queries. Beware naive netizens, every time you search for whatever brand of filth turns you on on the Big Bad Internet, the chances are that some record of it is made.

AOL saw a large potential in academic tech researchers having access to a big clump of these real world usage examples of their search. So for a few days, anyone could download a file of 20,000,000ish searches done by 658,000 of their customers.

Nutty warnings

Sure, the form of anaphylaxis known as nut allergy is a serious - potentially deadly - business, and sufferers need to know what is safe for them to eat. However, given almost every product in the known universe contains a nut warning it has already been alleged years ago that the effect of such warnings is weak and confusing.

The Poorhouse was therefore uber-jubilant to discover that manufacturers still haven't got round to redesigning their packaging, and there existed an ultra-ridiculous, even by conventional standards, nut warning on a pack of Tesco Healthy Living Natural Bio yoghurt. The product itself sounds pretty foul, but the nut warning was crazy enough to make it an object of pure hilarity.

Dieter's Diary

Regular and/or observant readers of The Poorhouse will be aware that Laura is doing a sponsored slim. Your money will motivate her to do well, so get donating. All proceeds go to Medecins Sans Frontieres who do amazing work giving emergency medical treatment to wherever it's needed as a result of humanitarian disasters, whatever the conditions.

In order to keep us all up to date, we are happy to announce that Laura has started a Dieter's Diary blog. Go here to see the first entry - which includes progress updates, temptation, cash, cake, references to breasts and a smattering of cliches to boot. Fear not - it is entirely Safe For Work so you have no excuse.

The War on Some Drugs is unpopular

A Yougov survey done in conjunction with the Telegraph (not known for its liberal biases) was reported yesterday. It seems that not only do the UK Government's own Science and Technology Committee think the drug laws are ridiculous, but so do we, the population whose view's our politicians supposedly represent.

Despite a near constant barrage of what in some cases could be termed propaganda about the evils of illegal drugs from some angles, it seems us citizens don't really think the War On Some Drugs is the policy we should be following.

Everybody do the post 9-11 dance

Rizwan Ahmed, more commonly known as MC Riz (maybe) and from his appearance on Road to Guantanamo has released a new single entitled the "Post 9/11 Blues". It is fine, fine satire, and can be seen below. Although it caused - of course- controversy in the mainstream, the Poorhouse understands at least some of it has been played on Radio 1.

Apologies if the Poorhouse readers think the timing of the story is bad given the current security alerts in the UK, but then again maybe this song has relevance to them too?

Ceasefire now

As any news-readers will know, there is currently an especially terrible man-made catastrophe going on in the Middle East, mainly in terms of great bloodshed and distress being caused in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. Over 1000 civilians are dead, and a million displaced. It could get even worse.

For anyone who is into petitioning - and why not? - you might like to consider signing up at the Ceasefire Campaign. The United Nations is currently meeting to decide what should be done to resolve these problems, and this petition demands that they must insist on a ceasefire as a first step to resolution. Whilst Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, has already called for such a thing, some of the big 5 players, especially America, have refused to agree. With the outdated and unfair system that the UN works within, this means that nothing can be done. We therefore must persuade them to change their minds.

Make your own passport

Britain is in the middle of a move towards making everyone's passport include a microchip. As of February this year, any passport you sent off for or renewed may have cost you substantially more and have included biometric information on such a device. In the case of the UK, this information includes a coded version of your facial features, in other places it may be fingerprints, iris scans and so on.

The chips these passports use include radio frequency ID (RFID) technology. This means the chip inside your passport will transmit some data – in this case your biometrics - to a reader when it receives signal from a RFID reader. The reason? More secure than paper based documents, and less open to fraud. Unless of course the potential fraudster knows a bit about such chips. Unsurprisingly, despite the Government's arrogance, they've already been hacked. Now that didn't take long did it?

Drug danger ratings

Following on from the surprisingly hard-hitting "Drug classification: making a hash of it?" report, it came to light that Government advisors had indeed had a vaguely sensible go at working out which drugs were more dangerous than others, politics aside(ish).

Unsurprisingly, it turned out that the level of danger of the drug did in no way reflect either whether it was illegal in the UK, or how illegal it was. The report had apparently been deemed too "controversial" and hence ignored.

Drugs: the real deal

This article is "borrowed" from the Independent as published on the 1st August 2006 to illustrate this story.

DRUGS: THE REAL DEAL

This is the first ranking based upon scientific evidence of harm to both individuals and society.

It was devised by government advisers - then ignored by ministers because of its controversial findings

1: Heroin ( Class A )
ORIGIN: Vast majority comes from poppy fields of Afghanistan
MEDICAL: Sedative made from the opium poppy.
Can be smoked or injected to produce a 'rush'. Users feel lethargic but experience severe cravings for the drug

UK drug laws are ridiculous (again)

Causes madness: to legislatorsCauses madness: to legislatorsA report released today by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee goes to quite some fervent length to describe the current drug laws as arbitrary, non-scientific, pointless and ineffective.

It's nothing the esteemed Poorhouse readers probably didn't already know, but it's always nice to see it written down. Especially by a committee of MPs - the very people that keep these stupid laws in action against all evidence and common sense. The question on our lips is of course, following this period of sane analysis, are they going to change them?

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