[EAS]...stranger than fiction

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Jul 30 03:09:35 EDT 2003

Subject:   ...stranger than fiction

(from NewsScan Daily, 29 Jul 2003)

The U.S. Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency  (DARPA) has plans to set up an online Policy Analysis Market
that will  allow traders to bet on the likelihood of future
terrorist attacks and  political assassinations in the Middle East.
The bizarre scheme has drawn  fire from Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.). "The idea  of a federal betting parlor on
atrocities and terrorism is ridiculous and  it's grotesque," said
Wyden, while Dorgan described the plan as "useless,  offensive and
unbelievably stupid. How would you feel if you were the King  of
Jordan and you learned that the U.S. Defense Department was taking
bets  on your being overthrown within a year?" However, the Pentagon
defended the  initiative, comparing it to commodity futures markets.
"Research indicates  that markets are extremely efficient, effective
and timely aggregators of  dispersed and even hidden information.
Futures markets have proven  themselves to be good at predicting
such things as election results; they  are often better than expert
opinions." The market would allow traders to  deposit money in an
account and then use it to buy and sell contracts. If a  particular
event comes to pass, the bettors who wagered correctly would win 
the money of those who guessed wrong. (BBC News 29 Jul 2003)

A study sponsored by data-storage firm Veritas Software found that
for 34%  of chief information officers and IT managers, a weeklong
failure of the  corporate e-mail system would be more traumatic than
a minor car accident,  moving to a new home, or getting married or
divorced. Smooth-running e-mail  systems are essential to the
enterprise, and 68% of the companies polled  reported workers
becoming irate within as little as 30 minutes after an  e-mail
system goes down. In the case of a failure lasting as long as 24 
hours, one fifth of IT managers said their jobs would be on the line
at  that point. "E-mail has become far more than a communication
tool, placing  a huge responsibility on organizations to ensure that
e-mail is always  available," says Mark Bregman, Veritas' executive
VP for product  operations. "When IT managers fail to keep the
systems running, they  inhibit the ability of the entire
organization to conduct business." (CNet  News.com 28 Jul 2003)

Oh dear, two "get a life" items worthy of a Bill Maher comic
routine. Reality continues to warp. And though I'm certainly a heavy
email user, it's not a relationship I rank with life's joys and
tragedies. --PJK

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