Federal Bytes

The dangers of e-mail

While Congress has been busily debating a variety of technology-related legislation since its return from holiday break, Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) this month brought up a new concern about the possible dangers of the Internet: conceiving via e-mail.

Traficant called for a "chastity chip" for the Internet, citing in a brief floor speech the example of a woman who claimed to have gotten pregnant through an e-mail message with a correspondent 1,500 miles away.

"That's right— pregnant," Traficant said, as he warned of the dangers of "immaculate reception."

While he did not describe any future efforts to try to legislate a chastity chip, Traficant did say the woman's account was "enough to crash your hard drive."

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Hendrix alive at NIST

During a Senate computer security hearing last week, Raymond Kammer, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, tickled several senators with a brief description of NIST's password policy.

Passwords should be designed so that they are hard to guess, he said. That means the name of a user's spouse, child or pet is discouraged.

NIST also has made a list of passwords that its employees are forbidden to use because of their popularity.

"'Foxy lady' comes to mind," Kammer said.

Oh, those wild and crazy R&D folks!

* * *

Y2K on the stump

Tom Davis, the congressman from technology-savvy Northern Virginia, has added a Year 2000 joke to his stump speech. It goes something like this:

"When the millennium marking the beginning of the 11th century began, no one was particularly upset because most of the public didn't even know what day it was. Only the learned community— the monks— knew what the date was. Today, approaching another millennium, we have the opposite problem. Everyone knows what the date is— except the computers."

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What Y2K problem?

Despite the criticism the Federal Aviation Administration has faced on fixing its Year 2000 problem, it's nice to know Jane Garvey, the FAA administrator, still has her sense of humor. Last week, Garvey addressed an industry group at a luncheon sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She was answering questions from the audience without hesitation until someone asked how the agency is addressing the Year 2000 issue.

"Year 2000?" she asked. "Isn't anybody hungry for lunch yet?"

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