Follow-ups: Earthlink, Duct Tape, Daily Show, Cyber Threat

In the spirit of the iterative search for truth unintentionally illustrated in the previous post, here are responses to several recent items:

1) About Earthlink, previously here: Several readers write in to confirm that the hyper-annoying "spam filter messages that constitute spam on their own" are within each Earthlink user's power to control. Those messages go out if the user chooses the highest Earthlink anti-spam setting; at lower settings, they don't. Please, dial the setting down! Or else, never write to someone you don't already know.

2) About duct tape on Chinese airliners, previously here: Several people have written in to explain that the situation looked worse (tape appearing to hold a wing part together) than it actually was. For instance, from an aircraft mechanic:

That's a fiberglass triangular cover covering the flap track. I am sure it's not taped on rather bolted on and aluminum tape is covering some type of sealant that needs more time to dry than is possible for the flight schedule, so they tape over the semi-wet sealant and make a write up to remove it in x amount of hours.

Tape is commonly used to repair or protect items on aircraft for a short duration, until time permits a permanent repair -- but never to hold aircraft structures on or together. Especially not flight controls. Looks bad, but totally normal.

I agree, and the People's Daily story linked to in the original item also offered this explanation. Still, it was an interesting picture.

3) About the Daily Show clip on the menace of teaching children Chinese, previously here. A reader in Canada provides this news-to-me info:

One little complaint about your posting of "Daily Show" clips, particularly this one. I have no idea what it's about because in the little black box that appears on screen where you've embedded it, there's a notice that says "In Canada, Comedy Central Videos are available on The Comedy Network".

Which is fine ... I know where to go to access the Comedy Network up here ... however, without a little more info from you on what this segment is (on Beijing, you say), I have no idea how to search it out at Even trying to FIND the search option at that site is enough to make me pull my hair out. Some days it's there -- some days it's nowhere to be found. So. When posting Daily Show clips (and/or the Colbert Report thingies) -- could you PLEASE, especially for your off-shore readers...  also include the date of the airing of the piece you're referencing -- so we can google it up with a minimum of frustration?

Live and learn! Will adopt this policy; the clip I mentioned was aired on June 7 and was called "Socialism Studies." Or of course, Canadians (et al) could act as if they're in China and sign up for a VPN that lets a computer seem to be coming from the US, or England, or Hong Kong, or other places you might choose.

4) About the "Cyber War Threat" debate, previously here. I mentioned that the team of Jonathan Zittrain and Mike McConnell seemed to have taken the requirements of formal debate much more seriously than their opponents (Bruce Schneier and Marc Rotenberg) did, and therefore convinced many audience members that the cyber-war threat was worth worrying about. From reader I.K., who was in the audience that night:

I attended in person, and like you, would otherwise have been inclined to side with the "for the motion" team...had it not been for JZ's formidable rhetorical gifts. I think the idea of a potential "threat" -- rather than a real and present "cyberwar" -- was ignored by the Schneier/Rotenberg team at their peril. Further, their resort to fear-mongering about imminent government takeovers and the terrifying tentacles of the NSA did not help distinguish them from the fear-mongers they hoped to debunk.

That's it for now. Onward on the web-enhanced path toward correctness.