Brief asides


POSTED: Wednesday, July 08, 2009


One toke over the line

Users of medical marijuana in California will soon see a new warning that comes with their drug: it causes cancer.

Pot was added to the list of cancer-causing compounds, even though it's often used, ironically enough, by cancer patients.

Medical-marijuana advocates were quick to point out flaws in the studies that led to the listing.


Hawaii ranks high in union membership

With all the talk about jobs, or the lack of them, here are few facts about employment in the United States. There were about 155 million people ages 16 and older in the work force this May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nearly 16 million of them belong to labor unions, with Alaska, Hawaii and New York having among the highest rates of union membership. North Carolina has one of the lowest rates, with only about 3 percent of wage and salary workers represented by a labor union.


Social networking sites deserve extra care

Users of Facebook, MySpace and other social networking Web sites who freely post their birth dates and hometowns might want to delete that information now that tech-savvy researchers have revealed how easy it is to use that data to figure out people's Social Security numbers.

Turns out those nine digits, used to access bank balances, credit card accounts and other sensitive information, are not difficult to predict once the snooper knows those key facts, given that the numbers are assigned by year and location of birth. Especially bad news for Hawaii folk: The researchers' predictions were most accurate in states with small populations. The Social Security Administration downplays the risk of identity theft, but says it has devised a system that will randomly assign the numbers starting next year.