tampabay.com

Talk of the day

By TIMES WIRES
Published March 21, 2007


WASHINGTON, D.C.

Want a SIDE OF Irrational exuberance?

Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, is auctioning off breakfast or tea with himself and his wife, journalist Andrea Mitchell. The auction, which is open until April 6th, is to fund the Robert F. Kennedy memorial, which supports human rights workers and campaigners. The winner can bring as many as three guests and enjoy a meal with Greenspan, 81, and Mitchell at the Four Seasons in Washington, according to charitybuzz.com, which is running the auction.

White Plains, N.Y.

Misunderstanding is blamed for error

Consultants hired by Consumer Reports to investigate how it botched a story about infant car seats concluded Tuesday that a major misunderstanding between the magazine and the lab that conducted the test resulted in the error. The findings of the test - that most seats "failed disastrously" - were withdrawn two weeks after their Jan. 4 publication when the magazine learned its side-impact tests had simulated speeds twice as fast as it reported.

Ashland, Ore

Fortran developer is dead at 82

John Backus, whose development of the Fortran programming language in the 1950s changed how people interacted with computers and paved the way for modern software, has died. He was 82. Mr. Backus died Saturday in Ashland, Ore., according to IBM Corp., where he spent his career. Fortran was a "high-level" programming language because it abstracted work - it let programmers enter commands in a more intuitive system, which the computer would translate into machine code on its own. "It was just a quantum leap," said Jim Horning, a longtime programmer.

SAN FRANCISCO

Folded funds once controlled $35B

U.S. hedge funds that once managed $35-billion shut down last year as more big firms ran into trouble, according to a survey released on Monday by industry publication Absolute Return. At least 83 U.S. hedge funds shut in 2006. The largest was the $9.1-billion multistrategy fund run by Amaranth Advisors LLC, which ranks as the biggest hedge fund collapse in history, Absolute Return said.

FREDERICKSBURG, Va

Group looks to snuff out donation

An antismoking group called on the U.S. National Slavery Museum to return a donation from tobacco giant Philip Morris USA, saying the company targets children "for another form of slavery." Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, sent a letter, saying the association with the nation's largest cigarette manufacturer would counter the museum's goal of educating children. The museum, in the midst of a $165-million capital campaign, does not plan to return the $200,000 donation, spokesman Matt Langan said.