Friday, January 29, 2010


In my actual adult like existence, I have a job which might be delecately described as belonging in the technology sector.  This should come as no real surprise for all two of my readers...

Anyway with this (somebody) stealing google's lunch money drama, the whole dick swinging kabuki nonsense is starting to get on my nerves.  Then the other day this absurd email drops into my inbox:
Operation Aurora: Prepare for Cyber War!

China had a plan to attack and steal Google intellectual property
and compromise Gmail. Two weeks ago when Google announced they were the target
of sophisticated attacks from China, we were notified a war had begun. The
attacks, known now as "Operation Aurora" took advantage of a Microsoft Internet
Explorer vulnerability. Fighting cyber war without sufficient weaponry is like
entering Iraq with just knives. You cannot win by doing so - after all, who
brings a knife to a gunfight?
Feh.  While there is limited evidence that China may have been involved, people need to take a gods damned break about needlessly accusational language being thrown around.

Just remember that any asshole can start a gun fight.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Goodnight Moon

While getting PAK2 to bed this evening, I (as usual) was reciting Goodnight Moon.  PAK1 is too old for this sort of thing you know...

While this story is really quite dark and existential.  In particular the lines:
Goodnight nobody,
Goodnight mush.
Less the mush part but the acknowledgment of nothingness is kinda heavy for such a book.  I mean we say 'goodnight' to the air later in the book so ths is not just some elemental nothingness that we are talking about.  You know what Nietzsche sad about looking into the void:
If you look long enough into the void,
the void begins looking back through you
Reeling myself, however reluctantly, back from this nonsense, there has been something going on which sees fit to coment on.

Earlier this week, the Supreme court in Citizens United vs. FEC ruled 5-4 providing corporations the same rights to influence the electoral process as human beings.   From The Huffington Post
Today, in a radical act of judicial activism, five Supreme Court Justices overthrew 103 years of American statutory and judicial law going back to the Presidency of Teddy Roosevelt by ruling that corporations have the Constitutional right to make unlimited campaign contributions.
This is in effect a bloodless judicial coup which turns the American government over to the biggest corporate interests, to the degree that hadn't happened already.
This is a two-part coup. In 2000, in the judicially unconscionable Bush v. Gore ruling, the Supreme Court handed the Presidency to George W. Bush. Bush, in turn, appointed John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, who, in their confirmation hearings, disingenuously promised the Senate and American people to be judicial moderates and avoid judicial activism. Now, in 2010, in perhaps the greatest act of judicial activism in American history, they overthrew 103 years of precedent to turn the US government over to the largest corporations.
 Did not manage to hear much about this decision on the news, but I have mostly given up on that sort of thing.  An interesting (IMHO) take on this was made by Ian Welsh here:

Yesterday’s decision makes the US a soft fascist state.  Roosevelt’s definition of fascism was control of government by corporate interests.  Unlimited money means that private interests can dump billions into elections if they choose.  Given that the government can, will, and has rewarded them with trillions, as in the bailouts, or is thinking about doing so in HCR, by forcing millions of Americans to buy their products the return on investment is so good that I would argue that corporations have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to buy out government - after all if you pay a million to get a billion, or a billion to get a trillion, that’s far far better returns than are avaiable anywhere else.
 I have been thinking about this for a few days and am not really sure exactly how one goes about responding to such a thing.  Those of you who have had the misfortune of reading this blog for the years that I have been whining about the state of affairs know that I have a pathological fascination with boiling frogs (in metaphor ok!).

 Only time will tell if this will really change the sickening state of real-politiks.  A real problem I have regarding this is the real precedent setting situation where corporations have (yet again) been provided rights that have been provided to people.  A corporation is a buisness abstracton and should not be given any additional freedoms.  I mean really who are these privlidges being granted to?  Board members?  They already have full rights (given citizenship etc).

I need a drink...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Monetize this...

So there is this new tab in the post editor at Moronathon - "Monetize" .  WTF?  When the hell did that word even become real?  Ghastly bullshit.

The New Expectation of Privacy

Facebook zygote and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested that people no longer have an expectation of privacy based on the current buisness performance.  Nice to see that the best and brightest minds of our (?) generation are looking out for what really counts.

From eWeekEurope:
Privacy is no longer a social norm, according to the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg commenting on the rise of social networking

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook has said that people no longer have an expectation of privacy thanks to increasing uptake of social networking.

Speaking at the Crunchie Awards in San Francisco this weekend, the 25 year-old web entrepreneur said: “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.”
besides saying a big Fuck You out to Mr. Zuckerberg for having such a swarmy little attitude toward our fundamental rights, I would like to remind everybody (oh Vast Readership!) that everything you write and upload becomes the property of Facebook, to do with what wish.

To remind everybody what that really means, need I remind you that the rules for Government acquisition of personal information (assuming that rules are adhered to) are almost non-existent when applied to so called "fourth party" holders.

From an abstract from "Buying You: The Government's Use of Fourth-Parties to Launder Data about 'The People'" :
Your information is for sale, and the government is buying it at alarming rates. The CIA, FBI, Justice Department, Defense Department, and other government agencies are at this very moment turning to a group of companies to provide them information that these companies can gather without the restrictions that bind government intelligence agencies. The information is gathered from sources that few would believe the government could gain unfettered access to, but which, under current Fourth Amendment doctrine and statutory protections, are completely accessible.

Fourth-parties, such as ChoicePoint or LexisNexis, are private companies that aggregate data for the government, and they comprise the private security-industrial complex that arose after the attacks of September 11, 2001. They are in the business of acquiring information, not from the information’s originator (the first-party), nor from the information’s anticipated recipient (the second-party), but from the unavoidable digital intermediaries that transmit and store the information (third-parties). These fourth-party companies act with impunity as they gather information that the government wants but would be unable to collect on its own due to Fourth Amendment or statutory prohibitions. This paper argues that when fourth-parties disclose to law enforcement information generated as a result of searches that would be violations had the government conducted the searches itself, those fourth-parties’ actions should be considered searches by agents of the government, and the data should retain privacy protections.

The entire paper can be found at the link above and I am in in position now to comment on it (have PAK1 and PAK2 to watch), but just wanted to get a few things out there since the number of posts I have skipped is much larger than I would like it to be.

For the record I know that many of the same rules of IP ownership are also in play with the site, but I don't have the time or motivation to set up my own site to complain from.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 

Emma Lazarus

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Further Breaking of the World

In previous posts I have discussed the heightened tension between the world of the rational and the mainstream left and right.  Nothing has happened over the past years which has done anything but heighten my skeptical feelings on the issue.

Recently an interaction between Mrs. set.element and an old friend of mine made me more aware of the vast gulf between people with an understanding of Science, and those who do not.  The topic was Global Warming and involved an otherwise educated person who just didn't feel right about some of what she was reading about based on the criticism of a social scientist.

I can go on and on about my feelings on just how useful an analysis by a social theorist on complicated data analysis but the discussion was moved to the meta-analysis of the process thereby avoiding the messy process of actually understanding what you are talking about.

What bothered me even more than this was that the whole notion of framing the "debate".  Looking at the arguments there was no hard criticism of the process, just a casting of doubt on some vague points in the exact same way that our Corporate Overlords made thinking that smoking was bad was just a bunch of tree hugging nonsense.   Real Science does not tolerate much in the way of this bullshit.  I have discussed this again and again so will not bore anybody with that noise.

And where does the liberal media stand on this?  Our friends at NPR, who might at best be covered on the absurd notion of equivalence - that is for every bit of information which might be set forward brought to you by actual working scientists,  it is necessary to allow some screwball flat earth advocate to blather there dubious nonsence.

From the NPR Check blog:
"This [link to the Tuesday morning story] may help explain my antipathy towards Kestenbaum this AM. Of all the stories one could file from Copenhagen, he gives credence to hack skeptic Lomborg who has been thoroughly discredited. [link to a point by point refutation of Lomborg's "science."] What a doofus and a tool is the Kestenbum."
There is so much more to say on this topic, but there is so much work to do as well.  By the way, during the writing of this droning nonsense I hear the following on a commercial for some sort of exercise equipment:
...whose friction free track using the momentum of gravity...
I need a drink.