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From User: Decius

I am a hacker and you are afraid and that makes you more dangerous than I ever could be.

You Deleted Your Cookies? Think Again | Epicenter |
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:33 am EDT, Aug 11, 2009

More than half of the internet’s top websites use a little known capability of Adobe’s Flash plugin to track users and store information about them, but only four of them mention the so-called Flash Cookies in their privacy policies, UC Berkeley researchers reported Monday.

Awesome! Thanks Adobe!

Ajax Security, Chapter 8, pages 218 - 226 pages ;-)

You Deleted Your Cookies? Think Again | Epicenter |

Topic: Miscellaneous 10:06 am EDT, Jun 25, 2009

The issue isn't that insurance companies are evil. It's that they need to be profitable. They have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profit for shareholders. And as Potter explains, he's watched an insurer's stock price fall by more than 20 percent in a single day because the first-quarter medical-loss ratio had increased from 77.9 percent to 79.4 percent.

The reason we generally like markets is that the profit incentive spurs useful innovations. But in some markets, that's not the case. We don't allow a bustling market in heroin, for instance, because we don't want a lot of innovation in heroin creation, packaging and advertising. Are we really sure we want a bustling market in how to cleverly revoke the insurance of people who prove to be sickly?

I have a problem with the concept of medical insurance companies. The goal of a corporation is to maximize share-holder value. Officers and employees of the corporation are negligent if they are not pursuing that goal as rigorously as possible within the confines of the law. Only we are not talking about using market forces to drive innovation to make the best, cheapest, yet acceptable widget. We are talking about the lifespan and quality of life of a human. Can you imagine the concept of Planned Obsolescence applied to healthcare?

A more chilling (and often overlooked) point is that the entire purpose of insurance is to protect you from the effects of rarely occurring but catastrophic events. So you have in place a system whose function is to be as profitable as possible when its customers are struggling with the most damaging and life altering events that can occur. Yet the needs of the medical insurance corporation seem completely perpendicular to the needs of the patient.

I have a very difficult time reconciling this.


Transcript of President Obama's national security address -
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:09 am EDT, May 22, 2009

The President's speech is a major step against the Bush administration's approach to the rule of law. It is worth a read.

Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset...

It is the reason why enemy soldiers have surrendered to us in battle, knowing they'd receive better treatment from America's armed forces than from their own government.

It is the reason why America has benefited from strong alliances that amplified our power, and drawn a sharp and moral contrast with our adversaries...

From Europe to the Pacific, we have been a nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law. That is who we are. And where terrorists offer only the injustice of disorder and destruction, America must demonstrate that our values and institutions are more resilient than a hateful ideology.

I think this sort of perspective demonstrates a depth of understanding of the purpose of our institutions that conservatives have lost sight of.

Transcript of President Obama's national security address -

Court Upholds Hacking Conviction of Man for Uploading Porn Pics from Work Computer | Threat Level |
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:11 pm EDT, May 13, 2009


An Ohio appellate court has upheld the felony hacking conviction of a man who was found guilty of unauthorized access for misusing his computer at work.

This case supports the very very bad idea that it is a crime to do something with a computer that you weren't authorized to do with it. This idea would have people go to prison with felony convictions for reading MemeStreams from work. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

This not getting the attention it deserves. This entire legal interpretation is frightening beyond words.

With the Ohio case and the Lori Drew nonsense, legal precedent is being created that says violating a site's Terms of Service is committing a felony.

This is unbelievably scary.

Violating laws is what should be punished. But we have a legal interpretation of a law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, that says "Doing something a person says you cannot do violates the CFAA." This interpretation has in essence extended law passing power to anyone in the world.

Think about it. Some random dude somewhere in MySpace put in there TOS "You cannot lie in your profile." Lori Drew did lie. Thus Lori Drew violated MySpace's TOS which violates the CFAA and bam! Conviction.

Is Lori Drew a horrible human being? Without a doubt. Do I hope all her and her family's assests get seized in a wrongful death civil suit? Completely. Should she get hit with a felony conviction for violating the CFAA because some dude put a "don't lie" clause in MySpace's TOS? Not at all.

I'm violating a Terms of Service right now. Am I a felon?

Court Upholds Hacking Conviction of Man for Uploading Porn Pics from Work Computer | Threat Level |

Knowing the Enemy | George Packer in The New Yorker
Topic: Current Events 6:33 pm EDT, Apr 15, 2009

I somehow missed this fantastic "Al'Queda is a scene" roundup from NoteWorthy.

George Packer is simply essential. This is a long post because there is no way to boil this down.

"After 9/11, when a lot of people were saying, ‘The problem is Islam,’ I was thinking, It’s something deeper than that. It's about human social networks and the way that they operate."

That's David Kilcullen, an Australian lieutenant colonel who may just be our last best hope in the long war.

"The Islamic bit is secondary. This is human behavior in an Islamic setting. This is not ‘Islamic behavior.’"

“People don’t get pushed into rebellion by their ideology. They get pulled in by their social networks."

In the 1 December issue of Jane's Intelligence Review, John Horgan writes (sub req'd):

People who leave terrorist groups or move away from violent roles do so for a multitude of reasons. Horgan explains why greater understanding of the motivations behind this so-called 'disengagement' will help in developing successful anti-terrorism initiatives.

The reality is that actual attacks represent only the tip of an iceberg of activity.

Here's the abstract of a recent RAND working paper:

In the battle of ideas that has come to characterize the struggle against jihadist terrorism, a sometimes neglected dimension is the personal motivations of those drawn into the movement. This paper reports the results of a workshop held in September 2005 and sponsored by RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy and the Initiative for Middle East Youth. Workshop participants discussed the issue of why young people enter into jihadist groups and what might be done to prevent it or to disengage members of such groups once they have joined.

Now, back to the Packer piece:

The odd inclusion of environmentalist rhetoric, he said, made clear that “this wasn’t a list of genuine grievances. This was an Al Qaeda information strategy." ... “bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reëlection.” Bin Laden shrewdly created an implicit association between Al Qaeda and the Democratic Party, for he had come to feel that Bush’s strategy in the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance.

You may recall the speculation that Bush would produce bin Laden's he... [ Read More (0.7k in body) ]

Knowing the Enemy | George Packer in The New Yorker

6 Myths About GM, Ford, and Chrysler
Topic: Current Events 9:54 am EST, Dec 19, 2008

I much enjoyed this article.

6 Myths About GM, Ford, and Chrysler

EFF sues Cheney, Bush, and the NSA to stop illegal wiretapping - Boing Boing
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:21 pm EDT, Sep 19, 2008

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed suit against the NSA, President Bush and Vice President Cheney on behalf of AT&T's customers to fight illegal wiretapping.

I know this is totally beside the point, but don't you wish that this actually was the NSA logo?

EFF sues Cheney, Bush, and the NSA to stop illegal wiretapping - Boing Boing

garfield minus garfield
Topic: Arts 7:16 pm EST, Feb 27, 2008

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life?

Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and methamphetamine addiction in a quiet American suburb.

HAHA. This is awesome!

garfield minus garfield

MAKE: Blog: LED art all over Boston today
Topic: Society 10:57 am EST, Feb  1, 2008

This is interesting - it seems that a group of artists have celebrated 1-31-07 in their own way and have created a series of political themed LED art sculptures and (you guessed it) placed them all over Boston.

I love this note:

This is not a bomb. It is just for lulz

MAKE: Blog: LED art all over Boston today

Charting various aspects of life of last 8 years
Topic: Society 9:12 am EST, Jan 25, 2008

Via the Democratic Caucus...

I'm rerecommending this chart because of the data it contains and not because of the conclusions it seeks to have you draw from that data.

The Bush Administration is certainly directly responsible for some of the changes on this list, such as international opinion of the US, and the increases in our budget and trade deficits.

However, in many respects this chart is pure partisan bullshit. The most starkly annoying aspect is the inclusion of US dependence on foreign oil as a percentage of total oil consumption by the party that faught domestic oil exploration in Alaska. You're blaiming your partisan enemy for the inevitable consequences of the policies you advocated. That's as low as it gets.

Many of the items on this list, such as the increase in oil prices and the amount of job creation, are related to aspects of the business cycle or developments in the global economy that aren't the direct responsibility of the Bush administration. Some, such as changes in the cost of insurance and the number of people insured, are more clearly political, but are the fault of a wide array of actors and not just the Presidency. In fact, the Administration did work on the insurance problem.

The things that I like about this chart are political but I don't see them as directly related to Bush. The most important statistic, I think, is the median household income. It dropped. In 8 years, it dropped.

Charting various aspects of life of last 8 years

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