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"I don't think the report is true, but these crises work for those who want to make fights between people." Kulam Dastagir, 28, a bird seller in Afghanistan

Topic: Miscellaneous 7:46 pm EDT, Jul 30, 2020

If it doesn't rain for a few weeks where I live, I need to water my grass. I can never remember how long it has been since it last rained. I couldn't find a website that answered this question in a simple, user friendly way, so I made one.


[Regs] U.S. Will Renegotiate Wassenaar Arrangement
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:27 pm EST, Feb 29, 2016

Agencies including State and the departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security and the National Security Council agreed to seek removal of limits on sales of "technology" needed to create "intrusion software," the official said.

That deletion would address the industry's chief Wassenaar concern: that an overly broad definition of "technology" would disrupt routine cross-border data flows about cybersecurity threats.

I think that I may have been the first person to raise the issue of the "technology" controls publicly, in an open letter to BIS dated March 12, 2015 and posted here on MemeStreams.

[Regs] U.S. Will Renegotiate Wassenaar Arrangement

Why I disagree with nearly everyone regarding Apple and the FBI. — Medium
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:11 pm EST, Feb 23, 2016

By me:

Most people seem to have lined up into the usual polarized camps regarding the FBI’s demand for access to an iPhone associated with the San Bernardino attacks. Privacy advocates on the one side who are opposed to the Government’s action, and on the other side, people who support the Government because they are concerned about terrorism. I disagree on some level with a lot of the positions and explainers that I’ve read on this, so I thought it was worth taking a few minutes to express my perspective.

Why I disagree with nearly everyone regarding Apple and the FBI. — Medium

Justice Antonin Scalia, R.I.P. - The Washington Post
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:23 pm EST, Feb 13, 2016

I'm saddened to hear of Scalia's death, and I think its worth reflecting on who he was. *Of course* I disagree with Scalia on a bunch of social issues, but there is more to him then that. I'm linking an informative post by law professor Ilya Somin, but I have a few remarks of my own.

Scalia had a huge intellectual impact on Constitutional interpretation through his advocacy of "textualist originalism" - which is the idea that we should read the text of the Constitution from the perspective of how common people living in the time it was adopted would have read it. The purpose of this idea is to enable Americans to have more common ground about what the Constitution means - to narrow the disagreements that we have about its meaning, and move us more toward talking about whether or not we agree with what it says, instead of talking about whether or not we agree about what it means.

I don't think textualist originalism is always the right way to read the Constitution. For example, I don't think "cruel and unusual" should be read from an 18th century point of view. However, I do think its an incredibly useful point of view, and that it is often the right point of view. It is also not a point of view that always leads to conclusions that are in line with the views of modern Conservatives, and Liberals who think Scalia inerrantly opposed them do so out of ignorance. For example, in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Scalia joined Justice Stevens in opposition to the detention of a U.S. Citizen without trial.

Ultimately, "textualist originalism" is an idea that is leading us toward more rigor in how we think about the Constitution, and it has prompted important and useful liberal responses, such as Jack Balkin's "Living Originalism" and Breyer's "Active Liberty."

Scalia's death may have a big impact on the upcoming political contest. The Republicans need a galvanizing issue like a Supreme Court vacancy in order to get their fractured constituents to come together behind whatever candidate they nominate, and for that reason, they'll fight any nominee the President puts forth. Likewise, the Democrats have an opportunity to change the balance that the Supreme Court has had since the Reagan era, in favor of their points of view. Unfortunately, I fear this event will result in a year of really really nasty partisan fighting.

Justice Antonin Scalia, R.I.P. - The Washington Post

The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond: Thomas D. Wilson: 9780813936628: Books
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:40 pm EST, Jan 29, 2016

First time I've ever bothered to review a book on Amazon:

I skipped over this book a few times because I mistakenly thought that it was a text book for professional city planners, but I'm really glad that I finally decided to give it a read. It is an absolutely fascinating discussion that takes the beautiful and unique layout of Savannah and places it in the context of the Enlightenment political philosophy of the early 1700's from which it was born.

My grade school history classes dismissed Oglethorpe's plan as a crazy utopian experiment that quickly failed and was not worthy of discussion. But it is worth discussing. Although the colony was overrun in the short term with the slavery based system of it's northern neighbors, this author argues that the long term arc of history, in many ways, has favored Oglethorpe. His experiment had an impact on the thinking of slavery abolitionists in London, who in turn influenced slavery abolitionists in the United States. Embedded within his plan are a variety of other ideas that also have long term social value, including the unique ward design of the city itself. The book provided me with an entirely new perspective on the city of Savannah, on the history of Georgia, and on the philosophers of the Enlightenment.

The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond: Thomas D. Wilson: 9780813936628: Books

Transcript of Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address - The New York Times
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:49 am EST, Jan 13, 2016

Barack Obama:

That means if we want a better politics — and I’m addressing the American people now — if we want a better politics, it’s not enough just to change a congressman or change a senator or even change a president. We have to change the system to reflect our better selves.

Its important to understand that it isn't Congress that must change - it is us.

Transcript of Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address - The New York Times

How We Underestimated ISIL - POLITICO Magazine
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:57 pm EST, Nov 16, 2015

While exact numbers are elusive, ISIL has at least tens of thousands of fighters, most of whom are battle-tested, including thousands of foreign fighters. That is a far larger force of potential terrorists than Al Qaeda possessed when it carried out 9/11 (likely well under 1,000). ISIL can easily staff a spectacular attack, in fact, it has had that capability for well over a year.

ISIL also has money. Again, specific and credible estimates are wanting, but based on its estimated peak wealth in 2014, the group today is believed to have tens of millions of dollars in reserve, and more likely hundreds of millions. In comparison, Al Qaeda incurred about $500,000 in direct costs for the 9/11 attacks, so funding a spectacular attack is also within ISIL’s reach, and has been for well over a year.

How We Underestimated ISIL - POLITICO Magazine

NASA Captures "EPIC" Earth Image | NASA
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:05 pm EDT, Jul 22, 2015

The last time anyone took a real picture of the whole earth from space, it was 1972.

The image was taken July 6, 2015, showing North and Central America. The central turquoise areas are shallow seas around the Caribbean islands. This Earth image shows the effects of sunlight scattered by air molecules, giving the image a characteristic bluish tint. The EPIC team is working to remove this atmospheric effect from subsequent images. Once the instrument begins regular data acquisition, EPIC will provide a daily series of Earth images allowing for the first time study of daily variations over the entire globe. These images, available 12 to 36 hours after they are acquired, will be posted to a dedicated web page by September 2015.

NASA Captures "EPIC" Earth Image | NASA

Comments on the Wassenaar Arrangement 2013 Plenary Agreements Implementation: Intrusion and Surveillance Items
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:57 pm EDT, Jul 20, 2015

Submitted by:
Tom Cross
CTO – Drawbridge Networks

Thank you for opening a public comment period regarding the proposed implementation of export controls on Intrusion items. I am writing because I believe that these regulations may interfere with important work that computer security professionals do to protect the Internet from attacks. Breaches of both government and private sector computer networks are a regular item in the headlines, and they have significant impacts on our economy and our national security. The recently disclosed breach at the Office of Personnel Management that resulted in the loss of security clearance information about millions of Americans is stark example of the problem that we are trying to combat.

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) should exercise caution before taking steps that could make this problem worse than it already is. Export Controls on computer security information can have a chilling effect on important international collaboration, even if that is not intended. Furthermore, it may be difficult to measure the security failures that are the secondary effects of that break down in collaboration.

I am qualified to address this topic because I have professional expertise with both US Export Controls and Computer Security Vulnerability Research. From 2003 to 2012 I worked for Internet Security Systems (ISS), which was acquired by IBM in 2006.

At ISS, I served as an engineering advisor to their export compliance program. I helped the company understand how the software we were building fit into the framework of US Export Controls. In collaboration with our attorneys, I wrote Letters of Explanation to BIS for a number of different Export Classifications and I wrote one Commodities Jurisdiction request to the State Department.

Additionally, as part of my job, I engaged in primary computer security vulnerability research and for some time I managed the organization’s vulnerability research work. I identified vulnerabilities in popular commercial software applications, disclosed those vulnerabilities to the responsible software vendors, and worked with them to fix those issues. I participated in security industry information sharing programs in which technical information about vulnerabilities, and attack tools, is privately shared between information security companies, coordination centers, and the broader software industry. I had access through those programs to more technical detail about certain security vulnerabilities than was ever disclosed to the general public. It was my responsibility to ensure that ISS’s products correctly detected attack activity targeting those vulnerabilities. Those products are used by thousands of organizations around the world to protect their computer networks from attack.

I have broken my comments into four sections:

I. Technical Information about computer security issues that i... [ Read More (1.8k in body) ]

Warrantless airport seizure of laptop “cannot be justified,” judge rules | Ars Technica
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:50 pm EDT, May 13, 2015

The Court finds, under the totality of the unique circumstances of this case, that the imaging and search of the entire contents of Kim’s laptop, aided by specialized forensic software, for a period of unlimited duration and an examination of unlimited scope, for the purpose of gathering evidence in a pre-existing investigation, was supported by so little suspicion of ongoing or imminent criminal activity, and was so invasive of Kim’s privacy and so disconnected from not only the considerations underlying the breadth of the government’s authority to search at the border, but also the border itself, that it was unreasonable.

Warrantless airport seizure of laptop “cannot be justified,” judge rules | Ars Technica

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