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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

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

Why Chafee for President actually makes sense |
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:01 am EDT, Apr 13, 2015

The Democratic presidential primary is looking pretty dull right now – just a long march to inevitable victory by Hillary Clinton. Reporters are going to be looking for other stories to cover over the next year, and a quixotic campaign by the quotable and unpredictable Chafee could be excellent copy. Plus, the press thrives on conflict, and Chafee doesn’t mind picking a fight – he could make the TV debates significantly more interesting, particularly if he’s more willing than, say, O’Malley to throw a haymaker at Hillary. (And oh look, he’s already doing just that.)

Why Chafee for President actually makes sense |

Apple and the Self-Surveillance State -
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:31 pm EDT, Apr 11, 2015

Paul Krugman in favor of the surveillance state:

First, most people probably don’t have that much to be private about; most of us don’t actually have double lives and deep secrets — at most we have minor vices, and the truth is that nobody cares. Second, lack of privacy is actually part of the experience of being rich — the chauffeur, the maids, and the doorman know all, but are paid not to tell, and the same will be be true of their upper-middle-class digital versions. The rich already live in a kind of privatized surveillance state; now the opportunity to live in a gilded fishbowl is being (somewhat) democratized.

Gosh, where do I sign up!

I posted this largely because of it's obsurd, "let them eat cake" quality, which was also echoed in another recent Krugman column in which he wrote:

There are almost no genuine libertarians in America — and the people who like to use that name for themselves do not, in reality, love liberty.

What an incredibly arrogant thing to say! There are many people involved with libertarianism who've worked hard to preserve individual liberties, and there are many people involved with the left who have authoritarian views associated with their own, personal economic and social interests and don't give a damn about level playing fields other than as a selling point.

Apple and the Self-Surveillance State -

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are - The Washington Post
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:26 pm EDT, Mar 31, 2015

There have been so many useless Snowden disclosures that I didn't notice this. This is important, primarily because of the assurances that all the data is extremely difficult to access without authorization.

“He didn’t get this data,” Alexander told a New Yorker reporter. “They didn’t touch —”

“The operational data?” the reporter asked.

“They didn’t touch the FISA data,” Alexander replied. He added, “That database, he didn’t have access to.”

Yes, he did...

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are - The Washington Post

Wikimedia v. NSA: Standing and the Fight for Free Speech and Privacy | Just Security
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:32 pm EDT, Mar 31, 2015

When I first saw this suit I ignored it, but it may have more merit than I originally thought.

the government itself has now acknowledged and confirmed many of the key facts about the NSA’s upstream surveillance, including the fact that it conducts suspicionless searches of the contents of communications for information “about” its targets. These facts fundamentally change the standing equation: now we know that the NSA isn’t surveilling only its targets, but it’s instead surveilling everyone, looking for information about those targets. Finally, the volume of the plaintiffs’ international communications is so incredibly large that there is simply no way the government could conduct upstream surveillance without sweeping up a substantial number of those communications. In short, the plaintiffs in Wikimedia v. NSA have standing because the NSA is copying and searching substantially all international text-based communications, including theirs.

If its content, its not metadata, so all the rationalizations about metadata go out the window. We're talking about US to foreign traffic. Although the border search exemption is extremely broad, allowing for this would undermine all the rationalizations from the courts over the years that there is some limit to it. Whats that leave?

1. Richard Posner's fucked up argument that the 4th Amendment doesn't prohibit robots from watching you because they don't have emotions.

2. The idea that there is a general "intelligence collection" exception to the fourth amendment.

3, The idea that the Constitution requires the exact minimization procedures that happen to be in place. How prescient of them.

Either way, it'll be fun to watch.

Wikimedia v. NSA: Standing and the Fight for Free Speech and Privacy | Just Security

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