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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

Absolutely mindblowing video shot from the Space Shuttle during launch
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:17 am EST, Jan 13, 2014

What puts this video head and shoulders above most other rocketcams is the sound. The audio has been remastered by the folks over at Skywalker Sound (yes, that Skywalker Sound), and the final product is nothing short of incredible.

Absolutely mindblowing video shot from the Space Shuttle during launch

Judge Pauley got it right: The NSA’s metadata program is perfectly constitutional.
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:21 am EST, Jan 13, 2014

Eric Posner:

People can more easily find out things about each other today than in 1979, thanks to the Web, and so people now expect strangers—including potential friends, mates, and bosses—to know more about them today than they did in the past. People can also more easily share personal information about themselves, and rather than refrain from doing so in order to protect their privacy, they enthusiastically post photos and videos of themselves on Facebook and other social media sites. Thus, it is possible that people’s sense of privacy is also greatly altered, as if the whole country moved from a big city to a small town, trading in the benefits of anonymity and independence for the advantages of community and security. If we’re going to update Smith to take into account technological change, we also need to update it to take account of changes in social altitudes flowing from that technological change, including the possibility that people’s sense of privacy has shrunk.

I think this rationalization is both stupid and dangerous.

I choose what information I wish to publish on the open internet. Things that I post on Facebook are not published on the open Internet - Facebook as a collection of privacy controls that limit access to that data to people on my friends list. If any of them violated my privacy by sharing that information on the open internet, I might choose not to be friends with that person anymore, and I might even be able to charge them with a privacy tort.

The information that I provide Google is not posted on Facebook nor is it posted on the open internet. I realize that Google has a record of it, but I expect them to use that record for business purposes, and furthermore, they are held to a privacy policy that constricts their use of that information to specific purposes. If they took my search history and posted it to the open internet there is no question that they would face civil liability.

The advocates of government surveillance would like to pretend that there is absolutely no distinction between typing something into a search engine and posting on a blog. Their failure to appreciate this distinction represents something between willful blindness and technical incompetence.

According to a recent Pew poll, while most people wish they could use the Internet anonymously, most people do not expect anonymity ever to be possible and yet use the Web nonetheless.

According to a recent Pew poll, while most people wish they could go downtown at night without being mugged, they know that violent attacks are possible and yet they go downtown nonetheless. Therefore, police brutality is no problem, because people who go downtown have an expectation that they might be victims of violence anyway.

Judge Pauley got it right: The NSA’s metadata program is perfectly constitutional.

Chris Christie’s problem is that he’s really, truly a bully
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:33 pm EST, Jan 10, 2014

Christie emerged in a period when the Republican Party is out of power. His videos make them feel powerful at a moment when they're weak.

Chris Christie’s problem is that he’s really, truly a bully

Oh, Canada
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:35 pm EST, Jan 10, 2014

Countries that become too dependent on oil and gas riches behave like plantation economies that rely on "an unsustainable development trajectory fueled by an exhaustible resource" whose revenue streams form "an implacable barrier to change." And that's what happened to Canada while you weren't looking.

Oh, Canada

New Leak Suggests Ashcroft Confrontation Was Over N.S.A. Program -
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:24 pm EST, Jan 10, 2014

I'm tired of the revisionist history that the Patriot Act led to the NSA meta-data program. The Patriot Act was not used to justify the program until after it had been operating for many years.

In 2006, according to the report, the N.S.A. was faced with another legal challenge when The New York Times disclosed the existence of the warrantless surveillance program. In response to the disclosures, one of the telephone companies that was secretly providing its customers’ data to the N.S.A. on a voluntary basis asked for a court order compelling it to comply to protect itself legally, forcing the Bush administration to develop new legal theories to support other surveillance.

That May, the national-security court issued its first order to the telephone companies to log metadata from phone calls, citing a provision in the Patriot Act that allowed the government to obtain business records deemed to be “relevant” to a counterterrorism investigation.

New Leak Suggests Ashcroft Confrontation Was Over N.S.A. Program -

without a shadow of a doubt
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:29 am EST, Jan 10, 2014

Mike Tyson:

I've learned that when people congratulate me, that's when I focus on my flaws. That way I don't allow my narcissism to fly sky-high and allow me to think that I can act out without any consequences.

Tyler Cohen:

I think of humility as a virtue, a practical virtue that's making a comeback.


No man who says I'm as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did.

without a shadow of a doubt

Guest Post: Version 4.0 – Do We Need A New Privacy and Civil Liberties Board? : Just Security
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:14 am EST, Jan  9, 2014

Political consensus in favor of strengthening oversight often develops where politicians cannot agree on more fundamental reforms.

This is true - you see them require "reports to Congress" and things like that which are meant to placate critics but don't actually change what is happening.

Guest Post: Version 4.0 – Do We Need A New Privacy and Civil Liberties Board? : Just Security

The Death of Expertise and the Disposition of the Millennial Generation
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:39 pm EST, Jan  8, 2014

This evening I stumbled upon two blog posts by Tom Nichols AKA @TheWarRoom_Tom that contain deeply insightful observations about the way that expertise has been devalued by our society its impact on the political disposition of the millennial generation. Reading both of these posts helped me better understand my own thoughts on these subjects, and I have an important follow on observation that I would like to add. Unfortunately, comments on these blog posts have been closed, so I am posting my observations here, on my own blog.

Expertise isn't truly dead. At the end of the day, getting things right matters, and as Mr. Nichols observes, "an expert is far more likely to be right than you are." Furthermore, as Mr. Nichols also observes, people who have PHDs deserve to be respected as experts in the domain in which they've been trained

The problem is that expertise no longer comes exclusively through the halls of academia, so its harder than it used to be to tell the experts from the laymen.

For example, I am a computer security expert. I did not gain that expertise from an educational institution, because when I was young there was no educational institution that taught it. I have a Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering, which is largely about digital hardware design, but I do not presume to know half as much about digital hardware design as I do about computer security.

In my field I've had the pleasure of working with peers who have a variety of academic credentials. I've worked with colleagues who have no formal post-secondary education or who are educated in completely unrelated fields who are as good or better than I am at what I do. Fortunately, in my field there are no professional gatekeepers who tell you that you are lot allowed to practice if you don't have the "right" credential.

Today there are institutions out there who will grant formal academic credentials in my field, and in fact several colleagues have gone back to school to pursue these advanced degrees. I think these are valuable, but they simply are not determinative of expertise in my field. In fact, the academic institutions still have some work to do to demonstrate that formal training is a better route to proficiency in my field than self study.

Technological change has made self study increasingly possible across a variety of domains. While we might reasonably mock the University of Google, its far easier today for motivated people to access both raw information as well as the analytic insights of experts. If those people are disciplined in their study and intelligent, they can obtain for themselves a... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Adam Magyar - Stainless, Alexanderplatz (excerpt)
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:17 pm EST, Jan  8, 2014

High speed video recording in Berlin at U2 Alexanderplatz station.

original footage: 24min. 48sec. 720p 50fps

Adam Magyar - Stainless, Alexanderplatz (excerpt)

Arlen Specter - Surveillance We Can Live With
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:26 pm EST, Jan  7, 2014

President Bush's record of seeking to expand Article II power has been a hallmark of his administration. The president and vice president have vociferously argued that the administration had the authority for the program without any judicial review. Bush's personal commitment to submit his program to FISC is therefore a major breakthrough.

Lots of old things seem different now.

Arlen Specter - Surveillance We Can Live With

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