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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

New FAA PED Regulations are being misreported by the press
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:56 pm EDT, Oct 31, 2013

The new FAA guidelines regarding PEDs are an improvement, but unfortunately they are being misreported by the press.

The actual guideline is that PEDs can be left on in good visibility conditions, but pilots can ask people to shut them off in fly-by-instrument situations when electromagnetic interference could be catastrophic. Under the circumstances thats a good balance as reported incidents of interference are rare, but unfortunately most of the news media reports aren't mentioning that detail, and are instead spewing technically inaccurate nonsense about airplanes being impervious to interference, thus setting the stage for inevitable arguments from passengers in the future when people are asked to turn PEDs off on a rainy day.

Here is what the FAA's FAQ about the new reg says. (You can read the whole FAQ by clicking through the link below.)

At certain times — for example, a landing in reduced visibility — the Captain may tell passengers to turn off their devices to make absolutely sure they don't interfere with onboard communications and navigation equipment.

A few relevant facts:

1. All electronic devices emit electromagnetic fields. All. Even if they don't have a transmitter or the transmitter is off or the thing is in "airplane mode." There are other emissions at other frequencies. Digital electronics emit powerfully at their clock cycle frequency, for example.

2. Interference between a device and an airplane is some combination of the device malfunctioning and the airplane shielding being damaged. Both of these things can occur as devices and airplanes age, but the perfect combination is rare, which means that most of the time most devices don't interfere. This is why the plane didn't crash that time you left your device on accidentally.

3. It does not follow from that fact that your device didn't cause that plane to crash that time you accidentally left it on that no device could ever cause any plane to crash under any circumstances.

New FAA PED Regulations are being misreported by the press

Excerpts of Rumsfeld Testimony (
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:42 pm EDT, Oct 29, 2013

We're functioning in a - with peacetime restraints, with legal requirements in a wartime situation, in the information age, where people are running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable photographs and then passing them off, against the law, to the media, to our surprise, when they had not even arrived in the Pentagon.

Abu Ghraib

Excerpts of Rumsfeld Testimony (

Topic: Miscellaneous 11:06 pm EDT, Oct 28, 2013

Ed Felton's clear evisceration of the government's claims about the necessity of the NSA meta-data program is an example of the reason I like the judicial process - it enables a discussion of issues in a forum where there isn't as much room for bullshit as there is in the legislature.


Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall: Anna Funder
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:47 pm EDT, Oct 28, 2013

After a recent visit to Berlin, I picked up a copy of Stasiland by Anna Funder as a way of understanding the places I had just visited, and because understanding the Stasi may be a guide to thinking about the possible scenarios that could unfold over time as a result of domestic telecommunications surveillance in the United States. Funder travels through East Germany and interviews people who were part of the Stasi or who were victims of the GDR regime.

There were a few key themes that emerge from the book that are worth considering.

Partisans are dangerous. One of the people Funder interviews is the a former propagandist for the GDR regime, who still clung to his views about communism after the fall of the wall. His rationalizations were immediately familiar to me. I see them every day in Facebook memes and political oped pieces in newspapers.

The partisan starts with his conclusion, and weaves together a narrative by emphasizing facts that support the desired conclusion and ignoring or minimizing facts that complicate it. The worst part about partisans is that they are rarely self-aware of the abuse they are doing to the truth in weaving those narratives. They have a total emotional commitment to the conclusion they want to reach and they see the facts as just supporting structures that reenforce their position.

Its very easy for a person like this to see opposing points of view as epitomizing evil - literally a threat to everything that is good and decent. This is what happened in the GDR. Communist partisans were put in power by the Russians. They truly believed a warped version of reality - that people with other points of view were dangerous and evil. Those points of view were not suppressed directly - the GDR had multiple political parties and elections - they were subverted covertly. Networks of powerful people worked together to create bad consequences for those who stepped out of line or who held the wrong views. People were denied career opportunities or were more likely to find themselves in prison if they weren't of the right mind.

Some of this happens in America today. Partisans who own businesses hire likeminded employees. Various voter suppression efforts are engaged in - pamphlets giving the wrong election day are distributed in neighborhoods with particular political persuasions, the allocation of voting machines to different communities and the drawing of electoral districts biases results in favor of particular interests.

One difference is that in the GDR the state security establishment was responsible for pursuing this domestically through the use of surveillance and lots of funding was provided in order to enable it. In America we have many different kinds of partisans and control of the government is mixed between them and shifts back and forth. This prevents a significant effort by one faction to use the security apparatus of the state of maintain their power. However, it... [ Read More (0.4k in body) ]

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall: Anna Funder

Congressional oversight of the NSA is a joke. I should know, I'm in Congress | Alan Grayson | Comment is free |
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:29 pm EDT, Oct 26, 2013

Members of Congress do not trust that the House Intelligence Committee is providing the necessary oversight.

I've requested classified information, and further meetings with NSA officials. The House Intelligence Committee has refused to provide either. Supporters of the NSA's vast ubiquitous domestic spying operation assure the public that members of Congress can be briefed on these activities whenever they want. Senator Saxby Chambliss says all a member of Congress needs to do is ask for information, and he'll get it. Well I did ask, and the House Intelligence Committee said "no", repeatedly. And virtually every other member not on the Intelligence Committee gets the same treatment.

Congressional oversight of the NSA is a joke. I should know, I'm in Congress | Alan Grayson | Comment is free |

Nine Inch Nails - Disappointed (HD) - YouTube
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:00 pm EDT, Oct 26, 2013


Nine Inch Nails - Disappointed (HD) - YouTube

The Lawfare Podcast : Episode #43: A Debate on NSA Surveillance
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:56 am EDT, Oct 22, 2013

Benjamin Wittes, Steven Vladeck, and Orin Kerr debate NSA surveillance and the Snowden leaks at an event hosted by the George Washington University chapter of the Federalist Society.

This podcast is essential listening if you're interested in the legality of the NSA meta-data program. More comments to follow...

The Lawfare Podcast : Episode #43: A Debate on NSA Surveillance

Why Money Is the Root of All That’s Wrong With Washington - The Daily Beast
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:10 pm EDT, Oct 21, 2013


For remember, there was only one clear victor in this latest governance collapse: the war chests of the radicals who brought this government to its knees. We lost $24 billion. They raised millions.


Why Money Is the Root of All That’s Wrong With Washington - The Daily Beast

N.S.A. Plan to Log Calls Is Renewed by Court -
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:06 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2013

In the six-page opinion, which was signed on Oct. 11, Judge Mary A. McLaughlin said she was personally approving for the first time the extension of the call log metadata program, which must be approved every 90 days.

Mary McLaughlin's decision briefly addresses both the definition of "relevance" and whether the program violates the Fourth Amendment, but she doesn't address the First Amendment, Freedom of Association concerns.

N.S.A. Plan to Log Calls Is Renewed by Court -

Dick Cheney feared assassination by cardio device hack, had docs turn defibrillator's wireless off - Boing Boing
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:37 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2013

Former vice president Dick Cheney asked his doctors to disable the wireless feature of his implanted heart defibrillator device because he feared that terrorists might try to assassinate him by hacking the device.

Dick Cheney feared assassination by cardio device hack, had docs turn defibrillator's wireless off - Boing Boing

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