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From User: noteworthy

"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

Easy Money for Virtually Nothing
Topic: Society 8:35 pm EDT, Oct  6, 2008

There used to be a time if you didn't have money to buy something, you just didn't buy it.

For many of us -- not least adolescents -- reality is now largely a virtual experience.

If only it were that easy.

We're all losers now. There's no pleasure to it.

Easy Money for Virtually Nothing

E-Mail Hacking Case Could Redefine Online Privacy
Topic: Politics and Law 1:15 pm EDT, Aug  6, 2008

A federal appeals court in California is reviewing a lower court's definition of "interception" in the digital age.

The case, Bunnell v. Motion Picture Association of America, involves a hacker who in 2005 broke into a file-sharing company's server and obtained copies of company e-mails as they were being transmitted. He then e-mailed 34 pages of the documents to an MPAA executive, who paid the hacker $15,000 for the job, according to court documents.

The issue boils down to the judicial definition of an intercept in the electronic age, in which packets of data move from server to server, alighting for milliseconds before speeding onward. The ruling applies only to the 9th District, which includes California and other Western states, but could influence other courts around the country.

In August 2007, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, in the Central District of California, ruled that the alleged hacker, Rob Anderson, had not intercepted the e-mails in violation of the 1968 Wiretap Act because they were technically in storage, if only for a few instants, instead of in transmission.

The redacted brief can be found here. Here is a story from CNET News on the appeal. See also, EFF's amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs-appellants.

"It could really gut the wiretapping laws," said Orin S. Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and expert on surveillance law. "The government could go to your Internet service provider and say, 'Copy all of your e-mail, but make the copy a millisecond after the email arrives,' and it would not be a wiretap."

This case is a perfect example of how the 4th amendment has been twisted in the context of computer networks by those who have an interest in being able to spy without probable cause.

E-Mail Hacking Case Could Redefine Online Privacy

Flash in the Pan
Topic: Cars and Trucks 8:07 am EDT, Mar 25, 2008

Since people seemed to like the Akira motorcycle, NW thought he'd mention the Mach 5 on display at the New York Auto Show.

Also appearing on the show floor are some unique vehicles that first came to life on-screen, including the Mach 5, a prop car from the upcoming "Speed Racer" film.

Check out the whole photo series.

Flash in the Pan

Save the Internet!
Topic: Politics and Law 9:30 am EST, Mar  7, 2008

To be perfectly honest with you, I think this is bunch of fucking bullshit.

The internet is not neutral, and has never been neutral, and none of these people who are arguing about net neutrality are willing to acknowledge what that really means nor do they have any interest in it actually happening!

Around the turn of the decade I used to make (completely futile) arguments that we should have symmetric technologies like IDSL rather than things like cable modems in our homes. They would provide an infrastructure where consumers REALLY had the ability to serve content and peer to peer networks would work well. No one cared. There were no lawyers arguing that the phone companies ought to provide more upstream bandwidth. There was no "grass roots" effort to advocate that symmetric links be made available in the marketplace at consumer prices. I couldn't even convince people in the hacker scene that I was right. Literally, no one cared.

Now, because we built this asymmetric infrastructure, you can't effectively serve content from your home; you have to use a service provider, or you have to buy an artificially expensive symmetric link. You can't even get a static IP address from AT&T for a residential connection at any price! For some people, like me, that want to host a full website, this means we have to spend a lot of money on colocation in a place where static IP addresses and symmetric connections are available. I've spent enough on hosting MemeStreams over the years that I could have bought a car at this point. For others, with, well, more mainstream kinds of content that they want to host, there are services available, like YouTube, Blogger, and MySpace. Those services are making hundreds of millions of dollars selling advertising on the content that their users are creating! And NOW all of a sudden there are all these people who claim to care about "net neutrality."

It is those hundreds of millions of dollars that are funding this "grass roots" effort! All this emotion and advocacy is NOT actually defending network neutrality. Its defending the status quo architecture which is not neutral, to protect the exclusivity of that revenue stream. That video, in then end, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Its overtly manipulative. Does Vint Cerf think Net Neutrality ought to mean that AT&T is required to sell me a static IP?

Furthermore, have online services like AOL and Compuserve ever been a problem? Are we suggesting that it ought to be ILLEGAL for them to offer a special closed garden specifically to their customers? If not, than what, specifically, are we suggesting? I don't understand the difference between that and most net neutrality proposals. No one can articulate exactly where they draw the line between these two things. The difference seems to be that AOL is OK because it started out that way, but services that currently only provide internet access cannot add closed gardens on to what they are currently offering, particularly if those gardens are constructed by third parties. That doesn't make any sense, but somehow these "grass roots" advocates have managed to convince a large number of people to be very emotional about it.

Can the phone companies do wrong? Yes, of course they can. Blocking or degrading service to existing customers who have already agreed to pay for "Internet" access should not be legal. But if they want to bring up a new low latency link to a particular online video provider I don't see what is different about that than that provider dropping a local copy of their content on the network via a service like Akamai. Are these net neutrality advocates saying that Akamai ought to be free? Why weren't they saying that 9 years ago when Akamai was being created?

Save the Internet!

UNIX tips: Learn 10 good UNIX usage habits
Topic: Technology 11:16 am EST, Feb  7, 2008

When you use a system often, you tend to fall into set usage patterns. Sometimes, you do not start the habit of doing things in the best possible way. Sometimes, you even pick up bad practices that lead to clutter and clumsiness. One of the best ways to correct such inadequacies is to conscientiously pick up good habits that counteract them. This article suggests 10 UNIX command-line habits worth picking up -- good habits that help you break many common usage foibles and make you more productive at the command line in the process. Each habit is described in more detail following the list of good habits.

More here.
I only knew three of these.

UNIX tips: Learn 10 good UNIX usage habits

Security Data Visualization: Graphical Techniques for Network Analysis
Topic: Computer Security 3:40 pm EST, Jan 25, 2008

Greg Conti published a book last October!

Information overload. If you're responsible for maintaining your network's security, you're living with it every day. Logs, alerts, packet captures, and even binary files take time and effort to analyze using text-based tools - and once your analysis is complete, the picture isn't always clear, or timely. And time is of the essence.

Information visualization is a branch of computer science concerned with modeling complex data using interactive images. When applied to network data, these interactive graphics allow administrators to quickly analyze, understand, and respond to emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

Security Data Visualization is a well-researched and richly illustrated introduction to the field. Greg Conti, creator of the network and security visualization tool RUMINT, shows you how to graph and display network data using a variety of tools so that you can understand complex datasets at a glance. And once you've seen what a network attack looks like, you'll have a better understanding of its low-level behavior - like how vulnerabilities are exploited and how worms and viruses propagate.

You'll learn how to use visualization techniques to:

# Audit your network for vulnerabilities using free visualization tools, such as AfterGlow and RUMINT
# See the underlying structure of a text file and explore the faulty security behavior of a Microsoft Word document
# Gain insight into large amounts of low-level packet data
# Identify and dissect port scans, Nessus vulnerability assessments, and Metasploit attacks
# View the global spread of the Sony rootkit, analyze antivirus effectiveness, and monitor widespread network attacks
# View and analyze firewall and intrusion detection system (IDS) logs

Security visualization systems display data in ways that are illuminating to both professionals and amateurs. Once you've finished reading this book, you'll understand how visualization can make your response to security threats faster and more effective

You can download Chapter 5, "One Night on my ISP", from the publisher.

Security Data Visualization: Graphical Techniques for Network Analysis

Magic Highway USA, circa 1958
Topic: Society 2:47 pm EST, Jan 19, 2008

An excerpt from the 1958 "Disneyland" TV Show episode entitled "Magic Highway USA". In this last part of the show, an exploration into possible future Transportation technologies is made. It's hard to believe how little we've accomplished on this front since 1958, and how limited the scope for imagining such future technologies has become. Witness an artifact from a time where the future was greeted with optimism. Note the striking animation style here, achieved with fairly limited animation and spectacular layouts.

I like how suburban sprawl is anticipated with such glee!

From a technology standpoint, it spans a wide range; some ideas are pure vision, with no sense of reality (cantilevered, fully air-conditioned sky-ways through beautifully desolate mountain ranges?), while others are quaintly myopic (punch cards as storage media for your navigational unit?). Still, a lot of fun.

Magic Highway USA, circa 1958

'Goldilocks needs tax reform ... not root-canal economic populism'
Topic: Business 12:55 pm EST, Jan  6, 2008

Here's Larry Kudlow:

The key thing to remember is that businesses drive the economy. Businesses create jobs and incomes for consumers to spend.

Larry Kudlow has managed, unfortunately, to transform himself from an inciteful observer of market events into a fairly one dimensional shill for wall street's political interests. This essay (appearing in NRO, not a business journal) is a perfect example. He cites "facts" that have no relationship to reality (holiday sales suprised on the upside?!?), talks about lazzie-faire economics while pining for government assistance in the form of yet another rate cut, and also, in the passage quoted above, manages to treat his readers like children.

The fact is that we are teterring on the edge of an economic precipice built upon phoney growth and no one is quite sure how deep it is. The current housing crisis, which threatens bank failure, was completely predictable and driven by the extremely irresponsible actions of the creditors whose interests Kudlow here represents. Of course they don't want the government to regulate them, they're rich, but the minute hard times beset them they start screaming for government assistance in the form of rate cuts, literally screaming as Kudlow's former cohost famously did on national television in the late summer, and they get them!

The reason Wallstreet has to generate phoney growth in the form of housing inflation is that we're not getting enough real growth in terms of actual middle class purchasing power, and the fundamental reasons for that aren't addressed by a simple tax cut. Despite Kudlows insistance to the contrary, real wage growth has been anemic through-out this recovery, held back by offshoring and H1-B visas. The reason those programs are required to keep American workers "competitive" is our abysmally stupid healthcare system, wherein employers have to pay truck loads for services that no one can refuse to buy.

Healthcare is not like other market commodities because people who need services cannot refuse to purchase them or choose between acceptible and luxury classes of service. You buy it or you die. So in an unregulated environment there is no force that counteracts price increases. And the vested interests that are making a killing offering those services have hired the exact same libertarian idealogs to defend those interests that Kudlow has now joined.

End the upward spiral of healthcare costs and require job mobility and permanent residency for foreign workers imported into the US and you'll see real, sustainable increases in middle class purchasing power, which will drive real economic growth.

Ultimately, if the rewards of business growth, systemically, aren't seen by employees, consumers don't have money to spend on new products, and so businesses can't grow. Instead you see the money all going to shareholders, and so there is all this excess investment capital out there that isn't going to be spent buying things, but instead wants to fund mortages and the like. This sort of concentration of wealth, which is caused by government intervention on behalf of some people and lazzie-faire for others, can strangle the economy by pulling the liquidity out. Thats exactly what caused the great depression.

'Goldilocks needs tax reform ... not root-canal economic populism'

The Year in Ideas, 2007 | The New York Times Magazine
Topic: Society 1:44 pm EST, Dec 10, 2007

For the seventh consecutive December, the magazine looks back on the passing year through a special lens: ideas. Editors and writers trawl the oceans of ingenuity, hoping to snag in our nets the many curious, inspired, perplexing and sometimes outright illegal innovations of the past 12 months. Then we lay them out on the dock, flipping and flopping and gasping for air, and toss back all but those that are fresh enough for our particular cut of intellectual sushi. For better or worse, these are 70 of the ideas that helped make 2007 what it was. Enjoy.

Virgil made the list with Wikiscanning. Congratulations, Virgil!

(Interestingly, one of the other ideas was also one Virgil came up with a few years ago, but didn't pursue perhaps due to discouragement from several friends.)

Several of the year's best ideas were also memes here, including:

Lap-Dance Science - Something in the Way She Moves?

The idea of Lite-Brite Fashion makes for an interesting contrast to the story of Star Simpson.

Pixelated Stained Glass - Pixelated Glass Window in Cologne Cathedral

The Radiohead Payment Model - Fans Decide How Much To Pay, and Radiohead’s Warm Glow

Wireless Energy, or Wi-tricity.

Weapon-Proof School Gear - My Child's Pack.

For commentary on the Ideas of years past, see 2004, 2005, and 2006.

The Year in Ideas, 2007 | The New York Times Magazine

RE: Must Read: Iraq Round-Up
Topic: Society 10:31 am EST, Nov 29, 2007

noteworthy wrote:
With every passing day, Johnathan Rapley's conception of the New Middle Ages seems increasingly likely.

I don't follow how this comment relates to the context. Most of the news out of Iraq seems positive. Of course its complicated and fragile, but clearly this is progress. Worrying that too many refugees might return is a good problem to have.

I also don't understand George Packer's comment that these developments were "unanticipated by almost everyone on the American side of the looking glass." These are precisely the kinds of changes that were hoped for as a result of the surge.

I further don't understand why the Democrats are still calling for immediate withdrawl. Putting more troops in (in a calculated way) reduced the violence. As I've said before I think this is exactly what Kerry planned to do. The tactics change was clearly a product of the Democrat's electoral victory in 2006. The fact that there is a chance for peace should not vindicate the decision to launch this extremely bloody conflict in any way. All in all, this should be seen as a political ad tactical victory for the center left. Unfortunately, the left seems to have married itself too closely to over simplified prowar vs. antiwar rhetoric. The fact is that the situation is fragile and calls for immediate withdrawl are not rooted in a careful assessment of the situation.

There is a big problem though. Kucinich has been raising some interesting questions about the privatization of Iraq's oil. I don't have a good linkable reference, but I'll post one when I find it. He might actually have a point, but no one is listening, and unfortunately a discussion of what people are doing with oil also fits too easily into over simplified rhetoric and so the issue has a good chance of staying ignored.

RE: Must Read: Iraq Round-Up

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