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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

Washing the dishes
Topic: Society 5:52 pm EDT, Jul  9, 2014

Thich Nhat Hanh:

Thirty years ago, when I was still a novice at Tu Hieu Pagoda, washing the dishes was hardly a pleasant task. During the Season of Retreat when all the monks returned to the monastery, two novices had to do all the cooking and wash the dishes for sometimes well over one hundred monks. There as no soap. We had only ashes, rice husks, and coconut husks, and that was all. Cleaning such a high stack of bowl was a chore, especially during the winter when the water was freezing cold. Then you had to heat up a big pot of water before you could do any scrubbing. Nowadays one stands in a kitchen equipped with liquid soap, special scrubpads, and even running hot water which makes it all the more agreeable now. Anyone can wash them in a hurry, then sit down and enjoy a cup of tea afterwards. I can see a machine for washing clothes, although I wash my own things out by hand, but a dishwashing machine is going just a little too far!

While washing the dishes one should only be washing dishes, which mean that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly: why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bows is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There is no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.

If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living in a minute of life.

David Foster Wallace:

It is about simple awareness -- awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: "This is water, this is water."

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out.

Washing the dishes


Taylor Swift, the RIAA, and the NSA
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:08 am EDT, Jul  9, 2014

Taylor Swift:

I'd like to point out that people are still buying albums, but now they're buying just a few of them. They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren't alone in feeling so alone.

The Taylor Swift essay spread through Facebook with the typical breathlessness of professionally promoted viral media - "Talor Swift wrote an Oped for the Wall Street Journal, and its AMAZING!" I did not bother to read it until you also referenced it here on MemeStreams, and I hate to detract from your point, but my reactions are on a completely different dimension.

While Taylor Switft speaks artfully to the emotional connection that artists seek to make with their fans, its hard not to see the specter of the Recording Industry Association of America haunting the shadows behind her. The purpose of the essay is to, once again, emphasize the recording industry's grievance that a change in information technology has changed their business model (which was, of course, a product of information technology in the first place.)

While Taylor Swift is certainly a more pleasant ambassador for their interests than the contemptible David Lowery, the bottom line here is still the same. The RIAA feels that society owes them their 15 billion and must make whatever accommodations they demand in order to ensure that they get it. It will be a long time before people forget the bitter fight over SOPA and total tone deafness that the industry has exhibited regarding the legitimate concerns that their proposals raise.

Having said that, the only criticism that the RIAA made of the effort to defeat SOPA that I think has some validity is the criticism that if not for the support of Google the effort would not have been nearly as successful. While it is hardly sympathetic for a party that seeks to enrich itself by lobbying for special policy accommodations to argue that some of their opponents are also financially motivated, the criticism is nonetheless important for civil liberties advocates to understand.

The fight over SOPA and PIPA involved far more public engagement than the fight over NSA surveillance of meta-data has motivated thus far. Are people genuinely more concerned about internet filtering technology than surveillance of telephony meta-data? As time progresses, these two concepts will converge. The monitoring of telephony meta-data will eventually entail the monitoring of Internet meta-data, and what you can monitor, you can sanction, which is just as good as preemptive blocking. They are basically the same discussion.

There might be an underlying distinction from a civil liberties perspective - telephony meta-data monitoring primarily implicates the freedom... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Taylor Swift, the RIAA, and the NSA


10 ways Facebook is actually the devil
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:11 am EDT, Jul  6, 2014

The fundamental purpose of most people at Facebook working on data is to influence and alter people's moods and behaviour. They are doing it all the time to make you like stories more, to click on more ads, to spend more time on the site. This is just how a website works, everyone does this and everyone knows that everyone does this, I don't see why people are all up in arms over this thing all of a sudden.

10 ways Facebook is actually the devil


Open Letter Regarding WRAS | WABE 90.1 FM
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:36 pm EDT, Jul  2, 2014

The recent agreement between Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) and Georgia State University (GSU) regarding radio station WRAS is bad public policy—fiscally, substantively, and procedurally.  This transaction should be revisited by the parties and it should be significantly modified or rescinded.

Open Letter Regarding WRAS | WABE 90.1 FM


The significance of Riley - The Washington Post
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:56 pm EDT, Jun 25, 2014

The Court’s opinion offers a major endorsement of treating computer searches differently than physical searches. Although the opinion is phrased primarily about “cell phones,” Chief Justice Roberts makes clear that “cell phones” are really just “minicomputers.” And if you take the reasoning of Riley to apply to other minicomputers and to electronic storage devices generally — which I think is the fairest reading of the opinion — then it means that lots of other applications of the Fourth Amendment to computers are now in play. As readers of the blog know, the lower courts are struggling to apply old principles of the Fourth Amendment to the new facts of computers. I think Riley can be fairly read as saying that computers are a game-changer: We’re now in a “digital age,” and quantity of data and the “qualitatively different” nature of at least some digital records changes how the Fourth Amendment should apply.

This could have a significant impact on the question of suspicionless searches of electronics at border crossings.

The significance of Riley - The Washington Post


Supreme Court requires warrants for cell phone searches on arrest - The Washington Post
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:47 pm EDT, Jun 25, 2014

Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse. A conclusion that inspecting the contents of an arrestee’s pockets works no substantial additional intrusion on privacy beyond the arrest itself may make sense as applied to physical items, but any extension of that reasoning to digital data has to rest on its own bottom.

Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be kept on an arrestee’s person. The term “cell phone” is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone. They could just as easily be called cameras,video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers.

Supreme Court requires warrants for cell phone searches on arrest - The Washington Post


Party like it’s 1761 — in a good way - The Washington Post
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:45 pm EDT, Jun 25, 2014

From Riley v. California:

Our cases have recognized that the Fourth Amendment was the founding generation’s response to the reviled “general warrants” and “writs of assistance” of the colonial era, which allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity. Opposition to such searches was in fact one of the driving forces behind the Revolution itself. In 1761, the patriot James Otis delivered a speech in Boston denouncing the use of writs of assistance. A young John Adams was there, and he would later write that “[e]very man of a crowded audience appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance.” According to Adams, Otis’s speech was “the first scene of the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the child Independence was born.”

Party like it’s 1761 — in a good way - The Washington Post


Hospital Networks Are Leaking Data, Leaving Critical Devices Vulnerable | Threat Level | WIRED
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:44 pm EDT, Jun 25, 2014

At the time Erven’s team conducted their research, they didn’t know how many vulnerable medical devices were directly connected to the internet as opposed to simply being connected to internal networks accessible via the internet.

Erven and Merdinger set out to scan the internet to answer this question. They scanned for any systems using port 445—the port the SMB protocol uses to transmit data—and filtered for hospitals and other health care organizations while using keywords like “anesthesia” and “defibrillator.” Within half an hour, they discovered a health care organization that was leaking information on 68,000 systems. The organization, which Erven would not identify, has more than 12,000 employees, 3,000 physicians and large cardiovascular and neuroscience institutions associated with it.

Hospital Networks Are Leaking Data, Leaving Critical Devices Vulnerable | Threat Level | WIRED


Analysis: Mayor Ardis claims 'mischaracterization' of Twitter controversy - News - Journal Star - Peoria, IL
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:58 pm EDT, Jun 13, 2014

The Mayor of Peoria, Illinois had a citizen arrested and his home and place of work raided by the police because he created a parody account on Twitter that criticized him. When faced with a lawsuit from the ACLU, the Mayor stuck to his guns. He thinks the police raids were appropriate.

Mayor Jim Ardis continued to maintain Thursday that the reporting on the Twitter incident that has become a global news story has been filled with “mischaracterizations of the basic facts.”

Analysis: Mayor Ardis claims 'mischaracterization' of Twitter controversy - News - Journal Star - Peoria, IL


These are the customized Lamborghinis of Japan's underworld | The Verge
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:23 am EDT, May 26, 2014

What do you do with your Lamborghini if you think it isn't getting enough attention? For some of the Yakuza in Tokyo's underground, you customize it with vinyl wraps, flashing lights, and strings of colored LEDs.

These are the customized Lamborghinis of Japan's underworld | The Verge


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