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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

Security Challenges in an Ever-Evolving Cyber Realm - YouTube
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:05 pm EDT, Jul 27, 2014

Watch Deputy Director Richard Ledgett at Aspen Security Forum on Security Challenges in an Ever Evolving Cyber Realm

Richard Ledgett seems professional and thoughtful in his perspectives. The observations about transparency that start around 43:10 reflect what I think is the right balance.

Security Challenges in an Ever-Evolving Cyber Realm - YouTube

What Were They Thinking? Microsoft Seizes, Returns Majority of’s Business | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:48 pm EDT, Jul 27, 2014

Not only did Microsoft bungle the facts and the tech underlying its seizure of’s core business, its case against the provider was based on a downright dangerous legal theory. Microsoft argued that, as a provider of free network services, was negligent. Indeed, Microsoft claims that had a legal obligation to:

Require all users to provide their real name, address, and telephone number.
Put that information in a public database.
Use a “web reputation” service to identify bad actors.
And encrypt its customers’ usernames and passwords.

Every one of those points is rubbish, and none is a legal duty of service providers.

What Were They Thinking? Microsoft Seizes, Returns Majority of’s Business | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Some homeowners miss out on housing recovery - Chicago Tribune
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:44 pm EDT, Jul 20, 2014

In 2007, Congress passed a law, which was twice extended, exempting a homeowner from being taxed on debt that was forgiven as part of a short sale or a loan modification. Otherwise, canceled debt is treated as taxable income by the IRS.

Without the act and assuming a 28 percent tax bracket, every $10,000 in forgiven debt would make a homeowner liable for an additional $2,800 in taxes. The "extra" income could also push someone into a higher tax bracket.

But the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act expired Dec. 31, and legislative efforts to extend the tax break and make it retroactive to Jan. 1 have faltered, stuck in committee.

Congress doesn't care about underwater home owners.

Some homeowners miss out on housing recovery - Chicago Tribune

The Political Typology: Beyond Red vs. Blue | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:38 am EDT, Jul 20, 2014

The latest Pew Research Center political typology, which sorts voters into cohesive groups based on their attitudes and values, provides a field guide for this constantly changing landscape.

The Political Typology: Beyond Red vs. Blue | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press

Americans Less Satisfied With Freedom
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:19 pm EDT, Jul 17, 2014

Among Americans, perceptions of widespread corruption in their government have been generally increasing over the past seven years.

Americans Less Satisfied With Freedom

Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters | Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:09 pm EDT, Jul 17, 2014

Like topographic maps of mountain ranges, network maps can also illustrate the points on the landscape that have the highest elevation. Some people occupy locations in networks that are analogous to positions of strategic importance on the physical landscape. Network measures of “centrality” can identify key people in influential locations in the discussion network, highlighting the people leading the conversation. The content these people create is often the most popular and widely repeated in these networks, reflecting the significant role these people play in social media discussions.

Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters | Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project

America’s ‘freedom’ reputation is on the decline a year after NSA revelations - The Washington Post
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:06 pm EDT, Jul 17, 2014

The Snowden revelations appear to have damaged one major element of America’s global image: its reputation for protecting individual liberties. In 22 of 36 countries surveyed in both 2013 and 2014, people are significantly less likely to believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens. In six nations, the decline was 20 percentage points or more.

America’s ‘freedom’ reputation is on the decline a year after NSA revelations - The Washington Post

RE: This Is Water
Topic: Society 11:14 pm EDT, Jul  9, 2014

As an addendum, I feel that Wallace was stabbing at something the Buddists have understood for centuries, but he never quite got there.

If you've got the right perspective on things, the fact that you can wash dishes is totally amazing. The universe is filled with inhospitable worlds - dead planets. The Moon has radical temperature ranges through out the day and is covered with jagged microscopic dust. Mars has an atmosphere but no electromagnetic field to shield the planet from the Sun's radiation. Jupiter is a ball of gas. Thats how most of the universe is. Totally hostile.

The fact that you exist on THIS planet and you can stand in line at a grocery store is amazing. A fucking grocery store! Imagine how many things had to line up through out history in order to create that grocery store for you. Contemplate the sheer complexity that caused all of the products there to be invented and to be assembled and delivered and organized and all the people that contributed through out time to that process and all of the things that influenced those people and how improbable it all is that you should exist at this time and in this place and you should be able to stand in that line.

An enlightened person can stand in line in a grocery store and be in total amazement of that fact and soak it all in and not get bored, and it is in the soaking it all in that greatly pleasurable experiences happen.

Its all just a matter of seeing things for what they really are.

RE: This Is Water

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

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