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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

circling back
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:58 am EDT, Apr  6, 2015

Stewart Baker:

Even the hackers don't want to work for government forever; they hope to run startups just like everybody else ...

Virginia Lehmkuhl-Dakhwe:

The number of jobs in information security is going to grow tenfold in the next 10 years.

Alex Stamos:

In my dreams, I squint up at the flock of sales cyber vultures, "circling back" until I lose my will to resist their entreaties, or perhaps to live.

Marc Rogers:

Let's face it -- most of today's so-called "cutting edge" security defenses are either so specific, or so brittle, that they really don't offer much meaningful protection against a sophisticated attacker or group of attackers.

the most important three percent
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:29 am EDT, Apr  4, 2015

Matt McKenna:

The fact that every new piece of culture or entertainment is at risk for being consumed by the ever-growing vortex of editorial hackery goes to show that our country's sources for news and opinion are nothing more than venues for the meaningless cacophony of harping sycophants and the ceaseless din of compulsively braying automatons spraying opinions into the air like a broken lawn sprinkler system.

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

What I remember ... is the fear -- the fear of offending, of asking impolite questions, of intruding. But you could not work for City Paper without learning how to walk the streets of DC, approach people you did not previously know and barrage them with intimate questions. This is an essential skill for any journalist -- but it also one of the hardest things to do.

An exchange:

David Sanger: There's a lot we miss every day. I go to work every day convinced that I've got a handle on fully 3% of what's going on, okay?
Stewart Baker: [laughing] The key is [that] you can persuade us it's the most important 3%.
David Sanger: [laughing] That's right. [laughing] That's right.

David Carr:

Perhaps Brian Williams sensed that he was king of an entropic kingdom imprisoned by incontinence and cholesterol ads. As the ever more manic news cycle whirred around his evening newscast, it would be hard not to feel a little beside the point. Everyone is in on the joke. It's all knowing winks and fake attacks on confected news read by people who are somewhat bored by what they do. It just seems less funny now.

William Deresiewicz:

Excellence isn't usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering.

James Rosen:

Dick Cheney embodies the maxim of the late nuclear theorist Herman Kahn, who famously said there are two types of people in the world: those who care what The New York Times says about them and those who do not.

the days of free-range hacking are over
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:19 pm EDT, Apr  2, 2015

Fran Howarth:

According to officials, the U.S. State Department hack is the worst that has ever been seen against a federal agency. All organizations -- not just governments -- need to beef up their ability to detect and respond to sophisticated attacks.

Lisa Monaco:

Cyber threats are at the top of the President's list of security concerns. We are at a transformational moment in how we approach cybersecurity.

Joel Brenner:

The Obama administration is really getting serious now.

James Lewis:

This sends a signal that the days of free-range hacking are over.

Michael Daniel:

The targets of these sanctions are malicious actors whose actions undermine our national security.

Kim Zetter:

Michael Daniel and John Smith were hard-pressed ... to identify specific examples of attacks that would qualify for these sanctions or explain the criteria for determining when an attack meets the threshold.

Jason Healey:

The government can use sanctions against cyber actors who target US foreign policy -- an interesting category and choice of words. This probably wasn't meant to include WikiLeaks-style "malicious cyber actors" but future administrations might interpret this more broadly.

Marcy Wheeler:

Does that include encryption providers?

Adam Segal:

Where does the tit-for-tat end?

unusual and extraordinary
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:39 pm EDT, Apr  1, 2015

James Comey:

The Internet is the most dangerous parking lot imaginable.

Verlyn Klinkenborg:

Someone from the future, I'm sure, will marvel at our blindness and at the hole we have driven ourselves into, for we are completely committed to an unsustainable technology.

Elisa Lippincott:

With the average time of 229 days that malware goes unnoticed on enterprise networks, you can't afford to sit back and do nothing.

Rebecca Brock:

People say to me, "Whatever it takes." I tell them, It's going to take everything.

Barack Obama:

With the new Executive Order I'm signing today, I'm for the first time authorizing targeted sanctions against individuals or entities whose actions in cyberspace result in significant threats to the national security, foreign policy, economic health or financial stability of the United States. I'm also authorizing sanctions against companies that knowingly use stolen trade secrets to undermine our nation's economic health.

Sanctions will in no way target the unwitting victims of cyberattacks ... Nor does this executive order target the legitimate cybersecurity research community or professionals who help companies improve their cybersecurity.

Barack Obama:

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the increasing prevalence and severity of malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with this threat.

Benedict Carey:

The information is all there, great expanding mountain ranges of it. What's lacking is the tracker's instinct for picking up a trail, the human gut feeling for where to start looking to find patterns and meaning. But can such creative instincts really be trained systematically? And even if they could, wouldn't it take years to do so?

it takes remarkable courage and candor
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:01 am EDT, Mar 28, 2015

Charles Blow:

Our allegiance needn't -- mustn't -- be blind to be true. We must acknowledge our warts if we are to proclaim our beauty. Our aggrandizement must be grounded. We must be willing to laud America where it has soared and rebuke it where it has faltered.

Marianne Williamson:

The entire American News establishment would be fired if telling the truth was the minimum standard.

Dr. Leonard Wong and Dr. Stephen J. Gerras:

Untruthfulness is surprisingly common in the U.S. military even though members of the profession are loath to admit it. Further, much of the deception and dishonesty that occurs in the profession of arms is actually encouraged and sanctioned by the military institution. The end result is a profession whose members often hold and propagate a false sense of integrity that prevents the profession from addressing -- or even acknowledging -- the duplicity and deceit throughout the formation. It takes remarkable courage and candor for leaders to admit the gritty shortcomings and embarrassing frailties of the military as an organization in order to better the military as a profession. Such a discussion, however, is both essential and necessary for the health of the military profession.

the burden of being fully appreciated
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:00 am EDT, Mar 28, 2015

Benjamin Clymer:

Whether the case is gold or platinum, the price of a Philippe Dufour watch remains (roughly) static -- you are not paying for materials, you are paying for Mr. Dufour's time and touch. The Apple Watch has minimal human value, and that is the biggest difference between it and its mechanical counterparts.

Ian Parker, on Jony Ive:

His manner suggests the burden of being fully appreciated.

Nick Foulkes:

If only more fanatics were like Jony Ive.

creative destruction in a nutshell
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:00 am EDT, Mar 28, 2015

The Economist:

Agriculture accounts for 80% of water consumption in California, for example, but only 2% of economic activity.

James Hamblin:

Each almond requires 1.1 gallons of water to produce.

Alex Tabarrok:

In short, we are spending thousands of dollars worth of water to grow hundreds of dollars worth of almonds and that is truly nuts.

Eduardo Porter:

Despite California's distress, about half of the homes in the capital, Sacramento, still don't have water meters, paying a flat fee no matter how much water they consume.

the workings of the system
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:53 am EDT, Mar 28, 2015

Humera Khan:

The communities that are least inclined to engage are often the ones that need the outreach the most.

Dana Tamir:

Trusteer's services team discovers massively distributed APT malware such as Dyre and Citadel in virtually every customer environment it works with.

Siobhan Gorman, in 2012:

Companies aren't obligated to disclose a breach to another company as part of an acquisition deal, said Jacob Olcott of Good Harbor Consulting, a firm that advises companies on national-security issues. It is up to the acquiring company to ask, he said.

Joel Warner:

He's stopped listing his master's degree from Indiana State on his resume. He's been told it's better to have it appear as if he was doing nothing at all during that time than to be associated with a low-prestige school.

Damian Paletta:

Mr. Burr said the bill would allow companies to share information with intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency, but only if the data wasn't provided in "electronic form." He didn't provide more details.


The measures offer corporations liability protection if they share information with intelligence agencies. Data handed over also would be "scrubbed" twice to remove personal information.

Mark Seaborn:

History has shown that issues that are thought to be 'only' reliability issues often have significant security implications.

The Economist:

The architecture of Estonia's system is poorly documented, and that rules for classification of data as sensitive, personal, secret or public were not suitable for digital continuity: "frequently only a small number of experts understand the workings of the system," the report notes.

relatively unconcerned with the potential for harm
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:52 am EDT, Mar 28, 2015

Evgeny Morozov:

Nicholas Carr's oeuvre is representative of contemporary technology criticism both in the questions that it asks and the issues it avoids. Thus, there's the trademark preoccupation with design problems, and their usually easy solutions, but hardly a word on just why it is that startups founded on the most ridiculous ideas have such an easy time attracting venture capital. That this might have something to do with profound structural transformations in the American economy -- e.g., its ever-expanding financialization -- is not a conclusion that today's technology criticism could ever reach.

David Remnick:

Kleptocracies rarely value theoretical tracts. They value numbered accounts. They value the stability of their own arrangements.

Danny Sullivan:

Someone getting a lot of VC investment isn't a sign they're successful at anything other than getting VC funding.

Eric Giannella:

Most investors would rather not see their firms get mired in the fraught issue of defining what is morally better according to various groups; they prefer objective benefits, measured via return on investment (ROI) or other metrics. Yet, the fact that business goals and cultural sentiments go hand in hand so well ought to give us pause.

Everyone can, at a minimum, ask whether they are doing more harm than good. The trouble in Silicon Valley is that many talented, highly educated young people seem relatively unconcerned with the potential for harm. To be more aware of not harming people, much less helping them, we need to cultivate moral intuitions by discussing the consequences of our work for specific people.

Penelope Trunk:

You should always negotiate a way to buy each other out if you start hating your co-founder. But at the beginning of a startup you are so enamored that you cannot imagine what you will want to do ... when your electricity is cut off.

the black hole is still there, patiently waiting to swallow us
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:50 am EDT, Mar 28, 2015

George W. Bush White House:

The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction -- and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act pre-emptively.

Yuval Noah Harari:

The state has stressed so many times that it will not tolerate political violence within its borders that it has no alternative but to see any act of terrorism as intolerable. The citizens, for their part, have become used to zero political violence, so the theatre of terror incites in them visceral fears of anarchy, making them feel as if the social order is about to collapse. After centuries of bloody struggles, we have crawled out of the black hole of violence, but we feel that the black hole is still there, patiently waiting to swallow us again. A few gruesome atrocities and we imagine that we are falling back in.

Michael S. Schmidt:

Tactics that began as a response to terrorism have become part of the government's approach to more routine crimes.

Andrew Keatts:

When does smart policing become a police state?

David Graeber:

The police, then, are essentially just bureaucrats with weapons. Their main role in society is to bring the threat of physical force -- even, death -- into situations where it would never have been otherwise invoked ...

If you see a policeman and you feel more safe, rather than less, then you can be pretty sure you're middle class. Yet for the first time since polling began, most Americans in 2012 indicated they do not, in fact, consider themselves middle class.

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