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Being "always on" is being always off, to something.

It's Money That Matters
Topic: Society 7:11 am EST, Mar  1, 2010

Jenna Russell:

It is economic inequality, not overall wealth or cultural differences, that fosters societal breakdown, by boosting insecurity and anxiety, which leads to divisive prejudice between the classes, rampant consumerism, and all manner of mental and physical suffering.

Jules Dupuit:

Having refused the poor what is necessary, they give the rich what is superfluous.

Decius:

Paul Graham asks what living in your city tells you. Living in the north Perimeter area for 6 odd years now has told me that everybody makes way, way more money than I do. It's not inspiring so much as it makes you sympathize with class warfare.

Decius:

Money for me, databases for you.

Alon Halevy, Peter Norvig, and Fernando Pereira:

Follow the data.

Bird and Fortune:

They thought that if they had a bigger mortgage they could get a bigger house. They thought if they had a bigger house, they would be happy. It's pathetic. I've got four houses and I'm not happy.

It's Money That Matters


The Philosophy of Punk Rock Mathematics
Topic: Science 7:11 am EST, Mar  1, 2010

Tom Henderson:

1) People use the average Joe's poor mathematics as a way to control, exploit, and numerically fuck him over.

2) Mathematics is the subject in which, regardless of what the authorities tell you is true, you can verify every last iota of truth, with a minimum of equipment.

Therefore, if you are concerned with the empowerment of everyday people, and you believe that it's probably a good idea to be skeptical of authority you could do worse than to develop your skills at being able to talk math in such a way that anyone can ask questions, can express curiosity, can imagine applying it in the most weird-ass off-the-wall ways possible.

Jules Dupuit:

Having refused the poor what is necessary, they give the rich what is superfluous.

An exchange:

Flight Attendant: More anything?
Jerry Seinfeld: More everything!

Tom Henderson:

Many students want teachers to "show me the steps." But "The Steps" are cargo cult mathematics.

Mathematics is like unicorn anatomy. You imagine this thing, and it doesn't exist, yet it still comes with facts. I know how many legs a unicorn has.

Michael Osinski:

Oyster farmers eat lots of oysters, don't they?

The Philosophy of Punk Rock Mathematics


Follow The Data
Topic: Society 7:11 am EST, Mar  1, 2010

Economist:

In the past information consumption was largely passive, leaving aside the telephone. Today half of all bytes are received interactively.

Wal-Mart, a retail giant, handles more than 1m customer transactions every hour, feeding databases estimated at more than 2.5 petabytes.

Hal Varian, Google's chief economist, predicts that the job of statistician will become the "sexiest" around. Data, he explains, are widely available; what is scarce is the ability to extract wisdom from them.

Alon Halevy, Peter Norvig, and Fernando Pereira:

Follow the data.

Decius:

Money for me, databases for you.

Bruce Schneier:

Data is the pollution of the information age.

This is wholesale surveillance; not "follow that car," but "follow every car."

More is coming.

Will not wearing a life recorder be used as evidence that someone is up to no good?

Sense Networks:

We asked ourselves: with all this real-time data, what else could we do for a city?

Nightlife enhancement was the obvious answer.


What are suspicious VoIP delays?
Topic: Technology 7:11 am EST, Mar  1, 2010

Wojciech Mazurczyk, Krzysztof Cabaj, Krzysztof Szczypiorski:

Voice over IP (VoIP) is unquestionably the most popular real-time service in IP networks today. Recent studies have shown that it is also a suitable carrier for information hiding. Hidden communication may pose security concerns as it can lead to confidential information leakage. In VoIP, RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol) in particular, which provides the means for the successful transport of voice packets through IP networks, is suitable for steganographic purposes. It is characterised by a high packet rate compared to other protocols used in IP telephony, resulting in a potentially high steganographic bandwidth. The modification of an RTP packet stream provides many opportunities for hidden communication as the packets may be delayed, reordered or intentionally lost. In this paper, to enable the detection of steganographic exchanges in VoIP, we examined real RTP traffic traces to answer the questions, what do the "normal" delays in RTP packet streams look like? and, is it possible to detect the use of known RTP steganographic methods based on this knowledge?

Druid, from the archive, circa 2007:

Real-time Transfer Protocol (RTP) is used by nearly all Voice-over-IP systems to provide the audio channel for calls. As such, it provides ample opportunity for the creation of a covert communication channel due to its very nature. While use of steganographic techniques with various audio cover-medium has been extensively researched, most applications of such have been limited to audio cover-medium of a static nature such as WAV or MP3 file audio data. This paper details a common technique for the use of steganography with audio data cover-medium, outlines the problem issues that arise when attempting to use such techniques to establish a full-duplex communications channel within audio data transmitted via an unreliable streaming protocol, and documents solutions to these problems. An implementation of the ideas discussed entitled SteganRTP is included in the reference materials.

Matt Blaze:

Reliable network interception may not be as simple as previously thought.

Rattle:

Paranoia about the conspiracy is always justified. It's just usually misplaced.

What are suspicious VoIP delays?


The Free-Appropriation Writer
Topic: Intellectual Property 7:11 am EST, Mar  1, 2010

Randy Kennedy:

A child of a media-saturated generation, she presented herself as a writer whose birthright is the remix, the use of anything at hand she feels suits her purposes, an idea of communal creativity that certainly wasn't shared by those from whom she borrowed.

Helene Hegemann:

There's no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity.

Jim Jarmusch:

Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent.

John McWhorter:

In many Amazonian languages, when you say something you have to specify, with a suffix, where you got the information.

Louis Menand:

Authenticity is a snark -- although someone will always go hunting for it.

An exchange:

A: "You know, we have a lot in common because personally one of my favorite activities is to hunt, too."

P: "Oh, very good. We should go hunting together."

David Lynch:

Ideas are like fish. Originality is just the ideas you caught.

Jonathan Lethem:

Bob Dylan's originality and his appropriations are as one.

The same might be said of all art.

The Free-Appropriation Writer


Computer Mediated Transactions
Topic: Technology 7:11 am EST, Mar  1, 2010

Hal Varian:

Every now and then a set of technologies becomes available that sets off a period of "combinatorial innovation." The component parts of these technologies can be combined and recombined by innovators to create new devices and applications.

It is hardly novel to suggest that contractual form depends on what is observable. What is interesting, I think, is the way that progress in information technology enables new contractual forms.

Varian:

These days nearly every economic transaction involves a computer in some form or other. What does this mean for economics? I argue that the ubiquity of computers enables new and more efficient contractual forms, better alignment of incentives, more sophisticated data extraction and analysis, creates an environment for controlled experimentation, and allows for personalization and customization. I review some of the long and rich history of these phenomena and describe some of their implications for current and future practices.

Ross Anderson:

Many of the problems [of information insecurity] can be explained more clearly and convincingly using the language of microeconomics: network externalities, asymmetric information, moral hazard, adverse selection, liability dumping and the tragedy of the commons.

Dee Hock:

Inherent in Visa is the archetype of the organization of the 21st century.

Economist:

The tempting answer is to try to wriggle free from the dilemma with a compromise that would permit innovation but exert just enough control to squeeze out financial failure.

It is a nice idea; but it is a fantasy.

Financial progress is about learning to deal with strangers in more complex ways.

Computer Mediated Transactions


Kaboom
Topic: Military 8:10 am EST, Feb 25, 2010

Embrace the suck.

When Lieutenant Matt Gallagher began his blog with the aim of keeping his family and friends apprised of his experiences, he didn't anticipate that it would resonate far beyond his intended audience. His subjects ranged from mission details to immortality, grim stories about Bon Jovi cassettes mistaken for IEDs, and the daily experiences of the Gravediggers -- the code name for members of Gallagher's platoon. When the blog was shut down in June 2008 by the U.S. Army, there were more than twenty-five congressional inquiries regarding the matter as well as reports through the military grapevine that many high-ranking officials and officers at the Pentagon were disappointed that the blog had been ordered closed.

Based on Gallagher's extraordinarily popular blog, Kaboom is "at turns hilarious, maddening, and terrifying," providing "raw and insightful snapshots of a conflict many Americans have lost interest in" (Washington Post). Like Anthony Swofford's Jarhead, Gallagher's Kaboom resonates with stoic detachment and timeless insight into a war that we are still trying to understand.

From the archive, a selection:

Things will be frustrating. Don't get frustrated.

Some of your greatest successes are going to be the children of failure.

I beg you, as you begged me,
Tell me what I can do
To make you forget
That my people never remember.

They listened. Then in the distance he heard a dog bark. He turned and looked toward the darkening town. It's a dog, he said.
A dog?
Yes.
Where did it come from?
I don't know.
We're not going to kill it, are we Papa?
No. We're not going to kill it.
He looked down at the boy. Shivering in his coats. He bent over and kissed him on his gritty brow. We won't hurt the dog, he said. I promise.

Kaboom


Haiti Earthquake Aftermath Montage
Topic: Current Events 8:10 am EST, Feb 25, 2010

Khalid Mohtaseb:

A week after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, I was hired to shoot ENG footage for two international networks. This is a montage of personal footage I shot of the aftermath during my spare time, in and around Port au Prince. We were in Haiti for a total of 6 days in which 2 of those days were spent traveling to and from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR.

Haiti Earthquake Aftermath Montage


In the Land of the Stoner Cops
Topic: War on Terrorism 7:12 am EST, Feb 24, 2010

Nir Rosen:

Marines lay about in the shade.

A young specialist sat atop a Humvee.

"We came, we parked, we relocated, then we parked," he beamed.

Richard Haass:

Let's not kid ourselves. We're not going to find some wonderful thing that's going to deliver large positive results at modest costs. It's not going to happen.

David Kilcullen:

You've got to make a long-term commitment.

A retired American military officer, working in security in Afghanistan:

We're winning every day. Are we going to keep winning for 20 years?

Cormac McCarthy:

At dusk they halted and built a fire and roasted the deer. The night was much enclosed about them and there were no stars. To the north they could see other fires that burned red and sullen along the invisible ridges. They ate and moved on, leaving the fire on the ground behind them, and as they rode up into the mountains this fire seemed to become altered of its location, now here, now there, drawing away, or shifting unaccountably along the flank of their movement. Like some ignis fatuus belated upon the road behind them which all could see and of which none spoke. For this will to deceive that is in things luminous may manifest itself likewise in retrospect and so by sleight of some fixed part of a journey already accomplished may also post men to fraudulent destinies.

In the Land of the Stoner Cops


Three Meals in Afghanistan
Topic: Food 7:21 am EST, Feb 18, 2010

Asadullah Falah:

First we eat, then we drink, then we talk!

Naheed Mustafa:

Afghans have a term, ishqi watani, that refers to a deep and abiding affinity for one's people, culture, and identity. Essentially, it means an unconditional love of the homeland. But the state -- or at least what we in the West think of as a state -- has never really existed in Afghanistan. There have been attempts to bring reform through monarchy, through secularism and Communism. The country has had kings and presidents. None have matched up well with Afghans' ideas about what it means to be Afghan. Ishqi watani has helped Afghans endure thirty years of war. But it has also kept their gazes fixed upon their battles to preserve, not looking ahead to where they could go.

Rory Stewart:

"We're beating the cat."

"Why are you beating the cat?"

"It's a cat-tiger strategy."

Three Meals in Afghanistan


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