Saturday, February 21, 2015

I Don't Think it is Unintentional.

Less Economic Freedom Equals More Income Inequality

The author make some good points but I don't think the process is "unintentional" so much as natural outgrowth of reality in a controlled or managed economy.

Anyone whose livelihood depends on a business -- as an owner or employee -- has an incentive to protect that livelihood. In a country were the government has the power to make or break a business, political influence quickly becomes an essential part of survival. Those with money have greater access which gives them greater influence. It is only natural for a politician to favor his friends.

More-and-more, modern America is looking like an textbook example of Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy. In such a world, survival, means having influence over the bureaucracy or, as someone once said, "If you are not at the table, you are on the menu."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Get Your Stinking Ape Hands off of My Computer.

As my friend Christopher David once pointed out to me, hackers may be the most important of scumfucks as mankind heads into the future. For those who don't get why that may be true, this article may help you understand. In the process you may gain insight into how all the recent talk of "digital rights management" and "net neutrality" are really an attack on general purpose computing and the open networks -- such as the Internet -- they make possible.

Lockdown -- The coming war on general-purpose computing

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Walls have Ears.

Most of us have heard the above clause as a warning that, without adequate safeguards, a private conversation can be overheard. Samsung is now trying to upgrade that adage to, "The TV has ears."

Be Careful What You Say Around Your Samsung Smart TV

The "feature" can, supposedly, be turned off but the article implies that Samsung is being coy about whether the microphone can be turned back on without the owner's knowledge. Even with such an assurance, there is no protection from a future upgrade or a rogue update that allows the microphone to be turned on remotely.

I don't expect stored conversations will be used against the owner of a Samsung Smart TV (or other devices such as the Xbox which use similar technology) -- not at first. However, anytime digital voice data information is passed to a third party there is a possibility it will be stored. A vague reference to "industry standard encryption" does not assure that Samsung intends to prevent the stored data from being traceable to a particular location. In fact, the latest "privacy policy" specifically allows "device identifiers" to be transmitted with your voice data.

To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some interactive voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service provider (currently, Nuance Communications, Inc.) that converts your interactive voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. [emphasis added]

An interesting thing about this is that the data is already acknowledged as belonging to Samsung and/or Nuance so it can be accessed it for a fee instead of having to get a pesky warrant.

The American public accepted being leashed by their smart phones, it is unlikely they will object to being further leashed by their televisions. Make me wonder if a dog realizes he is not free just because he has a longer leash than the other dogs.

Here is another article in the same vein: Samsung changes Smart TV privacy policy in wake of spying fears

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Yes, There are Stupid Atheists

Sean Gangol outlines a few of the reasons I rarely associate with mainstream atheism. Too often they let their cognitive biases dictate their political opinions. In doing so they quickly turn politics into war and arguments into amoral soldiers. Victory for their side then becomes more important than accuracy. This attitude stands in opposition to general methods for good decision-making.

The Atheist Experience Folly

Friday, January 16, 2015

News of the Weird

This has to be one of the funniest things I've seen in a while. An all-women, liberal arts college decides to cancel the Vagina Monologues because it does not include women without a vagina. I can think of a few reasons to let the play slip into obscurity but to drop it by applying such sublimely leftist logic is unexpected.

Women's College Cancels 'Vagina Monologues' Because It Excludes Women Without Vaginas

Thursday, January 15, 2015

America Needs a Senator like This

A Australian Social Democrat named Gary Burns argued that multiculturalism is the law in Australia. Senator David Leyonjhelm replied with a simple and direct, "Go fuck yourself you communist turd."

"Go F**k Yourself You Communist Turd" Senator Says To Anti-Free Speech Democrat

Good for him.

Judging from the Wikipedia article on him, Leyonjhelm is a libertarian who supports decriminalizing marijuana, legalizing same sex marriage and charging a fee for permanent residency in Australia. He is also pro gun and supports legalizing assisted suicide *.

And he doesn't like communist turds.

* Suicide is legal in Australia but only by your own hand. Apparently, no one is permitted to assist in any way so those too weak to manage the deed alone are sentenced to whatever lingering death nature arranges for them.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ridicule is Still the Final Test of Truth

Today (Jan 8, 2015) USA Today's Opposing Views posed an article by Anjem Choudary entitled:

Why did France allow the tabloid to provoke Muslims?

Choudary is described as "...a radical Muslim cleric in London and a lecturer in sharia."

Read the editorial but the answer to that question should be obvious to everyone in the Western World: Freedom is an inherently offensive state of existence. No matter what you may believe, there will be someone who will ridicule it. Someone will burn a Koran, dip a Crucifix in urine or photoshop the Flying Spaghetti Monster into the creation image of the Sistine Chapel. However, as HL Mencken wrote, "..the razor edge of ridicule is turned by the tough hide of truth." If you really think what you believe is true then what is there to fear? Your pet theories or dogma will survive if truth is really on your side.

Muslims who cannot stand to have their peculiar neuroses ridiculed deserve to be shot by their intended victims.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Harvard Punished for Protecting Civil Rights

The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced that, "... it has entered into a resolution agreement with Harvard University and its Law School after finding the Law School in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for its response to sexual harassment, including sexual assault."

Harvard Law School Found in Violation of Title IX, Agrees to Remedy Sexual Harassment, including Sexual Assault of Students

Following its investigation, OCR determined that the Law School's current and prior sexual harassment policies and procedures failed to comply with Title IX's requirements for prompt and equitable response to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The Law School also did not appropriately respond to two student complaints of sexual assault. In one instance, the Law School took over a year to make its final determination and the complainant was not allowed to participate in this extended appeal process, which ultimately resulted in the reversal of the initial decision to dismiss the accused student and dismissal of the complainant's complaint.

During the course of OCR's investigation, the Law School adopted revised procedures that use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard for its sexual harassment investigations and afford appeal rights to both parties, in compliance with Title IX. The Law School also complied with the Title IX requirements relating to the designation of a Title IX Coordinator and publication of its non-discrimination notice.

In short, Harvard violated Title IX by respecting the legal principle of "beyond a reasonable doubt" for rape accusations. Think about that for a minute: The OCR is claiming that Title IX requires an administrator or "council" only need to be 50% plus a bit certain to expel a student. No more of that pesky beyond a reasonable doubt. I shudder to think what kind of lawyers an environment like that will produce.

Adding irony to stupidity, these policies only seem to be gender neutral but in fact are pure misandry in effect and probably in intent. That make them a violation of Title IX. I sincerely doubt that OCR will be investigating that anytime soon.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chase Online still vulnerable to POODLE for TLS

Like a lot of companies, Chase Online (owned by JP Morgan) uses the F5 BigIP to handle SSL/TLS for its web services. If your web services run on IIS that is a pretty sensible decision but only as long as the F5 is secure. As of the morning of Dec 18,2014 the Chase site is still vulnerable to POODLE for TLS. What make this worthy of a blog post is that there is a patch for the F5 box and it has been available since Dec 8, 2014. I applied it to my employer's machines on Dec 13 and it brought our score on the Qualys SSL tester from an "F" to a much more comfortable "A-".

This will not affect me directly because I don't bank with Chase and I recently canceled my last credit card with them. Still, I think it displays a contemptuous attitude toward customers not to expedite patching such a highly visible system.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thought on Ferguson

If the people of Ferguson believe they are being governed badly and the usual avenues of redress have failed them, then -- by all means -- they should take to streets and shake up their overlords a bit. People flourish in freedom and freedom flourishes when the rulers are more than a little afraid of those they purport to rule. However, I don't see too much of that spirit in the current mess in Ferguson. It's more an explosion of narcissism fed a diet of entitlement then crossed with drunken frat boy. Not the finest hour for the city's residents.

Free men and women know when to build and when to fight; they also know what to build and what to fight. From where I sit, the boldest act of rebellion and independence in Ferguson would have been to start a business rather than looting and burning them.