Friday, March 27, 2015

Quick Update and two partial book reviews

A lot of stuff has been going on, so I have been neglecting the blog again.  None of it is major or life changing in anyway just a vast quantity of small things that have been consuming time. I have been working my way thru my reading list, currently I am working on @War: The Rise of the Military Internet Complex and Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous.

@War - I am about 2/3 of the way through and it has been pretty interesting so far.  Offers up some rationales for the NSA Domestic Collection Programs that make sense without being overly apologetic.  Also explores some of the history behind other similar programs.  The author really doesn't like Stuxnet though and has kind of entered a moralizing phase discussing it.  So far I would say the book is worth the read.

Hacker, Hoaxer...  - This has been a hard one to get into.  I have started it a couple times and can only make it a couple pages each time.  The author is a sociologist or anthropologist  or something like that.  She obviously wants to do the "Gorillas in the Mist" thing and walk among and be accepted by Anonymous and so only about 20 pages or so in her sympathy for them is glaringly obvious and a little off-putting.  The reviews are good and I am interested in the subject so I will keep trying.  (BTW way to expensive for a Kindle book.  Check it out from the library if you can.  I think I got it on sale or as a present because I never would have paid $14.55 for it)

Anyway there ya go a quick update.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A rebuttal to Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century"

No, not by me.  This is apparently a coherent and clearly reasoned work, not the drunken late night crayon scrawlings found here on Kurulounge.

Rognlie, however, wrote in his blog post that the French economist's argument “misses a subtle but absolutely crucial point." Piketty, he said, might have got the pattern in reverse. Instead of the returns to capital increasing in perpetuity, Rognlie said, they might be poised to decline.
With that quick post, Rognlie was challenging the most politically earthshaking prediction about inequality and the economy in recent memory.
The comment blossomed into a near-unprecedented career opportunity for a student who just recently turned 26 years old, and who remains a year away from earning his doctoral degree. It will culminate on Friday morning at the Brookings Institution in Washington, where Rognlie will present a research paper before an often-cutthroat audience of all-star economists, including a Nobel Prize winner, Robert Solow, who will critique Rognlie’s analysis.


 OK, I found it interesting because I have Picketty in the bathroom to work through over the next 6 to 7 years, but the other interesting thing is how the opportunity for Rognile exploded from that blog post.

Of course he has real readers not just the voices in his head.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Just a reminder

Today the a Senate committee will debate a bill that will triple the number of available H1-B visas:

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the H-1B visa that will bring together the temporary visa’s most outspoken critics and supporters.

The hearing was called by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee chairman, and will occur as the tech industry pushes for adoption of the I-Squared Act. The bill would raise the base cap for H-1B visas from 65,000 to 195,000 and eliminate the cap on people who earn advance degrees from U.S. schools in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tech Republic - New 'TechHire' initiative from the White House aims to get more Americans plugged into tech jobs

I talked about this initiative a few days ago.  Personally I think it is misguided and a stalking horse to push through more H1-B visas, but Tech Republic seems more positive about the program so I thought I would provide the link.

The initiative is multifaceted, but in general, aims to get more Americans, especially minorities and underserved populations, trained to fill tech jobs, like software development and cybersecurity, that can lead to a middle class lifestyle.
During a speech that day, President Obama cited 5 million open jobs, more than half a million of which in information technology fields.
"What's more, these tech jobs pay 50 percent more than the average private sector wage, which means they're a ticket into the middle class," Obama said.
Reed said bringing visibility to the issue might be one of the biggest benefits to come out of the initiative. 

Assuming that the White House has the correct approach to this issue it still bothers me that all the emphasis seems to be on things like Web Development.  The only programs I have seen announced are coding camps.

Where is the Cyber-Security training and the infrastructure training?  Infrastructure training especially.  Have you ever looked at what it costs to take a Cisco class or a VMware class?  Unless you happen to live near a community college that offers them, which are becoming fewer and fewer as near as I can tell, you are going to pay upwards of $3,000 for a 5 day class.  (more than $70/hr), and that isn't even for a live instructor.  That's an online class.

That's a huge cost barrier to entry into fields like Network Engineering or Network Design, but those fields are basically being ignored by this program.  It is at best an incomplete solution to the perceived problem.

Now I don't feel so alone in the world

@miakhalifa and I spend our Saturday nights the same way:

she just looks much much better doing it.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Ya know, maybe we just need to trim a little fat from the Constitution

That First Amendment has always been a bit of a pain.  Or, at least that's the way I am reading Kent Greenfield's argument in the Atlantic:

We are told the First Amendment protects the odious because we cannot trust the government to make choices about content on our behalf. That protections of speech will inevitably be overinclusive. But that this is a cost we must bear. If we start punishing speech, advocates argue, then we will slide down the slippery slope to tyranny.
If that is what the First Amendment means, then we have a problem greater than bigoted frat boys. The problem would be the First Amendment.

I just have to wonder if Mr. Greenfield was quite this nuanced when people were complaining about using public funds to display the Piss Christ? How about when Tea Partiers were verbally attacked.  When Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning was releasing documents to Wikileaks?  I have a feeling that in all those cases the answer was no, in those cases he was probably a First Amendment absolutist.

I, myself, try to err on the side of allowing the speech.  I may not agree with you and therefore may ignore or ridicule you but short of you exhorting a crowd to riot or releasing legitimate national secrets I am going to be on the side of letting you have your say. 

Sometimes that's a hard stance to maintain.  For example, for a very long time I felt like the Supreme Court decision protecting the burning of the flag was wrong, but as I though about it I realized that a flag is just a piece of cloth.  It's just a symbol and for the First Amendment to have meaning sometimes you have to let that symbol burn.  That is exactly what the founders were trying to protect, that right to call for radical change.  I may not agree with the people proposing the change or with what they are proposing, but I strongly believe in their right to do so, and the Government should not be the arbiter of that.

(For the record I think the chanters were idiots and should probably get their asses beat, but that is entirely separate from the First Amendment question.)

George Lucas is spinning in his grave.

"Disney to release uncut unaltered Blu-Ray of original  Trilogy"

Thursday, March 12, 2015

It's not Russian pop music but it has potential - Little Mix - Word Up

Anna Semenovich (@AnnaSemenovich1) look out.

FCC releases the 313 pages of rules associated with Net Neutrality

WASHINGTON — Two weeks after voting to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday released 313 pages of rules detailing what would be allowed.
The release of the rules had been eagerly anticipated by advocates and lawmakers, as well as broadband and technology companies. The publication on Thursday resulted in few surprises, with the F.C.C. set to decide what is acceptable on a case-by-case basis. The regulations include a subjective catchall provision, requiring “just and reasonable” conduct.

First off, everyone who was claiming that there were only 8 pages of rules:  Get real, it's the government, they require 8 pages of rules to buy toilet paper.

Second, the case by case implementation of these rules is going to lead to problems.  This is exactly the type of thing that leads to infringement of speech, or to the government picking winners and losers in the market.

I've said it before but I'll say it again:  You got what you wished for, but I don't think what you got is really what you wanted.

(Note:  I haven't read the rules yet.  I will try and do so this weekend)