Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jeff Bezos is history's greatest monster - What I am reading 9/21/2014


Wired - Millennials Don’t Care About Mobile Security, and Here’s What to Do About It -
a new study is providing corporate IT departments with a reason to fear employees in their 20s and 30s. According to a survey conducted by TrackVia, a do-it-yourself business application platform, 60% of the Millennials “aren’t concerned about corporate security when they use personal apps instead of corporate-approved apps.” 70% of Millennials even admitted to bringing outside applications into the enterprise in violation of IT policies, compared to just 31% of Baby Boomers.
What to do about it?  Daily beatings is the first thing that comes to mind, but I think I would write a rider into the corporate IT policy holding them financially responsible for any data compromise / loss cause by using and unapproved app.

Boing Boing - Homeland wins Copper Cylinder award for best Canadian YA sf novel -

I'm thinking that Doctrow made this one up.  (Well he makes up most of his postings, but still...) I mean come on it's a hunk of pipe.  This is not a real award.

NYTimes - A Writerly Chill at Jeff Bezos’ Fire -
Every fall, Mr. Bezos, the founder of Amazon, hosts Campfire, a literary weekend in Santa Fe, N.M. Dozens of well-known novelists have attended, but they do not talk about the abundance of high-end clothing and other gifts, the lavish meals, the discussion under the desert stars by Neil Armstrong or the private planes that ferried some home.
Writers loved it. There was no hard sell of Amazon, or soft sell, either. The man who sells half the books in America seemed to want nothing more each year than for everyone to have a good time. All he asked in return was silence.
Oh My God, the man is obviously history's greatest monster.  I mean he doesn't even make the writers sign non-disclosure agreements or threaten them with physical or financial harm.  He just asks that they not discuss a private event and the attendees comply.  This is horrible - The government should step in.  

From this article it's obvious that the NYTimes has chosen sides.  

Books -

Two stinkers this week

I Won A Spaceship - From the description it sounded kind of like Have Spacesuit Will Travel so I gave it a shot.  Wow what a stinker.  I stopped about 15% into the book.  Avoid it, it's just Mary-Sue fantasy porn.

The Circle - Another bad choice.  This one got a lot of buzz a few months ago and I think I got it for $2.99 on kindle so I decided to give it a try.  So far it is really bad.  The characters are wooden and unlikable, the setting is just oh so perfect and the drama doesn't exist.  Another one to avoid. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I don't know why but I am in a really really bad mood today.

Everything is pissing me off.  I am blaming it on the twitter follower who abandoned me.  Well that and the fact that I need to go to Costco.  Damn you anonymous twitter follower and Costco.


I was going to whine here but I don't have the energy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Busy week this week

Just looked at my schedule and it looks like it is going to be pretty busy this week.  Posting will be even lighter than usual I think.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Man I hope this is just body paint and not a tattoo

First Day of Tabata

Over the weekend I discovered an exercise style called Tabata.  Basically it is 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of active rest repeats for 4 minutes.  Looked interesting and since I started riding my bike again (on the stationary mount at the moment) I was looking for something to kind of set a pace so I decided to give it a try.  Did a couple cycles this afternoon, sprint then slow pedal, and it seemed to work out well.  The album may have been worth the purchase.

Marxism Redux

#Occupy #Marxism

Day off today, so I am sitting at home working on some stuff (read - taking a nap) with the BBC playing in the background and hear, "Up next on 'Hard Talk', who are the super-rich, can we afford them, and what have they ever done for us?  I have to say my attention was piqued.

I stopped what I was doing (woke up) and gave the show a listen.  What it boiled down to was a Professor of Geography from Oxford has written a book, 'Inequality and the 1%" in which he tries to make the case for Marxism, but dresses it up in the language of the Occupy movement.  He was not very successful. Some of his better arguments:

  • A CEO of a company in the Netherlands, whose economy is contracting the commentator pointed out, said "You could pay me twice as much, I wouldn't work any harder.  You could pay me half as much I wouldn't work any less"
  • People in less economically successful countries have a lower rate of income inequality
  • People who live in countries with higher rates of income inequality tend to be more optimistic but we shouldn't put much store in that.
  • People in countries with less income inequality tend to be less happy, but equality doesn't mean things will be better just fairer
  • Income inequality drives all our social ills such as lack of housing.  One of his solutions older people who are living in houses that they bought when they had children should be kicked out of those houses and the houses should be given to younger families.  When challenged on whether he was actually advocating taking peoples homes he said, "No not taking really, but they should be redistributed more fairly"

To her credit the commentator challenged him on every point and I think pretty well devastated his case.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We are not safe (at least cyberwise) and Amazingly shale oil saves money - My Reading List 9/15/2014

#Rotherham #Cybersecurity #Fracking #ShaleOil

Dawn via InstapunditRotherham lessons -

But sexist attitudes do play a large role in this shameful episode and others like it. We carry prejudices against white women and their ‘availability’ with us when we immigrate, and they become even more amplified when we feel threatened by the pervading culture of the place we have settled in, and we want to draw in and protect ourselves from change and assimilation. If white women are ‘easy’, then vulnerable white girls, who are in care homes or runaways, are the ‘easiest’ of all.
Beyond the paradigm of race, Pakistan has deeply ingrained attitudes that see all girls and women as inferior to boys and men, which is why ill treatment of women and girls happens in the first place. The World Economic Forum recently named Pakistan the second worst country in the world for equal opportunities for women. If we consistently fail to value girls and women, not just in theory but also in practice, we will ensure that girls continue to face abuse in our communities at home and abroad.
If you aren't aware of the current scandal in Rotherham, in which it is believed that up to 1400 girls were abused by, mainly, Pakistani men over the course of almost 20 years Google it.  It's disgusting and somewhat terrifying.  You have to give this woman credit for writing what she did given that Pakistani journalists who anger the power structure tend to end up dead.

There have been no less than 11 federal judicial rulings striking down patents as "abstract" since the US Supreme Court's June 26 decision in Alice v. CLS Bank.
It's a high number. The case was recognized as a big decision by commentators when it came, and what's happened since suggests the ramifications may be broader than first thought. 

The second link is a list of the invalidated patents.

What's to say?

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, several experts provided disheartening answers to questions about cyber security. 
[Editor's Note (Murray): I listened to much of the testimony. Rather than "disheartening," I found it balanced and reassuring. I had expected it to be alarmist but did not find it so. ]

Read the article, it's one paragraph ya lazy SOB

Now we have an estimate of where oil prices might have been absent the American oil boom—a sobering $150 a barrel, former BP CEO Tony Hayward told the Financial Times (paywall).
That’s 55% higher than the current benchmark price of $96.27 that was trading in Asia this morning. If Hayward’s number is right, it means that the US boom is saving the global economy about $4.9 billion a day in oil spending. Global consumers currently demand about 92 million barrels of oil a day, and without the extra US supply the market would be about 3 million barrels short, sufficient to send traders into a frenzy bidding up the price.
But a way will still be found to claim that shale oil is not economically feasible and should be shut down.

Books Freshmen Read


Every week over on Ace of Spades HQ (@aceofspadeshq) there is a Sunday Morning Book Thread and on most Sundays I post a list of what I am reading.  I read their post, they ignore me and everyone goes on their merry way.  But, I am a little bored with the status quo so I'm ignoring them this week and using the time I would have devoted to reading the AoSHQ book thread to posting about this:

The LA Times today has an article regarding freshman reading selections entitled Colleges reject charge that freshman reading lists have political bias.  The jist of the article is this - A group of conservative students has compiled a list of suggested freshman readings that they say reflect only a left leaning political perspective.  Colleges have responded thusly:

Colleges deny any political intent. They say they seek high-quality books that provoke debate and that they are encouraging it as an academic experience amid all the other events and parties during those first few days on campus. Because many schools invite authors to campus, classics by long-dead writers don't fit the bill and there are other opportunities to study them, colleges say.
Critics misunderstand the programs' goals, she said: "The fact is we are not trying to pick literary masterpieces primarily, although we don't mind it if we hit them. But we do want engagement with students. We want to invite them to a love of reading."

To both propositions I say poppycock.  It's been pretty well established that the classics have fallen out of favor on college campuses and the idea of a shared cultural experience developed throught both high school and college via the idea of Great Books is not only dead but buried, dug up by grave robbers shot and buried again.  Additionally there is no evidence that these reading programs create a love of reading.  So lets talk about engagement with the students, because that's what college is supposed to be about.

 Is this really the best way to go about it?

I would say no.  When you look at the books that colleges are selecting there aren't any big ideas, there is some history and some pseudoscience, but nothing that is going to drive real intellectual engagement (says the guy who can barely spell engagement or intellectual).  Yeah three of the books in the list are about the civil rights movement and we are in the 50th anniversary year of the Freedom Summer, and that deserves to be marked, but how about some books that really address those issues and times, or instead of one book how about a couple related books.  Personally I would prefer that all colleges adopt the approach Columbia takes,

As far as the idea that colleges only prescribe left leaning books - Really is anyone surprised, water is wet and colleges, for the most part, are liberal.  One of the ideas of going there is to learn to debate and defend your ideas.  So quit being pussies and debate and defend.  I will say that if I were a conservative organization I would distribute alternative reading lists for students to advocate for.

If you are interested here is the reading list for past years from Cal State Northridge (referenced in the article), UCLA, and UW

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Girl convinces family that she is on vacation in Asia for 42 days using pictures she took at home

Zilla van den Born deceived her loved ones into thinking she was enjoying an exotic five-week holiday across South East Asia as part of a university project. 
But the 25-year-old was actually still at home in Amsterdam and used Photoshop to create the authentic images before posting them on Facebook.
HA! That's nothing I convinced my friends and family I was in the Navy for 12 years and really I was watching TV in the family room.  

(I shouldn't say that or the Navy may show up and take my DD-214 away).

Boot Camp Porn

Saw a preview for this movie on YouTube last night.  The movie itself looks like it is just an exercise in Boot Camp Porn but the titles on the YouTube previews crack me up.  Everyone of them has a title like Marine Corp Drill Instructors DESTROY and DEVASTATE Recruits.  All it turns out to be is yelling and PT.  Overhyping the product a bit.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Washington Post proves my point about the Snowden documents

#Snowden #Yahoo #NSA

I know I included this in my reading list post last night, but I consider it important enough to hit again.

You cannot trust the Snowden documents.  They are incomplete and out of context.  Compare the original reaction to Yahoos participation in PRISM to the revelation in yesterday's Washington Post article.

The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government’s demands. The company’s loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the NSA extensive access to records of online com­munications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.
The ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review became a key moment in the development of PRISM, helping government officials to convince other Silicon Valley companies that unprecedented data demands had been tested in the courts and found constitutionally sound. 
In the aftermath of the revelations, the companies have struggled to defend themselves against accusations that they were willing participants in government surveillance programs — an allegation that has been particularly damaging to the reputations of these companies overseas, including in lucrative markets in Europe.
Yahoo, which endured heavy criticism after The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper used Snowden’s documents to reveal the existence of PRISM last year, was legally bound from revealing its efforts in attempting to resist government pressure. 

Any bets that this information was in the slide deck that outlined PRISM and that's why only a portion was released. Greenwald, Poitras, et. al. aren't interested in the truth, they only care about damaging America, and are not to be trusted.  I expect that as other "revelations" are examined there will be similar issues.

(BTW Microsoft joined before the Yahoo case, but I am not clear on the circumstances so not quite willing to condemn them yet.)

The Sky IS Falling - My Reading List 9/12/2014

#SolarFlare #Yahoo
#FeynmanLectureChallenge Day 10 -

In every case we find that the mass of the first object times its velocity, plus the mass of the second object times its velocity, is equal to the total mass of the final object times its velocity. These are all examples, then, of the conservation of momentum. Starting from simple, symmetrical cases, we have demonstrated the law for more complex cases. We could, in fact, do it for any rational mass ratio, and since every ratio is exceedingly close to a rational ratio, we can handle every ratio as precisely as we wish.

CBCNews - American shakedown: Police won't charge you, but they'll grab your money -
Across America, law enforcement officers — from federal agents to state troopers right down to sheriffs in one-street backwaters — are operating a vast, co-ordinated scheme to grab as much of the public’s cash as they can; “hand over fist,” to use the words of one police trainer.
Everyday when you consider things like this think about the Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire and what amateurs they are compared to the government.

The Register - Sun burps MASSIVE solar storm: Expect a light show in the skies -

A "significant" solar storm emitted by the Sun on Wednesday will hit our planet in the coming hours – most likely causing auroras to appear over certain areas.
Power grids and satellite comms systems may experience some effects when the solar belch's high-energy radiation reaches and interacts with the Earth's magnetosphere, but no damage or chaos is expected.
I will allow R.E.M. to express my feelings in song:

TechCrunch - Launches Code Studio, A Toolset And Curriculum For Teaching Kids Programming -
Rather than having kids pick up a language like Python or Java (as you would in a college or AP Computer Science class), Code Studio teaches the underlying concepts in programming through the manipulation of blocks of logic that, when stacked together in a particular order, move a character around a scene or draw a shape. The interface works a lot like MIT’s Scratch, though director of product Mona Akmal told me over a Google Hangout that there are a few key difference’s between MIT’s offering and Code Studio, chief among them the use of HTML5 (so it can run in most browsers) and the puzzle-based lesson plans for K-12 students.
I played around with it a bit.  It's fairly intuitive and actually kind of fun.  I ent the link to my brother for my nephew.  Maybe some good will come of it.

Hacker News - Racial Dot Map (Racial makeup of the United States)
Ars Technica - US gov’t threatened Yahoo with $250K daily fine if it didn’t use PRISM -
"Our challenge, and a later appeal in the case, did not succeed," explained Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell in a blog post published today. "The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)... ordered us to give the U.S. Government the user data it sought in the matter."
After it lost, Yahoo was threatened with $250,000 per day fines if it didn't comply with the program. Not only that, but the government got permission to share the ruling with other companies in order to put pressure on them as well, according to a just-published story by The Washington Post.
Once again my point is proven about the reliability, truthfulness, authenticity, whatever you want to call it, of the Snowden documents.  When the documents were released back in June of 2013 Yahoo was listed as a willing PRISM participant, and everyone reacted with outrage.  Today it turns out that they may have been coerced and they are being lionized as defenders of freedom.  How many other out of context documents released by Greenwald are causing similar issues?