Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Latte Salute and Wikipedia Editing

Two subjects connected only by the thread that they are annoying the shit out of me.

First the "Latte Salute" -  If you don't know, a couple days ago President Obama returned a Marines salute while holding a cup of coffee in his hand.  The conservative blogosphere is now up in arms about how disrespectful this is to one of national heroes, a fine young warrior blah blah blah.  On the other side the liberals are busily throwing up images of GWB doing the same type of thing.

Who Cares?!

They're civilians in civilian clothes.  They shouldn't be saluting in the first place.

People need to grow the fuck up,

I don't like Obama - I think he is a disaster but that doesn't mean that everything he does is calculated to destroy the fabric of American society.  He may think he is that smart, but he isn't and people need to stop giving him that much credit.  The same goes for GWB on the opposite side.  Liberals may want to think that Bush was the stupidest thing to ever walk on two legs, but for eight years he told you exactly what he was going to do and managed to out maneuver people all along the way.  You can disagree with him (vehemently for all I care) but you need to stop underestimating him.

Accept things for what they are.  Obama (and Bush before him) acknowledged a greeting from one of the Marines assigned to their detail.  They did so in a somewhat thoughtless way, but I really doubt that the Marines involved were damaged in any way (Unless someone knows something I don't.  Did they go back to the barracks and cry themselves to sleep because the President didn't salute properly?)

There are more important things to worry about (like the fact that the American economy is starting to contract again)

Item two - Wikipedia Editing

Recently "The Federalist" has been examining the speeches of Neil deGrasse Tyson and they have found some inconsistencies in stories, and errors in his quotes,  Most of them are pretty minor and personally I would say who cares, (aside -  in general I kind of find Tyson kind of a blowhard and rather annoying but at the same time I find this speech to be profound, in that I think it sums up a lot of where America has gone off course -

(We have stopped dreaming about tomorrow, if you don't get my point) but one particular quote borders on outright slander of George W. Bush.  People started editing deGrasse Tyson's Wikipedia page, including these quotes in a controversy section.  As quickly as the edits were made they were removed until finally the page was locked.  Attention then turned to the Wikipedia page of "The Federalist" itself and an editor nominated the page for deletion on the basis of notability.  In my opinion it's obviously a retaliatory move, but there is a process and I would be content to let it move forward except for two things:

1.  The process has been rigged.  The first item for determining notability of a website is "The content itself has been the subject of multiple non-trivial published works whose source is independent of the site itself." The work at "The Federalist" meets that qualification easily, but what the editors arguing for deletion have done is only count the actual mentions of the words "The Federalist" and not the context or actual content of the works.  They then say, "Oh well, it's only a trivial mention" completely ignoring the portion of the notability guidelines that say "Context matters"

2.  Editors have now decided that if they don't get their way and the article isn't deleted that they will engage in harassment via the Wikipedia page itself:
If the AFD is closed as keep, the article will indeed be developed further along the lines of what you expresed above; that is a given. As they say "be careful of what you wish for". - Cwobeel (talk) 01:05, 27 September 2014 (UTC)
This just annoys the shit out of me.  I mean it's bad enough that someone decides to try and get revenge by nominating a relatively obscure article for deletion.  The article serves a purpose, it provides background on a somewhat prominent conservative commentary site, but I doubt it got a lot of attention. (and funnily enough the major source for the article was itself critical of the site.  If they had left it alone the jist would have been don't trust "The Federalist") The more important issue though is that editors feel confident enough to threaten harassment in public and no one even questions it.  Kind of calls the whole idea of Neutral Point of View into question.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

hey I have an idea, let's stick our dicks in a beehive. No that's not painful enough let's antagonize 4chan - What I am reading 9/25/2014

Wired - Kevin Mitnick, Once the World’s Most Wanted Hacker, Is Now Selling Zero-Day Exploits -

Late last week, Mitnick revealed a new branch of his security consultancy business he calls Mitnick’s Absolute Zero Day Exploit Exchange. Since its quiet inception six months ago, he says the service has offered to sell corporate and government clients high-end “zero-day” exploits, hacking tools that take advantage of secret bugs in software for which no patch yet exists. Mitnick says he’s offering exploits developed both by his own in-house researchers and by outside hackers, guaranteed to be exclusive and priced at no less than $100,000 each, including his own fee.
And what will his clients do with those exploits? “When we have a client that wants a zero-day vulnerability for whatever reason, we don’t ask, and in fact they wouldn’t tell us,” Mitnick tells WIRED in an interview.
So no vetting just dumping 'em for top dollar.  That just spells reformed.

The Verge - Emma Watson nude photo threats were apparently a plot to kill 4chan -
when the clock struck 12, no naked pictures were released. Instead visitors to were pointed to a marketing company's homepage, its black background bearing a crossed-out version of 4chan's four-leaf clover logo, and the hashtag #shutdown4chan written in large white letters. The site was a hoax, designed to draw as many eyes as possible not to actual pictures of Watson but to an apparent campaign set up to attack 4chan.
I have a feeling someone may regret this soon.

Endgadget - 'Bash' command flaw leaves Linux, OS X and more open to attack -
Researchers have discovered a longstanding flaw in a common Unix command shell (bash) for Linux and Macs that lets attackers run any code they want as soon as the shell starts running. They can effectively get control of any networked device that runs bash, even if there are limits on the commands remote users can try. That's a big problem when a large chunk of the internet relies on the shell for everyday tasks
No comment

Valleywag - Silicon Valley Now Selling Trade School Diplomas Called "Nanodegrees" -

I debated not including this one because it's just a screed with not real substance, but I figured someone might find it interesting.

NY TImes - ‘Parks and Recreation’ Comes to Life in San Francisco -

The parks department just wanted to replace four grass soccer fields with artificial turf.
That should have been easy, right? Not in San Francisco, where any project can be endlessly debated, protested, voted on and litigated.
Think about this article the next time you see some complaint about how techies are driving up housing prices in San Francisco, or the next time you read some snide comment from Cory Doctrow about a middle American Red State.  It will help put things into perspective.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Botnetters of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains. - What I am reading 9/22/2014

#FeynmanLectureChallenge - Last week was super busy so I got nothing done on the lecture challenge, but that is exactly why I built the buffer in.  Not that it matters given that I am the only person participating.  I may double up this week to get caught up.

Endgadget - IKEA's taking its low-cost solar panels to eight more countries -

More power to them.  I am not against sustainable / green development per se, but I do think market forces should drive it otherwise it is doomed to failure.  I do think that even given the current shale oil boom we should still be migrate off fossil fuels where it makes sense.  I think Hydro / Nuclear are the way to go but solar and wind can play a part too.

Speaking of shale oil:

Reason - Is the Shale Revolution a 'Ponzi Scheme' or the End of Peak Oil? -
The shale bubble proponents essentially are betting on the EIA low production scenario. They will be proven right if shale oil production does peak in the next year or two. We shall soon see. "The history of the industry is that we are always running out," says Budzik. "So long as we have a well functioning economic system that allows the price mechanism to adjust and encourages innovation we will see the resource base grow rather than diminish." Rising prices at the beginning of the 21st century did, in fact, promote more exploration and faster technological progress, resulting in the shale revolution the U.S. is currently enjoying. If this dynamic is not unduly hampered, it's a good bet that the prophets of bubble-bursting doom are wrong yet again.
I wrote about this years ago, there is enough fossil fuel resources in the US to last us, at our current rate of consumption, for a 1000 years.  We just have to want to use it badly enough.

Wired - MIT Students Battle State’s Demand for Their Bitcoin Miner’s Source Code -
The mining tool, known as Tidbit, was developed in late 2013 by Rubin and his classmates for the Node Knockout hackathon—only Rubin is identified on the subpoena but his three classmates are identified on the hackathon web site as Oliver Song, Kevin King and Carolyn Zhang. The now defunct tool was designed to offer web site visitors an alternative way to support the sites they visited by using their computers to mine Bitcoins for them in exchange for having online ads removed.
Wired attempts to draw a parallel between this case and Aaron Swartz, but based on what I read, I can already see a bunch of differences.  What this looks like to me is a bunch of college kids came up with a way to get website owners to install a bot for them rather than having to do it surreptitiously and then they were planning on using unsuspecting visitors GPU power to mine bitcoin.  Being MIT students they were clever enough to come up with a half-assed justification.

Endgadget - Xprize's next big challenge: software that lets kids teach themselves -

May I suggest "The Diamond Age" as an inspiration.

The Register - Moon landing was real and WE CAN PROVE IT, says Nvidia -
For the moon lander analysis, the researchers looked over the original footage and noticed the reflection from Neil Armstrong's space-suit, showing up as a bright spot of light that moved with the camera. Putting the characteristics of the space-suit into their analysis the researchers were able to reproduce the conditions they say led to Aldrin being so apparently-anomalously well-illuminated in the photo.
Math Bitches!

YouTube - Reporter says "Fuck it! I quit" on air -

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.