Monday, May 19, 2014

What I am reading 5/19/2014

Not a lot in the news that interested me today; I mean there was news that the US has indicted 5 Chinese Army officers for economic espionage, but that is almost anti-climactic. I'm sure that tomorrow there will be newly discovered Snowden documents that show how not only is the US engaging in economic espionage against the Chinese, but that we are also having sex with their sisters while the parents slept.

"Net neutrality" is a dreadfully boring phrase, sadly. All credit to the very smart coiner of the term, Tim Wu, but "net neutrality" sounds like a combination of nerd jargon and hippie protest movement. The concept is thankfully very easy to understand: The internet is an open forum where all websites and services are created equal. Access to the internet means equal access to all websites and services, big and small, as legally allowed.
That is the idea of "net neutrality," and it's especially easy to understand in the context of reality: As of right now, the internet is open, and access to all websites is available (big and small, as legally allowed).

I would say there is a flipside to this argument.  Right now Netflix, the go to example of how internet fastlanes or non-neutral internet, uses about 30% total network traffic, more during peak hours, that is a huge load on the infrastructure and it impacts the end user in quality of service when using other internet services.  You can only carry so much data.  If Netflix consumes it all then where does that leave everyone else.  Is it fair that I am capped at 300GB of data per month so that Netflix can pay the same basic price as me?  I don't have a good answer to this but the basic economics of the equation doesn't seem favorable for the actual implementation of Net Neutrality.

Breitbart - Scholars Debunk Claims of High Tech Worker Shortage, Question Industry's 'Free Pass' -

Ron Hira, a public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has worked on these issues for more than a decade, said on the conference call that the H-1B visas that are filling the supposed "gaps" are "doing more harm than good" to the U.S. science and engineering workforce. 
He noted that the majority of the H-1B visas are being used for "cheaper workers" from abroad and mentioned that offshoring firms used 50% of the cap last year to further their business model of bringing in "lower-cost H-1B workers to replace American workers." Salzman said that even after American software engineers train their replacements, they cannot speak out about their experiences for fear of being blackballed or having to forfeit their severance payments.
What more can I say.  I have been banging this drum for quite awhile.  (I posted this on Google+ and Facebook last night but it is one of my hot-button issues)

Should students about to read “The Great Gatsby” be forewarned about “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence,” as one Rutgers student proposed? Would any book that addresses racism — like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or “Things Fall Apart” — have to be preceded by a note of caution? Do sexual images from Greek mythology need to come with a viewer-beware label?
Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.
Being frank here, this is absolute bullshit.  The Western Canon has been under attack since the 70's.  This is just the latest go around.  It's all about control of thought.  If you can only teach or read the books approved by all the different constituencies then the idea of dissenting opinions becomes a joke.  
Books -
Finished "You" by Austin Grossman, overall the book was OK, nice light read, but the ending was rushed and anticlimactic.  Still I would recommend it as a summer read.
Still getting started on "The Hero with a Thousand Faces"
Preordered - "Rogue Code" by Mark Russinovich - Amazon description
Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys revealed how high-frequency trading has created a ruthless breed of traders capable of winning whichever way the market turns. In Rogue Code, Mark Russinovich takes it one step further to show how their grip on high finance makes the stock market vulnerable to hackers who could bring about worldwide financial collapse.
Cyber security expert Jeff Aiken knows that no computer system is completely secure. When he’s called to investigate a possible breach at the New York Stock Exchange, he discovers not only that their system has been infiltrated but that someone on the inside knows. Yet for some reason, they have allowed the hackers to steal millions of dollars from accounts without trying to stop the theft.
When Jeff uncovers the crime, the NYSE suddenly turns on him. Accused of grand larceny, he must find and expose the criminals behind the theft, not just to prove his innocence but to stop a multibillion-dollar heist that could upend the U.S. economy. Unwilling to heed Jeff’s warnings, the NYSE plans to continue with a major IPO using a new, untested system, one that might be susceptible both to hackers and to ruthless high-frequency traders willing to take any risk to turn a profit.
Now Jeff Aiken must unearth the truth on his own, following the thread to the back alleys of Rio de Janeiro to take on one of the world’s most ruthless cartels.
Includes a foreword by Haim Bodek, author of The Problem of HFT: Collected Writings on High Frequency Trading & Stock Market Structure Reform.

I have read Russinovich's first two novels (Zero Day and Trojan Horse) as well as his short story (Operation Desolation) and enjoyed them all so I am looking forward to this one.

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