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The NSA and Snowden: Securing the All-Seeing Eye

cffrost Re:Microsoft Kinect Spy System & More (97 comments)

You don't seriously expect people to spend the day plowing through this without a summary, do you? Where's the abstract for this report, book, manifesto, or whatever it is?

about 9 months ago

The NSA and Snowden: Securing the All-Seeing Eye

cffrost Re:Bad logic (97 comments)

Except there is also the fact that some of the NSA's main goals, despite its draconian and probably unconstitutional methods, are still counterterrorism and counterintelligence. When a friend or family member is killed in a terrorist attack because the NSA's security wasn't adequate you can be proud you encouraged it.

The NSA's mass-surveillance techniques have not been proven effective for counter-terrorism, nor do those techniques represent a cost-effective method of lowering the overall US death rate, nor are they worth (in my opinion) the egregious violation of our Constitutional rights.

I believe that a cursory glance at global affairs — in particular, which entities commit terror attacks upon which nations; the attackers' motives; and attacked nations' foreign policies — suggest that the most effective counter-terrorism results come from not interfering in the sovereignty or affairs of foreign governments, and not violating the human/civil rights of foreign and domestic populaces.

Were a friend or family member killed in a terror attack, I'd be upset they died even though their Constitutional rights were being violated, and I'd be upset that they likely died as a result of blowback from unilateral US action abroad intended to increase or maintain the power and wealth of US oligarchs, likely in violation of international law. If mass-surveillance were ended and a friend or family member were killed in a terror attack, I would take solace in death(s) as free people.

about 9 months ago

Electromagnetic Noise Found To Affect Bird Navigation

cffrost Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (71 comments)

To their senses, the window looks like a nice pool of water to land in. As do parked cars.

Whoa could this explain why birds specifically poop on cars so much? Maybe they have some kind of instinct to aim their poop at water sources (oddly enough).

I don't know... Has cognitive bias been eliminated as a possible explanation? Speaking for myself, I tend not to pay much notice when birds shit someplace/on something I haven't paid to clean.

about 9 months ago

China Using Troop of Trained Monkeys To Guard Air Base

cffrost Re:The same troupe laid off from MS Windows 8? (119 comments)

I'm curious if this is the same troupe of monkeys that were recently laid off from Microsoft, after they completed Windows 8.

Nah — these are trained monkeys.

about 9 months ago

Security At Nuclear Facilities: Danger Likely Lurks From Within

cffrost Re:not about sabotage but about theft (72 comments)

Why sabotage a plant if you can steal nuclear material and make a dirty bomb[?]

Because sabotage may be difficult to detect beforehand, and even more difficult to definitively prove as sabotage, apart from human error or mechanical failure, depending on the nature of the sabotage. I believe that a competent saboteur is probably more likely to both succeed and avoid detection/prosecution than would a radiological-material thief.

Further, the trade-offs involved in adding a radiological component to a conventional bomb aren't favorable; the investigation into the theft the radiological material makes detection/intervention prior to detonation more likely, and the primary benefits of a "dirty bomb" over a conventional bomb are higher cleanup costs and increasing panic amongst the targeted populace. Adding a radiological component has little effect on a bomb's lethality. This has been the conclusion of numerous reports and studies; here's the first one I found, prepared by the UN WHO (World Health Organization): Radiological Dispersion Device (Dirty Bomb) - WHO/RAD Information sheet (February 2003).

It's been proven that stealing material is relatively easy.

I agree that this is problematic; Wikipedia states:

"The International Atomic Energy Agency says there is 'a persistent problem with the illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials, thefts, losses and other unauthorized activities.' The IAEA Illicit Nuclear Trafficking Database notes 1,266 incidents reported by 99 countries over the last 12 years, including 18 incidents involving HEU or plutonium trafficking."

However, there's no indication as to what's being done with the stolen materials. One thing they're apparently not being used for is the construction and use of "dirty bombs," since there have been no such detonations in the past 12 years. These thefts could be being orchestrated by nation-states for use in their own nuclear programs, or in order to deny these materials to the nations from which they were stolen.

Making a conventional bomb that will contaminate a large area with the nuclear material strapped to it is also known to be easy. The only reason nuclear is part of this is because it's so incredibly poisonous and relatively easy to transport and use in a dirty bomb. There are few, if any materials that will make a DIY explosive so effective as this.

As I've said, "dirty bombs" offer little in the way of improved efficacy over conventional bombs. There are many enhancements that could be added, all of which are generally more effective and most of which are more easily procured or manufactured: shrapnel; anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin) for increasing mortality from otherwise-survivable wounds; poisons (e.g., ricin); chemical agents (sulfur/nitrogen mustard, chlorine, sarin); biological agents (anthrax); incendiaries (typically metallic or petroleum-based).

What is observed in the real world is that — aside from the use of shrapnel — hardly anyone that conducts bombings (beside regular military forces) bothers to incorporate any of these enhancements in the near-daily bombings that are occurring nowadays.

It is also worth considering that among military forces — certainly the most well-funded, prolific, experienced, and effective users of bombs — none incorporate radiological bombs in their arsenals. Both military and non-military bomb users seem to know something that "dirty bomb" scare-mongers do not.

about 9 months ago

Snowden Used the Linux Distro Designed For Internet Anonymity

cffrost Re:Tails is awesome (171 comments)

I will grant you I am often the one-eyed milkman [...]

Fixed that for ya.

about 9 months ago

Can Web-Based Protests Be a Force for Change?

cffrost Re:I dropped Dropbox (76 comments)

[D]epending on your use of Dropbox there are far better services. If you are simply storing and sharing files with a select few then Google drive gives you 15 GB which is a huge amount of storage in comparison.

Plus with someone like Rice onboard, how long before Dropbox ends up in an incestuous relationship with the NSA?

You claim to be concerned about "incestuous relationship[s] with the NSA," yet you recommend another corporate partner in NSA's PRISM spy-ring in favor of another. Why not find/try a tool or service that hasn't already been implicated in NSA-produced documents in serving as a front-end for one or more of their "collect it all" programs? In my view, that one of these corporate partners allows you to hand over more data to the NSA than a competitor isn't a compelling argument for its use — especially when that corporation makes their billions in part by scrutinizing and monetizing anything you give them in the first place.

15GB may be "huge" in comparison to another service willing to oh-so-charitably take ownership of your data for you, but 15GB represents a mere ~1% of a typical modern HDD, or about a seventh of what I upload daily via BitTorrent. Add in end-to-end encryption and a good-availability residential Internet connection, and you can share data without utilizing surveillance-state honeypots. For tools and services that allow you to do this, the website PRISM Break is a great place to start looking for a solution that has had at least some effort put forth in protecting users' privacy.

about 10 months ago

Rover Curiosity Discovers Australia-Shaped Rock On Mars

cffrost Re:This is Fantastic! (99 comments)

The guy's next door from Switzerland are called Australians.

Shouldn't the guy's next door from Switzerland be called "the door from Switzerland that will replace the guy's current door?"

about 10 months ago

Elite Violinists Can't Distinguish Between a Stradivarius and a Modern Violin

cffrost Re:Moo (469 comments)

A modern instrument may sound better right away she says, but an old Italian may be able to produce more colors of sound that only become apparent after months of use, she says.

The phrase "confirmation bias" springs immediately to mind. People hear what they want to hear, and the knowledge that they're playing on a three-century-old, million-dollar violin gives them certain expectations.

Given the progression of science and technology — specifically in the fields of material science, metallurgy, computer modelling, rapid prototyping, audio spectral analysis, understanding of sound wave propagation, etc. — I'd bet on the superiority of a modern high-end musical instrument over an antique high-end musical instrument in objective measurements (e.g., frequency accuracy, precision parts manufacturing and assembly) and subjective measurements (e.g., those measured in the study we're discussing). (For clarity and completeness: I'd bet on the modern musical instruments against their antique counterparts at any initial/new sale price; not just high-end.)

If a musician has personally invested a fortune in an antique instrument, I have no doubt that confirmation bias plays a substantial part in that musician's high regard for his or her instrument, particularly considering one of the worse psychological alternatives: buyer's remorse.

about 10 months ago

It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom

cffrost Re:I don't think people care (470 comments)

OTOH, I've had a bit of success with dowsing, (two out of two, when I was seriously trying...not statistically significant) and a bit of success with gambling (1 out of 1 when I was seriously trying against a slot machine...I wone $7 starting with a quarter). And I can't explain those, except that they aren't statistically significant. But I wonder. So I'm not unbiased.

Can you at least explain how one "seriously tr[ies] against a slot machine?" Pull the handle instead of pressing the button? Exert great force while pulling the handle (or pressing the button)? "Be the ball?"

about 10 months ago

Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

cffrost Re:Because you think Google is any better? (218 comments)

Please describe to me in concrete terms (facts, not FUD) how google is worse than facebook.

I'm all out of aggregate; are cement terms okay?

about 10 months ago

Microsoft's Security Products Will Block Adware By Default Starting On July 1

cffrost Re:adware is malware (177 comments)

I'd define certain MS products as crapware, not malware. When they charge you $100 extra with the Ultimate editions of windows for a glitzy interface and a few features you could get for free from other vendors, that's crapware, but the underlying core of Windows (and the win32/RT API) certainly isn't.

I've never heard of "crapware" before, but charging money for something that has no monetary value (as it's offered for free by another entity) sounds to me like fraud.

I think it's certainly malicious when MS informs NSA about various security holes in their products prior to patching them — it's difficult for me to conceive a better way to undermine customers' trust.

about 10 months ago

NSA Confirms It Has Been Searching US Citizens' Data Without a Warrant

cffrost Re:April Fools? (274 comments)

And plus, they were doing it to protect us from [spooky voice]TEEERRROOORRRIIISSSTTTSSS[/spooky voice]. Everything is ok so long as you are doing it to fight [spooky voice]TEEERRROOORRRIIISSSTTTSSS[/spooky voice], right?

My only fear with regard to "terrorism" — excluding the conversion of my country into a totalitarian police/surveillance state (as I consider this to be a realization rather than a fear) — manifests itself along the lines of: "I hope that steroid-fueled, combat-ready, bored cop over there doesn't think up an excuse to harass/question/search/detain/arrest/chem-spray/electrocute/beat/pop me, as he's all jacked-up to 'fight terror,' and there aren't any terrorists around to be fought (but I am), and I'm nine times more likely to be killed by a cop than killed by one of the elusive boogeymen the government seems to want me to fear."

about 10 months ago

Senate Report Says CIA Misled Government About Interrogation Methods

cffrost Re:So Arrest Them (207 comments)

Can't get them for torture as they were enemy combatants. Can't get them for violating POW rights and policies as they were enemy combatants.

The US government's designation/use of this term "enemy combatant" to refer to POWs — POWs generally being captured "enemies" engaged in "combat" — for the purpose of skirting international law — is tantamount to my getting out of a speeding ticket by telling the judge I wasn't speeding, but engaging in "enhanced-velocity travel" or some such bullshit. If we (as a supposed "nation of laws") are to accept this ridiculous, ongoing wordplay, we may as well resign ourselves to fully embracing the concept of a US government-produced "American Newspeak" vocabulary, and the degradation of our ability to engage in meaningful dialog that such acceptance would entail.

I'd be interested to see a list of the "American Newspeak" euphemisms coined for various war crimes and Constitutional violations over the years, categorized by US presidents' administrations. I'm willing to bet that this American Newspeak's vocabulary size has been expanding at an increasing rate during the past few administrations, much like we've witnessed the accelerated expansion of other facets of a totalitarian police state: mass surveillance; militarized police forces; world-record incarcerations (and the rise of the private prison industry that lobbies for draconian laws and sentences (and increasing the slave-labor workforce beyond pre-Civil War numbers); persecution/prosecution of whistle-blowers; over-classification of government documents (often to hide unconstitutional activities and war crimes); government infiltration of peaceful/law-abiding groups; mass arrests at peaceful protests; mass deportations (without regard for the families shattered); undermining the critical function of the free press; and so on...

about 10 months ago

Million Jars of Peanut Butter Dumped In New Mexico Landfill

cffrost Re:Without James Sinegal, Costco is not well manag (440 comments)

Where's that pill Stan took last night?

My guess is somewhere between Stan's stomach and downstream of the body of water that receives effluent from Stan's municipal waste treatment facility.

I need it when browsing slashdot.

That pill has probably lost its efficacy, and it's likely unappealing in both appearance and odor. If I were you, I'd ask Stan where he got the pill, and try to score a new one from Stan or his supplier.

about 10 months ago

Gunshot Victims To Be Part of "Suspended Animation" Trials

cffrost Re:Space travel (357 comments)

That gives you enough enough diversity [...]

"Enough" is enough.

about 10 months ago

Drone-Assisted Hunting To Be Illegal In Alaska

cffrost Re:Redefine hunting. (397 comments)

Remember too we are also *the* species that will, with great frequency, go out of its way to help another species., both individually and in toto. Enough so, that other non-domestic species are known to come to humans for aid on occasion.

I'm aware of one example of this behavior — a dolphin entangled in fish net was filmed swimming to some human divers to receive assistance in being freed — which I learned of from a recent BBC documentary on animal intelligence. Can you share any other examples, either specific incidents or group behaviors you're aware of, or which other wild animals (besides dolphins) have approached humans in order to receive aid?

about 10 months ago

Church Committee Members Say New Group Needed To Watch NSA

cffrost Re:WHO CARES!? (143 comments)

Seriously, what do you have to hide?

Seriously, it's none of your fucking business.

about 10 months ago


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