Archive for June, 2013

Although Northern Ireland has been relatively peaceful for quite a while now, it looks like TFG has some words of advice on, um, how to keep The Troubles form breaking out again or something:

Likening religious schools to segregation–a racist system that forced blacks to attend different schools and use different facilities than whites in the American South–President Barack Obama told a town hall meeting for youth in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Monday that there should not be Catholic and Protestant schools because such schools cause division.

You know, I can’t help but think that this message of interfaith tolerance–albeit in a slightly altered form–might have a little more resonance in, say, certain parts of London. Or Cairo. Or Damascus.

Yeah.

(h/t)

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Little Brother by Cory Doctrow

Posted: June 16, 2013 by chad98036 in Uncategorized

Just finished Little Brother by Cory Doctrow.

Not impressed. 

First a quick description of the book -  Marcus is a 17 year old gamer.  Like most 17 year olds he has an anti-authoritarian streak and thinks he knows everything. 

One day Marcus and a bunch of friends skip out of school to participate in some live action gaming and in a spectacular display of bad timing they are caught in the middle of a huge al-Qaeda attack that kills thousands of San Franciscans. 

Homeland Security rushes thousands of troops to the scene within minutes of the attack (literally thousands and minutes) and arrest Marcus and his friends because they happen to be on the street and one of the friends was stabbed while they are attempting to take shelter. 

After their arrest Marcus and his friends are taken to a detention center where Marcus is interrogated for days with some associated physical abuse.  He is forced to give up email passwords etc. so that the feds can see what he knew about this attack. 

Finally satisfied that Marcus and his friends didn’t actually know anything the DHS releases all of them except the one who was stabbed.  He is kept for some reason.  Once he is released Marcus is told that he will be monitored and that if he ever tells anyone what happened he will be re-arrested and made to disappear. 

Realizing that he is being monitored Marcus and his friends set up an alternated internet and begin raising havoc.  Finally in a dramatic conclusion Marcus is rearrested, waterboarded, rescued by the California Highway Patrol and his friend Darrell is released even though he is severely damaged psychologically and has to be hospitalized.  The government declines to prosecute anyone who was involved in all the DHS going ons. 

There are a few side stories and a love interest but that’s basically the gist.  Basically it’s a bildungsroman and normally I like those types of story, so why didn’t I like this book?

There are a few reasons:

One, I am just not a fan of Doctrow’s writing style.  I have read him a few times on Boing Boing and I think I have read some other stories by him and he just doesn’t do much for me.  Honestly I have started this book a few times before and put it aside.  The only reason I picked it up again was the NSA story being in the news.

Two, I just had a hard time accepting his premise.  In the story it was, as I said, literally minutes before DHS had deployed what sounded like thousands of troops in San Francisco.  The 4 friends are arrested while trying to flag down help for their stabbed friend.  I’m not quite sure why random teenagers were swept off the street and assumed to be terrorists but obviously it was supposed to parallel the plight of Arab Americans after 9/11.  Once arrested they zero in on Marcus because he was “on the street” and his phone has a passcode.  Even if DHS is the most incompetent agency that has ever existed I to believe that the have a better investigative strategy than what amounts to “eeney, meeney, miney, mo”.  And, if they are so incompetent how exactly did they manage to magically deploy these troops so fast?  (Hint, there is a whiff of trutherism that pops up from time to time.)

Three, as I read along, it became more and more obvious that Cory Doctrow despises me.  Well not necessarily me but people like me.  If you are conservative or from middle America in Doctrow’s world you aren’t worth the piss it would take to put out a fire on your face.  His disgust is palpable.  Among our many other faults Doctrow makes sure to point out how fat, stupid, and racist we are.  Especially racist.  It is mentioned numerous times that only “brown” people are arrested.  Well except for his hero who happens to be white.  I guess he went that rout to appeal to racist retards like me.  Other hints that we are the lowest form of scum, the President’s chief adviser “Kurt Rooney” ranting about how America doesn’t care what happens to the “fags and atheists” in San Francisco.  (his words not mine) and a few digs a specific midwest states.

The actual mechanics of the writing is ok.

All in all I would say avoid this book unless you need a reminder that you are fat, dumb, racist and homophobic.  If you have forgotten all that then read away.

AT_AT_DDay

The public must know about this

Posted: June 9, 2013 by doubleplusundead in Uncategorized

Good to see

Posted: June 7, 2013 by doubleplusundead in Uncategorized

We’re teaching literacy to the Afghans…

goat

You know

Posted: June 7, 2013 by doubleplusundead in Uncategorized

Since the federal government is basically keeping track of all of our phone records, intarwebs stuff and credit transactions, they no doubt have a list of gun owners and guns owned, the “I don’t want to be on the Fed’s list” against NFA toys is a moot point.  I have a smartphone to buy, I’m sure some bureaucrat is bagging on my six year old crap phone (which has actually been a very nice reliable phone), after that?  Thinking maybe a Beretta 84B or 92 and suppressor…was thinking of the 84B already, just now thinking about how cool a suppressor would be.

Yesterday the Guardian revealed that Verizon has been secretly ordered to share data on all phone calls made between two persons within the United States. 

Unacceptable!

It was also ordered to share data about calls between a foreign entity and a person within the United States.

Borderline.

Calls between two foreign nationals were exempted.

Unfathomable.

I know what you’re saying, “But, Chad you’re a hypocrite.  You supported the NSA’s warrantless wiretap program when Bush was in office.”

Allow me to respond – You are correct I did, and do support the initial NSA Warrantless Wiretap program, but there were some difference between that program, as I understand it, and this court order.

As I understand the original program it was targeted at specific individuals or entities, and one party of the call had to be of foreign origin.  This is important because the purpose of the program was to prevent terrorist actions directed by foreign actors against the United States so one party of the call had to be of foreign origin.  The NSA doesn’t require a warrant to gather foreign intelligence that is it’s specific mandate.  It also had the purpose of gathering specific actionable intelligence, and did so.  An attempted attack using a British Airways plane was prevented under the original program. 

This program on the other hand is hoovering up data on all the calls made by Verizon customers in the US.  So it’s not looking at specific targets.  It is also targeting calls between two domestic entities, so it’s not gathering foreign intelligence. Finally it is just gathering call metadata, so it’s not gathering actionable intelligence, it is building social network maps.  Now if you were trying to break up a large terrorist cell this would be a valuable tool, but it seems to me that you would go about by identifying a specific target and then building outward from there.  This is working backwards – they are building a map of which node is in contact with which node so that when they come across a number they can instantly know who it has been in contact with and place that person under surveillance.  As I read the order this is all calls made through Verizon and since Verizon is the nations largest carrier that essentially means every call made in the US. 

(I don’t know that is what they are actually doing but that is what I would do with all that data)

That’s the difference specificity vs. just a general big brotherish operation.  It’s a fine line I know and as I have said before you have to be very careful about this sort of thing, this is the perfect example of why.

The bit about Verizon not having to disclose data about foreign calls is unfathomable because the NSA is officially a foreign intelligence agency and that would be the data that they would be most entitled to.

I should note that the specificity claim is disputed but I have not seen any evidence of data gathering of this nature under the original program.