Serious people are using the events of Paris to whine about how The Authorities don’t have enough authority to suspend your right to have a completely private conversation on your cell phone. Their excuse is that Bad Guys might be having conversations about doing Bad Things — a concept that should stink to high heaven of Pre-Crime. The Authorities want to make it impossible for your phone to be completely secure, in the name of catching Bad Guys, never mind that history shows it doesn’t work that way.
I have said this before but let me say it again: A back door that Good Guys can use is a back door Bad Guys can use. It’s a back door that can be used to empty your bank account, steal your identity, stalk you, obtain information useful for blackmail and/or extortion, or otherwise make your life miserable.
Oh, and a couple of last words: Secretary Kerry says there were 12 “problematic” people out of 785,000 Syrian refugees, and that sounds like good odds to me (I wonder how many criminals you’d find if you investigated 785,000 random Americans); and I too will stop using variants of ISIS in favor of the more accurate Daesh, for they do indeed sow discord; and some of my online friends have pointed out that the White House didn’t turn into the Bleu, Blanche, et Rouge house? Please note CONGRESS in the picture above and stop making up things to be upset about.
I’ve got a lot of Spying On Americans links for you today. Between John Oliver and Ed Snowden simplifying the whole thing down to They have pictures of your genitals (haven’t seen it yet?) and the PATRIOTActbeingupforrenewal, there’s a lot of publicity. Like Hansel, it’s so hot right now.
Edward Snowden has been in Russia long enough that his visa has been extended. You can actually buy t-shirts with his face on them. There are people who consider him a traitor and people who consider him a hero. He’s got a huge spread in the current issue of Wired. The list of things we know about the NSA and America’s electronic spy infrastructure thanks to Mr. Snowden just keeps getting longer! Just this week we learned that the NSA has cyberwarfare capabilities and is responsible for a country-wide internet blackout in Syria.
And since The Powers That Be can’t seem to stop the obvious violations of what most of us understand to be our rights under the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments, no wonder Millennials are not enthusiastic about politics.
I’m going to start with the revelation that an NSA employee stalked 9 women before being detected by logging and sometimes listening to their phone calls. They called it “spied on,” but let’s get down to brass tacks. That’s just one of a dozen “substantiated” cases of the NSA abusing their abilities. The Guardian says they are “technically breaches of the law.”
No! Going 56 MPH in a 55 MPH zone is “technically” a breach of the law! Listening to not one but nine different women’s phone calls without a warrant is “absolutely” a breach of the law, absolutely a violation of her 4th and 5th Amendment rights, and arguably a damper on her 1st Amendment rights to free speech and free assembly! Let’s stop splitting hairs and call that waddling, quacking thing a duck!
Let’s not forget that other details dropped in the last week include the fact that they’ve tapped effectively the entire internet, and have used phone metadata not for catching terrorists, but for catching people who try to tell the truth to the media.
So, with all this information out there, it should be no surprise that some in the Senate think it’s high time to reform the program. I’d rather it was deleted, but there will still be people out there who know where the back doors are, so I’ll concede that somebody needs to be monitoring that until such time as secure devices can be deployed.
The NSA of course doesn’t want that to happen. Shame Mr. Alexander shot himself in the foot by admitting he’d like to have legal cover for having all our phone records. Um, yeah. Maybe he shouldn’t have said that in public. Alarmingly honest for a change.
Last night, I completed my first semester of for credit college classes in a couple decades. Over the next few days, I will be sharing a few of the things that I have learned. Let’s start with generalities:
This is the sort of college where “admissions requirements” are pretty much “has a valid credit card.” As a result, there is a great variety of students: the fresh out of high school; the “holy crap my parents were right years ago when they told me I needed more education” crowd; more than a few recently discharged Veterans of varying ages; people embarking on an Xth career; etc.. In some ways, the place is remarkably like a less-funny episode of Community.
Some have the drive to succeed, and some just don’t. Some have the desire, but not the skill set. Some have the desire, but life gets in the way.
An alarming number of my classmates have woefully inadequate reading skills. That is despite the fact that free reading (and math) placement exams are available, and there are plenty of opportunities to improve one’s skills. Without the ability to quickly read and understand things like textbooks, assignments, and tests, a student is doomed.
Not surprisingly, the parking lot was much emptier the last week of class than the first week.
The irregular attendance of some of my classmates baffles me. They all paid good money for this class; you would think they would at least try to maximize their chance of passing!
Not all counseling departments are created equal. Some are there to get you the help you need — this is partly a matter of self-preservation, since that makes the student more likely to continue to pay tuition. Others are there to point out hoops that need to be jumped, come back when you’re done.
Next, we talk about my classes.
In Closing:book; or, we could admit that something that needs wheels is by definition not a carry on; or, we could enforce existing law; yeah I remember those days; blood pressure; what?; is this going to be what reins in drones?; 97% of scientists agree; and truth… Truthdogg.
Taken in my back yard with a “potato”*. At least one lantana is starting to bloom, which means the hummingbird and butterfly buffet will soon be in full swing.
In Closing: Why doesn’t Johnny just go to broadway and get it over with?; Save Our Post Office; Wingnut screaming about how if we had Russian wiretap laws we could have prevented Boston in 3…2…1…; there just has to be a middle ground between “college for all” (value of a degree for none) and “you are clearly doomed to menial labor because of your race/ethnicity/gender”; the monolithic “left“; dumbass; Compare and Contrast.