December 3, 2012 archive

Defending the Tubz

I think it’s obvious why the more autocratic, authoritarian, and avaricious elements of the current criminal crony system of monarchist merchantile monopolism are constantly attempting to change the commons culture of the Internet.

They want to be able to charge you for access to the library/thesaurus/dictionary/encyclopedia/studio/printing press.

If you’re like me you’ve already switched from the sometimes evil Google to the equally corporate captured but less popular bing or Yahoo.  I personally use duckduckgo which has the benefit of not limiting the results of your searches to things you have discovered before.  If I’m searching I want to find new things, not the same old stuff I’ve already seen.

The reason I mention duckduckgo in this context is that they’ve been out in front of identifying yet another threat to our continued abusive Internet addiction, the WCIT 2/ITU treaty talks being held in Dubai, that hot bed of corporatist freedom.

Indeed the particular bone of contention in these talks is whether providers should be charged for bandwidth as well as consumers with a secondary issue of how long the United States should be allowed to continue it’s DARPANET dominance.

Now normally I’m all for socking it to the suits and chauvinists but in this case not so much.  Certainly this artistic thing I share without expectation of anything except ridicule and disagreement in return would be made even more difficult as the inputs (that’s what they call them in econospeak) became scarce and restricted and my output (such as it is) more expensive to produce and inflict upon you.

Nor am I in favor of outright government corruption and graft which appear to be the goals of the “reformers”.  Public servants should, oh I don’t know, serve the public and not their personal pocketbooks.

I realize this is radical thinking.

So with that declaration of my personal conflicts of interest and prejudice I share these stories and action items.

The not-boring guide to the United Nations’ non-takeover of the Internet

By Andrew Couts, Digital Trends

November 30, 2012

Next week, the United Nations will take over the Internet. Or, actually, it won’t take over the Internet, but it’s going to let the Russians take over the Internet. Or maybe it’s just going to poke the Internet with a stick. No, no, wait, that’s not right either… Nobody’s going to take over the Internet, but a bunch of “important people” from around the world are going to pretend like they know what’s best for the Internet, and all we can do is sit around hoping they don’t screw it up.

Yeah, that sounds more like it.

I’m talking, of course – of course – about the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications, or WCIT, which kicks off in the fun-loving city of Dubai on Monday, December 3, and runs through December 14. During WCIT (pronounced “wicket”), member states of a UN agency called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will talk about a whole bunch of complicated stuff that could, somehow, affect the Internet we all love so much.

Problem is, the whole shebang is a giant mess. Worse, most of the filth is a secret – one of the many reasons people, Internet advocacy groups, governments, and companies are freaking out.



The whole thing is really just about money

In addition to concerns from U.S.-based Internet companies, like Google, that changes to the ITRs could result in more rules and burdensome regulation, the real worry is money. Some African and Asian nations, as well as the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) want to impose something called “sender party pays,” which would require Web companies to pay local Internet operators around the world for the data-heavy traffic they send through their system. As former U.S. Ambassador David Gross told me earlier this year, the ETNO proposal would impose “a radical change” on “the economics of the Internet.”

According to Amb. Gross and others, the establishment of “sender party pays” could, at the very least, result in companies like Google deciding that it is not worth it financially to operate in developing nations that generate little in the way of advertising revenue. This in turn could result in these countries being kicked further behind due to a lack of access to the open Web we enjoy here in the U.S.

Columnist Michael Geist concurs that “sender party pays” would “create enormous new costs for major content providers such as Google or Netflix.”

UN internet regulation treaty talks begin in Dubai

By Leo Kelion, Technology reporter, BBC

2 December 2012

“The brutal truth is that the internet remains largely [the] rich world’s privilege, ” said Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union, ahead of the meeting.

“ITU wants to change that.”



The ITU says there is a need to reflect the “dramatically different” technologies that have become commonplace over the past 24 years.

But the US has said some of the proposals being put forward by other countries are “alarming”.

“There have been proposals that have suggested that the ITU should enter the internet governance business,” said Terry Kramer, the US’s ambassador to Wcit, last week.

“There have been active recommendations that there be an invasive approach of governments in managing the internet, in managing the content that goes via the internet, what people are looking at, what they’re saying.

“These fundamentally violate everything that we believe in in terms of democracy and opportunities for individuals, and we’re going to vigorously oppose any proposals of that nature.”

He added that he was specifically concerned by a proposal by Russia which said member states should have “equal rights to manage the internet” – a move he suggested would open the door to more censorship.

However – as a recent editorial in the Moscow Times pointed out – Russia has already been able to introduce a “black list” of banned sites without needing an international treaty.



Vint Cerf – the computer scientist who co-designed some of the internet’s core underlying protocols and who now acts as Google’s chief internet evangelist – has been even more vocal, penning a series of op-ed columns.

“A state-controlled system of regulation is not only unnecessary, it would almost invariably raise costs and prices and interfere with the rapid and organic growth of the internet we have seen since its commercial emergence in the 1990s,” he wrote for CNN.

I must admit the argument “Censorship is already possible” is not very compelling to me.

InternetCoup.org Petition

Think of all the terrible things governments do to the Internet. The US destroyed Megaupload, Russia jailed activists over a YouTube video, and China monitors Internet users’ every move– even hacking activists outside its borders.

Now imagine if a panel of governments, giant corporations, and dictatorships had absolute power over the entire Internet, deciding in secret what you can see & do online.

When the ITU meets December 3rd, they’ll decide on this. Only a global outcry can stop it.

Join us on December 3rd, and tell your leaders right now: “I don’t trust the world’s governments to run the global Internet. Don’t give the ITU any more power.”

Click through even if you don’t want to sign the petition because the page also has a lot of interesting links to futher discussions of the issues.

duckduckgo is one of the leaders in Internet privacy and they also featured this petition in a recent doodle which while not directly related speaks to some of the same concerns.

Our nation’s privacy laws are profoundly out of date. I am writing to urge you to support updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to protect our Fourth Amendment rights and uphold the integrity of law enforcement in the digital age.

My emails, online documents, and text messages should have the same protections from unreasonable search and seizure as my phone calls, postal mail, and paper documents. The government should have to get a warrant from a judge to obtain these documents, or to track my location using my cell phone. Prosecutors, regulatory agencies and other government officials should not be able to issue their own subpoenas to read my emails.

The last significant update to electronic communications privacy legislation was in 1986 when the Internet was in its infancy and email was a novelty. Current electronic privacy laws don’t adequately protect online communications. This legal uncertainty harms the growth of modern businesses that increasingly store documents in “the cloud.” Updating ECPA will support small businesses, create jobs, and reinforce our Constitutional rights.

I am following this issue closely and look forward to your reply.

VanishingRights.com

Our rights are in danger. The Bill of Rights was intended to grant all Americans protection from unreasonable government intrusions into our lives. Two decades ago, Congress recognized that the courts were not keeping up with the times, so it passed a law to preserve privacy rights in electronic communications. The 1986 law made some critical reforms, but came from an era with no Google, no Facebook, no World Wide Web. Now, that law needs to be updated to ensure that our rights don’t vanish as our lives move into the cloud.

Right now, the government claims that the Constitution does not protect the privacy of communications, calendars, photos and documents stored online. That 1986 federal privacy law provides some protections, but it has crazy distinctions like one rule for email more than 180 days old (no warrant required) and a different rule for email 180 days old or less (warrant required). Bottom line: the statute says the government can read a lot of your most personal stuff without a warrant. That doesn’t make any sense.

And the 1986 law didn’t even address location information, so the government claims that it can track your location using your phone without ever going to a court and getting a warrant from a judge. Congress has failed to pass common sense updates to that outdated 1986 law to ensure that privacy protections you get in your home apply equally to the Internet.



Congress has acknowledged in the past that legislation must be updated to keep pace with technology in order to protect the original meaning of the Constitution. In 1986 it passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Congress thought that provisions such as the “180 day rule” made sense at the time, since most companies didn’t store your email even for six months. (In 1986, most customers downloaded their email to their personal computer, where, by the way, the government agrees it is protected by the Constitution.)

With each passing day, more and more of our personal information, business documents, and communications are stored online. Almost everyone holds years’ worth of email in webmail accounts, along with calendars, private photos, drafts and many other sensitive materials. Unless we ACT NOW to urge Congress to make common sense updates to existing privacy laws, aggressive government prosecutors will try to make the privacy promised in the Fourth Amendment obsolete.



The Fourth Amendment allows the government to conduct searches and seize evidence if it can convince a judge it has probable cause that a crime has been committed. These balanced protections have been the framework for legitimate law enforcement since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. Ensuring by law that the same protections apply to the Internet doesn’t undermine law enforcement, it strengthens it by providing clarity for officers to do their jobs with integrity.

Remember, these aren’t new rights! We are simply asking for ALL of our personal information to have the SAME Constitutional protections regardless of how we choose to store it. A few courts have already recognized that the Fourth Amendment applies to the cloud, and Congress can stop the DOJ from undermining this growing body of precedent by updating ECPA.

Rescuing the Volunteers of Hurricane Sandy

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Aimen Youseff's Community Aid, Midland BeachOver a month, New York City is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many people are still without power, heat and far too many without a place to live. Volunteers are still needed in the hardest hit areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The last thing that the residents of these neighborhoods need is the heavy handed control tactics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg who likes to maintain the illusion that everything is going well and no more help is needed. Now all he needs is $32 billion in federal aid to repair Manhattan’s damaged infrastructure and expand the subway system, not protect it.

After reading the reports that the mayor was threatening to stop volunteers from distributing supplies and serving hot meals that were posted here, Docudharma and Daily Kos by ek hornbeck, I went to Midland Beach to spend a couple of hours talking to the people and walking around the area. Despite the destruction, the dwindling interest of the city to help clean up and frusrations, the attitude is perseverance and determination to rebuild and stay in their home community.

The one person I really wanted to meet was Aiman Youssef, whose home was destroyed, but instead of seeking refuge elsewhere he remained to set up a distribution hub on his property on Midland Ave. With the help of friends, neighbors and community volunteers they are offering cleaning supplies and equipment (mobs, buckets, crowbars, bleach), clothing, medical supplies and non-perishable food. I spoke with Mr. Youseff and his merry band of volunteers who call themselves the “Yellow Team” and say they are here for the duration. This is their home. They have set up a facebook page and aligned with Occupy Sandy, the offshoot of Occupy Wall St that is coordinating Sandy relief efforts through out the city.

There is an outdoor kitchen under a canopy that serves free hot food and coffee that’s located in a driveway. All of the tables are neatly stacked with the free for the taking supplies, extending along the curb side from in front of Mr. Youseff’s home for half a block in front of LaRocca’s Family Restaurant. The street and the side walk are cleaned up by the volunteers. One of the volunteers told me that they are being very careful since the city’s threat to shut the Hub, as it’s called, down for safety reasons. There is still a large police presence in the neighborhood and most likely will be for sometime to come.

The local NBC News interviewed Mr. Youseff about the lack of information and growing frustration with the city

View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.

It’s amazing that the city would be so concerned about the safety of the Hub when the streets in the area are still littered with piles of debris in front of homes that not only block the sidewalk but spill into the street. Driving and walking down narrow one way streets is hard enough with the vehicles of volunteer workers and pick up trucks but add broken glass, boards with rusting nails sticking out, household appliances, and moldy, rotting furnishing and there is the real safety hazard.

This house is next to another food kitchen across from the Yellow Team Hub.

Uncollected Debris next to Food Kitchen, Midland Beach

This building under renovation is on the corner opposite the food kitchen.

Debris next to Food Kitchen, Midland Beach

This house has been condemned and is just around the corner for the Hub.

Debris in front of condemned home, Midland Beach

This is the other side of that street.

Side Street & uncollected debris, Midland Beach

Residents were telling me that this has been like this for weeks and the piles grow daily. Where is the city? I was there nearly 2 hours talking to some very frustrated people who had no kind words for the mayor. During all that time, I didn’t see one sanitation truck. Yes, it’s Sunday but this is a disaster area and clean up here should be a 24/7 job. There is no excuse. The dime is on FEMA.

These are not wealthy people. They are blue collar workers. Some own and operate businesses out of their homes; some work for the city. They own; they rent. Many have lived here all their lives, while others moved here because Staten Island is unique. We have deer and zebras.

All is not gloom, there is laughter and smiles and dreams of a better future for Midland Beach. The Yellow Team is even looking forward to the holidays and put up a Christmas Tree. My picture didn’t come out, so here;s one from the team’s facebook page.

Dreaming of Yellow Christmas

Those wishing to volunteer or donate non-perishable food, diapers, personal care items (toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap), cleaning supplies (especially bleach) or even (ahem) money, you can contact Mr Youseff or Hannah, the Yellow team coordinator here

Demand the Mayor’s office end community hub eviction and instead support hubs with space and equipment  by writing, calling, faxing or e-mailing:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

City Hall

New York, NY 10007

PHONE 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)

E-MAIL:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html

Or contact the Public Advocate’s office:

   (212) 669-7250, 9am-5pm

   GetHelp@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

Cartnoon

Originally posted August 29, 2011.

Bill of Hare

On This Day In History December 3

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 3 is the 337th day of the year (338th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 28 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1947,A Streetcar Named Desire opened on Broadway.

Marlon Brando‘s famous cry of “STELLA!” first booms across a Broadway stage, electrifying the audience at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre during the first-ever performance of Tennessee Williams‘ play A Streetcar Named Desire.

The 23-year-old Brando played the rough, working-class Polish-American Stanley Kowalski, whose violent clash with Blanche DuBois (played on Broadway by Jessica Tandy), a Southern belle with a dark past, is at the center of Williams’ famous drama. Blanche comes to stay with her sister Stella (Kim Hunter), Stanley’s wife, at their home in the French Quarter of New Orleans; she and Stanley immediately despise each other. In the climactic scene, Stanley rapes Blanche, causing her to lose her fragile grip on sanity; the play ends with her being led away in a straitjacket.

Widely considered a landmark play, A Streetcar Named Desire deals with a culture clash between two iconic characters, Blanche DuBois, a fading relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski, a rising member of the industrial, urban working class.

The play presents Blanche DuBois, a fading but still-attractive Southern belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask alcoholism and delusions of grandeur. Her poise is an illusion she presents to shield others (but most of all, herself) from her reality, and an attempt to make herself still attractive to new male suitors. Blanche arrives at the apartment of her sister Stella Kowalski in the French Quarter of New Orleans, on Elysian Fields Avenue; the local transportation she takes to arrive there includes a streetcar route named “Desire.” The steamy, urban ambiance is a shock to Blanche’s nerves. Blanche is welcomed with some trepidation by Stella, who fears the reaction of her husband Stanley. As Blanche explains that their ancestral southern plantation, Belle Reve in Laurel, Mississippi, has been “lost” due to the “epic fornications” of their ancestors, her veneer of self-possession begins to slip drastically. Here “epic fornications” may be interpreted as the debauchery of her ancestors which in turn caused them financial losses. Blanche tells Stella that her supervisor allowed her to take time off from her job as an English teacher because of her upset nerves, when in fact, she has been fired for having an affair with a 17-year-old student. This turns out not to be the only seduction she has engaged in-and, along with other problems, has led her to escape Laurel. A brief marriage marred by the discovery that her spouse, Allan Grey, was having a homosexual affair and his subsequent suicide has led Blanche to withdraw into a world in which fantasies and illusions blend seamlessly with reality.

In contrast to both the self-effacing and deferential Stella and the pretentious refinement of Blanche, Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, is a force of nature: primal, rough-hewn, brutish and sensual. He dominates Stella in every way and is physically and emotionally abusive. Stella tolerates his primal behaviour as this is part of what attracted her in the first place; their love and relationship are heavily based on powerful-even animalistic-sexual chemistry, something that Blanche finds impossible to understand.

The arrival of Blanche upsets her sister and brother-in-law’s system of mutual dependence. Stella’s concern for her sister’s well-being emboldens Blanche to hold court in the Kowalski apartment, infuriating Stanley and leading to conflict in his relationship with his wife. Blanche and Stanley are on a collision course, and Stanley’s friend and Blanche’s would-be suitor Mitch, will get trampled in their path. Stanley discovers Blanche’s past through a co-worker who travels to Laurel frequently, and he confronts her with the things she has been trying to put behind her, partly out of concern that her character flaws may be damaging to the lives of those in her new home, just as they were in Laurel, and partly out of a distaste for pretense in general. However, his attempts to “unmask” her are predictably cruel and violent. In their final confrontation, Stanley rapes Blanche, which results in her nervous breakdown. Stanley has her committed to a mental institution, and in the closing moments, Blanche utters her signature line to the kindly doctor who leads her away: “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


Ogle 10

Pique the Geek 20121202: Emulsification

Before we begin tonight, please join me in paying my respects to my mum, who would have been 91 years old today.  The season beginning with Thanksgiving and lasting through New Year’s Day was her favorite of the year, and she showed lots of love to everyone during this time.  But she showed lots of love all year ’round.

The definition of an emulsion is two dissimilar liquids that are dispersed into a more of less long lasting mixture that has properties different than either of the two liquids.  I say dissimilar because in most cases one of the liquids is hydrophopic (literally, “water fearing”, often an oil or hydrocarbon) and the other one hydrophilic (literally, “water loving”, often water itself).

The old adage that oil and water do not mix is only partially true.  It is possible to make them mix, and it is often done intentionally.  Sometimes it happens upon accident, and we organic chemists know that when the synthetic product that we seek to isolate forms an emulsion with the solvent and/or other materials in the separatory funnel that is easy to become piqued by that.

The Land of the Free and other mythology

  While the mythology that America has the highest standard of living is beginning to die its long-overdue death, most Americans still honestly believe that their country is the most free in the world.

  When Bush told us that “they hate us for our freedom” what was most stunning was that the news media, and many citizens, simply accepted it as a fact.

 It’s an important myth, because if you believe your country defends liberty and freedom then you can justify all sorts of horrible things done in the name of your country.