Category Archives: Politics

Former Mozilla CTO detained at US border and denied a lawyer | ZDNet

The Customs and Border Patrol are seriously out of control, and not only because we elected a corrupt fascist as president, but honestly, that didn’t help any either.

Think about it. How would YOU respond to CBP’s threats of criminal prosecution?

Officers retaliated by telling Gal “that he had no right to an attorney.”CBP agents tried to intimidate Gal. They subsequently continued to ask for Gal’s phone passcode and laptop password multiple times, threatened to confiscate and keep the devices, and tried to intimidate him by claiming he was breaking the law and threatened him with criminal prosecution.

Source: Former Mozilla CTO detained at US border and denied a lawyer | ZDNet

Netflix: Person of Interest

I recall enjoying this show when it first came out, and my interest waned after a few years. Tonight I found the first few seasons on Netflix, and started watching it from S1E1, and man, yes, I recognize why I latched onto it as a fan so many years ago.

In fact, tonight I identified several “new” series on Netflix that I think I’d enjoy, including Turn Up Charlie, starring Idris Elba (who I really enjoyed in Luther), and Lost Girl, which is vaguely reminiscent of Grimm, with supernatural characters trying to hide in plain sight.

Check them out, if you’re inclined.

I was discussing with my wife this morning, the difference betweeen white hats, black hats, and grey hats, particularly as it comes to computer hackers, because that’s the angle I’m most familiar with. Person of Interest features Mr Reese and Mr Finch, who are definitely both “grey hats”. Both operate outside the law, but are basically trying to serve a good purpose. Not all grey hats do that. In fact, I think most grey hats are purely selfish in their actions. They only act to satisfy their own needs. Mr Reese’s need just happens to be to fight “black hats”, but he’s willing to bend the law, murder black hats, injure innocents, even obfuscate the law enforcement people, as long as it allows him to continue to serve the greater good.

Black hats only seem to serve themselves, usually with a goal of making a financial profit. White hats usually only exist to find and defeat the black hats, to find vulnerabilities before than can be widely exploited, as well as vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited, and find the black hats who are exploiting them, and shut them down. There are a whole lot of white hats working to find weaknesses in common computers, and get them fixed before they can be exploited.

I think Hollywood has idealized the “grey hat” character to the extreme. Too many cop shows, such as NCIS, CSI, etc, feature law enforcement who find themselves deep in a grey hat situation, wanting to stop the bad guys, but having to break the law to do it. Hollywood seems to find no problem with that, as long as the ends justify the means, but I find that just too sad.

Consider NCIS’s Jethro Gibbs. He’s fluctuated back and forth between grey and white hat. Usually he’s a “by the book” kind of guy, but when it came to dealing with his wife and child’s murder, they allow him to murder the “evil’ Mexican Drug Lord. They had several episodes about how this decision created a great conflict in his logic, but ended up simply whitewashing the whole thing, and excusing his selfish revenge as “justice”.

In reality, I doubt the end result would have ever been so cut and dried. He should have lost his job, his badge, his reputation, everything, but because it was a popular Hollywood show, they couldn’t justify prosecuting their “star”.

And now we’re dealing with all kind of “rightous” violent people who think they are justified in taking revenge against anyone who has “wronged” them. A whole shitload of Americans believe in conspiracy theories involving the government, and think they are justified in taking individual action. Just look at the whole “pizzagate” thing. And the Waco sadness. None of the offenders were ever “in the right”, but they sure thought they were.

What about all the idiots who still listen to Alex Jones, who made his entire career based on wacko conspiracy theories. Nobody sane believes them, but 10s of thousands of nutjobs believe there is a “deep state conspiracy” that intends to do them harm, regardless of the lack of proof. All it takes is a theory, and a mouthpiece, and idiots who want to believe, will believe.

The COAST GUARD? What?!?

The thing that puzzles me the most, is why is the Coast Guard cruising overseas? I thought they were strictly OUR homeland defense force, and not anyone who would ever be sent overseas to defend our strategic partner’s homelands. FFS, it’s in their NAME! Coast GUARD.

Source: U.S.

White Nationalist Rep. Steve King Posts Violent Meme About New Civil War | HuffPost

This is the most disturbing US politician I’ve read about in quite a while. Is *THIS* really what the Republican Party stands for now? Iowa should be deeply ashamed of electing this enormous asshole. Everyone should.

Republican lawmaker claims it’ll take 8 trillion bullets to kill 150 million liberals. Are they saying they would be on the side of Star Wars Empire’s Storm Troopers now?

Source: White Nationalist Rep. Steve King Posts Violent Meme About New Civil War | HuffPost

Why Napalm Is a Cautionary Tale for Tech Giants Pursuing Military Contracts – The New York Times

This article encourages me somewhat about the current younger generation. If all the smartest AI engineers stay away from the military contractors, and instead work to make the world safer, cheaper, smarter, then I’m all for that.

Dow Chemical stopped making napalm for the military in 1969, just four years after it began. But the reputational damage haunted the company for decades.

Source: Why Napalm Is a Cautionary Tale for Tech Giants Pursuing Military Contracts – The New York Times

 

I worked at the Great Lakes Naval Base in North Chicago Illinois for about five years. That place was originally staffed in equal amounts of Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and civil service employees. A couple years later, the Marines stupidly pulled like 80% of their staff out of the project, reducing their later ability to influence decisions. I hope they came to regret that by now.

US Civil Servants are not rewarded anywhere near what the equivalent private market place pays. On the other hand, while it’s not exactly a union, it’s pretty hard to fire a civil service worker. I used to joke that one had to murder their BOSS to get fired. Anything else was either tolerated, or worked around.

Because the US Government pays it’s own employees shitty salaries, and no bonuses, so they end up with lots of mediocre employees, lead by deep staffing charts of mostly mediocre management. It makes sense they outsource so much these days, but it’s also kind of weird. They outsource because their staff can’t do it, because they don’t pay enough to attract lots of good talent. But they’re willing to pay outrageous contract fees for years, which ends up paying all those higher priced private employees. How does that win?

I’ll bet the USG could save money if they revamped the job reviews system, did what companies do, and realign pay scales with the industry, so they can start attracting better management and technical talent. Right now, I figure anyone you know who works for the government, settled for that job. If only they actually honored the deal they offered people, work for charity or any public service job for 10 years, pay the standard rates on your college loans for 10 years, and the government will forgive any remaining college loan balance. In 2017, over 30,000 people filed the paperwork for that program, having completed the requirements, and submitted all the paperwork. A grand total of 96 were approved. Maybe they should require civil servants get pre-approved for the loan forgiveness program as soon as they start their public service career, so they don’t get screwed 10 years later. One guy said he was told he had the wrong kind of public service job. All he could do is work another 10 years, into his 70s, and try again. Sigh

Wouldn’t company profits and shareholder value rise, and product prices fall, if the government mandated all the corporate boards around the country would revamp their executive rewards, to get senior leadership pay scales back into the realm of reality.

Nobody will ever convince me that every company must pay multiple millions of dollars to attract a talented enough executive team. Corporate Executives, as a whole, are holding companies hostage, and refusing to do a good job unless they are excessively rewarded, like 1,000 times their companies median salary, and also they deserve a golden parachute, which is just a HUGE bonus if they get fired from their job or if they ruin the company. Actually, I’d love that deal, where do I sign up?

Most executives act like they are special, the new Lords and Ladies of the realm, the modern upper class. They live in elite neighbors, they can afford all the toys, their kids are often spoiled. All worship the Executive Class, because they make more money every year than the sum total of all their employees paychecks.

Kentucky House approves bill to let people carry concealed guns without a permit | TheHill

As if I needed another reason to avoid being in Kentucky, now this.

I was surprised by how many states allow “Constitutional Carry”. Scary to think about. I may have to check laws more carefully before picking vacation spots.

The Kentucky House on Friday passed a bill that would allow people to carry concealed firearms without a permit or training.

Source: Kentucky House approves bill to let people carry concealed guns without a permit | TheHill

Autonomous Vehicles May One Day Kill Car Insurance as We Know It – Bloomberg

Whoa! What a concept? Nobody mentioned this before? If suddenly 150 million people in the US no longer need to pay $100-200 per month for car insurance. Maybe autonomous car liability will be handled by the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, so people like me won’t have to worry about that cost anymore. I was thinking I’d upgrade to an electric car in the future, but maybe no car is the right solution in the suburbs. I’m getting older, and may lose my license, as my eyesight gets worse over the years. Doctor says I have mild cataracts, so I worry about these kinds of things. So a callable ride service would be a godsend, 24 hours a day.

You could even turn local ambulance services into a specialized Uber kind of service, so they learn automatically where to “stage” ambulances to handle the most calls. Wouldn’t that optimize the costs of running such a service, and let you know which shifts you need more staff on, where you’re overstaffed, and stuff like that?

Without humans to cause accidents, 90% of risk is removed. Insurers are scrambling to prepare.

Source: Autonomous Vehicles May One Day Kill Car Insurance as We Know It – Bloomberg