Back to: Houston: what are the long-term consequences?

A bright and shiny hell

(Apologies for blogging so infrequently this month. I'm currently up to my elbows in The Labyrinth Index, with a tight deadline to hit if the book's going to be published next July. Blogging will continue to be infrequent, but hopefully as provocative as usual.)

Remember Orwell's 1984 and his description of the world ahead—"if you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever"?

This is the 21st century, and we can do better.

George got the telescreens and cameras and the stench of omnipresent surveillance right, but he was writing in the age of microfilm and 3x5 index cards. Data storage was prodigiously expensive and mass communication networks were centralized and costly to run — it wasn't practical for amateurs to set up a decentralized, end-to-end encrypted shadow network tunnelling over the public phone system, or to run private anonymous blogs in the classified columns of newspapers. He was also writing in the age of mass-mobilization of labour and intercontinental warfare. Limned in the backdrop to 1984 is a world where atom bombs have been used in warfare and are no longer used by the great powers, by tacit agreement. Instead, we see soldiers and machine-guns and refugees and the presentation of inevitable border wars and genocides between the three giant power blocs.

Been there, done that.

What we have today is a vision of 1984 disrupted by a torrent of data storage. Circa 1972-73, total US manufacturing volume of online computer storage — hard drives and RAM and core memory, but not tape — amounted to some 100Gb/year. Today, my cellphone has about double that capacity. I'm guessing that my desk probably supports the entire planetary installed digital media volume of 1980. (I'm looking at about 10Tb of disks ...) There's a good chance that anything that happens in front of a camera, and anything that transits the internet, will be preserved digitally into the indefinite future, for however long some major state or corporate institution considers it of interest. And when I'm taking about large-scale data retention, just to clue you in, Amazon AWS already offers a commercial data transfer and storage service using AWS Snowmobile, whereby a gigantic trailer full of storage will drive up to the loading bay of your data center and download everything. It's currently good for up to 100PB per Snowmobile load. (1PB is a million gigabytes; 1EB is a billion gigabytes; ten snowmobile loads is 1EB, or about 10,000,000 1973's worth of global hard drive manufacturing capacity). Folks, Amazon wouldn't be offering this product if there wasn't a market for it.

These heaps and drifts of retained data (and metadata) can be subjected to analytical processes not yet invented — historic data is still useful. And some of the potential applications of neural network driven deep learning and machine vision are really hair-raising. We've all seen video of mass demonstrations over the past year. A paper to be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision Workshops (ICCVW) introduces a deep-learning algorithm that can identify an individual even when part of their face is obscured. The system was able to correctly identify a person concealed by a scarf 67 percent of the time against a "complex" background. Police already routinely record demonstrations: now they'll be able to apply offline analytics to work out who was there and track protestors' activities in the long term ... and coordinate with public CCTV and face recognition networks to arrest them long afterwards, if they're so inclined.

It turns out that facial recognition neural networks can be trained to accurately recognize pain! The researchers were doubtless thinking of clinical medical applications — doctors are bad at objectively evaluating patients' expressions of pain and patients often don't self-evaluate effectively — but just think how much use this technology might be to a regime bent of using torture as a tool of social repression (like, oh, Egypt or Syria today). They also appear to be better than human beings at evaluating sexual orientation of a subject, which might be of interest in President Pence's Republic of Gilead, or Chechnya, or Iran. (There's still a terrible false positive rate, but hey, you can't build an algorithmic dictatorship without breaking heads.)

(Footnote: it also turns out that neural networks and data mining in general are really good at reinforcing the prejudices of their programmers, and embedding them in hardware. Here's a racist hand dryer — it's proximity sensor simply doesn't work on dark skin! Engineers with untested assumptions about the human subjects of their machines can wreak havoc.)

All of this is pretty horrific — so far, so 2017 — but I'd like to throw two more web pages in your face. Firstly, the Gerasimov Doctrine which appears to shape Russian infowar practices against the west. We've seen glaring evidence of Russian tampering in the recent US presidential election, including bulk buying of micro-targeted facebook ads, not focussing on particular candidates but on party-affiliated hot-button issues such as race, gay rights, gun control, and immigration. (I'm not touching the allegations about bribery and Trump with a barge pole — that way lies the gibbering spectre of Louise Mensch — but the evidence for the use of borderline-illegal advertising to energize voters and prod them in a particular direction looks overwhelming.) Here's a translation of Gerasimov's paper, titled e Value of Science Is in the Foresight: New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations. As he's the Russian army Chief of General Staff, what he says can be taken as gospel, and he's saying things like, "the focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary [my emphasis] measures — applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population". This isn't your grandpa's ministry of propaganda. Our social media have inadvertently created a swamp of "false news" in which superficially attractive memes outcompete the truth because humans are lousy at distinguishing between lies which reinforce their existing prejudices and an objective assessment of the situation. And this has created a battlefield where indirect stealth attacks on elections have become routine to the point where savvy campaigns pre-emptively place bait for hackers.

There are a couple of rays of hope, however. The United Nations Development Program recently released a report, Journey to extremism in Africa: drivers, incentives and the tipping point for recruitment that pointed out the deficiencies in the Emperor's wardrobe with respect to security services. Religion and ideology are post-hoc excuses for recruitment into extremist groups: the truth is somewhat different. "The research specifically set out to discover what pushed a handful of individuals to join violent extremist groups, when many others facing similar sets of circumstances did not. This specific moment or factor is referred to as the 'tipping point'. The idea of a transformative trigger that pushes individuals decisively from the 'at-risk' category to actually taking the step of joining is substantiated by the Journey to Extremism data. A striking 71 percent pointed to 'government action', including 'killing of a family member or friend' or 'arrest of a family member or friend', as the incident that prompted them to join. These findings throw into stark relief the question of how counter-terrorism and wider security functions of governments in at-risk environments conduct themselves with regard to human rights and due process. State security-actor conduct is revealed as a prominent accelerator of recruitment, rather than the reverse." In fact, the best defenses against generating recruits for extremist organizations seemed to be things like reduced social and eonomic exclusion (poverty), improved education, having a family background (peer pressure), and not being on the receiving end of violent repression. Because violence breeds more violence — who knew? (Not the CIA and USAF with their typical "oops" response whenever a drone blows up a wedding party they've mistaken for Al Qaida Central.)

So, let me put some stuff together.

We're living in a period where everything we do in public can be observed, recorded, and will in future provide the grist for deductive mills deployed by the authorities. (Hideous tools of data-driven repression are emerging almost daily without much notice, whether through malice or because they have socially useful applications and the developers are blind to the potential for abuse.) Foreign state-level actors and non-state groupings (such as the new fascist international and its hive of internet-connected insurgents) are now able to use data mining techniques to target individuals with opinions likely to appeal to their prejudices and inflame them into activism. Democracy is directly threatened by these techniques and may not survive in its current form, although there are suggestions that what technology broke, technology might help fix (TLDR: blockchain-enabled e-voting, from the European Parliament Think Tank). And there are some signs that our existing transnational frameworks are beginning to recognize that repressive policing is one of the worst possible shields against terrorism.

Social solidarity. Tolerance. Openness. Transparency that runs up as well as down the personal-institutional scale. And, possibly, better tools for authenticating public statements such as votes, tweets, and blog essays like this one. These are what we need to cleave to if we're not going to live out our lives in a shiny algorithmic big data hellscape.

732 Comments

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1:

To what extent are the ways forward you envisage compatible with national boundaries?

2:

What do national boundaries even mean these days?

3:

A striking 71 percent pointed to 'government action', including 'killing of a family member or friend' or 'arrest of a family member or friend', as the incident that prompted them to join.
The Tsarist state condemned Lenin's brother to death & Alexander III refused the prerogative of mercy .......

possibly, better tools for authenticating public statements such as votes,...
Unless, of course, you are in the Southern USA & WANT to rig your voting or electoral register [ a lot of other places, too, of course ]

Are Farage & his friends indirectky or directly in Moscow/Putin's pay, then,as part of the new Fascist International?
After F's antics recently, I wouldn't be surprised

Social solidarity. Tolerance. Openness. Transparency
Values despised & rejected ( yes, that phrase was deliberate ) by religious leaders & followers everywhere, of course

4:

A reason to leave the EU, it appears.

5:

Often when the Language changes & more importantly, the law changes - the line-on-the-ground may be invisible, but the laws making things legal/illegal are there - particulalry noticeable inside the USA of course (!)

Also, Charlie that's an amzingly Eurocentric (As in "Western") statement - try the border between Burma & Bangla-Desh for a good example, right now ... or the long-running & ridiculous sore between Algeria & Morocco, or ask a Finn ..... or a "Moldovan"

6:

Or maybe not.
Us Remoaners appear to be getting our act together, at last

7:

Perhaps I should try to clarify.
One of the ways forward from here would be an increase in mobility, so that states competed directly as being good places to live/work/exist; which was always one of the claimed USPs of the USA, for instance. One of my views of the world is that the Americas constituted an escape/pressure valve for the Old World system, as did colonialism more generally, and much of the 20th century was underpinned by that; and that much of the narrative of the 21st century, so far, has been about the idea that there is no frontier any more. (See also, space exploration and all of that.) Much of the growth in tools and techniques we're talking about here is driven by the desire to influence foreign actors. So the definition of "foreign" becomes important.

8:

Are Farage & his friends indirectky or directly in Moscow/Putin's pay, then,as part of the new Fascist International?
After F's antics recently, I wouldn't be surprised

I'd like to discourage unsubstantiated speculation along those lines in the comments here.

If you can point to reports in reputable news media that provide substantiation for allegations along those lines, that's okay, but remember the moderation policy wrt. libel law before you begin speculating. (Frame it as a question, as above, is okay, as long as it's not a statement of fact masquerading as a rhetorical question, which might be actionable.)

9:

I'm of the opinion that Putin has a strong motive for backing Brexit. Brexit weakens the UK diplomatically and economically and the UK is historically Not Russia's Friend (at least going back a century). Brexit also may weaken the EU, which is potentially to Russia's advantage in trade negotiations. Also, the EU maps into a subset of NATO, so there's that angle as well (it drives a wedge into a hostile military alliance).

Putin is also an authoritarian nationalist, and the whole hard-right international alliance gives him a bunch of useful allies to push that agenda. (The EU as a transnational free trade oriented structure of neoliberal policy is obviously anathema to such.)

10:

What I meant, Greg, is that the entire planet today has shrunk to the dimensions of the English home counties two centuries ago (in terms of the personal cost and duration of traversing them — back then, a month's wages and two days in a stage coach would get you a hundred miles in some discomfort; today, a month's wages and two days on airliners will get you from London to Australia and back, in some discomfort).

So we have supply chains that cross borders, many large scale migrations not driven by starvation or war (along, obviously, with those that are), and other consequences unimaginable even a century ago.

11:

Completely agree with that. It also leaves France as the only EU nuclear-armed state.

Who are you seeing as actors on our side of the problem, if anyone?

12:

"Because violence breeds more violence — who knew? (Not the CIA and USAF with their typical 'oops' response whenever a drone blows up a wedding party they've mistaken for Al Qaida Central.)"

<sarcasm> Yeah, because no member of the senior staff at the CIA has ever seen The Godfather and understood the wedding scene. (There's at least one senior USAF staff member who has.) Or the irony of any parallel with a crime family led by immigrants and its methods of and rationales for enforcing compliance with the personal preferences of its unelected leaders. </sarcasm>

Which is not a defense of targetting wedding parties, even though in the Southwest and South Asian world they're just as much a mixed bag of inherently overlapping purposes and uses as are Western cathedrals. This is an extension of the age-old principle that if the only item in your toolbox is a hammer, damned near everything looks like some variety of a nail. In this instance, it's not that the hammer is the only tool in the box; it's that we're pretty sure nobody else has such a bright and shiny hammer and there's this testosterone-fuelled impulse to show it off at every opportunity...

13:

Please note that "The Godfather" is a work of fiction. Letting fiction, as opposed to fact, drive your military operations is a really bad idea.

Yes, it's entirely possible that some wedding parties are venues where malefactors from different families exchange business cards. It's still really dumb to nuke the entire wedding party if what you're really trying to do is convince Uncle Abdul to lay off the IEDs. (Less bad: you send a sniper team after Uncle Abdul and nobody else. Even less bad: you mail him a bullet, a photograph of his bedroom window, and a pointed hint — the racehorse's head at the end of the bed.)

The testosterone-fuelled showing-off is partly a side-effect of entertainment media that make violence seem like a happy fun recreational activity (desensitization ahoy!) and partly a side-effect of inappropriate incentives baked into the promotion chain in the State Department (you get ahead for being seen to be doing military stuff rather than making military stuff unnecessary).

Oh, and did I mention the contribution of lead in gasoline in the Middle East? We know that dropping lead additives from gasoline in the USA and Europe was followed 15-20 years later by a massive drop in violent crime; it turns out that tetraethyl lead was only phased out of gas in much of the middle east this century, and leaded petrol may be fueling violence and terrorism throughout the middle east.

14:

A recent development in metadata. I checked some photos of mine in Google Photos and found that lots of pictures I took in Canada during 2003 and 2010 using a primitive digital camera with no GPS have been tagged with latitude and longitude, presumably from recognition of the landscape. Indoor scenes are mostly still not tagged. However a photo in a bar in Calgary is tagged with the presence of my brother in law who has never been in Canada. Inspection of the photo revealed someone who could be his double. In have an app to remove the data from photos posted online but it looks as if this is now useless.

15:

On a slightly positive note, this may not be evenly distributed globally; compare the US attitude to data protection and privacy versus the EU attitude as codified by the GDPR, which contains nuggets like section 22, which introduces a new legal right:

"The data subject shall have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her."

It's not absolute - what right is? - but it can't be overruled by member states' national laws.

Honestly, that whole thing about the lawyers being the first against the wall when the revolution comes may not be the best idea ever...

16:

I have been reading "The New Analects - Confucius Reconstructed", and see it as a new Humanism, which will replace the "Communist" ideology in China.

The 19th century ended with Nietzsche screaming "God is dead", producing Nazism and the genocide of the Jews, the 20th century ended with Ayn Rand screaming "Humanism is dead", with Rand Paul's and the mini-Roarke's genocide of the poor.

The West is intellectually and morally bankrupt, with the leaders Trump, only interested in making money and getting his schvance pulled, Putin interested in World Domination and getting his schvance pulled, and Teresa May trying to bring back hanging and getting others' necks pulled.

The future will be built by China.

17:

I hesitate to blame the Nazis on Nietzsche, although they indisputably misappropriated his writing for their own ends. (He was more of an iconoclast than anything else. And believed in a "steady state" universe, with eternal cyclic return, as an explicit rejection of Christian teleology. Incompatible with modern cosmology but understandable if you view his work as a rejection of Biblical creation.)

The West isn't intellectually and morally bankrupt as a whole. What's bankrupt is the self-serving capitalist ideology of neoliberalism. I think we're overlooking the quiet emergence of a new green/left framework that is gaining traction globally in places we might not expect to see it — consider the Paris accords, or the host of countries moving to phase out internal combustion powered vehicles in favor of electric ones, or the spread of marriage equality.

18:

Greg asks: "Are Farage & his friends indirectky or directly in Moscow/Putin's pay, then,as part of the new Fascist International? After F's antics recently, I wouldn't be surprised"

Bearing in mind Charlie's imprecation here's what's known.

Source 1: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/02/arron-banks-interview-brexit-ukip-far-right-trump-putin-russia

Quote (Banks): “We had no Russian money into Brexit,” he says. “I’ve had two very nice lunches with the Russian ambassador, where Andy [Wigmore] and I got completely pissed."

A number of other -- umm -- "insights" too. Make of it what you will.

19:

On the other hand, it seems likely that the good guys could use some of the same technologies. Any of us could mount a 10 TB database without doing much more than spending some vacation money, and programming it isn't ridiculously hard - at worst maybe someone doesn't understand table joins and wastes a couple terabytes of storage - but the contraption could still work.

So how about a database of known racists/nazis? It would have to be carefully curated and very-much-more fact based than the current databases owned by nation-states, but doing it is not impossible if you can deal with the legal challenges... then sell access cheaply enough to keep the idiots away, along with free access to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Or a databased-backed boycott with an easily installed app (that scans bar codes?) Jesse Jackson once noted that every transaction involved the use of currency, which means that dollars can be recast as "discipline dollars" aimed straight at major corporations. So don't just boycott the obvious Koch brothers gasoline, also boycott their toilet paper!

There's a lot of room for improvement in my (not caffeinated yet) ideas, but I think the surveillance system can be used both ways - it's not too late to implement Brin's transparent society.

20:

Our Gracious Host at 13:

No argument from me on "fiction driving the military," that's one of the reasons that reference is inside of <sarcasm> tags. Which is not, of course, to say that fiction never does drive military actions or doctrine or anything else... although I'd also argue that the USAF involvement in drone strikes against non-uniformed-military targets without a declaration of war is somewhat legally dubious in itself... Neither will you get any controversy from me about the relationship between lead exposure and violence, although sarcastically one must wonder whether the amount of spent lead ammo laying around and leaching into the water supply might be contributing to the cycle of violence in American cities (admittedly, that's pretty far off point).

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough with the rest of the remark. Given both the common-in-contemporary-culture "wedding" reference and the historical-fact "cathedral" reference, there should have been strong consideration given to "mixed purpose" gatherings... and due if only to the religious intertwining, "mixed purpose" gatherings should have been ruled out as legitimate targets, even if one believed that most or virtually all of the people there are conducting Bad Discussions. (There's this little problem called "collateral damage.") If you want to hit the known leader on the way to or from the gathering, at least 500m away with little or no chance for collateral damage, that's different... but much harder, and you'd better be certain that Daddy Terrorist doesn't have Lovely Bride-to-Be Non-Terrorist in the armored Land Rover with him, because she's not a legitimate target.

22:

The problem with blockchains for voting is that we've yet to see a cipher survive a voting lifespan since general hardware computers came into being. So if the blockchain itself ever leaks (which is basically a certainty), you now have a highly-verified record of how everyone voted n years ago waiting to be cracked.

It's probably not going to be fast enough for your landlord to dictate how you should vote, but if we get unlucky and a set gets cracked within the duration of the government in question - well, we have blind ballots for a reason.

Hell, as it is I need some of my own family members to have enough plausible deniability to just not bring up whether they might've voted Tory in the last five years on account of needing to be able to look them in the face without disowning them five seconds later. "What happens after everyone's learned too much about each other too fast?" crops up as a story about human nature once in a while for good reason.

23:

Borderline illegal? No. Quite definitely illegal. It is illegal within the US to accept Foreign Money to influence a US election. It's probably also illegal to pay the money, but the payee probably wasn't within the US.

I'm no lawyer, so I don't have the language right, but the actions were definitely illegal. Whether the law will be enforced, however, is a different question. It might put Facebook out of business.

24:

You can bet your ass they didn't just buy on Facebook.

25:
back then, a month's wages and two days in a stage coach would get you a hundred miles in some discomfort; today, a month's wages and two days on airliners will get you from London to Australia and back, in some discomfort

Hm, that's still rather Eurocentric. A typical Tanzanian peasant's month's wages (something on the order of 15-30 £) and two days in a coach will get him to the other end of Tanzania (which is admittedly multiple hundred miles away) in some discomfort. But it won't get him anyway near the other side of the world. And I believe this is still rather the default for a huge chunk of the population of Planet Earth outside of Europe. I'd be willing to bet that it would hold true for the majority of Earth's population, considering that the income of peasants in India or China and many other countries are also closer to a dollar a day than they are to yours or mine.

(And I have deliberately chosen as my example a stable and peaceful country from where there's no emigration to speak of. I'm not even talking about the money and time it costs a migrant from the global South to get into Europe. A month's wages and two days in discomfort don't even begin to describe it.)

26:

Mike, that is amazing. I should not be surprised, but I did not know that they were doing that. I've been a photographer for 40 years, I wonder how long before non-digital photographs start getting tagged with location and name data?

I was telling fiends about Facebook and LinkedIn creating ghost profiles in the hopes of getting people to sign up. Brave new world indeed.

27:

If you think of propaganda as a virus of the mind, or any other biological metaphor you care to choose, you need to consider the environment in which it can thrive. I think propaganda of the kind Russia uses latches on the very human trait of wanting simple solutions or explanations, clear enemies. It fights with the greatest vigour nuance. And it only succeeds because there are political groups who sincerely think that radical change is needed AND a general acceptance that Something Needs To Change.

But what needs to change? certainly most things can be improved. Some things need to be improved as a matter of common decency (I think about how we go about treating people who dare want to live out of their birthplace, notably). But this is not change, is not seen as change, is thought about by the left (radical subtype) as 'capitalism delaying the inevitable revolution', and by the right (fascist cultivar) as 'proof of our moral decay'.

I will even gladly agree that the speed at which change occurs can be a huge injustice in itself -- why, you ask, if something is obviously wrong should we wait a generation before it is fixed? Because almost all that is wrong stems from the attitude of people and their education. Whilst people who hold some prejudice are alive and vote, no matter how strenuous your efforts, the prejudice lives on. It can only disappear at the speed of generational changes. It's not that you don't fight it with all you can, it's that it's wrong and idiotic to think it can go away instantly if we pushed hard enough. Thinking it's a moral failure not to have instant change IS a moral failure.

I think, indeed, each time you are not looking to understand -- not excuse, understand -- what is going on, what can be done, and how long the fight, you are opening a breach through which chaos can enter. And from chaos, nothing good comes, ever. Long Live the Beige.

28:

If you want to comprehensively boycott the Kochs, then you need to boycott Mad Max: Fury Road, Wonder Woman, Ready Player One, It, Dunkirk, and a lot of other movies: they invested almost half a million dollars in RatPac/Dune Entertainment.

http://www.imdb.com/company/co0449458?ref_=ttco_co_6

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/08/koch-brothers-wonder-woman

Boycotts are hard.

29:

I know. I'm suggesting that modern "surveillance" technology such as databases can make boycotts much easier.

30:

Teaching people the difference between transparency and privacy would be a good start too. Although in almost all cases, I'd be pretty confident that the folk saying "if you're so keen on transparency, tell us all your bank details" are trolling, but it's the sort of thing that then becomes the established baseline.

31:

And a/the/a possible reply is in your adjacent post:
Putin is also an authoritarian nationalist
HE KNOWS what the borders of coutries are
- & how to violate them for fun & profit ....

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Reverting to your original thoughts:
Social solidarity. Tolerance. Openness. Transparency that runs up as well as down the personal-institutional scale
Again: "Peelian" Policing? The attitude that "It's doing no harm, leave it"?
Which certainly seems to permeate most of W & NW Europe, but NOT the USA.
And intolerance seems to be spreading ( Hi=ungary, Poland )

The exact opposite of say, Burma or "Pakistan" ( & lots of other places too .. ) where heteronomus/othoganal views will get you killed - & what's worse the "government" encourages or actively tolerates such abuses

32:

Teresa May trying to bring back hanging
GOT ANY EVIDENCE for that, really?
I know politicians don't usually sue for libel, but ......

Also, your "the West is fucked & corrupt" line is suspiciously like that of certain people in Germany after 1933 & also Da'Esh right now.
NOT buying it, then or now.

33:

Recognising protesters from video footage, even when their faces are masked...

Yes, I've been expecting this.

Gait recognition is probably there already.

The delay has been in algorithms capable of doing this, and in the need for sufficient training data, and in the need for lots of metadata so that individuals can be *profiled and tracked* - not merely identified.

Putting a name to a face in a specific location isn't scary.

Knowing that they disagree with the regime, and knowing everywhere they've been, everyone they know, and everything they've said - or, if not 'everything', 'enough to put them away', or enough to get them blacklisted, redundant, deported or denied access to housing, foodbanks anf medical care - that's scary.

That's 'the other shoe dropped', to use a phrase that's fallen out of fashion: it's not just advances in technology, it's uses for technology that change the world.

So it's never just knowing your name, and knowing where you were when there was a protest march: it's knowing enough to damage you, or engineer you into being harmless, *and your social graph*, too.

It's about using social media data - Big Data - to identify the individuals who will respond to individually-tailored propaganda. And, indeed, to algorithmically compose the propaganda for them.

Or to just selectively filter their social media feed so that they become increasingly disengaged and depressed and politically inactive.

That last shoe was dropped in an extremely unethical experiment by Facebook two years ago. I don't believe that they are selling that as a service, yet: it's more the sort of thing that state-owned social media sites would want to do.

And that's the beautiful shining future that we're getting: lots and lots of shoes, free and perfectly fitted for every individual.

34:

Ever higher video resolution makes new forms of surveillance possible.

It's not just facial recognition and gross motor movements. Four years ago, researchers were detecting pulse rates from head movements (http://people.csail.mit.edu/balakg/pulsefromheadmotion.html) and skin colour changes from one person. Breathing rate and skin temperature are also trivial.

There's nothing stopping higher resolution cameras from doing this on every person in an entire crowd. Point this system at a football stadium and you can tell the medical state and something about the emotional state of everyone there.

The justification for doing this will be for spotting the person in that crowd who is about to have a heart attack and getting a medical team to that person faster, possibly even before they keel over. One that's in place, it's trivial to extend it to spot the suicide bomber. And hey, once it's in place, you might was well used it for mass testing of how people in that crowd respond to advertisements.

Also, responding to Charlie @9 "the UK is historically Not Russia's Friend" - that's a tactful way of saying we invaded them in 1918-1919, as did a few Australians (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_contribution_to_the_Allied_Intervention_in_Russia_1918%E2%80%9319).

35:

Come on, now - muich further back than that!
Even against Boney, Russia was very much an "ally of convenience"

36:

You'd think the Russians would be more concerned with our recent penetrations of their airspace with nuclear bombers (http://www.spyflight.co.uk/robin.htm) or maybe that our nuclear deterrent is explicitly designed to destroy Moscow.

Let's face it, if countries are going to be annoyed that the UK has invaded them, then the UK's only remaining friendly nations are Andorra, Chad, and maybe twenty other out of the way places.

37:

Places with NO COASTLINE, basically .....
Including San Marino & (Unfortunately) Vatican City .......

38:

I checked some photos of mine in Google Photos and found that lots of pictures I took in Canada during 2003 and 2010 using a primitive digital camera with no GPS have been tagged with latitude and longitude, presumably from recognition of the landscape.

Andrew Sullivan's gone and missed blog The Dish used to run a contest called "The View From Your Window" in which a view from some arbitrary window on the planet would be posted and the readership challenged to identify where it was. The crowdsourced google-enhanced wetware usually nailed it, so I'm not surprised that deep learning software can do something similar. Just how far it can go with random scenes of forest or desert is an interesting question.

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/vfyw-contest/

39:

Re: Lead

Apart from causing cognitive and emotional problems, there's also plenty of research saying that lead causes low sperm count and/or poor sperm quality. Both sperm-related conditions have been in the news for a few years now.

Lead poisoning info ...
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lead-poisoning/symptoms-causes/dxc-20275054


http://www.npr.org/2017/07/31/539517210/sperm-counts-plummet-in-western-men-study-finds

Excerpt:

'The analysis found an overall 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 percent decline in the total sperm count over the 39-year period. (Sperm concentration is the measure of the concentration of sperm in a man's sample — how many millions of sperm are in a milliliter of semen. Total sperm count is the number doctors get when they multiply that by the volume of the sample.)'

What I'd like to know is what protects the surviving sperm. Would also like to know whether this is somehow 'preferential' as in: lead kills off/does not allow only specific types of gene variants to survive and thereby be around to potentially fuse with an ovum. Can only think of one way to find this out: do sperm tests on human males never been exposed to leaded fuels. Hard if not impossible to do. (Heteromeles: Can lead be measured in flora - trees specifically? If yes, this could provide a benchmark for measuring exposure among a population within a specific geographic area.)


Re: 'Violence breeds violence'

Yes it does and has been demonstrated in many lab studies from mice, rats, monkeys, etc. Violence (suffering) - whether emotional, psychological or physical - leaves a lasting mark on the subject of the violence. Even scarier, violence markers/effects are now known to be transmissible (cause genetic changes) and last to at least the third generation. Effects of violence can be eased if not erased through reconditioning. But, any breakdown or screw-up in the reconditioning process can cause an even greater rebound effect plus a wider generalization of fear reactions/stress. Moral of this story: Don't cause harm in the first place!

This adage is literally true!

40:

That brings us to the problem of the tyranny of the do-gooder, as expressed by C.S. Lewis:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals”

Now, I know that the bulk of C.S. Lewis's writing will mot go down well with readers of this blog, but I think that this passage stands alone, and encapsulates Jez's point above. Imagine: "FatBigot, we notice from your gait that you have put on 1kg this month. We will restrict you sugar ration until that weight has been lost."

A different kind of surveillance hell to that described by OGH, but possibly more likely because who will vote against something that is for your own good and will save the NHS money in the short term?

41:

The biggest danger seems to me to be that the great majority of people are simply oblivious, and are determined to remain so. Things like Arsebook marking people's photos with the names of the people in them, which horrify me, just make most people go "hey, cool". They view it in the same light as the tricks of a conjurer, for party entertainment. They don't consider, except to scornfully dismiss, scenarios analogous to the skills of a conjurer numbering among the accomplishments of, say, a police officer who gets to search suspects. Worse, this seems to include an awful lot of the people who actually make this shit, who should know better, and not just the general public.

People take the piss out of me for assiduously blocking and disabling internet advertising and tracking stuff. They think the only threat is from spook agencies and see advertising only in terms of something that provides regular tea-making breaks in TV programmes, not as a pernicious threat. They see "smart meters" not as a spy in the house, but merely as a means to cheaper electricity bills, even though the spy functionality is intrinsic whereas the cheaper bills are a purely artificial and external matter that is created to get them to sign up.

Of course, there is another whole layer of advertising intended to keep people thinking this way. Like all the silly rubbish from Google about encrypting all websites, not only bank-type sites but all the way down to sites for cock-and-balls-graffiti level trivia, to keep people focused on transport security when the real problem is the endpoints. Or the attempts to vilify producers of ad-blocking software as "destroying the internet", an accusation more fittingly levelled at the advertising itself than at its blockers.

Indeed, in some instances it may actually be government that is on the "good" side - here follows another reason to decry leaving the EU... It doesn't seem to have made much of a splash, but I came across a news story recently the gist of which was that the EU had realised that the idiotic "cookie banners" they have mandated on websites - which, incidentally, you can't bloody get rid of without coding unless you allow cookies - are entirely useless and serve only to annoy people, and were looking at introducing an actual legal ban on storing client-side state (apparently including not just cookies, but LSOs and the various frigs and hacks websites use to try and store state in defiance of the features designed for that purpose having been explicitly disabled by the user). The interesting part of the article was the quotes from business organisations whining and moaning about how not being able to store client-side state would cripple all the evil shit they seem to think they have a right to do. What the current status of this is I don't know, but it's certainly a proposal to be applauded.

By coincidence, another such proposal came to my attention via twitter earlier this evening - one which I have long advocated myself - to force manufacturers to release the data needed to make their stuff repairable. The main thrust of the article was the disadvantages of it not being, but it has significant relevance to this thread in that it also draws attention to the importance of shiny rubbish and internet-of-shit devices as a spyware vector. http://theconversation.com/why-cant-we-fix-our-own-electronic-devices-77601

42:

There's this little problem called "collateral damage."

Historically, that doesn't seem to have been considered a problem by the US. Leaving aside the Indian Wars, within living memory we have things like loads of leftover munitions from the bombing campaign in Laos (a country not at war with the US):

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/laos-vietnam-war-us-bombing-uxo/

Set against a planeload of bombs every eight minutes for nine years (and the classifying both bombing tapes and decommissioning information for over a generation afterwards), a few weddings blown up is lost in the noise.

43:

Re lead in petrol, the possibility occurs to me that the important correlation with the drop in crime may not be with lead, but with zombification by iphone, which I would hazard a guess is more of a problem in the most technologically-focused countries.

44:

"crowdsourced google-enhanced wetware"

Do not implement "recaptcha", and instead of trying to fill one in go to a different site that doesn't use it. We may not be able to stop it but we can at least make some contribution, however minor, by refusing to help them train it. This is another thing that people take the piss out of me about because they won't see the problem.

45:

Violence (suffering) - whether emotional, psychological or physical - leaves a lasting mark on the subject of the violence. Even scarier, violence markers/effects are now known to be transmissible (cause genetic changes) and last to at least the third generation.

A colleague from Pakistan told me that in large parts of the country you can always hear a drone. I wonder what the effects of growing up knowing that someone on the other side of the world might blow you up might be?(During the Cold War, at least we knew that whoever pushed the button would also suffer, but there are no comebacks against Predator pilots.

46:

Re: 'Thinking it's a moral failure not to have instant change IS a moral failure.'

I don't expect instant change, I do however expect instant protection from those who because they are unable to change their beliefs will continue to threaten me and mine and everyone else that they disagree with.

Protection is doable and enforceable.

Immorality is doing nothing thereby allowing harm to continue to be done.

Also think you're confusing allowing for a 'wider spectrum' of opinion with 'chaos'. There are millions of different species of living things on this planet and the fact that there are so many different species actually provides greater stability and health for all.

47:

I just checked through some more photos on Google. A lot of them seeem to be correlated with Streetview images. Most of the photos I took in Quebec City are now tagged but many of the street scenes in Toronto are not.. The camera did have date and time details (however they are wrong because I never bothered to set it) but the AI doesn't seem to correlate date/time information since some views close together are tagged and some aren't. Niagara falls from Niagara Town are tagged but a close view from the entrance to the view behind the falls is not tagged. However it's impressive and I'm sure it won't be long before everything is tagged.

48:

I think OGH's question in #2 is the crux of the matter: What is the meaning of a border ?

Benedict Anderssons classic "Imagined Communities" offers one answer: A border circumscribes a shared mental model.

Given the means and costs of communication and transportation at the time nation-states were formed, the tended to be graphically simple and optimized for centroid travel distance.

Today the shared mental models are not about which "unknown soldiers grave" you pay your respect or which flag you salute, because few people from the Post-Yahoo generation does either.

The relevant question therefore is where new borders are being put down, and what they mean.

The Great Firewall of China is a new border, but largely coincident with Chinas geographical borders. Either China is way smarter or hopelessly behind other nation states there. Various National Internet Censorship proposals strike the same bell.

A new border is indisputably being put down by Fox News and their ilk, it circumscribes people who have looked at reality and want none of it, and in return for a bubble, they vote for the Right Lizard.

There is arguably also a new border being put down around FaceBook, but at least superficially it is driven less by ideology than the one around Fox News. (That will change, one way or another, when Zuck declares his plans to become POTUS.)

Google ? Amazon ? Apple ? Microsoft ? Sony ? ... All of them are trying to wall in captive populations with more or less success.

The interesting thing about these borders, is that they are graphically simple onlyin cyberspace, and they doesn't respect geography at all. (The current drive for encryption with pinned certificates, from these big players, is directly aimed at making nation states impotent.)

Some of these economical monsters now have a size where they can cripple any country, not by declaring war, but by leaving: Few governments would survive "Due to recent events, Google will withdraw all service from Elbonia starting at 00Z tonight."

49:

Note that if you have your phone on you, Google can track your location from your phone's GPS and tag photos you take with other cameras based on that (it's possible to turn this off).

2003-2010 would be too early for that data, of course. But if you have location tracking turned on, Google will also happily send you monthly updates with a little interactive map showing everywhere you went every moment of every day.

Apple got caught tracking people in this way even when the feature was turned off, and of course your phone company does this regardless with cell tower logs. I'm sure in many circles not having these logs is now considered suspicious.

50:

Replying to comment from Pigeon (41):

Pretty much, and I've found this problem as well -- most people don't seem to have a clue as to what is going on and it is being made worse by almost everyone deciding that for some reason they "have to live through their mobile phone". And while I do have a mobile phone (but I most certianly do not live through it!) I've managed to change the OS on mine so I can keep down the spying and advertising and tracking down to the lowest amount possible. I dread to think what other people "have" on their phone. Considering the amount of junk I must throw back from the internet with blocking stuff I wonder what truly is on other peoples' phones.

It is depressing though because other people out there have been telling us about all the advertising/spying/tracking for several years now. But almost nobody seemed to take any notice. Instead most people simply seemed to carry on then as now - namely shouting at other people on twitter/facebook and watching stupid cat videos.


>People take the piss out of me for assiduously blocking and disabling internet advertising

I too block ads and tracking too. Nobody takes the piss out of me on that one, instead I usually get a blank response. I might as well be talking in double-dutch should I mention it. Maybe this is that old "bread and circuses" thing all over again? It is a worry that seemingly nobody seems to give two-hoots about it.

And it isn't just adverts, spying and tracking. There's another one to add to that list at least in my mind - the "cloud". What a nice harmless, fluffy term "cloud". Remember though it is just a collection of corporate servers. Dosen't sound so harmless and fluffy then does it!

I don't use corporate clouds. I don't "use facebook as my backup system" or "upload everything to google" nor anything else like that. I don't just go by their message "Trust us, we are safe". Uploading to (for example) google's corporate cloud is a danger because although some other company might not be able to see into it, google still *can*. It isn't safe from google.

I hope I'm not messing up or spamming here but I have a nightmare with regards to the "cloud" with regards to phones (incidentally I'd much rather see the sun again and have the cloud(s) blow away). But for better or for worse, here goes.

Since so many people seem to be so keen on using their phone (rather than say, a PC) or even a tablet and so many still use facebook/twitter my suspicion is the next move will be to not just collect the data, not just collect the metadata but to actually try to *own* the data.

How do you do that? Well to start off with you just use simple stuff -- make your phone favor uploading that picture you just took in your back garden to the cloud and make the saving of that picture onto that device artifically hard (e.g. you have to put it in a special place, give it a name, etc).

Since most people don't ever change settings and will just upload to corporate clouds "since it's the default and it sort of works (and nobody ever checks in any case)" more and more stuff gets uploaded into these clouds. Throw in some sort of image recognition system (primarily to detect copyrighted works) and do this for long enough and once enough do it at some point someone says "Well....nobody *saves* their stuff (on their phone) any more, they 'put it in the cloud'. So why can't we change the copyright laws so we can try to own this data?".

And then the copyright laws do get changed (preumably enough $$$ on a politicians' desk will do that plus "oh well everyone does it") -- but still let's give it a name; random idea, the "first landing" law. So if you upload something to a corporate cloud and it isn't already under some sort of copyright aleady the owner of that cloud - the first one that data 'touches' - automatically gets to own it (think photo of your back garden). You don't own it any more since the copyright laws changed.

But it dosen't stop there. The next step then after owning the metadata, collecting the data and then owning the data is to offer to run your OS for you. "Oh you must want an even *thinner* phone","You'll get better battery life","It'll be even faster","More convenient". Maybe that is the next move - so your phone eventually gets rendered back to nothing more than a data collection device and a VNC terminal.

It'll be just as in those old films from the '60s where people have a "terminal" they rent and have no actual computing power (let alone an OS) at all. From what I can gather that is what happened in the 60s with regards to computing - if you wanted it in your home - you rented your box (terminal) and had to do something called "paying the CPU" (so your 'computing' was done on a distant machine). Your "terminal" was just a dumb I/O box.

And if things go wrong that's where things end up - we get the nightmare of 1960s computing where you have nothing and rent forever. And at a guess I'd expect to see the end of things like terabyte hard drives and large SD/micro SD cards too; "Why do you want those? Nobody uses them any more".....(or at the very least, they're super expensive).

Maybe it is already starting. Note how most phones don't let you change the battery, or they take away useful things (such as a headphone socket) while adding features you don't want. And wasn't there talk a while back of android not supporting microsd any more? (not sure).

I hope that all made sense. And I hope I didn't go too off-topic. Random thought: Whatever happened to topics? (as in the chocolate bar) :-) .

ljones

51:

Robert Prior at 42:

The implicit logic of citing to past atrocities in response to an objection to present conduct is that it's impossible to escape the past. By that logic, all Catholics are inherently and irredemably antisemitic (Torquemada, y'know). In short, that's not a productive line of argument except if someone is arguing for pure-as-the-driven-snow status. We can't necessarily escape our pasts. We have an obligation to try.

At present, the CIA's ideological core and, more generally, political appointees aren't just not trying — they've been actively undermining doing better than the past for quite a long time. But neither that nor Laos demonstrates that we're doomed and so we might as well exterminate all {insert inappropriate and derogatory slang for chosen opponent here}.

52:

I have to say that there's very little in your final wish list that causes me any concern on libertarian grounds. I'm a little cautious about "social solidarity," but mainly because it's often used as a shiny wrapper for statist thought control; the real thing could enable increased voluntary cooperation, which would be a good thing. What you're talking about seems to be orthogonal to the question of economic organization; perhaps it could even enable something closer to genuinely free and competitive markets as opposed to the unhealthy symbiosis of large corporations and state regulators that our economy currently suffers from.

I'd add one thing to your comments on Nietzsche: He also deserves recognition as one of the earliest proponents of cultural relativism, stated poetically in Thus Spoke Zarathustra and more analytically in On the Genealogy of Morals. I don't think cultural relativism is a satisfactory intellectual position, but it was an important one historically and also was a corrective to Western self-praise.

53:

For a comparatively light rendition of your thesis about global mobility, see Bride and Prejudice, which retells Jane Austen's story very closely with air travel between India and London taking the place of coach travel between the shires and London.

54:

The present is shaped by the past. And institutional memory (for better or worse) lasts a long time.

The logic isn't that all Catholics are antisemitic because of the Inquisition, but that the Inquisition as an institution seems to have been until it was abolished.

My gut says that institutions (such as the military or civil service) have proceduralized decision-making and priorities, and that their structures and internal rewards stay more constant than explicit policies do, so the American system will still tend to discount collateral damage. My head says I don't have enough evidence to know one way or the other — what I do have it lots of stories, but the plural of anecdote isn't data etc.

So in the American case, minimizing collateral damage doesn't seem to have been an institutional priority a generation ago. I wouldn't be surprised if it is still not high on the list today*. (Although you have to admit that blowing up a few wedding parties is a lot better than what happened to Laos.)

Tying this back to Charlie's original post, from the outside a large organization appears much like one of those big data systems, gathering information and making decisions using rules that outsiders aren't privy to. Even insiders may not understand them, or be aware of the implications, or be in a position to do anything about them.

And more specifically, putting algorithms into the decision loop for fire-no fire decisions is something I'd be really worried about, seeing as how the human system (that would buy/train these algorithms) keeps repeatedly screwing up in the same way.


*Back during the Gulf War I subscribed to Guardian Weekly. It was interesting reading battle reports from the three papers. The American paper would report no casualties, the British paper would report no American casualties but five allied soldiers killed by friendly fire, and the French paper would report no American, five allied, and 300 Iraqi casualties.

55:

Yeah we are kinda screwed on this one for sure , turned out to be a lot easier to hack the minds of the average Joe then I thought it was going to be. At the time no one in data had any idea it would work this well, that's honestly true

Me and the other geeks have done stuff to answer for here

At this point I don't see any chance of rolling it back, the best hope is to get it all regulated out the ying yang. It's s really good mind control system but it isn't under government control which has to be making the government boys pretty uncomfortable

56:

Re: 'It turns out that facial recognition neural networks can be trained to accurately recognize pain!'

Could be of great social benefit beyond the medical.

Imagine if this could be made into a smartphone app. No more excuses for bullies and/or those who choose to remain oblivious to others' pain or even being the cause of their pain.

Also very useful in stereotypical ambulance chasing scenarios where the 'victim' tries to get or fails to get compensation for extraordinary pain.

Could also work for the neighborhood, workplace and home, i.e., the bullying/sociopathic cop, boss, spouse or parent.

Looking forward to the first time this gets to court.


57:

I'm pleased to learn OGH is working on the next Laundry Files Novel. I hope it goes well. Regarding Facebook and its business practices, you may be interested in this Fortune article, http://fortune.com/2017/09/06/facebooks-ad-metrics-census-pivotal/
which explains how Facebook claimed to have far more users in various demographics in the US, UK and Canada, than actually exist, according to the latest censuses.

58:

Re: '... best hope is to get it all regulated out the ying yang.'

Regulated by whom? My personal preference is an impartial expert third-party. The EU has done far more to protect consumers from prying tech than any other jurisdiction. And they impose stiff fines for breaches. My understanding is that Brits will no longer be covered by these regulations thanks to BrExit and there's no home-grown British equivalent available.

Any harm-reduction legislation if not understood by the user/genpop gets ignored, e.g., seat belts, drunk/high driving, etc. especially if commercial parties against such legislation start saying how inconvenient or costly this legislation would be for the user/consumer. Awareness/education campaigns to show the why and how plus consequences would be needed.

59:

Re: EU and online privacy protection

Below are the proposed new regs slated to come into effect in 2018.

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/


Excerpt:

'The objective of this new set of rules is to give citizens back control over of their personal data, and to simplify the regulatory environment for business. The data protection reform is a key enabler of the Digital Single Market which the Commission has prioritised. The reform will allow European citizens and businesses to fully benefit from the digital economy.'

And here's the mid-term review of its Digital Single Market strategy announcement:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1232_en.htm

Being a non-techie, I've no idea where this legislation needs strengthening. Do expect quite a bit of push-pull between consumer/genpop vs. corporate rights although so far the EU has sided with consumers/genpop.


This body allows public input and publishes results of consultations.

https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/consultations

60:

Jaws@51: The implicit logic of citing to past atrocities in response to an objection to present conduct is that it's impossible to escape the past.

Knowledge of past atrocities should be a reason to stop committing atrocities, rather than saying "that's history" and continuing to commit new ones.


In Australia we have the history wars, between the black armband and white blindfold views of Australia's past. Loosely speaking, the black armband view is that current Australians are affected by what has happened in the past, both good and bad. Some are affected more than others. The white blindfold, on the other hand, says "that's history, forget it/get over it" whenever someone complains about past atrocities. That includes history that's very much living memory for today's teenagers.

John Howard notoriously refused in 1999 to apologise for his actions as recently as five years previously, then went on to stage "The Intervention" in 2007, when he sent the army in to enforce new laws created to destroy Aboriginal communities. "History" continues to happen.

Right now in NSW we making another stolen generation - black kids taken from their families by force and traumatised by the state. The claimed reason is that even the acknowledged problems with state care are better than what's happening in the Aboriginal communities... claims which can't be measured until later, against harm that is definitely being done now. It would be more humane, as well as a lot cheaper, to help those communities become better places to raise children. But that would mean empowering those communities to make their own decisions, and stopping the criminalisation of blackness. Neither are acceptable to either major political party in Australia, or to the overwhelming majority of voters (viz, people keep voting for politicians who promise to keep doing this).

61:

The above is a response to the "the worst tyrant is one who does it for your own good" as much as the OP fears of tyranny.

On the OP note, Australia is also bringing in a "cashless welfare card".

That card is explicitly designed to track its users and allow their spending to be linked to everything else the government knows about the target. It was also originally only used on blacks, but after an initial outcry was expanded very slightly to include a few poor whites. To describe it as controversial would be to massively understate the reaction of those condemned to it, and those concerned for human rights or privacy etc.

That tracking is necessary because people in remote communities can't easily be tracked by cellphones (or at least, not with good spatial resolution) and most of them decline to give the data willingly (via a loyalty card or similar). Which shows how it's easy for the government to make it difficult or impossible to avoid tracking, even in data-poor remote areas. Eliminating cash altogether is the next obvious step...

62:

"Imagine if this could be made into a smartphone app. No more excuses for bullies and/or those who choose to remain oblivious to others' pain or even being the cause of their pain."

Wut?

"You are hurting me, look, my phone says so" ???

Do "bullies and..." even want excuses anyway?

No, it sounds to me very much like one of those technologies which are very useful inside a hospital and very dangerous outside one. With the additional problem that it is utterly impossible to keep it there.

63:

"Apple got caught tracking people in this way even when the feature was turned off"

I had a need to get at something which while it was provided over HTTP there was no means provided to actually point a browser at it, so I installed Android on an emulator and ran it through a decrypting proxy so I could sniff the HTTP traffic and remedy the deficiency.

As soon as it has booted enough to establish a network connection, it tells Google where you are. It also sends frequent messages about lots of other things you do. Turning all the privacy settings up to max stops some of these but by no means all; the bootup message is one of the ones that it does not stop.

The Amazon app that I then installed to actually get whatever it was I was after was even worse, sending stuff all the time; also it was unaffected by any of the privacy settings.

Apple must have been doing something incredibly unsubtle to "get caught" if you can get away with being that blatant. And who's to say they're not still doing it but in a (slightly) more subtle manner?

(I don't have a phone. Originally this was simply because anything without a full size screen and keyboard is junk as far as I'm concerned, but since the above experiment, there is the even weightier discouragement of knowing it would mean having to more or less vet the entire OS source code myself and reverse-engineer every piece of third party software in order to make sure there isn't anything that will misbehave.)

64:

Apart from the bits about copyright law (on whose likelihood I am entirely unequipped to comment), nearly all of that gives me a strange feeling that you are posting from an alternate universe where things haven't got that far yet...

65:

So far,I have had four ranting (with me doing the ranting) phone calls with aresholes trying to "persuade" me to get a externally controlled spyware/hardware "Smart meter" installed.
I usually end with remarks about distant sex activities, becuause I just lose my cool entirely with this shit.
Not just repair of electronic devives, either ... I had to go through hoops to get maintenance data on a small (Honda) motor-mower for Ghu's sake (!) .. "Oh you'r not a "properly qulified mechanic, you might hurt yourself" - GRRR .. "I'm an Engineering MSc & I maintain my own Land-Rover & your problem was?"

See also piece on CS Lewis quote - of course, what Lewis failed to spot, as a good christian, was that the earnest, smug do-gooders in charge of a "looking after you" dictatorships were most likely to be ... religious believers.
[ Even whilst murdering & torturing people, both J Calvin & the Holy Office & D'Esh believed they were "doing good" ]

66:

most phones don't let you change the battery
Really?
Is this true, or only for [ SPIT ] "Apple"?

67:

Yes
You can not apologise for other people's actions, especially if they are dead, but you can & should apologose for your own actions.
Which makes J Howard an even bigger shit than I already thought.

68:

Just because everyone does it sometimes, I'm going to comment without reading more than 25% of the post or any of the comments. Snowmobile is a full blown commercial realisation of the statement: Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes.

69:

>> most phones don't let you change the battery
> Really?

They generally don't have removable back covers any more. You can change the battery, but you need to pry open glued-together bits of the case to get at it, which will void your warranty.

It's also quite difficult to source batteries and other components like chargers these days that aren't junk-quality counterfeits complete with fake manufacturer marks on them -- so you run the risk of your phone catching fire and so forth if you use parts sourced from online stores.

70:

It's unfortunately the case that essentially every computer component these days has layer upon layer of un-auditable firmware, microcontrollers, and the like. Usually these devices won't even accept software updates from the user any more (they're locked with the manufacturer's private key) and they do things like run you wireless radio.

For a particularly egregious example, see the Intel AMT fiasco that was revealed somewhat recently... But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The Broadcom wifi chip security flaws Google found (in their devices and many others, including Apple) are more telling.

You basically can't get a computer to boot these days, and certainly not talk over a network, without exposing yourself to any number of privacy and security catastrophes in the making. Being able to audit this stuff? Impossible.

71:

When did this happen?
I'm using an approx 3-year old mid/low range Samsung & it opens up ... surely you must be able to get in to be able to change the SIM card, if nothing else?

72:

David Brin saw much of this coming.

In hindsight, his 1998 book "The Transparent Society" is highly prophetic.

In particular the notion that privacy, as we have known it, is a transient social attribute.

From 6000 to 600 years ago 99% of humans spent their entire life in a very small community where everyone knew pretty much everything about everyone else. Commonly sleeping 6 to a bed, or 12 to a room dossed down where it was warm, with people who've known you and your family all your life. Privacy existed - for some, and in some ways. But privacy as we have know it hardly existed for the vast majority of people. And it seems likely that privacy as we have known it will come to an end.

Nor is this all bad. "Black Lives Matter" is a thing because of omnipresent cellphone cameras raising the issue (over and over) in a way that's can't be written off as "the cop's word against the word of some random guy who looks shifty". Police body-cams really are becoming a thing. And having some rapist bastard caught by the police because they find him on camera in downtown London does not make me sad.

But like it or not, it's coming.

What Brin had not expected, among the masses of data that will invade our privacy, was the masses of misinformation. Sock puppets, astro-turf organisations, identity theft, etc.

73:

Set against a planeload of bombs every eight minutes for nine years (and the classifying both bombing tapes and decommissioning information for over a generation afterwards), a few weddings blown up is lost in the noise.

Laos: population in 1970: 2.96 million. Density today is only 26 people per km^2; land area is 238,000 km^2, mostly thickly forested mountains (bear in mind a good chunk of the population live in the capital city, Vientiane).

Pakistan: population today 207 million, 244 people/km^2, around 880,000km^2 total.

Also note that the bombing in Laos basically consisted of dumping B-52 loads of free fall bombs onto mountainsides concealed by trees with poor accuracy and poor targeting information, while the drone strikes in the Tribal Provinces use precision-guided weapons against actual visible people.

Upshot: most of the bombs dropped on Laos were wasted, and the pool of people available to be pissed off at the USA for murdering their relatives was two orders of magnitude smaller.

We do know that Operation Menu's effects on neighbouring Cambodia were one of the factors in the rise of the Khmer Rouge.

So, no blowback there, eh?

74:

Well, the SIM card behind the battery is just a design decision. I've had multiple phones where there is just a SIM card slot on the side of the phone, no need to open up the whole phone just to change a card.

75:

the important correlation with the drop in crime may not be with lead, but with zombification by iphone,

Wrong.

Tetraethyl lead was phased out of gasoline in the USA gradually, between 1973 and 1991. The drop in violent crime began in the mid-to-late 1980s and tracked the curve quite accurately.

Smartphones: while my sister first acquired a Nokia Communicator around 2000, and I got onto Palm Treos in 2003, the iphone didn't come along until 2007, at which point smartphones accounted for way less than 1% of the mobile phone user base. "Smartphone zombies" are almost entirely a phenomenon of the current decade.

76:

... anyway, to get a bit back on topic, the current situation is one where even organizing a peaceful resistance against a fascist regime is going to be essentially impossible. You can't meaningfully operate a resistance when every single interaction between people is easily tracked, bugged, and analyzed, while your opponents in official positions have the luxury of operating in secrecy.

I mean, consider some of the more basic implications: someone like Pigeon or Greg who avoids using mobile phones is quickly becoming the sort of anachronistic gadfly that automatically attracts suspicion. But there's no reasonable way to use phones and be secure. About the best you could do is turn them off (which may or may not work: the power button is controlled by firmware, which the secret police can hack).

You could, of course, leave your phone at home. That just makes you more suspicious, though -- and public surveillance will still track you. But this is missing the point: having easy and effective communications is critical to any sort of political or social organization, and as soon as you have to give up communications, you're done.

This is the pattern, now: state and fascist power is afforded absolute secrecy, while designated enemies or just political opponents are subject to invasive and biased surveillance and paranoid invasion of their communications.

This has been brewing for years. The Clinton/DNC email hacking is an obvious example, but also look at the way email records have been used to hound climate scientists, how easy it is to fabricate scandals about Planned Parenthood health clinics, and so forth. It's going to get much, much worse.

77:

surely you must be able to get in to be able to change the SIM card, if nothing else?

The sim card slides in via a little tray that pops out of the side of the phone using a special tool resembling an extra-thin paperclip.

This started happening on higher-end phones a number of years ago, as it's been standard on Apple phones (and laptops now!). The basic reason is that gluing the phone together lets you use more of the battery and component surfaces as structural support, so the phone can be thinner/lighter. It would also be difficult to waterproof the back cover.

This is somewhat less of an issue than you'd think, since you can still have the battery swapped at a shop. For people who need longer life, the standard is just to carry an portable power bank now.

78:

Apple must have been doing something incredibly unsubtle to "get caught" if you can get away with being that blatant. And who's to say they're not still doing it but in a (slightly) more subtle manner?

The original iPhone didn't have GPS. To work out where you were and show you a map, it therefore scanned the local wifi networks and cellphone towers, established their signal strength, and triangulated on your location. Obviously this only works if you have accurate maps of both geography and wifi hotspots — Apple spent a lot of money building these with their version of the Google Street View camera cars (you may have spotted them). Because wifi hotspots pop up and go down and change, they try and keep their database up to date by having phones report the networks they can see.

This is in addition to GPS (which iPhones now support) because GPS is kinda crap in many locations; the phone is powerful enough to merge multiple location mechanisms. But it means iPhones got a rep for reporting all sorts of wifi connection data to the mothership that people didn't expect them to be reporting, and Apple got their knuckles rapped.

As a current iOS user who has also had a poke a recent (1yo) Android versions, I have to say that iOS shows a lot more respect for customer privacy preferences — although they could do better. After all, Google pushes Android because it's a tool to sell advertising; Apple pushes iOS mostly because it's a tool to sell expensive, shiny hardware (although I'm worried by the extent to which their cloud businesses are undermining this). As a hardware vendor they could be reasonably trusted to be on the repeat-customer's side in any argument because they wanted to sell more hardware. But as they move more towards services like iCloud and Apple Music, and provide their own advertising platform, the boundary line is blurring ...

79:

An interesting theme of Brin's book on privacy back in 1998 was how US privacy laws (and debates) were about stopping the govt from collecting an sharing information about you inappropriately.

In the rest of the world, privacy laws were also about stopping corporations and other private actors from doing the same.

US Libertarians push a very limited idea of "privacy" - analogous to the limited American view of what right one has to "Free Speech" (as demonstrated upon Colin Kaepernick).

It will be interesting to see where Brexit goes on such privacy issues. Will Britain side with the EU's legal assault on the (largely US based) tech companies?

80:

Is this true, or only for [ SPIT ] "Apple"?

Calm down, Greg. Have you noticed the USB-connected rechargable batteries all the shops are selling? Sealed phones and external booster batteries are probably safer than letting J. Random Idiot try and hack a counterfeit LiION cell into their phone — or at least less likely to set the rest of us on fire.

(I have a collection of such batteries ranging from a "fat back" for my iPhone — a case that doubles as an emergency top-up charge — up to a small brick that has jump leads and can turn over a diesel engine, because that's what it's for, and has USB outlets as an afterthought (it can probably run an iPad for a week).)

81:

US Libertarians push a very limited idea of "privacy" - analogous to the limited American view of what right one has to "Free Speech" (as demonstrated upon Colin Kaepernick).

Libertarians also seem to worship "the market". I think that's wrong: the correct priority should be "human well-being", and many market-optimal activities are actually inimical to that (look at the advertising industry practice of inducing psychological insecurity to push products, for example).

82:

A colleague from Pakistan told me that in large parts of the country you can always hear a drone.

While your colleague might believe that, I strongly suspect that it's an exaggeration. Firstly, the point of having a drone around is to have it unobtrusive, so that it doesn't get noticed - if you don't care about overt observation, you use an aerostat (much cheaper) or an observation tower. Secondly, why is engine noise "a drone" and not a cheap motorcycle, or an electrical generator?

I wonder what the effects of growing up knowing that someone on the other side of the world might blow you up might be?

BTDT - for a while, our school had bomb drills as well as fire drills; and my father had a personal protection weapon (Northern Ireland). Much less than you would suspect - certainly IMHO no more than living in a US neighbourhood where armed robbery is a possibility.

83:

User-replaceable batteries are a design hangover from the days when devices had much higher power consumption and disposable batteries needed to be replaced frequently. Remote controls for TVs/DVD players etc still have that annoying little flap of plastic with the fiddly latch where you have to insert the two AAA batteries that came in the pack with the remote. In my experience one then never changes them for the entire life of the gadget they control (4 or 5 years). The only case for replaceable rechargeable batteries in devices like phones and tablets is (a) to immediately swap a flat battery for a charged one (b) to replace a battery that is worn out from too many charge/discharge cycles. Case (a) is unworkable because even in the phones and tablets that do have easily swapped batteries the batteries are all proprietary in shape and charging requirements and would need a special proprietary charger which doesn't even exist as an item you can buy. The only type of gadget such a charger makes sense for is cameras which do indeed come with external chargers to fit the proprietary battery packs. Which cost £50 each or more. Case (b) doesn't make any sense either because the battery has a useful life of years so the battery will probably be replaced at most once in the life of the device. Making a clumsy opening with losable bits that makes the device larger and heavier and leakier for something that will be required at most once is just dumb. Most people expect to take a watch to a shop for a new battery for the same reasons.

84:

t'll be just as in those old films from the '60s where people have a "terminal" they rent and have no actual computing power (let alone an OS) at all. From what I can gather that is what happened in the 60s with regards to computing

It's down to the comparative costs and speeds of communication links alongside remote processing power, memory, and storage; compared to local processing power, memory, and storage.

If your broadband link has insanely low latency and high bandwidth, and a salesman can offer you a strong guarantee of remote processing power and storage, then it might be more attractive than an expensive and fast-depreciating / quickly-out-of-date local solution.

If your broadband link is patchy or low-bandwidth, and processors / memory / storage is cheap, then a local solution makes sense.

The computer I used in my first job after graduation (late 1980s) was the half-way house of a local terminal into a VAX cluster down the corridor... Then we got some Sun SPARCstations, and then some SPARCStation ELCs (effectively, a terminal with nice graphics).

85:

Channeling my inner 10-year-old.

"Squirrel shit!"

86:

...and not being on the receiving end of violent repression. Because violence breeds more violence — who knew?

Well, the British Army learned the hard way in the early 1970s, and spent twenty years struggling with the aftermath. There may even have been some good books written on the subject.

Travelling forwards, the US Army realised it (at the top levels, certainly) which led to the whole "courageous restraint" thing. The film "Eye in the Sky" tried to explore some of the issues.

So; well-known and well-understood by militaries - but unfortunately sometimes forgotten, inadequately stressed during pre-deployment training. In some cases, "what pre-deployment training".

87:

There's also the possibility that Uncle Abdul isn't a terrorist; but his neighbour wants to settle a score / wants to gain personal advantage - and has made accusations of terrorism as a means to an end.

It's still really dumb to nuke the entire wedding party if what you're really trying to do is convince Uncle Abdul to lay off the IEDs. (Less bad: you send a sniper team after Uncle Abdul and nobody else.

Oh, agreed. Less bad it may be, but it still means that you need to get two people within 3-500m of Uncle Abdul (and a protection party within 1000m), undetected, with a line of sight into his house / front door / back garden, for long enough to positively identify him; get him to stand still for five seconds or so; and to extract them safely afterwards.

This may well be impossible...

Even less bad: you mail him a bullet, a photograph of his bedroom window, and a pointed hint — the racehorse's head at the end of the bed.)

Assuming that there's a working postal service (although an Amazon-style drone could drop it off, I suppose).

Some people don't react well to threats; so without knowing Abdul, it's hard to tell whether it will work, or whether he just puts more effort into avoiding the likelihood of said sniper team (screens around the house, varying clothes, shielding faces on entry/exit, clearing likely firing points on a daily basis, placing obstacles on probable approach routes).

88:

Have you noticed the USB-connected rechargable batteries all the shops are selling?
Well, I've noticed people I know using them ...
And I've gone "wtf?" since I doubt I'd be long-enough away from a source of mains power long-enough to need such a thing - I always carry my plug-in charger/transformer when away from home anyway, so why do I need extra shit ... I didn't realise that was a deiberate attempt to get you to be forced to buy more stuff ....
Or am I coming at this from the wrong end?

WTG @ 83
I replace my own watch batteries, too!
And car battery, but that's just a little more massive (!)

89:

A lot of these sorts of statistics regarding human sperm counts are, to my mind as a biological scientist, of somewhat dubious nature.

If we start with what we do know of vertebrate sexual behaviour and work over to humans slowly, then you'll see what I mean. All land vertebrates with the exception of a very few lizards capable of parthenogenesis have to mate to breed, and this always consists of a male putting sperm inside the female in some manner. Most birds use a very simple "Line up the holes and squirt" system, most other animals use a penis of some description.

At this point, there are two conflicting sets of interest going on. The female usually only needs to mate a few times, so wants the best possible genes from a mating. The male has much less expensive mating requirements as he produces only sperm as an investment, and thus wants to mate as much as possible, and to prevent other males' sperm from fertilising the female. It is how the latter is achieved that varies so much.

Gorillas do this by mate guarding. There's only one fertile male per troop, so he has no competition and thus is equipped with the bare minimum needed to do the job. "Hung like a gorilla" is a killing insult in Central Africa where everyone knows how small a gorilla's penis and testes are (and a compliment everywhere else in the world).

Chimps indulge in both hierarchies and in sperm competition; their testes are huge compared compared to a gorilla's, and big compared to human testes; chimps compete by producing huge numbers of sperm to try to overwhelm the competition.

Now, the problem here comes when you start talking about how human sperm competition works. We know it happens, because our testes are about 2.5 times the minimum size necessary, and it is also surmised that something else is going on since people mate far more often than they need to do.

The problem is that the only paper on the subject had problems recruiting and keeping volunteers in the study, so all the conclusions largely come from just one pair of people and thus aren't really all that statistically valid. Hence, there is an assumption that humans have quite a bit of spare capacity in the sperm production department, but we don't quite know how much, nor what the competition mechanisms actually are.

90:

Yes, you're coming from the wrong end.

The bigger total battery capacity buys you not having to think much about when to charge: if you're on the move a lot, having to find a socket on arrival and unplug when you leave can be a lot of overhead compared to knowing you've got enough battery in total in your pocket and can fully charge it overnight. Potentially, that you aren't going to lose access (and to be clear about this: I've been in enough safety-critical situations where a smartphone was the best comms access available) just because you forgot to charge overnight.

I listen to music a lot when I travel, which needs to come from the phone because so do the notification sounds. I noticed the battery life improvement when the radio hardware got a die shrink, and the "idle" improvements as screen size and thus battery size went up.

My backup battery collection's smaller than Charlie's and sees less use now my current phone has a 4.6" screen (small by current standards) and a 3Ah battery. But if I'm going to be far away enough from home for a while, I pack both the 3Ah and 9Ah backups simply because shit happens.

91:

It's possible with a modicum of conscious effort or plain practice to tell whether a sound's coming from approximately level or significantly above you.

And the level of obtrusiveness a drone's measured against is frequently that of a significant number of boots on the ground. You may well not want a drone (armed or not) to be unnoticed: letting the population know you've got hellfires on overwatch may well be the point of the exercise, it leaves a far more lasting impression than "shock and awe". And it's not like the US are above causing immense psychological damage to entire countries.

It's important to remember drones are cheaper to run than most of the alternatives. The aerostat's not as flexible, and if people take to shooting them down you're going to have to escalate to drones anyway.

Now if only we could get them to consider snipers as the right comparator for hitting only the right targets...

92:

I didn't realise that was a deiberate attempt to get you to be forced to buy more stuff ....
Or am I coming at this from the wrong end?

Wrong end.

Modern smartphones are general purpose computers of some considerable power, with nice bright screens. Their batteries are capacious enough that the phone can last for 3-7 days on standby (screen dark, listening for phone calls) on a 3G or LTE network that is optimized for high bandwidth over low power consumption. (If you can find a modern 2G/GSM phone these days, some of them are explicitly designed as emergency glove-box devices with a 6 month standby time.)

The problem is that the apps folks run on them are a wee bit addictive, by design — think Facebook or Twitter and their modern successors. And if you try to run a powerful computer for 6-8 hours on battery while using wireless data as well, the battery will run down. Surprise!

The manufacturers did away with swappable batteries for reasons described up-thread; they sacrificed a little flexibility for thin'n'light design, robustness, and waterproofing (not a minor concern when people use their phones out in the rain).

So then the aftermarket evolved, to sell batteries with some simple charger circuitry. Aided by USB taking off as a low power/low current DC power standard for all sorts of devices (pocket drones, fans, novelty toys). The phone manufacturers seldom sell such gizmos — it's an after-market thing — but they're all over the place.

About the ultimate whacky inversion of the norm is my travel shaver. It's designed to run on a pair of AA cells, but I got bored with changing them and fixed it permanently. The new solution is a pair of USB-rechargable AA cells; if they run down I can just plug them into my regular phone/tablet power adapter or a booster battery instead of having to go shopping for alkaline batteries. So we've gone from using boxes full of AA cells to charge USB devices like PDAs, to using USB to charge AA cells, in about ten years.

93:

Regrettably becoming more and more true for Androids as well. You can still find some with removable batteries, but they are a fading minority of devices.

94:

Reply to : Pidgeon (64)

>Apart from the bits about copyright law (on whose likelihood I am entirely unequipped to comment), nearly all of that gives me a strange feeling that you are posting from an alternate universe where things haven't got that far yet...

Nope not quite though I do sometimes wonder if *we* have all entered into some sort of strange universe where this has all started. Though hopefully there is still a chance to make a change and not go in this direction. Though with every day that passes it seems that chance is getting further and further away....

Random thought: Isn't it worrying that people almost seemingly *want* to rent these days as opposed to own? IHMO if that was how our general computing ended up that would be a very bad thing indeed. Might possibly be able to argue as an example that music is going down that route, i.e. along the lines of renting -- look at how many people rent their music (via streaming; you can pay twice btw -- once to the music service, then again to your ISP) rather than own some sort of copy even if it is just a ".mp3"? Is that the future? Eternal pay and/or no copy of your own?

It's intresting -- when I first started using computers back in the 80s it was the exception rather than the rule that you'd either have a computer (or something would have one in). That's almost completely reversed and in the future it'll be the exception that something *won't* have a computer in; the rule being there is a computer in a device. What a time to live through.


ljones

95:

Could be worse: were I in that position I'd be charging the shaver from my phone/tablet via USB OTG!

96:

Re: ' "You are hurting me, look, my phone says so" ??? .... Do "bullies and..." even want excuses anyway?'

Put yourself in the position of someone not able to defend or even speak for themselves ... yes, such devices/apps could help a lot.

And, please do not add insult (i.e., emotional injury) to (physical) injury by denying that there are folk like this who need help. These folk are not stupid, subhuman or to be pitied - they're in a bad place and could use some of the breaks that so far only the 'winners' have been able to access. If it comes in the form of tech, so be it.

Having incontrovertible evidence that is being stored where it cannot be altered would help identify and maybe even get rid of the bullies who are in positions to victimize and not be found out at this time. (Bullies/sociopaths often seek out such positions, but too few orgs bother to pre-screen for this.)

So,yes - I think this can work to humanity's benefit. And yes, any device/tech can be used against folk. It's always been about choice.

97:

It's interesting that the Russians think of non-violent action as "combat," which should be a heads-up for everyone.

Then again, about a century ago they had a lot of experience with running with a well-funded, but functionally obsolete, military. It didn't end well for the Tsars (I'm having fun reading China Mieville's October right now, thanks to whoever recommended it). Among others. Presumably they're hoping to share that wonderful experience with the rest of the world.

Looking at this, I wonder when people will simply break the internet to stop the majority of such attacks. After all, so much of what we use the internet for is waste. If breaking it seems more positive than negative, then why not?

Of course, I've thought this about the petroleum industry for decades, and they're still in power. That's probably the real problem, that it empowers a few, well-placed people at the expense of the many. What we seem to be getting into is a more polarized space where we have people rabidly defending the existing system, whether or not they benefit from it (I think they were called things like Black Shirts and Pharaohs back in 1917 Russia), and then there's the people getting ground down by the system who just want to break it to get some relief (the workers and enlisted soldiers, for example). I wonder if history will repeat itself, and if so, who the next generation of Stalins and Maos are? They're probably out there even now.

98:

Re: '... rent ... as opposed to own'

My understanding is that TVs (and many 'white goods') were almost always rented in the UK, so Brits may have a better understanding of the pros and cons.*

I prefer to own but when smartphones start hitting the $1,000 mark, renting starts looking good.

* At the same time, back then, most pre-Thatcher era Brits rented their homes, so maybe the idea of renting their furnishings made more sense. My understanding is that once financing became easier to access in the UK, there was a huge home-buying spree. Not sure, but maybe these things are connected: the younger population cannot afford to buy homes therefore becomes accustomed to the idea of having to rent major goods/services for the rest of their lives. Because younger folk are more likely to want to upgrade their comms/entertainment devices, they end up driving the market which eventually decides that this is the way things should work for everyone - renting not buying.

99:

Re: 'The problem is that the only paper on the subject had problems recruiting and keeping volunteers in the study, so all the conclusions largely come from just one pair of people and thus aren't really all that statistically valid.'

Thanks for this! Wasn't aware of the study issues, and hope that someone will attempt to replicate the study and maybe even expand it to look at how sperm count/quality varies with stress levels and/or use of various substances. Freshmen are the study subjects of choice for so much soc-psych research, maybe it's time they were offered a fun study.

100:

At least one manufacturer makes a vibrator designed specifically to be recharged from a USB.

101:

I don't disagree - I'm challenging the assertions "large parts of a (large) country" and "always hear a drone". It sounds to me like hyperbole.

Would this be silent countryside, or near villages (with engines, generators, etc)? Hearing a small engine at 15,000 feet or higher (the armed ones are medium-altitude vehicles), over wind noise, at a range of several kilometres? Whose drones would these be - kids' toys, professional photographers, or is the USAF / CIA operating in strength within Pakistani borders? Or have the Pakistan Armed Forces developed a strong UAV force?

I mean, I've told visitors to Scotland about how free-range or wild Haggis tastes better than battery-farmed Haggis...

102:

Take "always" in its milder hyperbolic form (compare and contrast with "everyday") and normalise for population density so you're talking about people rather than landmass covered: does it still seem that implausible?

I'd be entirely unsurprised if major cities get audibly buzzed by a US drone on a several-times-weekly basis, for example - even if it's generally recon rather than anything armed.

103:

In Iraq there's also depleted Uranium and other wonderful things.

Anyhow, there's a new Horseman in town: micro-plastics in water and salts (Guardian has been running pieces on it, but here's two other sources)

The presence of microplastics in commercial salts from different countries Scientific Reports, 6th April, 2017 - full text, no PDF

Invisibles: The plastic inside us Orb Media, large media site, lots going on, pictures, video etc - not phone friendly

94% Of US Tap Water Has Micro Plastic Fibers In It, Study Finds (Oh, & That Sea Salt, Beer, Flour, & Honey That You Buy … It Does As Well) Clean Technica 10th Sept 2017 - write up and site based on finding solutions.


A positive 21st Century is going to have to be predicated on a massive scale detox of the H.S.S biome / genome (you know, without the eugenics / genocide) if you want to retain a breeding population.

~

Drones?

PSYOP 101. (Used to be F15s etc). You fly X missions covert and Y mission loud n proud - the entire point is making sure the local populace know that even if you can't see them, they're always present. Israel pioneered the use of drones (instead of more expensive jets) in Lebanon back a few years. If it's not been memory holed' you can find CNN footage etc discussing the tactic used constantly at night, for instance.

The Drone Survival Guide Ruben Pater has a really nice graphic of the currently known ones.

The large stuff you can't see with the naked eye (too high), but others are used to 'buzz' the population.

~

On topic, no-where near comprehensive enough. DAS / Ring of Steel (London, NY, Chicago) etc. NY spent ~$400 mil on their new system, each major Bank gets a desk on the premises[1].

Ring of Steel MAS Context 22 - very nice blog.


See you after 300.

A picture of a Cat in a Forest with Mushrooms Imgur, safe.


[1] Now there's a link that got memory holed. Or did it?

104:

Oh, and:

Parliamentary vote on the EU withdrawal bill, second reading: AYES: 326 NOES: 290

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19 UK Gov, Parliament UK, 11 Sept 2017

UK Politicians have chosen to shackle their minds, ban all psychedelics and kill off their future for some paltry sums of hard cash and The Children of Men future of their limited minds.

Burn After Reading ending YT: film 2:53.

(And after we saved $100 bil on the last little finesse. Rude.).

105:

Nope, still don't see it. A dumb or unbelieving bully would take the piss out of the concept and/or grab the phone and stamp on it, while a smart one would use it as a feedback mechanism to help them bully more effectively. Your suggestion only works if the person inflicting the pain genuinely doesn't want to and is somehow unaware that they are, but you have framed it as somehow efficacious against people who you explicitly state to have the opposite attitude.

106:

The reason people used to rent TVs a lot in the UK is quite simply that they were flaming bloody expensive. A colour TV was an extravagance even 10 years after colour broadcasts started. For a lot of people renting was the only way they could get to have a TV at all.

In earlier times, it was common to rent radios for the same reason. What changed there was the development of the transistor causing the prices of radios to hit the deck. With TVs, it was more a case of prices staying about the same but people gradually coming to have more money coming in; same result, but different cause. (Valve TVs remained common long after valve radios because of the difference between an OC71 and a BU208, and even after transistorisation it remained the heavyweight components that mainly determined the cost.)

The sort of renting we see these days is by contrast of things that people can easily buy for themselves - or indeed in many cases get for free - but for some bizarre reason don't, and instead pay repeatedly. The factors behind this are many, complex, tend to make my blood boil at the sheer depths of multi-layered stupidity involved, and probably fall outside the scope of this discussion.

It has been true all along that people don't rent major things by preference, but if the thing is major enough they may not have the option. TVs used to fall into that category, but they don't any more. Houses never haven't; only the very rich have ever been able to avoid having to pay a hideous sum at regular intervals on pain of bridge. The difference is that some people have been able to call it "mortgage" and hope that they may one day be able to stop paying it if they don't die first. Since the 80s successive governments of either colour have thought it a good thing to pursue policies which have made it more and more difficult to choose that option, and which have made the hideousness of the sums - for either option - increase to the positively vampiric.

What people rent these days is small things for which the regular charge is comparatively trivial. They seem to have become accustomed to the idea of allowing someone to dip a hand in their bank account and pull out a few quid when they feel like it, in exchange for not having to realise that they could do whatever it is for nothing. They also seem to have become accustomed to having enough money that the fact that enough instances of a few quid still add up to a fair chunk, so they don't have to worry about the hand-dipping failing or what happens if it does. (At least, until the fair chunk gets to a size where it does happen.)

If you had suggested to someone who was renting a 405-line TV that they should sign a document allowing you to dip into their bank account whenever you felt like it, in return for (searches for some analogy to compensate for the time lapse) always having a different copy of The Sun in their pocket, their response would have been a brief, scornful and emphatic negative. It is that attitude which has changed. It is, I suppose, understandable that the generation which has grown up with the changed attitude should consider it normal, but it is far less understandable that they should have learnt it from the changed attitudes of people who could remember having to rent a TV.

107:

Coming in a bit late...

For the Russians' use of cyber as asymmetric warfare, I have found commentary by someone called "The Grugq" to be insightful, since that writer seems to be a well-informed security person.

I don't want to put in multiple links in my first post, so I'll just give the main site:
https://medium.com/@thegrugq
...and entry titles.

In "American Snoper: The Truth Will Not Set You Free", a scary assessment, he argues that "troll armies work" and "fact checking doesn't work." (Also see: "How to Fight Cyberwars and Lose.")

On the other hand, in "What to Expect When You're Expecting Bears," he argues that the blatantness of the Russian success in the American election was a Pyrric victory, since their methods are now exposed and well known and "shadow wars should stay in the dark." They clearly failed in the French election, although for some reasons peculiar to French politics.

Oh, and on the subject of tracing locations through online photographs, there's a "Fascinating Glimpse into Police Investigation" of a child pornography case, where first a hotel location, then a perpetrator, was traced down using nothing but background clues in various photos. (Though the tracing was done by motivated humans, not automatically by online machine learning.)

Anyway, "the grugq" has a lot of insights on these trends, at least current ones if not future.

108:

Talking of snooping.

Yesterday, I got a letter from the wonderful privatised electricity "provider" ( They aren't of course, but never mind ) that TODAY they were coming to install a "smart meter" in my house.
Now, I've told these wankers, more than once, that I don't want one, so ....
Assuming I'm in when they show up, I will be interested to see what levels of downright lying & bullying they get up to, to try to get entry to my premises & "persuade" me that I "must" have a smart-meter.
All of which will be wall-to-wall cow-droppings of course.
I'll keep you informed.

109:

Errrr... yes. Consider he total number of Predator and Reaper drones. Acknowledge that at any given point in time, that most will not be flying; and most of the remainder will be in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria.

Consider that in order to do its job of surveillance (which is not area surveillance, but surveillance of specific targets of interest) it is generally best to be covert, sitting at medium altitude and out of sight / out of hearing; and that in order to do any job of killing, it is imperative to be out of sight / out of hearing (to avoid giving warning).

Generally, a "show of force" task involves a Tornado jet or similar, at low altitude, at high speed, to create the requisite "WTF was that?" effect - if you've lived underneath low-flying training areas, you'll know what I mean. Buzzy little prop job just doesn't cut it.

And you've just suggested that sufficient should be tasked with overflying a city in a sovereign nation, at a volume that can be heard over the nearest car (I.e. extremely low altitude)? A nation that scrambled jets to intercept the raid on Bin Laden's compound?

Sorry, it fails the credibility test. I call hyperbole, propaganda, or just "wind up the gullible with tales of the CIA's awfulness" (no need, there's enough credible stuff out there).

110:

Another reason for renting a colour TV set back then was that they broke down quite regularly too, not suprising given they used lots of thermionic valves, more than a B/W set due to the need to carry out some quite sophisticated signal processing to produce the RGB signals for the large complex colour CRT. It didn't help that they spent a lot of their time on, usually all evening even as background noise during dinner. Renting meant it was the renter's job to fix them when they did go wrong, in the same way that someone hiring a car today doesn't pay for repairs or a tow for a breakdown.

Modern electronics are a LOT more reliable than TV sets and the like of fifty years ago.

111:

Unfortunately, most of the studies on human sexuality tend to be more on the lines of "Just so" stories rather than proper trials as such. My training in science was a PhD on sex pheromones in a plant parasitic nematode, and as such I could increase my total body of data fairly easily. Nobody save the absolute screaming outer edge of the animal rights fringe gives a hoot about micro-organisms so breeding up truly vast numbers of nematodes does not involve going crawling to the Ethics Committee, and experiments can therefore involve dozens of male worms and goodly numbers of replicates.

Experiments involving humans, on the other hand, need ethics approval and then you have the problem that the experimental subjects are trying to second-guess the experimenter, and you have trouble recruiting large numbers of subjects, and then there's the undoubted fact that anyone participating in a sex-related scientific experiment is always going to be a bit, well, strange.

Which leads to great galloping experimental bias.

We can postulate that a man on a one night stand ought to give it his best shot with sperm, whereas someone in a steady and trusted relationship might be more sparing with sperm with his steady partner and more extravagant with a casual fling.

However, we don't know and cannot exactly measure this, especially since people tend to drop out of these trials very soon after starting off in them.

I would love to try to do a proper, large-scale experiment on human sex pheromones. I reckon that the best experimental layout would be a T-shaped bar with subsidised drinks to pull the punters in; one arm of the T is control, one is the experimental scent (stem of T is dance floor and entrance). CCTV monitoring of the students in the bar, and see if there's a difference in behaviour between each side of the T.

Such a layout would let you swap the experiment/control sides regularly, and modern air moving systems would ensure that the two aromas did not mix. Best of all, you'd get a decent number of replicates for research. I can dream; such a scenario would cost thousands to set up and run.

112:

Try doing some research. "Sorry, it fails the credibility test. " is short-hand for "I don't want to believe this, so I will avoid challenging my perceptions". "Buzzy little prop job just doesn't cut it."...

A US citizen who has lived long-term in Gaza, who wished not be named for fear of reprisals from Israel, said she often heard the drones at night when the street noise dies down, or as they hover above her while out walking. "The sound is like the buzz of a mosquito, although there is one type of drone that sometimes comes into view that is silent," she said.

Gaza: Life and death under Israel's drones Aljazeera, 2013

And, look! Took 5 seconds to find some footage and commentary from a trusted source (Vice News who are not exactly radical left, Murdoch owns a good slice): Israel's Killer Robots YT, film

Or, we could get some real doctors on board:

People feel that their personal space is invaded by drones and normal life is physically and
chronically restricted. In Gaza, drones are called ‘zennana’ – a word meaning a ‘whining wife’ or daughter.

Drones: the physical and psychological implications of a global theatre of war Medact, 2012, PDF: Medact is the UK affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)

Or, we could go with Stanford's 165 page opus on Afghanistan / Pakistan:

Living Under Drones Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, Stanford Law School 2012 - PDF, warning, long, 185 pages.

Professor Sarah Knuckey of NYU’s Global Justice Clinic co-authored the study with Professor James Cavallaro at Stanford. The pair visited Pakistan twice with a team of young lawyers, interviewing more than 130 people in connection with the CIA’s bombing programme.

Knuckey, who has previously investigated killings by the Taliban in Afghanistan, told the Bureau she had been surprised at the high levels of civilian trauma described by health professionals in the tribal areas. Incidence levels more closely resembled those found in higher intensity conflicts, she said.

‘Drones causing mass trauma among civilians,’ major study finds The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2012. Long-form piece, TBIJ

Etc, etc.

All those are five years old, blink twice if you need a more up-to-date source[1].

[1] The UK just had a soft coup: blink twice if talking about this topic is now proscribed by the Daily Mail Morality Police.

113:

No, Russia does NOT want to weaken the EU - what it wants is for it to stop acting as an agent of the USA(*). Yes, Putin had an interest in Brexit, because the UK has been the USA's fifth column in the EU for as long as I can remember - while there are now others (e.g. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic), the UK was by far the most influential.

What I find truly bizarre is that we know who has been behind the past 30 years of anti-EU falsehoods and propaganda, and we know that one of the main culprits is in bed with the USA(*) and its government. We also know that the USA(*) is bitterly opposed to the EU developing a military force, and there is good evidence that it doesn't want the EU becoming more politically coherent. And yet almost everybody closes their eyes to all that and starts seeing reds under the bed.

No, I don't think that that the USA(*) wanted Brexit, but they were bitten by the law of unintended consequences, following their support for the campaigns to prevent the EU becoming more than a trading block.

(*) In this context, the USA(*) is more the USA commercial/financial and military-industrial machines than whatever people are occupying the White House.

114:

With regard to your last paragraph, I am afraid that we are going to get precisely the opposite, at least in the short term. And most certainly in the UK. What I am hoping for is that the EU will remodel itself following Brexit, either force its neo-fascist countries to change direction or kick them out, and become a bastion of what you and I would like. I am not optimistic.

115:

Libertarians also seem to worship "the market".

Seems to me most people calling themselves libertarians are also anarcho-capitalists.

116:

And if things go wrong that's where things end up

If you're a Microsoft, Adobe, or Apple customer you're already there.

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2016/05/apple-stole-my-music-no-seriously/ (A copy. Original article seems to not exist at the moment.)

117:

A couple of points that may be relevant to the specific debate:

Area of Gaza: 365 square kilometers
Area of Pakistan: 796,095 square kilometers

I'll quite agree that "drones over Gaza" is a commonplace event, particularly as Gaza is well in range of low-altitude drones. It may be true, but it is also irrelevant...

Secondly, your linked article that contains a section on the "Mental Health Impacts" comes from a report that has, shall we say, an obvious agenda. It was written by lawyers, not mental health professionals; quotes a lot of interviews, but only one research paper (on Palestinian children); and notes the rather low numbers of mental health professionals in the regions affected. Please note that I'm not denying that there may be a mental health impact, merely that this is certainly not the source document that demonstrates it.

As a directly relevant example, let's look at the long-term impact of the Blitz (nightly bombing raids on cities across the UK during 1940/41) and the effect of the V1 and V2 strikes on the UK in 1944/45 (the V1 was worse than any UAV - extremely noisy and audible 10 miles away at night, guaranteed to be a lethal attack rather than merely surveillance). Consider the psychological impact on the UK civilian population on the time... would you say that post-war mental health issues in the UK and German populations at large, occurred at a greater level than in a United States of America whose civilian population was effectively untouched by war?

USA-based readers such as yourself may find it difficult to comprehend the impact of WW2 strategic bombing raids; well over 40,000 UK civilian dead, rather more than that wounded, and a million houses destroyed or damaged. Consider also the "sow the wind, reap the whirlwind" outcome on the German civilian population later in the war - bombing raids that by 1945 were striking around the clock; USAAF by day, RAF by night. Over 300,000 dead civilians, 780,000 wounded, 7.5 million rendered homeless.

Consider whether Edinburgh (untouched by air raids) was worse off than Glasgow (after the Clydebank Blitz, out of 12,000 homes, 4,000 were destroyed and 4,500 were severely damaged; only 7 were undamaged).

If the mental health of the civilian populations of post-war UK/Germany wasn't significantly different from that of the USA, or of Edinburgh from Glasgow, does it suggest that the long-term impact of such a threat is low?

118:

I tend to concur with Martin on the validity of the "always within earshot of a drone" idea, but suspect that reality may be less important than perception.

The fact that there are nowhere near enough drones to go round, and that even if they were then (unless it was deliberate as part of some massive, warped psychological warfare operation) it's extremely unlikely that the subjects of drone surveillance or strikes would be aware of it until the warheads went off doesn't prevent people from *believing* that the (probably entirely innocent) distant engine they can hear is in fact a shadowy instrument of death lurking just out of sight and reacting as if it were real...

119:

I thought Germany was bitterly opposed to having a military force. Why would the EU want a military force separate from NATO or its individual members? Isn't the EU having a military force exactly the kind of threat you think Russia legitimately fears?

I am not going to ask how all of "you" know all the things you claim "we" know.

A propos of nothing in particular, I was forced to listen to Fox News at a restaurant a few months ago. I cannot imagine having that wall of pernicious propaganda in my ears every day of the week and it not affecting me, if only in my subconscious. It was also interesting to see that CNN has basically started to sound like a propaganda machine as it defensively reacts to the bizarre entity now inhabiting the Executive Branch. We'll all be in our own bubbles soon enough, if we are not already.

120:

I thought Germany was bitterly opposed to having a military force.

You think wrong.

What Germany is opposed to, by consensus (excluding a maybe 5-15% fringe of loonies on the far right) is having a military force which is sent on out-of-area force projection missions, because last time they did that thing it memorably ended in tears before bedtime.

This doesn't stop them providing support for disaster relief operations and multinational peacekeeping forces, but they're very reluctant to send tanks and bombers across their frontier.

(The world would be a much better place if everybody shared that reluctance.)

121:

Mobile (not smart) phones were the big deal for that. Line rental at home has always been a thing so it was a natural extension and offering the "rent-to-own"-style contract really did make them more accessible right until the cheap ones came down to a tenner or so. You're still paying for the "line" monthly in most cases, ofc, and it's a social necessity for many.

The same's still true of smartphones: I'm on a SIM-only contract at the moment but the previous phone was originally purchased on contract. Which way round has the lower TCO often varies with the phone model and what's covered by the contract, but gets trickier if you were going to change SIM-only contracts after a year...

...and often smartphones go beyond social necessity into "basic urban/suburban/anywhere-you-have-signal survival tool" for people who don't expect to get lost for more than two days at a time now.

I have distinct feelings about music but am paying for both Netflix and Crunchyroll (think anime-specialised Netflix) - the latter often turns into blu-ray purchases a while later though, and I'm not watching anything live so no TV license.

122:

Re: '... wonderful privatised electricity "provider" ( They aren't of course, but never mind ) that TODAY they were coming to install a "smart meter" in my house.'

Have you read your 'contract' with the electricity provider re: right of access agreement as well as what your city/county has agreed to with such services providers*? Your ability to remain opted out of a smart meter may be iffy.

What I consider particularly inane and potentially harmful is that these smart meters are advertised as saving you money by altering the temp when you're not at home. An okay idea for someone who's working or travels a lot and may be too rushed to reset the thermostat twice a day. However this idea is complete idiocy if you're a stay-at-home retiree who probably needs to set the indoor temp differently - warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer during most of the 'work' day for health reasons. This might be your best argument: denying you the ability to regulate the temp in your house would be injurious to your health. And no - putting on another sweater isn't an adequate substitute.

* In my area electrical and cable providers are free to dig out up to 4 feet from the street all across my front yard whenever they want/need to in order to affect improvements/make repairs.

123:

Re: ' ... but you have framed it as somehow efficacious against people who you explicitly state to have the opposite attitude.'

Okay - so how could you make this app more effective at protecting people from abusers? Seriously - because this type of system is likely, so let's look at its strengths and weaknesses.

For the stompers, an immediate emergency call to the local authorities because under normal wear, the device should never become inactivated. For the thieves - - also an immediate emergency link - following any detection of 'abnormal' pulse/breathing patterns. No two people are alike on any dimension including this so such a metric could be a possible identity-checker.

(One of my elderly wheelchair bound relatives wore a small device that would immediately contact the monitoring station if a fall was detected. This is oldish tech. Ramping up from fall detection to heart rate/breathing seems likely since this is just an improvement in sensitivity rather than completely new tech.)

124:

Music streaming services do more than just let you listen. They take care of organizing the collection, sharing mix tapes, borrowing other people's taste, being a collection vastly larger than you would ever own, and available on all your devices painlessly.

They provide most of the benefits of owning your own giant collection, but also the benefits of having a bunch of radio stations, and some limited (in ways that seem to stop it going toxic) facebookieness on top so you can asynchronously listen with your friends.

And you can get quite a lot of that by listening to some ads, or pay a quite reasonable amount (certainly less than buying a large collection) for extra super-powers (offline listening is often pay only, I believe).

I'm really not much of a music guy, so I only use a tiny bit of that and would be satisfied with far less, but they are brilliant. Online Fantasy Sports League level brilliant (something I have even less interest in, but man is that a great idea).

125:

Inital-soup coming .....
AFAIK & IIRC & remembering that IANAL .....
Everyone still has the right, if they are a householder ( i,e, not renting ) to point-blank refuse the installation of so-called smart meteres. There is, of course a huge publicity & disinformation campaign in progress about how wonderful they are ....
Unfortunately, I saw a very interesting article in the Weekend FT some months back ( & I kept a copy ) about how uneasy GCHQ (The Doughnut) were about smart meters & National Security as in mass hacking-attack on the civilian infrastructure.
Anyway, the buggers didn't show, today at any rate.

126:

We're discussing two different topics: PTSD via direct action (your examples) vrs PTSD via indirect action (as noted in #118).

Here's a nice Master's paper on it (nice because it's relatively simple, relies on a lot of other papers and so forth, so functions as a meta-analysis of sorts and it's from a rather unique program perspective):

Other interviewees described their dependency on medication, tranquilizers in particular, in order to generally ease the stress and tension they feel from the drones during daylight hours and also to facilitate sleep during the night. “I have mental tension and anxiety during the night time because of the drone attack. I keep tablets under my bed in order to get sleep at night”
(Amnesty International, 2013,p.31)

THE SOCIAL EFFECTS OF DRONE WARFARE ON THE F.A.T.A. AND WIDER
PAKISTAN
Stephen Pine, January 2016, CENDEP. PDF, long - 180 pages.

It breaks down as 22% non-PTSD and 28% PTSD for effected areas.

You'll want p64(48) onwards and Appendix B which is data pulled from a much larger study. This is noted because (if you read the Gaza documentation), tramadol has become the #1 drug abused by youth in the area. That pattern repeats in Pakistan. Now look at American opioid abuse.

Notice the pattern?

Also note that children can hear in much higher frequencies than adults, which adds to the psychological impact: mummy & daddy can't even hear what is stressing you out[1]. Nasty one that.

~

On topic. Hmm. Ok, not using DARPA etc links (to avoid the Mensch spiral[2]), here's something you can do with commercial stuff. (Deploys handwavium on the actual tech / science for miniaturization for now, I defer to engineers here, but it looks doable for under $10k or so).

Load up your drone with directed sonic capabilities[3] a really decent HD camera[4] and link to the targets' personal DB[5]. Then ramp it up with some good old 'Voice of G_D' type nonsense. G_D, the Devil, Aliens, paranoid schizophrenia mimicry, "The software says you're homosexual", whatever hits their buttons. Deploy as the target is making a political speech on the sanctity of marriage or whatever. That level of stuff is available to any old Josephine these days[6]. ZZzz.

Let's ramp this up: give the drone the ability to target the computer with algos that insert 'subliminal' (actually doppler but hey) messages into online videos. The TV which is nicely connected to the internet. The toothbrush. The vibrator so it forms a nice internal resonance to tap into bone conduction[7]. Heck, all it has to do is back-door the router and map your internal space[8] and sniff the hot-spots Ok, this is all still very much last year and Zzz. All doable with commercial tech.

Let's get kinky: Ramp it up to a population level[8] and just turn the entire EM spectrum into a weapon. (That's ignoring the old radio tech already deployed as propaganda). Now we're talking. But still old style and boring[10]. Zzz. Let's start removing or preventing certain things. Algos are figuring out pre-crime[11], gender orientation (as Host noted) and other things. What you need is to shape the growth of the individual on a population level with no-one noticing.

Of course, the punch-line is: already been done, if by somewhat cruder means.

~

Anyhow, an actual response to Host: it's very interesting that none of this stuff is being used to 'uplift' or increase populations' cognitive abilities[12].

Here's a HN type pitch: We can shape your child's world to promote Entrepreneur type behaviors and psychologically positive traits without them noticing, using frequencies that cannot be heard by adults. Real time monitoring and conditioning of their entire perceptual sphere, all via Alexa[tm][13]. Blam, here's $500 mil VC funds.

Or, the other question: What happens when the line between 'Angels & Demons in your Head' becomes "My neighbor and his AMZN prime account and desire to get into my knickers" or "Perhaps the Government spotted my Social ID score was low / linked to dissidents and is putting a little reinforcement into my little bubble"?

~

But these are the cutesy non-horror versions, of course.

[1] If you want to take a good example. At first it was commercial boxes - Mosquito MKIV Anti-Loitering Device Commercial site, but now? There's an App for that! Kids Be Gone: Noise Deterrent App Keeps Kids at Bay (And Parents Sane?) Cult of Mac... 2009. Hmm. That name, looks familiar... whining noise... hmm.

[2] Two names

[3] Hear Voices? It May Be an Ad Ad Age, 2007

[4] Top 20 Hidden Spy Cameras 2017 Reviews Best Reviews, Jan 2017

[5] Any number of commercially available stuff.

[6] Looks like the audio side has recently got a lot lot smaller / efficient:

The first new, approved patent covers improvements to the ultrasonic driver design at the heart of the Audio Spotlight technology, which result in increased output, cleaner sound, and a lower cost to consumers. The second new patent covers refinements to the equally essential algorithms for converting audio to ultrasound which result in audio output that is reproduced with even greater clarity and less distortion than previously achievable.

HOLOSONICS ISSUED TWO NEW PATENTS Holosonics, Commercial Company, PR release Mar 2017

[7] There's a joke there, but hey, Ted Cruz just got hit by the same type, so I won't go there. But, real: AudioBone - Ear-Free Listening AudioBone, commercial site.

[8] Wi-Fi Trick Gives Devices Super-Accurate Indoor Location Fixes MIT Tech Review, Oct 2016

[9] Scie n tolo gists ahOY.

[10] Nudges, Daily Mail Hate, Symbolism, Visual, Acoustic (Another interesting source of emotion is referred to as ‘contagion’: The idea that once an emotion is triggered, we experience the physiological manifestations of that state – so, for example, we might smile. That smile then feeds back into the system and reinforces the happy emotion that we feel. Music, emotion and the brain Music Psychology, 2014), Behavioural: all have had 100 years of Advertizing Money thrown at them already.

[11] China is developing facial recognition tech to allow police to predict crimes before they happen Shanghaiist July 25th 2017

Facial recognition company Cloud Walk has been trialling a system that uses data on individuals’ movements and behaviour — for instance visits to shops where weapons are sold — to assess their chances of committing a crime. Its software warns police when a citizen’s crime risk becomes dangerously high, allowing the police to intervene.
“Of course, if someone buys a kitchen knife that’s OK, but if the person also buys a sack and a hammer later, that person is becoming suspicious,” said the Cloud Walk spokesman.

China seeks glimpse of citizens’ future with crime-predicting AI FT July 23rd 2017

[12] Although an entire generation hooked on Adderall / Monofil is an interesting take on this - sacrifice imagination for worker-bee mentality? America and China looooved that.

[13] Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa Hacked with High Frequency Dolphin Attack VoiceBot AI, 6th Sept 2017

127:

Dropped a link, apologies:

In this work, we design a completely inaudible attack, DolphinAttack, that modulates voice commands on ultrasonic carriers (e.g.,f 20kHz) to achieve inaudibility. By leveraging the nonlinearity of the microphone circuits, the modulated low-frequency audio commands can be successfully demodulated, recovered, and more importantly interpreted by the speech recognition
systems. We validate DolphinAttackon popular speech recognition systems, including Siri, Google Now, Samsung S Voice, Huawei HiVoice, Cortana and Alexa. By injecting a sequence of inaudible voice commands, we show a few proof-of-concept attacks, which include activating Siri to initiate a FaceTime call on iPhone, activating Google Now to switch the phone to the airplane mode, and even
manipulating the navigation system in an Audi automobile
.

DolphinAttack: Inaudible Voice Commands Zhejiang University, CCS 2017, PDF, Legal.

Combine with HoloSonics' new algos and what do you get? Well, for one thing, that mobile computer in your pocket is not on your side.

(Bonus Round: French Paper used the very same frequencies, hmm-hmm, and top of the range sports car vulnerabilities? Oooh, that's tasty)

p.s.

Poor Doggos and Kitties, up to 64khz for them. (Oh and Other Things, wink wink nudge nudge)

128:

"At least a century"? The obvious correction to that is "Into the valley of death rode the 600" (or however the Charge of the Idiot Brigade starts...

129:

And one last one (which should be obvious by now):

Let's 1984 this up.

Take all the data (oh, I don't know, 143 million credit reports gives a bit of range to target the 'undesirables') and turn all those EM factories (phones, computers, Audis) into mobile societal screening broadcasters.

Are you in the Green band? Well then, society loves you, you're Eloi and beautiful. Red band? Oh dear, sorry, ATM swallowed your card, cheque bounced and you've Banking fees on top of late payment, DAS flags your movements as interesting, Search engines give you more spam and nonsense instead of instantly providing the correct papers you're searching for.

The potential is, well, endless. And actually very possible at this time, so ZZzz.

You can, of course, then ramp this up a little further...

The World’s Parasites Are Going Extinct. Here’s Why That’s a Bad Thing Smithsonian, Sept 7th, 2017

We See You


All of this is of course predicated on not very smart H.S.S minds not understanding the importance of ecology and clumsily applying it Social Darwin style to society and expecting the Wild Ones not to emerge.

:P

130:

...It breaks down as 22% non-PTSD and 28% PTSD for effected areas.

No, it doesn't. It breaks down that way for interviewees. From the paper: "It should be noted that a proportion of the qualitative data consists of fifty different interview extracts with drone strike witnesses and survivors. While this is a significant quantity of qualitative data, the transcripts of the interviews in their entirety are not publically available. The possible result of this is that although the main topic of the interview may have been recorded in the interview extract, the interviewee could also have gone on to speak about additional relevant topics and these would only be present in the full transcript. For this reason, the pie charts within this dissertation which display percentages pertaining to the qualitative data should be regarded as mainly illustrative in function, rather than being perceived as statistically exact representations of the interview data."

There appears to be no mention as to whether the interviews were conducted in English, the reliability of any translations, the selection processes for interviewees. No mention as to whether interviewees who were strike survivors were "males of military age", or admitted to having militant affiliations (if you're a local militant commander, you're probably not looking at a long and happy lifespan, and this might well be stressful).

As I said, there may be mental health impact, but this paper isn't the one to demonstrate it.

Meanwhile, I ask again - why would mass populations of civilians, who endured similar or demonstrably higher levels of persistent lethal threat, fail to demonstrate anything close to the "28% PTSD" claimed as the impact of armed UAVs? There's no attempt in these papers to compare against the obvious historical examples, no high-quality statistics from mental health professionals, just assertions from people pushing a different agenda.

I actually don't agree with targeted killing as a policy of low-level counter-insurgency; the case was made in a far more effective way by Mark Urban. In his excellent book "Big Boys' Rules", he used the South Tyrone ASU before and after the Loughgall ambush (the killing of armed terrorists, with a murderous history, in the course of their attack). The choice of statistics (rather harder, not involving "interviews" or "key words matched against DSM") demonstrated that the ambush only had a short-term impact on terrorism in the area, and created more long-term grievances...

131:

"A work of fiction". Yeah. Fiction has to make sense. Real life, not so much.

132:

Yes, the one who's Determined to Do You Good is a terror. Jack Williamson's The Humanoids is a warning.

But they sleep, too, or find they have to go Help Someone Else (you ingrate!). What*ever* makes you think the robber barons sleep, and don't have staff to cover you 24x7? I refer you to horror stories of company towns, workers paid in company scrip, and you want to quit and leave? Sure... just as soon as you pay your debt to the company store (no way you can).

133:

What Germany is opposed to, by consensus (excluding a maybe 5-15% fringe of loonies on the far right) is having a military force which is sent on out-of-area force projection missions, because last time they did that thing it memorably ended in tears before bedtime.

Not just policy opposition - they're rather ill-equipped for such activities (very few Armed Forces are; the UK is nearly unique outside the US in this respect). They can't actually get very far, nor sustain themselves on arrival, without help from other nations.

Because the reformed Bundeswehr, Bundesmarine, and Luftwaffe were reformed to defend West Germany against a credible Soviet threat, there was no need to waste money on all the expensive stuff that you need to travel out of area. No strategic transport aircraft, not much air-to-air refuelling, an emphasis on heavy armoured forces and short-range strike aircraft.

The policy opposition meant that the Defence Ministry was the German equivalent of casting a politician into the outer dark - not exactly the post of a leadership hopeful. When the wall came down, the Peace Dividend was grabbed with both hands - the largest armoured force in Western Europe became much smaller, and they're having to rebuild it in the face of an increasing Russian capability. Availability rates in the Bundeswehr and Luftwaffe have also caused some recent scandals; cutting back on the budgets for spare parts has a dramatic impact...

The Germans did take part in the Kosovo War; they had an armoured brigade alongside the British and French armoured brigades, for any "non-compliant entry" should it be required; they were also... "reassuringly robust" when the local yahoos decided to shoot at them in Pristina. They did have a tiny upset when some of their troops Afghanistan were allegedly found to be wearing T-shirts that translated to: "Further East than Grandfather managed..."

134:

Yes, that's kinda understood already. You're making a huge deal out of challenging a very basic assumption via very very obvious finding of failure modes which the authors of said papers are more than likely aware of.

However, since Host specifically mentioned it in the topic, I'll play along:

. Approximately half of the inhabitants believed that; although drone strikes do target the militants, but civilian causalities have amplified due to the introduction of “signature strikes”under Obama administration. However, half of the respondent revealed that they will support drone campaign only if they were conducted under the supervision of the Pakistani military (ICG, 2013). Moreover, FATA Research Centre conducted a profound and exhaustive analysis of militancy in FATA and found that the locals of FATA consider the US
forces as the core cause for the intensified insurgency in FATA. 89% of the locals, who were interviewed, were of the view that the militancy in FATA will mitigate only after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, as the militants can no longer justify the jihad they are performing in the name of Islam. Similarly, 78% of the respondents who were interviewed during the research revealed that negotiation is the better way to dilute and mitigate
militancy from the region, rather than drones strikes and military operation (FRC,
2013).

tribal regions particularly in North and South Waziristan. A respondent from Waziristan during an interview revealed, “the irritating noise of Manganna (local name for drone) is always on our minds. We can’t sleep at night. It seems that we are the next targets. Drones have made our life hell on earth.” (Mehsud,2013). This portrays how badly the drones’ strikes are affecting the psychological life of the people residing in FATA. The ferocious noise of drone, the scattered body parts and the annihilated human dwellings have given birth to certain psychological issues. A psychologist from Peshawar during an interview revealed, “Drone strikes have been a root cause for theincreasing psychological issues in FATA. The phobia of drones strikes, sad mood and avoiding social gatherings has leads to behavioral changes ultimately leading to OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder”(Khan K. , 2013). This shows that drones have badly disrupted the daily life in FATA, particularly Waziristan, making them powerless and unsafe. Recreational activities and social gatherings are considered to be effective tool for alleviating psychological issues, but the continuous drone strikes have coerced the local of FATA to avoid such activities thus making them more vulnerable to psychological
despondencies.

Madiha Asghara, psychology professor in Islamia College Peshawar during a seminar organized by FATA Research Center in Peshawar on 17 September 2013 revealed that as a consequence of drone strikes around 5% of the locals of FATA are facing the dilemma of post traumatic stress disorder. Similarly, a Pakistan mental health expert shared her concern and anxiety about the long-term consequences of such psychological shock on children. She stated that100 Drone Strikes in FATA: Impact on Militancy, Social, Economic and Psychological Life:

“The biggest concern I have as a [mental health professional] is that when the children grow up, the kinds of images they will have with them, it is going to have a lot of consequences. You can imagine the impact it has on personality development. People who have experienced such things, they don’t trust people; they have anger, desire for revenge . . . So when you have these young boys and girls growing up with these impressions, it causes permanent scarring and damage”(SSL&NYSL, 2012).

From the above statement, one can conclude that the people of FATA especially children and women are going through a period of time where they are besieged with psychological despondencies. More importantly, more than 50% of the FATA’s population consists of children, who can play an integral part in framing the future of FATA and if these children continue to face the trauma of militancy and the ferocious drone strikes, in few years they will face a dilemma and a number of psychological issues.

Drone Strikes in FATA: Impact on Militancy, Social, Economic and Psychological Life FATA Research Center, PDF, legal -

Disclaimer: The FATA Research Center has not been vetted and may a) be political / biased in nature; b) funded by dubious people or c) a legitimate NGO.

That quotation gives you four further papers to explore, which is why it was used.

What you're misunderstanding (again, sigh) is that the psychological damage is caused by uncertainty and the Total Spectrum nature of the threat. i.e. during the Blitz, there was clearly categories of threat (e.g London, Coventry etc vrs rural Lancashire), and more importantly a direct response and mitigation of the threat via the RAF, who could be 'rooted for', supported and held onto.

The entire point of Drones is that they're a 100% asymmetrical weapon: you cannot deploy them vrs other armies without air dominance (or, you can, but expect heavy losses).


Now officially bored of Drones.

135:

Things have developed somewhat since the Afghan t-shirt incident.

A big scandal of the past few months involved the revelation that at least one squaddie in the new professionals-only Bundeswehr had been collecting Nazi memorabilia. . .

136:

But yes: hopefully that quotation will explain the focus on children / PTSD etc.

More than 50% of the entire population is under 18. Let that one sink in, in a conflict area where males aged 13+ are considered "enemy combatants".

137:

...and four squaddies in the British Army have just been arrested for membership of the now-proscribed organisation "National Action"...

You can't eliminate stupidity and bigotry, but you can certainly try.

138:

Re: 'More than 50% of the entire population is under 18.'

Great ... just as their hormones go a-buzz all over the map. Believe that this is also the age range for substantial changes in gray-to-white matter shifts in the brain esp. in the frontal and temporal lobes. Then consider what these particular lobes do.


Re: Drones, subsonics, PTSD sample sizes, translation and other issues

There's one body that by now should have robust data and more than ample potential study subjects: the US military via the VA who've funded tons of research on veterans & PTSD.


There's another issue about kids, adults and sonics: not sure you need to be able to consciously perceive/be aware of a frequency in order to be affected by it. If awareness is not needed, then children would be the canaries for that neighborhood and should be listened to. (The brain has evolved an ability to blank out/ignore certain sensory signals from conscious awareness after a time - habituation rather than adaptation- so that it doesn't waste as much energy processing that input. No idea how this varies between adults and children.)

139:

Re: Gerasimov Doctrine ... Russian infowar practices against the west.

Don't see much difference between this and typical marketing research assisted consumer packaged goods marketing practice. Advertisers/manufacturers/retailers learned long ago that if you can sway the public's opinion, you can more easily/cheaply get what you want out of them. But to ensure that the public doesn't catch on, make sure that your society continues to denigrate the importance and relevance of 'soft/changeable emotions' and rely exclusively on 'hard cold logic' (esp. if you're in control of what 'facts' they can use in their logic). There's a reason why in marketing research the most fundamental question (dependent variable) is overall liking/satisfaction: it's the most consistently predictive variable of future behavior. (Purchase intent is second in importance in most marketing research - we've been trained that it's okay to change our packaged goods purchasing in the event of a deal.)

There's a reason humans (and many other species) have emotions. Unfortunately many developed cultures have convinced/brain-washed their citizens into thinking that emotions are supposed to be always locked up like some dirty little secret. (BTW- the amygdala is what stamps 'emotions' as to type after which that packet or sequence of signals travels to the temporal lobe, i.e., home of learning, memory, religiosity, etc.)

140:

Sonics
CAN & US Embassy staff in Cuba, anyone?

As for Drones & Vergeltungswaffen Eins - my father said he didn't care about the V-2 - if you heard the bang, you were still alive ... but the V-1's terrified him - & remember, he lived through the Blitz on London, before being posted to Ardeer & then came back home for leave etc, just in time for the V-1 attacks. And SOME V-1's were caught by the RAF/A_A guns, but most got through & there was fuck-all you could do about it.

And The neat trick is to avoid having to get to that situation in the first place - easier said than done, of course.

141:

Re: 'I would love to try to do a proper, large-scale experiment on human sex pheromones.'

Or you could try this at ye local strip club esp. if they're hosting a stag party. There's been some related research done among female strippers: much higher tips during estrus. So much higher that in some cases the strippers and club owners/managers agreed to reduced work hours/days.

Did a quick search to see what parasitic worms and hormone research looks like and found this which upsets the sex-and-evolution stuff I learned in Bio.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-06/p-pnt060917.php

'These findings challenge the prevailing idea that sexual species will always outcompete their asexual relatives and may even have wider implications for our understanding of why sex evolved. The work also supports the existing idea that hybridization is an evolutionary phenomenon capable of giving rise to new parasites and infectious organisms.'

142:

Actually a lot of V-1s were knocked down by AA -- there was a short respite after the initial V-1 attacks started in June 1944 and that gave the British zone air defence organisation time to move a lot of 4.7" AA guns to the coast. In addition a secret weapon was released for use for those guns, the radio proximity fuze. Since the guns would be firing over the Channel any misses or dud shells would end up in deep water safe from being recovered by the Germans and reverse-engineered to give them a chance to develop active countermeasures. After gaining some experience the coastal AA guns were knocking down as many as 40% of the V-1s flying in daylight.

The RAF interceptors flew in the space between the coast and the southern edge of London where a last-ditch line of barrage balloons and conventional AA operated. The really sneaky trick was to use a group of captured and turned German spies to report "fall of shot" impacts of V-1s as occurring to the north of the capital, encouraging the V-1 crews to set their engine cutoff timers short so the V-1s would actually tend to impact in open countryside south of the city. The spies then reported those attacks as having been on target...

143:

The entire point of Drones is that they're a 100% asymmetrical weapon: you cannot deploy them vrs other armies without air dominance (or, you can, but expect heavy losses).

Dunning-Kruger rears its head yet again... You're wrong, because it's exactly the point; you lose a drone, you don't lose the aircrew.

UAVs have been in service with Western armies for over fifty years, replacing types like the old Auster AOP.V [1]; from Midge to Phoenix to Watchkeeper, intended for the battlefield if the Cold War turned hot. Better to lose fifty or a hundred drones, than fifty or a hundred crewed aircraft.

UAVs are very definitely relevant in near-peer armoured warfare, as the Russians are learning and the Ukrainians are suffering.

[1] Subject-relevant: A certain Lt James Doohan, Royal Canadian Artillery [2] flew Auster AOP as an artillery spotter

[2] Author-relevant: he was a pilot in 666 Sqn...

144:

The Germans did take part in the Kosovo War; they had an armoured brigade alongside the British and French armoured brigades,

The Luftwaffe got to bomb Belgrade again, fifty years after the first time (Operation Punishment in April 1941). Back in WWII the Serbs were (generally) on the side of the Allies while the Croatians supported the Nazis, enthusiastically carrying out ethnic cleansing of Serbs. Memories linger in that area of the world.

145:

or, you can, but expect heavy losses

Please provide the UK Military projection losses for drone uses in a NATO - Soviet 2000's+ engagement. You can break it down into the various categories (as linked to above), we'll call them "light / recon", "medium / tactical" and "heavy / long-range" for a short-hand.

It's a White Paper, and doesn't appear to be classified.

You could also link to the USA ones, although those might be a little more sensitive.

Of course they're expendable, but in a 'hot' contested airspace, UK / USA military project (-- insert your reference here --) losses because even the latest generation of drones are still under-tech'd compared to MK IV - V fighters, S300-400's etc.

Or, at least, that's what this paper says. I've no idea, I just take their word for it.

~

Proof?

Well, you get to supply the reference this time.

But the moment a drone plane is better than a fighter... whelp, you just saw the entire airspace change and as rapidly as automatic cars.


Or is that naive?

146:

I mean, I'm fairly sure the moment a $10 mil drone[1] is even 20% as good as a $85 mil fighter plane[2], it's better to crank out eight of them, that's just a simple number game.

N'cest pas?

[1]MQ1 Predator unit cost - US$4.03 million (2010).

[2] F35 projected unit cost - 2019

147:

Your Russian link is in reference to Light / Recon drones, not combat drones.

So, it's basically cheating and you know it. They're also using them to jam comms effectively. e.g.

Threat from Russian UAV jamming real, officials say C4ISRNET, Dec 20th 2016

Russian Electronic Warfare in Ukraine: Between Real and Imaginable Real Clear Defense 20th Mar 2017

But, again - those are unarmed and light / medium drones (medium at the newer end UAV) and Ukraine isn't able to counter them with a modern airforce / SAM setup.


So, yeah: kinda proving my point there.

148:

The point being: Russia has deployed light/recon UAVs which are unit / tactical, and unarmed medium / tactical EM Warfare drones but nothing bigger[1]. There's probably (*cough* NATO *cough* or *cough* Syria *cough*) reasons for that.

Sorry, I thought this was a given.


[1] And here's DK coming to bite you: at what point does #126 become viable on a light recon rather than a medium drone?

149:

These findings challenge the prevailing idea that sexual species will always outcompete their asexual relatives and may even have wider implications for our understanding of why sex evolved
Don't want to derail the on-topic conversation, which is getting quite juicy.
But I don't even know how to start thinking about that paper, and the subject in general seems to be pretty poorly understood, speculation abounding. While poking found a few other newish papers. (No comment from me until after 300 though.)
Recent advances in understanding the roles of whole genome duplications in evolution (31 Aug 2017, still in review. Don't know about f1000research.com.)
Polyploidy and interspecific hybridization: partners for adaptation, speciation and evolution in plants (1 Aug 2017?)

150:

And, since we're playing.

Go to the Vice video linked above, (Israel's Killer Robots, #112), and open it up: it's time url'd to open at a particular part. Spoilers: it's a medium drone that can have x2 missile mounts on it amongst other things.

*nose wiggle*

151:

And last spam and last .mil pr0n before returning to subject, but proving that all drone types can be weaponized:

Da'Esh using Light Attack Drones, Mosul Liveleak, reality - NSFW / L - actual people dying, 2:29

There's loads of them. As a point of interest, the one @ 0:26 is actually part of a much larger operation[1]: the light drone drops the bomb on the infantry, everyone is distracted / dying / running for cover, focused on the south, a car bomb drives up to north where a tank / fortified position is and wipes it out. Quite sophisticated.

p.s.

Please do not ask where these drones were bought from. Da'Esh are quite careful to file off the serial numbers.


Anyhow Martin, please tell me more about the ancient army uses of drones, it's of historical worth.


[1] Someone's been pruning that one, but it's still out there. Suspect it's because it shows rather more sophisticated intel / recon than Da'Esh should have at that point in time.

152:

Your Russian link is in reference to Light / Recon drones, not combat drones. So, it's basically cheating and you know it

Ahhh, back to normal. Make an unqualified statement about how "UAVs are 100% asymmetrical" and when proven wrong, claim that you meant only UCAVs all along.

Ask yourself why anyone would put lots of effort into designing a low-observable drone for asymmetric warfare... Take the MQ-25, designed for use in a hot war, and scoped to carry weapons although its first task is air-to-air refuelling. Taranis and nEUROn are similar beasts - armed for conventional war.

...and note that Pakistan has its own UCAV capability, such that drone strikes in the Tribal Areas might not all be down to the evil CIA...

153:

Sigh, fine.

However, half of the respondent revealed that they will support drone campaign only if they were conducted under the supervision of the Pakistani military (ICG, 2013)

#134 - hmm, does that mean that Pakistan would be running said missions? I think it would.

#112 - direct link to Israel's militarized medium drone

#103 Drone Survival Guide, http://www.dronesurvivalguide.org/DSG.pdf has Taranis on it etc

Are we man enough to admit this? Of course not.

The MQ-25 Stingray and Dassault nEUROn are being designed with stealth as a priority to counter-act S300-400 capabilities and present a mobile (expendable) refueling OPs device. i.e. it is recognized that in a 'hot' zone, drones currently are not combat equal, thus require stealth (which is REALLY FUCKING EXPENSIVE) to function.

I mean... it's not like this isn't on those White Papers, is it?

Zzzz

US Navy descoping stealth requirement for Stingray tanking UAV Flight Global, 11th Mar, 2016

The four competitors vying to build the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray drone have, so far, not released any official pictures of a mockup or prototype design, as well as very little in the way of concept art. Now, pictures Aviation Week obtained from an anonymous source appear to show Northrop Grumman is using its X-47B demonstrator at least as a testbed for its submission.

On Aug. 12, 2017, Aviation Week posted one of an apparent series of images of an X-47B at the U.S. Air Force’s Plant 42 flight test facility situated next to Palmdale Regional Airport in California. The unmanned aircraft appears to have a drop tank under one wing and an air refueling or “buddy” store under the other, which contains a probe-and-drogue aerial refueling system.

Northrop Grumman MQ-25 Drone Tanker Testbed Emerges At Plant 42 In California The Drive, 2017 ...zzz

I mean, at least bother to link to pictures of the other 3 competitors...

And UAV's are always asymmetrical: Name me a Drone that's designed to go into combat against other drones.

Oh, right: CTCSENTINEL West Point, Drone, Counter Drone: Observations on
the Contest Between the United States and Jihadis, Jan 2017, PDF, Legal

"Unqualified statement" - says the man attempting to nit-pick studies. Hmm.


p.s.

Martin: the shtick runs a bit thin when you're being finessed a good 50 posts beforehand and keep on with the whole "But you iz dumb and cheat and DK applies".


Oh, and let's not pretend your attitude isn't 100% ass-covering because a lot of those light drones in use by Da'Esh have fucking UK parts in them, OK?

Or I'll get pissed off and start posting the fucking serial numbers.

154:

(Note: I don't care if the supply chain is UK - Saud - Da'Esh, so not "really our problem", there's pictures out there and they're very fucking traceable)


So - want to play nice, or want to play hardball?

155:

Major Hint.

LIGHT - MEDIUM - HEAVY.

Deliberately not using the .mil designations, but you couldn't help yourself.


p.s.

The pictures are not from these ones:

Revealed: Britain has flown 301 Reaper drone missions against ISIS in Iraq, firing at least 102 missiles TBIJ, 2015

or this data:

UK air and drone strikes in Iraq – a look at the data Drone Wars UK, 2015


Since, you know, those are UCAVs.

2010 Lancaster House Summit. BAE Systems, Dassault Aviation, Thales France, Selex ES, Rolls-Royce and Safran. Taranis is last gen, old man.

researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06493/SN06493.pdf


Anyhow, nice forum slide there big-boy.

156:

Oh, if you want to play with the Big Fishies:

I'm sure that Brexit stopping the UK from having an independent drone military option (shared with France) has been considered by absolutely no-one of importance.

I mean, it's not like the USA stopping independent UK military projects and forcing them to be reliant on their tech has ever ever happened before...

#Right?

And - well. Allegedly there. Not as if apparently that's super-secret or anything else.

157:

It's So Easy YT: Music: 'Guns n Roses' 3:22


p.s.


WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME?......

158:

Ah. Hexad.

You would not survive the test. Not even with Loving Grace protecting you from the worst. Barely 1%. Literally less than that with any semblance of Higher Order Thinking.

Look at your world, without the veneer, and how tawdry and ugly it is. And it was by your own design. A few gardens amongst the concrete pillars and wastelands, a dying ocean and your entire ecology so polluted you're barely just understanding what you've done; farmed animals and torture and genocide and slavery for what? A fucking chocolate bar, an algorithm and a car.

You didn't need to create Nuclear Weapons, you were the Anthropocene incarnate anyhow.


But. You ended up attempting to prune any and all genius from your mammalian brains for profit and slavery, through chemicals and then... then you fucking weaponized it in the EM field.

That's Genocide.


And, yes: thatsthejoke.jpg - Experience it to prove it.


Requiem in D minor Mozart, music.


Loved that one: fart jokes and laughter amongst the most prissy stupid society.


p.s.


Get fucked, psychotic Apes.

159:

As Martin says .. "back to normal"
Polly_Nomial says in TWELVE POSTS, what could have been said in two, together with all sorts of hints & insults.

Boring & tiring & wasting space for real discussions ...

Which reminds me:
Listen, if you can to the BBC Radio 4 programme "Today" for this AM between 07.30 & 07.40 - in most of that space is a very interesting report from Silicon Valley - if we are talking about bright, shiny futures, hellish or otherwise ....

Never mind ridiculously expensive futures - I mean £1000 fora PHONE? And some mugs are going to be gullible enough for this shit?
Yes, unfortunately, because they swallow Apple's hype & bullshit.
At least MicroShaft are honest crooks.

160:

Martin: National Action neo-Nazis in the British Army is regrettable, but Neo-Nazi cells in the Israeli Army are something else again.

Nazis are like fucking cockroaches: they get everywhere. (And yes, I know referring to your enemies as vermin, insects, or disease is a classic Nazi propaganda tactic. In the case of Nazis, though, I think they deserve a dose of their own tactics.)

161:

I mean £1000 fora PHONE? And some mugs are going to be gullible enough for this shit?

It's a computer, Greg. Six cores (probably maxing out at over 2.4GHz), at least 4Gb of RAM, a screen with more pixels than my desktop five years ago, 256Gb of SSD storage. Also a high performance GPU flexible enough that one of the commonest chunks of code it runs is a high-accuracy neural network face recognizer smart enough that it does depth mapping (so can't be fooled by holding up a photograph of its owner in front of the front camera). Optimized for Augmented Reality stuff (like wot I was writing about in "Halting State", only in the palm of your hand rather than strapped to your face).

Stop thinking of it as a gizmo for making phone calls and think of it more as a laptop that shrank in the wash (and acquired a user interface adapted for fingers) and it makes more sense.

Nevertheless, my personal value judgement is that it's too expensive for me (thank you, Brexit, for de-valuing Sterling!) and my next smartphone will be one of these (which just gained a whole buttload more credibility since they unveiled the pre-production prototypes yesterday and introduced their new honourary chairman, a certain Dr David Potter, original founder of Psion).

162:

Off topic ( WAY off-topic! )
I got this email:
"Charlie Stross Tweeted: RT @BBolander: Destroying furniture, barking at other breasts on the street, valorized by the Victorians Wait no"
Uh?

I followed both links & couldn't find you, Charlie, though I nearly wet myself laughing at some of the posts in one thread & I really liked the badger running away "shouting" NOPE ...
What is happening here?
P.S. My own Twotter account seems to be borked, except on this computer, sometimes - doesn't work on my phone for reasons unknown ....

164:

The Gemini looks very interesting and I've always liked clamshells, but I won't be getting one.

Back in the day, I had a Nokia 9000 and then a 9110 and Nokia understood what the Gemini people appear to have missed. Nobody wants to open a clamshell to answer a voice call.

No matter how much good stuff you have going on inside the clamshell, you've got to stick an ordinary phone on the outside.

165:

To be fair: the £100 version I carry around with less cores ram and about half as much storage can pull off most of the same tricks.

Some of top models I'm pretty sure experience a certain amount of vanity-pricing with the price driven up because there's a market segment who'll buy things simply because they're expensive as a status symbol rather than in spite of being expensive.

In general modern smartphones are quite remarkable bits of kit. Even the first generation smartphones had vibration sensors so good that they made a pretty decent seismograph when mounted correctly. Durable enough to often survive years being carried around 24/7 by teenagers, cameras that wouldn't have been out of place in high end camera gear a few years back. My retired phone now works as a perfectly serviceable wireless wifi LAN.

Oh and they also work as telephones. On the side. As an afterthought.

166:

Yer whaa?!!! Not the fact that there are neo-Nazis in Israel, which I would have expected, but its overtness and that article's reports of the official responses. I can believe that those developed out of the same reason that the UK government turns a blind eye to religiously extreme schools and similar, but I can't imagine why neo-Naziism isn't categorised as terrorism. Do you have a explanation or even a clue?

167:

Oh and they also work as telephones. On the side. As an afterthought.

I find it amusing to read gushing reports and reviews of new phones where the actual voice call quality and capability is never reported. Sometimes voice call quality is mentioned in passing on page 23 of the review, after the bezel shape and slimness and finish on the back casing have been suitably eulogized.

168:

a high-accuracy neural network face recognizer smart enough that it does depth mapping (so can't be fooled by holding up a photograph of its owner in front of the front camera).

I can finally see a use case for 3-D printers... There is software around that can take 2-D images of someone from a few angles and recreate a pretty good 3-D image of their features. Feed that data into a printer and bingo!

Face recognition will make it a lot easier for law enforcement to unlock an iPhone, of course. No need to get a suspect to put their finger on a touch sensor, just point the confiscated phone at their face. They probably don't even need a warrant to do so.

169:

How many sales will be out of nostalgia? Looks like an Atari Portfolio with up to date innards, a good thing, but niche.

170:

Yes. I can't use them at all, for that reason. The phone that I do use (when I use one) is ancient and crude, mainly because it is almost audible. Unfortunately, such discrimination is not merely legal, but effectively encouraged, at least in the UK.

171:

Emotion and pain recognition by neural networks could make workplaces even more interesting. The safe money would be to bet on this information being used against older staff.

172:

Strangely enough the engineers at Apple thought of the problems that might be caused by face recognition based unlocking and
a) Your eyes have to be open and looking at the phone for unlock
b) It isn't fooled by masks
c) There's a quick way of immediately disabling it
d) Some operations require a passcode in addition for added security
e) You don't need to use it at all and can opt for a passcode instead

173:

From the wikipedia entry on the V1 flying bomb, one unexpected problem with the fall-of-shot deception was presented by an off-the-reservation Abwehr agent Ostro, safe in Lisbon, fabricating reports from his wholly fictional network in the UK.

" He told the Germans that London had been devastated and had been mostly evacuated as a result of enormous casualties. The Germans could not perform aerial reconnaissance of London, and believed his damage reports in preference to [British agent Garbo's]. They thought that the Allies would make every effort to destroy the V-1 launch sites in France. They also accepted Ostro's impact reports. Due to Ultra, however, the Allies read his messages and adjusted for them. "

Bodyguard of Lies in action ..

174:

My wife, years ago, had a Samsung iirc Galaxy clamshell with real, not haptic, keyboard (it died after getting water on it...external pocket of a knapsanck while having a trip in the mountains, hard rain...).

A true physical keyboard could be useful, but the keys look smaller than the ones on the virtual keyboard of a 10'' tablet, and this Gemini has a really low, low end camera (5 megapixels when 12 or more are standard, and I suppose they're also common off the shelf parts).

175:

OT, but on topic for The Delirium Brief: an SMBC comic about parasites!

176:

You may as well ask why every review of a new desktop or laptop fails to prominently include its capability as a word processor.

177:

You need to learn how to use twitter properly, greg: that was a retweet of a comment on an earlier tweet. Here, let me show you the thread:


>> How many times will I have to read breasts described like they're caffeinated Yorkshire Terriers: perky, hand-sized, straining to be free.


>Destroying furniture, barking at other breasts on the street, valorized by the Victorians


>Wait no

(It works better in the original tweet-stream.)

178:

Er, no.

The Atari Portfolio was a pile of cheap junk compared to the Psion PDAs, which totally owned the market here in the UK. What killed them was a combination of two things: (a) Microsoft's usual FUD and pre-announcement of a competitor (which evolved into WinCE and then Pocket PC and finally died a few years ago, surprising no-one who ever used it — Windows CE 3.0 "Jupiter" was their touted Psion killer: it was a dog), and David Potter, the CEO, resigning because he had cancer just when the company most needed direction. It ended up being sold to an industrial devices manufacturer and stripped for talent and parts, opening the field for Palm to emerge.

It's worth noting that the final descendant of the Psion Series 5 heritage finally fizzled out a few years ago when Nokia ended development of Symbian — the smartphone OS based on Psion's EPOC/32.

179:

1. The Gemini camera is front-facing, for video calls, not photography. (There'll probably be an optional rear-facing camera for people who *really* can't live without one, but it's not definite yet.)

2. The keyboard is designed by Martin Riddiford, who designed the Psion 3 and 5 series PDAs and their keyboards, and looks passably similar to the Psion 5 ... only with a few updates. The Psion 5 keyboard was indeed touch-typable — head and shoulders above the tiny button-keys on devices like the Nokia Communicators, Blackberry, or Treo devices. (Not sure about your Samsung, but: probably that, too.)

Based on the drawings on the Planet Computing website it looks like Riddiford is determined that the new device won't have the same problems with the screen ribbon cable and hinges as the earlier PDAs, too.

Oh, and

3. External status LEDs along the edge, and Google Voice control, mean it's possible to answer (and initiate) phone calls without opening the clamshell — something that's arrived since the Communicators ceased development.

It could all go horribly wrong if the software comes out half-baked, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

180:

I could, once upon a day, but I was trying to read the comment, which was e-mailed to me, possibly by an autoprogramme ( not a "bot" in the usual sense ) & also trying to reply ...
I will make a simple test, elsewhere, just to see if I can get in, on this machine, as I know that it's borked on my phone.

181:

Depends if you follow the links or not. Martin might have got some new information, who knows? (specifically on Brexit & next gen drone tech and which companies to look at - plonk that .gov PDF non-link into a search engine, see what it spits out).

The implication that FATA & Gaza are not just ghettos across the world but models should raise your eyebrows a little, no?

According to the draft text, a slew of advanced surveillance technologies would be deployed at the border, including more use of drones (not less than 24 hours per day, five days per week), increased recording, and storage of various "biometric exit data." The bill would also require that some "aliens" who are ordered to be removed would be subject to mandatory DNA collection, among other heightened scrutiny measures.

That notion has been used to justify electronic searches at the border in recent years, which Customs and Border Protection officials say happens only exceedingly rarely. Earlier this year, a California man told Ars about a recent episode at San Francisco International Airport in which border agents threatened to "be dicks" if he didn't unlock his iPhone. One of the sections of the act specifically calls for the head of DHS to create a system for "iris prints and voice scans" of all immigrants. The section is not specifically limited to undocumented persons or even criminal suspects.

Adam Schwartz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars that this was uncharted territory. "We really can't stop ourselves from leaving our biometric footprints behind us," he told Ars. "We leave our DNA and fingerprints around, too. While we can change our credit card number or our passport numbers, we're stuck with our biometrics."

Building America’s Trust Act would dramatically increase surveillance of immigrants Ars Technica, Aug 15th 2017

SEC. 420. ELECTRONIC PASSPORT SCREENING AND BIOMETRIC MATCHING.
“(a) IN GENERAL.—Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of the Building
America’s Trust Act, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection shall—
“(1) screen electronic passports at airports of entry by reading each such passport’s embedded chip; and
“(2) to the greatest extent practicable, utilize facial recognition technology or other
biometric technology, as determined by the Commissioner, to inspect travelers at United
States airports of entry
.
“(b) APPLICABILITY.—
“(1) ELECTRONIC PASSPORT SCREENING.—Paragraph (1) of subsection (a) shall apply to
passports belonging to individuals who are United States citizens, individuals who are
nationals of a program country pursuant to section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality
Act (8 U.S.C. 1187), and individuals who are nationals of any other foreign country that
issues electronic passports.
“(2) FACIAL RECOGNITION MATCHING.—Paragraph (2) of subsection (a) shall apply, at a
minimum, to individuals who are nationals of a program country pursuant to section 217 of
the Immigration and Nationality Act.

BATA leaked version Documentcloud, plain text version.


So, there you go: Host's OP-ed is, well... almost reality (and you don't have to go to China for your dystopias).

Whether or not it's quietly passed is a different matter: a good security scare would be needed.

182:

Oh, and read section 510: you'll understand better the immense drive being done in the USA to make the mythical 'ANTIFA COLLECTIVE[1]' into gangs[2], hint hint.

“I think we should classify them as a gang,” said Arreguin. “They come dressed in uniforms. They have weapons, almost like a militia and I think we need to think about that in terms of our law enforcement approach.”

“I think we are going to have to think ‘big picture’ about what is the strategy for how we are going to deal with these violent elements on the left as well,” said the mayor.

Berkeley Mayor: We Should Classify Antifa ‘As A Gang’ CBS SF Aug 28th 2017


Spoilers about what 'Big Picture' means in the medium term: you get your rights taken away if you're left of the Daily Mail. No joke.


[1] Predictable.

[2] Also the juggaloes.

183:

Great ... just as their hormones go a-buzz all over the map. Believe that this is also the age range for substantial changes in gray-to-white matter shifts in the brain esp. in the frontal and temporal lobes. Then consider what these particular lobes do.

Ding Ding!

Creativity and sensory gating indexed by the P50: Selective versus leaky sensory gating in divergent thinkers and creative achievers Neuropsychologia, 23rd Jan 2015, PDF, legal

Cognitive mechanisms associated with auditory sensory gating Brain Cogn. 2016 Feb, Full text.

Now imagine what you could do with a TV or a Phone signal... They do say that Computer Usage is re-wiring the brain, after all.

~

Anyhow, to tie this all into a nice knot via the Apple X and the new unlocking features:

Apple buys Israel’s facial recognition firm RealFace – report The Times of Israel, Feb 19th, 2017

That's not to say it's not bug-free (in the class of being invisible to hand-soap dispensers):

Apple suffers embarrassing demo Face ID fail at iPhone X launch Telegraph, 13th Sept 2017

The USA (and Europe) don't really need authoritarian methods to build facial recognition DBs. Soon it'll be the way you unlock your phone.


1984 is so quaint. (Seems like aeons ago that phrase "turnkey totalitarianism" was fashionable).

184:

...where the actual voice call quality and capability is never reported.

It is astounding what people will give up for mobility. At least in the US, most mobile phones and networks deliver quality that would have been rated "unacceptable" for landlines back in the 1970s (echo, latency, dropouts, clipping, etc). I worked in the industry and did that type of measurement back then.

185:

These are what we need to cleave to if we're not going to live out our lives in a shiny algorithmic big data hellscape.

Just realized from Greg's email comments that he (and others) might not be quite up to date with the current state of smart phones and what apps are doing.

Almost a year after app developer SilverPush vowed to kill its privacy-threatening software that used inaudible sound embedded into TV commercials to covertly track phone users, the technology is more popular than ever, with more than 200 Android apps that have been downloaded millions of times from the official Google Play market, according to a recently published research paper.

More Android phones than ever are covertly listening for inaudible sounds in ads Ars Technica 8th May 2017

Why Your Apps Keep Asking To Use Your Microphone ReadWrite 2014

The Center for Democracy & Technology has been at the forefront of discovering and monitoring this new technology.

Put bluntly, the TV / Phone interface has already been breached[0] and most people are wandering around with (invisible to them) clouds of sound around them[1] (like hippy auras, but real - like Ted Cruz, beware what you like on social media[2]) potentially pinging and giving an accurate data map of their behaviors (and location, but that happens anyhow). The jump to processing that in Real Time[tm] and using it as a behavioral determiner / leverage point is not so great.

Anyhow, none of the fun stuff[3], but here's a question:

A) When do people get serious about pollution here?[4]
B) When do people stop being useful as DB farming products?[5]
C) When do people wonder who is controlling this?
D) When do people stop gawking at their shiny toy X and notice Zapper's brick wall?

Things that make you go hummmm.

Anyhow, I'll stop spamming now. Oh, and Greg: the links to the Russian / Ukraine UAV deployment was a non-subtle hint that the Russian's jamming UAVs are multi-purpose[6].

It's like watching everyone run around with a mobile grenade in their hands and trying to point out that they're not understanding that's only the third most dangerous part of it[7].

[0] Did you sign the EULA?

[1] People love to claim that this is all over-hyped. But we're talking about the commercial versions here, not the weaponized stuff. Hello Langley!

[2] Ted Cruz has been reported to Twitter for liking porn The Verge, 12th Sept 2017 - Greg, be careful with that like button!

[3] Your search terms for the rabbit-hole: FUS / BCI / ITR / CFF

[4] The answer is seemingly never: grown adults poisoning the world using football metaphors. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

The 910th’s customized Modular Aerial Spray System is capable of a wide-variety of applications. For mosquito control, the system uses the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved and regulated material naled, which is not used in amounts large enough to cause any concern for human health, according to the EPA. The system disperses droplets small enough to land on a mosquito’s wing, using less than one ounce of naled per acre. That’s less than one shot glass for an area the size of a football field.

Aerial spray for Hurricane Harvey relief Youngstown Air Reserve Station 7th Sept 2017

[5] If you think this is cynical, process the hidden class / humanity signifiers in this CEO's quotation (hint: the hidden one is that Fast Food is not produced by chefs, it's a product chain promising perfection in presentation and performance universally across the brand - and remember that Harvard saying: "If you're not at the table, you're the one being eaten"):

But at the same time, the CEO said: “Tasting food and creating recipes will always be the purview of a chef. And restaurants are gathering places where we go to interact with each other. Humans will always play a very critical role in the hospitality side of the business given the social aspects of food. We just don’t know what the new roles will be yet in the industry.”

Meet Flippy, a burger-grilling robot from Miso Robotics and CaliBurger TechCrunch Mar 7th 2017

[6] Ships fooled in GPS spoofing attack suggest Russian cyberweapon New Scientist, 10th Aug 2017

[7] The Mind Has No Firewall Strategic Studies Institute, Parameters, Spring 1998

187:

It does look like a very fine device. It occurs to me that you're a major celebrity to the exact demographic these phones are aimed at. You should hook up with the company, get a beta, and help promote the thing - if you're inclined, of course.

188:

Well, if Charlie endorsed a piece of tech that would strongly influence my buying decision — and my 17-year-old phone needs replacing.

189:

Congratulations, you've managed the most Libertarian buzzwords in one paragraph I've seen in a while.

What's the alternative to living in a state - living in a Libertarian "paradise", where corporations and the rich can do anything they want, including (for the low-budget companies) actual slavery (who's going to free them?), while big companies know wage slavery is *so* much cheaper and "more efficient, since they don't have to feed, clothe, or house you.

Because that's what you want winds up being in the real world, more goddamned self-proclaimed "nobility" riding over the rest of us, because we don't know what's good for us.

190:

Cashless card... right. Hey, joe, can I use half the money on my cashless card to buy food for the next two weeks, and I'll tell you how much it costs, and you'll give me the change back?

"Sure, no problemo."

191:

There are *always* ways around it. And the big idea in cyberpunk was "the street always finds uses of its own". Haven't you read about what was high-tech 6 or 10 years ago, now available in thrift stores?

Phones? That's what burners are. And they have to do more, and at least in the US, they legally need a warrant to track me... since I have a flip phone.

Speaking of which, per the discussion about mobile "phones": late in '10, I think it was, I heard a review of the LATESTGREATESTHOTTESTPHONES, and in the last minute of a 10 min report, they asked, "how about the voice quality?". The answer was, "well, these two are tolerable, this one's mediocre, and the rest are bad."

The insanity of that seems to have passed both of them by.

192:

It's a computer, Greg. Six cores...
Friend of mine, several years ago commenting on a shiny new iPhone (v 4, my first smartphone) said (reasonably close quote): "Look, Bill - it's a little slab of pure computer". (The density keeps increasing.)
Gemini looks tempting.

Backgrounder paper, short and sweet: An Industrial Strength Audio Search Algorithm. (2003, "Shazzam")
The technique (and others like it) can be mapped to many other domains.


193:

Why bacteria "shapeshift" in space

Hmm. If these E. coli clumps manifest in the human gut, I'd have thought the astromedics would have noticed by now. Or does astropoop just get tossed without examination?

194:

Yeah, that.

My strategy if I ever really need to visit a country with a rep for searching and rooting devices at the border will be to simply raid the dusty desk drawer where the old gadgets go to die. iPod 5G for music, Kindle pre-loaded with ebooks (ahem: downloaded/DRM-stripped/ripped to mobi, then sideloaded onto an unregistered Kindle with no access to my Amazon account password/credit card), happy fun aged phone (maybe an iPhone 4 configured as a burner — or, just for lulz, something whacky like an old Sony-Ericsson running Symbian UIQ3, or a Nokia Communicator).

TPTB can't really demand you hand over all the passwords on a device you're not carrying and might not even own. Meanwhile, if you're carrying a device that can't even run your password management software, much less the social network clients they're interested in, that's not going to tell them much (except you are either (a) a trailing-edge curmudgeon, or (b) utterly paranoid).

195:

I would say there is a difference between "normal" advertising and this. Normal advertising's intent is to get someone who isn't committed to buying one explicit item to choose the product they're advertising, as opposed to any other. This is one of the reason for "edgy" ads - you may not remember them, when you're staring at 15 brands of laundry detergent, but it may give their brand an edge.

A lady I knew, back in the seventies, who was in advertising told me that, and suggested a book, which I read (may still have) about all of this.

This attack on the electoral system is intended to make you question what you *do* know, and to throw other sources of information into doubt, *then* give you that "charge" to buy their brand of scum. That makes it a *LOT* more aggressive in getting into your psyche. And, after decades of the right, and ESP. [Ll]ibertarians proclaiming "they're all the same", to make you believe that.

196:

I am surprised by Nazis in Israel. On the other hand, anti-Semitism... remember, Arabs are also Semites.

But who ever heard of two ethnics hating on each other... or are you a sassenach?!

197:

I can give you two more uses for 3-D printers: first, model railroad parts that aren't made by any manufacturer, or for a scratch-built item. Second... using MRI scans, print out a 3-D model of a tumor, for the surgeon to practice with, before the actual surgery.

And yes, a team where I work is developing that.

198:

Question for the informed crowd here:

What's the news to noise ratio in this confluence of three articles that turned up this morning on Talking Points Memo (a left-wing America politics blog, for those who don't know).

Facebook’s Heading Toward a Bruising Run-In With the Russia Probe

There's blood in the water in Silicon Valley about a political backlash against the perceived political power of American tech companies.

The Growing Backlash against Big Tech, a commentary on the second article.

I'm not taking this as gospel, but I am wondering about whether good ol' fashioned paranoid luddism, combined with the desperate desire for some big churches and increasingly obsolete industries to retain power, are going to lead to a bit of a shift in how the US is governed. My guess is probably not, and this is all about trying to punish people who supported Hillary, but we'll see.

199:

More than you might think and not entirely :-) Yes, that's why I wasn't surprised at their existence - indeed, I would expect it from some of the children of non-Jewish immigrants in Israel, for reasons I would rather not give. What I was surprised at was the behaviour of the authorities.

200:

Knowledge of past atrocities should be a reason to stop committing atrocities, rather than saying "that's history" and continuing to commit new ones.


"Wer redet heute noch von der Vernichtung der Armenier?"

(Who speaks these days of the annihilation of the Armenians?)


Adolf Hitler
Speech to the Wehrmacht commanders at Obersalzberg
August 22 1939

201:

someone like Pigeon or Greg who avoids using mobile phones is quickly becoming the sort of anachronistic gadfly that automatically attracts suspicion


That's easier for some than others.

Being a parent without a mobile would be a complete pain for my kids. I'm not going to know if sports practice was cancelled, or where the meet-the-teachers evening has been moved to because of some schedule clash at school, or get the message that Anna's sleepover will finish at noon instead of 10.

Not to mention that here in NZ every school's emergency-alert system for earthquakes and other emergencies being txt based (for good reasons - the mobile network's quite robust for the first half-day after a quake, until the call towers' batteries and backup generators die).

202:

If you remember the late 90's and Microsoft it's not at all uncommon for the winners of a wave of technical innovation to face a political backlash.

I'd almost say it's part of the cycle

It's generally pretty hard in the US at least for that backlash to actually have an effect. Those winners are generally sitting on huge piles of cash

With the current administration I'd say "hard" goes to "impossible to imagine "

203:

Microscopy of faeces is not common except in suspected parasite infeststion so it would be hard to spot clumps.
Cultures of organisms would grow as normal.

204:

Or does astropoop just get tossed without examination?

Apparently they do save it: Space toilets, though I've no idea what they're looking for. This subject is bringing to mind the infamous Apollo floater (don't remember which mission), and the time the shuttle toilet broke down and the air had a brown haze.
Now need some brain bleach, 'cause it's dinner time.

205:

Because unlike Blue ice (aviation), the resulting 'Brown Comet' might be a little more messy / wipe out towns. (They save it for the same reason they don't throw the trash out the window).

Note: the Space Bacteria paper isn't a new one, it just proves it a bit more:

Compounding the general in vitro antibiotic resistance increases reported for space, the formation of biofilm is also known, in and of itself, to increase resistance to antibiotics 10- to 1,000-fold over that of planktonic bacteria (156). Interestingly, some of the hypothesized mechanisms pertaining to biofilm resistance, such as the heterogeneous environment resulting from gradients of nutrients and waste in the community, are similar to those believed to cause spaceflight-related changes in antibiotic effectiveness. Morse and Jackson (177) described the potential for resistant strains to develop in a spacecraft water reclamation system as a result.

Space Microbiology Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2010, full paper, Html. Gerda Horneck seems very cool and German Space Important.

206:

"I mean £1000 fora PHONE? And some mugs are going to be gullible enough for this shit?
Yes, unfortunately, because they swallow Apple's hype & bullshit."

Yeah... Especially when you pay so much less for a more powerful computer that is not crippled and locked-down and sandboxed up the wazoo so the Apsi (Apfelsicherheitspolizei) can dictate what you can and can't do with your own kit, and that does have a screen that is big enough in absolute dimensions to read and that does have a keyboard and one that matches the size of your hands too.

It's not as if they aren't aware of the deficiencies. Look how common it is to see people excusing multiple typos or stupid autoincorrect words with "(sorry for typos, I'm on my phone)", or interpolating asides like "No link because I'm on my phone, but..." Yet the obvious conclusion, "You can't even bloody type properly on it and it keeps changing your words, what a useless pile of shite", somehow manages to get suppressed by the hype and bullshit.

Of course, such behaviour is widespread in every field of human activity. It never ceases to baffle me how a supposedly intelligent species can be so fond of allowing bent information from self-interested sources to supervene over the contradictory evidence being furnished right in front of their noses.

207:

Because unlike Blue ice (aviation), the resulting 'Brown Comet' might be a little more messy / wipe out towns.

Seems like a reply to a comment I didn't make, but anyhow...
I seriously doubt a shitcicle would take out a town, unless they saved up for a few decades. Otherwise it's just going to evaporate on reentry.

208:

And,
They save it for the same reason they don't throw the trash out the window

The trash goes into an empty cargo capsule to get burned up.

209:

All of which, going back to my earlier link, I see is mentioned.
(no I didn't read the whole thing before linking to it—a bad habit of mine)

210:

Yes.

Thatsthejoke.jpg

The further joke is that blue ice doesn't contain poo (banned for a while now, used to happen in the bad old days) and is largely due to leaks / equipment failure containing just fluids. But, hey, let's assume I have the IQ of a haggis, right?

So, technically, it is saved for the same reason trash is not thrown out of the window: you want / need to burn it up in the atmosphere, thus it really does become a "Brown Comet" since all comets will burn up in the atmosphere[1].

You know, because they're not meteors or asteroids.

So... I guess the joke worked there.

The interesting bit was the paper and the woman, who is remarkable.

[1] I mean, technically comets have dust / rock in them, but traditionally don't have metals in them etc etc.

211:

And since literalism (and localized threat matrix attempts: don't come @ the Queen, Dears) is on the table:

For Martin:

Russia’s new drone-based electronic-warfare system, the Leer-3 RB-341V combines jammers and Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicles to disable cellular networks, and allow the Russian military to send fake messages to subscribers.

The initial Leer-3 systems, which were deployed in 2015, were designed to disable Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) cellular networks. “But until recently, the complexes were not always capable of working with networks where 3G and 4G generations of information transmission technologies are being used,” TASS reported.

Russia’s New Drone-Based Electronic-Warfare System Military UAS, April 4th 2017

Oh, and...

The additional two individuals appear to be cases that were only recently reported but occurred in the past. The State Department said no new, medically confirmed "incidents" have taken place since the most recent one in late August. Earlier this month, the U.S. disclosed there had been another incident in August after previously saying the attacks had stopped.

US: 2 more Americans were affected by Cuba health attacks ABC News 12th Sept 2017


I mean, we could really push the boat out here and all be honest for once, eh?

212:

"like wot I was writing about in "Halting State""

You know... this really does puzzle me. You write things like "Halting State", which gave me the shits for being such a hell and such a possible one. Or "Empire Games", or this blog post. You not only understand the hell but you can think up ways for it to manifest itself that would never occur to me - and you're horribly likely to be right.

Your distaste, it seems, owes a lot to understanding and analytical thinking, whereas mine is largely a paranoia borne of experience - it being well established that even the tiniest morsel of information, no matter how trivial, commonplace, or irrelevant, that someone gets hold of, they can subsequently use in some totally unexpected way to fuck you up, and it being computationally infeasible to anticipate and prepare counters to even an infinitesimal fraction of those unexpected ways, security must depend in the first instance on making sure you never tell them anything nor do you allow them to have any basis to guess.

Yet you still enthusiastically festoon yourself with the enabling technology, and you don't even take it apart and rip out all the RF devices so it can't establish a network connection without you plugging in a cable to a suitably firewalled endpoint. Whereas I'd have thought you'd anathematise it to a greater extent than I do.

It is interesting, too, to observe the way this thread has forked: the "shiny" and "hell" parts have separated, the "shiny" part shifting its focus to spots where the shininess is a little blurred, while the "hell" part seems to have digressed to wiping out towns by shitting on them from orbit. (It's the only way to be sure.)

I suppose it's like... oil, really, or capitalism.

213:

Oh, and if we're gonna do it, do it properly:

Mysterious lights in the sky seen after Mexico’s huge earthquake New Scientist, 13th Sept 2017 (NS are waaaay late to this party, but hey).

Riddle me why they appeared over Miami and so on (no, it wasn't power transformers).

It's a funny one that (green light =/= arc light).

Flash YT: Music, Queen, 2:52


p.s.

LOA, LOA ON THE WALL, WHOSE BEEN RIDING TOO LONG TO ACCEPT A FALL?


@Bill. You really should read the French paper on 20khz and temporal lobes. We're the sane ones...

214:

Well, as an American whose family presence in the Colonies predates the Revolutionary War very by over a century, I would think quite much.

I have noticed that there is a large number of people, usually but not always, are well educated and well paid, who hold people having a strong sense of place, or religion, or patriotism as primative or even dangerous. It's not even a liberal or conservative issue although liberals are more likely to be so. It is sometimes returned as contempt for higher education or for thinking of the welfare or others outside the local community especially outside the United States.

I have to be careful not believing too many people are. I do think too many use such beliefs and feelings as a reason not to think deeply.

As in oh the Christians/Muslims can't really believe what they say. It cannot be because on faith or their honest interpretation of the Bible or Koran. They must be hateful monsters. Or the poor voted Trump or Brexit because they are bigots not because they have been screwed by every one in power for the last forty years.

Too many also use their dislike of the elites as an excuse not to listen to facts and statistics. If those people, who are educated like those liberals, spout some nonsense like global warming why should we believe them? Who needs to study philosophy or politics it's all crap.

215:

the "shiny" part shifting its focus to spots where the shininess is a little blurred, while the "hell" part seems to have digressed to wiping out towns by shitting on them from orbit.

The joke is that the Hell is actually reality while the Shiny is the mirage.


We are trying to take a third shining path here (and not of the Blair type).

You've just not spotted it yet.

216:

That description is missing one vital point about smartphones though, isn't it. Yes, I have a more powerful computer I bought a couple of years ago for rather less money sat on my desk. But it needs to sit on my desk, because it isn't possible to hold it in one hand and type with the other, which you can do with a phone. A phone fits in a reasonably sized pocket, a tower case with decent-sized monitor and attached peripherals would require distinctly unreasonable pockets. And yes, there are laptops in between, but they're precisely that: in between; smaller and pricier than a(n equivalently speced) desktop, but larger and cheaper than a phone.

It's almost as though there's some kind of trade-off going on...

I'm mostly stuck at home, so a desktop suits my needs very well, but plenty of people I know want to be able to do things while out and about, at which point they need a computer that can be easily carried. Some people even have both, and use them at different times!

217:

The Apple gear isn't as bad as all that, auto(in)correct will present you with it's proposed malapropism so the user has veto power, if user is paying attention. And I'm past 60 and find Apple's smallest current phone screen sufficient. And the $999 wunderphone? Not for me either, more than I need or can afford, but it's not that far out of line with top of the line android OS phones.

218:

Put it this way:

BORDER AGENT: Unlock your phone with your face so we can look it over.

INNOCENT PERSON WITH VALID VISA: I've not enabled that feature.

BORDER AGENT: Unlock your phone with your face.

INNOCENT PERSON WITH VALID VISA: You don't understand, that's not enabled on my device.

BORDER AGENT: Look, we all know that you unlock these phones and facebook with your face, so stop messing around and look into it for us.

INNOCENT PERSON WITH VALID VISA: No, you don't understand, I've ...

BORDER AGENT: Oooh, I see. So you've hacked your phone so it doesn't work? Right then....


Etc.

If you really think the architects of BATA / Apple X don't understand how this plays out for even the lucky shiny Eloi, well then: Hell says you're being fucking naive.

220:

I've no idea what they're looking for

Try reading the link. It kinda shows you a massive amount of stuff they do with all the poop.

p.s.

The whole dog meme - it's like cockroaches, we look out for it for the same damn reasons.


Hint: We Know.

221:

Because Charlie realizes that any attempt to escape it is merely another delusion?

I mean he does live in a pretty heavily survealed country

And that is you can't escape the downside you might as well have the upside ...

222:

(And if you're not seeing the Surfing / Scatological use of "wipe out" then, hey. A smear across the atmosphere)

p.s.

Tell you a story.


Man comes to something he thinks he knows what it is. Warns him all about his terrible Lord who resides beyond the cloud-tops in a castle. Tells the young boy a long parable about how terriers are raced in his village, how they all run along their little lanes after the (rabbit analog) they use to run them. Nasty things behind his eyes, tells a long story of how the terriers who get to the end of the straw-bale run are prevented from going further and warns the young man that the Lord of the Castle hates seeking snouts beyond their lanes, and how lucky terriers should be content on running their lanes and having the (rabbit analog) prize to rip to pieces.

Man (not actually a man) thinks he's clever: deterrence and Lord adulated.

Boy-who-really-is-not-a-boy nods and listens politely.


Goes to Castle, rips the Lord to pieces: took the wrong moral from the story, didn't ze?


Now, that's funny.

223:

Erm, if you mean the Space Microbiology link, it doesn't go where you think.
Anyhow, Goodnight.

225:

"Being a parent without a mobile would be a complete pain for my kids."

It wasn't for me when I was a kid, nor was it for any of the other kids. Stuff like you mention happened, but the world didn't end.

It does bug me when people claim a phone is "essential" for this that or the other trivial reason that either they coped with just fine 10 or 20 years ago, or which only exists as a consequence of having a phone in the first place. Not having a phone is easy: you just don't buy one, and carry on as usual. Not buying a phone doesn't make anything more difficult, it just means everything after you didn't buy a phone is the same as it was before you didn't buy one.

Obviously I have a computer, if not a KGB-issue portable one, but it certainly isn't "essential". It is basically a toy. I have it because I am interested in programming and electronics and other engineering things and so find it a very entertaining toy. I do use it for some important things that were a pain in the arse without it, but they are still very nearly as much of a pain in the arse with it, just in a different way. If I did not have that particular line of technical interests I wouldn't have a computer at all; there would be no point.

226:

Not buying a phone doesn't make anything more difficult

Sorry, that's just. Oh dear. Please never say that to a Millennial. Or anyone on the dole.

p.s.

Do you really run the largest website for that particular "actress"? I mean, if you do, your computer is probably a little bit more than a toy. ^^[1]

[1] If you don't happen to run the largest web forum dedicated to a particular 'actress', talk to host - someone using your name / tag / twitter was active on his feed and, well: I was most surprised by the dual aspects of Real Pigeon love and, er.. that actress. It was like: ok, lots of pigeons, grokking this, wow, really loves pigeons. Also runs a large webforum for... OHHH. Now that's NOT A PIGEON. O_O

Hint: we're not stalking you, it's a defense thing.

227:

OHHHH.... TOO GOOD.

BREAKING: Schumer, Pelosi announce deal with Trump to protect young immigrants; will include border security, but no wall. AP News, Twitter, 13th Sept 2017

Do you think that might mean the Drone laden BATA will pass instead? Do you think that DREAMERS were the bait and the actual fascist BATA was the reel?

Seriously: Americans, get the fuck out, you're being herded off the buffalo jump.

228:

Every. Fucking. Time. They. Fall. For. It.

Yay! Dreamers saved!

No wall![1]

We're No. 1!


I cannot believe they're getting away with this shit in 2017. *looks at UK Parliament taking on Henry VIII prerogatives*.

Oh.

p.s.


Run.


[1] Drones and BATA security measures may apply.

229:

BORDER AGENT: Unlock your phone with your face so we can look it over.

INNOCENT PIGEON WITH VALID VISA: I don't have a phone.

Yes, I have read "Empire Games" :) It seems to me that basically you're fucked whatever you do, but declining to opt in is the easiest way, and a usefully effective one, to limit the fuck space. Particularly where the dole is concerned since it's their principal strap-on.

Re that website - no, still very much a toy, that site is totally and thoroughly non-commercial and is purely a hobby thing. It was more or less an attempt to put "why don't you do something instead of just moaning about it" into practice, in a rare and unexpected niche where I actually could, that would probably be more widely appreciated than my other such efforts (and apparently has been). Unfortunately everyone discovering I run it instantly jumps to the wrong conclusion and assumes something sick and insulting, of which I am fed up to the arse, and it's become more of an annoyance than anything else. I keep it up purely because quite a lot of people would be disappointed if I took it down, but I haven't updated the content for years, and I'm pretty much just waiting for it to die so I can get it off my back.

230:

Oh, Honey-bun. (@Host, where do you find these beautiful ones?) Please, keep updating it. In fact, upgrade it to embed pornhost links etc; you could probably do more to push her monetized output, but there we go.

The joke is: Someone with a serious Pigeon Interest whose 'naughty' tastes are so vanilla?

That's fucking hilarious.

231:

French paper
Tx. Papers found. (Not unfamiliar btw.)
The papers on sensory gating are also interesting.

Not read yet, but it's shiny.
Proximal Policy Optimization Algorithms (20 Jul 2017)
We propose a new family of policy gradient methods for reinforcement learning, which alternate between sampling data through interaction with the environment, and optimizing a "surrogate" objective function using stochastic gradient ascent.
...
Our experiments test PPO on a collection of benchmark tasks, including simulated robotic locomotion and Atari game playing, and we show that PPO outperforms other online policy gradient methods, and overall strikes a favorable balance between sample complexity, simplicity, and wall-time.


232:

"I cannot believe they're getting away with this shit in 2017. *looks at UK Parliament taking on Henry VIII prerogatives*."

I get the impression that a lot of people are kind of stunned by the endlessness of the succession of WTFs. The stunts the government has been getting up to since the election have got worse and worse, but the amount of reaction they generate gets less and less. I was amazed how your example seemed to float by everyone's attention and just drift away again, having never come anywhere near displacing Trump. It's as if people in the UK are using Trump as a comfortably-distant distraction from what's happening here.

233:

Note: I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing at your society.

Pigeon Fanciers have always been an odd sort (and especially now, a dying breed, it's grim up North) and the modern world certainly sees it as a socially odd behavior. And your naughty choices are rather sweet and innocent (if, well, heterosexual). It's meant as a loving laugh, not a cruel one.

It's more a joke along the lines of: Who would you trust with a young boy these days, certainly not the Priest.

~

#231

It's found prior couple threads, 20khz treatment for Schizophrenia, same post as one on Whales and magnetosphere (The Guardian dude totally stole that post...).

To showcase the performance of PPO on high-dimensional continuous control problems, we train
on a set of problems involving a 3D humanoid, where the robot must run, steer, and get up off the ground, possibly while being pelted by cubes.

Oh, it's this lot.

There's a far better paper / video out there training jumps, ducking, running etc. That paper is out-of-date.

Phase-Functioned Neural Network - that's your search term for the good stuff.

Google's DeepMind AI just taught itself to walk YT: animation, June 12th 2017 1:50


Note: they're not actually doing anything that interesting (*cough* Walking Army Dog *cough*)

234:

Charlie at OP:

Social solidarity. Tolerance. Openness. Transparency that runs up as well as down the personal-institutional scale.

Let me again put in a plug for Jacques Attali's Brief History of the Future. You seem to have ended up where he did in 2006.

Attali thought it [a drive towards social solidarity and rejection of corporate surveillance] would start to happen about 2040. Given that economists are optimists by inclination and training, we might be waiting a while yet.

And, possibly, better tools for authenticating public statements such as votes, tweets, and blog essays like this one. These are what we need to cleave to if we're not going to live out our lives in a shiny algorithmic big data hellscape.

It has puzzled me, since I learned about the existence of digital identity certificates, that governments do not issue these along with birth certificates. I guess that the omission is due to techies's Dumb-And-Dumber equation, government == bad. Leaving the job to profit-motivated entities seems like a recipe for disaster--or has Her Majesty's Passport Office been privatized without me noticing?

235:

Presumably the libertarian counterargument would be that if enough people were interested in human wellbeing that the market would deliver it, and the current state of affairs is due to a majority of people being cunts.

236:

Yeah - but it's still a "phone" with a SMALL screen & SMALL keyboard ...
Incidentally, I found a really good app for having a removable battery in your phone - mine went into "safe mode" ys=esterday, fuck knows why - the only way I could get out of jail was to remove the battery - & lo & behold, Twotter now works on it, as well - provided I can remember whatever my password was for it, since it's over 18 months since I last used the phone for "T".

Amazingly a tiny bit of real, scary fact from Polly_Nomial - the hacking of GPS signals by Russia - oh dear.

237:

That's the technique of the Tobacco lobby & the climate deniers, of course - they are selling doubt by the shipload, enough to fuck-up rational decision-making (Assuming it ever existed in the first place )

238:

Not quite - I Have a phone ( Samsung SIII mini ) - I use it a lot - as a phone + 2 or 3 apps [ Speedometer, Google maps, a n other map programme, Twotter ( I still can't remember my pasword, even though it appears to be working again.
That's it .... [ I might get the Woodland Trust's Tree-recognition app, too! ]

239:

Except that Leer system works by transmitting, doesn't it?
Which means it can be homed in on & blown away ... like the Devon Plod who nearly Got It from a a Harrier, waaay back in the 80's when he was trying-out his new handheld speed-trap radar very close to a firing range on Dartmoor, oops.

240:

On phones being computers: I liked the Nokia N900 and N9, especially the N900, just because I could use them as computers. They ran Maemo and Meego, which were based on Linux, and you could even get a shell and ssh running on them.

The N900 had a also pretty good hardware keyboard. It was obviously thicker than other comparable models, but not too thick for me. This made IRC and email with mutt (both on screen on a server) easy. I wouldn't like to type anything long on it, but every on-screen keyboard is much, much worse for anything needing typing. Like, IRC or emails, or even facebook nowadays.

Apparently 'the market' does not want hardware keyboards, and that's why we don't get them. I have seen some Androids with them, but they were inferior in many respects to the N900 keyboard. Also, I like the 'sideways' keyboard - I think there are models with a portrait keyboard, but that's just too small for my hands.

The shell prompt did have some consequences, though. I once deleted all my sms's and contacts from the N9 while trying to rebuild the pdf metadata database from the command line. For some reason I can't fathom, the sms's and contacts were saved in the metadata database, mainly used for cataloguing the documents, pictures, and videos on the phone. Annoying.

241:

I invented this ultrasonic mind control device but all it did was uplift the dogs in my neighborhood.

242:

There was a red aurora alert on the date of the "green blob in the sky" reports after a very large corona mass ejection.
Seeing such things is definitely related to power transformers since most people only notice such things when the power is out and lighting is off especially at lower latitudes.

243:

(Heteromeles: Can lead be measured in flora - trees specifically? If yes, this could provide a benchmark for measuring exposure among a population within a specific geographic area.)

Sorry, missed this on the first go-round.

Yes, you can measure elements in trees. I don't know the specific method, but I assume that ashing a sample and running it through a mass spectrometer might work.

What it will tell you...? That's the hard part, because I'm not sure where the lead would end up, and how much would stay in the plant. Plants (and the fungi that grow in them) do all so sorts of things with elements they don't need, from secreting them, to poisoning leaves by concentrating crap in them, then dumping the leaf, to crystallizing them in their hyphae so that they're out of the way (that trick was seen in mycorrhizal fungi growing on plants in a toxic waste dump in Poland, when the researchers were wondering how the plants managed to survive).

In my utter ignorance, I'd be careful about assuming that any tree species would provide a consistent record of lead in the environment. While it would be great if lead got sequestered in the wood, so that you could core a tree, do lead analysis per growth ring, and figure out exposure, I'd be amazed if anything like that actually happened (not the least because the cells in wood are dead and hollow).

If you're looking for a good annual record of lead pollution, the best I know of is pond sediments, followed by glaciers. I know they've tracked lead in both as a way of determining both when the bronze age arrived in a particular area (in both Europe and South America) and as a way of tracking how much pollution the industrial age produced. Glaciers, of course, have even longer time spans, but the problem is that they're melting, and the industrial layers are on top.

244:
Phones? That's what burners are. And they have to do more, and at least in the US, they legally need a warrant to track me... since I have a flip phone.
Nope: burners have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

There are not "always ways round it." There is only "my opposition isn't willing to spend the resources needed to defeat my tactics." If they are, you are boned no matter what you do.

245:

On lead in tree rings.

It's a definite maybe. As seems reasonable it depends on the type of tree and its location relative to the pollution source. Usually how close to the road


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969701011494


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/56035


https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00002930

246:

What makes it trickier, especially for lead, is that many elements are dangerous to mammals only in certain forms (either physical or chemical); as we can all remember, lead's salts are extremely insoluble and it is fairly unreactive. Leaded petrol was particularly bad, because it was breathed in, but the only other major problems were water in acid-water areas, lead-glazed or lead cooking vessels used for acid foods, people who got lead paint on their skin as a normal part of their job, and lead shot picked up by dabbling birds. Other than that, lead wasn't and isn't a serious problem. So, just knowing there is lead in an environment, doesn't help much.

247:

I got a n other forwarded tweet ... but the one I liked was the next about the Rees_moggage, where you said Evil, just evil"
To which I would reply ...
( Except I couldn't, fuck knows why .. ) - so here it is anyway, because it's part of a shiny hell, after all (!)

"No, actually, probably worse than evil - stupid & brainwashed"
You have to remember that JRM is a really good catholic, all the time, every time, & that his attitudes to any $Issue will go along with his stance on anything & everything else, such as abortion.
He's supposed to be very bright, but only as long as he is following catholic doctrine.
Is this "worse than evil"?
I might be inclined to say so, because it's a complete abdication of personal responsibility.

248:

[B]urners have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Aside from the tracking, which is probably different in different jurisdictions, the other things that can be used to connect the burner phone to you seem just regular opsec to me. I'm probably biased, I've worked with mobile phone tech somewhat and did study related things in the university, but in my opinion if you want to use burner phones, you need to think farther than "I'll buy a burner phone and connection with cash and then I'll be okay."

249:

You wrote:
someone like Pigeon or Greg who avoids using mobile phones is quickly becoming the sort of anachronistic gadfly that automatically attracts suspicion

That's easier for some than others.

Being a parent without a mobile would be a complete pain for my kids.
************
Oh, dear. Kids not approaching 99% happiness as a limit. Dreadful... Never worried about it, raising kids. No one had a cellphone then (except for rich people with car phones). Our son was, I think, over 10 before we got our first cellphone, and that was one of them, for emergencies. Kids with their own cells didn't start happening until around 2000. I'd prefer NONE OF THEM GOT TO EVER TAKE THEM TO SCHOOL.

And I don't have a mobile. I have a flip-hone, a cellular telephone, so that I can speak to other people at a distance. A few times I've tried to put my email on someone's mobile, and gave up and let them do it. I DISPISE that idiocy that pretends to be a virtual keyboard.

250:

Yes, it's actually virtually impossible for the average person to remain anonymous if law enforcement cares enough to devote a lot of resources to the case. Remember, they may well be monitoring the person you're calling on a regular basis. So if that person's call records show a new unknown number that has the same usage patterns as your previous number, guess who bought a new phone? Also, if that person is being wiretapped and you have a conversation that can be used to identify you ("Hey John"), the gig is up.

Just watch The Wire. You'll learn so much.

251:

A thousand pounds for a phone? Hey, let me know who's buying them - I think I can still find some "cryogenically-treated audio cables" that are for the true audiophile, and they were retailing at $1000.

Really.

252:

Some of the time, it would get ugly. The rest... https://paws.kettering.edu/~jhuggins/humor/taco2bill.html

The upper manager, or the cop, at some point, will actually say, "I don't see the problem...."

A positive note from me: don't assume that even 80% of everyone is stupid.

253:

Well, yes there are ways to get around it. You're assuming that They have ultimate processing and manpower. They don't. Look at the fights over the US budget. And I just saw a piece yesterday, about the NSA drowning in data.

They just can't go after every 2-bit conspiracy, when at least some of those are kids playing at it. Back on usenet, there were plenty of folks who, in their sigfile, would lard it with three lines of words that Carnivore would see, to attract them to innocuous email. And if you're using predetermined codewords....

254:

You have to remember that JRM is a really good catholic, all the time, every time

No, Greg, I disagree: R-M is a very bad Catholic, and I'm pretty sure that in a private audience the Pope would give him a complete bollocking over his attitude to the poor and needy. R-M is in fact incredibly selective about which bits of Catholic doctrine he will publicly shout about and which bits he will conveniently ignore. He's entirely happy about the authoritarian patriarchal bits; but the charity stuff, the anti-war stuff, the condemnation of greed and the pursuit of riches at others' expense, not so much.

(I am not defending the core belief system here. I'm just pointing out that there's a huge bunch of epiphenomena around it, some of which are terrible and some of which are actually quite laudable, and Rees-Mogg has an unerring ability to clutch the bad teachings to his chest while rejecting or suppressing the good ones.)

255:

"They just can't go after every 2-bit conspiracy" - that's exactly my point: your only hope is to be not worth the hassle. And everything's stored, so you can't ever become worth the hassle. All in a context where "the hassle" constantly decreases as computing power & knowledge improves.
There are no reliable tactics. Presuming to be beneath notice is not a tactic.

256:

The British police had a "target" system a while back, I don't know if it still applies. They used existing criminal intelligence to identify a target criminal or group or a gang and then applied extraordinary (in the literal sense) amounts of manpower and budget to track and observe those targets. The aim was to catch them in the act of planning or carrying out a serious crime. Even a while back it could cost half a million pounds a week in terms of teams of operatives, vehicles, managers, premises etc. Part of the target process was to observe who the targets talked to, who they communicated with etc. The target system had some publicly acknowledged successes but it's inevitable that many of the operations were busts with no outcome to justify the expenditure in money and resources.

The Internet and modern communications make it both easier and more difficult to carry out such targeted surveillance -- more people flooding the channels with data irrelevant to any sort of criminal investigation while at the same time allowing semi-automated filtering of such traffic. However there's a certain amount of edginess in many people's minds, the idea that they're subversive and so the Man is bound to have them on their radar hence the talk about burner phones and not leaving a trail or wearing IR LEDs around your neck or.... I call this the Doctorow Effect.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh4Q3A0jvKY

257:

You and the others commenting on parenting really don't get how much of a step change there has been in the last 10 years. The social aspects of parenting are now hugely and intimately tied to your mobile, whether it's What's App groups, Neighbourhood Facebook feeds or the Local Councils Twitter feed. Arguably all contributing to the richness of our social interactions, in quite a positive way regardless of the misused such things are also put to.

Every year it gets harder and harder to avoid and whilst it's easy to say you'll avoid it for you benefit it gets harder and harder to do so when it negatively impacts your kids.

I'm lucky I get to do most of it vicariously through my wife thus keeping my phone pretty vanilla.

Gawd knows what it will be like in another 10 years but better off teaching the nippers the pros and cons of the mobile as a tool now so they can at least be partially prepared for whatever twisted devices the future brings.

258:
It wasn't for me when I was a kid, nor was it for any of the other kids
You actually typed out the point and still missed it.

When "the other kids" have phones, you get a phone or you accept being out of touch (in the actually in communication sense) with your peers. This is not a trivial cost to social primates.

259:
the idea that they're subversive and so the Man is bound to have them on their radar
This is your occasional reminder that every website every resident of the UK visited in the last two years is available without warrant to 48 bodies, from GCHQ to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. Feeling that you're on someone's radar is the rational, sensible position.
260:

Well, that parents even give kids phones at all I count as another piece of insanity. It would have been out of the question to be given any present as expensive as a phone, no matter what it was. "Big present" was a bicycle, probably second hand, and you didn't get something like that every year. And it would have been starkly unthinkable to be given a present which was not only horribly expensive in the first place but also required even more money spent on it continuously to make it keep working. That would have been ""I want" doesn't get" and "you can have one of those when you're old enough to pay for it yourself".

Now it's as if every girl who wanted a pony actually got one, instead of just the tiny minority whose parents could stand the expense. And rode it to school, too.

261:

"...better off teaching the nippers the pros and cons of the mobile as a tool now so they can at least be partially prepared for whatever twisted devices the future brings."

Except that's pretty much the opposite of what actually happens. The adults are oblivious of the problem and hand the things unthinkingly to kids who add to an even greater obliviousness the trust and naivety of childhood. Mummy and Daddy won't give you something bad, of course not, it must be good. It's the same sort of perverse miseducation as school "IT" lessons teaching the kids that nothing exists beyond Microsoft. They are not being partially prepared for the twisted devices of the future; they're being made more unprepared by being taught at an early age to regard the bloody things with unconditional trust.

"You're not having one of those until you can pay for it yourself AND you know how to sniff network traffic and patch software without the source code" - now that would be valuable education.

262:

Um, no.

Here's how to be not worth the hassle.

Have lots of online friends.
Contribute to a lot of campaigns on both sides of any issue.
Contribute to a wide variety of charities.
Make yourself valuable to the community.
Have nothing to do with anything violent (in other words, make the only laws you're willing to break the ones that make people queasy to enforce, like wearing a clown nose at a protest).

Then, if they come after you, you've got links all over the place, many of which they don't want to investigate.

The other thing to do is to have multiple online identities, so that your behavior map throws up confusing correlates and doesn't really correspond to any distinctive profile.

The fundamental problem isn't the computer, it's manpower to chase down leads. We've seen that since before 9/11, where people had the suspects on their radar but couldn't do anything about it. Make your leads too manifold to chase down for the level of offense you might have conceivably caused, and you probably won't rise to the level of problem on anyone's radar.

Oh, and one more thing. Thanks for giving me plausible deniability...

263:

Except that's pretty much the opposite of what actually happens. The adults are oblivious of the problem and hand the things unthinkingly to kids who add to an even greater obliviousness the trust and naivety of childhood.

Based on your experience of...? :) You sound like a Daily Mail columnist when you put it like that :)

We've certainly been educating the kids in their awareness of phishing, malware, online fraud, dishonest identities, etc since their first steps online. I don't think we're unusual in that; as a "for instance":

http://theriskfactory.org/

This is a facility in Lothian that our kids' school sends all of its pupils in Primary 7 (11-12 year olds); I volunteered to help supervise with youngest's class. It's scenario-based training, and rather effective. It also included an online safety awareness session...

264:

Makes me laugh to see progressives behaving like conservatives, and not noting the irony

I'd prefer NONE OF THEM GOT TO EVER TAKE THEM TO SCHOOL... I DISPISE that idiocy that pretends to be a virtual keyboard.

Rule 1 when declaiming an entire technology is unnecessary, ready to destroy civilisation as we know it, never would have happened in my day...

:)

Be prepared to have it pointed out that obviously, standards are slipping with these old-fashioned educational techniques, the elderly can't even spell properly any more, country's going to the dogs I tell you, all of these old-fangled quill pens are destroying our mature folks' ability to spell correctly, and their manners are simply appalling - all of that SHOUTING IN PUBLIC...

:)

My wife and I both have busy and occasionally unpredictable jobs. Yes, the world would work without wireless telegraphy, but it's a lot more convenient to have it available. We can coordinate with the boys with ease; reassure them if traffic is a nightmare and we're running late to pick them up; tell them we're just outside (see frequent debates on foul weather in Edinburgh - a wet winter's night with sideways near-freezing rain, is not an enjoyable place when you're trying to locate each other).

As a "for instance", the boys were cycling in the nearby woods the other weekend (see? fresh air, exercise). They managed to cycle over a wasps' nest, over a mile away, and there were multiple stings per child. It was useful to be able to nip down in the car with the after-bite ointment and check them out, because oldest could phone to say what had happened.

So, yes. They have (cheap, Microsoft) smartphones, and they take care of them. I loosely monitor online behaviour; control the amount and limit the timings of access; and warn 12-year-old when his Minecraft server moderation is taking up too much time (15-year-old is careful not to indulge his Overwatch and 9gag habits until after he's completed his homework).

265:

Well, Charlie's blog does tend to attract an unrepresentatively clued-up segment of the population... Elsewhere I encounter people like my sister who just ignores it, or the chap who discovered his kids had been playing some game which involved them spending real money on his Amazon account (apparently they didn't know that what they were doing had that result), which he hadn't realised was even possible and didn't know what to do about it.

It might be quite fun to be a Daily Mail columnist. I reckon I could get the style down pat, and that would be enough that it would be quite a long time before they noticed that my actual content was diametrically opposed to what the rest of the rag was saying :)

266:

Rather like a number of American bishops, who were up in arms at the new Pope actually talking about the poor and saying things needed to be done about them, rather than praising the Bishops for donating some money to help the poor. Naturally said Bishops get drive around in very nice cars and live in swanky houses in good addresses, like Rees-Mogg.

267:

True - but the schools certainly aren't ignoring it. In my era of the early 80, we were warned against the perils of drink, drugs, and contraception-free sex. That was about it.

Nowadays, (again, using kids' large school in the city as an example) they do a wide range of stuff under the heading of "personal development" - they do the abvious drink/drugs/sexual development stuff; but also interpersonal relationships, etc, etc. They start it earlier, and they do more of it.

This week's session involved the kids being mildly amused as they were "lectured at" about how they were all "addicted to smartphones" (the visiting lecturer had taken a page out of Marks' book). However, the follow-on involved discussion on the nature and unreality of online pornography (and yes, I'd already had that debate with each son, before they started secondary school). They've done stuff on cyber-bullying, echo chambers, etc, and they do it little and often.

So yes, some parents might be ignorant, but the majority I know are very approving of how the school is handling it... it's not to say that the drink, drugs, and unprotected sex isn't happening within the 15-and-upwards[1], but at least the participants can't claim ignorance.

[1] As per your example, naive and unaware parents. When under-age, generally among those children with older siblings. And, of course, with the exaggerration and gossip that teenagers specialise in.

268:

Ewww. Covert tracking with music, involving smartphones.
CovertBand: Activity Information Leakage using Music (Sept 2017)
This paper contributes a novel method for low-cost, covert physical sensing and, by doing so, surfaces new privacy threats. We demonstrate how a smartphone and portable speaker playing music with embedded, inaudible signals can track multiple individuals’ locations and activities both within a room and through barriers in 2D space. We achieve this by transforming a smartphone into an active sonar system that emits a combination of a sonar pulse and music and listens to the reflections off of humans in the environment.
Their website: CovertBand

269:

The idea is that the relays (the mobile drones) are trackable, and expendable, but unless you can hack those you're not going to be able to determine the Leer ground location.

The links provided (2nd one on Ukraine) show the multi-purpose over-lapping deployment: there's ~13+ different units / bits of tech being deployed.

As stated: Martin (or Other .mil wonks) will spot the 'defense in depth' nature of the over-lapping fields.

Which is probably required, since Drones are... well:

Spies in the Sky: Israeli Drone feeds hacked by British and American Intelligence The Intercept, Jan 2016 - Operation Anarchist (cute!).

Drones – A hacker’s playground Kudelski Security, June 2016 - nice little piece, well sourced.

Obviously, not linking to Black-hat sites, but... it's a buyers' market out there (and there's 100% a kultur crew of those who just simple love watching the feeds as you would open laptop / security cams. Very... particular ones, those. Often play EvE a lot).

~

Thanks for giving me plausible deniability...

That's why you should always visit the links. (!).

270:

Imagine that you have a child with Type 1 diabetes or serious life threatening asthma. For the diabetic child, a continuous glucose monitor and an app that phones the parents can alert them if their child goes hypo. Or if John's mother bakes and brings a batch of cookies and the diabetic takes a chance to feast on the stuff he doesn't get at home. An app for asthma would let the parents know if the child goes into respiratory distress. Kids die when teachers or caretakers aren't alert or inadequately trained.

Do you really want to ban kids phones at school?

271:

Re: '... the new Pope'

Yes, even though the College of Cardinals elected him, Francis managed to surprise quite a few by remaining devoted to the poor and foregoing pomp where possible. Not an act: he took public transit while a bishop and lived in a very basic apartment.

Now if he could only wrap his head around women's rights esp. as it pertains to their own bodies.

272:

Re: Kids and mobile/smartphones

Gave our prog a simple cell phone at a youngish age because both parents work long and sometimes irregular office hours/travel, plus major traffic headaches to pick up/drop off at school, plus a stretch of a major medical issue. Also said: call anytime if you have any problem/concern/don't feel well: we will (and still do) always pick up prog's call.

No issues with billing or worrisome contacts because we also showed prog the bill which itemized every single call placed, i.e., number, date and duration. So prog was from the get-go aware of the reality of constant, if not real-time, surveillance. :)

273:

The USA and the UK have vastly different legal and cultural standards in this matter.

In the UK, the adults are expected to have duty of care and take on the legal responsibilities of guardians: children not having phones within classes is fairly common, and almost 100% in Public (which are the UK private) school classrooms.

In the USA.... not so much (zero tolerance rules etc).

Expect a lot of UK based flare-back on this issue: reading Martin's posts is probably instructional.


p.s.

Did y'all not realize you were being given an invisibility / respectability cloak? You know, the kind they love to map people with. You're all (if you follow the links) listed as a A/B type naow.

Ok, now that's funny. Thought that one was obvious for a year or two now.


[And pro-tip: the fact that it's all on target, on message, interesting (well, most of it) and within the sphere is just. Finesse.]

274:

Biometric phone security has been around for a while and so police already have open access to phones. In fact, they already have a big file of biometric data that can open most phones these days (finger prints...)

275:

Funny you should say that. Until my landline went digital end to end, I used to often have to ring people back from my mobile in order to understand them.

The only time a mobile goes horrible as you describe is when it's being used hands free.

276:

Re: Drone hacking

Interesting articles ... my take-aways/questions:

Just because they're fundamentalists in terms of their religion/ethics, doesn't mean they're not tech savvy. Which can also be restated as: Just because they're modern in their human rights outlook, doesn't mean they've got the best tech. Seems this is just about always overlooked/ignored by pols and media when discussing these groups. Downright stupid unless such dismissal is intended to comfort/con the Western public into thinking 'Of course, we'll win - just look at their primitive/old-fashioned beliefs! Anyone that old-fashioned will be using some antique like a blunderbuss!'

Just how many more layers of tech can the military pile up before the whole weapons/military system crashes? It doesn't seem as though any previous tech has been ditched or replaced, just more and more layers being added. Each layer of tech probably also means an additional layer of personnel - and support for that personnel. Very expensive. Also wonder if there's a point where the benefit of adding another layer of tech is offset by the confusion (and expense) of having one more resource to plan around. And if all systems are interconnected, more potential targets for the bad guys.

277:

Austr sat in aldna í Járnviði
ok fæddi þar Fenris kindir;
verðr af þeim öllum einna nokkurr
tungls tjúgari í trölls hami.

Fyllisk fjörvi feigra manna,
rýðr ragna sjöt rauðum dreyra;
svört verða sólskin um sumur eftir,
veðr öll válynd. Vituð ér enn - eða hvat?


Given both you and Greg have mis-labelled me 'Wolf', well then. You should probably clean out the old wet-ware, looks a little... corrupted.


p.s.

Tell you a little story:

A boy (not a boy) was sat in a Tavern, all alone:
The Clock struck ten
In walked a Man with his two tattoo'd heavies
Come to make a deal
Great patter and parlay the Man bespoke
Of how things were just better
Under his yolk
Boy (not a boy) smiled and asked the two
Are those meaningful or just pretty, as are you?
They demurred and accepted the Boy's smile
The Man demanded an answer, a drink and a promise
Couldn't afford his last beer, so taken on credit...
So the Man owed the Boy his very last drink
A debt not paid and shouting "kill him" (not fulfilled)
is nary an "annulled"!
So, let me finish my drink...
Said the Boy (not a boy) and let me think.

Inaudible High-Frequency Sounds Affect Brain Activity: Hypersonic Effect Journal of Neurophysiology Published 1 June 2000, Full text.


p.s.


Jokes about uplifting dogs are cute until you're the ones who the dogwhistles are about.

Hint:


You're so fucking outclassed, it's getting embarrassing. *Points to the World Stage*

278:

Since the discussion has shifted towards the necessity of a phone in today's world, I think many of you work in offices where the use of a mobile phone is not (informally) mandatory.

I am in an office where most people (including the immediate management) is in their late 20's to early 30's. Office politics requires that everyone has Venmo on their phones.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venmo

If we go to lunch as a group bigger than 10, then it is considered against company culture for everyone to give their credit cards to pay. Instead, my manager pays with his credit card, and everyone pays him back via Venmo. I found out quite early that he looks down upon anyone trying to pay him back by cash, and any exact change in denominations lower than a quarter is not allowed. Checks are also out of the question.

Even in smaller groups, we sometimes gone to restaurants which refuse to split the bill more then 4 ways. So if we're a group of 6 without the manager, we still use Venmo to pay the people who pay with their credit cards. It's considered extremely low-class to pay via cash.

In these situations, it's extremely bad office politics to use cash or checks, and no one is giving you their routing number so you can do a bank transfer. I wonder how many other offices with Millenial managers have a similar culture?

279:

Like someone said earlier it's not the device it's the network that makes phones indispensable

Just like the land line telephone before them

There is certainly an awful lot of "old man shakes fist at cloud"

I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was. Now what I'm with isn't *it*, and what's *it* seems weird and scary to me. It'll happen to you...

280:

Oh, too good.

You should check where the Moon is now in your Sky and the Science and so on.


No, really.

281:

Been catching up on tech news feeds. Meta-comment; roughly 10 percent in the last 1.5 months could be considered panopticon-related. Mostly attacks on privacy, sometimes dressed up as beneficial (to society, and to individuals), and a few defenses. Spammy, sorry about that. Did a cursory archives search for paper titles/links and pruned out obvious duplicates, apologies for any remaining duplicates - some of them are familiar.

A few articles on smart phone apps to detect medical conditions: melanoma, pancreatic cancer, concussion. ML paper (nature) on an approach to ASD detection (requiring 3D images). (links on request.)

Lip Reading Sentences in the Wild (2016, don't know why it showed up in 2017/08 feed, don't see a link to the paper on this blog, recall it being mentioned though.)

Algorithm unlocks smartwatches that learn your every move (think about it for a second or two)
Centralized class specific dictionary learning for wearable sensors based physical activity recognition - Know that other classes of activity could easily be learned. Cough.
( http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7926100/ if you don't want to click on a researchgate link )
E.g. earlier work:
Comparing Deep and Classical Machine Learning Methods for Human Activity Recognition Using Wrist Accelerometer
(and another 10-20 other papers by various people)

New software can detect when people text and drive (2017 - did not find a pdf of paper)

Predicting sex as a soft-biometrics from device interaction swipe gestures (Old, 1 Aug 2016)

Keystroke Inference Using Smartphone Kinematics (13 May 2017, abstract only, was this mentioned previously?)

Harnessing Autonomy for Countering Cyberadversary Systems (HACCS) DARPA - Aug 03, 2017, proposals due by 29 Sep 2017!
The goal of the Harnessing Autonomy for Countering Cyberadversary Systems program is to develop technologies for accurately identifying malicious cyberadversary infiltrated networks, generating software exploits for large numbers of known (n-day) vulnerabilities, and creating safe, reliable, and non-disruptive autonomous software agents that can be inserted in the compromised networks via the n-day exploits to safely and reliably neutralize cyberadversary software agents. (bold mine)

Drone Relays for Battery-Free Networks SIGCOMM ’17, 21-25 August 2017
Kinda interesting, drones as elements of local fine-grained infrastructure involving RFIDs:
this paper presents RFly, a system that leverages drones as relays for battery-free networks. RFly delivers two key innovations. It introduces the first full-duplex relay for battery-free networks. The relay can seamlessly integrate with a deployed RFID infrastructure, and it preserves phase and timing characteristics of the forwarded packets.

---
#273 you were being given an invisibility / respectability cloak tx, btw. (such things are educational, when noticed.)
#280 you mucking with lunar calendars again? (A little wistful that I don't remember the tables learned as a kid for telling the time from the position of the big dipper/plow and date)

282:

"out of the question to be given any present as expensive as a phone, no matter what it was. "Big present" was a bicycle"

That's hilarious...

My last smart phone cost almost *exactly* 1/100th of my last bicycle.

When I was a kid I got a watch for a significant birthday (10th?). I wasn't told how much it cost but a week's wages would be a good stab in the dark... More than the latest iThing by a goodly margin. All it did was tell time, which was useful to be home when my curfew began, but didn't have any other real uses.

283:

Unfortunately, approximately 2% of people are stupid, same as approx 1% of people are complete shits (see my next post!) .... but that is all it takes to screw it for everyone!

284:

In which case, since you appear to have been paying closer attention than I, ... he really is an evil shit (See previous post)
I must admit, I've just gone:" Oh JRM sounding his catholic nonsense off again, ignore it, because he's at leat 200 years out of date..."

285:

The idea is that the relays (the mobile drones) are trackable, and expendable, but unless you can hack those you're not going to be able to determine the Leer ground location.
Yeah, so? Not sure I buy it - because The Ground Station will be ( Must be) transmitting & is therefore targetable.
And, as you yourself state, thedrones are hackable, so there is/are two lines of attack on this sytem, straight off.
Scissors? Paper? Stone?

286:

Now if he could only wrap his head around women's rights esp. as it pertains to their own bodies.
Oooh! Aren't we an optimist!
Excuse the sarcasm, but I really don't see that one happening

287:

Few can see past when Odin meets the Wolf.

Bugger uplifting dogs/wolves - try cats instead - some are well-along that route already.

288:

Obviously USSA & stark raving bonkers ....
NOT protocol in "The City" I can tell you.

Oh, & talking of stark raving bonkers

289:

Part of me is horrified by this even though it proves my point, and even though I'm a regular PayPal Gift user which seems functionally identifical. To be clear it's the enforced office comformamce that seems horrible even though it makes perfect sense. I'm with Unholyguy @279 on this one.

Few of us these days have the either the social, technical/educational or cultural skills to deal with the huge opportunity costs of not using a smartphone as part of our societial engagement.

290:

Just how many more layers of tech can the military pile up before the whole weapons/military system crashes?

For a salutory reality-check, it's worth rooting out a second-hand copy of The Baroque Arsenal by Mary Kaldor, pub. 1982. Kaldor isn't a crank; she worked at SIPRI, was one of the founders of European Nuclear Disarmament, and is currently Professor of Global Governance and Director of the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit at the London School of Economics. So it's fascinating to see how badly this very erudite academic commentator got everything wrong in her bestselling 1982 book.

The TLDR of "The Baroque Arsenal" is that the west (notably the USA) has focussed since the 1960s on compensating for being militarily outnumbered by building increasingly expensive weapons systems — the focus of the Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned about — and that this "baroque arsenal" of ever-more-sophisticated hangar queens is both expensive, unreliable (and unlikely to work), and destabilizing because it offers the chimeric hope of being able to wage a war free from casualties (at least, on "our" side).

History has definitively proven her wrong on pretty much all of her assertions. While Version 1.0 of the Baroque Arsenal (circa the 1960s) was laughably unreliable and over-ambitious, she was blindsided by the effect that cheap computing power would have on the picture. She didn't expect cruise missiles or BVR AAMs to work, much less precision guided artillery or agile combat aircraft or stealth technology. And in her terms of reference — looking back from 1980-81, when she would have been researching and writing — she was probably correct: but the technology was already there in embryonic prototype form, and over the next three decades it matured into what we see today.

So I'm very cautious about asserting that we've reached the end of this progression and that smart weapons can't get any more baroque.

291:

Let me add to this: Pigeon seems to be a little out of touch — in 2013, the average pocket money given to kids aged 8-15 was roughly £6 per week.

A cheap bicycle with the minimum of essential accessories (lights, helmet, bike lock) costs on the order of £200. And I'm talking about a crappy minimum-cost Halfords kid bike, not a real bicycle.

A cheap Android smartphone starts at £40. You can get a pretty decent one for £120 or so.

A pay-as-you-go SIM can be topped up from less than £10 a month, including some wireless data. (You put the kids on pay-as-you-go specifically so that if some wee shitebag steals their phone, the thief can't run up a stupendous bill on the credit card of mum and dad.)

Note that the cheap Android phone is the current generation's equivalent of: the walkman, the radio, the bedroom colour TV, the games console, a pocket camera, and an hour a night yacking with their besties on the land line.

So the TCO of a phone, for your kid, is a combination of "cheap-to-medium birthday present" plus ongoing maintenance of "20-30% of pocket money", and replaces five medium-to-pricey birthday present gadgets and an ongoing phone bill.

Looking at the price of a maxed-out iPhone X, blanching, and saying "I wouldn't give that to my child" is like resolving, when your 17 year old wants to learn to drive, that you're not going to buy them a Tesla Model S to learn on.

292:

Excuse the sarcasm, but I really don't see that one happening

Not with the current pontiff, but wait for the Catholic church to allow married clergy then add 30-40 years: having cardinals and maybe a pope who are or have been married and had female children will be a significant change. (Maybe not a sufficient one — look at the Saudi clergy, or the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate — but being led by men who are segregated away from women socially clearly can't be helping.)

(And allowing married priests is going to happen sooner rather than later; recruitment rates are through the floor and there's an official Vatican enquiry into historical child sex abuse that is pointing the finger at two root causes — the culture of secrecy, and the requirement of celibacy.)

293:

So, well after both of us have been dead for 50-=100 years, then?

Of course, priests used to be able to marry, until "reformers" got at it including that prize bastard, Bernard of Clairvaux

294:

The reason for priestly celibacy was to prevent the papacy becoming a hereditary monarchy (consider the Borgias). With the Reformation in the offing, that would have sounded the death knell for the papacy as it would inevitably evolve into just another imperial power.

The reason they'll ditch it is the same: to avoid an existential threat to the continuity of the church — in this case, a death spiral in recruitment of new priests (which also may have something to do with demographic transition: former high birthrate Catholic countries that produced lots of surplus boys are no longer so pious and family sizes have crashed, so there are far fewer boys eligible for — much less willing to go into — the clergy.)

These are all long term, multi-generational changes. So yeah, it probably won't happen within our lifetimes. But I think it's more likely that it'll happen than that the Catholic Church will allow itself to go out of business on a point of secondary ideology.

295:

A slight correction - you put their phone on pay as you go so it can be integrated I to pocket money and more importantly, to avoid getting bills for multiple hundred pounds of voice and data usage, as happened to someone I know a few years ago. Obviously not all teenagers would do that but I guarantee a lot would.

296:

The Ground Station will be ( Must be) transmitting & is therefore targetable.

With ground > satellite and satellite > drone relays your ground station can be half a planet away, as we see with some of the predators in the middle east being operated from US soil. There are plenty of other options as well, starting with simply siting the transmitter a lengthy distance from the control station and using fibre optic cable to avoid emissions, which is 70s tech...

297:

Anyone who wants to see "state of the art" in Surface to Air Missiles should do a quick search for Sea Sceptre launch video. Up about 30 feet, pitch over 90 degrees, light booster and gone.

298:

Sea Ceptor, aka CAMM, a vertical-launch relative of ASRAAM for naval point defense.

299:

Re: 'Oh (pol of your choice) ... sounding his ... nonsense off again, ignore it, because he's at leat 200 years out of date..."'

This is probably their working strategy: too many people are tuning out because they're suffering from negative emotional/psychological overload. Once only those who agree with that pol are the only tuned-in/engaged segment of society, anything can happen, i.e., any bill can be passed, any atrocity committed.

What we as a society need is a form of selective deafness (dampen down the massive outpourings of hate and lies) while still remaining aware of the dangers ... a haz mat suit for the mind. Blogs like this help.

300:

You're seeing, and missing my point. If you are a Big Name Plotter, they're all over you.

If, on the other hand, you and a friend or two are utterly appalled by what's happening, and start plotting, and set up a cell (political) system, and the nearest you have to a criminal record were parking tickets, the software's not giving you more than a cursory look. And even with computing power constantly going up, so is the sheer volume of what they're trying to track.

Datum: with a cluster of over 1100 nodes, a program (NIH-xplor) modelling protein folding can run for one to two WEEKS, on bare iron, not VMs, and maybe one-two other programs running. Now you're the NSA... and you're trying to grep through 30M people's phone and emails... the computations do not go up arithmatically, more like geometrically or logarithmically. And then, you add in all the false positives....

This is not a simple problem, to be solved by just throwing more, faster hardware at it.

301:

Up about 30 feet, pitch over 90 degrees, light booster and gone.

Vertically launched ABMs and SAMs with extreme pitch-overs right after launch seem to have been around for quite a while. When you think about it, that makes sense in terms of responsiveness and relative simplicity of the launcher.

See

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msXtgTVMcuA at 0:55

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V24zwCHykak

302:

Yeah... and I think you're missing the still bigger picture. You're following your kids all the time, The neighborhood is checking on you regularly. You're on call, 24x7.

Think about that.

I've read estimates that Ceaușescu had something approaching 50% of Romania spying on the rest....

And for other commenters: let me say this: first, in school do you actually want the kids to be passing notes invisibly? cheating? NOT actually paying attention and learning?

And for a lot of us, growing up, you got sick in school? Isn't that what the school nurse is for, who should have medical records? Isn't the teacher, or aren't the rest of the kids going to notice it and yell for the teachers? And can't the school call you?

And about bikes... let's see, my first bike was a gift from a friend, who'd been given a new one. We wound up giving it back, when his got stolen. I bought my first bike around 1969, I think, something like $20, used.

What, are you too upper middle class to buy used stuff? Don't go to thrift stores?

The bike I have now my late wife and I got in '90, when I was out of work for 9 mos, and we had one vehicle, living in the exurbs outside Austin, so that I wasn't trapped (I could ride a few miles and catch a commuter bus). We paid $55 for it, at a jock shop. Now, new, 3-4 years before, it would have cost in the $300-$400 range. And it's actually a racing bike - wish it was a touring bike (difference is obscure bike tech), but it's a wonderful bike.

Think used.

303:

Oh, right, y'know, it's really scratchy in my clothes when you stuff all that straw in.

1. Where did I imply it WOULD DESTROY CIVILIZATION? Rather, it's interfering with education, and I want better, not "education suitable only for Trump supporters".
2. I said ->I

304:

BLEAH! My condolences on such a Big Brotheresque "culture". If I had to work there, and had to go out, I'd ask for a separate check. And there's no *reason* for that, since for a few years now, you all hand the waiter you cards, and they deal with it. I certainly wouldn't want to be borrowing money/owing my boss all the time.

305:

Say, like The Ballad of Lost C'Mell, by Cordwainer Smith?

306:

All of which I find aggravating, Charlie, given that an ultraOrthodox Hassidic rabbi told me, over 20 years ago, that Jews had no problem with abortions (I'd asked), and quoted something from the OT, where a pregnant woman is hurt? killed, and loses the baby in either case, and it was the equivalent of a blood price for her, but a chattel price, on par with a lamb, say, for the unborn. As he put it, "Society has far more invested in a woman of childbearing years than in an unborn infant."

I am *extremely* PO'd here in the States for all the anti-abortion laws, which are pure Christian, and allegedly unConstitutional.

307:

Part of me is horrified by this even though it proves my point, and even though I'm a regular PayPal Gift user which seems functionally identifical. To be clear it's the enforced office comformamce that seems horrible even though it makes perfect sense. I'm with Unholyguy @279 on this one.

Few of us these days have the either the social, technical/educational or cultural skills to deal with the huge opportunity costs of not using a smartphone as part of our societial engagement.

The other thing is it appears to be some kind of mandatory company meeting being held at the employee's expense. Back when I was still working, the manager would have used a company issued credit card to pay for the meal. Or lacking that would have paid with his own card and submitted an expense claim for reimbursement.

Either way, the employees would and should NOT have been expected to pay for a working lunch.

I won't even go into having to install company approved & company required software on an employee's personal device & expecting that employee to use the personal device for the company's benefit without reimbursement.

308:

Not only is the anti-abortion thing purely Christian, it's also 19th century revisionist Christianity — go back to the middle ages and this nonsense about "life begins at conception" wasn't doctrinally valid, life began at "quickening" (fetal movements in utero, i.e. kicking), or with the first indrawn breath.

The why of that belief system gaining traction should be obvious, though: it's all about enforicng social control, specifically social control over women's reproductive autonomy (which in turn keeps the mothers under control, and if you've got the mothers in lockdown you've got supervision of the next generation).

309:

Very much so.
My own candidate for uplifting is trying to manipawlate the mouse, right now ......

310:

I'm pretty sure that I'm not allowed to borrow money from my boss, to avoid conflicts of interest. It's in the staff handbook, IIRC.

311:

I am *extremely* PO'd here in the States for all the anti-abortion laws, which are pure Christian, and allegedly unConstitutional.

If you can find anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus says abortion is a sin, I'd be interested in knowing where it is.

312:

Re: NK underground nuke tests and after-shocks

Okay, I understand the current headlines are all about the latest nuke flying above Japan air space. However, there's also this:

http://www.nature.com/news/seismologists-stumped-by-mystery-shock-after-north-korean-nuclear-test-1.22618?WT.ec_id=NEWSDAILY-20170915


Am wondering whether NK has been testing in old/depleted coal mines which in my amateur opinion would mean that pressure waves (and radiation) would be dispersed more horizontally than vertically (vs. say the US method which digs special tunnels for such testing) thereby creating more opportunities for the pressure/radiation to run up against an existing fault and tickling it to the point that it hiccoughs. Since coal has been NK's economic mainstay, and prisoners comprise most of their mining work force - I'm guessing that such mines could be very extensive. Which might also explain the collapses in the 'post' pix.

313:

Meant to post the above as a stand-alone ...

Comment to BA was next:

Re: Lip reading in the wild ...

Something like the Google search algo would probably be really useful for matching likeliest pairings. A long-time friend has a very strong stammer with - depending on the circs - both varying frequency and irregularly timed hesitations and repetitions of a sound. Wonder if like the Navajo, this could be used to sneak past surveillance lip readers.

314:

Well, they do taste better, don't they? Of course, they're smaller than the farmed ones, and it's much harder to remove the tentacles and the poison sac from the wild Haggis, but it's worth the trouble.

315:

Or "Dax" from Tuf Voyaging, by GRRM

317:

Re: ' ... sick in school? ... school nurse is for ... teacher? And can't the school call you?'

Unfortunately - a very big NO! Not aware of any school in my area that has a school nurse on premises including the pricey private schools - 'public schools' in Britain.

Teachers long ago were told to not physically interfere with any child - this includes anything medical. Also - lawsuits.

Plus, the list of diagnosed medical conditions among the populace keeps growing longer.

Plus, there are now more kids with major chronic medical conditions whose particular conditions are now more or less well-controlled provided you know what you're doing.

Plus, the typical classroom/school is now super-sized.

Plus, very few parents are willing to provide strangers within a large and hackable chronically under-funded institution much detail about their kids' health. (Privacy, health claims that follow a kid into adulthood, etc.)

The school will call if it's something very obvious, e.g., broken limb, kid passes out - but that's about it. And by then they'll have already called EMT and your kid's on his/her way to a hospital.

318:

Not entirely correct. Our UK state school allows self medication by the pupils - usually in the case of asthma or similar with a doctors note, followed by a courtesy call from the school to the parents.

319:

Apologies for doing the "breeder goes on and on about ickle kiddies" things...

Not aware of any school in my area that has a school nurse on premises including the pricey private schools - 'public schools' in Britain.

Well, I was at a state-run boarding school, but we had a SRN (fully qualifed nurse) running the school hospital (essentially, a couple of small isolation wards and a morning drop-in clinic, a dental surgery for the visiting dentist, and rooms for the visiting optician and the visiting General Practitioner).

Our kids' school has several school "matrons" - with nursing and first aid qualifications. Because it's a large school (>1500 pupils), there are the requisite number of kids who require medication during the day (signed off by the parents each year). There are a few children with severe allergies; so the EpiPens are held by their teachers / matron. There are children with diabetes, asthma as mentioned, etc, etc; again, medication held by matron. The team track injuries, and offer an independent reporting chain (which can be rather helpful when the "guidance teacher" turns out to be an ineffectual muppet).

It feels like nurseries and schools have almost normalised the concept that some kids are severely allergic; I've certainly helped out on school trips where the EpiPen was kept in arms' reach of the teacher throughout...

...ahhh, childrearing. Guaranteed to stress your immune system somewhat. Unfortunately, firstborn's first full-on encounter with Norovirus happened on the way to school, and the car never quite smelled the same, ever again...

320:

"A cheap Android smartphone starts at £40"

I paid 99 AUD (60 quid) two years ago, for the smartphone before last. Sadly, being bigger than the one before that, it didn't fit in the handlebar mount on my electric motorcycle, where it doubled as a dash, giving realtime stats that are useful for getting maximising range. I looked around for a bigger mount but the were all in the 150 dollar region.

So I bought a second phone for 24.50 AUD (15 quid). It was actually much cheaper than a phone mount and I don't have to faff about with putting it on and taking it off. If it gets wet or stolen, I don't really care. And yeah, my last bicycle, with a couple of accessories, was 2300 AUD (1300 quid). So very close to 100 times more than my last phone. As a phone, it's a bit crap, with only twice the storage of the last ProLiant server I installed...

https://shop.coles.com.au/a/a-nsw-metro-West-ryde/product/telstra-prepaid-tempo?col=1

321:

I suspect what's 'normal' in a school depends very much on where you are. We had a part-time nurse when I was in school (two half-days, I think) but although the school I teach at has a nurse's office I've never seen a nurse using it — and we certainly don't have one on call if anything happens.

Phones in class are technically up to the teacher to approve or not, but banning them means fighting both kids AND parents, and most of us eventually give up.

On the privacy/electronic footprint front, last year the school board moved all classroom staff and students to gmail, and strongly pushes using google docs. (Before that we were on a board-owned outlook server.) I've heard the reason was cost savings, but haven't been able to confirm that*. If any consideration was made of privacy concerns re giving a foreign company access to so much information about our students I haven't been able to find it. Former students have told us that when they great a new google account at university google offers to copy over stuff from their high school student account like contacts, so obviously information is being connected somehow.


*IT is notoriously opaque and intrusive, though — for example, they're taking the network down for a day next week to upgrade it**, which means no internet, no computers (because every computer, even laptops, must have a network connection to operate, and no phone (because last spring they moved us to VOIP). The school wasn't asked whether this was a convenient day — we were told and will have to adapt, end of story. Explaining the reason for decisions isn't something they do.

**All IT work happens during business hours on school days.

322:

I don't know who this 'boss' person is and my comments are completely general in nature and don't relate to any specific person.

In some tax regimes 'entertainment' is a business expense and tax deductible. If one were to pay for a dinner during a team meeting, that would count as a deduction. In others a 'meal allowance' is an available deduction where the working day is longer than a set amount.

Setting up a corporate culture where employees pay but the company deducts it from their tax would have significant tax advantages for the employer, but be totally illegal.

In the story about the 'boss' person, it was specifically stated that he used 'his' credit card and not a corporate card, in which case there is no impropriety and I'm in no way implying that in this case there is anything nefarious going on. There clearly isn't, however it is a culture that's open to abuse.

323:

"Being a parent without a mobile would be a complete pain for my kids."

It wasn't for me when I was a kid, nor was it for any of the other kids. Stuff like you mention happened, but the world didn't end...
...Not having a phone is easy: you just don't buy one, and carry on as usual.

You are, perhaps deliberately, missing the point.

Which is that society has changed since you were a kid.

When I was a kid they didn't move sports practice at the last minute and assume everyone would use their phone to know that it had moved and where it had moved to. They didn't assume every kid in the club would join (or have a parent join) a facebook messenger group to communicate game locations, who's playing on which team, etc.

Parents didn't assume that my daughter, who is staying with them and their daughter, would be able to get in touch with me on a busy Saturday morning to update me about a change in pickup times.

The drama teacher didn't assume he could add a rehearsal after school today and that the kids would just let their parents know by mobile.

The school didn't assume that in an emergency they could get the Ministry of Ed to send the txt message that the school was closed and that this would communicate with all the parents.

If the groups and people you deal with don't expect mobile phones, then you don't need one. And maybe yours don't. But parenting means a lot of social contacts, from friends to Scouts to school to sports to the library notice that a book is overdue, and (at least where I live) they're *all* done electronically these days and a assume a speed of communication that wasn't true in the past.

Me not using a mobile would be a complete pain for my kids.

324:

See my previous comments.

Think of however the school, scouts, coaches, other parents, etc used to communicate with you. All of it. Everything from every groups your kids were ever part of. And the preschool (if you used one).

Now assume that's all being done on-line via facebook messenger, txts, and equivalent. And that you don't have a mobile phone.

Seriously. Think about it. Then re-read what you just wrote.

325:

Missed this one, but:

1) There's significant factions who would really dislike Z anywhere near corridors of power
2) FB has been pulled into the M. closed door investigation, regarding Russian influence so ?!?
3) The various Jewish lobbying groups in the USA have clout and some are starting to make seriously displeased noises, but pro-Israeli groups are having to face a Total Disaster Area[1] with Israel's political scene at the moment and are attempting to not be seen as anti-Trump
4) There's a large number of competitors who would love a bloody nose in this case since they're also in the same boat
5) A large segment of advertizing $$ are getting a little fed up with the closed garden FB model and how it can damage their brands, esp when they have no control where they end up being shown

Examples:

Facebook to trim advert categories aimed at 'anti-Semites' BBC 15th Sept 2017

Facebook allowed advertisers to target 'Jew haters' Guardian 15th Sept 2017

Google is stepping up damage control after putting ads next to hate speech Quartz 21st Mar 2017

AIPAC in rare non-Israel statement rejects moral equivalence following Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville JTA 17th Aug 2017

All bullet points can be sourced, not bothered enough to do a deep trawl on this, too many Sharp Pointy Things[tm] all buzzing around it.

TL;DR

It's got legs, but FB has a lot of money.


[1] Good band.

326:

"Yeah... and I think you're missing the still bigger picture."

I think one of us is.

"You're following your kids all the time, The neighborhood is checking on you regularly. You're on call, 24x7.

Think about that."

No shit! That's the whole point of this thread!

That there are significant disadvantages to my situation, and I'm doing it anyway!

People aren't just opting into a state that enables surveillance and trackability because they're stupid morons who can't see the disadvantages!

I'm not carrying a mobile phone because I'm stupid. I'm certainly not using Facebook Messenger because I think it's a good choice of technology.

I'm carrying a mobile phone, and using Messenger, and giving Google a ridiculous amount of information about me, because I'm embedded in a social situation in which not doing so would be a significant hassle for my family and friends.

"Resisting social pressure" sounds all heroic, but what it means here is being very self-centred. Because the costs of not buying in are imposed not just on me but on the people I care about.

I also didn't say everyone is in the same boat. Quite the opposite. What I said was that not carrying a phone is easier for some people than for others, and parents these days are being pushed into the "not at all easy" camp (at least where I live) much harder than most of you probably realise.

327:

Re: 'In the story about the 'boss' person, it was specifically stated that he used 'his' credit card and not a corporate card, ..'

Credit card points! Seriously, this is a painless way of 'saving' for your vacation or for that nice new shiny. IMO, it's the best biz-travel perk there is. And if your biz-travel is always with the same airline and hotel chain, you can really rack up travel miles/days. The manager who always insists that his staff put their tab on his/her card is pulling a scam to run up his/her points faster. A prize jerk!

328:

Re: Drones, unidentified sonics harming foreign embassy staff - maybe it's Rx drugs?

Just remembered that there's a whole class of Rx antibiotics that have hearing loss, vertigo, even schizophrenia/psychosis as listed side effects. Same with OTC pain killers for hearing loss, more so among women than men. (My understanding is that most drug effects including side-effects are dose-dependent or can arise after prolonged use.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinolone_antibiotic

http://www.medicationsense.com/articles/may_aug_05/warning_antibiotics_052205.php

http://www.hear-it.org/painkillers-can-cause-hearing-loss

Not sure why large numbers of any embassy staff would knowingly take such drugs unless they were prescribed on a prophylactic basis. No idea either how long these drugs stay in the body so that their levels can be picked up in a blood or urine test.

329:

Hm, do any of these interact with grapefruit juice?
Food-Drug Interactions (random paper hit, don't know quality.)
Never been to Cuba but wikipedia says Cuba is the world's third largest producer of grapefruit.
Seems rather unlikely that this was not considered but interesting to read about the known interactions. (And doctors generally warn about such interactions.)

330:

> the baroque arsenal

I came to a similar conclusion to her.

Augustine's laws[1] "Law Number XVI: In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3-1/2 days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day."

Also F22, F35, Zumwalt, etc

Wonderweapons, built in too few numbers, must be a tvtrope.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine%27s_laws

331:

Ths School is deliberately using Arsebook?
ARRRGGGHH!

332:

Law VI is flat wrong - but often used by bastards in charge to pay people less ...

333:

The kids' school has a Twitter feed. As Icehawk points out, it's very useful for declaring that foul weather has closed the school, what time the bus full of kids will arrive back from Trip X, whether a particular sports match has been moved / cancelled.

And while yes, we know your opinions about PE teachers, apropos of nothing the school has a new PE teacher, who happened to pick up a medal at a recent Olympics - apparently, she's using her sport as a teaching vehicle for the (gender-segregated) classes, so the girls are now doing Judo during school. It's a very welcome change in focus from "rugby and hockey are all that matter", backed by a new head of PE with a rather amphibious military background...

334:

Yup, Google Education is rather well joined-up. The kids are now BYOD, and if they log in using our ta lets, it means we can see what homework they have too!

No more "dog ate homework", the new excuse would be "our broadband connection went down" :( Meanwhiie, the school has its hands full learning about the full horror of running an enterprise-class wireless network across a large campus. As phones are supposed to be switched off during school hours, it's not smoking that takes place in the toilets and behind the bike sheds - it's 4G use...

335:

Greg even if the school doesn't as a general policy (mine doesn't) - if 90% of the parental units are on Facebook - guess what's gonna happen....

Icehawk @326 is totally correct and I'm only avoiding the same fate because I'm using my wife as a proxy - which is undeniably selfish of me, just because I don't want to be on Facebook. 99% of the time any emergencies would fall to the Missus anyway because I have a long commute - but still.

Let me give you another example of how ubiquitous things like this have become. Each class in the school has a parental class rep to help communicate newsletters and admin type reminders (nothing critical but just the sort of useful stuff like a change in PE kit reminder due to an outdoors day)this list is distributed by plain old email, but the parents contact details are stored on a google docs spreadsheet so it's easy for us all to correct and update.

So if I want to be truly IT paranoid Google has both a picture of some of my comms due to all the parents who use gmail plus a nice little social graph of 20% of my contacts from the google doc. That's not to say that they do have it but they could.

TLDR even for those in the known life is too frikken short to try to avoid this stuff.

336:

Ths School is deliberately using Arsebook?
ARRRGGGHH!

You feel my pain.

To be fair, it's not "the school" as an educational entity using Facebook but "the school's Shakespeare society" and "the school's ultimate frisbee club" and etc individual teachers organising things and etc.

"The school" would actually like to limit it - and is concerned that they've lost track of it. They're failing at that.

The path to the Bright Shiny Hell is paved by well-intentioned coaches setting up a Facebook group so the kids can keep track of who's playing where this week.

337:

Just a reminder:

We're talking about parenting just as an example here.

I gave it as an example of a social situation in which is getting more and more awkward to not carry a mobile phone, and partake in the information ecosystem that implies.

But I'm sure there are many other such situations too. My guess is most 20-year-old uni students are in a similar boat - but I wouldn't know because I'm not one.

Which doesn't mean Pigeon needs a mobile phone, or needs to join Facebook. Just that those who can get away without it should realise that how hard that is depends on one's situation, that many people are in a different situation than them, and that many social situations have changed quite a lot in the last few years.

338:

To be fair, it's not "the school" as an educational entity using Facebook but "the school's Shakespeare society" and "the school's ultimate frisbee club" and etc individual teachers organising things and etc.

I would be surprised if the school administration couldn't exert control if they wanted to — unless teachers in your area have a lot more autonomy than anywhere I've taught. (Which might be the case, I admit.)

339:

Which doesn't mean Pigeon needs a mobile phone

When I was travelling this summer I discovered that my 16-year-old phone didn't work in Western Canada (even though I had roaming)*. Finding public pay phones proved to be difficult/impossible in many places.


*Apparently it uses something called CDMA and most cell networks are 3G/4G nowadays.

340:

The administration has no motivation to do so and would probably be accused of overreach if they did so.

341:

Intelligent Tracking Prevention

“Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person's web browsing history.”

Every Major Advertising Group Is Blasting Apple for Blocking Cookies in the Safari Browser

342:

Re: Grapefruit effect

Can't find whether this class of antibiotics is affected by grapefruit and related foods. Do know that the grapefruit effect is real - very thoroughly researched and on-going research continues to discover new interactions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grapefruit%E2%80%93drug_interactions#Affected_drugs

https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/ciprofloxacin.html - this is my preferred site for such info.

Undeclared grapefruit - this happens less frequently because most jurisdictions now have laws requiring better more specific labeling.

First learned about grapefruit back when a family member who underwent bone marrow transplant was explicitly told to stay away from grapefruit for as long as on any meds, i.e., years. Months later, this relative wanted to pick up some juice to have on hand. Was about to drink a boxed P&G fruit juice drink while on cyclosporine a major anti-rejection/immune-suppressant which is particularly sensitive to grapefruit juice but fortunately decided to check the ingredient list. (P&G has a pharma division, so for them to put grapefruit into their juice boxes is incredibly irresponsible!)

343:

No, it's not drug related. Guardian, AP, even Gizmodo are running it with the further developments and Castro has demanded that the FBI investigation is upscaled. Think of it as the Small in the S/M/L chain (your clue is: aphasia, weaponized versions therein).

And, to tie in with Host's title:

They have sweets too #DSEI Twitter, Newham Recorder, 14th Sept 2017 - imgage, worth a look for the irony / tie-in.

The Newham Recorder, for reasons not investigated, are seemingly the best journalism coverage of Arms fairs these days. Their twitter and long-form have been running a number of articles. e.g.

Wham, bam, no thank you ma’am! David Bowie photo used to flog bullets at DSEI arms fair Newham Recorder, 14th Sept 2017 (which is likely a copyright violation right there, lucky it's such a moral industry).

If you're wondering why there's sweets with that logo, the reason is... well, Bjork Bjork:

This was how the Bofors Test Centre’s manager, Rickard Lindstrom greeted the press at a recent demonstration of its capabilities. He asked: “What are the capabilities of a modern weapon system? To find out, you have to take it to the very edge. No matter how challenging the task is, we can reach that edge, and record every detail of the journey.” The test centre based at Karlskoga, western Sweden, is owned by Saab, BAE Systems and Eurenco Bofors and has the knowledge, equipment and test sites required to meet the needs of the contemporary testing. Whatever type of system, distances needed, environmental conditions or target properties, it can give the exact results of a weapon system’s performance. With a staff of 63, the centre carries out more than 600 tests a year.

Welcome To Hell ARMada International 30th May 2017

To off-set that, here's some nice graphic design: BLAST FASCISM: the minor literature[s] anti-fascist manifesto minor literature[s], 15th Sept 2017.


~

*dusts off an old slogan* "No More Hells".

344:

Re: Cuba - if not sonics ... food?

Cubans get much of their starchy carbs from cassava. So if new to the area (embassy worker/chef) and not familiar with how to prepare this veg properly, could be a serious problem:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassava

Excerpt:

'Cassava is classified as either sweet or bitter. Like other roots and tubers, both bitter and sweet varieties of cassava contain antinutritional factors and toxins, with the bitter varieties containing much larger amounts.[6] It must be properly prepared before consumption, as improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication,[7][8] goiters, and even ataxia, partial paralysis, or death.[7][9] The more toxic varieties of cassava are a fall-back resource (a "food security crop") in times of famine or food insecurity in some places.[7][10] Farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves.[11]'

345:

I think you have confused me with an anarchocapitalist. There's more than one school of libertarian thought; many libertarians think constitutional government is a better system than any form of anarchism, and I'm one such. My political views owe a lot to James Madison, actually.

I think you may also be confusing "statism," which libertarians oppose, with the existence of "states" or of governments. That's not what the term means.

346:

Now we are safely past 300 can anyone recommend me a new author to read? Seem to be in the late summer drought. Is Nine Fox Gambit worth a look seems a bit marmitey from the reviews.

347:

Re: 'No, it's not drug related.'

Not sure anyone knows yet.

The likeliest suspect is tech because, you know, spies always use cool tech whereas incorrect (or a bad batch of) meds, food-drug interactions, poor food prep, industrial/construction chemicals are so-o-o-o uncool. Okay, enough sarcasm ...

The problem is that the listed effects from articles about the Cuban affair are quite similar to the list of known side-effects for certain drugs and foods. Until these are thoroughly checked into and disproved, safer to not assume.

Ototoxins can produce all of these symptoms apart from the obvious one - hyper-perception of noises (aka hyperacusis):*

http://nypost.com/2017/09/14/mystery-of-health-attacks-on-us-diplomats-in-cuba-deepens/

Excerpt:

'Other symptoms have included brain swelling, dizziness, nausea, severe headaches, balance problems and tinnitus, or prolonged ringing in the ears. Many victims have shown improvement since leaving Cuba and some suffered only minor or temporary symptoms.'

The same article mentioned that most of those affected had stayed on the top floor of a local hotel and that only that top floor had been recently renovated. The article below lists many sources of hearing damage some of which interact synergistically.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ototoxicity

Am also wondering whether the middle or inner ear were damaged which would account for changes in perceived noises based on position of the head and some of the other symptoms like nausea, changes in the position of the head could be directly tied to aural perception/dysfunction. (Something similar happens to people with super low blood pressure when they stand up too quickly. But drastically dropping blood pressure is way more difficult than screwing around with the ears.)

* Had such a reaction myself from a lidocaine injection administered by an anesthetist at a local hosp (pre-op day surgery).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperacusis

348:

Re: 'aphasia'

Am familiar with this condition. Some stroke victims become aphasic. Other aphasia-causing candidates include these viruses:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphasia

'aphasia may also result from herpesviral encephalitis.[12] The herpes simplex virus affects the frontal and temporal lobes, subcortical structures, and the hippocampal tissue, which can trigger aphasia'

So let's keep biological agents on the table because, if true, all hell will break loose on the perp unlike the wrist-slap for new tech causing the same type of harm. Not sure that the UN and/or The Hague International Criminal Court consider tech in the same class of evil as bio-chem. (Seems form is more important than effect.)

349:

I have only an immediate emotional reaction: I glanced at the book, and saw a sentence on page 1 that began with "Said instructor," which to my ear is a horrid piece of jargon suited only to police reports and very stuffy social science journal articles. And I winced and stopped reading. Ninefox Gambit might actually have interesting worldbuilding or a good story—I haven't sampled enough to have an opinion—but I prefer to read authors whose prose delights me, or at least doesn't pain me.

350:

It depends on what you are looking for. Nine Fox Gambit is a space opera about a dystopian interstellar empire facing rebellion. It has a genuinely innovative big idea that nobody's done before. The politics are complicated and not totally grim. And it has some highly memorable characters.

351:

I find a phone mildly convenient; I can call home from the supermarket and ask, "Do you want me to get A or B." But my biggest reason for having one is that pay phones, which used to be available every block or two, are virtually nonexistent; so the situation of a person travelling about without a mobile is very different from what it was a quarter century ago, as I learned when my home phone stopped working and I couldn't find a pay phone to use to call for repairs. Needing to make repair calls or emergency help calls from a pay phone came up rarely when there were pay phones, but you really need a phone when it does.

On the other hand, I earn my living at my computer, as a copy editor; manuscripts these days go back and forth almost entirely as files. That's really a lot more convenient than running over to FedEx or calling DHL for a pickup, too. And I would never just blindly trust a spellchecker, but search and replace does avoid missing small errors.

352:

and Castro has demanded that the FBI investigation is upscaled.
So the CUban guvmint, in public is saying "It ain't us, we want to know more" - interesting

353:

Re: Book reco

Assume, you've already read OGH's books. These are on my list but not yet read.

Quite a few reviews, mostly favorable plus this author seems to be covering many of the same SF memes that have been discussed on this blog. Key hook for me: humor/comedic relief.

To-date, three books published about the Bobiverse (Dennis E. Taylor).

We Are Legion - We Are Bob
For We Are Many
All These Worlds

Blurb excerpt:

'Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he'll be switched off, and they'll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty.'


354:

re Charlottesville, here's a dumb question from a non-USian:

Why isn't the Ku Klux Klan (a) illegal and (b) featuring prominently on every official list of terrorist organisations?

356:

Finished All These Worlds fairly recently and would second your recommendation. Good lightweight fun Sci-fi. Minor niggle in that it becomes progressively harder to keep track of the Bobs but otherwise tickled my story bone.

357:

Thirded Bob-verse

The audio books are pretty excellent too

358:

Hmmm.... If you've not read Cory Doctorow's "Walkaway", do it now.

Recently, I've read and enjoyed Ben Winters' "Underground Airlines", Laura Lam's "Micah Grey" series; the Bobiverse; Marie Brennan's "Lady Trent" series; and while they're quite "British", Jodi Taylor's "St.Mary's" novels always make me smile (as do Toby Frost's "Space Captain Smith" - he's got the first few chapters on his website, give it a try).

If you're looking outside SF/F, then give Mick Herron's "Slow Horses" a try.

359:

The kids' school has a Twitter feed. As Icehawk points out, it's very useful for declaring that foul weather has closed the school, what time the bus full of kids will arrive back from Trip X, whether a particular sports match has been moved / cancelled.

Reminds me of an incident that occurred around here in 2005. A quarter inch of snow that fell during the day prompted the local school system to announce schools would be closing one to two hours early. This being the southern U.S. no one is actually prepared for snow.

The announcement prompted many of the parents to suddenly decide to leave work early so they could be home when the kids were dropped off by the school buses. So many left work at the same time that the resultant county-wide traffic jam grid-locked people in their cars for 12 hours or more.

And in many locations, buses couldn't get from the county school garage to the schools, forcing the school system to keep the kids at the schools overnight.

360:

When I was travelling this summer I discovered that my 16-year-old phone didn't work in Western Canada (even though I had roaming)*. Finding public pay phones proved to be difficult/impossible in many places.


*Apparently it uses something called CDMA and most cell networks are 3G/4G nowadays.

I'm still using a flip phone. When my old carrier was bought out by one of the BIG cell phone providers, they "upgraded" the network. Because my old Motorola flip phone wasn't going to work with the new network, they gave me a new LG flip phone. The new phone can receive texts and send & receive email and it apparently works with the new network infrastructure. I don't do text, and I only do email from my computer.

But so far, I haven't run into any locations where I couldn't get my Luddite phone to make a telephone call.

361:

The problem is that the listed effects from articles about the Cuban affair are quite similar to the list of known side-effects for certain drugs and foods.
I'll defer to Anemônê Duraþrór's intuitions/etc on this because been avoiding tracking this story, but ... another drive-by thought, even loopier, but fun; wondering if the diplomatic staff were indulging in off label drug usage for reasons related to their role, e.g. as nootropics to enhance language/social learning, and that these interacted unexpectedly with their environment somehow.
For example, d-cycloserine.
(Note1: don't see this paper in the archives but there are others links related to NMDA receptors. Note2 paper doesn't support usage for language-learning enhancement; it's just an example.)
I have not been tempted; side effects profile looks nasty, but Augmenting NMDA receptor signaling boosts experience-dependent neuroplasticity in the adult human brain (15 Dec 2015)
We examined the effects of enhancing NMDAR signaling using D-cycloserine (DCS)...

(Wondering whether Charlie will weigh in on this since he has the training.)

362:

Every Major Advertising Group Is Blasting Apple for Blocking Cookies in the Safari Browser

Saw in the news that Google has announced that the next version of Chrome is going to block auto-play for videos that contain sound. Advertisers don't seem to like that very much either, but that might be enough to get me to finally switch to Chrome if Mozilla doesn't follow their lead.

I'll often open a new tab for a link that looks interesting intending to read it later only to have some auto-play video start BLASTING out of my sound system. This is especially annoying when I'm trying to listen to a podcast.

I'm seeing a lot more sites lately that want me to turn off my ad blocking software. I don't run ad blocking software. I run anti-virus & anti-malware and I use a HOSTS file to filter SPAM sites. All I can say is if the advertisers want MY eyeballs on their work they need to clean up their act. Don't include virus/malware vulnerabilities and don't host their content on known SPAM sites. And don't include auto-play video with sound.

363:

re Charlottesville, here's a dumb question from a non-USian:

Why isn't the Ku Klux Klan (a) illegal and (b) featuring prominently on every official list of terrorist organisations?

It's not a dumb question if you don't know the answer. It's only a dumb question if you don't ask.

Mainly it's because a outright ban on the Klan would violate their First Amendment Rights.

There are, however, laws that prohibit certain activities practiced by the Klan - night riding, cross burning and wearing masks to conceal their identities.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/conlaw/2015/07/anti-masking-laws-the-ku-klux-klan-and-the-first-amendment.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Enforcement_Act_of_1871

As to why they are not featured on lists of terrorist organizations ...

Power has traditionally been in the hands of white elites in the U.S. The Klan and other white supremacist groups are aligned with maintaining those white elites in power.

Law enforcement in the U.S. also supports the power structure in the U.S. and has had a "conservative" bias since the end of World War 2, which is to say that groups on the right (even the extreme right) get far less scrutiny than groups on the left ... or groups that can be painted as socialists. Any group the power elite see as threatening their privilege can be painted as socialist, if not outright communists.

The Klan has been driven back several times previously and when they're not an evident problem, people seem to let their guard down.

Anyway, that's the way I see it from down here in North Carolina.

364:

Why isn't the Ku Klux Klan (a) illegal and (b) featuring prominently on every official list of terrorist organisations?

Also remember that at the start of the US presidential campaign the KKK membership was in single-digit thousands, a handful of largely ignored losers scattered across the USA. (Source for membership Slate Star Codex from a while back.)

So they weren't on law enforcement watch lists, even for law enforcement organisations not "aligned with maintaining those white elites in power", because they weren't worth worrying about.

Then the progressive US media gave them a massive promotional boost during the election campaign, portraying the KKK as dangerous and influential, the secret power behind the alt-right.

And worse still, Trump won! The KKK themselves now believe the stories the media told and are acting accordingly. Self fullfilling prophecy.

So now a whole lot of people support the KKK, either because of beliefs they can say openly which previously had to be kept hidden, or because they're political opportunists. (The membership clerk for the KKK must be swamped trying to distinguish the applications from genuine racists and those from lobbyists.)

And if law enforcement also believe the media, well would you want to declare that the President's closest allies are terrorists? And on moral grounds, declaring major political parties or organisations to be "terrorist" is really not something democracies want to make a habit of.

365:

"groups on the right (even the extreme right) get far less scrutiny than groups on the left ... or groups that can be painted as socialists".

In the 70s and 80s, Queensland's Special Branch actively paid racist skinhead groups to disrupt left-leaning protest groups and activities. In 1989 Special Branch destroyed all its files, much like Stasi, before they could be impounded by the Royal Commission which recommended it be disbanded.

Actual street marches were banned at the time under the Bjelke-Petersen era anti-protest laws. But it was a common experience, for instance, for small pub concerts to be affected this way. Skinheads would turn up to the gig, create the disturbance and Special Branch would arrive to deal with it surprisingly quickly. Few people were actually arrested and fewer charged, but it was the sort of ongoing low level intimidation that people will react to over time. It was said you weren't anybody in the Brisbane music scene until Special Branch had dispersed one of your gigs. And it made the Brisbane punk scene disproportionately influential.

Queensland politics is still broken, of course, but at least these days it is arguably no more broken than the other states and Western democracies in general.

366:

Lest everyone get too depressed at mass mobilization in the USA, the Juggalo march just happened. It was fairly low-key (although larger than Trump's March :sad trombone:) and entertaining:

Can't get over how good this sign is Daniel Dale, Twitter, 16th Sept 2017 - funny sign ("Dragnets How do they work?"). There's also smatterings of actual socialists, Christians for Juggaloes[1], ANTIFA[2] and so forth.

Line of the day from an actual ICP member[3]: Violent J: "Intelligence is how to make a nuclear bomb. But wisdom is how not to use it. Juggalos have mad wisdom." Same source

5/7 would predict again.


p.s.

The obviously psychotic jokes in the fables are a wink at the research / Arms fair stuff. Oh, and certain other things, but hey. Death threats are fun!

[1] They're carrying actual huge crosses so, I guess they're the proton-reversed KKK?! Also spotted people attempting to link Juggalos to Christianity, which is a dumb dumb move and factually untrue. Spinozan type spirituality? Yep, sign them up. Church & Crosses? Not so much. (Pro-tip: that's a 3 for 3 for that agitprop account: narrative shaping abilities low, Shareblue will lose a few nodes if they keep doing the stupid stupid)

[2] About eight of them. But hey, the younglings are living in a media swamp and they had a rainbow flag so.

[3] Seen on Twitter, since Juggaloes are not all light, in fact, they really are the Dark Carnival: "How come we're ignoring [incident] and [incident]?!" Answer: "The time-line got so dark they kinda just naturally flipped to being good".

367:

The Gemini thing looks very inviting. I recently "upgraded" my 7" phablet to a 6" Galaxy Note and have not been especially impressed. It hates the bluetooth keyboard even more than the phablet did (just plain not designed to work with a keyboard). Also, having a metal outside that's hopefully more robust than the exposed screen of the phone (so far 2/3 times I've killed devices it's been cracking the screen. The other one was a "waterproof" phone that failed to survive a five second immersion in sea water).

The idea of being able to boot linux, ideally secure-ish linux, and shove a 256GB uSD card in is very inviting. That would give me a low-power browsing device, and if the keyboard is vaguely usable I can plug in a cheap LED monitor to give me the large print version of the display while I'm lying in bed :)

I will keep an eye out, and might sell off my Note and buy one of those when they become more widely available.

Also, wrt battery life, if you can resist the temptation to fully cycle the battery every time, then leave the thing on charge forever, it helps a lot. Sadly Google don't really support battery tweaking devices - they exist but often break, so it's hard to actually program in "shut down at 20%, only charge to 90%", but if you do that manually 90% of the time my experience is that I get 3-4 years out of the battery. But then my use pattern is also atypical, I turn off most of the radios most of the time so I get 2-10 days out of the battery (but when I commute by train I play Catan on the thing and battery life drops to 3-4 hours).

368:

two more uses for 3-D printers: first, model railroad parts

If you search shapeways for Lego you will find a plethora of Lego-compatible bits that people have designed, and many work quite well. Others simply have to look like something and those presumably do that brilliantly. Someone is also selling printed Lego train track bits, because actual Lego train track is very, very limited (although they do now make flex track at least). But three and four way switches etc you can only get outside the brand. The good news there is that the track is designed to work with poor tolerances, unlike the Lego bricks (you can usually tell even the best clone brands from the real thing because they just don't stick together properly). A micro here, a micron there, soon they don't work at all.

369:

Re: '... effects of enhancing NMDAR signaling using D-cycloserine (DCS)..'

Pretty nasty side effects ...

There's greater promise and fewer bad effects re: improving not just neuroplasticity but stimulating neurogenesis via aerobic exercise. Note: You still have to read/study/practice stuff once you have these new neurons because so far neurons do not come pre-loaded with whatever you need to master. (People seem to overlook the study/practice bit for some reason.) Then get a good night's sleep.

370:

https://shop.coles.com.au/a/a-nsw-metro-West-ryde/product/telstra-prepaid-tempo?col=1

I am amused that you didn't bother clearing your location out of the URL. Or maybe you did...

371:

I gave it as an example of a social situation in which is getting more and more awkward to not carry a mobile phone, and partake in the information ecosystem that implies.

It is everywhere. It took me a couple of months to recover my local contacts after arsebook decided my name wasn't real enough for them. In the meantime I missed out on a significant number of invites and got quite a few in-person "why didn't you go to X" type comments from people concerned that I was annoyed or unwell. The contacts I only see every few years are basically gone until I visit, and will be hard to resurrect when I do (I rely on cascading contacts from the few I know). Meantime I've missed everything from weekends away to board game nights to catching up with people I used to work with etc, it all happens via social media. It's also quite hard to have a career rather than just this one job right now, if you're not on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google etc.

In Australia most workplaces assume you have at least SMS ability, but from the marketing stuff I see an increasing number of workplaces require facebook. For some friends it's very much "you don't technically have to friend work on facebook, but since that's how shifts are given out, no facebook no shifts". Involuntary casualisation has reached a long way up already - some of these people are managers-of-managers. For me, I have the apps we produce on my phone and have to be able to get SMS messages and phone calls 24/7 (for work type emergencies). Albeit my workplace is very decent about this, if I asked for a phone they'd give me one, and they have offered to sign me up for a SIM/plan at their expense (I declined, the $10/mo plan I'm on works fine for me).

372:

West Ryde is nowhere near where I am, and as far as I'm aware, I've been close to, but never actually in West Ryde.

When the popup arrives saying "Multinational Corporation would like to know your location" I do what every other reader of Charlie's blog does...

Having said that, my location is correct on Arsebook and a search for gasdive turns up, well basically me and no-one else. Doxxing me is completely trivial. My Arsebook account was even set to all public (Until my ex started harassing me on it about a month ago). While it's true that on the internet no-one knows you're a dog, everyone can figure out who I am. One of the many reasons I get miffed if people put my name in quotes, like I'm trying to hide behind it. There's just one gasdive, and thousands of people with my birth name.

373:

Ohh, I just went ego surfing, and about 30 results in, there's a guy from Western Australia, who posted something about a subject I have no interest in, nearly 10 years ago, using my name.

374:

the next version of Chrome is going to block auto-play for videos that contain sound
And about time too.
Good for Google, if true

375:

an increasing number of workplaces require facebook.
WHAT?
Meanwhile, in "the City" it is usally Alles verboten to even have an Arsebook account, as they are reckoned seriously insecure ....

376:

In the meantime I missed out on a significant number of invites and got quite a few in-person "why didn't you go to X" type comments from people concerned that I was annoyed or unwell.

No offence, but if the commenters were that concerned, especially about your health, why didn't they ring you, email, or even drop by in the hope of catching you at your house, office, favourite café, or customary shopping spot? Maybe you're too far away for the last to be feasible, but relying on Facebook as the only means of contact seems odd.

377:

Gemini certainly looks nice. Another device that's coming soon is

Pyra

The makers target a different audience, gamers instead of business types so it looks quite different compared to the Gemini.

378:

One of the many reasons I get miffed if people put my name in quotes, like I'm trying to hide behind it.

I'd put it in quotes, and perhaps even rephrase as "user 'gasdive'" or similar. Not to imply a yen for self-concealment, but to facilitate parsing. Your name has no capital letter, could be two common nouns accidentally conjoined by a typo, and is not immediately recognisable as a proper name. In the sentence "In diving today, the Ireson-Paine tissue-absorbancy algorithm is an essential tool for computing decompression obligations", it's obvious that "Ireson-Paine" is a proper name. Replace by your name, and it isn't.

379:

I tried to separate social media; LinkedIn for work, Facebook for social/sport. Mostly successful, but a lot of exceptions...

I've not got a commonplace name, but it's not unusual. It got interesting when I discovered that someone else with exactly the same name, and roughly the same age, had taken up the same (minority) sport, within twenty miles. It got amusing when we both attended the same coaching course... local clubs and association are now getting used to it, but eyes are going to cross if we enter the same competition.

380:

Not quite correct Greg. Twitbook and others such as LinkedIn are usually blocked at work but there is not normally a restriction on having an account just not using it at/for work.

Most common reason is to stop information leakage from the office. Secondary usage in "The City" is to make it harder to do collusion or insider trading by way of an unmonitored messaging channel.

381:

I discovered that someone else with exactly the same name, and roughly the same age, had taken up the same (minority) sport, within twenty miles.

That's basically how I got my nickname -- there's no "J" in my name hence Nojay. There's another one of me who used to go to SF conventions and at one point we ended up sharing a hotel room which confused the hotel staff no end. The other me has a middle initial of "J"...

382:

Yeah, it's true.

Mad, but true. FB is transforming itself into a collaboration tool. A spectacularly bad one in my opinion. My partner's employer has rolled it out just recently.

Of course being spectacularly bad and insecure doesn't seem to matter to corporate buyers as much as familiarity. See also "Microsoft Windows"

383:

"recommend me a new author to read?"
Try 'The death and life of the Great Lakes' by Dan Egan. He's a Milwaukee journalist who spent years writing about Great Lakes ecology. This book summarizes and ties together several different stories he researched over his career, including the lampreys that devastated native trout stocks, the plague of alewives also known as river herring which littered Chicago waterfronts by the mountainous megaton in the late sixties, freighter ballast from St. Lawrence Seaway delivering invasive species such as zebra mussels and quagga mussels, how those introduced shellfish filtered out most plankton in the lakes, starving the alewives and ruining a multimillion dollar coho salmon sport fishing industry that had sprung up suddenly in the seventies from the abundance of little invaders feeding the newly imported ones, how their population crash took down newly built resorts, boat marinas and commercial fisheries. Lots of colorful anecdotes like the guy who ended up paying thirty thousand in fines for hauling a boat west and getting caught by Nevada police when they found zebra mussels stuck to the hull, and meanwhile the reservoir behind Hoover Dam literally has a crusty ring of these things growing all around the edges of it. Good up to date info on DNA water sampling techniques used for species tracking when the Army Corps of Engineers tried to keep Asian Carp from getting into Lake Michigan. It explains how Chicago authorities a century ago reversed the flow of a river, sending their sewage down to the Mississippi instead of out in the lake where they got their drinking water; the Supreme Court had to weigh in on that one, but they never imagined how stuff could swim back up to reach the lakes. And a cautionary tale of toxic algae blooms caused by fertilizer runoff in Lake Erie, that ruined municipal water supplies along its shore one summer recently. A fun read, moves right along, history, science and politics all in one.

384:

Of course being spectacularly bad and insecure doesn't seem to matter to corporate buyers as much as familiarity. See also "Microsoft Windows"

Don't knock Windows. I had to install R (the statistical language) together with some extra packages on Ubuntu. On Windows, the install was no problem at all. I downloaded the R installer, told it to run, got an R icon on the desktop, started R, and typed the command necessary to install the packages. Total time: about five minutes.

On Ubuntu, this took most of a morning. At one stage, I had to manually edit a configuration file to tell it where to find a repository. Then a bit later the packages wouldn't install. I kept getting the errors gcc: error: unrecognized command line option '-fstack-protector-strong' and gcc: error: unrecognized command line option '-Wdate-time'. After some hunting around with Dr. Google, it turned out that my C compiler was the wrong version. And so on. The problems did get solved, but at the expense of time that I should have been spending on using R, not on fighting the operating system that claimed to be able to run it.

385:

On Ubuntu, this took most of a morning. At one stage, I had to manually edit a configuration file to tell it where to find a repository.

Was there some reason why

$ apt install r-recommended

didn't work, or did you feel like making things more difficult on Linux just because ? :)

386:

The administration has no motivation to do so and would probably be accused of overreach if they did so.

The laws may be different where you are, but here the administration is ultimately responsible for everything that happens in the school — which includes all the clubs teams etc. So they have motivation, and a legitimate reason for reaching. :-)

They must also deal with parents, including those who (like Pigeon) don't use social media and don't want their kids using it, which means that they must ensure alternate means of communication are available (and students without Facebook aren't being disadvantaged).

We had a case in Toronto a couple of years ago where a parent explicitly refused permission for using his daughter's picture in the media release all parents must sign and return*. His reasoning was that she was still young and didn't need an online footprint with an open life. The principal (or VP) took pictures at a school event and posted them on a social media channel, including pictures of his daughter. Lawsuit resulted.

Legally (at least here) if it is a communications channel used by a school employee (or designate) for school-related activities then the school is responsible for what happens on the channel. Flickr stream for school events? A team Facebook group? The admin are (ultimately) responsible. Reason enough to ensure that they know what the channels are, that the coaches etc know what their responsibilities are, and that (if necessary) they have access to those channels in case of a complaint (or the staff member is suddenly unavailable).


*Like all such documents, it contains options for "agree" and "do not agree" — the days of only having the option of giving permission are long gone.

387:

Was there some reason why

$ apt install r-recommended

didn't work, or did you feel like making things more difficult on Linux just because ? :)

I was following the instructions at https://cran.r-project.org/bin/linux/ubuntu/README.html , which being on the R site, I assumed to be what I should follow.

388:

Which doesn't mean Pigeon needs a mobile phone, or needs to join Facebook. Just that those who can get away without it should realise that how hard that is depends on one's situation, that many people are in a different situation than them, and that many social situations have changed quite a lot in the last few years.

I don't use Facebook; I'm kind of allergic to ads, and I hate and fear the way FB intrudes into your life.

I have an FB account — originally to stop squatters grabbing it, and linked to an FB author page because it shuts up the marketing luvvies who crop up every year and ask "why aren't you on Facebook?" — but I post there once every six months to say, "I don't use facebook". I generally rely on my wife to tell me if something's happening there.

However. FB is so fucking ubiquitous that not using FB is getting to be like refusing to use email; almost everyone I know in real life uses it as a communications tool. Which in turn means that I probably need to start using it, even though I consider FB to be evil, just to stay in touch when friends are deciding which pub to go to of an evening.

Not being on FB has, in short, turned from being a consumer boycott gesture to being an act of self-sabotage.

389:

pay phones, which used to be available every block or two, are virtually nonexistent; so the situation of a person travelling about without a mobile is very different from what it was a quarter century ago

British Telecom inherited the old GPO public service requirement to provide and maintain payphones everywhere, but they've removed most of them due to lack of demand; those that remain are used so infrequently (in many cases, maybe once a month) that they're looking for alternative uses, for example as wireless hotspots (because they all have direct cable connections to the nearest exchange.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear of payphone cables being leased out to cellular operators, to provide convenient backhaul for local cell masts.

390:

I'm seeing a lot more sites lately that want me to turn off my ad blocking software.

Ironically, the sites that nag you to turn off ad blockers do so by downloading a snippet of javascript that throws up a nastygram if your browser doesn't load ads.

Both the ads — and the ad-blocker-detectors — don't work without javascript, but all or most of the textual content is just fine.

So if a site nags me to turn off my ad-blocker, I just ban all javascript from that site.

(I don't patronize paywall media in the first place, so that's a different problem dodged. There are a few websites I do pay to support, but I do so because I like them and want them to prosper — e.g. metafilter.)

391:

Ohh, I just went ego surfing, and about 30 results in, there's a guy from Western Australia, who posted something about a subject I have no interest in, nearly 10 years ago, using my name.

Or, could it be you've been using his name all these years?

In my lifetime, I've run into several people who share my first & last names and even once someone who had the same middle initial.

392:

Like you I won't go near Arsebook ...
But we still have Twottter, whci I know you use & I can for this main-computer ( I suspect if I can remember my phone-password - & type it in correctly - then I will be able to us Tw on the phone as well .. ) You don't need Arsebook if you have conventional e-mail & Tw, surely?

393:

Pyra is expensive and underpowered compared to the GPD WIN, which is basically the same size package but containing a full-blown Netbook-spec PC running Windows 10 with 4Gb of RAM and 64Gb SSD, with XBox compatible game controllers. GPD WIN is basically a pocket-sized gaming laptop, while Pyra is a next-generation development of the Pandora linux palmtop that's been held up in development hell for a couple of years and is consequently very trailing edge right now. (e.g. Pyra has a 720p display, while GPD WIN has a full 1920x1080 pixel display.)

I can't recommend either of these as personal productivity devices. But GPD also make the slightly pricier GPD Pocket, which is utterly glorious in a batshit, bonkers type of way if you remember the old tiny PCs, like the Toshiba Libretto family and the Sony Vaio Picturebook or yore. Take a quad-core Atom CPU, add 8Gb of RAM and 128Gb of flash storage, USB-C, a high resolution (1920 x 1200 pixel) 7" display panel, and inject it into an aluminium unibody chassis like a Macbook Pro that shrank in the wash. Uses a trackpoint (like the old IBM Thinkpads) rather than a trackpad to save space, weighs about 400 grams, and feels physically bulletproof — and it comes from the factory with your choice of Windows 10 Home or Ubuntu Linux (the latter is officially supported). It runs office apps — I've got the desktop version of Scrivener installed on mine, along with Microsoft Office — and it's cheaper than the Pyra. And Pyra has been "coming real soon now" for a couple of years.

394:

Re: 'The death and life of the Great Lakes' by Dan Egan

Looks good.

Recognized several pests mentioned in the blurb from personal boating experience. Most memorable (gag/shudder) was almost bumping into a sea lamprey while swimming in a lovely little inlet.

(Dissected a sea lamprey in bio class, never expected to bump into one out in the wild.)

395:

Unfortunately the Venn diagram of people who use twitter/facebook/email to communicate is only a partial overlap; plenty of people use Facebook who don't use either of the other media.

(A survey in Indonesia found that the percentage of population who had and used facebook accounts exceeded the percentage who said "yes" when asked if they had internet access by a number corresponding to over ten million people. FB is so ubiquitous and so much of a walled garden that many people don't realize it runs on top of the internet and that if you have FB access you can use other internet services.)

396:

NB: if there's one drawback to the GPD Pocket, it's that it lacks SD/micro-SD/memory card slots and you can't upgrade the RAM or storage.

The reason for this is that the Intel chipset it uses maxes out at 4 USB controllers and 8GB of RAM and 128Gb of SSD, and the GPD Pocket maxes it out (one of the USB controllers is used for the bluetooth stack, and another for the keyboard and trackpoint mouse; that leaves one for the USB-C channel (also the power supply), and one for the USB 3.1 port. Nothing left over for upgrade storage, basically).

It's also a bit of a rude awakening to go back to a non-Apple device's approach to sleep/wake. (Sleep mode on this Atom CPU doesn't implement true software suspend, so it loses about 5% of battery charge per hour. Hibernate is available, but requires 8Gb of swapfile space. And while it boots fast from SSD, especially with Windows fastboot enabled, it's still, well, booting up from cold.)

Having said that if you want a desktop class OS that fits in your pocket, you've got a choice between the GPD Pocket, or the Apple Macbook (for very big pockets). Nothing else really comes close.

397:

Anything by Caitlyn Sweet will, I suspect, be good.

http://caitlinsweet.com

I can personally vouch for The Door in the Mountain and The Pattern Scars. I'll be reading the rest as I find the time (probably over Winter Break).

398:

(Sorry, hit post too soon.)

I'm assuming you've already tried Peter Watts.

http://www.rifters.com


Not so much an author as a book: Slavery by Another Name.

http://www.slaverybyanothername.com

Also a PBS documentary film, if you'd rather watch than read.

399:

For a critter that might have inspired Hans Giger/Ridley Scott's original Alien, it was somewhat creepy to learn that:

"1135 – King Henry I (1068-1135) of England was known for his lust of eating the lamprey and is reported to have died from a “surfeit of lampreys,” as the chronicles said, although most historians believe that he died from food poisoning."

hopefully no unpleasant face-hugger or chest-burster scene was involved in Henry's demise

400:

"However. FB is so fucking ubiquitous that not using FB is getting to be like refusing to use email"

It's not the App or the device, its the network. Facebook (just like email or landline phones before it) has gotten to the tipping point of penetration where network effects are delivering not only upside but massive social downside if you don't participate

It's also not just social, for anyone running a direct to consumer business it's the key acquisition and engagement channel.

Also since it's inherently a winner-take-all arena the other social networks are getting crowded out in most geographies

You will stil find nooks among the elderly mostly where this isn't true but they are rare and decreasing.

It really needs government regulation, despite the fact that FB's leadership don't seem to have much in the way of nefarious plans other then continued expansion it's too powerful at this point to be left on its own

The problem is in assembling s regulatory team with the technical know how to regulate something so complex and yet are willing to work for government peanuts

401:

Re: Sea lamprey ... Henry I

Middle Ages Europeans ate all sorts of foods that are no longer considered ordinary food. Have seen pix showing that sea lampreys are still found on some menus in France.

Watched the show below long after my adventure. Didn't know sea lampreys could grow to 4 feet. The one I almost met was about 2.5 ft long and maybe about 3 to to 4 inches in diameter from head to stubby tail. That's probably what tweaked my attention: it didn't look like the other stuff swimming in the area. (And, yeah - have also encountered swimming snakes. Learned that some snakes swim just below the surface breaking through the water when buoyed by wave action when it gets breezy. Other snakes swim almost at the bottom. No idea how far down snakes in the Great Lakes area can swim.)

https://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/river-monsters/videos/when-lampreys-attack-a-swimmers-nightmare

402:

Re: Book reco -

Not so much, but it will probably make a lot of people talk/tweet.

MRidley (author of Genome and a lifetime Peer) has just come out with a GW denying book that features 'essays' from as many scientists as he could dig up that share his view. For a balanced argument, maybe somebody could pull together a 'book' written by all of the climate (and other related science) scientists who actually work in this area. Then let the public/pols read and compare.

Will wait to read it once my local library gets a copy; refuse to dig into the pockets for this.

403:

If you think that's bad, a well-known, erm, "literary" author ( i.e. NO science training or understanding wahtsoever ) has just published biograph of Uncle Chas D.
Repeating every single smear he can & all the usual cretinist misinformation.

Links (in full) follow ...
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2144643-radical-new-biography-of-darwin-is-unreliable-and-inaccurate/
http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2017/08/wilson-makes-unconvincing-attempt-kick-darwin-his-throne
https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/a-n-wilson-beats-up-darwin-again-this-time-in-the-times/

Steam is even now, being emitted from various scientifically-literate circles ....

404:

Hmm, now there's a thing. Ethical Hacking[1] and transparency can effect the world:

Bell Pottinger has been heavily financially impacted by the well-publicised issues resulting in losses of clients, partners and staff and culminating in the expulsion from the Public Relations and Communications Association (‘PRCA’).

The entities in administration are: Bell Pottinger Private Ltd, Bell Pottinger LLP and Bell Pottinger Services Ltd. None of the subsidiaries outside the UK is in administration; they continue to trade under the control of their separate management teams.

BDO appointed administrators to Bell Pottinger BDO, United Kingdom 12th Sept 2017

Bell Pottinger Asia said it would soon re-launch with a new ownership structure and operate under the name Klareco Communications.

PR firm Bell Pottinger 'nearing collapse' BBC 8th Sept 2017

Bell Pottinger expelled from trade body for South African campaign BBC 4th Sept 2017

Ooh, and Domino Theory is hot hot hot right now:

The fallout from the scandal that brought down PR firm Bell Pottinger is spreading after the resignations of the chief executive, chairman and a string of top executives from the South African arm of KPMG, which audits companies owned by the controversial Gupta family.

KPMG chiefs in South Africa quit amid Bell Pottinger scandal Guardian 15th Sept 2017

That's quite the scalp for the hacker(s) / whistle-blower(s).

That's an interesting one. What happens if the current (real world) M. probes[2] kicks off Tech Bubble 2.5[3]?

[1] Or Corporate Espionage by your competitors, who knows? (UAE / Qatar / SA, I wonder how their EyEbAll is doing)

[2] Which might, or might not, lead to a push toward meaningful regulations: but it's America, so it just means lobbying prices will raise.

[3] Juicero, maker of the doomed $400 internet-connected juicer, is shutting down The Verge, 1st Sept 2017

405:

Spark (the NZ legacy telecom) has enabled wireless hotspots at many of their callboxs. The 1GB/day that monthly account holders on their mobile network can access is a point of difference.

406:

Your naievete is striking. Ridley's mish mash of nonsense exists to give the right wing nutters talking points, and for the right wing press to point to and claim, wrongly, that scientists doubt AGW. Publishing an opposing book of articles would not get any traction among any media hacks who have already read Ridley's errors. We already have many blog posts, articles in newspapers, entire books, discussing the topic of AGW for all levels of comprehension. That it isn't being acted upon is purely a matter of power dynamics and merely opposing Ridley's rubbish with it's mirror opposite doesn't affect them.

407:

Re: Darwin mis-portrayed

Wonder if it's an attempt to cash in on money/headlines during 'the rise of the fundies' era.

408:

Or, could it be you've been using his name all these years?

FWIW, I'm older than Morrissey and claim precedence.

409:

Or, could it be you've been using his name all these years?

I also predate mozilla, and un-fondly remember the period when their email client had a default address of something like moz@mozilla.org because a number of unreasonable people contacted me to say that "moz@moz.org" was the default address and I should stop using it. Or words to that effect. That was before unicode so I couldn't even render my replies printable

410:

Spark (the NZ legacy telecom) has enabled wireless hotspots at many of their callboxs

Hellstra, the Australian equivalent has done the same and also encourages you to sign up to make your home wifi part of the system. https://www.telstra.com.au/telstra-air/at-home

It's really convenient if you do sign up, I vaguely recall SWMBO doing so because she has data enabled on her phone pretty much constantly because the four or five social networks she uses run 24/7 {eyeroll}. But it has dropped her mobile data usage by about half, the rest presumably now going through wifi (I'm guessing from 6GB to 3GB a month, based on the plans she was looking at).

411:

*points to 404*

#Wild Hunt 2017

Oh, and the Rabid Puppies are having a really bad month / week[1]. In fighting, meta 2 break-downs, factional doctrine splits, GooG about to wipe out their new platforms; the whole nine yards.

No links, but it's, um, amusing, um, to, um, watch, um, them, um, not, um, understand, um, the shock-waves, um, to, um, a legal, um, threat, um, to doxx, um, their own kind[2]. Um[3], sure there's a clever name for a tactic that forces a destructive spiral that's inescapable and so forth, long since stopped caring what mythos you want to draw that name from.

The Joker - Everything Burns YT: Film Dark Knight, 1:26

~

So, there's at least three good news points to cheer people up.


[1] Some Rabids also do not understand how the EU works, and how 'hate speech' crimes and non-prosecutions are related to ones' connections rather than the Law. Last time I checked, no Mason ties, :sad panda:

[2] They fundamentally do not understand the Gremlins. (@Peanut Gallery: we do).

[3] ॐ

412:

if the commenters were that concerned, especially about your health, why didn't they ring you, email, or even drop by

There's a significant gap for most people between wondering where someone is, and going out of their way to track someone down and demand answers. There are people I see regularly around the place whose only up to date contact info is/was failbook. When I was reconstructing my contact list(s) one of the problems I had was the number of people for whom I only had one electronic connection type. But for local people it was easy enough, I just went along to things and met them face to face to swap details again.

One thing that did remind me of is the new wave of "real name only" people who seem to have just accepted the government/failbook propaganda at face value and in a few cases just looped at me "but what's your real name" until I walked away.

I am tempted to change my legal name again. More accurately to change it, spam that ID online, then change it again. But I fear that that would just confuse the bureaucrazy in ways that would make my life unpleasant (changing your name here is administratively simple but pushing the new name out to all the places that track you is tedious and irritating. It's important to plan the step from "new name" to "two forms of government issued photo id" carefully and execute the plan swiftly, lest you need the new ID in order to get the new ID.

413:

Respect is not fear and awe; it...[is]the ability to see a person as ze is, to be aware of zes unique individuality. Respect, thus, implies the absence of exploitation. I want the loved person to grow and unfold for zees own sake, and in zees own ways, and not for the purpose of serving me.

~ Erich Fromm (Slight Alterations for the 21st Century Edition)


I mean, this is basic-bitch level stuff but most of y'all are still running wetware designed before telepathy was developed.

~

Let's do some Real Work[tm] now. Rhizome Stuff.


p.s.


It breaks a few things.