Sunday, May 27, 2018

EU Privacy Laws: Designed to assist organized crime?

(First draft.)

Friday, May 25, 2018 EU's new privacy laws went into effect, replacing all similar national laws within the EU. Called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new law requires detailed public specification of the personal data kept by every business and organization that interacts with subjects of the EU. It's not completely clear how such laws benefit individuals. But it is rather easy to see how they can benefit some modern criminal organizations and cause harm to legitimate businesses and organizations.

Ever register at a website? You likely gave your email address and may have provided your real name and other information. Have you purchased something on the Internet? Most likely, you provided a name, address, and phone number so that the company could ship the items to you. Visited a website? Someone, somewhere (Google, etc. at least) logged your IP address related to that visit. Now you have the right to know about that. Didn't you already? You entered the information.

You might want to know if the website shares your personal information with others; advertisers for example. But you probably did; or were at least satisfactorily informed according to law. Did you check a box that said you agree to terms and conditions? If a website felt compelled to ask for that, it's possible that you gave them permission to do with your personal information what they pleased.

You have a right to be forgotten. That might seem like a good thing, especially if you've tracked down a core source of too much spam or don't want Bing to advertise your drunken nude photos anymore. But GDPR did not create that right. The European Court of Justice defined the "right to be forgotten" as a human right when they ruled against Google in Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González (2014).

What does this have to do with organized crime? If you've ever administered a WWW system, you are most likely aware that automated intrusion events happen quite frequently. The most primitive type is the most common. It starts with a robot that tries to log into an unprotected server. But you may also have seen attempts to disrupt activities or steal information from your database. Basic methods for such efforts are sufficiently common that beginner's training can include them, as a way of preparing programmers to defend against them.

Now what if you want to run a massive operation to break into databases and steal information across the EU? Wouldn't it be nice if every website posted details of the information they keep? This would allow very simple crawlers to locate the page through keywords (personal information, data protection policy, gdpr, etc.) and then use word matches within that page to identify what information is available. It's like a department store ad in the Sunday Times.

The information and the character of its presentation might also give hints about the character of the operation. In the end, you have the basis for risk analysis and a pretty good shot at a professional level cost benefit analysis for attempting a break-in. Quite frankly, it's easy to see how most of this process can be done automatically. The effect is that criminal organizations now have the means to efficiently search through large numbers of websites to locate potentially valuable targets.

The law may actually protect criminals. The day might come when a court blames you and the business rather than the perpetrators for damage done by information stolen from your organization. The criminals might go free because your website didn't fully explain or properly notify them that you track their IP addresses; which is, according to GDPR, personal information. You violated their rights by logging information that was useful in catching them.

Let me offer a general comment based on a broader view of related events. Both the EU and the US have been leaning toward blaming businesses for what people do when using their services. What if a bridge breaks down? An investigation follows, sometimes a criminal investigation of those responsible for building and maintaining the bridge. Doesn't it seem at least superficially logical that the same sort of rules should apply to IT systems?

At the same time, less responsible voices such as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, serve as “IT leaders” in the popular press, forming public impressions as well as those of politicians and judges. In a recent Congressional hearing, Mark Zuckerberg reported that Facebook is working on AI to interpret posts and make human judgments about their content. But technology has evolved to the point that people can at least imagine something like that working; while experts can easily contend that much of the danger associated with such systems is that nobody knows how to make them work well. Their stuff is open-source. Doesn't that mean:

Just don't forget that the people who have decided to empower themselves to make these decisions have absolutely no expertise in IT development or administration. At the base, they are EU politicians; not the most intelligent, responsible, or reputable people that we know. How would they incorporate engineering judgment into their decisions while demanding something be done about something?

The question easily arises: If they can create human-level AI (for the world) and Google can create self-driving vehicles, why can't a lone consultant personally guarantee that data systems operated by a small business cannot be broken into by technically sophisticated well-financed teams in the Russian Mafia – and guarantee everyone's legal rights, no matter how arbitrarily conceived – including those of the criminals? It seems like technology is sufficiently advanced and engineers just need to do their routine jobs. If you are an experienced engineer, you know it's always your fault anyway. Are you in jail yet?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Fox “News” Losing Aura of Conservative Label

Is this the beginning of the end of television's most despicable era?

Fox News Channel began its broadcasts less than a decade ago. Six years earlier, Rush Limbaugh was already proving, through radio, the existence of a vast audience hungry for commentary that countered the nation's entrenched, generally Democratic Party faithful, often loud and creepy journalism corps. Rupert Murdoch is not a political conservative. Creating an aura of conservatism was a business decision; but not necessarily a sustainable ruse.

It doesn't take much to pretend to be conservative in the US; which allows all political power to rest in the hands of just two parties. CNBC (and then MSNBC) are framed as politically liberal because they shill for the D-Party. It doesn't actually matter where the things they support might actually lie on realistic chart of the political spectrum. Fox presenters merely needed to repeat R-Party rhetoric to be labeled conservative.

It was clear from the beginning that Fox had a hard time finding competent conservative commentators. The O'Reilly Factor (originally The O'Reilly Report) was one of their first programs. It included guests involved in a wide range of topics that had been treated to purely one-sided “news” presentations in the past. When in over his head, host Bill O'Reilly would often tell his guests to “shut up” and then command that the interview was over. Critics have also pointed out that many interviews were taped before airing, giving producers the opportunity to edit portions in which O'Reilly was bested. That would put the “fair and balanced” rating for the show right up there with Crossing Over with John Edward. Despite O'Reilly's lack of knowledge, inability to discuss most topics, or even to carry out a civil interview, the show became one of the network's most watched. There seemed to be just one hard and fast rule. R-Party positions are good.

The marketing departments of big broadcasters understand the equation even if not everyone else does. (Which is why it still works to some extent.) Loud and creepy people on MSNBC, like D-Party operative Chhrris Mattthews and sports commentator Keith Olbermann, validate O'Reilly and others through bizarre and often perverse opposition using the least meaningful “activist” political terminology to evoke trained emotional responses from their viewers.

It's as though the only insight of big investors in the “news” business came from watching the 1976 film, Network and found their own Arthur Jensen's (corporate chairmen) to run things; who in turn cultivate versions of Howard Beale (insane news man that Jensen uses) to increase their ratings.

And yet; it's been working, apparently. So why am I suggesting the beginning of the end? It's been primarily the lack of choice that's been keeping the game afloat. Everybody's in it. Where else you gonna go? As I sift through Facebook comments, it's become increasingly apparent to me that “mainstream” big media posts are primarily used by people who are shilling for establishment candidates in either party, and they're becoming increasingly rare. There has been a steady trend in information from alternative Internet sources.

This challenge to big media dominance has been challenged by big media. Those sources may not be credible. But it's hard to be affected by such an argument coming from people who have no credibility. What difference does it make? Not everything on the Internet is a gem, but there are a lot of bloggers who are more knowledgeable, objective, and analytically gifted than the neo-Beales.

It seems the whole scam is hanging on a precipice. The breath that sends it tumbling may have already been forced through the bellows – Fox's battle with Trump. Their biased poll, alleging Trump was rapidly losing ground in the nomination race made it clear that Fox is not only not fair and balanced, but downright dishonest. Before that, it was very clear to a lot of people that Fox helped Obama to a second term by supporting Romney. It's also clear that Fox is now supporting established RINO candidates (again) who cannot win the general election, to help Hillary. The evidence gets stronger every day. As a finale for this article, I'll give you a good example.

Fox recently highlighted an interview between Hillary and Chhrriss Mattthews. That in itself might be enough to make the case. Mattthewws is a D-Party shill supporting Hillary. You can expect the duo to play out a nice, scripted pretend interview to serve as an unreported contribution to Hillary's campaign. This is just as true and certain as if we were talking about George Stephanopoulos interviewing Barack Obama, whether or not that sends a chill up his leg.

Mattthewws set Hillary up to characterize her politics in comparison with her fake clown rival, Bernie Sanders. Hillary gave a well-practiced, focus-group approved response, painting herself with a more reasonable, thoughtful, and understanding political persona. It was all very pseudo-presidential in a bent sort of way. Hillary's nose was in the air; denoting her claim to be above the Bern-rabble. Chhrriss now has the background needed to pretend that Hillary is politically “moderate”, an old game played time and time again in an effort to attract the largest group of American voters – the middle.

But first she has to win the nomination and consolidate America's socialists voters (most of which I would guess don't know what socialism is). Fox's article jumped in to help with that. Hillary can't state the difference between her “progressive” politics and socialism. That message falls on salted earth with Fox's stereotypical audience, people who won't change their minds about not voting for Hillary. But it saves Hillary from trying to talk out of both sides of her mouth to accomplish what the campaign needs to do; appeal to both middle and self-identifying far left voters at the same time.

Neither Fox nor MSNBC can take credit for inventing dishonest "news". Before they came on the scene, America suffered through two decades of Lying with Dan, i.e. the evening "news" program on CBS. There are adults living now who've never seen an honest news program. It's making people mad as Hell, and all I'm saying is that they just don't want to take it anymore.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Regressive Candidates Bernie and Hillary Are Losing Ground

OK, a foreword on the title. I must admit that both parties are regressive. We have one playing to the far left and the other unable to imagine any clear political identity at all. But clearly over the past 35 years, both have in fact worked tirelessly to destroy the republic and concentrate power. Both have conspired to crush constitutional rule into the dust to give corruption an air of legitimacy. Individual rights have vanished completely leaving organized groups to compete for favors through bribery.

This is not progress, either political or social.

Americans have been disappointed in the gaggle that now controls the Republican Party. The RINO movement, initiated by Ronald Reagan when Southern Democrats were being driven from their old political home, has been in control ever since. In the tradition of Reagan, their talk is heavily socially conservative while their politics is within easy reach of the far left. Fool us once, Reagan is particularly well-known for the country's transition from means-tested welfare programs to an all out welfare state in which personal life was forced into arbitrary political control. Reagan made it sound socially conservative and even pretended it to be fiscally responsible. While the overwhelming expansion of the welfare system still lines the pockets of politically connected people, made further dictatorial abuses of the presidency possible (essentially pre-approved by the courts), and ultimately lead to the abolishment of traditional marriage, RINOs like Paul Ryan continue using the same strategy to expand other programs.

But the 10s of millions of people who know they've been screwed don't want to be fooled again, making establishment RINO candidates guaranteed losers.

What needs to be said about the Democrats? Hillary has been running for president for at least 16 years and likely had planning sessions before that. She was given a New York Senate seat in 2000 as a stepping stone and was forced into the position of Secretary of State in order to have government experience on her resume. Having proven herself incompetent, unworthy, and corrupt, she once again played on name recognition and early campaigning to take a lead in the polls; just as she had in her earlier run and as Mitt Romney did in the years before 2008 and 2012. There were advantages when running unopposed and as with Romney, most fake “news” operations took up the game of “front-runner” in her support.

Then we have the clown candidate Bernie Sanders. Sanders just gets right out there and says to Hell with the USA. What he wants is a dictatorship that will allow him to hang his political opposition and take what he wants from everyone else. No lie is too big and he doesn't even try to be subtle about it. His followers are used to calling people names when they don't agree rather than having any clue. Ultimately, as far as this race is concerned, it will help the fake “news” shills characterize Hillary as politically “moderate”. And to quote her, “What difference does it make?” She doesn't really have much of what Americans would describe as a political ideology. She just wants to steal all your stuff.

Hillary and Sanders are slipping in the polls against every R-candidate. With the exception of global warmer John Kasich and Romney supporter Rand Paul, recent polls show Hillary and Bernie are in virtual ties. Eliminating statistical outliers, the D-Party shill polls and Fox revenge polls, it's a steady trend. This is in sharp contrast to July polls when Hillary's early entry had her 20 points ahead of Donald Trump. Back then, people still weren't sure whether The Donald was serious or whether he'd “self destruct” in a few weeks.

Whether a greater realization of things as they are is replacing the imaginary partisan propaganda in voting decisions or people are just plain confused and fed-up with the shallow mendacity of familiar political faces, the sense of an anti-establishment outsider seems to be crushing even the heaviest and most entrenched new-age nitwits in the political arena. It will be interesting to see if a Trump nomination will sufficiently effect the public mind that more than a minority of voting age Americans will bother to show up to vote in November.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

George Takei is Completely Wrong

George, you seem to be a good man. I even agree with the spin title MSNBC gave to your interview. “Indiana Law Effects All Americans.” Unfortunately, your own Boycott Indiana title is a bit confusing.

George, is it really OK to hate, attack, and punish a large number of people based on the state they live in? What's next? Hanging black people because of the color of their skin? Decapitating homosexuals for their lifestyle choices? Sending people to gas chambers because they don't phrase things in a way you don't see as sufficiently PC, their ethnicity or religious background? Where is the boundary to barbaric attitudes if not at barbarism?

Don't get me wrong. I think it's great that you and Brad have had some wonderful vacations. I've been disappointed in some myself. But I've never threatened local business owners who've been great and given good service because some other business somewhere else had a problem with some customers who might have had the same skin color or sexual orientation as me or shared some aspect of my political perspective. Conscience doesn't work that way.

George, you seem like a smart man. I take it that you can understand that the idea that same-sex couples are fighting for civil rights died out years ago. The vast majority of Americans supported the rights of same-sex couples, but leaders of the LGBT movement rejected their sincere offers to make things right. Instead, they wanted conflict – which keeps the movement going and the donations flowing in. Instead, they worked for and succeeded in eliminating the rights of others. They cheated same-sex couples out of the equal rights they sought, and instead destroyed marriage (regardless of sexual orientation) and the rights related to family and in fact, one's own individual existence. That definitely effects all Americans, in fact.

It's just a scam now George; a cheap and tawdry scam. I don't understand why you're part of it. I think you're a good man and a smart man, and certainly you don't need the money that some people are making from the conflict. It's just wrong.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How Mitt Romney Can Win in 2016

We all know what a dead-beat political field looks like in a presidential election. On the Republican side, the only bright spot over several cycles has been Ron Paul, and he's not likely to run again. As we have seen, that opens up the possibility of a dead horse nominee. That was Mitt Romney in 2012.

That doesn't mean that he can't win the election. He just needs to tweak his campaign a bit. Before leaping into the strategic bombshell, let's review his qualifications.

Romney was born into the Political Class and has spent his entire adult life either as a lobbyist or working closely with lobbyists. He's probably second to none at selling favors, which means he can easily come up with a tone of money for any campaign. Among other things, his political and eventual industry connections got him into a one term governorship in Massachusetts and later onto the presidential ballot. As Massachusetts governor, he was known to have gotten along well with Democrats; after all, Massachusetts is a Democratic Party stronghold. As governor, he implemented ObamaCare in the state before Obama did.

It's simple really. The right doesn't like him at all and he'll never win as a Republican. If he wants to prove he can beat rivals in the Democratic Party, he should do it in their primaries, running as a Democrat. In that race, "repeal and replace ObamaCare" could actually be appreciated by voters. If he can beat the likes of Hillary Clinton (who won't be the nominee) and the presumptive nominee Joe Biden, he'll have earned the chance to compete against the last surviving dead-beat from the Republican Party race.

Oh wait, he hates fags, keeps a portfolio of women, loves to fire people, and makes fun of the unemployed. Never mind.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Conservative Guide to Sorting Out Wal-Mart Employees on Minimum Wage

By Roger F. Gay

Opening scene: Here we sit, confident that life would be better for the masses if liberty were to be unleashed once again. Economic opportunity would hang in the air like a thick fog to be sucked in, transformed into useful products and shipped out to clamoring consumers. There would be nothing to stop you, or anyone, from pursuing rewards in proportion to effort. A natural balance would be struck in which need and desire were met with personal investment in preparation, cleverness, and work; and we dream of the peace and prosperity it will bring.

Enter the antagonist; a Wal-Mart employee stocking shelves and retrieving shopping carts from the parking lot. He is asking the government to manipulate the market by force, to further disturb the natural balance, to arbitrarily lower the amount of personal investment required from him to meet his needs. Psychological dissonance sets itself to resonate between two opposing world views until our brains begin to boil and swell to the point that our heads are at risk of explosion.

A dark lord: Michael Lind has a new and very disturbing article in Salon, entitled How to beat libertarians on the economy. In it, he remains rather sociopathically distant from the pain and suffering brought on by the current economic depression. He celebrates the collapse of the economy as a call to push the ultimate far-left political agenda. He advocates for marginalization and abandonment of any structural support for small and independent business in favor of big business and abandonment of collective private union bargaining in favor of direct government control. Other competing visions on the left should concede defeat to “the central struggle of our time,” he writes, “which is, or should be, the battle between economic-rights progressivism and libertarian conservatism.”

The crisis: The army of Wal-Mart employees are falling behind on their bills. They have lived through one era of broken promises that hasn't put food on their tables. They want relief now, not another vision of a promised land. You can be sure that unionists, far-left “economics-rights progressives”, and criminal “community organizers” will be making an effort to push things their way. They will use hunger and fear as motivation for this army to engage with them in their continuing war against the legendary but dramatically weakened middle class, which they deceptively label “the rich.”

Queue the political wizard, whose most famous incantation will follow us throughout the ages, forever resolving the issue and restoring logical harmony. “It's the economy, stupid!” The Wal-Mart employee is trying to survive in the same economy we all are. Whether he is surrounded by a thick fog of opportunity or it's just another sunny Obama day with nothing more than hope and change in the air, his basic needs are still there. (The incantation is attributed to campaign strategist James Carville, but made famous by Bill Clinton speaking to opponent George H.W. Bush in a 1992 presidential debate.)

Quest for the secret key: Statistics used in Lind's argument are presented in an opposing discussion at The Economic Collapse Blog. Particularly frightening is the drop in the percentage of self-employed people between 1950 and the present, with the number of self-employed in decline since the beginning of Obama's reign. This vital engine of economic growth and stability has been under attack through various forms and for a variety of reasons from both right and left for decades. We are still very much living in the shadow of the big bang burst of the so-called “tech bubble” that resulted from conscious manipulation to concentrate business activity in large companies and devastate the independent entrepreneurial community. (My article on that is half done. Meanwhile, Bill Gates and the Political Class push on toward world domination.)

The final battle between good and evil: It's the classic war between a “Land of Opportunity” and being “equally poor”; being able to move forward or being forced to spend the rest of your life in a minimum wage job, beaten back at every turn, working endlessly and hopelessly to pay the health insurance bill and all those taxes. What conservatives need to be aware of is that Wal-Mart employees are not our natural enemies. They're just people who are hungry now. And this final battle is obviously a big one. The government is in the hands of the evil dark lords. They currently control the game. We need a bigger army. We should be gathering the Wal-Mart soldiers to fight on the side of good; not as if it's for us (easily manipulated to against “them”) and mere pride in our ideological orientation, but for themselves and their children who will also be working at Wal-Mart minimum wage for their entire lives if this battle is lost.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Poor Losers Ruin Facebook Giraffe Game

It's always the bad apples that spoil whatever the heck you can find good in life. You'd think something as simple, harmless, and fun as a riddle circulating Facebook might get an exemption. But sadly, no.

The giraffe riddle has been a big hit on Facebook. It's a riddle that, if you answer wrong, you replace your current profile picture with a picture of a giraffe for three days. It's a good riddle and a lot of giraffes were showing up on profiles. Oh what fun. Kind-a cool. Interesting at least.

But some of the losers couldn't stop themselves from losing twice, the second time by being poor losers. The first hint of a break from what millions of people were doing, apparently without experiencing great mental anguish, I found at Snopes reported, as it so often does, on a hoax related to the giraffe riddle, finding that there is no virus related to posting an image of a giraffe on your page. But then, at the bottom of their response they, for no apparent reason at all, reported that there were two possible answers to the riddle.

It was a bit suspicious. The snopes article was posted at almost the same time, if not before, as the first hoax postings about potential viruses in giraffe pictures; which is so utterly stupid and unbelievable to begin with that … well, you get the point. It looked like someone wanted to give credibility to something other than the right answer. Just in case you don't know the riddle, here it is. And I won't bother to warn you there's a spoiler here, because the losers have already spoiled it.

It's 3 a.m. The doorbell rings and you awaken. You have unexpected visitors, your parents. They have come to eat breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread, and cheese. What do you open first?

Obviously it's not strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread or cheese. There's no choosing between them without some long and uninteresting metaphysical analysis that would probably turn out to be wrong, and this is just a riddle. So, you do the smart thing. You back up a little to see what's left. The doorbell rings? Oh, there ya go … “open” the door.

BZZZZT! Wrong answer. You were smart, but this is why so many giraffe pictures were showing up on Facebook. It's not what you open “first.” First, unless you're going to stumble around running into things for a while, using your hands to find the door, you open your eyes. See there. That's what makes it a good riddle. The riddler knew that you were smart enough to move beyond the condiments and drinks and planted the answer further back. Clever.

Snopes contends there are two possible correct answers, making the editor who wrote it a double loser.

But then, I found the same information in an article in the Huffington Post. “Answers:”, it contends are "The door" and "your eyes." “After all, it's 3 a.m. in the riddle.” Suck it up Alexis Kleinman, and just post a damn giraffe as your profile picture. After all, it's only for three days.

Since then, double losers have been posting objections and protests because they got the answer wrong and these other double losers have already fooled them into thinking they might not be, or at least given them an excuse not to make good.

In any case, the bad apples have spoiled the fun again.