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Comment: Re:Why do they want us to see it anyway? (Score 1) 300

by James McGuigan (#47751411) Attached to: Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

Firstly, IS did offer to ransom James Foley, for $100 million dollars, and the US refused to negotiate with "terrorists", so there is that old saying "never make an idle threat". The public act of beheading him communicated that they where serious in their threat, which then forced the US to back up its own threat of military action in retaliation for violence towards US citizens.

The second reason was properganda, its a big public statement that not only do they not fear Amercia, they are capable of inflicting damage (a single citizen) upon the worlds great superpower.

Comment: Properganda Warfare (Score 3, Interesting) 300

by James McGuigan (#47748407) Attached to: Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

"The internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it"

On a technical level, the video is now out there on the internet and once out you can't put the genie back in the bottle.

Islamic State is a new "empire" currently conducting a war of expansion, much like many of the Western European powers did during the last millennium. The Geneva conventions are in essence a gentleman's agreement between the members of the "nation-state" club as to how to conduct war in a "civilized" manner. Islamic State rejects the fundamental notion that it needs to be bound by the rules and traditions of "western civilization".

In essence what they have done is to publicly execute a hostage for non-payment of ransom, a common practice several centuries ago.

The more political issue is censorship and properganda warfare, who gets to control which information we see. Censorship or adding a non-skippable PSA is all about attempting to control the message, that the little people must not be allowed to think the wrong things, doubly so in a democracy. The war against communism followed a similar pattern of attempting to censor "subversive" ideas, such that Western Civilization isn't the only way to run things.

Comment: Re:In other news... (Score 1, Informative) 146

This also won't work against the "terrorist" Buddhist monks who have decades of training in maintaining a perfectly zen state of calmness even in extreme situations... however their shaven heads and robes might be a dead give away.

"The Chinese foreign ministry has accused the Dalai Lama of "terrorism in disguise" for supporting Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing's rule." - http://www.theguardian.com/wor...

Comment: Re:Misuse of FOIA (Score 5, Interesting) 231

by James McGuigan (#47443961) Attached to: NSA Says Snowden Emails Exempt From Public Disclosure

Edward Snowdon understood what would happen if he where to seriously try and push the issue internally.

The global surveillance network was a core NSA policy authorized at the highest levels. This was not simply some rouge agent or rouge department. Previous individuals have attempted to raise concerns internally and failed to achieve any change underlying policy. The NSA has even deliberately lied to congress on the matter.

As a contractor, he has no employment rights. Making noise would likely get his security clearance revoked and his employer finding someone else who doesn't have a moral problem with surveillance. It would also likely get himself added to the NSA watchlist.

As a pragmatist, his decision to publicly release records has successfully created enough political pressure for congress to at least review the NSA's policies. A cowardly little shit who was willing to risk everything on a high risk venture, with a very strong possibility of getting caught, that takes some major balls from someone who knows exactly what the NSA is capable of.

Comment: Re:Come now. (Score 1) 104

by James McGuigan (#47418591) Attached to: How Japan Lost Track of 640kg of Plutonium

Though in this case, it also highlights a degree of redundancy. No material was actually lost, but there where multiple spreadsheets and a data discrepancy discovered during a audit. This triggered an alarm and an investigation, the system failed safe. Maybe that was a high degree of wasted effort over a false alarm, but it would appear to add an extra layer of security against data manipulation to hide deliberate theft.

Comment: Re:Why don't they just convert them? (Score 1) 232

by James McGuigan (#47234249) Attached to: US To Auction 29,656 Bitcoins Seized From Silk Road

US Regulations prohibit selling assets through a foreign owned exchange (are there any major US bitcoin exchanges?). There may also be bureaucratic rules for seized assets to be offered at public auction. There may also be the worry that dumping a large quantities of bitcoin onto the open market may crash the price, and someone would have to be responsible for agreeing a selling strategy (which will be criticized with the benefit of hindsight).

The US government also wishes to keep these coins out of the underground economy (ie the digital pirates). They can't verify the identities or force a conditions of resale agreement on joe public at a bitcoin exchange.

Comment: Re:Can we blacklist these coins? (Score 1) 232

by James McGuigan (#47234201) Attached to: US To Auction 29,656 Bitcoins Seized From Silk Road

Now assuming such a system where to be widely implemented in software, a more likely scenario would be for the government to impose this address history blacklisted on government registered financial institutions. The government would no longer need to seize the Silk Road bitcoins, but simply discover their anonymous bitcoin address and freeze the the entire forward chain of the proceeds of "illicit crime" (this would be done mostly likely before a trial). Should the bitcoins themselves be recovered, the government can simply remove the address from the blacklist and then auction them back to the market.

There would still be an underground economy that didn't care for the blacklist designation, but if there was a significant amount of blacklisted coins and sufficent market demand for whitelisted coins (ie I can't pay my taxes or my mortgage with blacklisted coins, maybe the major exchanges would become legally obligated to implement the blacklists), then there would effectively become a market rate at bitcoin laundries selling blacklisted coins for whitelisted ones.

Comment: Re:Initial Offer (Score 1) 232

by James McGuigan (#47233969) Attached to: US To Auction 29,656 Bitcoins Seized From Silk Road

There are several reasons I imagine for keeping the bidding to institutional investors:

1. They can't sell the coins directly on a non US based bitcoin exchange
2. They have a stated aim of keeping these coins from going back into the underground economy (ie individuals)
3. A high barrier to entry limits the number of bidders to an amount manageable via a bureaucratic paper/in-person auction
4. Less to go wrong technically, institutional investors are less likely to claim they didn't receive their coins.
5. They get to enforce a set of unoffical financial regulations on institutional investors, which they hope to become a defacto trading standard
6. A low number of auctions/bidders makes for a more strategic bidding process, rather than "market rate" approach over hundreds/thousands of small auctions
7. Lots of small bids would likely see these coins almost immediately dumped on the exchanges, possibly causing a price crash before the auction ended
8. The fear that if the process was opened up to the public, then "digital pirates" may attempt to interfere with the process as a form of activism
9. An unofficial kickback to the financial elite, to keep them friendly to the FBIs requests

Comment: Re:Trust but verify (Score 2) 211

by James McGuigan (#47228301) Attached to: Tesla Releases Electric Car Patents To the Public

I think we can safely divide the potentual innovators in electric car design into two categories:

1. Start-ups and lone individuals who lack any significant patent portfolio of their own
2. The small number of big auto-giants (General Motors, Ford, Chrysler)

The promise was simply not to "initiate" any patent lawsuits as long as people where acting in "good faith". This is effectively the offer of a patent non-aggression pact, if you don't sue us, we won't sue you.

Startups can tweak and reinvent the technology, but they then can't sue Tesla if they borrow their ideas back. The promise avoids the barrier to entry of hiring a patent laywer before you can even start tinkering.

The big auto-giants would probably seek a more formally written agreement, but as Tesla Motors was first to properly research high end electric cars, so they probably hold many core and fundamental patents. Big auto will probably be infringing on something in their own electric cars. And big auto could probably find some technicality of their own mountain of patients to stick on Tesla Motors.

A long patent lawsuit might be costly for big auto, but could push Tesla Motors out of business completely.

Comment: Re:Mistake to go in with the Ruskies (Score 1) 155

by James McGuigan (#47208941) Attached to: Getting the Most Out of the Space Station (Before It's Too Late)

During the cold war, the stakes where high. Now the stakes are low, so both sides are starting to get petty.

Neither side will allow the diplomatic spat over Ukraine to escalate to all out nuclear war. Conventional military conflict must also be avoided as that contains the implicit threat of an out of control escalation into nuclear war. Thus the game of tit for tat escalation of hostilities progresses in baby steps, we have now escalated from "nasty letters" to economic sanctions. In Soviet Russia economic sanctions is raising gas prices or threatening to throw away a $150 billion dollar toy.

This is a very clever political gambit to give the US/EU a deadline to drop its economic sanctions after the diplomatic fuss has died down. I'm pretty sure the Russian policy regarding the space station will return to the original agreement once diplomatic tensions have resolved themselves.

Comment: Re:Battery life (Score 2) 376

by James McGuigan (#47208761) Attached to: Theater Chain Bans Google Glass

Society at large sees a futuristic and experimental Star Trek head visor. You can't buy them in the shops, nor online, and their rarity means the majority of people have not personally used one or even had a personal friend demonstrate how it works.

I have not personally seen any tech specs on the device, as a technologists my previous assumption was that it would be of comparable spec to a high end mobile phone, with some additional constraints imposed by miniaturization.

A non-techie sees a futuristic device that they don't fully understand through lack of direct experience and probably conceptualize something from a sci fi film. Many people are afraid of new technology they don't understand.

A bureaucrat simply sees the camera lens and says "no cameras allowed"
 

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