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Comment: Re:Repercussions? (Score 2) 107

They have shown that they can not be trusted. They must lose the power to do this.

Pull someones certificates or kill some CA. Someone needs to suffer because of this.

What happens now is that there's an investigation. Depending on the outcome the CA may be revoked for good, or merely forced to reissue lots of certificates. The deciding factor is the reason for the screwup - for instance they may have got hacked, rather than been actively corrupt. In that case Microsoft will have to decide if they have patched things up enough to continue as part of their root store program or whether to pull the plug. I doubt many people have certs issued by this CA so the damage would be relatively minimal.

Unfortunately you can't just kill any CA that screws up. For one, if the CA was widely used it'd be disrupted. For another, nothing is unhackable, especially when you get the NSA involved. Expecting CA's to be able to reliably fight off professional hackers from dozens of governments and never ever fail is likely an impossible standard to ever meet.

Hard decisions ahead for browser and OS makers for sure ...

Comment: Re:Disappointing (Score 1) 93

by IamTheRealMike (#47423211) Attached to: Single European Copyright Title On the Horizon

This seems to be quite typical for government consultations. There's very little in the way of rigorous process. I remember years ago in the UK there was some poll that showed people were worried about anti-money laundering laws and their effect on freedom and civil liberties (it was a poll about risks to civil liberties, Ithink). So the British government said they'd respond to this by ordering a consultation on how best to improve Britain's AML laws. They invited public comments, etc. 6 months later the consultation was published and it recommended making the laws even stricter. There was absolutely no evidence-based approach used at all.


Mapping a Monster Volcano 105

Posted by timothy
from the shhh-it's-sleeping dept.
bmahersciwriter (2955569) writes In one of the biggest-ever seismology deployments at an active volcano, researchers are peppering Mount St Helens in Washington state with equipment to study the intricate system of chambers and pipes that fed the most devastating eruption in U.S. history. This month, they plan to set off 24 explosions — each equivalent to a magnitude-2 earthquake — around around the slumbering beast in an effort to map the its interior with unprecedented depth and clarity.

Comment: Re:In a watch, batteries should last a year or mor (Score 1) 129

by IamTheRealMike (#47400139) Attached to: Android Wear Is Here

I remember people said the same about smartphones. Waah, the battery only lasts a day, I'll never use one of those. Somehow smartphones still took over the world. People do go to sleep every night - a nice cordless charging stand seems like a relatively small issue if the devices are genuinely useful.

Comment: Re:It's here already? (Score 1) 160

by IamTheRealMike (#47400125) Attached to: The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

That's not quite how I remember Manna.

The reason the American economy is trashed in the world Manna envisions is not because it's run by an AI but because America failed to adjust to a post-work society. Everyone is on social security/benefits, because hardly anyone has a job as it was all automated away or pirated. So people have a kind of futuristic subsistence lifestyle in which robots attend to their basic needs but they can never get anything more.

The Australia project, on the other hand, is not meant to be communist. It's meant to be a society where your having a job was disconnected from you having social value. It's a society that prioritises leisure time and finds other ways to allocate the few scarce resources that are left in ways that aren't money. Communism as a term is too heavily linked with the real-world implementations in the Soviet union to be useful for describing this state of affairs.

IIRC at the end the story goes off on a bit of a tangent and all the Australians just end up having VR sex all day or something. Not a great ending. But I remember Manna kind of blew my mind when I first read it, and its prediction that robots/computers would replace middle management before the toilet cleaners was (to me) very new and obviously correct. Indeed that's what this story is about.

Comment: Re:You have to feel sorry for Edward.. (Score 2) 201

I think you massively overestimate how bad Russia is, especially compared to the USA.

Snowden is 30 and newly single. Russia is a large country that is notorious for its abundance of highly educated and attractive women. It has quite a few famous and sophisticated software companies, especially in the security realm that Snowden likes. 143 million people manage to live there without going crazy.

Of all the places in the world to have landed, Russia is definitely not the worst. Heck it's probably the best place he could have landed. I guess he was trying to get to Ecuador but they don't have the stones Putin does, nor is it a large country, nor does it have any noted IT firms.

Comment: Re:What haven't they lied about? (Score 1) 201

Probably nothing can be done to stop it in the short to medium term. I suspect that many years from now historians will look back and see this as just a phase humanity had to go through, kind of like the evolution from monarchy to democracy.

It's clear that the power to know everything about everyone has gone to the heads of the political class so badly that they'll never give it up. They'll always find a justification and any "reasonable compromise" that is arrived at won't be what we had 40-50 years ago (i.e. no total surveillance) even though that seemed to work OK, it'll be "slightly less than totalitarian surveillance, sorta, unless there's a good reason for it".

So for now we're stuck with it. The geek in me wants to believe that what starts with Snowden is an epic and very long struggle to design technology to make it surveillance-proof, which will inevitably result in some kind of (hopefully mostly non-violent) quasi civil war a la the monarchists vs parliamentarians. Governments will fight back hard and eventually the fact that technology needs to be government-proof will become as widely accepted a principle as the free press being government-proof. But it will take a loooooong time. Probably longer than any of us will be alive.

The cynic in me says we're all boned and 1984 has arrived.

Comment: Re:The Spin (Score 5, Insightful) 201

I think it's smart. Lots and lots of people don't respond to stories that are technical and abstract. OK so they spy on people using "tor" with "selectors" yawn change channel *zap*.

Human interest stories are different. This story might reach a whole audience who just couldn't find it in themselves to care until now. But ooooh juicy details about someone's romance with a jihadist, interesting, and huh .... wait. They could get that stuff on anyone, couldn't they. They could get that on me.

So this story could prompt the housewives of America to care more than perhaps they have so far.

Comment: Re:Bad Precedence (Score 1) 1323

by TimboJones (#47374337) Attached to: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

There is nothing I can say, no matter how true, that will change your opinion.

Well, you can imply that I have a developmental disability and change my opinion of you.

Apparently there's nothing that biologists or Catholic bishops can say, no matter the actual evidence, that will change some people's opinion that Plan B causes an abortion.

Your perspective is that of what you want to see.

True. Let me tell you what I want to see. I want to see a world where everyone is free to believe whatever they wish, and freely express those beliefs. I want to see a world where my employer has zero control over my health choices.

Let me also tell you what I do see. I see a culture where employers provide medical insurance. I see a market where medical goods and services are paid for by insurance. I see a law that defines a certain minimum acceptable insurance coverage. Now, I don't particularly like the implementation of these three systems; I'm just saying what I see.

The most elegant way to reconcile what I want to see with what I do see is to assert that the employer's influence ends when their money reaches the insurance company. The insurance company defines coverage to meet or exceed the requirements of the law. The legal minimum should be treated as an indivisible unit; the employer is not allowed to choose a policy covering less than the legal minimum, therefore the minimum can be purchased without making any moral judgement. The employer is free to choose to offer whatever extra coverage they want as part of employment contract negotiation. They can make whatever moral judgements they like about cosmetic surgery or chinese medicine.

Some employees will use their insurance benefit to treat endometriosis with hormonal supplements. Some employees will use their insurance benefit for fertility treatments. Some employees will use their insurance benefit to prevent pregnancy. Some people would never use any of these because it violates their religious beliefs. That's fine; the beneficiary of the policy gets to choose what the benefit is used for. The payer of the policy has no moral skin in this game. If the beneficiary fraudulently obtains prescription drugs and sells them on the side, the payer did not buy or sell the drugs and has committed no crime. If the beneficiary legally obtains contraceptives and uses them, the payer did not buy or use the pill and has committed no act of moral depravity. To claim otherwise is to assert that the payer's moral and religious views supersede those of the beneficiary.

Imagine that Hobby Lobby chose to renegotiate all their employment contracts, no longer providing health insurance but paying a higher salary. This salary difference is contractually constrained to the purpose of purchasing an insurance plan. The model remains the same as I described before: Hobby Lobby pays the insurance company, the insurance company puts that money in a pool, the employee spends their allotted insurance benefit. The only difference is that Hobby Lobby didn't choose the plan. The only difference is the amount of control Hobby Lobby has over the employee's health benefit. It is dissonant to assert that Hobby Lobby pays for contraception when in fact they pay for insurance. It is abhorrent to allow Hobby Lobby to withhold the legal minimum insurance coverage from their employees due to a perceived coercion to violate religious beliefs, due to Hobby Lobby's faulty models of how insurance and contraception work.

The fact is, Hobby Lobby employees don't ask Hobby Lobby to pay for their heart surgery. They ask Hobby Lobby to pay for their insurance. They ask the insurance company to pay for their heart surgery. The insurance carrier doesn't hold Hobby Lobby's payments aside to only pay for Hobby Lobby employees. It all goes into a shared account. If any beneficiary covered by that insurance provider uses their benefit to buy contraceptives, Hobby Lobby's ex-money effectively pays for part of it. Hobby Lobby's ex-money will go on to support war, illegal drugs, legal drugs, rock concert tickets, and political bribes as it filters through the system. What happens to Hobby Lobby's money after they spend it has no bearing on, and should have no influence from, their beliefs.

Quakers don't get to pay half tax because they sincerely believe in pacifism and don't want to support the military budget. But even if they could pay half tax, the government doesn't reduce the military budget based on conscientious objectors; they collect everybody's tax money in a stream and then divide that stream. That Quaker's half tax effectively gets halved again: a quarter of their original tax obligation goes to the military anyway. With every breath you breathe Feynmann's ex-air; with every purchase you spend Feynmann's ex-money. Hitler's too. Morality, and expression, stop at the edges of the shared resource stream.

I understand that the court decision is more subtle than this broad view. I think the non-profit exemption that this decision hinges on was a bad idea in the first place, ceding to other employers who also clutched their pearls, in effect worried that they didn't have enough control over their employee's choices. That law and this decision come down to allowing employers to say "Even though my belief is based on zero evidence, I sincerely believe it and therefore you have to go through extra effort and expense to receive the legal minimum health benefit."

The rule exempting religious nonprofits from having to meet the legal minimum insurance coverage should have been ruled unconstitutional here. This exemption prohibits the free exercise of the beneficiary's religion, by allowing an employer's religion to be exercised in its place. The legal minimum coverage does not prohibit the free exercise of the employer's religion; the employer remains free to choose whether or not to buy or take a contraceptive into their own body. The first amendment does not give anyone the right to exercise their religion in someone else's body, only their own.

Comment: Re:How are they going to get proof? (Score 1) 65

by IamTheRealMike (#47370457) Attached to: Seven ISPs Take Legal Action Against GCHQ

LOL. This is the intelligence world we're talking about. There are no courts.

This particular complaint will be heard by a special tribunal that meets in secret, makes secret decisions, and has ruled against the intelligence agencies in less than 1% of all cases it's heard - they do publish the fact that a hearing took place, mostly, we think, of course if they didn't we'd have know way to know so the real number is probably much less than 1%.

The UK has much worse accountability structures in place than even the FISA court, and that's a kangaroo court that's a fucking joke. So this complaint will go exactly nowhere. I have to assume at that point they'll try to go to the EU level, but of course nothing really ensures the outcome will be any different there either.

Comment: Re:The problem with Bitcoin (Score 1) 115

by IamTheRealMike (#47370431) Attached to: Investor Tim Draper Announces He Won Silk Road Bitcoin Auction

Bitcoin is deflationary in a world with increasing population. Also BTC has made land grabbers and early adopters rich - it doesnt look like the currency of the future to me.

No - if you're talking about money supply then Bitcoin is inflationary until it stabilises. What happens to prices in the meantime is anyone's guess. So far the price has gone up, it's gone down. Over the long run it's got a lot more valuable, but that's a temporary artifact caused by the novelty of an actually working e-cash system. Nobody really knows where the value will end up, but one day Bitcoin will be boring and all the issues it raises will have been resolved. At that point the price should be stable unless the Bitcoin economy is growing, in which case falling prices is the behaviour you would intuitively expect had you not been propagandised by central bankers into believing that as a society gets wealthier everything is supposed to get more expensive.

With respect to "land grabbers and early adopters", yes, it has made some of them rich. It could also make them poor again if the price collapses. If it doesn't, then it's no different than the internet which also minted an entire generation of nouveau riche, but that's OK, we can tolerate a temporary increase in inequality in return for something like the internet. It gets balanced out eventually anyway, as none of those new millionaires fancy the idea of establishing a dynasty.

"The geeks shall inherit the earth." -- Karl Lehenbauer