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California Continues To Push For Violent Game Legislation 167

Back in February, the US Court of Appeals shot down a California law that banned the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. Shortly thereafter, State Senator Leland Yee petitioned the US Supreme Court to review the case. Now, along with California's Psychiatric and Psychological Associations, Yee has filed an amicus curiae brief with Court that elaborates on the reasoning behind the law. Within the brief (PDF) are some interesting quotes: "Parents can read a book, watch a movie or listen to a CD to discern if it is appropriate for their child. These violent video games, on the other hand, can contain up to 800 hours of footage with the most atrocious content often reserved for the highest levels and can be accessed only by advanced players after hours upon hours of progressive mastery. ... Notably, extended play has been observed to depress activity in the frontal cortex of the brain which controls executive thought and function, produces intentionality and the ability to plan sequences of action, and is the seat of self-reflection, discipline and self-control." The video game industry has filed its own amicus brief to dispute Yee's claims.

Comment Re:Sorry, but Schools DO have Totalitarian control (Score 4, Informative) 420

The case of interest here would be Tinker Vs. Des Moines. Decided by the Supreme Court in 1969, It held that while the school had a compelling interest in curtailing certain rights that would otherwise be unacceptable violations of certain civil liberties, (in this case the first amendment, though the decision seems to apply to others) speech that was non-disruptive to the school environment could not be denied.

It's a complicated decision, and there has been MUCH discussion on exactly how Tinker does and does not apply, but it would seem to blow several of your arguments out of the water. One, that school districts arn't bound by the Constitution, not being "Federal government agencies". They are (Bound, that is, not federal). They get have special dispensation due to the fact that there is a compelling government interest in educating children, and that interest can justify curtailing certain civil liberties, at least as held by this case. But that shows clearly that school districts are held to constitutional tests, and are clearly NOT outside the jurisdictional bounds of the constitution or the federal court system.

Now, just what contributes to disruptive speech, acceptable curtailing of rights, and other issues has been argued fiercely, often in other SCOTUS cases. However, schools are NOT private entities, and cannot censor at will without substantial cause.

Comment Re:They just don't get it. (Score 2, Informative) 426

I thought I mentioned it in my post, but I HAVE been out for a few years. Out in 06. These days, I work at a data center for an insurance company, and the technical expertise in my building I work in now could run circles around any of the NOSC's that I was involved with, and from what I've heard of the AFNOSC, I highly doubt it's much better.

As far as warrior skills and ethos, that's exactly what I WASN'T knocking. Those mentalities are why it's a bad idea, IMHO, to go with contractors. What isn't relevant, to IT, is the PT, the promotion game, the assignment roulette wheel, and a complete failure to move people forward by merit (not up in rank, but to important jobs). Now, I certainly learned those games when I was in. I regularly bested others in my dorm when we had room inspections. My uniform was squared away. What galled me wasn't that I was not successful. I was. But I would have been just as successful if I couldn't tell a cat 5 cable from a phone cord, or If I spent 4 hours searching the datacenter looking for the hotmail server to reboot (both these were REAL things done by NCO's in my time).

This would be similar to a Marine who could polish a floor like nobodies business, but couldn't figure out which end of the rifle was the "unfriendly end", and couldn't find their own ass with a map. But because they pass the inspections and play the chum game, they're now in charge of tactics. Anyone who has a sense of pride about what they do is going to go where it's appreciated. If it's not appreciated or wanted in the military, (which was the CLEAR message sent, and I wasn't alone getting that message) then they'll go where it is.

And it wasn't me they disliked. My unit commander and vice commander both talked to me about staying, and in the latter's case, recommended I look into becoming an officer, which was a strain not to laugh in his face when he said it.

As I said before, I can't speak to the other services, but those aren't the ones pushing Cyber warfare as much anyway. In the Air Force, it was a clear message, "You're a good airman, and ready to be a good NCO, but we just arn't serious about these computer thingies." So I went to a company that did take my skills seriously. And I highly doubt I'm alone.

Comment Re:They just don't get it. (Score 2, Informative) 426

NCO corps most educated, Sure. They get a lot of time taking classes, And I knew several SNCO's with multiple degrees. Professional? Certainly. They were very definitely professional about their jobs, and about the military. And to go a step further, they were usually genuinely good people. People I enjoyed having a drink with, and would gladly have in my home if any happened into town.

However, we're talking about fielding an effective force in the computer network realm. One that can effectively defend at a minimum, and ideally, make effective attacks, much like their brethren in the kinetic fields. And in that regard, you have what can only be considered, on the whole, an epic fail. It's not enough that one or two gems struggle through some kind of half decade hazing period. If we're to succeed defending our networks from threats, seriously skilled individuals are needed, and lots of them. And no amount of good intentions or high tenure will matter in the middle of things if the people in those positions simply can't hack it. When I speak of "dregs", I mean those who simply cannot hack it. They might be the best person in the world, but they aren't the one you want on your line.

I'm guessing from your other posts that you're a Marine. I always loved working for the Marines, they were serious, no bullshit kind of guys. And, going by their rhetoric anyway as I was never in combat with any of them, they had a code that being a leader had nothing to do with the rank on your collar. I was always a fan of this ethos, and I think a lot of that is at the heart of what's lacking in much of our computer defense.

The Marines are VERY good at making a rifleman. Probably the most honed machine in human history for doing so, in fact. So much so, that they say EVERY marine is a rifleman first. However, these are NOT the skills needed to make a good network defender. Being physically hard just doesn't count for much in that arena, however admirable and desirable it is elsewhere. This is only one of many traits that, while essential for one type of combat role, is meaningless in this new one. This does not diminish the roles played by others, far from it. I seriously doubt we'll be seeing any Cyber Warrior PTSD. I wouldn't dare equate the two jobs. However, if the network goes down, taking comm with it, and you can't move ships because nothing will work, and you cant talk to anyone to fix anything, the combat ability of all those professional warriors goes to hell, simply because they cannot reach or be effective on the battlefield.

Bottom line, if we scare off 90% of the talent with meaningless hazing and demoralizing run arounds, and then water that force down further with folks who know how to play with the system but are ineffective in actual use, we will be beaten, and soundly so, by a force that effectively utilizes it's people with ability. I'm not talking about basic training, or instilling discipline, or weeding out those without will or conviction. I'm talking about devaluing skills, not putting forth the best for a particular purpose, playing politics for positions and roles. All of these are stupid games that may cost us dearly in terms of having the best people in critical positions.

Comment Re:Adapt and overcome (Score 1) 426

Well, I'm most certainly versed in regulations, but Air force, not army, so, I can't speak to that. And I'm the last one to advocate that there be no chain of command at all. When the shit hits the fan, as it will an ANY kind of conflict, cyber or otherwise, knowing clearly who to listen to, and what you are responsible for is critical. This is why many corporate disaster recovery plans are a complete joke.

However, If you honestly think that military networks are actualy as secure as they should be, then until the wool is removed, there's not much point in arguing. Fact is, the emperor is so naked that, because the first step to getting clothed is acknowledging that he IS naked, it's just not going to happen. For the military brass to admit they've blown all this money and time and resources and they're still naked, which is what their techs know to be true, would be suicidal. They HAVE to live in la-la land until they get the proverbial cyber pearl harbor.

When I talk about recognition, I'm not talking about ribbons or medals, or even stripes. I got my share of all three. When I talk about respect, I'm saying that when I report "Hey, we're fucking NAKED", that I be taken seriously, instead of being told "SSSShhhhhh!!!! We don't want to hear that! Your just an . LA LA LA LA".

You can follow orders, be disiplined, and even respectful to rank, but still be taken seriously regardless of your rank, when you point out truth.

Comment Re:They just don't get it. (Score 1) 426

People who can't manage to pass the minimums for some of the services on the ASVAB are in serious danger of being too dumb to not be a danger to themselves and loved ones. If you've got a criminal record, well, your career options are fairly closed off anyway. The medical issue is a legit one though. I imagine the medical standards would be the first to fall in any sort of "Cyber force" branch.

Comment Re:Adapt and overcome (Score 1) 426

You miss the point. Improvements in the attractiveness of the lifestyle to geeks isn't really for the benefit of the geeks. Sure, it's nicer for them, but that's icing.

If the military fails to get the best people, but some enemy state does, then they are at a disadvantage. Sure, it's not like J. Awesome Hacker was deciding between the US Army and the Taliban to do computer work for, but even if he choose to go work for, say, computer security in Vegas, (who will DEFINATELY pay for good security BTW), then the army is without that talent. The if those who wish us ill can harness their geeks better than we can, that dosn't bode well for us in the future. You only have to look at WW2 to see how that can work. Brittan and the US harnessed their crypto geeks better than the Germans and Japanese. Result? We read all their messages. By any measure, it's a huge advantage, if not a complete game breaker for them. If all it cost was some perks and respect for intelegence, it would be stupid NOT to do it.

As long as casino computer systems are better protected then military computer systems, we're on a path for failure.

Comment They just don't get it. (Score 5, Interesting) 426

First, a bit of background. I separated from the Air Force in 2006. When I left I had a CJR (waiting list number to keep my own job) in the 280s. That means just in the quarter I would have re-enlisted, 280 people would have to leave, choose other jobs, or fill spots before I got a spot to keep my own job. I left as a 3c051, Computer communications and operations, with the rank of SrA. I actually had a line number for Staff, which I got on my first try, mostly on the strength of my career knowledge. For those not in the know, advancement up to Senior Airman is automatic, and tied to time in grade, until the NCO (Sergeant) ranks. After that point, it's based on a point system comprised of time in grade, decorations, and your results in a test on general air force knowledge and career knowledge.

My assumption was, with as little relative time in grade as I had, that taking the tests was merely a day doing something different, and why not. But my scores, primarily on the career knowledge, was so high as to overcome my lack of points for time in rank and decorations.

So, ignoring any of my own opinions about how good or knowledgeable I am, by the measures that the Air Force has, I was the top of the class. I was also assigned to an Info Warfare Flight, exactly the unit that would be concerned with the things being discussed as priorities then, and today. None of it figured into Rank, or into my skill level, or if they tried to retain me.

The fact that I could run circles around the Staffs and Techs in my unit, and they knew it and deferred to me on technical matters, was irrelevant to what even my technical skill rating was, let alone pay or rank. By the standard of the air force, they had higher skill levels in technical proficiency than I did. Quite frankly, given that I had computer knowledge coming in, I'm certain I could have passed the 7 level class without any effort. However, it's not even offered till you've had Staff on for long enough to get scheduled for it, so, basically a year, mission requirements allowing. Further, as I was processing out, the unit First Shirt (kind of an HR Sergeant) gave a little speech to the airmen, saying those in overfilled career fields should stay in and retrain to something else, that we were young, therefore it was easy for us to do different things, therefore our experience at what we already were doing was irrelevant. I found it insulting to say the least.

The bottom line is this. The military is not setup to advance and reward those with technical ability. It is setup to have standard sized cogs. One airman's supposed to be exactly equivalent to another, One Staff equivalent to another staff. And if you're thinking from the mindset that one airman could be blown up, and his or her replacement must be ready to step in, it makes a kind of sense. It also doesn't make sense to promote up the ranks based on tech ability. NCO's are the equivalent of lower and middle management, Senior NCO's middle to upper, and officers filling out upper and executive levels. Just because you're an ace with networks certainly doesn't mean you are ready to lead people.

So, the system itself isn't designed to handle individuals that have technical ability, but who aren't ready/don't want to command lower level troops. None of this even TOUCHES on the way the military lifestyle itself clashes with the general hacker mentality. About the only draw the military has at all is that they will accept just about anyone, and if you can prove a certain aptitude, you will be allowed to do computer work, no previous provable experience or training required. For some of us who don't do well with traditional education, and don't want to work up through the hell desk ladder, it's got that as a draw. But that will only keep people in for 4 and out, and they then use that experience to go get a real job. And you can't run a realistic computer defense or offense program if your best people leave every 3 years (4 years minus the training), and all that's left and therefore those are promoted are the dregs, who are then put in charge of the next wave of possibly good people. Of course you end up with crap.

If you wanted to design a system that filtered and discarded all the good people, and perhaps some of the bad, but ensured you were left with primarily crap, this it what it would look like.

Comment Re:Deaf? (Score 1) 743

S, if you wanna do something for the future that's REALLY worth doing, do this to your kids:

1. DON'T be their friend. Be their PARENT. And sometimes the parent has to be the avatar of the kid's bad karma. Punishment is good when doled out judiciously and without mercy.
2. Take away the iPod. They want to listen to music? They listen over speakers and at a reasonable volume, because they have to live with others.
3. Get rid of your TV set.
4. Read books, and have your kids read books.
5. Teach them how to grow food gardens.
6. Teach them how to play an acoustic instrument.
7. Teach them to be as good as their word and to not lie. Ever. Their word must be their bond and they must be held accountable. No excuses.

And

8. Keep off my lawn!

Comment Re:Iowans missing the point (Score 1) 1088

Hey, Iowans get the point. Our state senators, however, may need a math lesson. Perhaps in what 50% is, come reelection time.

I doubt this will get much support. Even if it would be better for the country in general, there are usualy many large benefits reaped by having the place we do in the political process, and we've not been treated badly by the electoral system as well. Buisness and media types in this state won't let something like this fly.

Comment Re:Keeping in touch downrange (Score 1) 176

Really? I can. It's very simple, actually. Putty is non-standard software, and isn't generally included on computer builds. While pulling down Putty isn't difficult, it's also a violation of the rules to put it on there without authorization.

Connecting with Telnet, using the standard client included with windows (which, admittedly, sucks), doesn't actually violate any rules. And violating military rules carries some rather different penalties than just ignoring your employer's computer use policy.

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