Vincent West writes: "A couple years ago, journalist Bob Woodward announced that the US military was using a top secret technology in Iraq which he couldn't provide details of. Technology that he described as so revolutionary that "it reminds [him] of the advent of the tank and the airplane" in the history of warfare.
That technology remains mysterious. But the person in charge of it, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has just been put in charge of US military efforts in Afghanistan."
Maximum Prophet recommends a NY Times piece on the growing phenomenon of unauthorized digital versions of copyrighted books showing up online. The problem has been growing exponentially, fed in part by the popularity of reading devices such as the Kindle and the iPhone. The article features the odd photographic juxtaposition of Cory Doctorow and Ursula K. Le Guin, who take opposite views on electronic editions, authorized or not. Ms. Le Guin: "I thought, who do these people think they are? Why do they think they can violate my copyright and get away with it?" Mr. Doctorow: "I really feel like my problem isn't piracy. It's obscurity." "Doctorow, a novelist whose young adult novel 'Little Brother' spent seven weeks on the New York Times children's chapter books best-seller list last year, offers free electronic versions of his books on the same day they are published in hardcover. He believes free versions, even unauthorized ones, entice new readers."
gerddie writes "Cryptohippie has published what may be called a first attempt to describe the 'electronic police state' (PDF). Based on information available from different organizations such as Electronic Privacy Information Center, Reporters Without Borders, and Freedom House, countries were rated on 17 criteria with regard to how close they are already to an electronic police state. The rankings are for 2008. Not too surprisingly, one finds China, North Korea, Belarus, and Russia at the top of the list. But the next slots are occupied by the UK (England and Wales), the US, Singapore, Israel, France, and Germany." This is a good start, but it would be good to see details of their methodology. They do provide the raw data (in XLS format), but no indication of the weightings they apply to the elements of "electronic police state" behavior they are scoring.
Vincent West writes: "Spy chiefs are already spending hundreds of millions of pounds on a mass internet surveillance system, despite Jacqui Smith's announcement earlier this week that proposals for a central warehouse of communications data had been dumped on privacy grounds.
The system — uncovered today by The Register and The Sunday Times — is being installed under a GCHQ project called Mastering the Internet (MTI). It will include thousands of deep packet inspection probes inside communications providers' networks, as well as massive computing power at the intelligence agency's Cheltenham base, "the concrete doughnut"."
Vincent West writes: "Both Russia and the US are considering plans to power remote Arctic communities and projects — mobile, micro-sized nuclear reactors. Somewhat ironic considering they will be used — in part, at least — to power oil drilling projects."
Vincent West writes: "Yahoo Mail — even for paying customers — still doesn't offer proper IMAP-based email, something their competitors are starting to offer for free. When will they get with the program?"