guanxi writes: (Spoiler: It turns our their jobs are even more bureaucratic as most of ours; in fact, some ask if the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is too large to function efffectively.) CIA analyst and sociology Ph.D. candidate Bridget Nolan suggested to her superiors that she write her dissertation on her workplace. They said no; she said yes; Bridget won. She had to quit the CIA, but now her study is in the public domain. Imagine a workplace where "ordinary conversations... involve a kind of competitive one-upsmanship, "in which intelligence officers ‘out-correct’ and ‘out-logic’ each other in the course of routine conversation to the point where any increased accuracy in what has been said no longer seems meaningful." Maybe that doesn't take much imagination.
guanxi writes: The NSA programs may be new, but in the United States government surveillance of its citizens is not. The Surveillance State's origins are in 1917, as Woodrow Wilson looked to rally support (and suppress dissent) for World War I: "Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson read mail and revoked publications’ mailable status that was then used by prosecutors as proof that those publishers were seditious in court cases.... Soldiers went undercover, such as one who broke into the National Civil Liberties Bureau’s offices... Prosecutors convicted Eugene V. Debs for seditious speech when he offered praise to three socialists recently convicted under the Espionage Act.... some 20,000 civilian volunteers of the vigilante American Protective League... detained about 60,000 men for possible draft dodging, even though they had no legal authority to do so. This same organization investigated their fellow Americans for most of the major intelligence agencies, barging into peoples’ homes and offices...." With modern networks, data collection and analysis, we won't need as many vigilantes or to physically break into offices and homes.
guanxi writes: Huawei, a large Chinese telecom and IT company with close ties to the Chinese military has faced obstacles doing business in other countries, because governments are concerned about giving Huawei access to critical infrastructure. That hasn't stopped them completely, though. Huawei Symantec is a joint venture with one of the world's largest IT security companies which sells security products in the U.S. And the Chinese government is not alone. Would the Chinese or other governments take the opportunity to create back doors into western IT networks? Wouldn't they be crazy not to?
guanxi writes: You know those privacy issues that lawmakers have completely disregarded, leading to widespread governmentabuses and identity theft? Suddenly privacy is a priority among Congressional staffers — meetings are being held, action is being demanded, and fear for the personal security of Americans is rampant. No, no, not you Americans who are reading these words, they're worried about themselves. You see, LegiStorm has posted the staffers' financial disclosure forms. It's an outrage! The Hill quotes one staffer as saying, "I've researched identity theft and how much of a goldmine this information is for people who deal in that world" and says the House and Senate could have a "liability problem". Others "are livid House Administration has not at least threatened legal action against LegiStorm". I truly sympathize 100%, but do you think it has crossed their minds to find a solution for the 300 million Americans who don't work in the Capitol? Legistorm so far is holding the line.
guanxi writes: Just a suggestion — invite Thane Heinz, maker of the inexplicably efficient electric motor featured in this Slashdot post to Ask Slashdot.
Many Slashdotters have ideas and would love to know more about the motor (see the discussion), Thane seems reasonable (he's very hesitant to call it 'perpetual motion'), and Prof. Zahn from MIT thinks it's worth investigating (per the article). Thane might like the publicity and/or a more sophisticated forum than what journalists discuss.
(I have no connection to Thane Heinz. This is a suggestion, not an offer.)
guanxi writes: In an NPR interview NASA chief Michael Griffin, a rocket scientist, put the reputation of his famous research organization (not to mention the United States) behind this statement: "I have no doubt that... a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with." I was going to add commentary, but there's little you can add to statements like this one: "To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings." To most people, of course, the words of the head of NASA are authoritative.
guanxi writes: PayPerPost is a site any Slashdotter *might* appreciate: It helps businesses with a marketing need find for bloggers (and I suppose Slashdot posters) who need a little cash — and are willing to blog whatever is necessary to earn it. That's right, they bid for shills. It's even spawned some competition, like ReviewMe and LoudLaunch. Now that powers-that-be recognize blogs as a way to influence the public, how can you decide which ones to trust?
guanxi writes: One of the fastest growing markets for news has no interest in sex, celebrity gossip, or partisan hackery — it's computers. Financial traders looking for an edge no longer want to wait for people to read, analyze, and communicate the latest events; they want the news fed right into their computers so they can process trades immediately. The turnaround time from a "PS3 sales slow" story to dumping the stock is milliseconds. Reuters met this demand with NewsScope Real-Time, which outputs machine-readable news, and reportedly Thomson Financial (which already sells computer-generated news) and Bloomberg offer similar products. Would you trust your money to an unskeptical computer reading the news? Can bloggers compete? Will Jon Stewart have a feed?
guanxi writes: "As simple as possible, and no simpler", you might have heard a few times; or KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). No more! The new hot trend is complexity: "[I]f you think simplicity means... "does one thing and does it well," then I applaud your integrity but you can't go that far" says Joel Spolsky. "Why are Yahoo! and MSN such complex-looking places? Because their systems are easier to use [than Google]" explains Donald Norman, who also also tells us that Simplicity Is Highly Overrated. Are they trying to make a subtler point, are they just consultants making a splash, or complexity the Next Big Thing in design?
guanxi writes: Gannett, one of the largest newspaper publishers in the U.S., plans to change its newsrooms to utilize Crowdsourcing, a new term for something Slashdot readers have been familiar with for years: From the article, they will "use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features." Last summer, the The News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida asked readers to help investigate a local scandal. The response was overwhelming: "Readers spontaneously organized their own investigations: Retired engineers analyzed blueprints, accountants pored over balance sheets, and an inside whistle-blower leaked documents showing evidence of bid-rigging." Public service isn't their only concern, of course: "We've learned that no one wants to read a 400-column-inch investigative feature online. But when you make them a part of the process they get incredibly engaged." Is this the beginning of a revolution at major media organizations? Can they successfully duplicate what online communities have been doing for years?
guanxi writes: Two members of NASA's Advisory Council
have been "asked to leave" and one resigned, according to Forbes.
All opposed cuts to NASA's science programs. With the current
budgetary constraints, we can't have it all. NASA already cut earth science
from it's mission statement, so we'd better decide fast before the
decision is made for us: What is more important? Science or manned spaceflight?