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Comment Re:Ads have long been a risk to security (Score 4, Insightful) 120

Precisely. Your point is proven by the fact that these trojans are finding their way onto Google AdSense: it definitively shows that the only remedy is to block all ads because the content providers, ad networks, and other facilitators, cannot be trusted to not serve malware to the end user.

But, a little context is also worth mentioning. The original web ads used to be things like banners, or animated GIFs, usually with cheesy flashing graphics. These are still around of course. They used to be nothing more than static content that would serve a link if clicked. But as they became ubiquitous, users quickly to ignore them. So advertisers resorted to increasingly intrusive ads, like the dreaded pop-ups, which users quickly learned to close, followed by pop-unders or persistent pop-ups powered by scripting that would simply load another pop-up if the original window was closed. These resulted in browser-side blocking of pop-ups. Advertisers then escalated to overlays and interstitial ads, intercepting or obscuring the desired content. Of course, in all of this, there was always some share of shady ads, things that tried to trick the user in some way by pretending to be something it was not. But the trend has always been an arms race of increasingly intrusive and difficult to block advertising, versus increasingly more sophisticated methods to block.

This is why we are where we are today. Online advertising has a long and consistent history of being untrustworthy, malicious, and disrespectful of user preferences. Blocking is the natural reaction to such tactics. On the other hand, when people follow certain kinds of online content--product reviews on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter--this is the way online advertising must evolve. It must evolve away from advertisers attempting to force-feed ads to users whether they wish to see it or not. Even when I know what I'm watching or reading is a paid endorsement or sponsored content, if I *choose* to look at it, that is worth far more than being forced to click through an overlay. If I cannot unblock the content without running some shady JavaScript, I simply move on.

Comment Re:Islam is the problem, not encryption (Score 1) 446

It is a belief system that needs to cease to exist.

How do you suggest we achieve that?

There's this remarkable thing that humans are capable of. It's called education. Not just the education of fact, but of modes of thought; of critical thinking; of evidence-based reasoning. Lift minds above the chaos of superstition, fear, and ignorance. Religion exists because it fills the intellectual and emotional void: it is the way humankind has sought to explain the world around them before science, and people today continue to cling to religion because it purports to provide easy answers to everything.

The scourge of religion is eradicated only through our collective and tireless pursuit of rational knowledge, and the free dissemination thereof; but more importantly, we must teach each other the means of proper reasoning; the natural consequences of which is the abandonment of dogmas, violent or otherwise.

Comment Re:At the risk of getting downvoted into oblivion. (Score 4, Interesting) 534

I wonder if, in forcing users who are blocking ads to load them anyway, Facebook is willing to accept liability for the inevitable occurrence of embedded malware infecting users through a browser exploit. This is no joke: we know for a fact that ads containing malicious code have been served to users, who then have their systems compromised. If Facebook makes money from selling these ads to users, then they should have a legal obligation to not circumvent ad blocking software as a security measure.

Of course, Facebook and its customers (read: the advertisers) will accept no such responsibility for their shitty security practices. It's all on the users. It's your fault, and yours alone, if there are any negative consequences of choosing to share information about yourself through the site; your fault if your system is compromised through an advertisement that hides malicious code, even if you try to protect yourself by blocking ads. And while many people who refuse to use Facebook (myself included) on principle might say caveat emptor and that you don't have to use Facebook, the practical reality is that that horse has long since left the barn and that the only logical position for ourselves is to protest Facebook's practices, because if our acquaintances get hacked, that has clear ramifications for the security of our own personal information even if we did not share it with Facebook.

Comment Re:Regulatory enviornment is only a small factor (Score 2) 112

Your knee-jerk reaction is overly simplistic. We in the US constantly read about patent trolls and the abuse of intellectual property law by various entities; however, this does not necessarily mean all notions of intellectual property as a legal construct should be abolished. Clearly, the issue goes both ways: some companies use IP as a cudgel, smashing down anyone who might dare to compete or innovate beyond them; but at the other end of the spectrum, you have for example Chinese copycats, who steal the inventions of others to make their own lower-quality knockoff products that frequently hide serious defects in workmanship.

To call the Chinese "wise" to ignore IP law because they prefer to copy the ideas of others fails to consider the fact that their copies are almost invariably inferior to the original. Some are actually fairly decent. But in the computing hardware/software space, I would not trust a Chinese manufacturer or developer any further than I could spit. They have consistently demonstrated that they make complete crap, and if it's not crap, it's infested with malware. Need I remind you of how major Chinese iOS app developers (WeChat, for example) infected their apps by using a compromised version of iOS developer tools? That is the kind of shit that you can expect from Chinese companies: everything is about taking as many shortcuts as possible, copying everyone else, and not speaking up when you find a problem for fear that you will become a scapegoat. It is ingrained into the culture. That's not to say non-Chinese companies are never guilty of the same. It's just that in China, this is the rule rather than the exception. There's zero focus on quality.

Comment Regulatory enviornment is only a small factor (Score 3, Informative) 112

The overriding issue with doing business in China is corruption and intellectual property theft. In plain English, that means (1) the government runs on bribery, and (2) Chinese cultural values do not regard things like corporate espionage, patent infringement, bootlegging, and knockoffs, as being unethical. This is why non-Chinese companies tend to fail, because they allowed to enter the market only long enough until a Chinese company can copy their ideas and property.

Comment Re:Marriage (Score 4, Insightful) 268

Right, because treating same sex couples equally under the law--that is to say, not kicking them out of the ambulance; not having their homophobic relatives contest their wills and leave their widows and widowers nothing--somehow instantaneously nullifies and "fucks up" your heterosexual marriage, your rights, your recognized status under the law.

Are those rights now DENIED to you simply because they are recognized for same sex couples? You still don't understand. Your so-called "right" to be a pompous, bigoted asshole; your right to treat a group of people as inferior under the law, is not a right. The only thing that gets fucked up here is that you don't get to take out your prejudices against gays and lesbians and call that your "religious freedom."

This idea of needing to "protect heterosexual marriage" because it is somehow "threatened" by men marrying men, and women marrying women, is really a statement to the effect that straights regard their own marital bonds to be so fragile, so tenuous, that they need the security of denying other people their rights, to say to other people how THEY should be recognized when that has no bearing on their own status in society. How pathetic for you that you feel that way.

Comment Re:And this is how fascism starts (Score 2) 406

Separately, I would like to also address the theological claims you imply about Islam. Given my previous responses, you might be surprised to read that to a large extent, I concur with your assessment that Islam is not a peaceful religion. The proof is in the Koran and the Hadith. As a number of prominent scholars (Sam Harris comes to mind) have pointed out, and what we can actually witness in reality if one chooses to do so, is that, in Islam, the penalty for apostasy is death. In short, any Muslim who renounces his or her faith must be killed for that betrayal, according to Islam. And this is obviously completely morally unacceptable.

I have little patience for anyone, Muslim or otherwise, who professes that this is not "real Islam," or that it is "taken out of context," or that Muslims "don't actually kill apostates." Such statements are willful deceptions and an attempt to hide or ignore the true state of affairs.

It is ironic, then, that it is so often those who profess to be "liberal" that rush so eagerly to defend Islam as the right of its believers to follow, when Islam as it is practiced in the vast majority of the world regularly brutalizes women and sexual minorities, not to mention the vicious sectarianism that has driven the entire Syrian civil war. Apologists of the faith conveniently ignore the fundamental reality that Islamic doctrine is, at its fundamental core, corrupted by a violent ideology for the reason I have provided above, and that if Muslims worldwide really wish to have their faith respected and accepted for being peace-loving as they claim, then they will need to do work to reform their religion. Not to make any claims about Christianity being more mature, but they had their Reformation. Islam has yet to figure out that a faith that threatens its adherents with death if they dare to question it, is a very juvenile and insecure way to believe in a God, if you're going to believe in one at all.

Comment Re:And this is how fascism starts (Score 1) 406

You conflate behavior with mindset. They are not the same. Thinking about committing a crime is not, in itself, a crime. If, however, one takes concrete actions with the purpose of committing a crime...that's is when ideation becomes action. If a state decides to criminalize thoughts--no matter how odious or offensive they may be--how would they propose to enact such policies?

Again, this comes down to the point I made earlier. If the goal is to stop terrorism, then the solution is to make their cause unappealing, not to try to catch them in the act, because the latter is impossible unless you turn the nation into a totalitarian police state. To the vast majority of people, the ideology espoused by ISIS is reprehensible. But what do you think will happen once you start criminalizing Muslims left and right? History has shown time and time again, that ostracizing the ideologically vulnerable only produces more resentment and hatred, and this is exactly what pushes them to join the ranks of the terrorists.

Gingrich's proposal, like that of many Republicans, stems from a paternalistic and simplistic ideology: that there is always a "right way" and "wrong way," that morality is quantifiable and absolute, that there is a single simple solution that could be enacted that would solve everyone else's problems. That's a big reason why Donald Trump is so appealing to many Americans: he makes some bold, sweeping, simple claim--irrespective of whether it is true or realistic--and says that this is THE solution to everyone's woes. And that is exactly what ignorant and scared people want to hear--they want to hear that someone is going to come along with all the answers and fix everything. That's why so many voted for Brexit, too: politicians promised it was the fix. Now, many who voted to leave the EU are waking up to the reality that life is not so simple.

Comment And this is how fascism starts (Score 5, Insightful) 406

How easily the lessons of history are lost upon the ignorant. When you threaten to imprison people for:

1. Having certain thoughts
2. Belonging to a specific ethnic, religious, or social group
3. Viewing, possessing, or accessing information

This is exactly the sort of thing that leads to totalitarianism and genocide. That is not to say that the dissemination of certain ideas are not dangerous (e.g. incitement to mass murder), or that certain forms of information/content should not be illegal to possess or distribute (e.g., child pornography). Yes, ISIS materials and websites that promote terrorism are awful, but merely *accessing* these, in of themselves, should not and cannot be regarded as criminal, since you would not only criminalize their supporters and sympathizers, but you'd criminalize anyone attempting to investigate them for the purposes of covert surveillance or academic research.

Terrorism, by its nature, is not the incitement of terror in a society for its own sake; no. Terrorism is a strategy by which individuals seek to overthrow a state by attacking its civilians; who, in their fear, appeal to the state to protect them through ever-increasingly draconian policies, such as those proposed by Mr. Gingrich. The state, whose interests are not to protect the people but to consolidate power and wealth into its own hands, makes the deliberate choice to restrict freedoms, until the people become so oppressed that they overthrow the government. This is how terrorism wins.

If the world wants to defeat ISIS and the like, the solution is to prevent their ideas from having any appeal. By threatening the same people that ISIS is trying to attract, all in the name of "national security," those who run the government are sending a very clear signal to anyone with a brain that in fact, they are not interested in stopping terrorism, but are all too happy to leverage fear as a way to gain power.

Comment WTF Apple (Score 4, Insightful) 249

I've got a Mac and an iPhone, and although I would say I tend to favor Apple products, I would not call myself a fan.

I just heard about this "rich links" feature in Messages where links to images or video will display in a preview attached to the link. My immediate reaction was one of revulsion and disbelief. That kind of "feature" is a security nightmare and there better be a way to disable it or else I am NOT going to upgrade. Whoever thought this was a good idea is a fucking idiot. Your phone should NEVER pre-emptively download the content of a hyperlink that someone else sends you. I don't care if it's a trusted site or not.

Comment Re:23/24 improved. Number 24 died. (Score 1) 74

Stopping disease progression in MS does not automatically mean that a patient regains some amount of functioning that was lost to the disease. It simply means that the disease does not get worse, not that the patient is healed of the damage. Some cases of MS do not have acute phases with subsequent remission at all; and of those that do exhibit remission, sometimes it is not complete.

Therefore, one should not expect those percentages to add, since some patients would be counted in multiple categories.

Comment This is just so much crap. (Score 5, Insightful) 168

Sorry, but "elevating the debate?" NOTHING has changed. The NSA is still illegally conducting mass surveillance on innocent American citizens. There has been ZERO accountability for the NSA and CIA's blatant and PROVEN lies to Congress under oath. There has been no systemic reform nor even the slightest attempt to adhere to Constitutional principles.

And all this while the US government is still seeking to blame Snowden for endangering national security, haul him back to the US and put him on trial? Should we feel comforted by the statements of a FORMER US Attorney General who has no actual power, just because he says that a judge would consider the ends of Snowden's actions when punishing him for the means by which those ends were achieved--mind you, never once actually admitting that such disclosures would NEVER have come to light by any other way? So we are now to believe Eric Holder's facetious claims of leniency, when NOT ONCE has he said anything to the effect of needing to investigate the NSA for breaking the law and for lying to Congress?

Fuck you and the high horse you rode in on. This is why we can't trust the government. This is why nobody with a brain believes you for a second, because we KNOW what happened in the past and we are not so stupid as to forget actual concrete outcomes. The harassment of past NSA whistleblowers, ruining their ability to work in anything but the most menial jobs for having dared to expose the corruption of those higher up; the incarceration and inhumane treatment of Chelsea Manning for her involvement in Wikileaks' exposing the indiscriminate behavior of the American military; and the complete arrogance of the FBI in attempting to force Apple to write source code to circumvent iOS encryption that would allow them to access all data on any iPhone--these are just a FEW of the demonstrably true actions on the part of the government that show that they cannot be trusted and are hopelessly corrupt in their thirst for power.

Snowden was correct to expose the NSA. However, he was wrong to believe that his actions could have possibly shamed the US government and it citizens into holding it accountable.

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