Frank notes that perhaps I was unfair to Mississippi yesterday, so I’ve provided supplemental and clarifying remarks in reply to his comments.
Monthly Archives: October 2003
And So It Begins: the 9/11 Blame Game, 2004 Edition
On one hand, we have shameless mouthpiece Condi Rice, insisting in New York (NYT link; use nogators/nogators) that the terror attacks happened because prior administrations didn’t do enough to stop terrorism (odd, by the way, that instead of just naming Clinton, she used a phrase that implicitly damns GHWB as well, not to mention the Gipper himself). Er, right, Condi.
As a counterpoint, I’ll note that Clinton’s attempts at neutralizing Osama bin Laden are frequently held up as “wag the dog” scenarios by the Right, happening as they did during the GOP’s 7-year attempt to remove Clinton from office. Make of this what you will.
On the other hand, we have Paula Zahn being horrified that 9/11 is being used for political gain in this election cycle. Is she talking about Condi Rice? No. She means Wes Clark’s comments:
There is no way this administration can walk away from its responsibility for 9/11. You can’t blame something like this on lower-level intelligence officers, however badly they communicated memos with each other. The buck rests with the commander-in-chief, right on George W. Bush’s desk.
Zahn and her guest, Joe Klein, behave as if the notion of a leader taking responsibility for events that happen on his watch comes straight from Red China, or at least Mars. They say nothing, of course, of the aforementioned “not my fault” claim from Rice, and conveniently fail to mention the fact that the Bush White House has done everything in its power to avoid cooperating with the Congressional 9/11 investigation. An inciteful analysis of this little bit can be had at the oft-cited, always compelling Slacktivist.
Who’s politicizing 9/11? Tell me again: which president’s go-it-alone, isolationist, we-ought-not-be-nation-building policies ruled the roost until September 10? You do the math. Obviously the truly responsible parties are (a) atomized bits languishing in Fishkill; and (b) Osama bin Laden, whereabouts unknown. However, the buck does stop at 1600 Pennsylvania. He doesn’t get blame, but as our President he is expected to take responsibility. To do so would be a mark of character, which heretofore has been something that mattered to the GOP. Instead, we get the behavior Slacktivist describes here:
To this very day, the Bush administration is stonewalling the commission led by Tom Kean, the Republican former governor of New Jersey. This determined refusal to investigate smells rotten — it stinks of corruption, complicity and an utter rejection of adult responsibility.
Please God No.
Microsoft apparently tried to buy Google. For their part, Brin & co. appear more likely to go the IPO route (they’re famously still private), should they decide the time is right for some sort of payoff.
As you may or may not know, Google runs entirely on Linux.
And these are the folks supposedly protecting us
The Justice Department has been trying for quite some time to prevent the release of an independent workforce diversity study. It finally turned loose of the document this week, though nearly half of it was redacted.
Nobody told Justice, however, that the format they released it in (PDF Image+Text) retained the redacted portions, so now the whole thing is available via MemoryHole. Clever, aren’t they? (Calpundit coverage).
Widely reported, but still hilarious
According to an interview with Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Fox News threatened to sue the makers of the Simpsons, a show broadcast by sister company Fox Entertainment. At issue was the Simpsons’ portrayal of Fox News in the show, which included a number of satirical headlines in the “crawl” (e.g., “Do Democrats cause cancer? . . . Rupert Murdoch: Terrific dancer . . . Study: 92 percent of Democrats are gay . . . Oil slicks found to keep seals young, supple…”). Fox News denies the story, but it certainly has the ring of truth.
Via Crack New York Correspondent Skippy
David Cross in Wired Magazine on a new crop of video games. Don’t miss the last paragraph. Hell, don’t miss any of it.
Just to piss them off.
The White House has proclaimed 26 October through 1 November Protection from Pornography Week 2003. Whether this has anything to do with Fox’s Skin isn’t clear, though it appears to be failing miserably on its own (Ron Silver should know better).
In celebration of defiance thereof, I offer the following not-safe-for-work links:
- Pornblography, a blog about the porn industry
- Some poorly written Smurf porn (Sample: “Oh, make me smurf, baby, make me smurf!”)
- JanesGuide.com, a previously linked site that’s sort of like Yahoo! for smut
- Furniture Porn. Nothing more need be said.
- Finally, some hard-core Prawnography.
Additionally, I’ll point out that I’m spending the weekend in New Orleans, and that strip clubs are almost certainly part of the plan (it being a bachelor party and all that). I’m just doing my part for family values, kids. No need to thank me.
If true, this explains a lot.
Based on the evidence, though, it seems more likely that they did this long ago.
It’s hard to be proud of where I’m from when they keep doing shit like this.
GOP bigwig and almost-certain Mississippi governor Haley Barbour is busily wrapping himself in the Confederate Battle Flag via his campaign literature, no doubt to appeal to those who see removing the symbol from the state flag as creeping Yankee-ism. Many in the state (two years ago, the vote was 2 to 1 to keep the current state flag) continue to insist that it’s a symbol of “heritage, not hate,” and that it’s tied to Southern history and not the war specifically.
This is, of course, absurdly wrong. The battle flag wasn’t used until the South took up arms against the Union and its Constitution. It’s not about State’s Rights (an argument which seems to suggest that states need not honor the Bill of Rights). It’s not about heritage. It’s about a war fought over slavery, and our ancestors seemed to think owning people was a good idea — or, at least, they wanted to fight for their right to do so.
The most stunning thing to me is how hell-bent some folks seem on keeping the battle flag despite how offensive it is to a huge percentage of Americans and Mississippians. Even if the heritage argument held water, it’s still indisputably a flag tied directly to a treasonous regime dedicated to positions such as this:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea [i.e., opposing the notion that all men are created equal – ed]; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. March, 1861 speech by CSA VP Alexander Stephens, cited here.
Given that, what do we gain by insisting on its continued presence on our flags? And what do we lose? And what would our mommas say about us clinging to this battle flag despite the distress it causes the decendents of those same slaves? What does this say about us? And what does Barbour’s cynical use of it, and almost certain success therein, say about my home state?
I want to be proud of Mississippi. I really do. But issues like Barbour and the battle flag make it damned hard to convince outsiders that my home state isn’t full of unreconstructed racists.
This is really damn cool.
SawStop is a system that allows a table saw to figure out the difference between wood and your finger, and stop the blade in FIVE MILLISECONDS if it notices the latter. As they say, that’s difference between needing a band-aid and needing a hand surgeon. Amazing.
There’s one of Aubrey, too, but this one’s funnier.
It would appear my brother has been too busy to get a haircut.
So I went away for the weekend. Sue me.
Upon my return, though, I offer this OMNIBUS post:
- Geek Tattoos. Lots of Atari logos. And, God help him, an AMD K6 logo.
- Mel Gibson’s Jesus struck by lightning; perhaps it’s an editorial comment?
- The White House’s web site has taken steps to keep search engines from indexing content about Iraq, which presumably will make it harder to compare what they say NOW to what they said THEN. Ick.
- READ THIS ONE: Excerpts from the Diebold memos surrounding the 2000 Presidential election. Hint: we may already be in trouble with these things.
- You know those Weapons of Mass Destruction we were SURE Iraq had? We still can’t find any evidence of ’em.
- Oddly, organizations that disagree with the Bush Administration’s abstinence-only education plan keep getting investigated by the government.
- Twelve states and several cities are suing the EPA over Bush’s changes to the Clean Air Act making it easier for plants to upgrade faciliites without reducing pollution.
The airlines are, of course, opposed to it.
The KneeDefender is a small plastic widget designed to fit between the tray table and seat back of a coach airline seat. When in place, it prevents the person in front of you from reclining, thereby saving either your knees or your laptop.
Excellent. As long as nobody behind ME uses it.
Obligatory California Fire Post
Porn star and certified geek (NSFW) Asia Carrera had to evacuate her home. Presumably, it’ll be a while before she’s playing Unreal Tournament again.
Your Rights Are Evaporating
Hollywood, Inc., is about to win another battle in the war on Fair Use and flexible technology. The FCC is set to approve something called the Broadcast Flag, which will require that personal computers and other devices contain technology to block unauthorized copying of copyrighted content. This will make just about every existing computer and operating system illegal, and is unlikely to sit well with just about anybody who isn’t Jack Valenti. The Electronic Frontier Foundation — a fine organization you should support — has coverage here and provides a way for you to make your voice heard here. The Washington Post‘s Jonathan Krim summarizes the issue in a column from a week ago.
Dept. of Very Odd Premises
You see, Elvis actually switched places with an Elvis impersonator, and is still living in a retirement home in Texas, where his best friend is an elderly black man convinced he’s the real JFK; together, they battle an ancient Egyptian monster menacing the Shady Rest Home.
No, I’m not kidding. It’s even in IMDB. Starring Bruce Campbell as Elvis and Ossie Davis as JFK.
I am so there. It’s playing now in limited release, where it’s apparently doing very, very well. Houston’s at the end of the list (December 12), but it opens this weekend in Austin (guess where) and, of course, Memphis.
Jerry Orbach Uber Alles
From Die Puny Humans, Warren Ellis’ blog:
When they’re not around, I put the TV on. Purely out of curiosity, you understand. Up here, we can snatch some forty thousand channels out of the air. Most of them, of course, are still showing CSI and LAW AND ORDER. There are twelve different channels showing LAW AND ORDER 24 hours a day. In some countries, Jerry Orbach has become a cargo-cult figure. They don’t understand the language or much of the situations. They comprehend only that Jerry Orbach is immortal. They watch and divine from the show that he outlives the young gods who are selected to be his assistants. Criminals fall. DAs change. Assistants fade away. Jerry Orbach is forever. Jerry Orbach is, in fact, some kind of avenging God-King who will hunt and incarcerate Scum until the end of time.
A trade group representing Diebold & others is working on a PR offensive designed to counter critics’ charges that the machines are unreliable, insecure, and tailor-made to facilitate election fraud. This, presumably, in lieu of manufacturing a secure, auditable system that we could, you know, TRUST. From the story:
David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford University who runs a website called VerifiedVoting.org , said: “The voting machine industry doesn’t have a PR problem. It has a technology problem. It is impossible to determine whether their machines, in their current form, can be trusted with our elections.” Instead of trying to convince people the machines are safe, the industry should fix the technology and restore public confidence by “making the voting process transparent, improving certification standards for the equipment and (ensuring) there is some way to do a recount if there is a question about an election,” Dill said.
In a surprise move, however, Diebold has reversed its position on issuing paper receipts to voters.
Of course, our “liberal media” is essentially silent on the issue
I hate to keep baning the Diebold voting machine danger drum, but dammit, it’s important. The Independent has a great story on the direction voting technology is taking in this country, and how dangerous it is to the very idea of one man, one vote. READ IT. A sample:
The vote count was not conducted by state elections officials, but by the private company that sold Georgia the voting machines in the first place, under a strict trade-secrecy contract that made it not only difficult but actually illegal – on pain of stiff criminal penalties – for the state to touch the equipment or examine the proprietary software to ensure the machines worked properly. There was not even a paper trail to follow up.
If that doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you, I don’t know what will.
O’Reilly Attacks Cronkite
Bill O’Reilly, in what can only be viewed as self-parody, is attacking Walter Cronkite’s credibility in his current Talking Points column, as Cronkite had the temerity to oppose the war in an op-ed piece. Un-fucking-believable.
This isn’t debate. This is the stifling of debate. O’Reilly represents all those for whom actual thought and analysis — and nuance! — are simply too much trouble. His attack here boils down, essentially, to calling Cronkite a liberal, that overused-unto-meaninglessness all-purpose attack code word signaling to his followers that they need not bother reading or understanding Cronkite’s point of view. There was a time when a lesser broadcaster would have been ashamed of such a public display of ignorance; today, though, it’s an opportunity to further ingratiate oneself to the lowest common denominator that is Fox’s primary demographic.
. . . it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Possibly the best letter to the Editor ever.
This, from the Opelousas (LA) Daily World, under the header “Voters should decide for themselves:”
In Louisiana’s tradition of endorsement in a runoff, voters need to be wise and decide for themselves the way you want to vote for the D’s or the R’s. Some of the soothsayers are guessing a winner. It shall come at a time when the Lord shall cut off soothsayers. Michah 5-12. My grandfather was an immigrant and bought land at Bayou Rouge north of Palmetto for 5 cents an acre. In this region, there were two floods in 1912 and 1927. There were also four Indian mounds. But the farmers destroyed all but one. We all should know that indians were here before the white man. I have been voting since Roosevelt’s time, but don’t recall an Indian holding office in this state. Maybe if Jindal, the son of an Indian immigrant (not an American Indian), would be elected Louisiana governor, he would build new mounds for the state. In World War II, an Indian named Cloud carried me out of a cargo hole. I was injured at sea in a storm. V.J. Leger
I’m sort of assuming it only makes slightly more sense if you’re actually up-to-date on the local politics of Opelousas, but I could be wrong.
He was gonna name it “Siegfried and Roy”, but that seemed like a bad idea all of a sudden
Kentucky boy finds two-headed snake, names it “Mary Kate and Ashley.” How much do I love this?
Dept. of “Everybody Else is Blogging It”
A gaming magazine gave a bunch of modern kids the game of our youth, and wrote down their reactions. Prepare to feel very, very old.
Of course, in my day, we had to go barefoot in the snow uphill both ways to play Pong, and only after we’d smelted our own coins.
More on Plame, yet again
The Agonist has a great rundown of a variety of stories on the leak investigation, including the ongoing call for a special prosecutor as well as the first public appearance by Plame herself. Novak, of course, continues to hide behind his (negligable) journalistic integrity (never mentioning, of course, his own anger when Mike Spann was “outed” as a CIA operative in the early days of the Afghan war — after he was killed; for Novak, outing the dead is apparently wrong, but the living are fair game).
Easily the best story of the lot is also covered in a Slacktivist post. It seems Bush is really upset about this whole leak thing, and he’s made it clear on no uncertain terms that such leaks from his staff will have serious consequences. How do we know this? To quote the Philadelphia Inquirer:
WASHINGTON -Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush – living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge – told his top officials to “stop the leaks” to the media, or else. News of Bush’s order leaked almost immediately. Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he “didn’t want to see any stories” quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used.
A more accurate description of this turn of events is almost certainly “theater for the masses;” they want to look like they’re doing something, when in reality they’re anything but serious about this investigation.
The RIAA repeats history…
…and not in a good way. George Ziemann compares their methods to another former entertainment monopolist, and they don’t come out looking any smarter.
How happy are the troops, really?
Just ask the Stars and Stripes.
What Bush Means By Protecting Freedom
The White House is using the Secret Service and local police to sequester dissenting voices in “free speech areas” far from motorcades, media, and the public at large at Presidential appearances. Just dissenters, not supporters, mind you.
There is no reasonable justification for this behavior. It’s certainly not safety; do we think a militant anti-Bush nut bent on violence can’t pretend to be a supporter long enough to get closer? I think not. This is about control, about scripting appearances, and about hiding and marginalizing dissent. This is not American. We’re said to be fighting those who “hate freedom,” but what do actions like this suggest about those leading that fight?
Forbes Attacks Intellectual Property Rights
In what can only be described as a journalistic drive-by shooting, Forbes is running a piece about Cisco/Linksys’ trouble with the General Public License. It appears they used GPL code in their commercial products, but are now refusing to follow the terms of said license. This is the “viral” bit that Steve Ballmer has complained about in the past: if you incorporate GPL code into your product, you have to release the product (or at least the software) under the GPL as well.
There’s nothing wrong with this. These are the terms of the license; companies like Cisco and Linksys are free to use said code — and follow the license — or eschew said code and write their own. What they cannot do is use the code and then refuse to hold up their end of the bargain, but the Forbes piece seems to suggest that that’s what they ought to do. This is very, very odd, I think, and not at all what we might expect from what has been in the past a strong magazine.
More discussion at Groklaw (no direct link; the story posted on 10/14).
What’s wrong with “National Marriage Protection Week”
Lots, I’ll tell you. Actually, instead of telling you, I’ll point you at Slacktivist again, who provides an excellent discussion of the idea of NMPW. It is pretty much without exception a bone thrown to the hard right, for whom protecting marriage means making sure gay people don’t get married. That we could have such an “official” week without discussing issues like domestic violence should make clear what the actual agenda is.
What I Learned From “Kill Bill”
- We should, in general, be wary of people with keyrings that match their cars.
- High blood pressure is rampant among doomed assassins, yakuza bosses, and half-Japanese/half-French attorneys.
- Quentin Tarantino really, really liked “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon“
- Daryl Hannah as a bloodthirsty killer with one eye is almost as sexy as Daryl Hannah as a black-eyed would-be killer replicant of 20-odd years before.
- David Carradine need not actually appear completely on screen to be creepy.
- Assassins will stop their knife fight when the little girl gets home.
(Actually, we learn this from the trailer.)
- Quentin Tarantino can still make movies that are fun to watch, visually compelling, and full of cheesy dialog that somehow manages not to be cheesy just long enough to be uttered and enjoyed.
SunnComm’s Peter Jacobs on the Haldermon Study
Professor Felton points out a terribly funny — in a sad way — post by Peter Jacobs on an investor board purporting to address Halderman’s points, and why they’re not valid. My favorite part — which is also Felton’s, it seems — is where Jacobs rants about how he bets that
. . . none of them [EFF members/supporters] EVER had any digital content that anyone else (aside from family and friends) would pay for, and, if they did, they’d be screaming bloody murder if someone ripped them off.
Uh-huh. Keep dreaming, Peter; the EFF includes some software heavyweights like Mitch Kapor (who founded Lotus) and John Gilmore (of Sun), plus others like sometime rancher and Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow “who became rich and famous by producing copyrighted works” (Felton). Not that SunnComm could be bothered to notice this, I reckon.
Keeping us safe from German fiancees.
Homeland Security sent a Homeland Security employee’s fiancee back to Germany for no good reason last week. Read this. There have been dozens of stories like this, and some turn out to be fabrications or misrepresentations. I’ll be very interested to discover that rationale, if any, DOHS is able claim for holding her for 20 hours and shipping her home despite her valid documents.
Geneva Convention? What’s that?
Well, Mr. Bush, among other things it prohibits collective punishments, like bulldozing orchards because their owners won’t tell you anything about the resistance attacks.
That the owners may not know anything is, of course, immaterial.
Sure, there’s not much now, but keep checking back.
TenYearsOfMyLife.com is an ambitious photoblog: he’s going to post one picture per day for the next decade. Interesting idea, if a little obsessive. (via Simian Design)
Not all that surprising, of course
The embattled White House — in the midst of an avoidable quagmire in Iraq, an utter lack of WMD, no real connection between Saddam and Al Queda, and a complete failure in locating either boogeyman we’ve been chasing for 2+ years (not to mention the Plame affair) — has gone on the offensive. Powell, Rice, and Cheney have all given aggressive speeches in the last week (Cheney’s was apparently the standout) wherein they insist again how justified the action in Iraq was, how bad Saddam was, how useless the UN was, and how (PNAC-style) we can and should do anything we want. (They leave out the whole lies-about-yellowcake bit, not to mention the complete-lack-of-postwar-planning bit, and don’t even ask about the how-can-we-afford-to-do-this-alone problem.)
Also included in this PR offensive may be a campaign of identical letters from different soldiers published in newspapers across the country this week. Gee, I wonder who wrote them?
Did David Kay find evidence of Iraqi WMD or not? It’s hard to tell from the media, which can’t be trusted to actually, you know, ask questions, but fortunately there’s handy examination of the findings disclosed so far. Hint: the White House isn’t happy.j
This is just cool.
It’s a Flash point-and-line model of a person walking; you can influence its gait by adjusting sliders for gender, weight, and two moods, all of which produce obvious and intuitive changes. Neat.
This Just In: SunnComm backs down
The Daily Princetonian is reporting that Sunncomm’s president Peter Jacobs has changed his mind, and that they will not be pursuing legal action against Alex Halderman after all. (via, once again, Ed Felton’s Freedom to Tinker)
(Astute Heathen will note that an earlier post quotes “SunnComm president Bill Whitmore.” Whitmore was so-identified by a Boston Globe story; Jacobs is referred to as President in the Daily Princetonian article linked above. Who really runs the firm is anybody’s guess.)
Cops now infiltrating opposition groups
Yeah, you read that right. A Fresno, California liberal group (Peace Fresno) discovered that the quiet guy taking notes in their meetings who claimed to be “independently wealthy” was in fact an undercover sheriff’s detective (who died in a motorcycle accident on August 30; coverage of his death in the paper included a photo that members noticed).
Local law enforcement insists there was no investigation of the group (described in the article as “a bunch of Unitarian schoolteachers”), and that there are no documents or notes resulting from his surveillance. The officer’s family insist he was unlikely to be a member of the group on his own time, however, and he was using an assumed name for his role there.
In July, state attorney general Bill Lockyer told California law enforcement to not collect intelligence on religious or political groups without evidence of criminal activity. But under the federal Homeland Security Act of 2002, intelligence agents can look at acts of civil disobedience and minor law-breaking.
Shit like this gives me The Fear.
Oh, here’s a good idea.
This Administrations’ Drug Czar (John Walters) wants to institute random drug tests of schoolkids. I have a notion that treating kids like criminals isn’t the best way to teach them to be citizens, but maybe there are folks who think it’s best if they’re just brought up to do what they’re told. (via TalkLeft)
Does anyone else think it’s curious that the “War on (Some) Drugs” is being ramped up when we’re in a quagmire in Iraq, we can’t find Saddam or Osama, and the economy is languishing?
With all the attention focussed on the White House and the DOJ’s investigation thereof vis a vis the Plame affair, one basic avenue appears essentially unexplored: why not go to Bob Novak himself and insist that he disclose his source? Journalists are subpoenaed every day to participate in trials and investigations, with varying degrees of success. There’s certainly a stance that suggests that pursuing Novak would be inappropriate and contrary to our free press, but, as Mark Dowie points out in Salon, there is little doubt what Ashcroft’s DOJ might have done had Novak been a partisan columnist for that other party.
You heard it here first.
Remember before, when I noted how the grad student at Princeton may well have violated the law by pointing out the using the shift key will bypass SunnComm’s new “copy protection” on CDs? Go on back and read the other entries, if you want: one and two.
SunnComm is suing him. Excellent response, boys: rather than, you know, selling a product that doesn’t suck, or (failing that) abandoning the snake oil business altogether, you sue the guy who points out that your emperor is as naked as a jaybird. It’s worth noting, I’m sure, that SunnComm’s stock is down 20% — to something like twelve cents a share — since the introduction of this “technology” (which they tauted as serious best-of-breed stuff, shockingly enough; I’m not sure if it’s fair to blame the guy that says your boat’s full of holes if it turns out not to float).
N.B. that the complaint utterly ignores the whole idea of Fair Use:
SunnComm is taking a stand here because we believe that those who own property, whether physical or digital, have the ultimate authority over how their property is used. Owning copying technology is not an unconditional ‘free pass’ to replicate or distribute protected work.
I guess that only applies to them owning the copyright, and not to me owning the CD, huh?
Wharton on the RIAA
The famed business school weighs in on the notion of suing your own customers. Hint: they think it’s a bad idea, and they have the story of Henry Ford on their side. Interesting read.
That people still LISTEN to them amazes and horrifies me.
The Vatican is insisting now that condoms do not in fact stop the AIDS virus, so there’s no reason for people in AIDS-ravaged countries to use them.
The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which the HIV virus can pass – potentially exposing thousands of people to risk. The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the HIV virus. A senior Vatican spokesman backs the claims about permeable condoms, despite assurances by the World Health Organisation that they are untrue.
Do we really need further proof how absurdly out of touch this Church is? It’s a political organization with a right-wing agenda. Given the AIDS rate and horrifying life-expectancy statistics in many African countries, it’s hard to see claims like this as anything but pure, unadulterated evil.
Bush Waffles & Stonewalls
The White House’s response to the Plame affair has been pretty absurd so far, but now they’re into theater. By insisting on disclosure from 2,000 people, they’ve cast the net so wide they’re almost certain to allow the real culprit to escape. Novak’s “Senior Officials” must have come from a group much smaller than 2,000 Executive employees, and smart money is on folks very close to the Oval Office.
Not that they care, of course. They have aggressively tried to shape this as an issue of an innocuous leak, not one that put real people in real danger and that really, honest-to-God violated Federal law. Now Bush is saying he has “no idea” whether Justice will find the person responsible. I’m sure Ashcroft’s DOJ is working overtime on this one, too, aren’t you?
Follow-up on SunnComm
(All via Prof. Felton’s Freedom to Tinker blog)
SunnComm’s president asserts in today’s Boston Globe that nothing in Alex Halderman’s report (noted yesterday) is surprising to them. BMG spokesperson Nathaniel Brown insists even they were completely aware of how trivial the new “protection” is to circumvent (to recap: press “shift” when you put in the CD). The Globe continued:
”There’s nothing in his report that’s surprising,” said SunnComm president Bill Whitmore. ”There’s nothing in the report that I’m concerned about.” Whitmore said his company’s system is simply supposed to give honest music lovers a legal way to make copies for personal use, not to stop large-scale piracy.
I suppose pointing out that we already have a legal way to make copies for personal use with perfectly normal CDs would be rude, huh? I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: making copies for personal use — say, to put on your iPod, or to use in your car — is perfectly legal. It’s called Fair Use, but the RIAA would like very much to make that go away.
Whitmore goes on to note that future versions of this protection will be harder to circumvent, since they will interact directly with the computer’s operating system, and that “the deployment of this mechanism will be throughout all operating systems.” Really, Bill? Even Linux and FreeBSD and Mac OS X? I doubt it.
A few things are worth noting here. First, I wonder if they’re deploying something so trivial to bypass simply because of the anti-circumvention clauses in the DMCA — i.e., as sort of an additional gotcha on top of the RIAA’s sue-kids-and-grandmothers strategy.
Second, you gotta wonder how much BMG paid for this absurdly trivial “copy protection” mechanism. I mean, c’mon, people; this is a bad joke. As Halderman points out, this isn’t some “dark secret of computer science.” Anyone with a brain can figure out how to bypass this “security.”
Finally, I want to point out that what he means when he says this tool will be integrated into your operating system, he means that future computers from Microsoft (and maybe others, but probably not) will include code specifically designed to STOP YOU from doing things that those computers can do now. Music files aren’t distinct from other files, nor are video files. Music files you make with a kazoo and a $5 microphone aren’t distinct from copies of the new OutKast CD. The flexibility of computing is that you an do anything you want to any of these files. DRM means, basically, removing that flexibility. This is why it’s unlikely that the programmers behind Linux and FreeBSD will support such schemes: removing flexibility is anathema to these people, and for good reason.
Food for thought.
He doesn’t say, but I’m sure the restoration cost more than two dollars.
Ever wonder what happened to Lane Myer’s Camaro from Better Off Dead? Wonder no more. (via Memepool)
The good news is that I’ll be more productive until April
Citing the theft (copying) of source code, Valve/Vivendi Universal has announced that Half Life 2 will be delayed another four months, to April ’04.
Why some miscreant copying their code delays them is left as an exercise to the reader, but smart money’s on “it doesn’t; they’re just nowhere near ready, and are gradually approaching Daikatana territory, and the code theft is good cover.” Still, the advance screen shots and gameplay demos have been awful damn impressive.
Why Windows gets all the viruses
If you haven’t noticed yet that 99% of those worms, trojan horses, and email viruses floating around target only ONE company’s software, you haven’t been paying attention. Virus writers write for Windows almost without exception. Microsoft would have us believe that this is an outgrowth of their market position — after all, what virus author wants to have his work limited to the few of us running something else?
Much as Bill might like that to be true, though, it’s not the whole story, or even most of if. The truth of it is that Mac OS X, Linux, and FreeBSD really are more secure, and are therefore drastically less attractive targets for virus writers. Security Focus’ Scott Granneman explains why in an article running at The Register. Worth a read, even if you’re not a geek like me.