big auto is watching you

And this is why I'd rather have a GPS system that's sold separately and that can't be easily cross-referenced to my car.

Ford Exec: 'We Know Everyone Who Breaks The Law' Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car (Business Insider)

Farley was trying to describe how much data Ford has on its customers, and illustrate the fact that the company uses very little of it in order to avoid raising privacy concerns: "We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing. By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone," he told attendees.

...

Farley himself then walked back the statement, saying "I absolutely left the wrong impression about how Ford operates. We do not track our customers in their cars without their approval or consent."

Pakistani teen sacrifices himself to stop bomber

Hero.

Pakistani Teen Dies Stopping Suicide Bomber (VOA)

Local police said the ninth grader saw the attacker getting off a bus and heading toward the school gate. The attacker was wearing a school uniform but he looked suspicious, and that is when Aitzaz tried to stop him, prompting the attacker to set off the bomb.

Aitzaz's elder brother, Mujtaba, told VOA Deewa service the teenager's act "made his mother cry but saved 500 other mothers from crying," referring to the number of students in the school at the time of the blast.

inequality in the digital economy

I haven't read Lanier’s book (yet), but this summary is interesting. It is true that those striking in rich in the digital economy are often doing so on the work of others -- just like the old economy, come to think of it. Just riffing on the general idea here, but maybe we need a tax on ISPs and search engines and social networking sites, anything making money off other people's content, with that tax funding payments to content creators.

Will Digital Networks Ruin Us?

Which leads nicely to Lanier’s final big point: that the value of these new companies comes from us. “Instagram isn’t worth a billion dollars just because those 13 employees are extraordinary,” he writes. “Instead, its value comes from the millions of users who contribute to the network without being paid for it.” He adds, “Networks need a great number of people to participate in them to generate significant value. But when they have them, only a small number of people get paid. This has the net effect of centralizing wealth and limiting overall economic growth.” Thus, in Lanier’s view, is income inequality also partly a consequence of the digital economy.

It is Lanier’s radical idea that people should get paid whenever their information is used. He envisions a different kind of digital economy, in which creators of content — whether a blog post or a Facebook photograph — would receive micropayments whenever that content was used. A digital economy that appears to give things away for free — in return for being able to invade the privacy of its customers for commercial gain — isn’t free at all, he argues.

Academic boycott of Israel is justified

Letter to the editor, Baltimore Sun:

In his ill-founded criticism of UMBC's response to the American Studies Association academic boycott of Israel ("UMBC response to Israel boycott is inadequate", Jan. 2), Jay Bernstein gets one thing right. But that one thing is the line he steals from Edmund Burke, and he badly misapplies it.

In truth, the "boycott, divestment, and sanctions" (BDS) movement's attempt to pressure the Israeli government to end its oppressive policies, is driven by Burke's principle that evil flourishes when good men to do nothing.

It's remarkable that Bernstein doesn't even try to justify Israel's actions or challenge the comparison to apartheid, but just repeats the same story that its apologists always use: criticizing the policies of the Israeli government means wanting Israel to be destroyed. But that's no more true of critics of Israel than it was of critics of South Africa decades ago, or of critics of U.S. policy.

Evil is not boycotts to put mild pressure on a rogue government, evil is the human rights violations taking place every day in the occupied territories. UMBC, and all who respect human rights, should accept and join the BDS movement until Israel changes its behavior.


I fired this letter off to the Baltimore Sun a few days ago. I figured they wouldn't publish it, so didn't bother putting it up here at the time. But they surprised me both by printing it on January 5, and by not contacting me for verification first. It's already expired from their site so I can't link to it there, or even read it. So I don't know how it may have been edited. (I only know the title under which they printed it, and when they did so, because it prompted a reply which is still up.)

ISS mission extended until at least 2024

Good news. While I'm skeptical of the utility of manned missions to Mars or to the asteroids as anything beyond massive performance arts projects (deep space is for robots, at least for the next few centuries), we ought to be getting all over life in orbit.

Obama Administration Extends International Space Station Until at Least 2024 | NASA Administrator

The extension of ISS operation will allow NASA and the international space community to accomplish a number of important goals.

First, it will allow NASA to complete necessary research activities aboard the ISS in support of planned long-duration human missions beyond low-Earth orbit—including our planned human mission to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s. NASA has determined that research on ISS is necessary to mitigate fully 21 of the 32 human-health risks anticipated on long-duration missions. A related critical function of ISS is testing the technologies and spacecraft systems necessary for humans to safely and productively operate in deep space. Extending ISS until 2024 will give us the necessary time to bring these systems to maturity.

no, gifting ammunition is not an appropriate Newtown commemoration

Yes, I support the RKBA as strongly as anyone, and yes, I'm frustrated by hoplophobic attempts to use the Newton massacre as an excuse for yet more gun prohibition laws rather than mental health reforms. But dude: you're not helping.

Conn. official resigns over Newtown comment (Yahoo News)

During a tribute to the Newtown victims called "26 Days of Kindness," Beck wrote on Facebook that his acts of kindness would be giving ammunition to his friends on each of the 26 days. He later apologized, saying he recognized the comment was insensitive and indefensible. He also said it wasn't intended to be malicious.

some Rocky Horror Picture Show trivia

Well, I think there's a vacation plan here...

20 Things you probably didn't know about "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" - FB Troublemakers (FB Troublemakers)

Dr. Frank N. Furter’s “castle” was shot partially at Oakley Court which also served as the set for numerous Hammer horror films. It was built in 1859, refurbished in 1981 and is now a luxury hotel.

Meaning, YOU CAN STAY HERE! For a pretty pence, obviously.

can knitting help reform convicts?

I'd like to see some hard data on recidivism and prisoner behavior rather than just a warden's informal belief, but it's interesting.

How Knitting Behind Bars Transformed Maryland Convicts | Knitting on GOOD (GOOD)

They started by knitting comfort dolls, which they gave to children removed from their homes because of domestic issues. Then they moved on to hats for kids at the inner-city elementary school many of the prisoners attended, Zwerling says. “If you look at them, they’re covered with tattoos, they’re rough looking, and many of the young guys don't have all their teeth," she says. “But it doesn't feel rough. They’re very respectful and grateful and very happy to knit.”

The prison’s assistant warden, Margaret Chippendale, believes the men involved with KBB get into trouble less often. “It's very positive because you can see when you go into the room, the dynamics of their conversation; very calm, very soothing,” Chippendale says. “It radiates even when they leave the room and go out into the institution.”

NJ Gov. Christie's administration blocked roads to punish Democrats

That whole narrative about NJ Governor Chris Christie rising above petty partisanship? Just totally torpedoed, as e-mail messages are released showing top people in his administration deliberately screwing with the roads in order to “retaliate” against Democratic politicians who declined to endorse him. There should be impeachments and prison sentences over this, including for Christie if he knew about it at the time. And it should blow a big hole in the "Christie for President" movement.

Partisan assholery at its finest.

Wildstein: “Is it wrong that I am smiling?”

Kelly: “No.”

Wildstein: “I feel badly about the kids.”

Kelly: “They are the children of Buono [Christie’s Democratic opponent] voters”.

Emails Tie Top Christie Aides to Lane Closings, Despite Denials (New York Times)

But the emails show that Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff in Mr. Christie’s office, gave a signal to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close the lanes about two weeks before the closings occurred.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” she emailed David Wildstein, Mr. Christie’s close friend from high school, and one of his appointees at the Port Authority, which controls the bridge.

Dutch pension company divests Israeli banks

More progress for the BDS movement.

Dutch pension giant divests millions from Israeli banks involved in settlement construction

The largest Dutch pension fund company, PGGM, has reportedly chosen to withdraw all its investments from the five largest Israeli banks, whose branches are involved in financing construction in the settlements in the West Bank.

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PGGM's stance is based on an International Court of Justice ruling, which in 2004 concluded that the barrier being built around the West Bank was illegal and should be pulled down, with the "security wall" violating the rights of Palestinians.

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