Thursday, February 16, 2012

Time for a Jubilee or something

Because basically every single foreclosure they looked at was invalid somehow or other. Seems almost like at this point, if you want to claim that a homeowner is supposed to be making mortgage payments to you, the burden of proof for your being entitled that should be on you. At least if the property in question changed hands since 2002 or so. You have to prove that fakery wasn't committed someplace. If nobody can prove a properly documented claim, the person living there should be presumed to have clear title. Especially if he's been paying taxes on it, claiming it as his primary residence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Side Channel

In the analysis of communications security, a side channel is a leakage of information out of a secure channel, typically via some physical effect that was not considered by the device's designers. Sexy examples in cryptanalysis include tricks like monitoring fluctuations in the power consumption of a device as it decrypts a known message. Here is a kind of stupid but more real-world example, not limited to Android as the headline suggests.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

'Ware Shoggoths

Are we sure that this is a good idea?

There is a message in there somewhere

So, another Presidential "electronic town hall" thingie has come and gone, and again, by an overwhelming majority, the people who submitted questions were interested in talking about when we're going to do something about the totally fucked-up legal situation with cannabis. And again, as predictably as the dawn follows the nighttime, the response of Serious People (those who deigned to notice, anyway) was to point and laugh.

Look the reason this keeps happening is that there are lots of people who are made into 2nd or 3rd-class citizens by the law as it stands, really a lot of them, and they are victims of horrible injustice. And they can't get anybody to fucking listen. The cannabis laws have exactly the same moral force as would laws that tried to dictate how and when you could have sex, or how and when and where you had to pray. Which is to say, some negative amount: such laws are evil, and in a free society moral people have a duty to change them. Yet when people try to make themselves heard about this (remember how computers were going to empower people to affect big institutions, like government, that weren't paying attention?) we get shitty comments from the mouthpieces of approved opinion like

When President Barack Obama tonight takes voters’ questions submitted via YouTube, the marijuana lobby could be his toughest audience.

Look, I am not the fucking marijuana lobby. I am an American citizen who risks jail time for minding my own God-damned business, because too many of my fellow citizens can't be content to mind theirs. And anyway, the "marijuana lobby," such as it is, has got to be the most anemic, half-assed, ineffectual bit of lamery in American politics today, with the individual factions intent on claiming sole credit for every little amelioration so that they can poach membership from the others. I laugh biliously every time I hear some drug warrior talk about the "powerful, unified, well-funded" legalization effort. But I digress.

And don't you dare tell me that I don't really risk imprisonment because "nobody goes to jail for pot." Tell that to the judge, asshole, it'll be news to him. If you've got 10 grand ready cash to buy your way into an "intervention" program you can avoid a criminal record, but in the best of circumstances getting busted really, really, sucks. If you have never been busted then you are not qualified to have an opinion about this so just STFU and learn this by heart: being arrested is being oppressed. We have to save that oppression for people who need it, and that doesn't include pot smokers.

Oh, and what happened to those people, the ones who wanted to make themselves heard? They got blown off. Again.

Annals of Duh

Taliban "poised to retake Afghanistan" after NATO, says Reuters.

I'm sorry, is there supposed to be some kind of surprise here? I mean, we've spent the last 10 years basically demonstrating that we can't control events in Afghanistan, and proving that the best simulacrum of a national government that we can create requires constant infusions of cash and a military that costs several times the entire GDP of the country, so it is supposed to be illuminating when someone observes that as soon as we stop all of that, things will collapse?

Who the hell do these people think they are?

Is there any affront to decency by the State that comes close to the recent practice of making felons (warning Salon link) of people who use their phone cams to make recordings of police doing their thing in public? Is there any way to construe these laws, any interpretation at all, as anything other than a naked power grab? What possible reason could anyone have for making these laws, other than to defend police who break the law? And how are the police breaking the law? By beating up and tasing and pepper-spraying and otherwise brutalizing the citizenry, when the latter object to the criminality and incompetence of their rulers. Who coincidentally are the ones inventing this new right that police have, to do pretty much whatever they want in the expectation that they can throw into jail anyone who raises a stink. Because you can't raise a stink without evidence, and this shit is all about making it impossible for anyone to have any evidence about the police that was not issued by the police.

All of the crap in the PATRIOT and Military Commissions Acts pales in comparison to this, because these repressive powers are actually being used to, you know, repress people. Which illustrates the point people were making a few months back when Naomi Wolf published her squawk about the Feds coordinating a crackdown on OWS. In point of fact, repression in America generally isn't a top-down project where the Feds give marching orders and State and local cops carry them out. In any given county or State, the repression gets organized by the guys who own the place, and those people have no shortage of imagination when it comes to figuring out how to use the power of the law to screw people over.

This is the Owner Class at work protecting its interests, and incidentally showing its willingness to piss straight into the face of any concept of actual liberty for actual people (because, you know, the Constitution does not specifically enumerate a right to use your iPhone to make a video of a cop beating the shit out of somebody for no reason, so nobody has that right).