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RIAA Wants Infamous File-Sharer to Campaign Against Piracy

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 21:49 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


Did you hear the one about the world’s most infamous music file-sharer being asked to publicly extol the virtues of the Recording Industry Association of America’s anti-piracy platform?

The RIAA is suggesting Jammie Thomas-Rasset do just that. In exchange, the recording studios’ lobbying and litigation arm would reduce a $222,000 jury verdict the Supreme Court let stand in May — her punishment for sharing 24 songs on the now-defunct file-sharing service Kazaa.

However, the 36-year-old mother of four and the nation’s first file-sharer to challenge a Recording Industry Association of America lawsuit, said she would rather go bankrupt.

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Sikorsky Prize Claimed

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 21:11 by John Sinteur in category: News


Originally set forth in 1980, the Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition is deceptively simple: keep a human-powered helicopter aloft at 3 meters within a 10m by 10m square for 1 minute. The prize? $250,000.

In the past 33 years, great progress has been made (Davinci III, Yuri I, Gamera I, Gamera II Previously), but no one has succeeded until Aerovelo’s Atlas.

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Microsoft’s New Strategy Doomed By Contradictions

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 20:51 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Microsoft unveiled a long-awaited new strategy today in a public document titled “Transforming Our Company“ and an all hands e-mail “One Microsoft” In what is supposed to be a forward-looking, clean-sheet approach, the software giant ironically opened its transformation memo by reminding everyone how old is it, a child of the ’80s. In that context, it’s less surprising that the company’s plan took more than 3,000 words to lay out, is laden with contradictions and contains an old-school “ reorganization.” Oh and it has almost no chance to work.

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  1. Anybody else reminded by this memo?

    Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion.

Amazing beatboxer Tom Thum

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 20:47 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Genius!

Proton accident with GLONASS satellites

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 18:42 by John Sinteur in category: News


By July 9, it is transpired that investigators sifting through the wreckage of the doomed rocket had found critical angular velocity sensors, DUS, installed upside down. Each of those sensors had an arrow that was suppose to point toward the top of the vehicle, however multiple sensors on the failed rocket were pointing downward instead. As a result, the flight control system was receiving wrong information about the position of the rocket and tried to “correct” it, causing the vehicle to swing wildly and, ultimately, crash.

To be fair, it is unusual for “this end up” to define what “up” is.

The obvious solution is to replace “This way up” with “This end points towards the pointy end of the rocket”.

The real solution is to redesign the widget to be asymmetrical and only fit one way.

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Anyone Brushing Off NSA Surveillance Because It’s ‘Just Metadata’ Doesn’t Know What Metadata Is

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 17:41 by Paul Jay in category: News


One of the key themes that has come out from the revelations concerning NSA surveillance is a bunch of defenders of the program claiming “it’s just metadata.” This is wrong on multiple levels. First of all, only some of the revealed programs involve “just metadata.” The so-called “business records” data is metadata, but other programs, such as PRISM, can also include actual content. But, even if we were just talking about “just metadata,” the idea that it somehow is no big deal, and people have nothing to worry about when it comes to metadata is ridiculous to anyone who knows even the slightest thing about metadata. In fact, anyone who claims that “it’s just metadata” in an attempt to minimize what’s happening is basically revealing that they haven’t the slightest clue about what metadata is. Here are a few examples of why.

Just a few months ago, Nature published a study all about how much a little metadata can reveal, entitled Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility by Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, Cesar A. Hidalgo, Michel Verleysen, and Vincent D. Blondel. The basic conclusion: metadata reveals a ton, and even “coarse datasets” provide almost no anonymity:

A simply anonymized dataset does not contain name, home address, phone number or other obvious identifier. Yet, if individual’s patterns are unique enough, outside information can be used to link the data back to an individual. For instance, in one study, a medical database was successfully combined with a voters list to extract the health record of the governor of Massachusetts27. In another, mobile phone data have been re-identified using users’ top locations28. Finally, part of the Netflix challenge dataset was re-identified using outside information from The Internet Movie Database29.All together, the ubiquity of mobility datasets, the uniqueness of human traces, and the information that can be inferred from them highlight the importance of understanding the privacy bounds of human mobility. We show that the uniqueness of human mobility traces is high and that mobility datasets are likely to be re-identifiable using information only on a few outside locations. Finally, we show that one formula determines the uniqueness of mobility traces providing mathematical bounds to the privacy of mobility data. The uniqueness of traces is found to decrease according to a power function with an exponent that scales linearly with the number of known spatio-temporal points. This implies that even coarse datasets provide little anonymity.

“Just metadata” isn’t “just” anything, other than a massive violation of basic privacy rights.

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Canada’s fur trade is booming again — thanks to demand from China’s new capitalists

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 17:35 by Paul Jay in category: News



Men with wild beards, in bearskin coats, paddling voyageur canoes, tromping about the great Canadian wilds and trapping furs — this, Canada, is our furry heritage. Before we were anything we were trappers; a nation built on pelts.
Now it is 2013. Oil is king. But Canadian fur is making a comeback.[

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  1. I had a colleague who paid his way through college hunting beaver.

  2. Bait taken, you animal!

Stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Global Revolt Against Corporate Domination

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 16:19 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Obama administration is currently mired in an ambitious project to accomplish both the continuation of the WTO’s agenda and a restructuring of NAFTA in ways that place corporate property rights over protection of people and the environment. Using the friendly term, ‘partnership,’ the administration is negotiating a sweeping free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which could potentially involve the entire Pacific Rim as well as a sister agreement with European nations. This is being done largely in secret and in a way that subverts the democratic process.

Former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who now has a lucrative job in the private sector advising transnational corporations for the law firm Gibson Dunn, said that if people knew what was in the TPP, there would be no way to get it signed into law. As he told one interviewer, if the text were made public negotiators would be walking away from the negotiations because they would be very unpopular.

The new US Trade Representative, Obama’s classmate Michael Froman who worked at CitiGroup, and the more than 600 corporate advisers involved in writing the TPP, have direct access to the text of the treaty, but members of Congress have only limited access and the public and media are excluded. Recent calls for transparency by members of Congress have been denied, so the extent of what we know comes from leaks.

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US diplomats cry foul as Obama donors take over top embassy jobs

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 16:06 by John Sinteur in category: News


Barack Obama has rewarded some of his most active campaign donors with plum jobs in foreign embassies, with the average amount raised by recent or imminent appointees soaring to $1.8m per post, according to a Guardian analysis.

The practice is hardly a new feature of US politics, but career diplomats in Washington are increasingly alarmed at how it has grown. One former ambassador described it as the selling of public office.

On Tuesday, Obama’s chief money-raiser Matthew Barzun became the latest major donor to be nominated as an ambassador, when the White House put him forward as the next representative to the Court of St James’s, a sought-after posting whose plush residence comes with a garden second only in size to that of Buckingham Palace.

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How to Fold a Julia Fractal

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 15:52 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


Yet for the most part, complex numbers are treated as an inconvenience. Because they are inherently multi-dimensional, they defy our attempts to visualize them easily. Graphs describing complex math are usually simplified schematics that only hint at what’s going on underneath. Because our brains don’t do more than 3D natively, we can glimpse only slices of the hyperspaces necessary to put them on full display. But it’s not impossible to peek behind the curtain, and we can gain some unique insights in doing so. All it takes is a willingness to imagine something different.

So that’s what this is about. And a lesson to be remembered: complex numbers are typically the first kind of numbers we see that are undeniably strange. Rather than seeing a sign that says Here Be Dragons, Abandon All Hope, we should explore and enjoy the fascinating result that comes from one very simple choice: letting our numbers turn. That said, there are dragons. Very pretty ones in fact.

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‘We aired lies’: Al Jazeera staff quit over ‘misleading’ Egypt coverage

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 15:08 by John Sinteur in category: News


As many as 22 Al Jazeera employees have quit since the overthrow of Mohammad Mursi, amid concern over the channel’s alleged bias towards the Muslim Brotherhood and its coverage of Egypt.

Criticism over the channel’s editorial line, the way it covered events in Egypt, and allegations that journalists were instructed to favor the Brotherhood are said to be the main reasons behind the mass resignations.

As many as 22 Al Jazeera staff resigned on Monday, Gulf News reported, but other media said only seven had left the broadcaster.

Al Jazeera correspondent Haggag Salama resigned accusing the station of “airing lies and misleading viewers”, Gulf News reported. The newspaper also said that four Egyptian members of editorial staff at the network’s headquarters in Doha had resigned in protest.

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Also a lot of hydroxylic acid

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 11:16 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


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Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 11:11 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


I can’t believe they built ‘m this close to the city! How did they get that pushed through the zoning committee?

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Big Shift On Civil Liberties vs. Counter-Terrorism

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 10:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


American voters say 55 – 34 percent that Edward Snowden is a whistle-blower, rather than a traitor, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

In a massive shift in attitudes, voters say 45 – 40 percent the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far restricting civil liberties, a reversal from a January 14, 2010, survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University when voters said 63 – 25 percent that such activities didn’t go far enough to adequately protect the country.

Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor. The lone exception is black voters, with 43 percent calling him a traitor and 42 percent calling him a whistle-blower.

There is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts as men say 54 – 34 percent they have gone too far and women say 47 – 36 percent they have not gone far enough. There is little difference among Democrats and Republicans who are about evenly divided. Independent voters say 49 – 36 percent that counter-terrorism measures have gone too far.

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  1. @Rob I guess there was actually more outrage as some “suggested”

  2. Those polls don’t measure outrage, Mykolas. You do get the difference between people disagreeing over something and people being outraged about something, don’t you? I think what the NSA is doing is silly and futile but I’m not outraged by it.

  3. @Rob- So if one is outraged what do they need to do – through bombs in your opinion? We are arguing about petty distinctions between thoughts and words. Perhaps it was the outrage at the outrageous acts of the NSA that spurred them to think and then form an opinion disagreeing with said outrageous acts.

  4. Most Americans understand what the NSA is trying to do and why. They’re trying to prevent the next 911, Mykolas. That should be everyone’s concern because the world as you know it, no matter where you live, will end if another 911 happens. Cooler heads prevailed last time but don’t expect them to next time. We may disagree on how far the NSA should go but we’re not outraged by their attempts and missteps. They’re in uncharted territory. Most Americans, I say. There are a few who think they go way too far and perhaps a few that think they don’t go nearly far enough. It’s a work in progress. A little consideration from the sidelines couldn’t hurt.

  5. “..the world as you know it, no matter where you live, will end if another 911 happens.” Really? What?

  6. Is it really that hard? Play it out, Sue. If there’s another serious attack like 911 and if you’re really thinking that non-Americans will get to just sit on the sidelines and cheer and boo and snipe like they do now, there’s this bridge I can let you have cheap …

  7. Non-Americans sit on the side-lines? After the attack on Manhattan, NATO invoked the mutual defense pact and went into Afghanistan. Everyone got people killed and damaged. They’ve just dedicated a war memorial to Canada’s Afghanistan dead. Rehabilitation of the blind, crippled and insane continues.

    Canada didn’t go into Iraq II, even after lots of arm twisting (for reasons that I will explain if you want). Others like Britain, did. (That irrelevant war was the kind of thing that the rest of the world resents the US for.)

    Play it out yourself, Rob. Do you consider that these wars were a sensible and proportionate reaction to a bunch of Saudi citizens flying planes into prestige buildings in Manhattan? After all these years, and the actual results, what were the alternatives? And what would have been a better result?

    I think Mr. Bin Laden and his cronies got what they wanted for a very small investment. The world as we knew it did come to an end. I’m not saying that 911 wasn’t a dreadful attack, but it shouldn’t have ultimately resulted in the decline of the USA as THE world power (this is arguable, I admit, there are other reasons). Militarily it was not a serious attack – all it demonstrated was that modern weapons systems are always fighting the last war and fail to work on the weapons of the next war. Nuclear submarines are not much good against suicide bombers.

    Now the people in your country are perceived by others to have given up many freedoms to be safe. You may be safe from Mr. Bin Laden’s followers (statistically, you always were) but you are not safe from an intrusive and out-of-control State, if one were to come into power. These very instruments of control and monitoring may encourage such a State to arise.

  8. My point exactly, Sue. And you think the next one will be less than that or more than that? Rhetorical. You know the answer.

    “Now the people in your country are perceived by others to have given up many freedoms to be safe.”

    We may be a little inconvenienced at airports but that’s about it for the average American and freedom. I don’t fly much but I know people who do. They don’t complain. The busy bodies can relax. We’re fine.

  9. I’m talking the temptation of tools of totalitarian takeover you’re talking about airport security? Blimey!

  10. The slopes aren’t all that slippery, Sue. Talking about them as if they were is tedious. I’ll pass. Carry on, though.

  11. Thanks, Sue, for taking the trouble to try to get through to this fellow. I’m afraid you are up against indoctrination, complacency and ignorance on a truly epic scale (even if expressed folksily and with smiley faces).

    And Rob, you are in no position to patronise anyone.

  12. Well, perhaps he was being ironic. Or sarcastic. Y’know they kind of look the same.

  13. I wish that were the case but, having read all his posts, I fear not.

  14. I have been on travel the last few days and finally caught up. Thanks for filling in Sue! And I do not think Rob is being sarcastic at all. He is the embodiment of the intellectual hypocrisy that I find in many: Scream “government get off our backs” out of one side their mouth, while scream “government protect me” out of the other. They give little in depth thought about the ramifications of either position, whether social justice or the “tools of Totalitarianism”.

  15. For the record, I was not patronizing Sue any more than she was patronizing me (See the comment she made just before my last comment). That seems to be our schtick sometimes and I’m OK with it. I respect her opinions because she always makes great points. I don’t always agree with her, though. In fact, it seems I swim against the tide here quite a bit but that’s part of why I like it here.

    You have NOT read all of my posts, porpentine. “Indoctrination, complacency and ignorance on a truly epic scale”? WOW.

    And, finally, Mykolas – You’ve described both yours and Sue’s problem with my positions and my problems with yours. Yes, we want liberty and protection. Wherever you think the pendulum is now, it’s always going to be moving one way or the other and the champions of one side or the other are going to scream about it. It is not complacency on my part to know that it will never swing too far and stay. It is confidence. I have seen it here too many times. Most of the time, our government is in a perpetual state of gridlock but the few times one party or the other is swept into office on a “mandate”, their excesses always, always do them in and they get swept out. People who think this time is different are always proven wrong.

  16. WOW, indeed. Your position has rhetorical merit but in matters of the practical facts on which it is based you do come across consistently as complacent and ignorant. If you ever did venture outside the US you would see that you live in the land of the one-sided pendulum.

    By the way, Evo Morales, President of Bolivia who was kidnapped by your charming authorities recently, was described here by you as a “punk”. He is anything but.

  17. Our charming authorities? It was Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal who refused air space that landed his plane in Austria. I don’t doubt that an American request was part of the equation but it was honored because Morales is a punk. I stand by that. Like I asked Sue, can you imagine that happening to any other head of state? He wasn’t kidnapped. He was delayed. I HAVE ventured outside of the US. You’d know that if you read all of my posts … as you claimed.

  18. One other thing while we’re on this topic: It is pretty incredibly arrogant or pretty incredibly dumb to presume you know someone from a few blog natterings. John is very prolific in his postings on The Daily Irrelevant and I’ve been reading most of his material here for over ten years but I would be very hesitant to say I know him. You’ve read a small fraction of that from me.

  19. Nothing a good case of beer and a BBQ can’t rectify. Pity we’re so many thousands of miles apart.

  20. If you ever make it to New Orleans, John, beer and gumbo are on me.

  21. Count me in, I’ll bring some shrimp for the grill. I am working on an invite for Evo also, he would liven up the party for sure.

  22. “People who think this time is different are always proven wrong.” Rob, I wish I could agree. But at the heart of this debate is the FISA court. It goes back to ’78. It was greatly expanded under Bush and Obama. So much for sweeping it out. It is a disgrace to the nation. Where is the transparency and control in this? “Unlike the Supreme Court, the FISA court hears from only one side in the case — the government — and its findings almost never are made public. A Court of Review is empaneled to hear appeals, but that is known to have happened only a handful of times in the court’s history, and no case has been taken to the Supreme Court.” http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/national_world/2013/07/07/fisa-courts-rulings-have-expanded-surveillance.html. It is dangerous. Secret police, secret courts, secret renditions, held without trial or charges for years – is the what the U.S. stands for these days. Reads more like the dark days of Chile’s or Argentina’s history, not to mention European history. I submit it is possible to have excellent homeland security with resorting to police state tactics. Snowden is a hero and true patriot.

  23. I’m willing to listen to the explanation, though, Mykalos. Two presidents as different as Bush and Obama signed off on these NSA activities. I want to hear what they have to say about it a little more before I say I’m for or against it. I honestly think it’s more futile than sinister and I really don’t think it’s a giant apparatus built for the purpose of bullying citizens or political enemies.

    I also haven’t decided what I think about Snowden and what he’s done. I’d like him to stand trial and present his case.

    The very tiny conspiracy enthusiast voice in my head thinks maybe this whole circus is intended to get the bad guys off of the mediums that aren’t bearing fruit and on to another medium that might.

  24. Sorry for the misspelled name, Mykolas. Again, no patronization intended. 🙂

  25. Lol, it’s now obvious that both Rob and Mr. Snowden are agents of elements within the US secret government! Muddying waters and confusing the enemy…

    I’ll eat that BBQ Louisiana shrimp, Mykolas! (I’ve recently been able to buy some in my nearest US supermarket. It was fantastic and, sadly, cheap.)

  26. If you have fresh Louisiana shrimp, Sue and Mykolas, putting them on the grill is about the 15th best thing to do with them. You batter fry them and put them on a po-boy, boil them in crab boil and serve them with cocktail sauce, put them in Remoulade, or make barbecue shrimp with them. Barbecue shrimp in New Orleans is not made on the grill. It’s made in a pan with Worcestershire and butter. Most restaurants serve them in the shells and its rather messy. Some have mastered the dish without the shells but you’ll pay dearly for it. OK, now I’m hungry. Good Night. 🙂

  27. @Rob – no worries on name – saw it as typo only. Regarding shrimp, I shell them, and marinate lightly in either a low salt soy sauce with a bit of sesame oil OR marinate in them in an olive oil, lemon and garlic sauce and then to the BBQ. I looked up the recipe for Remoulade and I think it would be great for crab cakes, although the quantity of mayonnaise would spike my cholesterol count for sure.

Drain the Oceans

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 10:23 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

Good news for the Netherlands!

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  1. Oh, you wacky Netherites!

  2. Well one benefit is that geographically challenged Americans would normally be right in placing the Netherlands on the map 🙂

  3. Our world hegemony is only limited by our inability to produce more effective windmills and pumps…

US farm subsidy policies contribute to worsening obesity trends

Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 0:09 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Agricultural subsidies are responsible for making those processed and energy-dense foods that contribute to the American epidemic of obesity the most affordable options for consumers, concludes a new study led by Dr. Mark J. Eisenberg, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. As Congress debates a new Farm Bill that will determine agricultural policy for the next five years, it is critical that public health be factored into legislation that will define the country’s nutritional environment.

“Tackling the policies that translate into food production and availability could be the most widespread preventive measure to address the obesity epidemic,” according to Caroline Franck, lead author of the paper published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

While many factors contribute to obesity, the ready availability and low cost of unhealthy foods in comparison with healthy alternatives are crucial. Indeed, obesity has been closely associated with poverty. Grocery stores and restaurants sell foods made from cheap commodities at lower prices, and commodities used in high fat and sweetened foods are artificially cheap because government subsidies have made the crops used to produce them lucrative to grow.

Subsidizing Big Food to damage the population seems to be counter-productive.

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