UK ISP’s To Get More Into Data Mining

In spite of how things have been going over recent years we have to remember that Here in the “good old U. S. Of A.” is not the only place where freedoms and privacy are under constant attack.  I was again reminded of this when I heard about a recent story on the website of a London television station.

The headline read “‘Black boxes’ to monitor all internet and phone data”

It seems that part of a recent communications data bill ISP’s in the UK will be required to collect all records of communications and store them for at least a year.

There is, in my opinion, considerable doubt about governmental guarantees that the content of messages will not be kept or snooped upon.  Allegedly copies of the header information in emails is what will be saved.

Then there’s the issue of encrypted connections.  These days more and more webmail services use HTTPS (ssl) to encrypt the contents of their pages before sending them.  You would think that this makes it impossible to tell what part of the page is the email, and further which is the header and which the content of the message.

According to the story, ISPs will have to route everything through a government approved “black box” that decrypts the page and sends the decrpted message headers back to the ISP where it gets stored for a year.

They don’t say just exactly what this “black box” is but it sounds to me like part of it is using deep packet inspection, otherwise how will they know that a page contains an email that needs to be decrypted?

Also, if this “Black Box” is so easily able to decrypt SSL encrypted pages then either SSL is now too weak to be considered safe or somewhere there is a backdoor in the system that allows them to decrypt stuff that is not meant for them.

Personally, I suspect both.

This is why more people should learn to encrypt their emails with something like PGP or GnuPG in addition to any encryption that is applied by using https pages.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Your privacy is your responsibility”.  If you do not actively work to maintain your privacy then you DO NOT HAVE ANY.

Cora’s Obsession

After my last post it has occurred to me that it would be a good idea to venture into something not quite so serious of a topic.

After Thinking about it a bit I remembered Cora’s obsession.  I have to admit that it’s a bit on the odd side, even for Nutjob Hills.

You see, Cora is totally obsessed with Sterling silver jewelry.  Every single piece that she has ever been seen wearing, be it an earring, necklace, ring, or whatever is made primarily of Sterling silver.

You will likely never see her wearing stainless steel, copper, pearl or even gold. If it’s not at least 90 percent silver then she is not interested in it at all.

The odd thing is that her obsession does not stop with what she chooses to wear.  For the last several years she has been redecorating her house in Stirling silver jewelry.  Once a week when she gets paid she orders another piece from slane jewelry.  When it arrives she takes as much as two hours deciding where it is to be mounted permanently.

The walls and most of the various fixtures in her house are festooned with literally hundreds of pieces of silver jewelry.  You would think that something like this could not possibly be made to look good but somehow she’s managed to do just that.

If anybody else were to do something like this it would eventually look like a very expensive junkyard.  Not so in Cora’s case.  She has somehow managed to turn this potential nightmare into a difficult to describe work of art.  I cannot point to any one thing and say that it is the reason that this potential mess looks good however the whole thing taken together is, to say the least, impressive.  (not to mention expensive!)

Death Of A Freedom

It seems only fitting during this fourth of July holiday season that I take a few moments to pay my respects to the recently departed.  Another part of American freedom that too many people have taken for granted, usually only talking about it during patriotic holidays such as the fourth of July, has died.

The victim however did not simply die of old age or other natural causes.  No, this is a clear case of premeditated murder, committed in the coldest of blood.

Worse yet, the killers remain at large and even though it’s known who they are, nothing will be done to them.  They will not be arrested, tried, or convicted for this most heinous crime.

I am talking about the recent decision handed down by the US Supreme Court that upheld the provision in the obamacare law that requires all US citizens to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

It’s true that there’s a lot of people putting their hopes on Romney getting elected because they are sure that he will act to get rid of that requirement.  What most people don’t seem to understand however is that the obamacare law in general and the requirement to buy health insurance in particular are almost insignificant in comparison to the precedent that has been set by this decision.

It means that should the government choose to do so, it can require that all Americans buy a new house, a new car, a new television or anything else.  All they’d need to do is declare that the action is good for individuals and / or the economy.

It means that such a requirement will be accompanied by a tax (translation “hefty penalty”) on everyone that does not comply with the edict from on high.

Of course, the many people who cannot effort to make the required purchase and further cannot afford to pay the penalty tax for not doing so are, as the saying goes, “up shit creek without a paddle”.

These unfortunates will no doubt be subject to additional penalties of ever increasing severity.  I have no doubt that this will eventually lead to tens of thousands being jailed because they simply didn’t have the money to comply with a governmental order to buy something.

This is perhaps the single most dangerous precedent that has yet been set in American law.  Not only because of what it permits the government to do in the name of “the public good” but also because the only way to reverse this travesty is for the Supreme Court to re-hear the case and agree to nullify it’s earlier decision.

As you can imagine, the possibility of that happening is essentially nil.

So when you complain someday that you cannot afford or do not want something that the government has decreed that you must buy, remember that this started with obamacare and if you voted for him and approved of the obamacare law then you can look in the mirror and realize that you helped bring this to pass.

When that realization sinks all the way in you are hereby invited to spend the rest of your life on your knees apologizing to the rest of us who wanted no part of obama OR his health care package.

WE knew it was wrong to elect him.

WE knew his healthcare law was the wrong way to go.

WE tried and tried to tell the rest of you but you didn’t listen.

I hope you’re satisfied.

As far as *I* am concerned, you are all accessories to murder.

Dreams, A True Love Story [Part 2]

[Click here for part one]

Have you ever noticed how easily your entire world can be turned completely upside down?  How it kind of sneaks up on you quietly and then wham, you get hit with something that changes everything.

For most things the details about most things in life tend to fade over the years until most of what you remember is just the fact that they happened.  Well this day is something that I’ll remember the details of if I live to be ten thousand years old.

The day started out like any other.  It was a Thursday and I was up at six to get ready for work.  By seven thirty I was ready to leave and Amanda wasn’t up yet.  She’d been really tired for the last week or so and had been sleeping later because of it.  I went in to let her know I was leaving and found her sitting up in bed looking like she was about to lose her lunch.

“Hey, you ok?” I asked.  “I don’t think so.” she answered.  “I’ve felt awful for days now.  Yesterday I traded shifts with Casey so I can go to the clinic today.”

This got my full attention.  Mandy didn’t like doctors and avoided them like the plague.  The fact that she had decided to go see one meant that she was feeling a lot worse than she’d let me believe.

“It’s that serious?  Maybe I should go with you.” I said.  She shook her head (and quickly regretted it) “No. I’ll be ok.”  I didn’t like this.  I had an uneasy feeling that left me tempted to call in sick and go with her anyway.  The only reason I didn’t was because I knew she wouldn’t let me get away with it.

“Alright but I want you to promise to call me as soon as you find out what’s going on.”

“I will, I promise.  You’d better go or you’ll be late.”  As if I cared about that when she felt bad enough to see a doctor.  “They’ll get over it.” I said.  “Really, it’s ok.  I’ll be fine” she insisted.

I kissed her goodbye and told her “ok, but I’m expecting a call from you today.”  “I promise” she said “now go.”  I reluctantly left, still feeling uneasy about the whole thing.

The one good thing about walking to work is that you don’t have to talk to anyone along the way, it gives you time to think.  Of course that can also be a bad thing and today it was.  I couldn’t get the image of her sitting there, looking like she was about to hurl, out of my mind.  When somebody who really hates going to the doctor decides on their own to do just that . . . Well, it’s cause for worry to say the least.

Work wasn’t any help either.  Factory jobs aren’t exactly what you’d call mentally demanding.  Most of the jobs are the kind of thing that you could train a Chimp to do.  They just use humans because they don’t cost as much to train as Chimps do.  My job was operating a punch press.  I put a piece of aluminum plate in it, actvated the press, then took out the part and put it in a bin.  Not only could a Chimp do it, they could easily have automated it entirely.

This left me with eight hours of time to think.  Normally this is good.  It let me work out problems and ideas.  Today all I could think about was all the things that could be the problem.  It could have been anything from something she ate to a bad case of the flu to who knows what.

What bothered me even more than thinking of all the possibilities was that she didn’t call.  The problem was that I couldn’t call her.  We didn’t have a phone, nor did any of our neighbors, we used pay phones instead.  Remember, this is back long before everybody had cell phones, they hadn’t been invented yet.  Oh, there were “car phones”, really expensive big clunky things that you could pay a fortune to have mounted in your car but that was it.

The saying goes “Time flies when you’re having fun”.  However when you’re worried about the love of your life, it drags like molasses flowing uphill in a New England January.  Eight hours seemed more like eight days.  When quitting time finally came I did a quick half ass job of cleaning up my area, clocked out and got out of there as fast as I could.

Even walking as quickly as I could without breaking into a run the trip home was interminable as well but finally I was there.  The door was locked and suddenly I wondered if she was even home yet and why she wouldn’t be.  I unlocked it and went inside.

A wave of relief flooded me as I saw her sitting on the couch staring at the tv.  “Mandy? You ok?” I asked.  Then I noticed it wasn’t turned on.  Things were definitely not ok.  That wave subsided quickly.

When I sat down beside her I saw the tears running down her cheek.  This was serious indeed.  She didn’t cry easily and the fact that she was meant she was really upset.  “Hey, what’s wrong?” I asked.  “Nothing’s wrong” she said quietly.

If there is one thing that I have learned about women it is that when they say “nothing’s wrong”, you can bet your last dollar that it’s not even close to “nothing”.

“When you didn’t call I was worried.” I said.  She looked up at me with an apologetic look and some fresh tears. “oh, I’m so sorry.  I forgot.”

Another red flag.  Amanda never forgets anything, she’s got an eidetic memory, computers forget more than she does.

“Don’t worry about it, it’s ok.  What’d the doc say?”

I could see her holding back the tears as she looked at me.  “I’m pregnant” she said and then all but collapsed in my arms as she started crying again.  “I’m not ready to be a mother.” she said haltingly through the tears.  “and how are we going to take care of a baby when we’re always broke?  Even worse, I’ll have to quit my job.”

I held her, trying to offer whatever comfort I could.  “We’ll manage somehow.” I told her “We always do.  You should be able to keep your job for a while anyway. and Mandy, I can’t imagine a better mother than you.”

She looked up at me “You really mean that?” she asked.  “Absolutely.  That’s one lucky kid you’re going to have.” I assured her.

Slowly the tears subsided as we spent the rest of the night talking.  Before we realized it, the sun’s first rays were shining through the window and we heard the sound of the alarm clock in the next room.

“Oh no!”  she exclaimed.  “I’ve kept you up all night!”  “That’s ok” I replied “Just knowing that you’re not only not sick but that you’re the mother of my kid is worth it.  I’m tired but I’ll make it.  Tonight however we sleep.  We have all weekend to talk.”

As I walked to work that Friday morning I was thankful for the time to think and that my job gave me all the thinking time I needed.  Suddenly it wasn’t so bad having a boring job a Chimp could do.

[To be continued . . .]
Click here for part three

Excess, Thy Name Is Bob

One of the things that you have to keep in mind about the never ending stream of rumors about Bob is that once in a great while one comes along that sounds exactly like something he would do or say.

One recent example is a rumor that sent to me by yet another anonymous source claiming that Bob has recently become a YoYo enthusiast.  According to the source, he’s become quite adept at a number of tricks and has recently decided to upgrade to a better YoYo than what he was using.

The thing that sounds the most like him is that when he did this upgrade, he didn’t just buy one YoYo.  No, Bob can’t just buy one of something.  He’s got to buy a lot of them and that’s what he did.  THe anonymous tipster said that Bob has bought 144 dozen dv888 YoYo’s.  That sounds *Exactly* like something that Bob would do.  I remember the time that he bought six dozen laptops and over 800 mouse pads.  Yep, Bob is all about excess.

Granted there’s the question of how he’s going to pay for all this but that’s never stopped him before.  It’s the reason that it’s not a good idea to let him have a credit card.  He’ll max it out in no time flat if you don’t watch him very carefully.

Technorati Tags: rumors, excess, nutjob hills, weird, bob

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