News PM Punch — ‘Live in a Cave’

December 4, 2013

newsmanCold and bright sunshine this mid-week afternoon on California’s north coast — and it’s supposed to really get cold around here tonight.
Winter’s knocking hard, and I don’t want to let him in.

Kicking in the news cycle this PM seems to be another ditty via Eddie Snowden — and it’s a nasty one: The Washington Post says the NSA tracks 5 billion cellphones a day and can locate detail-spaces in your personal life.

According to the Post:

One senior collection manager, speaking on condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones.
Additionally, data are often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.
In scale, scope and potential impact on privacy, the efforts to collect and analyze location data may be unsurpassed among the NSA surveillance programs that have been disclosed since June.
Analysts can find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among individuals using them

“One of the key components of location data, and why it’s so sensitive, is that the laws of physics don’t let you keep it private,” said Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union.
People who value their privacy can encrypt their e-mails and disguise their online identities, but “the only way to hide your location is to disconnect from our modern communication system and live in a cave.”

Although Keith Alexander and the other honcho-holes at the NSA can deny any nefarious goings-on, but the obvious potential for abuse should be understood:

“Many shared databases, such as those used for roaming, are available in their complete form to any carrier who requires access to any part of it,” said Matt Blaze, an associate professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania.
“This ‘flat’ trust model means that a surprisingly large number of entities have access to data about customers that they never actually do business with, and an intelligence agency — hostile or friendly — can get ‘one stop shopping’ to an expansive range of subscriber data just by compromising a few carriers.”

The Snowden files are like episodes from Philip K. Dickish-science-fiction.

And words can mean more to the mind than in reality — that’s a little Dickish.
Add a dash of pretentious, and alas, an addled brain.
Via the LA Times:

Scientists have come upon two magic words capable of making consumers believe a plain old cup of coffee tastes better and should be more expensive: “eco-friendly.”
In a series of experiments, researchers asked people to sample two identical cups of coffee brewed from the same batch of arabica beans using a “standard model coffee machine,” according to a report published Wednesday by the journal PLOS ONE.
The researchers told the study volunteers that one of the cups was made with “eco-friendly” coffee beans and the other was not.
Over and over, people who said they cared about the environment gave the “eco-friendly” coffee higher marks.
“With the right convictions, an ‘eco-friendly’ label is sufficient for a product to taste better than a non-labeled objectively identical alternative,” they wrote (italics are theirs).

Espresso, please, and make sure it’s free range.

And one nit-twit who should be chased off the range is Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, who speaking out of his ass today, claimed it’s traditional Middle Eastern culture to lie.
Via TPM:

“In the Middle Eastern culture, it is looked upon with very high regard to get the best deal possible no matter what it takes — and that includes lying,” Hunter said in an interview with C-SPAN. “That’s one reason that these Gulf states like to work with the United States — because we’re honest and transparent and we have laws that we have to live by.”

“It is is in the Middle Eastern culture to get the best deal that you can whether you’re at the marketplace arguing over buying vegetables or buying shoes at the marketplace, to do anything that you can to get the best deal,” he said. “They like to barter there.”

Joe Kasper, Hunter’s director of communications, clarified to TPM in an email that the representative does not believe it is in the Middle Eastern culture to lie and that he was talking about Middle Eastern leadership.
“I recall when asked to specify on one of the issues, he said the goal is to get the best deal in general terms,” Kasper said.
“But to be specific, he was talking about the political culture.”

Now it’s early-dark-thirty and Colbert on Hulu.

(Illustration found here).

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