Monthly Archives: November 2006

We’re #1! More’s the Pity.

South Florida has been awarded the coveted #1 ranking as the public corruption capital of U.S..

Between 1996 and 2005, a record-setting 576 people were convicted of federal corruption charges in the district that extends from Key West to Sebastian, according to the agency’s most recent annual report.

Actually, the award is a bit of a misnomer — given that it is awarded for the most public officials convicted of corruption, it could easily mean that we’re the leader in dumb and corrupt public officials. Maybe in Chicago or DC they are smarter at covering their tracks. Or maybe we have better prosecutors.

In any case, I would like to go on record as saying that this award is unfair to both of the smart, honest, hard-working public officials in South Florida.

I’m sure that there are at least a couple.

Posted in Miami | 3 Comments

It Seems There is a ‘Great Firewall of Canada’ Too

Slashdot has the info on The Great Firewall of Canada.

I smell a trend.

(Related item on The Great Firewall of Britain )

Posted in Internet | Leave a comment

Larry Lessig Has a Good Idea

OK, so the headline is a bit like, “Dog Bites Man”.

But I really think this idea of Larry Lessig’s deserves take-up: CARE packages for Iraq as means to reduce post-war Iraqi anger at the US.

The only problem I can see offhand is that from what I read, the real problems in Iraq are infrastructural, e.g. the electricity keeps going off and people are trying to blow up the pipelines. That stuff won’t fit in a CARE package. But perhaps there are real shortages of things we could fit in a box. And, even if there are not shortages, perhaps it is the thought that counts.

And, of course, we need to get to the post-war…

Posted in Iraq | 8 Comments

Private Proxies for Everyone!

I guess there will be demand for these in the UK too:

Web Tool Said to Offer Way Past the Government Censor: Deep in a basement lab at the University of Toronto a team of political scientists, software engineers and computer-hacking activists, or “hactivists,” have created the latest, and some say most advanced tool yet in allowing Internet users to circumvent government censorship of the Web.

The program, called psiphon (pronounced “SY-fon”), will be released on Dec. 1 in response to growing Internet censorship that is pushing citizens in restrictive countries to pursue more elaborate and sophisticated programs to gain access to Western news sites, blogs and other censored material.

Psiphon is downloaded by a person in an uncensored country (psiphon.civisec.org), turning that person’s computer into an access point. Someone in a restricted-access country can then log into that computer through an encrypted connection and using it as a proxy, gain access to censored sites.

Instead of publicly advertising the required login and password information, psiphon is designed to be shared within trusted social circles of friends, family and co-workers. This feature is meant to keep the program away from censors but is also the largest drawback because it limits efforts to get the program to as many people as possible.

So who will be the trusted third party, introducing the censored to the free?

Posted in Internet | 2 Comments

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished ($100 Laptop Dept.)

Oh joy. John Quartermain points to an all-too-convincing account by Charles Arthur in the Guardian, The price of humans who’ll spam blogs is falling to zero.

All those $100 laptops that will be flooding the poorest parts of the third world…know what many of them will be used for? That’s right: filling in captcha‘s and defeating other Turning tests designed to block spam. After all, the places the laptops are going are the places where hourly wages are at the lowest.

It may be that the graphics on those machines aren’t good enough for gold farming and other related activities in MMORPGs. Or they might be.

Posted in Internet | 1 Comment

UK to Firewall Inhabitants. Continet to Be Isolated

The most interesting blog post you missed last week is The Great Firewall of Britain, by Wendy Grossman,

We may joke about the “Great Firewall of China”, but by the end of 2007 content blocking will be a fact of Internet life in the UK. In June, Vernon Coaker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Home Department told Parliament, “I have recently set the UK Internet industry a target to ensure that by the end of 2007 all Internet service providers offering broadband Internet connectivity to the UK public prevent their customers from accesssing those Web sites.” By “those”, he means Web sites carrying pornographic images of children.

How on earth are they going to do this? BT’s current practices provide one model,

Since 2004, BT’s retail service is filtered by its Cleanfeed system, which last February the company reported was blocking about 35,000 attempts to access child pornography sites per day. The list of sites to block comes from the Internet Watch Foundation, and is compiled from reports submitted by the public.

But wait, how about a public Internet content regulator?

[IWF] was set up in 1996 as a way for the industry to regulate itself; the meeting where it was proposed came after threats of external regulation. If all ISPs are required to implement content blocking, and all content blocking is based on the IWF’s list, the IWF will have considerable power to decide what content should be blocked. So far, the IWF has done a respectable job of sticking to clearly illegal pornography involving children. But its ten years have been marked by occasional suggestions that it should broaden its remit to include hate speech and even copyright infringement. Proposals are circulating now that the organisation should become an independent regulator rather than an industry-owned self-regulator.

Go read the whole thing.

Posted in Internet | 1 Comment

Today’s Silly Quiz Question

Question: What do these people have (somewhat) in common?

William Hurt (74%)
Robert H. Grubbs (64%)
Billie Jean King (62%)
Daniel Kahneman (58%)
Hafez al-Assad (57%)
Kevin Costner (57%)
Peter O’Toole (55%)
Richard Gere (55%)
Linus Tovalds (54%)

Answer below…

Continue reading

Posted in Internet | 5 Comments