Monthly Archives: October 2013

Much Better Anti-NSA Video

This is more like it! (found via Cory Doctorow)

Earlier today: Anti-NSA PSA

Posted in Civil Liberties | Comments Off on Much Better Anti-NSA Video


Lots of celebs in the video. I was a bit concerned that the first few were ancient. Then I thought it was a bit long. Neither seems well calculated to reach Millennials.

There will be a rally in DC on Oct. 26th at noon. You can also sign the petition.

Posted in Civil Liberties | Comments Off on Anti-NSA PSA

A Dark Side of the Cloud

Mammatus-storm-clouds_San-AntonioI am mostly OK with cloud-based services that keep a master set of my files so long as I have a complete set on my hard drive too. That’s how Dropbox works. I give up some privacy — if Dropbox gets a subpoena or a National Security Letter they’ll give up my data and I’ll never know, plus the stuff is no doubt scanned in transit by You Know Who. But I get a lot of convenience, plus the security of being able to recover accidentally deleted files. And if something is really private, I could just keep it off the Dropbox.

Where I draw the line is cloud-only services like Google Drive or This ITworld article, How allowed a complete stranger to delete all my files illustrates why.

Photo Copyright (c) 2009 Derrich, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Posted in Internet | 2 Comments

I Guess This Means I’ll Have to Leaflet

“Generation Opportunity”–the people who brought you that hideous, weird, Creepy Uncle Sam Video–are coming to UM during Homecoming.

Yes, the Koch-bros-funded astroturf group that wants to persuade young people to forgo health insurance on the grounds that it costs money–and why learn to plan ahead for your future when they are working so hard to make sure you don’t have one?–are coming to Coral Gables. They are well funded (NYT):

Evan Feinberg, the president of Generation Opportunity, said in an interview that the group would spend “close to three-quarters of a million dollars” on the campaign, which will include not just online videos but also events at college football games, music festivals and other gatherings that tend to draw young adults. The group will ask young people to pledge not to sign up for insurance through the exchanges, Mr. Feinberg said.

And they’re coming here (emphasis added):

Generation Opportunity, which formed in 2011 and gets funding in part from the conservative Koch brothers, is about to embark on a tour of 20 college towns nationally, including a Nov. 9 stop at the University of Miami. The pitch is that you shouldn’t feel compelled by the government to buy insurance, and that it may be cheaper outside the marketplaces.

A blueprint for an upcoming tailgate calls for games such as beer pong and cornhole, free Taco Bell and beer. Pictures of people signing petitions to opt out would be sent over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

I’m a big believer that ‘you start where you are’. So if these guys are coming into my back yard, I will probably feel compelled to do something. Leafleting on the importance of critical care insurance, and the lifelong value of knowing you have insurance even if you lose your job, seems a possibility.

Pointers to any good ready-made leaflets or graphics online gratefully accepted. I suppose if I were really going to get organized about this, I’d try to liaise with relevant student groups (college Democrats?), but that sounds like more meetings….

Posted in Health Care, U.Miami | 1 Comment

Why Does Anyone Think Anyone Will Believe This Stuff?

Today’s NYT has an article with the (somewhat odd) headline Obama’s Edge Over G.O.P. Is Still Unclear After Victory in Standoff. In this article, Peter Baker thinks it worth our time to be treated to the following quote, which is presented without any commentary or context:

“For Republicans’ having been rolled, there is renewed pressure on them to stay tough and not lose the next time,” said former Representative Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, a Republican who has been highly critical of the Tea Party strategy.

Mr. Davis said Republicans over the last few weeks “underestimated Obama,” whose position, he said, has been strengthened. Going forward, he said, Mr. Obama has to be more flexible to win Republican support. “He’s got to learn to give Boehner some victories,” Mr. Davis said. “But you’d rather be where he is now than where Boehner is.”

Can you imagine anyone saying this of Ronald Reagan after he, say, killed the air traffic control union? That Reagan had to learn to give Tip O’Neill some victories? Everyone would have giggled, and the quote would never have made it into the paper.

I sort of get why a Republican tactician might say something like this, but not why the stenographer thought it was worth writing down, much less repeating and legitimating it.

I want my new media.

Posted in The Media | 1 Comment

Cool Things Quadcopters Can Do

Robot Quadrotors Perform James Bond Theme :

Remember that paper abstracts and also proposals for demos of works-in-progress for We Robot 2014 are due Nov. 4. Also we just opened registration for We Robot 2014.

Posted in Robots | Comments Off on Cool Things Quadcopters Can Do