B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Scott Pruitt Is Ridiculous

What I Need I Just Don t Have
What I Need I Just Don’t Have.

The New York Times writes:

Despite stiff competition, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is by common consensus the worst of the ideologues and mediocrities President Trump chose to populate his cabinet. Policies aside — and they’re terrible, from an environmental perspective — Mr. Pruitt’s self-aggrandizing and borderline thuggish behavior has disgraced his office and demoralized his employees. We opposed his nomination because he had spent his career as attorney general of Oklahoma suing the federal department he was being asked to lead on behalf of industries he was being asked to regulate. As it turns out, Mr. Pruitt is not just an industry lap dog but also an arrogant and vengeful bully and small-time grifter, bent on chiseling the taxpayer to suit his lifestyle and warm his ego.

Any other president would have fired him. Mr. Trump praises him.

One frequently overlooked truth about Mr. Pruitt amid these complaints is that for all his swagger he has actually accomplished very little in terms of actual policy — a wholly desirable outcome, from our standpoint. While hailed as the administration’s foremost champion of deregulation, he has yet to kill or even roll back any significant regulations that were in place when Mr. Trump came to office. (The Obama administration’s important Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants had already been blocked by the courts.) He has delayed a few rules, but even these delays have been overturned or challenged. Most of his actions are in the proposal stage, and many will not be finalized for years, if ever.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | Scott Pruitt Has Become Ridiculous – The New York Times.)

Tough competition, indeed, but Pruitt is easily in the competition for worst Cabinet member.

One more snippet from a scathing editorial:

By endless repetition, he has reinforced in the public mind the lie that Republicans have peddled for years and Mr. Trump’s minions peddle now, that environmental rules kill jobs, that limiting carbon dioxide emissions will damage the economy, that the way forward lies not in technology and renewable energy but in digging more coal and punching more holes in the ground in search of oil. And, on the human level, he has been in the forefront of the administration’s shameless effort to delude the nation’s frightened coal miners into thinking coal is coming back, when any comeback is unlikely not because of regulation but because of strong market forces favoring natural gas and renewables.

Parenthetical note. I never noticed this byline before:

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

Was that in doubt? Confusing, isn’t all the content published by the NYT related?

Written by Seth Anderson

April 17th, 2018 at 8:28 pm

Posted in environment,politics

Tagged with ,

Case of Dead Sea Scrolls, Online Aliases Ends With Probation

Adjusted In Time
Adjusted In Time…

I am pretty sure we’ve been paying attention to this case since it was first reported, ten years ago or more, but am too lazy to look in former iterations of this blog to find the reference.

The gears of justice do grind exceedingly slow, don’t they?

The NYT reports:

Raphael Golb’s conviction wasn’t quite like any other: using online aliases to discredit his father’s adversary in a scholarly debate over the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The 9-year-old case got a New York law thrown out and finally ended Monday with no jail time for Golb, who persuaded a judge to revisit a two-month jail sentence imposed earlier in the case.

Appeals had put the jail term on hold and narrowed the counts in his criminal impersonation and forgery conviction in a curious case of ancient religious texts, digital misdeeds, academic rivalries and filial loyalty.

“Obviously, I’m relieved not to be going to jail,” Golb said, adding that he remains concerned by having been prosecuted for online activity he said was meant as satire. “The judge today did the right thing, but the whole thing should have been thrown out nine years ago.”

(click here to continue reading Case of Dead Sea Scrolls, Online Aliases Ends With Probation – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

April 16th, 2018 at 11:12 am

Posted in crime

Tagged with

Facebook Tracks Non-Users

Eyeing John Marshall Law School 

HuffPo reports disturbing news:

Concern about Facebook Inc’s respect for data privacy is widening to include the information it collects about non-users, after Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the world’s largest social network tracks people whether they have accounts or not.

Privacy concerns have swamped Facebook since it acknowledged last month that information about millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, a firm that has counted U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral campaign among its clients.

Zuckerberg said on Wednesday under questioning by U.S. Representative Ben Luján that, for security reasons, Facebook also collects “data of people who have not signed up for Facebook.”

(click here to continue reading Facebook’s Tracking Of Non-Users Sparks Broader Privacy Concerns | HuffPost.)

Wha? That seems problematic. How are these people consenting?

Of course, as this blog has discussed multiple times, there are hundreds or even thousands of digital advertising firms that track each and all of us, whether or not we’ve consented, or are even aware. Their model is to make money off of the data of others, and perhaps to share that data with NSA and other US intelligence agencies. Facebook is one of the higher profile firms, but they are not alone.

There is also the European Union’s new privacy law, the GDPR.1

Wiki:

GDPR extends the scope of EU data protection law to all foreign companies processing data of EU residents. It provides for a harmonization of the data protection regulations throughout the EU, thereby making it easier for non-European companies to comply with these regulations; however, this comes at the cost of a strict data protection compliance regime with severe penalties of up to 4% of worldwide turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher. The GDPR also brings a new set of “digital rights” for EU citizens in an age of an increase of the economic value of personal data in the digital economy.

 

(click here to continue reading General Data Protection Regulation – Wikipedia.)

Footnotes:
  1. General Data Protection Regulation []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 15th, 2018 at 11:18 am

Posted in Business

Tagged with ,

The Paul Ryan Story: From Flimflam to Fascism

 

Bedtime Story  drawing by Barry Blitt
Bedtime Story – drawing by Barry Blitt

Paul Ryan has always been a flim-flam man and a ridiculous Randian. But the Koch brothers loved him, and certain influential people swooned over Ryan’s blue eyes and P90X work-outs, so he kept falling upward. 

Paul Krugman writes:

I do have some insight into how Ryan — who has always been an obvious con man, to anyone willing to see — came to become speaker of the House. And that’s a story that reflects badly not just on Ryan himself, not just on his party, but also on self-proclaimed centrists and the news media, who boosted his career through their malfeasance. Furthermore, the forces that brought Ryan to a position of power are the same forces that have brought America to the edge of a constitutional crisis.

About Ryan: Incredibly, I’m seeing some news reports about his exit that portray him as a serious policy wonk and fiscal hawk who, sadly, found himself unable to fulfill his mission in the Trump era. Unbelievable.

Look, the single animating principle of everything Ryan did and proposed was to comfort the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted. Can anyone name a single instance in which his supposed concern about the deficit made him willing to impose any burden on the wealthy, in which his supposed compassion made him willing to improve the lives of the poor? Remember, he voted against the Simpson-Bowles debt commission proposal not because of its real flaws, but because it would raise taxes and fail to repeal Obamacare.

And his “deficit reduction” proposals were always frauds. The revenue loss from tax cuts always exceeded any explicit spending cuts, so the pretense of fiscal responsibility came entirely from “magic asterisks”: extra revenue from closing unspecified loopholes, reduced spending from cutting unspecified programs.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | The Paul Ryan Story: From Flimflam to Fascism – The New York Times.)

I guess someone else will have to eliminate Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and other social safety net programs now that Ryan is leaving. Unless he figures out a way before the new Congress comes in.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 13th, 2018 at 9:58 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Trump worries that federal investigators may have seized recordings made by Cohen

You Are Being Film
You Are Being Film

Lordy, I hope there are tapes1

Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post report:

President Trump’s personal attorney Michael D. Cohen sometimes taped conversations with associates, according to three people familiar with his practice, and allies of the president are worried that the recordings were seized by federal investigators in a raid of Cohen’s office and residences this week.

Cohen, who served for a decade as a lawyer at the Trump Organization and is a close confidant of Trump, was known to store the conversations using digital files and then replay them for colleagues, according to people who have interacted with him.

“We heard he had some proclivity to make tapes,” said one Trump adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. “Now we are wondering, who did he tape? Did he store those someplace where they were actually seized? . . . Did they find his recordings?”

(click here to continue reading Trump’s allies worry that federal investigators may have seized recordings made by his attorney – The Washington Post.)

Especially funny is that Michael Cohen2 made tapes because “Spanky” Trump so often bragged about how he taped conversations, despite the fact that Trump never actually took the time to create a system to record conversations.

You Wanted To Disappear
You Wanted To Disappear

WaPo:

 

Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and executive editor of Bloomberg View, wrote a column in the wake of Trump’s taping claim saying that Comey likely had little reason to worry. In the piece, O’Brien recounted that Trump frequently made a similar boast to him.

 

“Back in the early 2000s, Trump used to tell me all the time that he was recording me when I covered him as reporter for the New York Times,” O’Brien wrote. “He also said the same thing when I was writing a biography of him, ‘Trump Nation.’ I never thought he was, but who could be sure?”

 

But after Trump sued him for libel shortly after his biography came out, O’Brien’s lawyers deposed Trump in December 2007 — during which Trump admitted he had not, in fact, clandestinely taped O’Brien.

 

“I’m not equipped to tape-record,” Trump said in the deposition. “I may have said it once or twice to him just to — on the telephone, because everything I said to him he’d write incorrectly; so just to try and keep it honest.”

 

 

(click here to continue reading Trump’s allies worry that federal investigators may have seized recordings made by his attorney – The Washington Post.)

I’d say the odds are greater than 50/50 that Trump was recorded by Cohen saying something of interest to federal prosecutors, and that the Feds have a copy of this recording or recordings, and that Trump is stress-peeing on a rug in the Oval Office right now.

Footnotes:
  1. said everyone at the same time, except for Trump and his thugs []
  2. allegedly []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 12th, 2018 at 9:36 pm

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with , , ,

David Simon Developing Series Set in Spanish Civil War

Mural Cafe Baba Reeba
Mural, Cafe Baba Reeba

Speaking of television shows I hope to watch someday, David Simon is working on a mini-series about the Spanish Civil War.

John Hopewell of Variety writes:

“The Wire” creator David Simon and Spain’s Mediapro (“The Young Pope”) are in early development on “A Dry Run,” a drama series following members of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion who came to Spain from the U.S. to fight fascism during the Spanish Civil War.

The scripts have been outlined, and George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane, both of whom worked on “The Wire,” have  committed to “A Dry Run” as writers. The show is so far conceived as a six-hour miniseries, though that could change as the stories develop, said Mediapro founder Jaume Roures.

Simon and Mediapro are seeking to raise the necessary funds both in the U.S. and Europe.

“A Dry Run” will follow the Abraham Lincoln and George Washington Battalions, both part of the International Brigade that fought in the Spanish Civil War, from their arrival in 1937 and first bloody battle in the Jarama Valley until their departure in 1939. The show offers a “compelling and tragic narrative,” Simon said, adding that the “Spanish struggle against fascism and the misuse of capitalism as a bulwark to totalitarianism” represent “the preeminent political narrative of the 20th century and of our time still.”

(click here to continue reading ‘The Wire’s’ David Simon Developing Series Set in Spanish Civil War – Variety.)

The Wire is still in my top ten of shows, thus David Simon’s new project is probably worth a closer look.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 11th, 2018 at 5:24 pm

Posted in Television

Tagged with

Apple is developing a TV show based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series

Self Portrait in Sci Fi Museum Window
Self Portrait in Sci-Fi Museum Window

Andrew Liptak of The Verge writes that Apple has optioned a tv show based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series:

Isaac Asimov’s acclaimed science fiction Foundation trilogy might finally reach television. Deadline reports that Apple is putting an adaptation into development, adding to the company’s growing list of original content offerings as it seeks to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Disney.

The show comes from David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel) and Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles and the upcoming Snowpiercer TV show), who began work on the project last year with Skydance Television. The studio also worked on this year’s Altered Carbon. If the project moves forward, it’ll be a huge property for Apple: the novels are incredibly popular reads, and have served as a (forgive me) foundational basis for a number of other science fiction stories, such as Star Wars. Deadline notes that Apple is developing the project with an eye toward a straight-to-series order.

Asimov’s Foundation first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction as a series of short stories between 1942 and 1950. Although he lived reading and writing historical fiction, the research required for writing real historical fiction was impractical, he wrote in his biography, I, Asimov. Instead, he decided to make up his own: a “historical novel of the future, a science fiction story that read like a historical novel.” After reading Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, he realized that he could do something similar: tell the story of the rise and fall of a galactic civilization.

He took the idea to his editor at the magazine, John W. Campbell Jr, who liked the idea, and conceived of it as a “long, open-ended saga of the fall of the Galactic Empire, the Dark Ages that followed, and the eventual rise of a Second Galactic Empire.” Asimov eventually collected the resulting five short stories into Foundation, which told the story of a mathematician and psychologist who predicts the fall of the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire, and creates a repository of knowledge called the Encyclopedia Galactica, designed to stave off the coming dark ages.

(click here to continue reading Apple is developing a TV show based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series – The Verge.)

count me in as interested. It has been a long time since I’ve read that series, though I remember I did like it a lot. 

Originally, HBO was interested, I guess that didn’t work out.

Jeff Sneider of The Wrap reported in 2016:

HBO and Warner Bros. TV are teaming to produce a series based on Isaac Asimov‘s “Foundation” trilogy that will be written and produced by “Interstellar” writer Jonathan Nolan, multiple individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap.

Nolan, who is already working with HBO on “Westworld,” has been quietly developing the project for the last several months. He recently tipped his hand to Indiewire, which asked him, ‘what’s the one piece of science fiction you truly love that people don’t know enough about?’

“Well, I fucking love the ‘Foundation’ novels by Isaac Asimov. They’re certainly not [unknown], but that’s a set of books I think everyone would benefit from reading. That’s a set of books where the influence they have is just fucking massive. They have many imitators and many have been inspired by them, but go back and read those, and there are some ideas in those that’ll set your fucking hair on fire,” Nolan told Indiewire.

 

(click here to continue reading ‘Interstellar’s’ Jonah Nolan Developing ‘Foundation’ Series for HBO, WBTV (Exclusive).)

Written by Seth Anderson

April 11th, 2018 at 9:29 am

Posted in Apple,Television

Tagged with

Grand Canyon Focus: The Practice of Full Devotion to a Single Task

Meagre Results for Lost Souls
Meagre Results for Lost Souls

My cousin Leo Babauta writes, in part:

Can you imagine giving something your full focus, so that it is like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon? That is a devotion most of us very rarely give ourselves to.

(click here to continue reading Grand Canyon Focus: The Practice of Full Devotion to a Single Task : zen habits.)

I can easily imagine this kind of focus, what is hard for me is directing focus of my conscious brain at a specific banal topic. What more often happens is suddenly I emerge as from a trance, and realize I’ve spent hours on some topic or another I enjoy. I’ve been working on photos in my digital darkroom until 4 AM, or I’ve been been immersed in some history of the Carthaginian Empire, or I’ve been researching my distant ancestors. My issue is that while performing mundane tasks, like brushing my teeth, or working on my taxes, or washing clothes, or making a living, I get easily distracted, and my mind drifts.

YRMV.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 10th, 2018 at 11:07 pm

Posted in Personal,Uncategorized

Tagged with

FBI Raid On Paul Manafort Storage Locker

One Step Forward
One Step Forward

Michael Cohen being raided is big news, but there are other threads we are following, including the Paul Manafort case. 

The FBI found a storage locker with lots and lots of documents that Paul Manafort was saving, perhaps to be made whole. This will come up again, mark my words.

Betsy Woodruff reports:

According to court documents, one of Manafort’s former employees led an FBI agent to a storage locker filled with paperwork on Manafort’s businesses and finances. The person’s name is redacted from the filings. But he’s now at the center of a fight over evidence that could play a significant role in the government’s case against Manafort.

“People do strange things when confronted with authoritative FBI agents,” said Sol Wisenberg, a criminal defense attorney with Nelson Mullins.

The person whose name was redacted also gave the FBI agent “a key to the lock on Unit 3013 and described the contents of Unit 3013,” according to the affidavit. That person also gave the FBI agent “written consent” to search the storage unit, and opened it for the FBI agent.

The FBI agent then looked into the storage unit and saw about 21 boxes of documents, as well as a filing cabinet. One box was marked as containing expenses, paid bills, invoices, and legal complaints. Another box said it contained “Ukraine Binders,” as well information about ballot security, Georgia, research, and “Ukraine Campaign.”

Manafort and Gates have been involved in Ukrainian politics for years, and helped prop up Kiev’s Putin-friendly strongman, Viktor Yanukovych.

The FBI agent seemed to figure out immediately that the storage unit’s contents were interesting, because the law enforcement officials started surveilling the storage unit facility to see if anyone went in to take out any files. The day after seeing the storage unit, the FBI agent filed the affidavit—which was more than 20 pages long—with a magistrate judge.

(click here to continue reading A Second Paul Manafort Associate Has Turned on Him.)

I guess these guys haven’t heard of a document shredder or something. I shred stuff on a regular basis and I avoid criminal or even sketchy business! Why wouldn’t these guys have a contract with a shredding company to come every other month?

Gleamingly Banal
Gleamingly Banal

A sign of one’s age when this is the birthday present I bought myself

Written by Seth Anderson

April 10th, 2018 at 10:04 am

F.B.I. Raid Is Perilous for Michael Cohen — and Trump

Movie Night
Almost Like Movie Night…

The FBI raid on Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen is a pretty big development. Unusual for an attorney’s office to be raided, there must be some solid evidence of crime.

Ken White, aka Popehat, writes:

This is what we know, in part from Mr. Cohen’s attorney: The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, acting on a referral from Mr. Mueller, sought and obtained search warrants for Mr. Cohen’s law office, home and hotel room, seeking evidence related at least in part to his payment of $130,000 in hush money to the adult actress Stephanie Clifford, who goes by her stage name, Stormy Daniels. There are reports that the warrant sought evidence of bank fraud and campaign finance violations, which is consistent with an investigation into allegations that the Daniels payment was illegally sourced or disguised. (For example, routing a payment through a shell company to hide the fact that the money came from the Trump campaign — if that is what happened — would probably violate federal money-laundering laws.)

What does this tell us? First, it reflects that numerous officials — not just Mr. Mueller — concluded that there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Cohen’s law office, home and hotel room contained evidence of a federal crime. A search warrant for a lawyer’s office implicates the attorney-client privilege and core constitutional rights, so the Department of Justice requires unusual levels of approval to seek one. Prosecutors must seek the approval of the United States attorney of the district — in this case Geoffrey Berman, the interim United States attorney appointed by President Trump.

Prosecutors must also consult with the criminal division of the Justice Department in Washington. Finally, prosecutors must convince a United States magistrate judge that there’s probable cause to support the search. Faced with a warrant application destined for immediate worldwide publicity, the judge surely took unusual pains to examine it. This search was not the result of Mr. Mueller or his staff “going rogue.”

(click here to continue reading Opinion | Why the F.B.I. Raid Is Perilous for Michael Cohen — and Trump – The New York Times.)

and importantly, if the Southern District of New York, in the process of examining Cohen’s records in their taint team, find evidence of other crimes or discover relevant documents for the Russia investigation, they can send those back to the Special Prosecutor.

Washington Post:

In a search like this, prosecutors typically set up a privilege team or “taint team” of investigators not involved in the case to review potentially privileged documents and shield those from the team actually involved in the prosecution. There is an exception to the attorney-client privilege if communications to an attorney are used in furtherance of a crime or fraud; that could come into play here as well. And documents related to anything Cohen did on his own — after all, Trump has denied knowing about the payment to Daniels — are likely not privileged if they do not contain attorney-client communications. Documents are not automatically privileged simply because they passed through an attorney’s hands.

(click here to continue reading Michael Cohen is in serious legal jeopardy – The Washington Post.)

Popehat again:

The Stormy Daniels payout may be outside the scope of the Russia investigation, but it’s possible that Mr. Cohen’s records are full of materials that are squarely within that scope. And the law is clear: If investigators executing a lawful warrant seize evidence of additional crimes, they may use that evidence. Thus Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen, with their catastrophically clumsy handling of the Daniels affair, may have handed Mr. Mueller devastating evidence.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | Why the F.B.I. Raid Is Perilous for Michael Cohen — and Trump – The New York Times.)

Stay tuned!

Written by Seth Anderson

April 10th, 2018 at 9:33 am

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with , ,

Credit Card Signatures Are About to Become Extinct

Adult Signature Not Required
Adult Signature Not Required…

The New York Times writes:

Credit card networks are finally ready to concede what has been obvious to shoppers and merchants for years: Signatures are not a useful way to prove someone’s identity. Later this month, four of the largest networks — American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa — will stop requiring them to complete card transactions.

The signature, a centuries-old way of verifying identity, is rapidly going extinct. Personal checks are anachronisms. Pen-and-ink letters are scarce. When credit card signatures disappear, handwritten authentications will be relegated to a few special circumstances: sealing a giant transaction like a house purchase, or getting a celebrity to autograph a piece of memorabilia — and even that is being supplanted by the cellphone selfie.

Card signatures won’t vanish overnight. The change is optional, leaving retailers to decide whether they want to stop collecting signatures.

(click here to continue reading Credit Card Signatures Are About to Become Extinct – The New York Times.)

finally!

Speaking for myself, I’ve been using doodles or wavy lines for years and the only time I’ve ever been questioned was once, when voting.1 

Nobody ever even seems to notice or care my signature looks like a sine wave.

One Is The Loneliest Number
One Is The Loneliest Number

Footnotes:
  1. I had to produce my driver license to receive my ballot []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 8th, 2018 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with

William Wordsworth – I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

Bent Over Backwards From Your Insistence
Bent Over Backwards From Your Insistence

I should be more familiar with my birthdate partner, William Wordsworth, than I am. In fact, this is really the only poem I know of his.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

 

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

 

– William Wordsworth

(click here to continue reading William Wordsworth – Short Poems.)

Abstraction with Daffodils
Abstraction with Daffodils

Written by Seth Anderson

April 7th, 2018 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Arts

Tagged with ,

Facebook hackers could have collected personal data of 2 billion users

No Need To Look The Other Way
No Need To Look The Other Way. 

From the Washington Post we learn that basically every piece of data Facebook collected about you has been shared with the digital marketing world, and the dark web whether you agreed to do that or not:

Facebook said Wednesday that “malicious actors” took advantage of search tools on its platform, making it possible for them to discover the identities and collect information on most of its 2 billion users worldwide.

…But the abuse of Facebook’s search tools — now disabled — happened far more broadly and over the course of several years, with few Facebook users likely escaping the scam, company officials acknowledged.

The scam started when hackers harvested email addresses and phone numbers on the “dark Web,” where criminals post information stolen in data breaches over the years. Then the hackers used automated computer programs to feed the numbers and addresses into Facebook’s “search” box, allowing them to discover the full names of people affiliated with the phone numbers or addresses, along with whatever Facebook profile information they chose to make public, often including their profile photos and hometowns.

Names, phone numbers, email addresses and other personal information amount to critical starter kits for identity theft and other malicious online activity, experts on Internet crime say. The Facebook hacks allowed bad actors to tie raw data to people’s real identities and build fuller profiles of them.

Developers who in the past could get access to people’s relationship status, calendar events, private Facebook posts and much more data will now be cut off from access or be required to endure a much stricter process for obtaining the information, Facebook said.

Until Wednesday, apps that let people input Facebook events into their calendars could also automatically import lists of all the people who attended the events, Facebook said. Administrators of private groups, some of which have tens of thousands of members, could also let apps scrape the Facebook posts and profiles of members of those groups. App developers who want this access will now have to prove that their activities benefit the group. Facebook will now need to approve tools that businesses use to operate Facebook pages. A business that uses an app to help it respond quickly to customer messages, for example, will not be able to do so automatically. Developers’ access to Instagram will also be severely restricted.

Facebook is banning apps from accessing users’ information about their religious or political views, relationship status, education, work history, fitness activity, book reading habits, music listening and news reading activity, video watching and games. Data brokers and businesses collect this type of information to build profiles of their customers’ tastes.

(click here to continue reading Facebook hackers could have collected personal data of 2 billion users .)

Heck of a network you’ve created, Zuckerberg. 

There is no way to put this information back into the bottle, the only thing left to do is protecting future information from being harvested, and perhaps punishing Facebook for its lackadaisical approach to protecting the world’s personal data. Shut them down!

Speaking for myself, I don’t feel too worried, I always was a bit leery with giving Facebook access to my actual information. They do have my birthday, and where I went to school, but nearly everything else I put in my profile was faux information, or things available elsewhere. For a long time, I’ve used the Facebook API and other tools1 to automatically post photos from Flickr, Instagram, blog entries, etc. But who knows, perhaps I wasn’t careful enough to always delete my Facebook cookies, and so they scraped more information about me than I know. I did use the Facebook app for a few months before deleting it off of my iOS devices, but all it takes is a moment of unguarded attention, and the freaks at Facebook will vacuum up everything not nailed down. So the dark web may know more about me than I know. 

In Your Bubble Where Nothing Goes Wrong
In Your Bubble Where Nothing Goes Wrong

Barbara Ortutay adds:

 

On Monday all Facebook users will receive a notice on their Facebook feeds with a link to see what apps they use and what information they have shared with those apps. They’ll have a chance to delete apps they no longer want. Users who might have had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica will be told of that. Facebook says most of the affected users are in the U.S.

As part of the steps it’s taking to address scrutiny about outsiders’ access to user data, Facebook outlined several changes to further tighten its policies. For one, it is restricting access that apps can have to data about users’ events, as well as information about groups such as member lists and content.

In addition, the company is also removing the option to search for users by entering a phone number or an email address. While this helped individuals find friends, Facebook says businesses that had phone or email information on customers were able to collect profile information this way. Facebook says it believes most of its 2.2 billion users had their public profile information scraped by businesses or various malicious actors through this technique at some point. Posts and other content set to be visible only to friends weren’t collected.

This comes on top of changes announced a few weeks ago. For example, Facebook has said it will remove developers’ access to people’s data if the person has not used the app in three months.

 

 

(click here to continue reading Facebook scandal affected more users than thought: up to 87M – Chicago Tribune.)

Sure, sure. I bet that will solve everything.

Footnotes:
  1. IFTTT, for instance []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 5th, 2018 at 11:24 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,

BlackRock Plans to Block Walmart, Dick’s From Some Funds Over Guns

Stop Gun Violence
Stop Gun Violence.

Interesting, even if mostly superficial change. Capital has its own moral compass.

The WSJ reports:

The world’s largest money manager is stripping retailers that sell guns out of some current and planned exchange-traded funds, the latest sign that weapons sellers are facing the same scrutiny from investors as producers.

Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Kroger Co. are among the retailers that will be ruled out of new environmental social and governance-focused funds BlackRock Inc. is planning, a spokeswoman for the world’s largest asset manager said Thursday. The retailers were among those who said they would no longer sell guns to anyone under 21 in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

BlackRock plans to strip all gun sellers and retailers including Kroger from its current lineup of seven so-called ESG funds, which have some $2.2 billion in assets. Those products had minimal exposure to such firms.

It is also planning to offer new ETFs and pooled funds to 401(k) retirement savings plans that exclude gun makers and retailers. One of those ETFs will track the performance of a new bond index that is similar to the Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index, but excludes issuers that make 5% or more or $20 million in revenue from gun-related products.

(click here to continue reading BlackRock Plans to Block Walmart, Dick’s From Some Funds Over Guns – WSJ.)

Written by Seth Anderson

April 5th, 2018 at 10:11 am

Posted in Business

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Bettye LaVette’s ‘Things Have Changed’ and the Take What You Need compilation

Bettye LaVette - Things Have Changed

I’ve only listened to this album once, but I like it a lot. Sultry, gritty, emotional readings of songs I know well.

Joe Levy of Rolling Stone writes:

On the title track of this remarkable collection of Bob Dylan covers, Betty LaVette wraps her voice – full of grit, brass and soul when she started recording at 16 in 1962; worn and sharpened by experience now at 72 – around a lyric about sitting on the lap of strange man with pale skin and an assassin’s eye. The way she tells it, that man could be the song’s author or a villain in an epic of intrigue, or maybe there’s no difference between the two. She makes the song so alive with consequence and possibility, it’s able to transform into whatever she or the listener needs it to be in the moment: a spy movie, a romance novel, a Biblical parable of reckoning, a bittersweet memory of a time when caring mattered or a way of drinking away the pain of that memory.

The tricks and miracles of Things Have Changed are manifold. Half of its 12 tracks restore life to songs that were dead-on-arrival on Dylan albums from 1979 to 1989; the rest reshapes more essential parts of the legend. The grooves constructed by drummer and producer Steve Jordan have both the booming precision of hip-hop loops and the flexible responsiveness of classic R&B. This is tradition-based music that extends the heritage it draws from. “It Ain’t Me Babe” sways over a slow soul pulse as LaVette’s phrasing pulls the song in different directions, opening up unexpected pockets of defiance or mourning. LaVette and Jordan reframe “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” as swamp-rock, its talk of the rising waters of change suddenly connecting to all of Dylan’s apocalyptic tales and its new reverbed guitar hook suddenly definitive.

On Oh Mercy, Dylan delivered “Political World” like an end-days shopping list. What was once an inert litany of decay rolls and tumbles here over a spare bass line and guitar punctuation from Keith Richards.

(click here to continue reading Review: Bettye LaVette’s ‘Things Have Changed’ – Rolling Stone.)

Check it out…

Take What You Need

Coincidentally, I also picked up a copy of Take What You Need this week, another album of Bob Dylan covers…

From a blog called The Fat Angel Sings:

Any of Dylan’s songs were up for grabs and the enlightening, entertaining new 22-track compilation “Take What You Need: UK Covers of Bob Dylan Songs 1964-69” charts the early days of these endeavours on this side of the Atlantic. The oldest track is The Fairies’ version of “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”, issued on 31st July 1964. The latest are five tracks from 1969 which range from Joe Cocker to Sandie Shaw, and Fairport Convention to the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber-sponsored The Mixed Bag.

Britain, though, was initially resistant to Dylan’s charms. He had been in London at the end of 1962 and appeared on television, as well as live at The Troubadour and other folk clubs. As the fine liner notes say, “few on the British scene were taken with Dylan; most were at best indifferent or, in the case of arch traditionalists Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl, completely dismissive.” There was one exception: the open-minded Martin Carthy. He alone was not going to help Dylan’s recognition.

Take What You Need kicks off with The Fairies’ bouncy “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”, which features session-era Jimmy Page on guitar. It’s followed by Marianne Faithfull’s Baez-style “Blowin’ in the Wind” (on which Pageprobably also appears). She sings preciously, as if afraid of the song. The Fairies blast away with nary a care for the nature of the source material. This twin-track approach courses through the compilation: wholesale reinterpretation versus on-eggshells respect for what’s being recorded.

(click here to continue reading Take What You Need: UK Covers of Bob Dylan Songs 1964-69 | The Fat Angel Sings.)

—update– April 5, 2018

Should have included this great interview with Ms. LaVette

I didn’t learn anything about me as an artist. If I didn’t know all about me as an artist I wouldn’t have taken on the project in the first place. I did, however, find out more about him. I know him so much better now because I had to, with him writing these vignettes, I had to get into them to put them into my mouth, and there’s no way I could get into them without getting into the writer. If you listen to 12 songs, then you really have a crash course on Bob Dylan. And so I found out that I finished his arguments for him. He’s always arguing in his songs all the time, and he’ll go all the way up to the line and say “Go jump off the ledge,” or whatever. “I’ll push you.” And so, what I did was I pushed people off the ledge that he wanted pushed off.

I also found that Bob could be tender but he can’t be tender. I had to be tender for him. “Emotionally Yours,” actually, makes me cry at this point, and so does “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight.” I mean, he is actually begging someone not to do something. When my keyboard player started slowing down the tempo a little, I said “Oh, my goodness, he’s begging!” I never heard him do that before. So I had to go and beg for him. “Emotionally Yours” is just a surrender: “I always will be emotionally yours. No matter what happens, he will come. Do anything you want to do with me.” I said, “Oh, you sneaky little rascal, you!” I never knew he could feel like that. He made me find it out by myself. He won’t tell it to me on his recordings. I had to go to bed with these songs to find out what these songs are about. But I am telling you, if I ever do get this little rascal in a room alone, I’m going to say, “Do you know what I know about you?” But that was all I could do. The songs had to belong to me. I don’t tributize anyone. This is my 57th year in show business, and I don’t cover nothing. If you cover stuff … I don’t know why you would cover stuff.

He writes these vignettes. He writes arguments. He writes grievances. He doesn’t write any love stories. It’s not, “We met, we kissed, it wound up like this.” With Bob, it always winds up badly, even if they did meet and kiss. And so he doesn’t write poetry, he writes prose, and by that I mean that it’s always logical or practical. It’s “I’ve given you all the ins and outs and I’ve done nothing but make you sad, so why don’t you go on and leave?” There’s no poetry in that. That’s the logic and practicality of it: “Why don’t you leave, because I’ve already said I don’t want you.”

(click here to continue reading Bettye LaVette Talks Singing Bob Dylan Songs, Bruno Mars – Rolling Stone.)

Written by Seth Anderson

April 4th, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

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