Statewatch: monitoring civil liberties in the EU (and around the world for that matter, it is, after all, a "Small World" (tm))
20 April, 2005: Global coalition launch report and international surveillance campaign: London - Statewatch, with partner organisations the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Focus on the Global South, Friends Committee (US) and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (Canada) today publishes an in-depth report on "The emergence of a global infrastructure for registration and surveillance". With the support of around 100 civil liberties groups and NGOs from across the world, the report is backed by the launch of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS), calling on all national governments and intergovernmental organisations to turn away from anti-terrorism efforts that are oriented around mass surveillance:
- 1. Press release (pdf)
- 2. Executive Summary (English, pdf) French (link)
- 3. Full report (pdf)
- 4. Declaration (English, pdf) French (link) Spanish (link) Dutch (link)
- 5. List supporting organisations
- 6. Endorse the Declaration - sign-up (link)
Tony Bunyan, Director of Statewatch, said: "We are very pleased to be joining with so many civil liberties groups from around the world to oppose the introduction of mass surveillance on a global basis. There is a real danger that in trying to watch everyone you are actually watching no-one"
Posted by Pacanukeha at 13:03
Contrary Brin: A guest Commentator on the Modernist Rift
David has been developing a theme at some length concerning the ongoing war of romaticism vs modernism. In April 28th's post he has a guest commentator, Frederick Turner who has this to say:
I believe that the rift between the sciences and the humanities is profoundly dangerous both intellectually and culturally, leading to deep errors of understanding and unwitting crimes. Certainly at the time it seemed the only defense against what looked like a brutal pragmatism in personal relationships and a ruthless historicism in international realpolitik, where the victors in both cases would write history. But the apparent cure--the cordon sanitaire between science and the humanities--had side effects perhaps worse still. Let us look briefly at the history of those key humanistic ideas: freedom in moral action and originality in art.
To be free one must have free will. Will became the core concept of nineteenth century moral philosophy. It was will or intentionality that set us apart from brute nature. But what was the direction of will? It could only be the extension of its own field of action, since any focussing down on a specific object in the world would enslave it to the deterministic motivations of physicality. "Extension of the field of action" is nicely glossed by the word "power": so "Will" now became "the Will to Power". Thus power eventually became the key idea of the Humanities, as it remains today in its Foucauldian, Feminist, Postcolonialist, Lacanian, and Neomarxist versions. Strangely, our original enterprise, which was to delineate an alternative humanistic world to the deterministic realm of physical forces, has logically morphed itself into the very enemy it was designed to escape.
Power, whether expressed in oppressive violence by a reactionary elite, revolutionary acts by the disenfranchised, or legal sanctions by an enlightened ruling group, is the same thing as physical force: politically it means that you can send men with guns to make people do what you want. If beauty has been culturally relativized out of existence (which is indeed the result of avant-garde theory) and if logical reasoning is, as part of the regnant regime of power and knowledge, no more than the linguistic property of the oppressor, the only way to persuade people is through force.
...Thus the humanities, when cut off from nature, ended up not only looking exactly like the brutal world they hoped to transcend, but also trapped in the gradual entropic heat-death of the physical universe.
I have _major_ problems with that conclusion. To me it is an extreme generalization, illogical and not backed even by the limited amount of very selective evidence presented. To make another generalization, I'd say that too much thought is being presented in a supposedly rigourous manner but completely lacking in objective logic.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 12:28
That was Stewart Brand's creation, originally uttered in 1984, at the
first Hackers' Conference, and printed in a report in the May 1985 "Whole
Earth Review." It later turned up in his book, "The Media Lab: Inventing
the Future at MIT," published in 1987:
"Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive.
Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute,
copy, and recombine---too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because
it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go
away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright,
'intellectual property', the moral rightness of casual distribution,
because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better."
Posted by Pacanukeha at 12:42
Last year's original report said there had been a total of 190 terror acts around the world in 2003 - pointing to a steady decrease over three years.
The administration seized on this and other numbers as proof that its war on terror was succeeding.
In the revised report the department said there had in fact been 208 attacks - an increase from 2004.
Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said there had been no attempt to deceive people, and blamed clerical and administrative errors.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 17:24
Following on from some pioneering work done in Norway, scientists in Israel have published research done on a SNAil based carrier Protocol
The following table, summarize the results:
Please note all measured times were recorded by an observer on the ground. If measured by the moving snail itself, times would have been a bit shorter, according to Einstein's relativity theory, resulting in slightly greater bps rates.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 16:48
The State Department has traditionally put together a list of industry representatives for these meetings, and anyone in the U.S. telecom industry who had the requisite expertise and wanted to go was generally given a slot, say past participants. Only after the start of Bush's second term did a political litmus test emerge, industry sources say.
The White House admits as much: "We wanted people who would represent the Administration positively, and--call us nutty--it seemed like those who wanted to kick this Administration out of town last November would have some difficulty doing that," says White House spokesman Trent Duffy.
Well, I won't call you "nutty", but I will call you a filthy partisan bribe-seeking whore. Good enough? (No offense intended to the hard working sisters in the International Order of Manual Release Technicians)
Posted by Pacanukeha at 19:42
According to both PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG, more than 90 per cent of corporate spreadsheets have material errors in them. Worse, estimates suggest that such errors costs between $10,000 and $100,000 per error per month. Let's take the Fortune 500 and let's suppose that each of these companies has just 10 (a pitifully small number) spreadsheets of corporate significance. Then nine have errors. Let's be circumspect and suppose that each has only one error and that it is spotted within three months (wildly optimistic); then each error costs $165,000 on average.
So how much money is the Fortune 500 wasting annually? It is a simple sum: $165,000 times 9 times 500. That amounts to just shy of three quarters of a billion dollars. And is that anywhere near realistic? No. It is probably safe to say that corporate America, for example, loses in excess of $10bn annually through the misuse and abuse of spreadsheets. That's a big number: it suggests a problem worth managing.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 21:24
thetyee.ca Company Grabs Mining Rights to Premier’s Land
*sniff* *wipes tear from eye*
Posted by Pacanukeha at 18:51
The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster
Journal of Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith and Servant to His Supreme Excellency the Emperor Palpatine.
That's So Wizard!
The probe droids have detected an illegal settlement.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 16:33
I work in pharmacogenomics. We're building a prototype QC tool. It's a prototype in name only - it will be functionally complete and accurate. It will not, however, be used in any clinical trials. This is because it is not being built to GLP standards. GLP (Good Laboratory Practices) is part of a suite of government mandated organizational and operational practices to be used in areas viewed as critical to the public health and welfare, such as pharmaceutical research and development or aviation.
One of the key aspects to GLP is accountability. Every decision made, every action taken is recorded in a database. This leads to bloat and over documentation, but it does provide for a rigourous and well-understood procedure.
The invention of the spreadsheet is the single most important factor in the transformation of our corporations from being near-sighted to blind - unable to look beyond the six month return. Spreadsheets, when given the correct information, can pinpoint exactly which parts of your organization are being profitable and when - as quickly and as often as you update the data. The power of this tool is that it grants a lot of weight to any argument made in favour of shutting down non-profit centres because the model does not show either the intangible or the long term benefits of the department in question, but with the right data and the right model, the instant feedback it provides is invaluable.
How do these 2 things relate to my somewhat mysterious title? Well, I believe that our already bloated and corrupt governements could, in fact, be made to run leaner and more efficiently if we created a Good Governement Practices standard, and included a requirement to have a validated spreadsheet model as part of any new project.
Since it would be a reusable sandard, it could (somewhat counter-intuitively, I know) actually reduce the start-up cost and time of new projects. Since it would have a validated model with appropriate hooks into the database driving a spreadsheet, we could have daily reports if necessary to track progress.
The huge caveats to this endeavour are:
How do we create a flexible GGP tool that won't tank and fail 50% of the time like major ERP/CRM platforms do?
How do we decide on a valid model that can provide cost/benefit for intangibles and allows a long-term view?
I leave that as an excercise for the reader.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 15:43
The cost of a program that was supposed to fast track claims of residential school abuse is skyrocketing. The cost of administering the program has reached $34 million, while less than $1 million has been paid out.
Finance Minister Ralph Goodale claimed 45 per cent of the cost would go to administration and the rest would go to people making claims.
But that's not how it's working out.
Jim Prentice, an Alberta Conservative MP, says he asked the government for details and what he found out was "staggering."
"Ninety-seven per cent of the money is making its way through, to the process. And only three per cent of the money is making its way through to the victims. And that's completely unacceptable."
Ted Hughes, the head adjudicator, disagrees. "For the people that want to use this, it's entirely successful," he said.
A spokesperson for the program says the costs are justified because Ottawa has an obligation to verify claims so that it can protect taxpayers. The government also stresses that the program is new and that it will soon be paying out millions of dollars in compensation.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 15:39
Ah, the US Justice department - pursuing a bio-terrorism accusation against an artist for ordering harmless bacteria across state lines.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 19:09
In the course of modernizing the framework for public inquiries in the UK, the governement has produced a bill that, while doing a good job in some respects, also grants the Minister of the responsible department the final say in what can be published, completely undermining the whole independant inquiry concept.
Some links for your amusement:
- UK: The Inquiries Bill - the Wrong Answer - Amnesty International
- The Pat Finacune Centre - a website devoted to the Northern Irish lawyer murdered by the UDA with the assistance of the UK MoD - the case that started this all.
- The UK Bar Council
- Ireland Online - Judge attacks proposed Finucane inquiry legislation
A final quote from Judge Cory: "[I] cannot contemplate any self respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed act".
Posted by Pacanukeha at 13:18
(ooh... my first post!)
How is it that realistic endings to jokes can be so much funnier than the originals?
Jokes with realistic endings (How do you brainwash a blonde? A rigorous schedule of psychologically breaking down their confidence and resistance to outside suggestion...)
Posted by k at 11:07
Posted by Pacanukeha at 15:37
Read this. I am sure that Carlo will love it.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 12:20
"Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, 'upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law.'
Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his 'bottom line' for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. 'He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' ' Vieira said.
Rich with irony.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 17:45
Posted by Pacanukeha at 23:53
New Scientist Technology - The clock that wakes you when you are ready - want one. I also want it to record it's measurements.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 12:42
Piercing the peer–to–peer myths: An examination of the Canadian experience Sometimes, the stuff I forget to blog reveals my foolishness - I could have sworn I posted about this back in December. And then again in Feb when I realized I hadn't.
Anyway, now it is cookie free.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 01:48
Physicists freeze light, propose optical CPUs. Cool. Well, very very cold, actually, but still ...
Posted by Pacanukeha at 23:36
So it seems that the NZ Army built a faulty bridge on crown land, providing access to a farmers property. It collapsed 8 years later, killing Kenneth Richards. The land owner was subsequently prosecuted for failing to maintain the bridge. An Army internal inquiry found that the bridge collapse was due solely to their shoddy design and construction. The Army did not reveal the results of that inquiry and tried to supress knowledge of it's existance. Hilarity ensues.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 17:16
In the process of preparing this list for someone else I thought it might
be of small interest here too:
3 favourite books (in random order)
Christopher Moore - Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood
Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman - Good Omens
Neal Stephenson - Snow Crash
SF Authors to read (mostly UK):
Peter F. Hamilton
Jon C. Wright
Jon Courtney Grimwood
Neal L. Asher
M John Harrison
Iain M. Banks
Posted by Pacanukeha at 20:30
Communications From Elsewhere
Now reload your browser. And again. Hee hee. A Lucky Find(tm)
Posted by Pacanukeha at 12:02
Schneier on Security: TSA Lied About Protecting Passenger Data - but thy did nothing illegal.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 22:36
Wired News: Windmills in the Sky
Mail Order Husbands
Things we were not meant to find - Cosmic particle accelerator 20 light years across found in centre of galaxy
Le section a Kirsten
- Wacky kids at NASA come up with semi-autonomous robotic insect swarms
- Opera announces platform-independent real-time speech technology
In a similar vein - Google introduces Google Gulp - smart drinks the way they were meant to be. "Dude, it's like you've never even heard of viral marketing.
The Great Apes: A Mini-Biography
Metallic Glass - The coolest thing since cosmic particle accelerators.
Puki: The Swarm - think of the children (and giggle)
Posted by Pacanukeha at 21:56
Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture thinks that the majors think that they are going to lose with the Supremes. Their new tactic? Moral outrage. Yup, the record companies are preparing to teach you how to behave in a moral fashion. Well, I wish them luck - there may be something to what they say, but there is a great heapin' pile of irony there.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 12:15
Another cool interface thing used as an information-dense presentation tool. Again done using a flash UI. Keywords displayed as a collage of images with drill-downs. Here is one for Neil Gaiman.
Posted by Pacanukeha at 18:45