Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, February 04, 2021

where are they now
If the 1975-stylin’ jokers pictured above look familiar, they should. Flanking then-President Gerald Ford is then-Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld on the left, and his Deputy Dick Cheney to the right.

It’s only appropriate that the cast of characters in the Oval Office from back then are still there today, because today’s NSA domestic wiretapping debate is a deja-vu round-two of the same subject from the ’70s.

Some experts weren’t surprised the cast of characters in this national debate remained largely unchanged over 30 years.

“People don’t change their stripes,” said Kenneth Bass a former senior Justice Department lawyer who oversaw such wiretap requests during former president Jimmy Carter’s administration.

Lisa Graves, senior counsel for legislative strategy at the American Civil Liberties Union, said comparing the Ford-era debate to the current controversy is “misleading because no matter what Mr. Cheney or Mr. Rumsfeld may have argued back in 1976, the fact is they lost. When Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978, Congress decisively resolved this debate.

“Unlike the current administration, the Ford administration never claimed the right to violate a law requiring judicial oversight of wiretaps in foreign intelligence investigations if Congress were to pass such a law.”

Plenty more details, including digital facsimilies of the original Executive Branch documents, can be found at The National Security Archive’s “Electronic Surveillance: From the Cold War to Al-Qaeda”.

If Rummy and Cheney lost this fight three decades ago, why should they get a do-over? If you want to argue that today’s War on Terror demands a re-examination of the issue, think again: Just as with wiretapping, U.S. anti-terrorist efforts have their roots all the way back to the Nixon administration.

In Washington, it seems that everything old is new, and renewed, again.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/04/2021 03:27 PM
Category: History, Political
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It’s been rumored for years, and now it’s edging closer to reality: A new class of “certified” email is taking shape, where senders pay a fee to send messages that will bypass the usual filters.

The certification will be supplied by Goodmail Systems. AOL will be the first to apply the fix, and Yahoo! will begin testing shortly. Between those two, that represents a few million email accounts.

AOL and Yahoo will still accept e-mail from senders who have not paid, but the paid messages will be given special treatment. On AOL, for example, they will go straight to users’ main mailboxes, and will not have to pass the gauntlet of spam filters that could divert them to a special bulk e-mail box or strip them of images and Web links.

Yahoo and AOL say the new system is a way to restore some order to e-mail, which, because of spam and online scams, has become an increasingly unreliable mode of communication even as it has become more important in people’s lives.

The spam flood, which has threatened to make email more of a chore than a convenience, has prompted this. Applying a sender’s fee as a basic barrier to entry was inevitable.

I’m wondering if it’s not just a half-assed solution. I don’t see anything that prevents shady outfits from becoming Goodmail clients, even if 90 percent of them won’t do so because it wrecks their economic model. If that happens, does it eventually undermine the CAN-SPAM laws (which have worked reasonably well)?

I’m also curious as to how secure Goodmail’s methods are. I assume this certification is nothing more than a form of encryption. If so, how long will it be before someone — spammer, hacker, whoever — manages to replicate it, thus demolishing the whole thing? It’s a backdoor through ISP and program email filters, so I’d expect the bad guys to focus on using it to their advantage.

I’ve harped before about how email is dying a slow death, thanks to the automated spam overload. I’m not sure schemes like this will do much to stop that decline.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/04/2021 12:17 PM
Category: Internet
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movie magic
Bollywood churns out a few thousand movies each year.

So a couple more won’t hurt, right? Do some directorial damage yourself with this self-subtitling Indian movie generator.

Here’s my own 25-second classic (adjust volume accordingly). I’m waiting for a call from Mumbai any time now.

And yes, I do have a weakness for these sort of silly things.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/04/2021 11:56 AM
Category: Comedy, Internet, Movies
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