Aug 04, 2002

About... wow, a year and five months ago!... I killed my hard drive. In the end, the most importent thing I lost was music I had written with my synthesizor, which was irreplacable in every sense of the word.

I could have sworn at the time that I had taken a backup of these things, along with a RedHat installation (back when it fit on one CD), but I could never find it, so I assumed I had mis-remembered. Especially after I found a couple of old RedHat CDs with other backups on them, but no music.

Well, yesterday, while at home for some car repairing, I finally found the CD I had correctly thought I made a backup of, and lo, it had everything right up to the point where I stopped composing due to space pressure. (No room for the synth in my college room.) Woohoo! Totally unexpected bonus!

Aug 04, 2002

'Quite a number of us who participated in the early Internet protocol design were from the computer security research side, and did our best to make the Internet architecture secure from the start. But the NSA (I am told) told DARPA that any attempt to introduce security mechanisms into TCP/IP's architecture would be viewed very negatively. (This happened at about the same time that Rivest, et al. received a mysterious threatening letter from a senior military official claiming that their work on the RSA cipher must be stopped immediately)....'

'It makes me more than a little angry to see a ["Security czar" Richard Clarke] who works for the government implicitly blaming the very people who pointed out the problem and tried to solve it.'

Jul 31, 2002

I had a nicely researched article here a couple of days ago, but due to a bug in Mozilla and an over-aggresive mouse click, I lost it.

However, I hope to reconstruct it tonight.

In other news, this is a good article.

Copyright has become an interesting topic to a large number of people, so I'm going to assume for the moment that anyone reading this site is aware of Lawrence Lessig's case against copyright term extension, soon to be in the Supreme Court. I wanted to say a couple of things about that.

I'm hoping the lower courts simply shied away from ruling in favor of Lessig on a lower level, as this is clearly an issue that can only be resolved nationally.

In my opinion, this should be an open and shut case. Congress has continually extended copyright. More proposals are on the table to entend copyright. At this point, it is actively naive to think that Congress won't extend copyrights again, as soon as they near expiration, because they've done it over and over and over. This translates to an indefinate copyright, which is the very antithesis of "a limited term", which the Constitution specifies. There's simply no way to argue against these facts, and whatever reasons the corporations can produce should not matter to the Supreme Court... the Constitution has spoken.

If the Supreme Court has the audacity to rule against Lessig despite the clear support from both The Law (i.e., the Constitution) and Common Sense, then I really don't know what legal avenue of recourse is left. Copyright will become completely %100 perverted from its original goal into a weapon to harm people with.

Anyhow, here's hoping the Supreme Court will once again provide some sanity...

MPAA Requests Immunity to Commit Cyber-Crimes
Jul 26, 2002
The news has been buzzing around for the last couple of days that Representative Berman, whose palm has been crossed with silver by the entertainment industry, would introduce a bill permitting copyright holders to hack or DoS people allegedly distributing their works without permission. Well, the bill has been introduced - read it and weep. Although the bill wouldn't allow copyright owners to alter or delete files on your machine, they would be allowed to DoS you in essentially any other way. Let me restate that: the MPAA and RIAA are asking that they be allowed to perform what would otherwise be federal and state criminal acts and civil torts, and you will have essentially no remedy against them under any laws of the United States. [Privacy Digest]

My analysis of the bill: Despite the obvious un-American nature of the bill, and the fact that the RIAA and MPAA are basically asking for permission to commit terrorist acts (that word has been tossed around a lot lately, but it's literally true here; they intend to "terrorize" their customers), the current incarnation of the bill is basically irrelevant. In order for a copyright holder to be allowed to get away with "disabling, interfering with, blocking, diverting, or otherwise imparing the unauthorized distribution, display, performance, or reproduction of his or her copyrighted work", the act must meet several criteria:

Taken together, I am unable to think of an actual action the RIAA or MPAA could take that would meet these criteria with any sort of confidence. Packet flooding, the easiest and lowest tech of the DOS attacks, is right out; it economically affects everyone between the flooder and the floodee. More subtle hacks will be virtually impossible for the industry, as they will involve exploiting holes (like the old Ping of Death) that will be closed faster then they can find them. Even though I expect the second criterion to disappear by the time the bill is passed, there's no way the first one can, and that eliminates too much.

This bill is a waste of time, and hopefully, will just become a public relations disaster if we can manage to tag this action with the terrorist tag... shouldn't be too hard, because it is terrorism!

Update: The Register largely agrees with my analysis, but gives it the good ole' Register trademarked satirical spin. '...anyone with a copyright will be allowed to hack the daylights out of anyone, including MPAA Headquarters, so long as they have a 'reasonable suspicion' of infringement and notify the DoJ of their intent at least seven days before commencing the attack... Somehow, Valenti failed to impress on the over-eager Berman's mind that this legislation is for media giants only.' (Emphasis theirs.)

Grad Student Deconstructs Take-Out Menu
Jul 24, 2002

"I can't help it," Rosenblatt said. "Even when I close my eyes at night, I feel myself deconstructing things in my dreams—random stuff like that two-hour Dukes Of Hazzard reunion special or the Andy Warhol postage stamp or commercials for that new squeezable gel deodorant. I'd say I'm going crazy, but that presupposes an artificial barrier between societally preexisting concepts of 'sanity' and 'insanity' which themselves represent another false dichotomy maintained for the preservation of certain entrenched elements of the status quo and... Oh, God. I'm doing it again."

One of the better Onion bits I've seen in a while.

I've met people like this...! Perhaps the funniest part of the joke is that a postmodern deconstructionist would not see the joke; one can quite easily imagine a PhD thesis on desconstucting fast food menus, as the story's picture does...

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