The Government Knows What You Are Printing
Did you know that your government, ANY government, can look at a document printed on ANY printer and tell you EXACTLY what printer it came from? Every printer lays down a series of yellow microdots on every document you print that links that document specifically to the printer it was created on. So, if you, like most people, purchased your printer with your bank card or used a rewards card during the purchase, they can track it straight back to you. This is just one of the many fascinating details Mikko Hypponen talks about in his TED talk on the Three Kinds of Online Attack. Hypponen talks about the three sources of online attack; criminals, hacktivists, and nation states. This talk is particularly timely given the nature of Anonymous’ most recent reprisal of the MegaUpload arrests, and congress’ recent attempt to censor the internet via SOPA/PIPA. You might be saying to yourself, “that’s a little creepy, but I don’t have anything to worry about. I have nothing to hide.” That might be true, but Hypponen reminds us that once you have given a freedom away, it is very hard to regain it. So even if you trust your government today, ask yourself if you will trust it in 50 years.
Glow in the Dark Power Plants
A Scot was looking at satellite photos of the local nuclear plant and noticed something weird. The sea right next to the Hunterston nuclear power station was lime green. Luminescent lime green. So if you, like me, thought that nuclear power plants could only make things glow in the dark in an episode of The Simpsons…we would be wrong. A spokesperson for EDF energy said that bubbling water is causing the luminous green patch to appear on the satellite image. According to the French energy company, the nuclear plant takes in large amounts of seawater to cool its reactors, and then discharges it back into the sea. The greenish area at sea is where the warmed water bubbles up from the pipeline, and the greenish area on the site is a shaft through which the water surges. A spokesperson for EDF said: “The Google shot taken offshore is where out cooling water exits a pipe and enters the sea, producing a bubbling effect. The other photograph is of our surge shaft, which the cooling water passes through.” Critics agreed that the green glow was probably not caused by radioactivity, but argued that nuclear power had other drawbacks. I’m still not real clear on why the water is luminescent, and I really don’t like the “probably” in that last sentence.
Word came on Saturday that Greece’s private creditors had unexpectedly left the negotiations aimed at working out a solution for Greece’s debt crisis. Then today I take a look at Bloomberg, and they have an article for which the entire text is as follows: “Inspectors from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund were “shaken” by the state of Greece’s administration, Bild Zeitung reported today, without saying where it got the information.” Unexpectedly left? SHAKEN? Time is running out. Greece has major debt bonds beginning to come due at the end of this month and into March. It seems as though every time they tell us not to worry, they are also telling us they can’t come to an agreement. The private creditors holding Greece’s sovereign debt don’t want to take a haircut to bring Greece’s debt-to-GNP ratio under 120%. There are two reasons for this. First of all, if an individual holder decides to cut the debt, they are concerned that the other private banks involved will not and the one who compromises will be left holding the bag. Secondly, if Greece defaults, the insurance on the debt will kick in and the debtors think they will get paid anyway. So where exactly is the motivation for them to compromise?
Going, Going, Gabby
You’ve probably heard the news by now that Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D, AZ) has decided to resign in order to focus on her recovery. The video she released to make this announcement is just heart-wrenching. After the president’s state of the union address on Tuesday, she will step down. I know she is making the right decision for herself and her family, but it still bothers me. It bothers me because in my mind the bottom line is this: A lunatic with a gun went and shot a United States Congresswoman, whose political opposition had placed cross-hairs over her image on a heavily trafficked web site, in the HEAD and revoked the election of a good woman by violent means. It just stinks…but we don’t seem to have learned a thing from this awful experience. Political rhetoric is just as hateful and vitriolic as it ever was. I’m afraid to ask what it will take before we can learn to speak about and to the people with whom we disagree with just a modicum of respect. Is there something more awful than this that has to happen?
Malignorance And Loathing in SC
Malignorance: The practice of acting maliciously based on ignorance. Willfully or not.
So what exactly are the take-aways from the South Carolina GOP primary? I can only offer my opinion, because we all know there is NO science that can be applied to politics. A lot of people have been quoting the statistic that since 1980 every winner of the South Carolina GOP primary has gone on to win the nomination. That’s comparing apples to oranges. In all those contests prior to this cycle, the winner of the South Carolina primary already had one or more victories in previous state primaries. Not so this cycle, with the only three contests settled with three different winners (A GOP first). There was all that confusion in Iowa, then it looks like Romney’s Hew Hampshire win was actually the result of the Massachusetts Discount (when a candidate in the NH primary comes from a neighboring state and is considered a “local”) more than his role as the purported front runner. It’s starting to look like the GOP, who usually falls in line pretty quickly behind their candidate, is just falling apart instead. How did Newt Gingrich pull off the upset? It seems pretty certain his strong debate performances played a role, but the racial demagoguery he engaged in the week leading up to the primary played a role as well. Why didn’t Romney do better? The pundits spent all week telling us that despite the rough and wild nature of South Carolina politics, they always end up falling in line behind the “establishment” candidate. That would be Mitt Romney in this cycle. The pundits also told us that when the South Carolinian GOP, which predominately consists of self-described evangelicals, gave the win to Romney it would disprove the notion that Romney’s religion would be a problem for these Republican voters. Some are saying that it was Romney’s tax snafu that cost him the win, but I think that religion question remains open with those evangelical voters whether they want to admit it or not. It’s still surprising to me that those voters apparently decided to get behind Gingrich instead of Santorum. After all, Santorum seems to be living the Christian life Gingrich seemingly pretends to. And clearly Santorum and Gingrich are enamored with one another, since they have nothing but sunshine to give each other. So now the GOP road show is off to Florida, where Gingrich is taking a lead in the polls and Romney is giving every indication he’s taking off the velvet gloves. It should be interesting.
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