Archive for January, 2012

Anonymous Takes Down

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

– The following is apparently what Anonymous wants to communicate to Monsanto…

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To the free-thinking citizens of the world: Anonymous stands with the farmers and food organizations denouncing the practices of Monsanto We applaud the bravery of the organizations and citizens who are standing up to Monsanto, and we stand united with you against this oppressive corporate abuse. Monsanto is contaminating the world with chemicals and genetically modified food crops for profit while claiming to feed the hungry and protect the environment. Anonymous is everyone, Anyone who can not stand for injustice and decides to do something about it, We are all over the Earth and here to stay.

To Monsanto, we demand you STOP the following:

  • Contaminating the global food chain with GMO’s.
  • Intimidating small farmers with bullying and lawsuits.
  • Propagating the use of destructive pesticides and herbicides across the globe.
  • Using “Terminator Technology”, which renders plants sterile.
  • Attempting to hijack UN climate change negotiations for your own fiscal benefit.
  • Reducing farmland to desert through monoculture and the use of synthetic fertilizers.
  • Inspiring suicides of hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers.
  • Causing birth defects by continuing to produce the pesticide “Round-up”
  • Attempting to bribe foriegn officials
  • Infiltrating anti-GMO groups

Monsanto, these crimes will not go unpunished. Anonymous will not spare you nor anyone in support of your oppressive illegal business practices.

AGRA, a great example:
In 2006, AGRA, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, was established with funding from Bill Gates and The Rockefeller Foundation.

Among the other founding members of, AGRA, we find: Monsanto, Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter and Gamble, Merck, Mosaic, Pfizer, Sumitomo Chemical and Yara. The fact that these corporations are either chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturers is no coincidence.

The people of the world see you, Monsanto. Anonymous sees you.

Seeds of Opportunism, Climate change offers these businesses a perfect excuse to prey on the poorest countries by swooping in to “rescue” the farmers and people with their GMO crops and chemical pesticides. These corporations eradicate the traditional ways of the country’s agriculture for the sake of enormous profits.
The introduction of GMOs drastically affects a local farmers income, as the price of chemicals required for GMOs and seeds from Monsanto cripples the farmer’s meager profit margins.

There are even many cases of Monsanto suing small farmers after pollen from their GMO crops accidentally cross with the farmer’s crops. Because Monsanto has a patent on theri brand of seed, they claim the farmer is in violation of patent laws.

These disgusting and inhumane practices will not be tolerated.

Anonymous urges all concerned citizens to stand up for these farmers, stand up for the future of your own food. Protest, organize, spread info to your friends!



We are Anonymous
We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
Expect us

– To the original…


Supreme Court Shoots Down Warrantless GPS Tracking

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court might have delivered a big blow Monday to GPS surveillancetechniques used by law enforcement.

In effect, the justices ruled that long-term surveillance of a vehicle by attaching a GPS device without an extended warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

In three separate opinions, the nine justices confirmed that law enforcement’s placement in 2004 of a GPS tracking device on the vehicle of accused drug trafficker Antoine Jones’ vehicle for a period of 28 days constituted a “search,” as defined by previous case law concerning the Fourth Amendment.

The justices differed, however, on the particulars of how the GPS technology was utilized.

A joint FBI-police team in Washington, D.C., had a warrant, but it was only authorized for use within a 10-day period and only in the District of Columbia. Officers waited until the 11th day to attach the GPS device and did so in Maryland, outside of the warrant’s jurisdiction.

Writing for a five-justice majority, Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, believed that further justification was needed before using a GPS device in the situation.

– More…


The High Cost of Low Bandwidth

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

As more and more information is finding its way onto the Web, great swaths of our physical infrastructure are becoming obsolete. 

When we attempt to understand the implications of the Internet Age, the first thing we need to do is recognize that office buildings, retail stores, air travel, lecture halls, and paper are just clunky, expensive, and low-bandwidth interconnections.

Allow me to explain. Many things that seem as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar are, in fact, information proxies in disguise. We can view these information proxies as two separate pieces: an information-sensitive piece, and a second piece with a valuable function that cannot be displaced by better virtual environments.The Internet peels away the information-carrying portions of these physical things and institutions. Frequently it leaves behind skeletons of little value. In the process, the Internet restructures and renders much of our physical infrastructure obsolete.

For example, there are lots of reasons to go to a retail store. The shopper may go to a clothing store because he enjoys the experience of looking at the merchandise. He might want to find out what is available and how much it will cost, or feel the material, or leave the store with a suit he can wear the next day. Many, but not all, of the reasons he went shopping were to gather important information, yet there’s a lot of infrastructure associated with delivering that data. There’s the store itself and the shelving and display cases piled high with merchandise; employees to answer questions and operate the cash register; logistics systems and delivery trucks that carry merchandise to the store. Then there are the costs of keeping the stores lit, cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and clean at all times. Of course, the customer could not avail himself of all these information services without getting in a car, driving to the store, parking it in a garage, and buying gas.

Most of that information can be obtained without the car, without the shelving, without the employees. One of the reasons online retailing has been so effective is that it reduces many of these infrastructure costs while delivering the information the customer needs about price, availability, and size. Retailers engaged in the sale of commodities like books, CDs, blue jeans, and running shoes will find it increasingly difficult in the face of Internet competition. Some will be spared — the stores where customers really do want to see and feel the goods, and leave with them right away. (Upscale boutiques, for example, where the shopping experience is paramount, will be affected less.)

It’s not just retailers who will be transformed by the unbundling of information dissemination from physical locations. The need and function of places that support/reinforce interconnectedness will similarly diminish and change. An office building is both an information warehouse and an information exchange. In the future, the most important function it will perform is to provide a comfortable and productive location for face-to-face interaction. With more of us carrying our file cabinets in our laptops, cramming our overloaded out baskets into our PC’s and doing jobs for ourselves that administrative assistants used to do, the office of the past will probably become a warren of comfortable meeting rooms surrounded by temporary desks for those who choose to come to work that day. Those laptops will become smaller and lighter as files and applications move into the cloud.

In the case of a university, it is relatively easy to see the large-lecture classes, a strictly information-carrying portion of the educational process, being displaced by virtual courses. The university of the future will probably focus much of its energy on mentoring, small seminars, and guiding student laboratory and research experiences. A university where the vast proportion of the educational process focuses strictly on transferring information could well melt into virtual space.

The future will look very different as we strip the information-carrying functions out of proxies and reduce them to their bare essentials. Entertainment centers will be redefined. Libraries will take on new charters. Educational institutions will be restructured. Cities will be transformed. This will happen because much of our physical infrastructure was just a low-bandwidth interconnection disguised as something real.

– To the original…


A Sharper Mind, Middle Age and Beyond

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

– Having just finished with a job at a computer software company where the average age of the people must have been in the early thirties (I’m currently 64), I’ve had a good look recently at what sorts of software engineering activities I still felt competent at and which I felt weak on compared to my fellow workers.

– I don’t know if this would relate for others at my age in the same situation but I definitely felt slower at absorbing new technical skills like learning to program in PERL and in working out how to get things done in Linux (I’ve been a Windows person most of my career).  

– I also felt that my ability to retain the ‘big picture’ with regard to the large C/C++ program I worked on daily was less than I would have liked.

– But, when it came time to design a specific solutions to solve problems or add a new features or capabilities, I felt quite strong and confident of my abilities.

– One thing I believe, and I think the article, below supports it, is that by using my brain constantly in these sorts of pursuits, I am and have been doing myself a favor with regard to how successfully I will retain my cognitive abilities as I age.

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In 1905, at age 55, Sir William Osler, the most influential physician of his era, decided to retire from the medical faculty of Johns Hopkins. In a farewell speech, Osler talked about the link between age and accomplishment: The “effective, moving, vitalizing work of the world is done between the ages of 25 and 40 — these 15 golden years of plenty.”

In comparison, he noted, “men above 40 years of age” are useless. As for those over 60, there would be an “incalculable benefit” in “commercial, political and professional life, if, as a matter of course, men stopped work at this age.”

Although such views did not prevent the doctor from going on to accept a post at Oxford University, one he retained until his death at age 70, his contention that brainpower, creativity and innovation have an early expiration date was, unfortunately, widely accepted by others. Until recently, neurologists believed that brain cells died off without being replaced. Psychologists affirmed the supposition by maintaining that the ability to learn trudged steadfastly downward through the years.

Of course, certain capabilities fall off as you approach 50. Memories of where you left the keys or parked the car mysteriously vanish. Words suddenly go into hiding as you struggle to remember the guy, you know, in that movie, what was it called? And calculating the tip on your dinner check seems to take longer than it used to.

Yet it is also true that there is no preordained march toward senescence.

Some people are much better than their peers at delaying age-related declines in memoryand calculating speed. What researchers want to know is why. Why does your 70-year-old neighbor score half her age on a memory test, while you, at 40, have the memory of a senior citizen? If investigators could better detect what protects one person’s mental strengths or chips away at another’s, then perhaps they could devise a program to halt or reverse decline and even shore up improvements.

As it turns out, one essential element of mental fitness has already been identified. “Education seems to be an elixir that can bring us a healthy body and mind throughout adulthood and even a longer life,” says Margie E. Lachman, a psychologist at Brandeis University who specializes in aging. For those in midlife and beyond, a college degree appears to slow the brain’s aging process by up to a decade, adding a new twist to the cost-benefit analysis of higher education — for young students as well as those thinking about returning to school.

– More…


Cameras May Open Up the Board Room to Hackers

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

One afternoon this month, a hacker took a tour of a dozen conference rooms around the globe via equipment that most every company has in those rooms; videoconferencing equipment.

With the move of a mouse, he steered a camera around each room, occasionally zooming in with such precision that he could discern grooves in the wood and paint flecks on the wall. In one room, he zoomed out through a window, across a parking lot and into shrubbery some 50 yards away where a small animal could be seen burrowing underneath a bush. With such equipment, the hacker could have easily eavesdropped on privileged attorney-client conversations or read trade secrets on a report lying on the conference room table.

In this case, the hacker was HD Moore, a chief security officer at Rapid7, a Boston based company that looks for security holes in computer systems that are used in devices like toaster ovens and Mars landing equipment. His latest find: videoconferencing equipment is often left vulnerable to hackers.

Businesses collectively spend billions of dollars each year beefing up security on their computer systems and employee laptops. They agonize over the confidential information that employees send to their Gmail and Dropbox accounts and store on their iPads and smartphones. But rarely do they give much thought to the ease with which anyone can penetrate a videoconference room where their most guarded trade secrets are openly discussed.

– More…

– Research thanks to Gerry B.

Another life change …

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

In line with posting some things that are personal along with the Perfect Storm stuff, I’d like to share with you that I’ve resigned from my job at SLI-Systems as a C++ Software Engineer with effect Friday, January 20th.

It was an amicable separation.  I’ve been wanting to break free and do some of my own software development for some time and, after we returned from our two-month sojourn to the U.S., and I tried to get back into the groove there for a week or so, it seemed like it was time to go.

I completed two large projects for SLI in the time I was there (22 months).  I integrated the Basis Technology Libraries into their main C++ program, Moby, code so that they can process a variety of foreign languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Polish and German to date) as well as the English processing they were already doing.   And, I converted Moby from 32 to 64 bits.

Leaving a good job for the unknown can make one insecure and I’ve not been immune to that fact.

But I prefer this slightly scared and disoriented feeling I have now to the nagging suspicion that I might have been staying on someplace because I’m letting my fears and insecurities limit my choices.

Stayed tuned, I’ll report if I have a melt-down or if I release a new software product – either way, it should be interesting.

Oh, and I should mention that it’s summer here and I plan to use some of this new free time to ride my motorcycle off to a few locations around New Zealand which is, I think, one of the better ways to use this nice weather.



10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

– From John Turley in the Washington Post.   I hope the folks in Washington, D.C. are reading this stuff.

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Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.

These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country.

The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11 puts us in rather troubling company.

– Click here:    to read on and see the list of the ten things we’ve lost.   It’s scary.

The Wealth Gap – Inequality in Numbers

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Until protesters took to the streets last year, first in New York and then in financial centres across the world, inequality had been a low-key issue.

Not any more.

With the political temperature rising, a stream of new analysis is revealing how sharply inequality has been growing.

In October, the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) caused a storm by revealing how big a slice of income gains since the late 1970s had gone to the richest 1% of households.

The message was dramatic.

Over the 28 years covered by the CBO study, US incomes had increased overall by 62%, allowing for tax and inflation.

But the lowest paid fifth of Americans had got only a small share of that: their incomes had grown by a modest 18%.

Middle income households were also well below the overall average with gains of just 37%.

And even the majority of America’s richest households saw gains of barely above the overall average at 67%.

How does that make sense?

Because the CBO found most of the income gains over the past 30 years had gone to the top 1% of US households. Their incomes had almost trebled with rises of 275%.

– More…


Paybacks are hell: Parental spying prompts infiltration of German police system

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Der Spiegel published a story in yesterday’s edition of their magazine that the hack on the German police surveillance system “Patras” was prompted by a senior officer spying on his daughter’s internet activities.

The Patras system is used by the police to track suspects using so-called “silent” SMSs and GPS tracking devices planted on automobiles.

It appears that a senior policeman from Frankfurt am Main installed spyware onto his daughter’s computer to keep an eye on her online activities.

It is unclear whether this is legal under German law. It is also unknown whether he used the famous Bundestrojaner or some sort of commercial off-the-shelf spyware.

One of his daughters friends then discovered the spyware on her computer and decided that was justification enough to hack into her father’s computer.

Upon invading her dad’s system he found a selection of sensitive security related emails that enabled access to the Patras system. Two German hackers from a group called n0n4m3 cr3w (noname crew) were arrested after the system was breached in July of 2011.

According to Der Spiegel the policeman had redirected his work emails to his home computer. I expect that this is against the rules and is almost always a bad idea.

The worst part is that such a sensitive network used to covertly track people was accessible without any sort of two-factor authentication.

You would hope that intercepting a few sensitive emails would not provide enough information to allow a VPN connection or access critical infrastructure with such ease.

It is not clear whether this incident is the one that resulted in the successful attack against Patras last summer, or whether they were in fact breached twice.

It is one thing to accept the need of law enforcement to track suspects after receiving the approval of a judge, but it is becoming clear that access to these systems is too easy. It almost invites abuse and could result in criminal cases being compromised.

With great power comes great responsibility, and hopefully the German police have implemented more strict access controls and other authorities with similar power have heard this story and will look into their own security.

– To the original…



Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

– This is so beautiful.   I also find it inspiring.  We should all think about this stuff and not just walk through our lives half asleep as the calendar pages riffle by us, unnoticed.   As a country and Western song I heard says, “This ain’t no rehearsal.”   it is all as real as it gets and if you miss it, you’ll have no one but yourself to blame.

– This was written by a woman named Bronnie Ware and her site can be found here.

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For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

– To the original…