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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

E.T. phones home...

Photos: toptenz.net and dailymail.co.uk













“However well-intentioned, this talk assumes that [president-elect, Donald] Trump is prepared to find common ground with his many opponents, respect the institutions of government, and repudiate almost everything he has stood for during the campaign. In short, it is treating him as a 'normal' politician. There has until now been little evidence that he can be one.
     More dangerously, Clinton’s and Obama’s very civil passages, which ended in applause lines, seemed to close off alternative responses to his minority victory. (It was hard not to be reminded of Neville Chamberlain’s statement, that 'We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will.') Both Clinton’s and Obama’s phrases about the peaceful transfer of power concealed the omission of a call to action. The protesters who took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and other American cities on Wednesday night did so not because of Clinton’s speech but in spite of it. One of the falsehoods in the Clinton speech was the implied equivalency between civil resistance and insurgency. This is an autocrat’s favorite con, the explanation for the violent suppression of peaceful protests the world over.”
— Masha Gessen, The New York Review of Books
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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

repeating. repeating, repeating...

Graphic by Michael Hale
















I posted this reworking of Martin Niemöller's poem on Facebook in December of last year; I think it's worth repeating:

Monday, 7 September 2015

digital strip search

Source image from: joeydevilla.com
“In his backpack, Wouter Slotboom, 34, carries around a small black device, slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes, with an antenna on it. I meet Wouter by chance at a random cafe in the center of Amsterdam. It is a sunny day and almost all the tables are occupied. Some people talk, others are working on their laptops or playing with their smartphones.
     Wouter removes his laptop from his backpack, puts the black device on the table, and hides it under a menu. A waitress passes by and we ask for two coffees and the password for the WiFi network. Meanwhile, Wouter switches on his laptop and device, launches some programs, and soon the screen starts to fill with green text lines. It gradually becomes clear that Wouter’s device is connecting to the laptops, smartphones, and tablets of cafe visitors. […]
     Slotboom can also broadcast a fictitious network name, making users believe they are actually connecting to the network of the place they’re visiting. For example, if a place has a WiFi network consisting of random letters and numbers (Fritzbox xyz123), Slotboom is able to provide the network name (Starbucks). People, he says, are much more willing to connect to these.
     We see more and more visitors log on to our fictitious network. The siren song of the little black device appears to be irresistible. Already 20 smartphones and laptops are ours. If he wanted to, Slotboom could now completely ruin the lives of the people connected: He can retrieve their passwords, steal their identity, and plunder their bank accounts. Later today, he will show me how. I have given him permission to hack me in order to demonstrate what he is capable of, though it could be done to anyone with a smartphone in search of a network, or a laptop connecting to a WiFi network.
     Everything, with very few exceptions, can be cracked.”
— Maurits Martijn (Translated from Dutch by Jona Meijers), Medium/matter
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wishful thinking



“More than half of the findings from 100 different studies published in leading, peer-reviewed psychology journals cannot be reproduced by other researchers who followed the same methodological protocol. A study by more than 270 researchers from around the world has found that just 39 per cent of the claims made in psychology papers published in three prominent journals could be reproduced unambiguously – and even then they were found to be less significant statistically than the original findings. […] [Brian] Nosek [professor of psychology at the University of Virginia] said that there is often a contradiction between the incentives and motives of researchers – whether in psychology or other fields of science – and the need to ensure that their research findings can be reproduced by other scientists. ‘Scientists aim to contribute reliable knowledge, but also need to produce results that help them keep their job as a researcher. To thrive in science, researchers need to earn publications, and some kind of results are easier to publish than others, particularly ones that are novel and show unexpected or exciting new directions,’ he said.”
The Independent
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“Here’s some brain images I just created from some MRI data I had laying around.
     Took about three minutes. Big difference, right [compared to the image at the top of this post (Folded Sky)]? Somewhat counter-intuitively, the left and right images above are actually the exact same functional brain data, all I did to create the right one was to lower the statistical threshold on the colour-overlay, to essentially say “Show me more results, I don’t care if they’re statistically reliable or not.”
     People who do this kind of work are very clued-in to these kinds of issues, and would always look for a colour-scale on these kinds of images in research papers. Clearly though the general public aren’t that conversant with statistical issues in brain imaging, because why would they be?”
— NeuroBollocks
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Sunday, 6 September 2015

excess of evil

From: www.zum.de
“In 1953, the CIA overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government and installed the Shah, a brutal dictator who proceeded to establish one of the worst human rights records of the era. Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which deposed the Shah, Washington turned its favor to another brutal dictator in the region: Saddam Hussein, who received U.S. aid throughout the Iran-Iraq War. Ever since the revolution, the U.S. has imposed various sanctions on Iran. And most recently, we launched major military operations in two of Iran’s neighboring states, further destabilizing the region and threatening Iran’s own safety.
     But in the eyes of U.S. commentary, Iran remains the supreme evil. It’s instructive, for instance, that without any irony or self-awareness we charge Iran with interfering in the Iraq War – a war we instigated from the other side of the world, against massive international protest, on Iran’s doorstep. Actually, Iran’s involvement in the Iraq conflict has necessarily increased with the growing threat of ISIS, a group that only exists because of the immense power vacuum and destabilization caused by the U.S. invasion.”
— Kyle Schmidlin, Salon
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Friday, 4 September 2015

shunned



“Three weeks gone now since the release of a detailed investigation of arguably the most significant UFO footage of the modern era. Yet, not a peep about it in the mainstream press. Can you believe that? Could this be part of a pattern? Hmm.
     OK, let’s just dispense with the obvious (again): When it comes to The Great Taboo, The New York Times, The Washington Post and pretty much every corporate watchdog in the Fourth Estate are reliable no-shows unless being spoonfed press release-sized pre-chewed culturally acceptable talking points. But maybe it’s unfair to single out the institutions; no mortal is immune to the evolutionary shift that is reprogramming -- right now, even as you read -- the universal attention span for minimal capacity. Who among you can hang, seriously, be honest, with a technical, 162-page multi-disciplinary analysis of a high-strangeness event– even if it was captured by an airborne government surveillance camera? But of course you'd watch the video, who wouldn't? That's why one would think somebody, somewhere, might’ve broken from the mainstream flock and at least posted the footage, just for the easy bounce in traffic. It’s not every day we get a chance to see a taxpayer-financed video of a UFO outperforming our coolest toys.”
— Billy Cox, DE VOID
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“A scheduled commercial takeoff from Puerto Rico’s Rafael Hernandez Airport was delayed for 16 minutes until the submersible bogey flying without a transponder (now there's a combination) cleared the area. Maybe that’s why scientists like [SETI’s] Seth Shostak  are so quick to disparage UAP research. Tens of millions of dollars, financed by billionaire sugar daddies and taxpayers alike, for more than half a century -- and radio astronomy has produced no data whatsoever to justify its exclusive methodology. Zilch. Trying to persuade public opinion that SETI is the only game in town is part of the con.”
— Billy Cox, DE VOID
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