Daily Archives: January 29, 2016
National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers said Thursday that “encryption is foundational to the future,” and arguing about it is a waste of time.
Speaking to the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C., think tank, Rogers stressed that the cybersecurity battles the U.S. is destined to fight call for more widespread use of encryption, not less. “What you saw at OPM, you’re going to see a whole lot more of,” he said, referring to the massive hack of the Office of Personnel Management involving the personal data about 20 million people who have gotten background checks.
“So spending time arguing about ‘hey, encryption is bad and we ought to do away with it’ … that’s a waste of time to me,” he said, shaking his head.
“So what we’ve got to ask ourselves is, with that foundation, what’s the best way for us to deal with it? And how do we meet those very legitimate concerns from multiple perspectives?”
Other government officials — most notably FBI Director James Comey — have been crusading for a way that law enforcement can get access to encrypted data.
A version of this post originally appeared on Muckrock.
Somewhat surprisingly, for the Man in Black, the FBI files on outlaw icon Johnny Cash are surprisingly tame. Well, once you get past that part where he burned down a national forest. After that youthful indiscretion, the file consists mainly of investigations into various death threats the House of Cash received over the decades —including one that stands out due to the odd choice of medium, and the even odder investigation.
In May of 1979, just days before the release of his 62nd album, Cash’s manager received a letter addressed to Cash with no return address.
Enclosed was a message from someone claiming to be an ex of one of Cash’s six daughters (the letter doesn’t specify which). As Cash’s manager herself put it, the letter is “non-sensible,” vowing that Cash’s daughter “won’t ever forget Xmas 1978 or me” (despite being mailed in the summer of the following year).
It also contained some rather dubious history lessons.
All pretty creepy, sure, but nothing Cash hadn’t seen before. What was new, and what pushed this from the “anonymous crank” to “maybe give the Feds a call” territory was what came after the letter—a surprisingly intimidating computer printout of a simple BASIC program wishing the Cash family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year … over and over and over, The Shining-style.
Do you have an impressive profile picture on Facebook? It might increase your chances of getting hired, a new study suggests.
Users’ Facebook profile picture affects their callback chances about as strongly as the picture on their resume, researchers at Ghent University in Belgium have found.
Employers have very limited information when they make their first selection of applicants for their vacancies. One potential source of information is the social networking website Facebook, researchers said.
Researchers examined on a scientific basis whether employers actually use Facebook during a first screening. They sent fictitious application letters in response to genuine vacancies.
A total of 2,112 job applications were sent out in response to vacancies in various sectors of the Flemish labour market. For each job opening, a pair of male graduates with degrees in commerce, business administration, or applied economics was constructed.
“… we always take it for less than it’s worth.”
Distrust of the government runs deep, especially when it comes to federal land grabs and schemes to take away land from private citizens the government is established to protect.
Taxation of private land is another noteworthy topic, causing citizens to ask the question, “Is my land really mine?”
If a private citizen stops paying taxes on their land, the government will foreclose on the land and sell it to the highest bidder at auction and the land owner will see no monies from its sale. This small fact alone fuels tea party movements all over the country.
Taxation, which Democrats want more of, is a touchy subject for land owners. A video depicting federal employees bragging about their exploits, may leave some incensed.
Using a hidden camera, someone recorded a U.S. Park Service employee bragging about how she swindled a couple of WWII veterans out of their land for pennies on the dollar, even bragging about how she ‘stole’ Washington D.C.’s money to do it.
Ask pretty much any audiophile their preference between analog vinyl albums and digital compact disks and, odds are, the answer will almost unanimously be record albums produced from analog recordings. However, ask Author and Neuroscientist Dr. Bruce MacLennan about the key to understanding neural information processing and you might be surprised when he answers, “analog computing.”
According to MacLennan, that “back to the future” idea of using analog computing to understand the brain has returned to fashion after falling out of favor with early artificial intelligence researchers in the mid-1980s. That’s because modern researchers have recognized that, if we’re going to achieve artificial intelligence comparable to what humans or even other ma
mmals possess, we must first understand the human brain, which basically functions like an analog computer, he added.
“The analog processing of information is more efficient than digital processing of information. We’re so enchanted with the flexibility and speed of digital technology, but the tradeoffs are different,” MacLennan said. “Look at the brain, which uses components which are orders of magnitude slower than the transistors in our current technology, but yet it’s still able to do things we can’t do very well with our digital technology. Part of the reason is that it’s using low precision analog computing, but in a massively parallel scale.”
MacLennan cited Carver Mead, who was an innovator in VLSI (very large scale integration) digital circuitry, and his statement from the 1980s that the future of electronics is in analog VLSI. Mead based that conclusion on his studies, which indicated the brain is primarily an analog information processor, MacLennan said, and over the past 10 or 15 years, there has been increasing recognition of that and a subsequent rediscovery of the value of analog electronics. Much of that, he added, has been inspired by brain-oriented computing in general.
For centuries, the idea of “healing thoughts” has held sway over the faithful. In recent decades it’s fascinated the followers of all manner of self-help movements, including those whose main purpose seems to be separating the sick from their money. Now, though, a growing body of scientific research suggests that our mind can play an important role in healing our body — or in staying healthy in the first place. In the book Cure, the veteran science journalist Jo Marchant brings her critical eye to this fascinating new terrain, sharing the latest discoveries and telling the stories of the people —Iraq war veterans among them — who are being helped by cures aimed at both body and mind. Marchant answered questions from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.
You have taken on a topic where, historically, there has been a tremendous amount of quackery. What convinced you that there was a compelling scientific story to tell?
The misunderstandings and false claims were one of the elements that drew me to the topic of mind-body medicine in the first place. The mind influences physiology in many ways — from stress to sexual arousal — so it has always seemed reasonable to me that it might impact health. Yet the question has become so polarized: advocates of alternative medicine claim miracle cures, while many conventional scientists and doctors insist any suggestion of “healing thoughts” is deluded.
I was interested in those clashing philosophies: I wanted to look at why it is so difficult to have a reasoned debate about this issue. What drives so many people to believe in the pseudoscientific claims of alternative therapists, and why are skeptics so resistant to any suggestion that the mind might influence health?
Many Internet users will soon be able to take a breath of relief. Oracle has finally announced that it is discontinuing its Java browser plugin. It will begin scaling down the plugin technology in Java Developer Kit 9 and remove it completely from Oracle JDK and Java Runtime Environment in a future Java SE release.
The company admitted this week that plugins have grown outdated and modern Web browsers don’t need them any more to function. To recall, Chrome started to disable Java in April last year, while Firefox also announced plans to kill Oracle’s technology in the same year. Oracle also urges developers that build technology around or are reliant on the Java browser plugin to find an alternative.
“With modern browser vendors working to restrict and reduce plugin support in their products, developers of applications that rely on the Java browser plugin need to consider alternative options such as migrating from Java Applets (which rely on a browser plugin) to the plugin-free Java Web Start technology,” Oracle said in a blog post to users.
We at Twitchy have covered quite a few stories about student groups that have presented lists of demands to university administrators — apparently many students voluntarily filled out applications to these schools and wrote tuition checks without any idea they were hellish hotbeds of racism, sexual assault, and cafeterias that try to pass off ciabatta bread as a passable substitute for a crispy baguette in Vietnamese dishes.
So far, these showdowns between students and the schools they chose to attend have resulted in resignations and capitulation, so we feel like borrowing the siren from another website to announced that a university president — Oberlin’s president — has told disgruntled students they can take a hike, despite the dire warning of a “full and forceful response.”
Inside Higher Ed reported Thursday that Oberlin president Marvin Krislov posted a response to the demands on the school’s website explaining that he would not negotiate based on the students’ “non-negotiable” list of demands, which included the creation of “special, segregated black-only ‘safe-spaces’ across campus,” along with an $8.20 an hour stipend to be paid to organizers of black student protests.
I get it — Saturday afternoons can stretch on forever. You can only sit througn The Wedding Crashers on W so many times. And idle hands, as they say, are the devil’s playground. But you really should resist the temptation, seductive though it may be, to hack the Facebook pages of North America’s most beloved indie bands. Unless, that is, you want Bob Mould to write a song about you.
Over the weekend, you might have noticed some out-of-character content coming from the accounts of Death Cab For Cutie, Best Coast, The New Pornographers, The Postal Service, and Bob Mould. Stuff like: “The Sleeping Position of Women Reveals A Lot About Them” and “These 14 Facts About Boobs Will Blow Your Mind.” All the handiwork of a black hat.