Category: "Politics"

What metadata can tell you...

Politics, Geekdom Send feedback »

So, back when people were saying stupid things like “It’s just metadata, not your actual phone conversations” about the NSA monitoring, I really wanted to see someone release this sort of info just to demonstrate what “just metadata” really provides. It turns out, someone in Germany already had. I meant to post this when I first ran across it back in July, but didn’t.

From Zeit Online:
Most people’s understanding of what can actually be done with the data provided by our mobile phones is theoretical; there were few real-world examples. That is why Malte Spitz from the German Green party decided to publish his own data collected from August 2009 to February 2010. However, to even access the information, he had to file a suit against telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom.

Basically, the metadata matched up with other publicly available info is pretty revealing. And the NSA has access to it without the effort Spitz had to go through to get his own data. This profile that they built by tying together info told where he was and for how long. You can also tell how he got there by looking at routes & time it took. You can even extrapolate who he may have been with (or at least who was nearby) if you have access to everyone’s records as the NSA does.

This profile reveals when Spitz walked down the street, when he took a train, when he was in an airplane. It shows where he was in the cities he visited. It shows when he worked and when he slept, when he could be reached by phone and when was unavailable. It shows when he preferred to talk on his phone and when he preferred to send a text message. It shows which beer gardens he liked to visit in his free time. All in all, it reveals an entire life.

And, in another article they put up a pretty cool visualization that is really what got my attention. Pretty cool. But also a bit scary.

Foolish view on high drug costs...

Politics, Health+Fitness Send feedback »

Foolish as in The Motley Fool. They have a nice little article talking about drug costs. I've been pointing #2 out to people for years. Basically it comes down to:

  1. Research & Development &mdash of released and failed products.
  2. Subsidizing the rest of the world &mdash price controls come at a price.
  3. Marketing.
  4. Taxes & Government fees.
  5. Profit.


So the wars were free after 2008?

Politics Send feedback »

How long does the current administration get to blame costs on the previous?

This is a bit inaccurate. Obama needs to take ownership of some of those policies that he either continued or even helped to implement from the Bush Administration. Pretty sure those wars are still going on and money is being spent on them. And how about TARP that Obama helped to implement? And that nebulous “Domestic & Defense Spending” is likely still occurring.

And they wonder why no one believes anything that comes out of Washington.

Presidential Address

Politics Send feedback »

I posted a couple notes to Facebook, Twitter & Google+ last night when I was at the gym. I caught probably a total of a minute & a half of the address & response, then a few minutes of the 6 hours of commentary and analysis nonsense in-between exercises.

Here’s my summary of the address/response:

Republicrats shoulda paid debt instead of cutting taxes. Democans shouldn’t spend so much.

Did I miss anything?

I then noticed a snippet during several commentaries. It was reported on The Huffington Post that the President’s call to action, to let you Representative know how you feel caused an unintentional DDoS attack on the Congressional servers. Ooops.

Breaking News ... you'd think FOX would learn

Politics Send feedback »

Seriously, guys? Read what you type before submitting perhaps? Apparently the last time this happened they just put the idiot responsible on the Sunday evening shift.

“Usama Bin Landen Dead Fox News Confrims”

Usama Bin Landen Dead Fox News Confrims
Usama Bin Landen Dead Fox News Confrims

And regarding the news, I’m not sure what difference him being dead makes in reality. And I’m actually a little surprised that Obama didn’t find a way to keep th news under wraps til election time. Better yet, hide him someplace on life support and pull the plug next October.

It's not their money...

Politics Send feedback »

It’s hard to find a solution when you won’t even look at the problem. Idiots.

According to an AP article on Yahoo!News:

The Senate Tuesday rejected a plan backed by President Barack Obama to create a bipartisan task force to tackle the federal deficit this year despite glaring new figures showing the enormity of the red-ink threat.

I think the best part if the article is from Republican Senator Judd Gregg from New Hampshire:

“Yet another indication that Congress is more concerned with the next election than the next generation,” said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., a sponsor of the plan.

Certainly not a surprise.

And…

The measure went down because anti-tax Republicans joined with Democrats who were wary of being railroaded into cutting Social Security and Medicare.

I guess it’s good the Democrats & Republicans can agree on something. Even if it is to do nothing.

Dallas Propositions 1 & 2.

Politics 2 feedbacks »

Anyone that knows much about be can probably guess where I stand on these, and I was pretty sure I knew before even reading them. But, to make sure I wasn’t getting caught up in all the hype & the steaming shovelfuls of crap that both sides have been slinging, I looked them up & read them.

Proposition 1

Shall Chapter XI of the Charter of the City of Dallas be amended by adding Section 15 to:

(1) prohibit the city from, directly or indirectly, using, lending, or transferring city money or property, or lending the city’s credit, for the purpose of siting, financing, constructing, acquiring, leasing, or operating a hotel or other lodging facility;

(2) prohibit the city from creating, authorizing, or sponsoring any special-purpose governmental entity or any non-profit corporation (including a local government corporation or a public facility corporation), or authorizing the issuance of bonds, notes, or other debt instruments by such special-purpose governmental entity or non-profit corporation, for the purpose of siting, financing, constructing, acquiring, leasing, or operating a hotel or other lodging facility;

(3) require the city to assume the powers and duties of any existing local government corporation previously created or authorized by the city for the purpose of siting, financing, constructing, acquiring, leasing, or operating a hotel or other lodging facility;

(4) require the city to alter the structure, organization, programs, and activities of any existing public facility corporation sponsored by the city and to prohibit such corporation from siting, financing, constructing, acquiring, leasing, or operating a hotel or other lodging facility; and (5) provide certain exceptions?

______ YES

______ NO

In summary, Prop 1 keeps the City of Dallas out of the hotel business. I have yet to figure out why people think the government at any level will suddenly become competent and do something better than the private sector. Admittedly, of late, the private sector hasn’t done so hot, but I doubt our corrupt, incompetent elected officials (why do we keep voting for these idiots) could do better.

Proposition 2

Shall Chapter XI of the Charter of the City of Dallas be amended by adding Section 16 to:

(1) prohibit the city of Dallas (including any special-purpose governmental entity, nonprofit corporation, and any other entity created or controlled by the city) from providing more than a total of $1,000,000 in financial assistance (including any grant of tax concessions or relief; any authorization of debt or debt instruments; any expenditure of public funds; and any exchange, grant, or below-market sale or lease of city-owned land) to any private development project (the primary purpose of which is to construct or aid in the construction, renovation, repair, alteration, or remodeling of any hotel, convention center, luxury residential condominium, or retail facility, or the infrastructure of any such facility), unless the city gives at least 65 days’ public notice (including posting the notice on the city’s website for the entire 65-day notice period) before approving the financial assistance and obtains voter approval for the financial assistance at a regular or special election when voter approval is required by a petition that is signed by at least 500 residents of the city and filed with the city secretary within 60 days after the public notice is posted;

(2) exempt from the financial assistance restrictions any retail development of less than 50,000 square feet that serves a subsidized residential development; and (3) provide a severability clause?

_____ YES

_____ NO

Proposition 2 makes the city tell us 65 days in advance and hold a special election upon petition if they are going to give away more than $1 million of our money. Again, why is this a problem? $1 million is a pretty decent cap. About $0.75 per person. And likely more like $2 per tax payer. I realize we elect the council to make these decisions for us, but they have proven time & time again to not be competent to do so. If a project is worthy, the people will approve it. What are they so afraid of?

So that should make my opinion pretty clear. Please read them and make up your mind based on the propositions themselves, not on the rhetoric & fancy websites of either side.

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