We Don’t Know How to Handle Terrorism

Found this very insightful quote over on Slashdot, and I couldn’t agree more:

“Countries like the UK and Israel have experience with terrorism, and they’ve developed reasonably sane ways of handling it. Just to be clear, I’m not praising the fact that they stole land from the Irish and the Palestinians — but at least they don’t act like total idiots when someone sets off a bomb. The US, on the other hand, responded to 9/11 by running around like a chicken with its head cut off. We shot ourselves in the foot in ways that were far worse than any of the damage done by the 9/11 hijackers, including two wars and an all-out assault on our own civil liberties. Compared to that kind of national self-mutilation, I can’t really take it too seriously when I’m not allowed to bring a full-size shampoo bottle on an airplane — but it certainly is an example of the same idiocy, just on a smaller scale.”

As elections are coming up here in the US again soon, it’s worth remembering things like this and keeping it in mind when you are choosing who gets your vote.

The Problems

Found this over on a Slashdot story about how attacks on voting machines are practical (despite arguments to the contrary):

The problem is our elections are supposed to be transparent by law.
The problem is our elections are supposed to have public oversight.
The problem is a private company can not provide public oversight.
The problem is electronic vote tabulation devices use invisible signals which no human (especially a poll watcher) can see.
The problem is China or North Korea could decide our elections and we wouldn’t know.
The problem is there is no electronic vote tabulation device (or electronic vote registration poll book device) which can be validated with public oversight.
The problem is without public oversight, no election can be validated.
The problem is if our elections can not be validated, we can not hold our representatives responsible.
The problem is if our representatives can not be held responsible, they tend to ignore the rule of law.
The problem is if our representatives ignore the rule of law, they tend to ignore protecting the US Constitution against all enemies.
The problem is when the US Constitution is ignored, we no longer live in a Constitutional Republic.
The problem is when we no longer live in a Constitutional Republic, we slip into fascism.
The problem is we have slipped into fascism.
The problem is ignorance is no longer an excuse for corruption.

It was, of course, posted Anonymously… but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

Using Tax Money

Found this great quote from a discussion over on Slashdot on a story of some attackers cutting fiber cables into a city in California:

“Using tax money to provide goods and services does two things: it hides the true cost by shifting the burden of payment onto other people and it eliminates choice. Those are both bad, but for different reasons.”

This is a very insightful quote, and one that people would do well to remember whenever they start talking about having “the government pay for it.” (Of course there are cases where using tax money is the only way to do certain things, but it’s still good to keep this in mind.)

CAN-SPAM Act is 5 Years Old

So it’s been 5 years since the CAN-SPAM act was introduced. Yet my inbox is still flooded with spam (I have to use 2 different spam-filtering services to keep it from being overwhelming – and even then stuff still gets through).

An article on Slashdot asks the obvious question: what went wrong?

“Five years ago, the US tech industry, politicians, and Internet users were wringing their hands over the escalating problem of spam. This prompted Congress to pass a landmark anti-spam bill known as the CAN-SPAM Act in December 2003. Fast forward five years. The number of spam messages sent over the Internet every day has grown more than 10-fold, topping 164 billion worldwide in August 2008. Almost 97% of all e-mails are spam, costing US ISPs and corporations an estimated $42 billion a year. What went wrong here?”

A very good question. The answers, of course, are obvious to those who understand how spam really works (and how often it’s obfuscated so you can’t tell who really sent it), coupled with how hard it is to actually prosecute someone under the CAN-SPAM Act.