Where do I begin? I'll just start dumping links.
Surrounded by the distraction that was New Year's Eve celebrations, our President of hope and change signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Among its provisions are some that legalize the indefinite detention of United States citizens within the borders of the United States, if the United States government suspects that citizen of plotting a terrorist act.
Terrorism is crimethink. It is now legal for the government to lock up law-abiding citizens indefinitely, and without ever charging locked-up citizens with a crime.
The right to due process: suspended.
The right to habeas corpus: suspended.
The right to an attorney: suspended.
The right to a trial by a jury of your peers: suspended.
With a stroke of a pen in the hand of the President of the United States, the terrorists we vowed to defeat on the eve of That Day have won.
Some lawmakers see at least a glimmer of the unconstitutionality of this law and are working to repeal those provisions, but we need a majority of them to, and we need to tell them all.
Feds Want Judge to Force Suspect to Give Up Laptop Password - Threat Level, Wired Magazine.
Basically, the government has no solid evidence in the financial fraud case it's prosecuting against a Colorado woman. They were expecting to find it when they seized a laptop PC during a search warrant, but the woman wisely used full-disk encryption to protect its contents. Now they're arguing that she should be forced to give up the encryption key so that the feds can then search its contents and find evidence they don't have now.
The problem, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued, is that the act of giving the key is an act of testimony and thus compulsory self-incrimination, a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
How Copyright Industries Con Congress - Cato @ Liberty, the Cato Institute.
The Stop Online Piracy Act, commonly known as SOPA, is just the latest foray into our elected Congressmen being bought, bullied, or conned into passing legislation that hurts us all. There's still time to oppose it (along with its equally evil sister in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act or PIPA), but it's a hard fight.
In that fight, President Obama dispatched a former diplomat to mend Hollywood ties (The Hollywood Reporter). If Obama does the right thing and vetoes SOPA and PIPA if they pass, then he'll alienate his so-called friends (who are just big-money contributors buying power through him) and likely lose re-election. His record is one of so much hopelessness and so much staying-the-course to tyranny that, if there's any justice, he will lose re-election anyway.
But how about this nail in the coffin of the claim that so-called piracy hurts copyright creators? Keyser Report: The MPAA and RIAA lies to defend failed business model [sic] - YouTube copy of a Russia Today news broadcast in English. Comedian Louis CK gave a live, Internet-only performance that was completely unencumbered with DRM, which meant that nothing could stop anyone from copying and sharing the video if anyone wanted to.
What ended up happening was he got so much more money than he expected that he is giving away more than half of it to charity, about $1/2 million. The reason this didn't go as the MPAA and RIAA (together the MAFIAA) routinely say it would? Simple: By using a free middleman, the Internet without restrictions, to reach consumers, he made it easier, more convenient, and more affordable for people to pay him directly than to get his content from a third-party free sharing source.
Customers who buy something are a lot happier and more willing to pay than customers who are sold the same thing.
Also on the copyright front: AP and 28 News Groups Going after Aggregators - TechZwn.
Just look up the one-word search term Righthaven or the two-word search term copyright trolls. The greedy and their gullible supporters want it to be illegal to do so much as what I'm doing here, merely linking to news stories, because you're reading news for free instead of paying a digital toll booth for the "priviledge" of reading what's happening in the world around you.
Isn't it funny how Hillary Clinton, our former First Lady, Secretary of State, and would-be President, is telling every nation in the world to embrace freedom of expression on the Internet? Every nation but the home nation? Well, our nation was caught bullying other nations into adopting liberty-squashing copyright laws like what the MAFIAA want for the US.
If you think I'm lying or exaggerating, the RIAA have said they must take a shoot first, ask questions later apporach to censorship (TechDirt).
It's actually SOPA's sponsor, Representative Lamar Smith who's lying about, insulting, and dismissing opposition to his law, opposition which is growing by the minute as people learn how unconstitutionally bad SOPA and PIPA is.
Bank of America Nearly Forecloses on Home over 80-Cent Typo - ThinkProgress.
BOFA has a very long history of part-evil part-stupid banking practices, and it's time we stopped using that bank. Switch to a local bank (not a local branch), or better yet to a credit union where you'll have an ownership stake.
Eighty cents. Less than one dollar, and an otherwise forgivable fat-fingered error at that, and the bank wants to call it an unforgivable act worth easily 500,000 times that amount.
This is just all kinds of stupid right here, and not a bit of it has to do with the convict, who must now endure the likely hell of being convicted again. Still, that's the way due process works.
The stupidity is, first, having only a single computerized copy of something so important. Backups, people, do them. Save early, save often, make backups. Second, they relied on a system and configuration so inherently prone to viral attack: Microsoft Windows, a sure bet, and running with its user(s) having full administrator rights, 100-to-one odds.
The biggest of the idiots was fired for her mistake, the story says, but there's enough stupidity to go around that allowed this stupidity to escalate into a failure.
Speaking of stupidity: PayPal Tells Buyer to Destroy Purchased Violin Instead of Return for Refund - The Consumerist.
Ah, PayPal, will you ever stop giving us a neverending army of reasons to say you suck? People, stop taking PayPal for payments. If you absolutely must send a payment by PayPal, send it by credit card so that, if something stupid happens, you can have your credit card issuer do a chargeback to rescue your money.
Also, here's what ought to be a frightening PayPal vulnerability. If an attacker tries to take over your PayPal account, then even if your account is locked out, even though PayPal won't let you withdraw any money tied up in your PayPal account, they are still quite happy to keep allowing deposits into your PayPal account. That means you, your account hijacker or would-be hijacker, and everyone. That means an attacker can use every bank account tied to your PayPal account to deposit every cent you have into your PayPal account, draining every account you can touch into one you can't for at least half a year!
Occupy Congress - YouTube, 3:50.
A group of Anonymous who are sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement is going to protest Congress on Tuesday, January 17.
I know who Anonymous is. I know what makes them legion. I know why they don't forgive. I know why they don't forget. If I were you, I'd expect them.
If you're due a settlement from a class-action lawsuit, expect the settlement check to look like the sort of scammy junk mail you'd easily throw away without a second thought. This concerns anyone who paid for anything with a credit card while abroad and had to pay a currency conversion fee to have the payment rendered in the local currency.
Finally, something positive, haters gonna hate. Let the animated picture load. That's about the most fun thing I've seen a wheeled robot do.