GENAU - Acid drops by Donato Dozzy



How can we save our beloved mom-and-pop shops from gentrification?

SARAH GOODYEAR in the NY Daily News with a pretty level headed look at “gentrification”:

In New York, a proposal that would require landlords to offer 10-year leases and submit to binding arbitration when negotiating rents has been stuck in committee for 30 years. Some lawmakers, citing a retail “crisis” sweeping the city, are making a new push to consider some variation on that idea. In Seattle, Councilmember Kshama Sawant, a socialist, has developed a proposal for commercial rent stabilization, although it, too, is not yet scheduled for a vote.

Such legislation is anathema to free-market advocates, who argue that government has no business interfering in the ability of landlords to charge whatever prices they want. They say that residential rent control has distorted the housing market already, and the last thing cities need is even the faintest hint of commercial rent control or subsidy. They dismiss the whole idea as one based on misguided nostalgia.

“The main reason Duane Reades and Walgreens are there is because people purchase there,” Steven Spinola, then-president of the Real Estate Board of New York, told The Villager newspaper last year, in advance of a forum the paper hosted on the issue. “This is a free market. It’s not something that should be negotiated.”

The conclusion gets to the crux of the matter, though people don’t want to believe it, cities change, and if you don’t like it, your only choice is to move on …



Financial Cryptography 2016



Google’s AI Wins Pivotal Game Two In Match With Go Grandmaster

Cade Metz in Wired: (link is to archive.is, due to Wired’s invasive advertising)

After more than four hours of tight play and a rapid-fire endgame, Google’s artificially intelligent Go-playing computer system has won a second contest against grandmaster Lee Sedol, taking a two-games-to-none lead in their historic best-of-five match in downtown Seoul.

This is extremely surprising, as as of a year ago, an high-average amateur player could beat any computer at go. Then 6 months ago, Google’s program beat a 2-dan pro, which was a shock to everyone, and now it seems to be handling a 9-dan pro, which is the top level of go ranking.



Preliminary thoughts on the Apple iPhone order in the San Bernardino case: Part 3, the policy question

Orin Kerr in The Volokh Conspiracy:

In this post, the third in a series, I want to discuss what I think is the policy question at the heart of the Apple case about opening the San Bernardino iPhone. The question is, what is the optimal amount of physical box security? It’s a question we’ve never asked before because we haven’t lived in a world where a lot of physical box security was possible. Computers and cellphones change that, raising for the first time the question of how much security is ideal.



A Message to Our Customers

Tim Cook at apple.com:

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. 

This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.

About time a corporation stood up, the telecoms sure haven’t, so Apple took on the role, and now have the opportunity to make a needed stand.



Judge to DOJ: Not All Writs

And Andrew Crocker at the EFF explains why the goverment is overreaching with the use of All Writs:

Reengineering iOS and breaking any number of Apple’s promises to its customers is the definition of an unreasonable burden. As the Ninth Circuit put it in a case interpreting technical assistance in a different context, private companies’ obligations to assist the government have “not extended to circumstances in which there is a complete disruption of a service they offer to a customer as part of their business.” What’s more, such an order would be unconstitutional. Code is speech, and forcing Apple to push backdoored updates would constitute “compelled speech” in violation of the First Amendment. It would raise Fourth and Fifth Amendment issues as well. Most important, Apple’s choice to offer device encryption controlled entirely by the user is both entirely legal and in line with the expert consensus on security best practices. It would be extremely wrong-headed for Congress to require third-party access to encrypted devices, but unless it does, Apple can’t be forced to do so under the All Writs Act.

Via darringfireball



The big sleep

Julia Medew in The Age:

The two scientists relished life. They skied, went bushwalking and climbed mountains, often taking their three young daughters with them. Their cultural and intellectual pursuits were many - classical music, opera, literature, wine, arguments over dinner with their many friends. They donated 10 per cent of their annual income to political and environmental movements. Family events were spent thoroughly debating the topics of the day.

As their capacity declined, the conversation about ending their own lives became more serious and their rejection of what Peter called “religious do-gooders” became more fierce.

“It was also a way into their favourite topics; philosophy, ethics, politics, the law …,” says their youngest daughter, Kate. “The idea that their end-of-life decisions could be interfered with by people with the superstitions of medieval inquisitors astounded them, and alarmed them.”

Via Next Draft



Capitol Bells

And in reference to the previous post, here is an app that pokes a bit at the representative vs. direct democracy:

Capitol Bells

Capitol Bells lets you cast your vote for upcoming bills, and informs you when your elected representative votes for, or against, or not at all.

Of course the problem isn’t so much the voting, much more the understanding the bills. I have some ideas on this front, but need some more time to think them through, and would be a huge project to build …



Why real-world governments don’t have the consent of the governed – and why it matters

Ilya Somin in The Volokh Conspiracy:

The Declaration of Independence famously states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” But, sadly, this is almost never the case in the real world. If it is indeed true, as Abraham Lincoln famously put it, that “no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent,” that principle has more radical implications than Lincoln probably intended. Few if any of those who wield government power measure up to that lofty standard.

A fantastic overvew of some things I feel very strongly about. And his conclusion is exactly the same as mine:

The nonconsensual nature of most government policies also strengthens the case for devolving power to regional and local authorities in order to increase the number of issues on which citizens can “vote with their feet” and thereby exercise at least some degree of meaningful consent.



Display Prep Demo

A cinematographer makes an attempt to preform a digital vs. film comparison. In a very particular way. I think he fails to reach the goal he set out for himself, but I don’t believe that the theory he presents is incorrect. In a few years the iteration in digital imaging tech, and the math to preform the transforms will progress, and we will be there. Then this silly debate will be over :)

See also this revealing conversation he had with a film purist:

People are so religious about this that they’re resistant to even trying. But not trying does not prove it’s not possible.

If you believe there are attributes that haven’t been identified and/or properly modeled in my personal film emulation, then that means you believe those attributes exist. If they exist, they can be identified. If they don’t exist, then, well, they don’t exist and the premise is false.

It just doesn’t seem like a real option that these attributes exist but can never be identified and are effectively made out of intangible magic that can never be understood or studied.

To insist that film is pure magic and to deny the possibility of usefully modeling its properties would be like saying to Kepler in 1595 as he tried to study the motion of the planets: “Don’t waste your time, no one can ever understand the ways of God so don’t bother. You’ll never be able to make an accurately predictive mathematical model of the crazy motions of the planets — they just do whatever they do.”



Frozen soap bubbles



The Case of the Missing Hong Kong Book Publishers

Jiayang Fan in The New Yorker:

When a politically problematic figure disappears—or is disappeared—in China, a dark uneasiness falls, though usually accompanied by a glum sense of the inevitable. This is the cost of living within an authoritarian regime with diminishing patience for deviance. For a breather from such oppressive strictures, one might hop across the border to Hong Kong, where the policy of “one country, two systems” guarantees the freedom of speech and of the press, under the former British colony’s Basic Law, its own mini-Constitution. That refuge had seemed reasonably dependable, at least until a week ago, when Lee Bo became the fifth member of a Hong Kong-based publishing house specializing in provocative tomes about Beijing leaders to vanish mysteriously, not on a trip to the mainland but from his own home city, Hong Kong.



Britcoin or Brit-PESA?

Some high level mulling of a very smart person about the future of digital currency, as relates to the involvment of central banks:

Dave Birch in Consult Hyperion’s blog:

So: imagine something like M-PESA but run by the Bank of England. Everyone has an account and you can transfer money from one account to another by a mobile phone app (that uses the secure TEE in modern mobile phones) or by logging in with two factor authentication to any one of a number of service providers that use the Bank of England API to access the accounts or by phoning a voice recognition and authentication service. Drawing on our experiences from M-PESA, TAP and other population-scale mobile-centric system that we have advised on, I think that this API might actually the most important single thing that a Brit-PESA might deliver to the British economy.



Security and the Normalization of Deviance

Schneier on Security:

Professional pilot Ron Rapp has written a fascinating article on a 2014 Gulfstream plane that crashed on takeoff. The accident was 100% human error and entirely preventable – the pilots ignored procedures and checklists and warning signs again and again. Rapp uses it as example of what systems theorists call the “normalization of deviance.”

The point is that normalization of deviance is a gradual process that leads to a situation where unacceptable practices or standards become acceptable, and flagrant violations of procedure become normal – despite that fact that everyone involved knows better.

I think this is a useful term for IT security professionals. I have long said that the fundamental problems in computer security are not about technology; instead, they’re about using technology. We have lots of technical tools at our disposal, and if technology alone could secure networks we’d all be in great shape. But, of course, it can’t. Security is fundamentally a human problem, and there are people involved in security every step of the way.

I have seen this personally many times, you can be sloppy several hundred/thousand/whatever times, and it doesn’t bite you, so you come to believe that being sloppy has no risk, and then boom out of “nowhere” a failure. When you look back and analyze the failure you will find that this complacency for the new normal of sloppy behavior is the root cause.



Ted Cruz and the use of deception to exploit political ignorance

Ilya Somin in The Volokh Conspiracy:

William Saletan of Slate has an interesting article on Ted Cruz’s misrepresentations about his record on immigration. He effectively shows that Cruz supported the legalizing the status of large numbers of illegal immigrants back in 2013, but now pretends that he opposed it all along.

The truth is that deceiving voters about one’s past or present positions is a fairly standard political strategy. Few successful politicians become such without engaging in this kind of deception at one point or another. I see little difference between Cruz’s distortions of his record on immigration, and President Obama’s years of lying about his position on same-sex marriage between 2008 and 2012.

Obama’s bad behavior, of course, in no way excuses Cruz’s or that of other Republicans. Here, as elsewhere, political partisans would do well to try to keep their biases in check and remember the sins of their own party, as well as those of the opposition.

In fairness, Cruz, Obama and other similar political leaders could potentially justify their deceptions by pointing to the dangers of unilateral disarmament in political combat. If they stop engaging in politically convenient lying, their opponents probably will not, and the more ethical candidates will be at a disadvantage. Donald Trump, whom Cruz is battling for the Republican nomination, is the proud winner of Politifact’s 2015 Lie of the Year award. To say the least, it is highly unlikely that he would reciprocate any restraint on Cruz’s part. President Obama (who won the same award in the 2013), can cite the various deceptions perpetrated by his political opponents.

If, as is likely, Cruz truly believes that the public interest would be best served by his winning the presidency, he could also conclude that he is justified in using deception to try to achieve that goal – especially if his opponents are going to use similar tactics. Similarly, Obama likely believes that his lies about same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act also ultimately served the public interest by helping him get elected, and enabling him to push through various beneficial policies.

Americans have the politicians they deserve, as in, if we can’t keep track of their lies from one month to the next, they have no choice but to manipulate our ignorance, rational or otherwise.



The WELL: Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016

In January 2000 Jon Lebkowsky interviewed Bruce Sterling here in Inkwell about “The Viridian Future,” and in 2001 about “The State of the Future.” 2002’s discussion was called “State of the Whirled,” followed in 2003 by a discussion inspired by Bruce’s nonfiction book, “Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years.” In 2004, we had the “Bruce Sterling State of the World Address,” and thereafter we called it the “State of the World” conversation.

Pundits abound, speaking with real or fabricated authority on a variety of subjects, and as the year turns spewing top ten lists and year-end summaries, and confident but subjective prognostications about the next year or five. If you’re bored with that sort of thing, you might find this two-week conversation more fun, interesting, and compelling. Our speakers are not creating keyword-rich listicles to maximize hits and produce conversions… but discussing the “state of the world” based on their perspectives as future-focused mavens immersed in information and contemporary culture.

Bruce Sterling’s perspectives are especially interesting given his global perspective as someone who travels and reports broadly, and his experiences as an author, speaker, teacher and maker attentive to trends in science, culture, politics, and design. He’s known a novelist, journalist and speaker. While acting as “Visionary in Residence” at Art Center College of Design in 2008, he wrote “Shaping Things,” one of the first books about the Internet of Things. In 2008 he was the curator of the Share Festival in Turin, on the theme of Italian digital manufacturing. He was one of the original columnists for Make magazine and wrote the cover story for the first issue of WIRED. Bruce Sterling lives in Turin, Belgrade and Austin. http://casajasmina.arduino.cc/team/

Jon Lebkowsky has been making and sharing experiences in digital culture and media for over 25 years. Currently he’s part of Polycot Associates, a mission-driven digital development co-operative based in Austin, Texas. He’s also President of EFF-Austin, an organization that’s been supporting digital freedom in Texas since 1990. He’s been an activist, sometimes journalist, and blogger who writes about the future of the Internet, digital culture, media, and society. http://weblogsky.com



Hiring Without Signals

David Henderson in Econlog:

Readers of Econlog who read co-blogger Bryan Caplan’s posts know that Bryan has posted a lot on a college degree as an expensive signal to potential employers. Here are 88 posts Bryan has written on signaling.

I find Bryan’s argument and evidence persuasive. Like some of his critics, though, I have often wondered why employers don’t figure out cheaper ways of getting information about potential employees. You might argue that the expense is not on the employer but on the employee. But if an employer can find a good employee who lacks a college degree, the employer can, all other things equal, pay less.

In Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal is an interesting news story by Rachel Feintzeg titled “Why Bosses Are Turning to ‘Blind Hiring’.” (WSJ, January 6, 2015, p. B4) [ed. note: see here for the article on archive.is to bypass the paywall].



Ensemble Staging

Every Frame a Painting:


How do you emphasize to the audience that something is important? Well, you could always cut to a close-up, but how about something subtler? Today I consider ensemble staging — a style of filmmaking that directs the audience exactly where to look, without ever seeming to do so at all.

Fantantastic movie too (Memories of Murder), this should convince you to see it.

Via kottke.org



Access Denied

First half is boring, but hits some on the head in the second half:

John Herrman in the Awl:

This “conceptual space for neutrality” follows from the idea that publications and reporters have a responsibility not just to discover and contextualize new information but to distribute it in a transparent or somehow balanced way. People demanded fairness from their local paper because it may have been their only local paper; people were sensitive to bias in network news because it was one of a few options providing a relatively scarce type of information. Their audiences afforded them powers: to talk to the powerful, to dedicate resources to investigations, to collect and summarize the news. These powers created a sense of obligation which, of course, they were free to fail to meet.

Via NextDraft