Showing posts from October 18, 2016

When Meth Was Medicine: Big Pharma Amphetamine Ads from the Days of Better Living Through Chemistry

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[From The Good Old Days Department. Examples of pharmaceutical ads from days of yore shed an interesting light on our current attitudes toward speed.

By Phillip SmithAlterNet, 16 October 2016

Methamphetamine today is widely considered a scourge, its users portrayed as toothless trailer park trash and twitchy tweakers. It's the stuff of meth labs and drug raids, but it wasn't always like that.

Hacked by a fridge: The Internet of Things and cyberattacks

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[This reminds me of Ray Bradbury's short story The Veldt - being eaten alive by our homes and possessions. *RON*]
Written by Mihai Lazarescu, World Economic Forum, 10 October 2016. This article is published in collaboration with The Conversation.

The past few weeks have seen a remarkable and somewhat alarming development in cyber security. It comes in the wake of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that has forced a rethink of how we can deal with attacks of this nature in the future.

The attack was aimed at the Krebs on Security website, a well established source of valuable information on cyber crime.

What was remarkable about this particular attack was the sheer volume of traffic involved. According to the author himself, the attack reached around 620 gigabits per second, which is nearly twice the amount seen in the previous record-breaking DDoS attack.

To put things in perspective, this is like the website being hit by one and …

The Uber economy looks a lot like the pre-industrial economy

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[Labor in the corporatocracy. Welcome back to the Dark Ages, Micro-Serfs! *RON*]
Alison Griswold, Quartz, 11 October 2016
Maybe Uber isn’t that innovative after all.

A new study from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), finds that the “gig” economy model popularized by Uber has a lot in common with the economies of poor countries today, as well as the US and Europe before the Industrial Revolution.

Uber and other “gig” companies like Lyft and TaskRabbit hire their workers as independent contractors rather than full employees. These jobs comes with a lot of flexibility—workers can set their own schedules—but they lack the protections afforded full-time employees of larger corporate enterprises, such as health care and a guaranteed minimum wage. Uber and its digital peers are a small if well-known part of the larger independent workforce, which McKinsey estimates at 20% to 30% of the working-age population in the US and the EU-15, or some 160 millio…

The Tax Code for the Ultra-Rich vs. the One for Everyone Else

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[It's looking very much as though there's a separate set of laws for people with extreme amounts of wealth. *RON*]

James Kwak, The Atlantic, 15 October 2016
The revelation of details from Donald Trump’s 1995 state tax returns created exactly the political firestorm that it merited. Before they came to light, the Republican presidential candidate’s flimsy excuses for not releasing his returns produced two lines of speculation: Either he wasn’t as rich as he claimed, or he wasn’t paying any taxes. Trump’s colossal $916 million loss in 1995 partially confirmed both theories, with opponents portraying him as a bumbling businessman who exploits tax loopholes to shift his losses onto ordinary taxpayers.

When it comes to tax policy, however, Trump’s tax returns are a distraction that crowds out more important issues. In The New York Times, the columnist James Stewart outlined how to prevent Trump’s particular form of tax avoidance: Shorten the pe…

Feds Walk Into A Building, Demand Everyone's Fingerprints To Open Phones

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[Something is fundamentally wrong if the authorities are allowed to breach personal privacy on fishing expeditions such as this! I only just remembered that I hadn't posted my stories for today yet!!! *RON* :-) ]

Thomas Fox-Brewster, Forbes, 16 October 2016
In what’s believed to be an unprecedented attempt to bypass the security of Apple iPhones, or any smartphone that uses fingerprints to unlock, California’s top cops asked to enter a residence and force anyone inside to use their biometric information to open their mobile devices.

FORBES found a court filing, dated May 9 2016, in which the Department of Justice sought to search a Lancaster, California, property. But there was a more remarkable aspect of the search, as pointed out in the memorandum: “authorization to depress the fingerprints and thumbprints of every person who is located at the SUBJECT PREMISES during the execution of the search and who is reasonably believed by law enforceme…

Why did the B.C. government just fire the Vancouver School Board?

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[This kind of crap gets pulled in totalitarian states - are we content to live in a banana republic? Despite having a big budget surplus, the Liberals refuse to properly fund public education. *RON*]

Derrick O'Keefe, Ricochet Media, 17 October 2016
With just over 200 days until a much-anticipated provincial election, the B.C. Liberals played a surprise political card Monday by firing the elected members of the Vancouver School Board.
The move, downright cruel in its timing, shows the B.C. government is willing to put cynical and divisive politics above public education. With few seats to lose in the City of Vancouver, the right-wing provincial government clearly thinks it can gain politically province-wide by ripping the bandage off of a wound that school board trustees have spent months working in good faith to heal. Full disclosure: My eldest child just started kindergarten this fall in Vancouver, so my visceral outrage is both parental and …