Kafka alive and well, and working for the NYPD

Emmanuel Goldstein, one of the guiding forces behind the hacker magazine 2600, was arrested and detained for over 33 hours during the RNC, for doing nothing more than covering protests which are supposed to be every American citizen’s right. The story of his arrest, and the long, slow, grinding process of being processed through the “justice” system is available over at 2600.

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Alan Turing would be so proud…

You’ve probably heard of the Turing Test. You may have also read John’s story on Salon about the Loebner prize which purports to carry out the Turing test each year and award prizes. People labor over programs that try to pass for human, and fail miserably. Real AI guys have thrown up their hands in disgust and have disowned both the Loebner prize and apparently the Turing test itself.

But it appears they have all gone about it in the wrong way…

It’s actually an easy problem to solve.

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Patriot Missle Coverup

This article over at the Register implies that there has been a cover up over the death of two British pilots who were shot down after mistakenly being identified as an Iraq scud by the Patriot missle system. It seems that the military is reluctant to criticize the missle system, given that billions of dollars in sales to foreign governments are pending. Acknowledging its major flaws could be bad for Raytheon’s bottom line.

Hmm… I dimly seem to recall some half-remembered president that nattered on about the threat of the industrial-military complex to American freedom. Or something.

Infected major Websites spreading malware via Internet Explorer security holes

Normally, I figure that people will hear about these sorts of things on other sites, but I figured that this was important enough to post it up here. According to ZDNet, malicious hackers have compromised several “major websites.” They didn’t deface these sites with the usual “1 0wNez joo, biatch!” (forgive my poor leet speak). Rather, they installed their own software to take advantage of Internet Explorer’s unpatched security holes to install software on visitor’s PCs. The owners of the sites are apparently unaware of the fact that they are infecting their visitors, and visitors are probably complacent that they only visit “reputable” sites and have nothing to fear from spyware.

If you’re reading this using Internet Explorer (on Windows, at least), please, go download the latest version of Mozilla (or their up-and-coming new browser, Firefox). It’s free, and it’s a much more useful browser than IE, nevermind the fact that it doesn’t have the known gaping security holes that IE does. It’s also a supported application under constant development, unlike Internet Explorer.

(Updated: It appears that the problem will only affect users of Internet Explorer 6, not earlier versions. According to Microsoft, if you have installed WIndows XP service Pack 2 Beta (which 99% of you haven’t, I’d guess) then you’re safe as well.)

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DRM on the brain

Hmm… well, been stumbling over piracy and DRM stories all day, so I figured I’d pass along the joy.

First up, Cory Doctorow does the Daniel in the lions’ den thing and tries to convince the folks at Microsoft that anti-piracy techniques like Digital Rights Management are ineffective and worse, (from Microsoft’s standpoint) bad for business. It makes a good primer for many of the issues being discussed regarding copyrights, copy protection, and the full-court press by the RIAA and MPAA to legislate away some of the American citizen’s rights, because they are inconvenient.

Meanwhile, back in the other Washington, Orrin Hatch (well known composer and sometimes legislator) is introducing a bill that might make any device that could be used to violate copyrights illegal. As with most other cases these days, this one is sold as vital to protect our children (which is, of course, just behind preventing terrorism as the excuse du jour for taking away your rights).

Legislative Wrangling Over Word Definitions

Yesterday (March 11th), the Massachusetts legislature approved a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage, and instead establishing “civil unions” for same-sex couples. In this heated debate, I think neither side has noticed the the arguments over the sanctity of marriage vs. the civil rights of gays and lesbians has suddenly become a movement to amend the country’s oldest constitution to legislate the definition of a word.

As a professional writer, despite all the heated debate and the heartfelt views on both sides, I have to say I find this almost amusing…

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