crony capitalism

on the day that porter goss resigned as CIA chief, bush signed a memo allowing the incoming chief, michael hayden, to exempt companies from SEC regulation where matters of national security are involved:

A trip to the statute books showed that the amended version of the 1934 act states that “with respect to matters concerning the national security of the United States,” the President or the head of an Executive Branch agency may exempt companies from certain critical legal obligations. These obligations include keeping accurate “books, records, and accounts” and maintaining “a system of internal accounting controls sufficient” to ensure the propriety of financial transactions and the preparation of financial statements in compliance with “generally accepted accounting principles.”

so, with dispensation from the CIA, any company is now permitted to cook the books. and those devious terrorists won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell figuring out which companies are playing fast and loose with the numbers because the whole operation will be top-secret.

it’s too sunny out to speculate aloud what this crap is all about. and it is that in my opinion. pure horseshit.

connected anywhere on the planet

i spent the last couple of days out in lafayette getting certified as an operator / technician on sea tel’s marine stabilized VSAT antenna. the tech for these dishes is super cool, and i am going to look at the parent company as an investment, or maybe telenor, the main service provider. with one or even a few of these dishes (up to 1024 kbps down 256 kbps up per dish), you can be extremely well connected from virtually anywhere. they will keep a lock on satellite even in really heavy seas, keeping your broadband connection, VoIP and satellite TV feeds alive almost anywhere in the world. the airtime is pretty expensive now, but i have to imagine that will change. telecommuting will take on an entirely new dimension in the next twenty years. screw wifi. this is the real go-anywhere do-anything tech. (bgan terminals are pretty rad too).
marine stabilized satellite transceiver


we hauled the 48 channel board and the 24 track tape decks out of the basement at minna and loaded them on a uhaul so bret and paul can take them to LA. (pics by paul).
moving the recording studio to LA

monumental shift in medicine

as far as i know, merck’s new drug gardasil, just approved by the FDA as a vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer, is the first vaccine for cancer ever. a prevention for the number 2 cancer killer of women.
a vaccine for cancer. that is unbelievable. cervical cancer is caused by a virus, which i guess technically makes this drug a prophylactic against viral infection, but still. A VACCINE FOR CANCER!

i wonder if this is in fact a watershed moment in human history, that in retrospect will be a defining moment for health. vaccines for cancers of other primary origin might be much more difficult than targeting a virus. the approval of the first is a HUGE deal though!

change of pace

on the brighter side of things, i am spending a few days hanging out with my mom in ojai, and it is haas avocado season. one of her neighbors brought by two ginormous bags of avocados and oranges (none of the fruit on my mom’s trees are ripe yet). it’s really quiet and small-townish here, and everywhere you look there are trees and plants and flowers. a drive to the bank or the market takes you down orchard-lined streets and past horse corrals. it’s really warm and there is a pool. life is good.

ultimate spy porn

wired has published a statement from the eff’s key whistle-blowing witness in the class-action lawsuit against at&t. the equipment list seems to indicate that either at&t is really, really concerned about quality of service for the internet as a whole, or that they have established the infrastructure for intercepting ALL traffic on the internets. (wired also has an analysis of the statement).

it sure looks like the total information awareness (later renamed the terrorism information awareness) program was implemented despite having been defunded by congress in 2003. without more about where the information was going and how it was being used, i guess we won’t know. it is suspicious to say the least, that at&t is fighting to keep this under wraps. generally, when a company has a program designed to ensure quality service, they won’t shut up about it…

more info about the lawsuit at the EFF. i wonder when the polls are going to start showing a majority of american citizens are bothered they are living in an orwellian state. it bothers me, and hopefully you too. if so, please talk about it.

maybe we should all just stop paying our DSL and phone bills until they remove these additional unrequested “services”. or maybe rechristen their slogan: reach out and touch someone…inappropriately.

warantless domestic tracking

if you were a gambler, how much would you be willing to wager that the detailed “phone records” database being compiled by the bush administration does not include geotracking of cell phones?

Telecom companies and government are not eager to advertise that tracking capability. Nor will companies admit whether they are archiving the breadcrumb trail of pings from a cell phone so that they–or authorities–can trace back, after the fact, where the customer had been at a particular time. “Of course, there is that capability,” says Bruce Schneier, chief technical officer with Counterpane Internet Security. “Verizon and the other companies have access to that information and the odds are zero that they wouldn’t sell it if it is legal and profitable. This is capitalism after all.”

well, how about if the NSA showed up and said “give us those records. it is legal, because we are the government and we say so”. we already know that at&t, verizon, and bell south have readily shared call lists for tens millions of americans (and the eff is launching a class action lawsuit against at&t). i have not seen any reports that this information is being shared. but if i were pressed into a bet, i know where my money would be.