Data at the gates

The Obama Campaign’s Digital Masterminds Cash In - NYTimes.com
"Earlier this year, senior members of President Barack Obama’s campaign team took a trip to Las Vegas....They were there to make money — specifically to land what they hoped would be the first corporate client for their new advertising business, Analytics Media Group (A.M.G.). Its bland name obscures its relatively grand promise: to deliver to commercial advertisers some of the Obama campaign’s secret, technologically advanced formulas for reaching voters."

We just don't do enough kinky around here

Christian Domestic Discipline Promotes Spanking Wives To Maintain Biblical Marriage
"When a follower of the Christian Domestic Discipline movement decides what to hit his God-fearing wife with, research is important. A hairbrush, for example, is "excellent for achieving the desired sting" but can break easily. Alternatively, a ping pong paddle is quiet and sturdy but may not sting as much as is required to get the message across.  
"These bits of information are among the tips and tricks detailed in the Beginning Domestic Discipline's "Beginner's Packet"..."
Tips and tricks, I bet.

Moon invades!

Supermoon June 2013: Everything You Need To Know About Perigee Moon This Weekend (PHOTOS)
"Set to peak on Sunday, June 23, the 2013 supermoon is noteworthy not only for the remarkable sight it will present to skywatchers but also because it will be the largest supermoon this year."

Is this the most clueless headline ever written or what?

Why AT&T And Verizon May Start Charging You More Fees

Really? Why? Why?

Why is hail always baseball-sized?

One dead, thousands without power after storms hit U.S. Midwest | Reuters
"...severe thunderstorms struck parts of the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin with damaging winds, lightning and baseball-sized hail."
Have you ever heard of shelled-peanut-sized hail? Or cherry-tomato-sized? Or onion-sized? I think not.

At least the NSA keeps it secret (sort of)

Facebook admits year-long data breach exposed 6 million users | Reuters:
"(Reuters) - Facebook Inc has inadvertently exposed 6 million users' phone numbers and email addresses to unauthorized viewers over the past year, the world's largest social networking company disclosed late Friday."
Of course we believe. On the other hand...
"Facebook blamed the data leaks, which began in 2012, on a technical glitch in its massive archive of contact information collected from its 1.1 billion users worldwide. As a result of the glitch, Facebook users who downloaded contact data for their list of friends obtained additional information that they were not supposed to have."
...the whole idea of "glitch" gives us chills.

Mermaid time

Pocket : At Coney Island, The (Mermaid) Show Must Go On:
""It's the strangest parade in the world I think, so you can do whatever you want," says Lefty Lucy, a burlesque performer and Miss Coney Island 2011."


Maybe it would be simpler to start with what we *do* know

Exclusive: U.S. secretly providing training for Syrian rebels - latimes.com
"WASHINGTON — CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons since late last year, months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming them, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders."

Make that war on *some* drugs

Undernews: 70% of Americans on prescription drugs:
"Researchers find that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions."

Not for human consumption

Overlawyered - Chronicling the high cost of our legal system:
"This year’s Wacky Warning Labels contest has reached the finalist stage"

Bet you didn't see this coming

NYPD expands surveillance net to fight crime as well as terrorism | Reuters
"(Reuters) - Having developed one of the most sophisticated surveillance networks in the United States, the New York Police Department is now expanding its use, giving local precinct commanders new powers to fight street crime with high-tech tools previously used only in counterterrorism operations."
Next they're going after guys who don't eat their broccoli.

Bet you didn't see this coming

NYPD expands surveillance net to fight crime as well as terrorism | Reuters
"(Reuters) - Having developed one of the most sophisticated surveillance networks in the United States, the New York Police Department is now expanding its use, giving local precinct commanders new powers to fight street crime with high-tech tools previously used only in counterterrorism operations."
Next they're going after guys who don't eat their broccoli.

Got that right

Obama On Charlie Rose About NSA Surveillance - The Most Ludicurous Statement From A President - Esquire
"He is referring, of course, to the FISA court and, if your main argument for transparency and oversight is a secret rubber-stamp court issuing secret warrants based on secret evidence, well, you're gonna need a bigger boat there, Skipper."

Sequester be damned, say GOPs

Border Deal Boosts Immigration’s Chances in the Senate | TIME.com:

"The so-called border “surge” amendment – a coinage that borrows from John McCain‘s label for the influx of troops that bolstered the flagging U.S. effort in Iraq – would roughly double the number of agents patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, from 18,500 to nearly 40,000. It would require 700 miles of fencing to be erected along the 1,900 mile border. And it would require employers to adopt a system to verify workers’ status, as well as establishing a mandatory system to track entries and exits at international airports and seaports where customs officials are deployed. 
It’s hard to say how much it will cost, because legislative language hasn’t been unveiled. But it will be significantly more than the $6.5 billion already set aside for border security in the underlying bill."
(Don't sweat it, guys, we never thought you meant it anyway.)


Manufacturing by Ted Compton
Manufacturing, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money

U.S. Army To Scrap $7 Billion In Equipment In Afghanistan
"Much of the equipment being destroyed comes in the form of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, hulking vehicles built to counter the threat of roadside bombs. MRAPs cost approximately $1 million each, and the Army has labeled about 2,000 of the 11,000 MRAPs in Afghanistan "excess." The remaining 9,000 will be shipped out of the country for use elsewhere."


We could have just given W another eight years and saved ourselves the fuss

Obama to Pick Bush-Era Justice Dept. Official to Lead F.B.I. - NYTimes.com
"WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday plans to announce the nomination of James B. Comey, a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to become the next director of the F.B.I., according to White House officials." 
Oh, and also...
"Mr. Comey is best known for his role in a 2004 incident in which, as the acting United States attorney general, he refused to acquiesce to aides to Mr. Bush, who wanted Mr. Comey to reauthorize a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program." 
 I guess he's changed his mind.

A rose by any other name is a federal police force

An overview of the federal police force:
"A federal police force is technically prohibited by the U.S. constitution, but instead we have what’s called federal law enforcement agencies.... 
"Federal law enforcement is divided into eight primary divisions or eight federal police force branches; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Department of Homeland Security; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); U.S. Secret Service; and the U.S. Marshall Service. "
Right. And let's not forget Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Protective Service, the Coast Guard, and TSA. Or the Office of Criminal Investigations, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Police, the Hoover Dam Police, and the National Institutes of Health Police. Oh never mind - you count 'em.

How many of these agencies would turn down a chance to peek into the NSA's database? Your guess is as good as mine. (Mine is 0.)

Just try following this

John Hodgman's 'Ragnarok' now streaming exclusively on Netflix | The Verge
"John Hodgman is blazing a similar, but somewhat different path"

Who will save us from the asteroids now?

Congress says no to asteroids, yes to moon landing | Fox News
""The Administrator shall not fund the development of an asteroid retrieval mission to send a robotic spacecraft to a near-Earth asteroid for rendezvous, retrieval and redirection of that asteroid to lunar orbit for exploration by astronauts," the bill states."
Unless, of course, somebody discovers oil on an asteroid...

Once again Fox News totally grosses us out

Technology is creating the surveillance state | Fox News
"Technology is making your every move -- perhaps even those movements you make in the bathroom -- ready for broadcast. The question is, are you ready for it?"
You decide.

Your very own planet of work avoidance

Mars Exploration Program: Interactive: Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover


We're from the government; we're here to help you

FBI uses drones on US soil: Senators want assurances on privacy protections - CSMonitor.com:
"Even as President Obama was calling for prudence in the use of drones Wednesday to an audience in Berlin, over on Capitol Hill came new revelations that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been using drones to conduct secret surveillance on US citizens."


Bricks by Ted Compton
Bricks, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

Can we come out from under our beds now?

The Quarter-Baked Plot to Bomb the New York Stock Exchange
"More than a bit of a stretch. Wired reports that "even the government's own sentencing memorandum shows that the defendants called off a proposed plot on their own, without involvement from federal authorities."" 
The great thing about having the courts, the Congress, and the executive branch all involved in this snooping thing is that they can all come together to cover each other's asses when things go wrong.

So if you're an employer...

Report: 70 percent of Americans “emotionally disconnected” at work - Salon.com
 "Employees with a college degree are not as likely as those with less education to report having a positive, engaging workplace experience."
...this would be an argument against hiring college graduates, wouldn't it?

Oh, and by the way - yes, I know the ellipsis and the dash are characters in typography but I've been working with a somewhat limited keyboard recently and seem to have lost both. Perhaps I will find them again. Meanwhile, please refer to blog rules 2 and 3 as applicable.

How many national conversations make a din?

Obama's Unplanned NSA Discussion : It's All Politics : NPR:
"...he seeks a "national conversation" about data-gathering by the government and other entities."
Obama (and other entities) also declares or calls for national conversations (discussion/debates) on mental health, small business, gun control, abortion, religious libertytribal names for sports teams, hair loss, and school grading scales in Elgin, Illinois. And lots of stuff.

You get the idea, right? And by the way, what other freakin' entities?

Is he trying to equate what the NSA is doing with what Google's doing, there? I think perhaps he is. But it ain't.

Digging for Jimmy

A Field Guide To Jimmy Hoffa Searches : The Two-Way : NPR:
"The mystery of Jimmy Hoffa's final resting place was opened yet again Monday, when the FBI began digging up a field near Detroit in the hopes of finding the former Teamsters president, who was last seen on July 30, 1975."
(Those cupcakes sure sound good.)


Just keeps raining

Just keeps raining by Ted Compton
Just keeps raining, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.

FBI investigates court: Maybe we can work a deal

FBI Looks for Leaks at Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court - The Daily Beast:
"The FBI is investigating whether the highly protected and segregated computer systems that store the secret court warrants authorizing electronic surveillance inside the United States have been breached, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials."

Why not broccoli?

Undernews: America's war on asparagus farmers:

What we have here is a failure to communicate

Obama: Secret Court System for NSA Spying Is "Transparent":
"The FISA court system, the proceedings of which are closed to the public and the records of which are classified, is "transparent," President Obama told Charlie Rose in an interview broadcast on PBS last night"

In the celebrated age of Big Data, a creepy new metric

NSA chief: agency programs prevented over 50 potential terrorist acts | Reuters:
""In recent years these programs, together with other intelligence, have protected the U.S. and our allies from terrorist threats across the globe to include helping prevent ... potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11," he said in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee"
Makes Minority Report look like tomorrow's newspaper.

(Also "together with other intelligence"? Really?)

Which makes me feel 12.3 percent good

"The NSA combs through the data using keywords but says it will only investigate targets it is 51 percent certain are non-citizens."

The New Republic


A little rainy

littlerainy by Ted Compton
littlerainy, a photo by Ted Compton on Flickr.


Congress is wildly unpopular. Should anyone actually care?:

Colonoscopies are more popular than Congress, survey says.

In order to remain silent you have to speak

The Supreme Court Decided Your Silence Can Be Used Against You - Alexander Abad-Santos - The Atlantic Wire:
"Basically, if you're ever in any trouble with police...you will need to announce that you're invoking your Fifth Amendment right instead of, you know, just keeping your mouth shut."

Is "golf fashion statement" the greatest oxymoron ever?

Octopus pants: Not the worst golf fashion statement (+video) - CSMonitor.com:
"Octopus pants: Billy Horschel caused a stir when he wore "Octopus pants" in the final round of the US Open golf tournament on Sunday. "
Also, how can they be octopus pants, really, with only two legs?

Maybe we just need better thumbs

The Other Side of the Story - NYTimes.com:
"Last year, the feds made 1,856 requests to FISA judges and got 1,856 thumbs-up."

Oh well, honesty isn't everything

Column: When lying is acceptable, public loses:
"One [2012 survey] from the Public Affairs Council found that 57 percent of Americans felt that public officials in Washington had below-average honesty and ethical standards. Another from the Pew Research Center found 54 percent of Americans felt the federal government in Washington was mostly corrupt, while 31 percent rated it mostly honest."

Don't worry, we'll think of something

Details on NSA-thwarted plots coming, lawmaker says - CNN.com:
"National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander is expected to release details of cases where the programs have stopped a terrorist attack, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said. The information may be available as soon as Monday."


Undernews: Meanwhile. . .
"Infrequently asked questions:  How do we tell when we're meant to surrender our Constitution to fight Al Queda and when we're meant to give them more arms?"

And in news from an alternate universe...

Obama does not feel Americans' privacy violated: chief of staff | Reuters: "
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama does not believe the recently disclosed top-secret National Security Agency surveillance of phone records and Internet data has violated Americans' privacy rights, his chief of staff said on Sunday."


I feel jollier already

Texas gov. signs ‘Merry Christmas’ law; says religious freedom is not freedom from religion - The Washington Post:
"Surrounded by sleigh bell-ringing Santa Claus impersonators, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday signed a law protecting Christmas and other holiday celebrations in Texas public schools from legal challenges... 
"[Republican Rep. Dwayne Bohac of Houston] said Perry “is not a governor that shirks away from the tough issues. "

Obama: "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls" (Jun. 7)

NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants | Politics and Law - CNET News (Jun. 16)
Nothing is forever.

Is this the transformative thought of a generation?

Apple e-book trial: How the case has unfolded so far | Apple - CNET News:
"If there's one thing CNET has learned from this trial, it's never put anything sensitive in writing."
If it is it changes everything. Not that it's not possible to live in a non-written world; great ventures have been pursued successfully without written contracts. But the norm in recent times has been otherwise, and so the common assumption that if it's not written down somewhere it's probably not true.

And isn't fear of a government that does not keep records of what it's done part of the problem here, not a solution?

Well. I'm just saying. Wondering, more to the point. Not that it matters much. Sensitive 'r' not us.
iPhone photo: Phil Compton

Which pretty much says it all

Philadelphia Closes 23 Schools, Lays Off Thousands, Builds Huge Prison

In case you were wondering how it all might play out

Apple e-book trial: How the case has unfolded so far | Apple - CNET News:
"One government chart, casually referred to in court as the "spider web," shows the number of calls between book publisher CEOs in December and January, the time they were negotiating with Apple about its iBookstore. The DOJ has used the chart as evidence that the publishers were talking and working together to collectively change e-book pricing. The DOJ also made a similar chart to show calls between publishers and Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of software and services."

And what could possibly go wrong?

After Profits, Defense Contractor Faces the Pitfalls of Cybersecurity - NYTimes.com:
"WASHINGTON — When the United Arab Emirates wanted to create its own version of the National Security Agency, it turned to Booz Allen Hamilton to replicate the world’s largest and most powerful spy agency in the sands of Abu Dhabi."