Sunday, October 02, 2016

Paradox Of Revolutions and Cyberworld

" We all know that funny feeling of filthiness, of ickiness. It's a feeling we call the prick of conscience when we make a compromise that we have doubts about. So we think about it again and again, and... we even worry about it somewhat, even though the compromise may have made life easier, compared to what would have happened had we not made it. But for myself...I see that my bravery comes out of cowardice, because I am afraid of feeling that ickiness of feeling that I've done something wrong, that I've made an undesirable compromise, that I've side-stepped; and conversely when I do something that I know is right, I can even have a feeling of euphoria."
~ Vaclav Havel Musings and Confessions ...

After the leak of more than 11 million documents detailing sensitive, and often terrifying, information about offshore financial and legal activities, the Nobel-laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz was enlisted to help Panama reform its practices. But nothing could have prepared him for what came next The Real Scandal Behind the Panama Papers Vanity Fair 

John Hempton: Decades ago - before I was a fund manager - I was the resident expert on tax avoidance working for the Australian Treasury. That was where I started to hone the accounting skills sometimes shown on this blog. I very rarely do anything in tax - but now I think it is time.
 The New York Times has published a story (including extracts) about Donald Trump's tax returns over two decades ago. The money-quote is this:

“Just noticed @nytimes ‘hired’ tax experts to interpret. But only one expert named. More from CPA who is supposed to keep client confidence” @retheauditors
“There are many fine things which we cannot say if we have to shout,” Thoreau wrote as he contemplated how silence ennobles speech. In the century and a half since, we have created a culture that equates loudness with leadership, abrasiveness with authority. We mistake shouting for powerful speech much as we mistake force for power itself. And yet the real measure of power is more in the realm of Thoreau’s “fine things.”
So argues UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner in The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence (public library) — the culmination of twenty years of research exploring what power is, what confers it upon an individual, and how it shapes the structure of a collective, a community, and a culture. Drawing on a wealth of social science studies and insights from successful teams ranging from companies like Pixar and Google to restorative justice programs in San Quentin State Prison, he demonstrates “the surprising and lasting influence of soft power (culture, ideas, art, and institutions) as compared to hard power (military might, invasion, and economic sanctions).”
Senators accuse Yahoo of ‘unacceptable’ delay in hack discovery Reuters

Amazon steps in to ‘fix’ Hillary book review WND  - We on the other hand, love Great Doorstoper Reviews I happened to trip over this book at a friend's place. Quite literally as it was on the floor being used as a door stopper. It seems that the 50 books the publisher had printed failed to sell and they were giving them away as door stoppers

John Stumpf is the gift that keeps giving to bank reformers. The embattled CEO of Wells Fargo put in another poor showing in the House Financial Services Committee today, as Stumpf largely reprised his performance from the Senate last week:

Asserting that he would “make it right” to all harmed customers, when the bank’s plans obviously fall well short
Attempting to doctor the record, as our retail banking expert Clive describes in an accompanying post today, by having employees trying to obtain ex post facto consent for credit cards opened in their name without their approval
Pinning the blame on low-level employees while depicting Wells as a stellar corporate citizen Refusing to acknowledge harm to employees who were fired whistleblowing or for failing to meet sales targets that were unattainable by honest means
Having a conveniently thin knowledge of many practices in his bank

Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling gave a blistering opening statement, that “Millions were ripped off…Fraud is fraud, theft is theft, there’s no other ways to describe it,” and followed by listing laws that he believed Wells has broken. He also pointed out that employees had filed wrongful termination lawsuits as far back as 2009, describing dodgy sales methods, adding that it was “beyond credibility that somebody up the food chain didn’t order, condone or turn a blind eye to it.” He promised a full investigation, including more hearings, and other committee members urged him to call wronged customers and former employees. Ranking member Maxine Waters provided evidence of questionable sales activities in 2007 and 2008, as well as Fed sanctions in 2011. Later in the hearing, she called for the bank to be broken up

Carolyn Maloney called out Stumpf for making his largest stock sale just as he got word of the scandal. From the Financial Times 
Michelle Alexander, recipient of a 2016 Heinz Award ($250,000) for her work as "legal scholar, advocate, civil rights attorney and author of the seminal book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," has resigned from the Ohio State Law School faculty to teach and study at Union Theology Seminary in New York City:
I am walking away from the law. I’ve resigned my position as a law professor at Ohio State University, and I’ve decided to teach and study at a seminary. Why?

Tyler Cowen is an author and a professor of economics at George Mason University. One half of the blogging crew at Marginal Revolution, a must-read blog for anyone interested in economic theory, Cowen is easily one of the most engaging thinkers in the country.   Tyler Cowen doesn't believe in progress, and he wishes you didn't either "That we cannot avoid believing in progress may also prove to be our undoing.” 

Economist Gordon Tullock did some work on decay of revolutions. Essentially that the cost-benefit dynamics mean only committed people get involved early, but opportunists join in as the tide turns. One of his better-known papers is Paradox of Revolution, Journal of Public Choice Fall 1971. Paradox Rebellion

So there’s an amazing story that sort of got lost (at least I didn’t see people talking about it much in my Twitter feed).
Brian Krebs, a very talented Internet Security analyst, got hit with one of the most intense denial of service attack ever recorded. Krebs often gets targeted by spammers and hackers who want to punish him for looking into their affairs.
It turns out that this bot attack utilized hijacked IoT devices!
Google Steps Up to Protect Security Analyst from Humongous DDoS
62 per cent of organisations will be using Artificial Intelligence (AI) by 2018 according to Narrative Science. At present, predictive analytics is the most used form of AI in enterprise and companies are focusing on innovation, patenting their AI developments at a faster rate than ever before. AI could rescue failing cyber security sector ... The rise of artificial intelligence in 6 charts

Australian Government will make it a crime to re-identify anonymised data  source 

There is an "enormous tug of war between convenience and privacy" in IoT, and device manufacturers aren't doing enough to pull on the privacy end of the rope, said Scott Montgomery from Intel Security. This was the focus of Montgomery's talk, titled "Preparing for the Security Tsunami of the Internet of Things," at the 2016 Structure Security conference in San Francisco, CA. While IoT-connected devices often promise new levels of convenience or productivity, they are creating new security threats and privacy concerns The Secutity Tsunami of the internet of things is coming are you ready ...

Aaron Tao of the Independent Institute has an interesting post arguing that the Hunger Games trilogy exemplifies economist Gordon Tullock’s “paradox of revolution.” In his classic article by that name, Tullock argued that most revolutions tend to be led by unscrupulous political elites (who are in the best position to successfully overthrow the preexisting government) who then tend to establish a new regime as bad as the old one. As he put it, “Historically, the common form of revolution has been a not-too-efficient despotism which is overthrown by another not-too-efficient despotism with little or no effect on the public good.”  The Hunger Games and Gordon Tullock’s Paradox of Revolution

“The topic is a complicated and sensitive one, and Shriver’s first mistake, I think, was to ignore that complexity and sensitivity by adopting a tonethat ranged from jauntiness to mockery and contempt. … To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a hat is more than just a hat.”
In early September, the novelist Lionel Shriver gave a speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival in which she expressed her hope that identity politics and the concept of cultural appropriation would turn out to be passing fads. During her lecture, several audience members walked out in protest, and the text of her address has sparked a controversy that has spread across the Internet and the British and American press Shriver ended her speech with a call to arms. “Most fiction sucks. Most writing sucks. Most things that people make of any sort suck. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make anything.…We fiction writers have to preserve the right to wear many hats—including sombreros.” We may agree, at first. But on reflection, we might hope that fiction writers and the rest of us will think harder—about racism, stereotypes, history, immigration and social justice—before, as Shriver ultimately did  during her speech, donning that wide-brimmed Mexican hat.

The Department of Health has removed a set of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Medicare data from the federal open portal after computer security experts were able to decrypt the health service provider identification numbers it contained. Heath and Identity

Liverpool councillors call on shops to stop selling the Sun Guardian. From last week, still of interest. Jon M: “If only this sort of corrective were more widespread… Imagine town councils and shop owners refusing to peddle the NYT and WaPo and WSJ etc. for e.g. WMD war starting government-lie-spewing …”

Hacker charged with cyber terrorism gets 20 years
Ozment: Cybersecurity can't be centralized