Monday, February 27, 2017

Robots: Vaclav Havel on Parallel Polis

“And so I keep going;

death remains close;

I carry my life

in a blue envelope.

“The letter’s been ready

ever since autumn:

just one little word –

it couldn’t be shorter.

“But I still don’t know

where I should send it;

if I had the address,

my life might have ended.

Shalamov often writes about the impulse to write and its futility, like the futility of blogging as words turn to dust and dust spirals on that windy summer day into words ...

“I went out into the clear air

and raised my eyes to the heavens
to understand our stars
and their January brilliance.

“I found the key to the riddle;
I grasped the hieroglyphs’ secret;
I carried into our own tongue
the work of the star-poet.

“I recorded all this on a stump,
on frozen bark,
since I had no paper with me
in that January dark.”
Internet-connected toys are an insane privacy risk. That's why watchdogs in Germany suggested that parents smash My Friend Cayla to pieces

Robots Will Soon Do Your Taxes. Bye-Bye, Accounting Jobs Wired

Robert D. Flach, NO SURPRISE TO ME. “No software package, or online filing service, is a substitute for knowledge of the Tax Code, and no tax software package, or online filing service, is a substitute for a competent, experienced tax professional!”

Technology is often blamed for destroying traditional working-class jobs in sectors like manufacturing and retail.

In the queue for the Soviet utopia

Most influential libertarians

TaxGrrrl,IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams For 2017 Include ID Theft & Bogus Refunds.

I was authorized to trash my employer's network, sysadmin tells court


The Cold War–era writings of the Czech writer Václav Havel offer ideas on how dissidents can resist “the irrational momentum of anonymous, impersonal, and inhuman power.”

Václav Havel’s Lessons on How to Create a “Parallel Polis”


Lessons from the Czech writer Václav Havel on how to resist “the irrational momentum of anonymous, impersonal, and inhuman power.”
The recent political earthquakes have found us intellectually and emotionally underprepared, even helpless. None of our usual categories (left, right, liberal, conservative, progressive, reactionary) and perspectives (class, race, gender) seem able to explain how a compulsive liar and serial groper became the world’s most powerful man. Turning away from this unintelligible disaster, many seek enlightenment in literary and philosophical texts from the past, such as Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” George Orwell’s “1984,” and Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here.” It may be more rewarding, however, to turn to Václav Havel: a writer and thinker who intimately experienced totalitarianism of the Orwellian kind, who believed that it had already happened in America, and who also offered a way to resist it.

Leslie Book, Preparer “Doctors” the Return Adding Phantom Income: Court Sustains Preparer Penalties (Procedurally Taxing). “As the Foxx case illustrates, the EITC creates the odd incentive for the creation of phantom income that could fuel a tax refund.”

Robert Wood, Dear IRS: Sorry, A Typo On My Taxes Dropped Some Zeros. It could happen to anyone…

Why Nothing Works Anymore Atlantic

How a bad board of directors could kill HPE

Columnist Rob Enderle writes that the trouble with HPE stems from its board of directors. Just replacing a CEO, if the board lacks core skills, just changes the problem.

New Cold War


Cloudflare memory leak exposes its bad practices and a lot of users

INTERNET FACILITATOR Cloudflare has been shown up by Google's Tavis Ormandy, who has revealed that the firm has suffered a memory leak, has a problem with user data diarrhoea, and a joke of a bug bounty program.
       Книжная Капелла, newly opened in St. Petersburg, is certainly an ...impressive-looking private library, a cathedral (of some sorts) of books. 
       It's also one that charges an entrance fee: 'Стоимость разового посещения — 7 000 рублей'. Yes, 7,000 rubles for a single (four-hour) visit -- that's almost US$120. Sure, cheaper than a visit to the local bordello, but right up there with a first-rate meal. (By comparison, an annual Апостола Книги-card is a bargain 230,000 rubles -- not even US$4,000.)
       There are corporate packages available too ! 
       Yes, it's run by a publishing house (Альфарет), for whom it's apparently also a showroom (they specialize in: "reprints and facsimiles of Russian and international masterpieces"), but still, you have to wonder about the business model here. 
       (While it's kind of fun to imagine they mean and do all this for the love of books -- and believe that there are actually readers out there willing (and able ...) to pay for the privilege --, I'm afraid there's a distinct whiff of something rather different to this set-up.) 
       See also Alexandra Guzeva's report at RBTH, 5 million for a book: Russia's most expensive library opens in Petersburg. 

       (Updated - 15 February): The Guardian now has a look, too, as Paula Erizanu reports The most expensive library in the world ? Book Capella opens for Russian elite (though I don't know why they don't translate 'Капелла' as 'chapel'). 

Via GOOD – “Last May, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss a problem tragically common in the 21st century: dead journalists. In the new millennium, 876 journalists have been killed—with almost 40 percent of those deaths occurring in the last five years. Meanwhile, global press freedom is at its lowest point since 2003, according to Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization.”  See this Infographic – the 10 Most Dangerous Countries for Journalism.

Why Aphorisms Seem So Powerful To Us

The voices of Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker and Benjamin Franklin still feel electrically alive to us because they managed to bake their personas into their brief observations. While proverbs and adages (cousins of the aphorism, to be sure) often lose their authorship and become orphaned—think about how many times someone has mentioned “an old Irish saying” without knowing anything about its actual provenance—aphorisms stay tethered to their creators, dragging their voices along through history.”

As we immerse ourselves in this year’s commemoration of 1917, we should not forget the recently passed centenary of the man who was more responsible than any other for bringing down the Romanovs. Such a grand claim for Grigory Rasputin’s significance may invite scepticism, but Douglas Smith’s engrossing and deeply researched biography shows that it is sustainable, as long as “Rasputin” is securely encased within inverted commas. This Siberian holy man was important less for what he was and did than for what he was taken to do and be.  Rasputin ecstasy fire