Monday, May 14, 2018

Wheel of phoenixing fortune and the quirks of fate

To start with, look at all the blogs ... (

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples
~ Mother Teresa
When the river runs low, the water in the lake huddles to the middle, leaving it fringed with smelly sticky mud. It’s a strange place. Because of the drought a lot of the trees around the edge have died. Bony old river red gums stick in the ground like a perching cafe for pelicans and kookaburras.

 Surrounded by complete idiots. Damn those mirrored walls. (Donny Hawthorne, Change)


I woke with wings, stolen in a dream. (Isobelle Carmody, Change)

Once upon a time there was the earth … (@julescdr, Home)

Holding her fractured cheek she said “I’m sorry”. (Rebecca Hafner, Home)

In the pages, another world is my home. (JWilliams, Home)

You shouldn’t confuse ‘Don’t! Stop!’ with ‘Don’t stop’. (Lynne Lumsden Green, Love)

Your letters in the compost. The roses blooming. (Nike Sulway, Love)

He complimented her smile and then erased it. (jessicalim, Love)

Words can inspire and words can destroy. Choose. (Byron, 12, Love)

Can we all fit in the band wagon? (Jane Meehan, Play)

All seven numbers! Panicked, she swallowed the form. (@KrissyKneen, Play)

With confidence he plays the cards he’s dealt. (@VacenTaylor, Play)

Government's tobacco tax grab double ATO's estimates

Cambridge Analytica closed for business under this name and is now called Emerdata Follow-up to previous posting – Cambridge Analytica closes operations after Facebook scandal – this update and additional information via The Register – “…though Cambridge Analytica said it is pulling the plug in the US and UK, there is already some indication that the outfit – which has a non-trivial organizational structure – is more or less just going to rebrand under a different banner. The UK’s official registrar of businesses and organizations, Companies House, lists an active company called Emerdata Limited, headquartered at the same offices as SCL Elections and run by much of the same management and investors as Cambridge Analytica. It even describes itself as a “data processing, hosting and related activities” organization. For instance, Dr Alexander Taylor was appointed a director of Emerdata on March 28. That’s Cambridge Analytica’s acting CEO and data wizard Dr Alexander Taylor. Julian Wheatland is an Emerdata director who is also a director within the SCL network of organizations. Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer are directors of Emerdata, and are the daughters of ultra-wealthy businessman Robert Mercer who created and bankrolled Cambridge Analytica. Billionaire Bob has given tens of millions of dollars to rightwing political efforts. Jennifer and Rebekah also had a hand in Cambridge Analytica…”

Identity Crime Qld driving licences

Bad News: You Can’t Opt Out Of Sharing Your Data, Even If You Didn’t Opt In “…Yonatan Zunger, a former Google privacy engineer, noted we’ve known for a long time that one person’s personal information is never just their own to share. It’s the idea behind the old proverb, “Three (SESs) may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” 

Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t. New York Times. Lambert flagged this yesterday, but be sure not to miss it.
Don’t ask yourself “is this device secure?” But rather, ‘which intelligence
services have access?” State-sponsored subversion didn’t end with Snowden.

The Icky Stuff Librarians Find In Returned Books

anye west, a god in this time, awakened, recently, from a long public slumber to embrace Donald Trump. He hailed Trump, as a “brother,” a fellow bearer of “dragon energy,” and impugned those who objected as suppressors of “unpopular questions,” “thought police” whose tactics were “based on fear.” It was Trump, West argued, not Obama, who gave him hope that a black boy from the South Side of Chicago could be president. “Remember like when I said I was gonna run for president?,” Kanye said in an interview with the radio host Charlamagne Tha God. “I had people close to me, friends of mine, making jokes, making memes, talking shit. Now it’s like, oh, that was proven that that could have happened.”

  Kanye West has a new solo album coming out soon (as well as a collaborative album with Kid Cudi) and so has been out in the world saying things, things like expressing his admiration for Donald Trump and suggesting that slavery was a choice. In a piece at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, an admitted fan of his music, writes that West’s search for white freedom — “freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant” — is troubling.

Nothing is new here. The tragedy is so old, but even within it there are actors — some who’ve chosen resistance, and some, like West, who, however blithely, have chosen collaboration. 
West might plead ignorance — “I don’t have all the answers that a celebrity is supposed to have,” he told Charlamagne [Tha God]. But no citizen claiming such a large portion of the public square as West can be granted reprieve. The planks of Trumpism are clear — the better banning of Muslims, the improved scapegoating of Latinos, the endorsement of racist conspiracy, the denialism of science, the cheering of economic charlatans, the urging on of barbarian cops and barbarian bosses, the cheering of torture, and the condemnation of whole countries. The pain of these policies is not equally distributed. Indeed the rule of Donald Trump is predicated on the infliction of maximum misery of West’s most ardent parishioners, the portions of America, the muck, that made the god Kanye possible. 

Coates suggests that Kanye, also like Trump, has been telling us who he is all along:b 

Everything is darker now and one is forced to conclude that an ethos of “light-skinned girls and some Kelly Rowlands,” of “mutts” and “thirty white bitches,” deserved more scrutiny, that the embrace of a slaveholder’s flag warranted more inquiry, that a blustering illiteracy should have given pause, that the telethon was not wholly born of keen insight, and the bumrushing of Taylor Swift was not solely righteous anger, but was something more spastic and troubling, evidence of an emerging theme — a paucity of wisdom, and more, a paucity of loved ones powerful enough to perform the most essential function of love itself, protecting the beloved from destruction.

You Can’t Opt Out Of Sharing Your Data, Even If You Didn’t Opt In - FiveThirtyEight: “…Yonatan Zunger, a former Google privacy engineer, noted we’ve known for a long time that one person’s personal information is never just their own to share. It’s the idea behind the old proverb, “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” And as far back as the 1960s, said Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, phone companies could help law enforcement collect a list of all the numbers one phone line called and how long the calls lasted. The phone records may help convict a guilty party, but they also likely call police attention to the phone numbers, identities and habits of people who may not have anything to do with the crime being investigated. But the digital economy has changed things, making the privacy of the commons easier to exploit and creating stronger incentives to do so…Even if you do your searches from a specialized browser, tape over all your webcams and monitor your privacy settings without fail, your personal data has probably still been collected, stored and used in ways you didn’t intend — and don’t even know about. Companies can even build a profile of a person from birth based entirely on data-sharing choices made by others, said Salome Viljoen, a lawyer and fellow with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. Imagine new parents signing up for a loyalty card at their local pharmacy and then filling all of their child’s prescriptions there. The information collected every time they scan that loyalty card adds up to something like a medical history, which could later be sold to data brokers or combined with data bought from brokers to paint a fuller picture of a person who never consented to any of this…In fact, the privacy of the commons means that, in some cases, your data is collected in ways you cannot reasonably prevent, no matter how carefully you or anyone you know behaves.
Julie Cohen, a technology and law professor at Georgetown University. “There’s a lot of burden being put on individuals to have an understanding and mastery of something that’s so complex that it would be impossible for them to do what they need to do,” she said.

Karl Marx: flawed visionary sowed seeds of clarity and chaos


A New Marxian Century

Criminals could alter their DNA to evade justice with new genetic editing tools Telegraph

Google Blog: SUBJECT: Write emails faster with Smart Compose in Gmail – “From your greeting to your closing (and common phrases in between), Smart Compose suggests complete sentences in your emails so that you can draft them with ease. Because it operates in the background, you can write an email like you normally would, and Smart Compose will offer suggestions as you type. When you see a suggestion that you like, click the “tab” button to use it. Smart Compose helps save you time by cutting back on repetitive writing, while reducing the chance of spelling and grammatical errors. It can even suggest relevant contextual phrases. For example, if it’s Friday it may suggest “Have a great weekend!” as a closing phrase. Over the next few weeks, Smart Compose will appear in the new Gmail for consumers, and will be made available for G Suite customers in the workplace in the coming months. To get started, make sure you’ve enabled the new Gmail by going to Settings > “Try the new Gmail.” Next, go to the general tab in your settings, scroll down and enable “experimental access.” If you want to switch back, you can always uncheck the box.”
Note – This is going to cause all sorts of problems – but lots of folks will use it anyway!

 Tax Stories on LinkedIn 

*Parking and the City*, edited by Donald Shoup This is the definitive book on the economics of parking, here is one short summary bit by Shoup from his introduction:
Remove off-street parking requirements.  Developers and businesses can then decide how many parking spaces to provide for their customers.
Charge the right prices for on-street parking.  The right prices are the lowest prices that will leave one or two open spaces on each block, so there will be no parking shortages.  Prices will balance the demand and supply for on-street parking spaces.
Spend the parking revenue to improve public services on the metered streets.  If everybody sees their meter money at work, the new public services can make demand-based prices for on-street parking politically popular.
You can order the book *Parking and the City*, edited by Donald Shoup.  Here is my earlier NYT column on the economics of parking.