04 December 2019

Link Sausage Platter (No Leftovers!)

A thoroughly miscellaneous, but disturbingly related, platter:

  • A little bit of holiday subversion for you: Limit your own ISP's tracking of your URL requests — and, at least as importantly, whatever one is sucking down that information at whatever coffee shop you're quickly connecting to for e-mail and antisocial media — by enabling DOH in your browser. The key word there is "limit"; this is no panacaea. I thoroughly expect one of the major ISPs (I would consider betting on Cox, but only if offered hefty odds; they're all sleazebuckets) to start quietly changing their terms of service to require use of the ISP's own address providers "for security and protection of intellectual property" within the next three months… if there isn't already something buried in there.

    This is also a subtle way to protest the commercial pushback against net neutrality. It's only a protest, though, because ultimately the origin of the actual traffic is available to the ISP… if it turns on certain aspects of its internal systems. Which might cost it money (if only for additional storage space for the header requests and processing power for managing it). Rather interestingly, DOH would have no effect at all on dedicated "apps" like Faceplant… which leads to interesting theoretical questions on property rights and rivalrousness (the latter of which is an illusory class-based construct to reify the superiority of land to all other forms of property, but that's for another time).

    Unfortunately, this has only a minimal privacy benefit, because it just shoves the data somewhere else. At least at present, though, that "somewhere else" is less prone to monetizing it. There's at least one or two additional layers of gauze between the IP address associated with a DNS request at a given DNS provider and knowing "who" that IP address is (even through a VPN). But at least it makes your own ISP work a little harder to profile your 'net activity. And monetize it.

  • Speaking of inappropriate tie-in, consider repair costs and life-cycle closure when buying electronic devices. It would be one thing if all of the parts of Apple devices were themselves proprietary, carefully quality controlled, and actually easily available. That's three strikes, especially given the particular manufacturing processes Apple has chosen.
  • Milan Kundera is a Czech citizen again. That I paid attention to this just shows that I'm old; damned few Millenials know who he is, let alone why his citizenship was revoked in the first place. It is both shocking and reassuring that they don't know about the Velvet Revolution… or its context… or the price (and sources) of all of those stains on the velvet. Ewwwww!
  • On the other hand, there are Nazis using bill mills out there. OK, I've just taken a step down the road toward Godwin's Law (hi Mike!), but sometimes that's the actual subject of discussion and not a smear attempt. Organized groups with common policy positions are far from unknown. In this instance, though, it's First Amendment camouflage for activities and policies that actively undermine the First Amendment (and civil liberties more generally)… even before getting into the we're-going-to-strike-the-first-blow-in-class-warfare aspects hiding just barely under the surface. Or, as to a number of the backroom leaders at ALEC, not hiding at all.

    I'm not saying "Given Torquemada, all Catholics are antisemitic"; rather, I'm saying that Catholicism must openly acknowledge the currents of antisemitism throughout its history and structure, epitomized by but not limited to Torquemada. And nobody is exempt from this examination; I'm mentioning Catholicism here because it's an easily documented exemplar. As to ALEC, if you allow the misnamed Allian(3 Def3nding Freed0m (to Violently Impose Old-Testament-Style Orthodoxy, Religious Tests, and Bigotry) to sponsor one of your events, you've got Torquemada in your midst. In this instance, knowing that particular company that you keep is enough — regardless of any hypothetical merits (or self-interest) of your "content."

  • And the company kept by too many scientists and scientific organizations included Jeffrey Epstein. What this really demonstrates is that neither government nor anyone else is willing to make adequate investment for profitability-not-guaranteed research. If research activities in the sciences (and elsewhere) were adequately supported without "must apply immediately" agendas, the entry point for the Epsteins (and ADFs) of this world would be much more limited… and obvious.
  • All of which is less disturbing than rabid space baboons. Personally, I think Ms Vaughn was too easy on the fundamental conceptual and script problems with this "film." Attempts to impose an overt spiritual skeleton on narratives about space and exploration pretty uniformly fail, especially when there's any attempt to explicate them or analogize them to contemporary-to-the-author/scriptwriter concerns. (Exhibit A: The last two seasons of Battlestar Galactica (2004).) Part of this is, I think, because so few authors — and even fewer scriptwriters — have enough sense of wonder at the Great Unknown; they feel obligated to bring in more, and ironically enough more familiar, Great Unknown because they don't trust the other filmmakers, critics, or the audience to see enough profundity.

    As to Ad Astra, it's clear that nobody who had ever had anything to do with maritime or aviation operations had a damned thing to do with supervising the baboon cage setup/scene/sequence, or indeed damned near anything else. The film ignores safety and communication systems and procedures that are extraordinarily routine even in non-experiment-related sea and air operations, not to mention all of the backups and session memos and everything else done by competent researchers in any context (and not just regarding the baboons). I'm hesitant to award a negative rating to an entire film over one scene/sequence. Hesitant but, in this instance, not unwilling… especially when the rest of the film, in Ursula K. Le Guin's immortal words of nearly half a century ago, could have been told at Poughkeepsie.