Your government is worried. The world is “going dark.” Once upon a time, telephones were the only way to talk to someone far away, and the authorities could wiretap any phone they wanted. Nowadays, though, suspects might be communicating via Facebook, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skype, Viber. And so, inevitably: “Today, if you’re a tech company that’s created a new and popular way to communicate, it’s only a matter of time before the FBI shows up with a court order to read or hear some conversation.”
But some of those providers have no interest in spying on their users. The FBI is not amused. “A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Facebook and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur,” according to the Washington Post, by fining them increasing sums until they build government-accessible back doors into their systems.
Which invites the titular question of this post.
The FBI may be looking back with dewy-eyed nostalgia on the phone wiretaps of yore, but I think we can all agree that those would have been ridiculously ineffective if anyone with anything to hide had been able to easily acquire and attach tiny devices that made wiretapping impossible. That’s exactly the case today: anyone even remotely au fait with technology can securely encrypt their digital communications themselves, via eg RedPhone.
So the FBI would only be able to wiretap suspects who are either too dumb to use encryption — in which case they ought to be easy enough to catch without wiretaps — or who think they have nothing to hide. Meanwhile, they’d be setting a terrible precedent for other, more draconian governments. Critics say “We’ll look a lot more like China than America after this” … but the Obama administration, which not coincidentally appears to hate whistleblowers above all else, still seems poised to support this initiative.
But wait, it gets worse. In order to claim this empty chalice, the powers that be will require a surveillance system that could be abused by the very kind of people it’s supposed to be used against. Could, and almost certainly would: if you build a tool that can be used malevolently, then inevitably it one day will be. Consider how Google was hacked in 2010 by adversaries who used the intercept facilities built into GMail – at the government’s insistence – to access the private email of Chinese dissidents, and:
Put another way:
Is the FBI actually too stupid to realize that this is a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good idea? Or — get your tinfoil hats on — is the pretext of hunting criminals and terrorists merely a smokescreen for requiring what in effect will be a gargantuan cross-platform surveillance system that will let them spy on anyone’s conversation at any time for their own ulterior motives?
Probably not. (At least, he said paranoiacally, not yet.) But that is exactly what’s happening in other countries. Witness this post by legendary security guru Moxie Marlinspike, the creator of RedPhone among other tools, who was approached by the Saudi Arabian government to help monitor and block tools like Twitter, Viber, Line and WhatsApp. When he declined, they suggested:
If you are not interested than maybe you are on indirectly helping those who curb the freedom with their brutal activities.
That’s right, folks: if you’re not helping the government of Saudi Arabia secretly spy on all of its residents, then you’re on the side of the terrorists! Good to know. I vastly prefer Moxie’s take:
While this email is obviously absurd, it’s the same general logic that we will be confronted with over and over again: choose your team. Which would you prefer? Bombs or exploits. Terrorism or security. Us or them. As transparent as this logic might be, sometimes it doesn’t take much when confirming to oneself that the profitable choice is also the right choice.
If I absolutely have to frame my choices as an either-or, I’ll choose power vs. people.
Similarly, a recent Citizen Lab report indicates that the FinFisher surveillance software is now being used in 36 countries, including those well-known pillars of enlightened human rights Bahrain, Ethiopia, and Turkmenistan, and the Syrian government has an entire electronic army targeting dissidents (who, unfortunately, continue to use Skype even though it’s not secure and Microsoft can and does tap into Skype chats.)
So we’re left with the last option: the FBI is simply technically incompetent. Unable to come to terms with the new world of technology, and take advantage of the many ways in which new technology can aid their investigations in new ways without turning America into a panopticon, they’re instead still thinking inside the box of 20th-century wiretapping, and insisting that tech companies implement a counterproductive, expensive, and ultimately pointless toolkit…purely to satisfy their own blinkered lack of imagination.
It’s sad, depressing, and dangerous. Let’s hope clearer heads and more farsighted visions prevail before this pathetically bad and dumb idea is actually implemented — but alas, I see no reason to believe that we can expect anything but more of the same high-level cluelessness for the foreseeable future.
Whether you call it a Murphy bed or a wall bed, these folding sleeping quarters are great for small spaces. While there are plenty of options for wall beds out there, many of them look cheap or old fashioned. We sorted through all the options and found eight great resources for modern, high design Murphy beds.
“Tree coming down!”
Skyler Lofgren shouts above a din of buzzing chainsaws, leans into his own, and with a final heave topples another 40-foot Ponderosa pine. Lofgren, 27, a forest firefighting crew boss with the Flagstaff, Ariz., fire department, felled a dozen trees on Monday, overseeing an outdoor classroom for a new crop of seasonal recruits who will spend the summer patrolling the Coconino National Forest with three-foot chainsaws at the ready. The crew will fight wildfires when they come, but the vast majority of their time will be spent on prevention or, as Lofgren puts it, “working ourselves out of a job.”
In a stand of trees 10 minutes outside downtown Flagstaff — a tight cluster of low-slung brick buildings peppered with Route 66 paraphernalia — Lofgren and his fellow firefighters are hard at work on a new project that local officials say is the first of its kind in the nation. Funded by a $10 million bond that voters approved by a 3-to-1 margin in November, the program puts local tax dollars to work clearing trees and brush, and lighting carefully managed fires, in an effort to stave off the devastating, astronomically expensive megafires that have become increasingly common in the West. If successful, the project could also untether the community from a withering federal firefighting budget.
Last year saw the third-worst wildfire season in five decades; the Southern California fire that threatened thousands of homes earlier this month looks to be only the first flash of what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week will be an above-average season for much of the Southwest. But the sequester took a 7.5 percent bite out of the Forest Service’s budget, nearly half of which is spent fighting wildfires. That means there will be 500 fewer pairs of boots on the ground and 200,000 fewer acres treated to prevent fires; the agency’s next proposed budget cuts preventative spending by a further 24 percent. It’s all part of what fire ecologists, environmentalists, and firefighters interviewed by Climate Desk describe as an increasingly distorted federal budget that has apparently forgotten the old adage about an ounce of prevention: It pours billions ($2 billion in 2012) into fighting fires but skimps on cheap, proven methods for stopping megafires before they start.Firefighting greenhorn Jake Hess, 23, practices his chainsaw control on a fallen tree.
“At this point we’re under-investing in the problem,” says Diane Vosick, a policy analyst at Northern Arizona University’s Ecological Restoration Institute. “The budget is going in the wrong direction.”
After years of offering (unheeded) advice to the White House’s budget makers, Vosick and her colleagues released a report [PDF] last week detailing the relative value of investing in fire prevention over firefighting. They found that the bulk of costs from megafires is borne not by the federal government but by local governments — and the federal budgeting process ignores those bills when weighing whether prevention saves money.
Take the Schultz Fire, a June 2010 scorcher that burned 15,000 acres outside Flagstaff. It cost $60 million to put out, but flood damage, lost property value, habitat loss, cleanup, and other post-fire costs more than doubled the bill to $146 million. That difference is largely carried by local agencies and residents. Spend that same $60 million on prevention, Vosick argues, and the other costs likely could have been avoided. If she’s right, Flagstaff’s $10 million bond is a great bargain for local taxpayers.
“[OMB] is just not doing a full-cost accounting,” she says. “When the feds under-invest, it cascades down the system.”Tim McDonnell/Climate DeskThe fire crew builds a “slash pile.”
Office of Management and Budget spokesperson Jamal Brown wrote in an email that funding for prevention projects is focused on high-risk areas where development meets the forest, and pointed out that next year’s proposed budget includes a small earmark to study where investments are most effective. But the agency did not comment on whether it had received or read Vosick’s report.
An analysis of Forest Service budgets provided to Climate Desk by Chris Topik, who directs the Nature Conservancy’s forest restoration program and who has worked closely with OMB for much of his career, reveals that preventative funding as a proportion of the total fire budget dropped 3 percent between 2001 and 2012, from 15.7 percent to 12.9 percent. The proposed budget would shrink that proportion another 3 percent.
“What happens is that firefighting ends up trumping everything else. [OMB] finds it hard to invest in prevention even though we know it pays,” Topik says.If a tree falls …
Chris Brehl, a veteran wildland firefighter overseeing Flagstaff’s prevention project, says his city can’t wait around for the feds to get it straight. He maneuvers his pickup truck up a rough, winding forest road, topping out on a high ridge with a breathtaking view of Humphreys Peak, Arizona’s tallest mountain, which saw unusually low snowfall last winter. A bad fire in this bone-dry area, the City of Flagstaff estimates, could cost it $500 million.
“It’s beautiful,” Brehl says. “But I get up here sometimes, and I’m scared. It’s gonna go, and it’s gonna go big.”
It’s impossible to prevent all fires, Brehl says, and not even desirable: Fire ecologists increasingly embrace small, low-intensity fires as critical parts of a healthy forest. Instead, Brehl focuses on “thinning” the forest by removing so-called “ladder fuels,” small trees that can boost a ground fire up into the high canopy, where it can easily catch the wind and explode out of control. Signs of his project are everywhere: Thousands of “slash piles,” stacks of chopped-up trees and brush, litter the forest floor, ranging from waist-high mounds tossed together by Lofgren and his crew, to 15-foot towers of full trunks cut and stacked by massive logging machinery. Some of this detritus will be donated or sold as firewood; the rest will be burned in place when it’s padded by a safe buffer of snow in the winter.Tim McDonnell/Climate DeskVeteran firefighter Chris Brehl: “I get up here sometimes, and I’m scared.”
To Brehl, the proof is in the pudding: He’s seen many fires flare up, then stop cold when they hit pre-treated areas (his department has done small-scale thinning for over a decade; the new bond will allow them to vastly expand their reach). Locals understand the benefits and have embraced the constant whir of chainsaws and occasional controlled burns, he says: One elderly lady even snuck up behind him during a burn near her house with a plate of milk and cookies.
“I had to say, ‘Thanks, but please get out of my burn zone,’” he recalls.
Back with the fire crew, Lofgren chews on a wad of sunflower seeds and shows greenhorn Jake Hess, 23, the thinned area behind them and the untreated area ahead: The untreated area is densely packed with shaggy undergrowth, while the treated area is clear enough to drive a truck through. It’s the difference, he says, “between fighting and backing off.” But if you really want to see prevention at work, Lofgren says, come back when this spot is ablaze.
“It’s a great feeling to come back to an area we’ve been through and be able to tell someone, ‘We can protect your house.’”
You might not win any Dad-of-the-Year awards if you set up the Walking Dead Teddy Bear Girl Life-Size Statue in your children’s room but there will be no doubt that you deserve a Fan-of-the-Year award because it takes a little bit of courage to bring a real moving zombie into your home. Is this once-adorable [...]
The White Mountaineering and Moncler imprint, "Moncler W" recently debuted its inaugural range on the runway after much anticipation. Today, Moncler and Japanese mainstay White Mountainerring have pulled the curtain on the comprehensive lookbook for the collection. The assortment of styles within the collection blends expected elements of both labels into a well-executed and streamlined assortment of cold weather garb. White Mountaineering's tendency towards patterns and knitwear play a major role across various Moncler quilted down outerwear, all-weather pants as well as a plethora of accessories and gloves. Following on the heels of other Moncler co-projects with the likes of visvim, sacai and Christopher Raeburn, the Moncler W range under the direction of White Mountaineering's Yosuke Aizawa continues the series of successful ties forged between the French luxury label and other design peers in the industry.
You know what they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. That’s the case here. Instead of battling Space Invaders, I think it’s time to make peace and use them as crayons. These Space Invaders Crayons are perfect for any fan of the classic game. These crayons are shaped like Space Invaders and come [...]
Constructing another luxurious iteration to a classic silhouette, Paris fashion house Balmain has released a Riders Jacket with tones of self-assertion. Made with meticulous detail, wrinkled lamb leather panels the sturdy black body, while frontal horizontal zips dramatize the jacket with added elegance, acting as both functional and modish designs on the grainy backdrop. The leather wrist fasteners are fetching additions to the jacket, allowing wind and weather resistance. Stylish and practical, Balmain reiterates timeless staples with innate charisma. The Balmain Riders Jacket is now available at RESIR￥462,000 JPY (approximately $4,500 USD).
Every season sees New York mainstay Supreme align itself with Vans for a series of footwear collaborations. After the wildly successful three-part, Supreme x Vans x COMME des GARCONS SHIRT second collection and the Peter Saville homage range, Supreme releases a new preview of its forthcoming Vans Lampin collection via COOL TRANS. A slightly different approach for the brand, the archival Vans Lampin sees a return in mostly two-tone suede colorways and looks to be releasing in four options. Stay tuned for further information as it is likely to be announced soon through Supreme directly.
If you want to watch here, hit play and go to 47 minutes in. Or click on this link which will take you to you YouTube and get you to 47 minutes in.
Julia Holter - World
Since the surprising news broke a few years ago via WWD that A Bathing Ape founder NIGO would be stepping down from his role and handing over the ownership rights to I.T Limited, the Japanese designer and entrepreneur has since remained at the helm as Creative Director for BAPE. With an early morning Instagram post on his feed, NIGO has officially confirmed in a statement that as of April 30, 2013, his term as Creative Director of A Bathing Ape has ended. The comment for the picture read:
As of 30 April 2013 the term of my contract with I.T Limited (the new owners of A Bathing Ape since January 2011) as Creative Director has concluded. This brings to a close my 20 years of work creating and designing A Bathing Ape. From now on I will continue to work as a freelance creator in many different fields. I thank you in anticipation of your continued support. BAPE GENERAL NIGO® (1993-2013) painting by ©KAWS
Uploaded alongside the statement, NIGO included a KAWS Kimpsons image.
Wanna deck out your car like Fett’s Vette? Slave I I mean. Not technically a Vette, but a really cool ship. Anyway, if you want some Boba Fett on your car, look no further than this Star Wars Boba Fett FanWraps Car Decal. It takes your vehicle from boring to… Boba. This Star Wars Boba [...]
I hate to admit that I took 2 years of guitar lessons and I can only play the first few cords of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water. I guess I’m one of those people who simply isn’t musically inclined. I used to write some poetry that I would have loved to turn into songs, but I couldn’t read or write music either. So I guess it’s safe to say I’m not destined to be a rock star.
All hope is not lost! Check out Compose by Ouyang Xi, a concept device designed to allow the musically challenged to actually get their melodies on paper. The pen on this digital clipboard acts as a microphone, allowing you to whistle or play a tune into it, and then when docked into the digital tablet, the harmonies will automatically be transcribed into a score. The Compose would also allow you to write directly on the display in order to “record” your tunes, before the thoughts of them are lost forever.
The designer, Ouyang Xi, would also like to see this concept contain libraries that would include sounds for an entire orchestra so that your final masterpiece can play in all it’s splendor, for everyone to enjoy. Of course it’s only a concept for now, but it gives hope to so many of us that have been walking around with the next hit recording buzzing around in our heads.
That’s all I know for now, it certainly is a concept I’d like to see go to production someday, I knew I had rock star potential, I just need a little help. Check out yankodesigns.com for updates or more information.
[ Compose by Ouyang Xi – Your Music Writes Itself copyright by Coolest Gadgets ]