Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Linkstorm: Lightning Round!

So a boy known as "Kunkun" has been ostracized by his rural, Chinese community. China is a big, diverse country and it's really mind-boggling to try to take all of it in. Anyway, the Chinese government did that thing that communist governments should do and stepped in to take care of the kid.

Hopefully, it'll end up like the story of Quian Hongyan, also known as "The Basketball Girl." After losing her legs in a car accident, her impoverished family couldn't afford to buy her prosthetics. Instead, they used basketballs to act as a contact patch for her lower torso. In 2005, her story was covered by the press and she was contacted by a Beijing clinic dedicated to helping disabled, low-income individuals.

It's nine years later, she's a minor celebrity and intends to represent China as a paralympic swimmer. She hopes the publicity she's gotten will help change attitudes in China towards the disabled.

Apparently, last week's terrorist attack in France got the attention of Anonymous. Or, at least part of Anonymous. You know how it is with nebulous, truly democratic organizations. At least, I hope it's just a part. I respect Anonymous too much to think their ideology and talent are going towards declaring cyber war on the institutions with a 12th century mindset of extortion and beheadings in a desert setting. I'm not saying Islamic terrorists don't use computers (they obviously do).

What I am saying is that Anonymous needs high-profile successes to influence enemies and collect allies. They can best maintain that appearance by leveraging a target's technological weakness to achieve a specific mission. You can't hack an AK-47 and airing the dirty laundry of duplicitous, first-world organizations and individuals fulfills those needs. Terrorists don't really have shameful secrets and even if Anonymous did uncover something salacious about senior leadership, they have zero credibility in the region.

Besides, hacking the Gmail is kind of redundant; we have a burgeoning authoritarian cyber-security state doing that.

Update: Since writing this, Anonymous has done something pithy and predictable and ISIS has hacked US Central Command's twitter. steps in this cyber war.

Speaking of attempts at violence to influence political organizations--y'know, "terrorism"--the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France covered up the bombing of an NAACP building in Colorado last Tuesday. It's weird, right? I mean, it's undoubtedly a terrorist attack related to the hot news item;  the recent protests over the profiling of black Americans, but it's not dominating headlines in the US. I mean, it kind of makes sense; no one died, some property got burned, and the news coming out of France was pretty high-profile.

...but then the failed underwear bomb in December 2009 really hit the headlines hard. No one died there, some property got burned, and, well, I don't know if Korean tensions, Chinese jailing of dissidents, 80 deaths from coldness across Europe, Obama announcing this strange "troop surge" to Afghanistan really count though. I'm sure those stories would be just as easily muscled aside by "NAACP bombing" as "underwear bomber." Underwear is kind of sexy though. Maybe Tiger Woods' epic infidelity-based fall from grace wasn't quite sexy enough to beat out "underwear bomb."

Funny world we live in.

Speaking of funny, a guy on YouTube made a video suggesting a simple way to debunk conspiracy theories. Well, some conspiracy theories. You don't have to watch the video. In fact, you shouldn't. The simple way was asking if the conspiracy affected rich people. It's an interesting rule of thumb, but a stupid one. After all, global warming--the obviously real thing that's going to reshape our society in the near-to-moderate future--easily fails this test because it assumes, "If global warming were real, rich people would be preparing for it."

After all, it could take them whole days to walk into their castles.

Okay, this is going on too long, so: Lightning Round.

Police asked to buy drones. Public said "no." Police bought drones anyway. Quis custodiet ips--lighting round!

Think catfishing is bad? Sextortion is a thing that exists. People are literally dying. The three root caus--lightning round!

United Airlines out of Denver cut baggage handlers fees by 33-67% and the resulting manpower shortage has caused schadenfreudtastic--lightning round!

11,000 rape kits in Detroit and 17,000 in New York are the most prominent backlogs of the kits which are just now undergoing testing. One of the principal causes cited was a lack of police interest. Quoting from the article:
"widespread" attitude of not believing the victim, and only doing minimum investigation on the cases
Homeless college students have become a trend over the past few years. Mainly becau--lightning round!

Aurin Squire writes a piece on why the NYPD work slowdown is good news.

BBC editorial on Eric Garner explores the justifications behind his killing.

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