Monday Morning: First, Same as the Last

Hear that sound? Like so many sighs of resignation? Yup, it’s the first Monday of the new year, and with it, a plethora of shiny resolutions slowly breached and broken like WiFi-enabled toys.

One of my 2016 resolutions (which I hope will last more than a week) is a morning update here at emptywheel. Won’t be hot-urgent-newsy, just stuff worth scanning while you have a cup of joe. Let’s see if I can stick it out five days — then I’ll try another benchmark.

Droning on
Did you get or give a drone as a gift this holiday season? Better make sure it’s registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Twitter to bring back Politwoops
Among the stupid moves Twitter made last year was the decision to shut out Sunlight Foundation’s Politwoops platform. The tool archived politicians’ embarrassing tweets even if the tweets had been deleted. With the general election season now in full swing, voters need more accountability of candidates and elected officials, not less. Sunlight Foundation and the Open State Foundation negotiated with Twitter to restore the tool. Let’s hope it’s up and running well before the first caucuses — and let’s hope Twitter gets a grip on its business model, pronto.

You’d think by now Twitter would have figured out politicians’ tweeted gaffes are gasoline to their social media platform growth…

Microsoft spreads FUD about…Microsoft?
If you’re an oldster IT person like me, you recall the Halloween memo scandal of 1998, documenting Microsoft’s practice of promulgating fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about competing operating systems in order to gain and control Windows market share. For more than a decade, Microsoft relied on FUD to ensure near-ubiquity of Windows and Word software products. Now Microsoft is using FUD not to prevent customers from using other products, but to encourage migration from Windows 7 to Windows 10, to reduce possible state-sponsored attacks on Win 7 systems.

Personally, I think Microsoft has already been ridiculously ham-handed in its push for Win 10 upgrades before this latest FUD. If you are a Win 7 or Win 8 user, you’ve already seen attempts to migrate users embedded in recent security patches (read: crapware). I’ve had enough FUD for a lifetime — I’m already running open source operating systems Linux and Android on most of my devices. I would kill for an Android desktop or laptop (yoohoo, hint-hint, Android developers…).

And don’t even start with the “Buy Apple” routine. Given the large number of vulnerabilities, it’s only a matter of time before Mac OS and iOS attract the same level of attention from hackers as Windows. I’ll hold my AAPL stock as long as you insist on “Buy Apple,” however.

Consumer Electronics Show 2016 — now with biometric brassieres
CES 2016 opens this week in Las Vegas, and all I can think is: Are you fucking kidding me with this fresh Internet of Things stupidity? A biometric bra? What idiot dreamed this up?

Why not biometric jockstraps? I can only imagine the first response to biometric jockstraps: “No EMF radiation near my ‘nads!” Yeah, well the same thing applies to breasts. Didn’t anybody get the memo last year that 217 scientists have expressed concerns about EMF’s potential impact on human health, based on +2,000 peer-reviewed articles?

Or are businesses ignoring this science the same way petrochemical businesses have ignored climate change science?

Phew. There it is, the first checkmark of my 2016 resolutions. Happy first Monday to you. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Do tell.

14 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    i didn’t know this:

    [… Twitter to bring back Politwoops
    Among the stupid moves Twitter made last year was the decision to shut out Sunlight Foundation’s Politwoops platform. The tool archived politicians’ embarrassing tweets even if the tweets had been deleted. With the general election season now in full swing, voters need more accountability of candidates and elected officials, not less. Sunlight Foundation and the Open State Foundation negotiated with Twitter to restore the tool…]

    well, well. looks like american corporations on the make or on the dole will not only willing do gov’s spying for it (see cisa), but will do it’s censorship, too.

    america – a more sophisticated brave new world.

  2. Denis says:

    Brilliant, Rayne. Finally . . . something to look forward to in 2016.
    I’ve never had the chutzpah to do a NY resolution that affected anyone else — or that anyone else even knew about. Uh, boy . . . if this one goes the way all of mine do — down the toilet — you’ll have thousands of EW moaners and mourners.
    BTW, would love it if the blog-meister resolved for 2016 to fix the way paragraphs in the comments all mash together w/out empty line in between. It was a common problem in 2005 that I thought had been universally cured. Maybe migrating to WinX will fix it. Ha, ha, ha , . . . WinX, what a joke.

  3. Tom Zeller says:

    I think you lose credibility pointing uncritically to the EMF group. If you want to bring up an issue, do some research and lay it out. Don’t just point to a small group that believes X. There’s ALWAYS a small group that believes X. Given the thorough analysis this blog gives to certain topics, I find this throw-away reference a disappointment. I’ve been following this blog since Marcy’s coverage of the Scooter Libby trial.

    • Rayne says:

      Let me guess you didn’t bother to read the link, vet any of the signatory scientists, or read any of the +2,000 studies. I have read a number of studies — there are legitimate, unanswered concerns paired with too little research on living human and animal tissue.

      And since you’ve been here roughly as long as I have, you can already predict the kinds of problems that exist with the studies: who/what funded them, who/what killed other competing studies, how limited were the inquiries, how is the government presenting the results of the research which survived the last 15 years of increasingly pro-corporate/pro-surveillance/fascistic pressure — and of course, the overwhelming body of research relies on exposure and other standards established by entities which may have been as corrupted as the NIST has been by the NSA.

      Yet in spite of the pressure to halt unchecked development of electronic devices, ~217 scientists were willing to stake their professional reputations on results from +2,000 *peer-reviewed* studies. It’s an ample red flag to me that says I shouldn’t just run out and buy a WiFi-enabled bra.

      I’ve worked in manufacturing for two Fortune 100 companies. I’ve single-handedly killed a new product before launch by asking one very simple question: Why? That’s the question my posts often ask. Why? I may not have an answer, but I’m here to force people to consider what they otherwise roll over and accept without question.

      With regard to this particular post, I have yet to read a good reason why anyone needs wearables to provide a steady stream of health data from their underwear. Women, in particular throughout history, have been sold bullshit products for their improved beauty or health, like poisonous lead-based cosmetics, circulation-strangling corsets/girdles/garters, carcinogenic nail enamel products, simply because profits über alles. Now we are offered a WiFi-enabled undergarment without any question at all as to the total impact on a woman’s health, and we’re supposed simply accept it without having first validated all the studies on EMF exposure? We’re not allowed to simply ask Why? to provoke the public at large to deeper evaluation?

      I say bullshit. You may wish to skip my morning posts. Just check the byline on the post before you begin to read.

  4. haarmeyer says:

    About your conclusion (I don’t have much choice but to stay away from WinX — my Win7 machine isn’t compatible with it):

    How does non-ionizing radiation affect DNA? Isn’t the ability to dimerize DNA pretty much the definition of “ionizing radiation?”

    • Jim White says:

      Nope. Pyrimidine dimers in DNA (thymine-thymine, cytosine-cytosine or thymine-cytosine) are caused primarily by ultraviolet radiation, which is non-ionizing. My PhD thesis project addressed the replication of DNA in the presence of this very type of UV damage.

      • haarmeyer says:

        I believe you, but how? My understanding of dimerization (admittedly from an undergrad course in radiation physics) was that it required a bond breaking caused by knocking out an ion, that then caused each part of the pair to bond along the strands instead of across.

        • Jim White says:

          See this pdf, especially the section “UV-Induced DNA Lesions”. The important point is that the “action spectrum” for producing pyrimidine dimers in DNA matches exactly the spectrum for absorption of UV by the DNA. The bases absorb the UV radiation directly, enter an excited state and then form the dimer structure.

          The type of damage that I think you are recalling is the strand breakage and other oxidative damage that comes at higher energies (shorter wavelengths) like X-rays and gamma radiation. Most of that damage comes from ionizing water and then getting a chain reaction initiated by hydroxyl radicals. Caveat: it’s been over 35 years since my undergrad degree in Radiation Biophysics and my first year of grad school in Medical Physics before changing majors to Molecular Biology.

          • haarmeyer says:

            Thanks, read through the article you cited at #9. That’s a big change from what we were basically taught (also back in the anciens temps) — that ionizing radiation started at ~10-15Mev and that it was ionizing radiation that dimerized DNA. You’re correct that we had a water component, we tested the relative sensitivities to mutation where water was and wasn’t present. But our class wasn’t entirely focussed on biophysics, and we were also being taught to do experiments with a radiation source, so there was a lot of emphasis on frequencies up in that range.

  5. bloopie2 says:

    Humans invent things. And that is, on the whole, desirable. That’s how we have gotten so many of the good things we have today, why we’re not riding around on Wizard of Id stone unicycles, why we’re not flapping our arms to attempt to fly, why we have wireless Internet sending EMF radiation all over the place so we can communicate conveniently (think of the thousands of signals from radio and television and phones etc. that are passing through your brain tissue right now – how to stop that?)
    So someone invented a biometric bra. Its desirability is now being vetted in forums like this one. Maybe it will catch on, maybe it won’t. But if every new product (idea) were held off the market because of possible health consequences, we would not have cars, or airplanes, or mobile phones.
    I’m not saying the biometric bra is a good thing. But if one accepts the concept of wearable tech to tell you how you are doing in your workouts, then how is the bra that much worse than wearing a transmitter around your waist or your wrist (I’ll bet the EMF from those passes through your chest also)? Is the argument that we should not wear anything that transmits? That wearable recorders are okay, but only with contents to be downloaded (via a wired connection) later and analyzed then? Maybe that IS a good middle ground, come to think of it; so much of what we personally do wirelessly for convenience now, is not really needed. (I see tourists walking the streets of Manhattan with their heads buried in smartphones, ignoring everything around them.) But many of the things we DO want today, happen safely because of wireless connections.
    I have no answer. Too much thinking for a Monday. But definitely thought provoking – thanks!

  6. Jim White says:

    One last point on the DNA damage discussion above: I’ve read none of the literature on EMF, but we are dealing with much lower energy radiation (much longer wavelength) and so the pyrimidine dimer formation mechanism I’m familiar with wouldn’t seem to come into play as a direct route. See this chart of wavelengths:
    Ionizing radiation begins where the chart ends on the right hand side and extends further right as the energy increases and wavelength gets shorter.

  7. lefty665 says:

    Hi Rayne, I look forward to reading you in the AM. Can you send a little caffeine along with the post?
    I’ve got no education in physics, but I do have some experience with RF field strength as an inverse square of distance. If you put the bra on over your parka it’d be a lot less potentially harmful.
    Dave Barry’s year end posting featured the hullabaloo over Win 10 making 8 look like 7. 7 made Vista look like XP. Long ago the mantra was “DOS ain’t done until Lotus won’t run”. Microsoft, FUD with a ‘tude learned at IBM’s knee. What a long and funny road it’s been.
    Robin Williams used to say that “Cocaine was god’s way of telling you you had too much money”. Apple is sorta like that but on a smaller scale.

  8. blueba says:

    I strongly disagree with you that Twitter should “fix its business model” Twitter is just another Neoliberal corporation and I would like to seem them all die. Why do you support Neoliberalism for Twitter and not for say Exxonmoble??? These tech companies are some of the worst parasites on society around.

    After all the content in this blog it still is supporting Neoliberal oligarchs who own Twitter???

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