Covers are often treated like poor relations in hand-me-downs. It’s not the performer’s own work, how can they possibly do the original justice?
Yeah…and then this. I think it’s an example of an exceptional cover. It’s one of my favorites. There are a number of other fine covers of this same piece — some are sweet, some have better production values, and some are very close to Radiohead’s original recording. But this one has something extra. Carrie Manolakos, a Broadway performer known for her role as Elphaba in Wicked, takes a breath at 2:19 and watch out. Her second album will release next month if you enjoy her work.
In Sickness and Health
Here, read these two stories and compare them:
Leaving you with the actual heds on these articles. How isn’t this simple extortion? You know, like, “Nice national health care system you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.”
Cry me a river about corporate losses. Last I checked Aetna’s been paying out dividends regularly, which means they still have beaucoup cash.
If only we’d had a debate about offering single payer health care for everyone back in 2009 so we could say Fuck You to these vampiric corporate blackmailers.
Still in Shadow
A timeline of articles, analysis, commentary on the hacking of NSA malware staging servers by Shadow Brokers — no window dressing, just links:
15-AUG-2016 8:48 AM — https://twitter.com/mikko/status/765168232454037504 (Mikko Hypponen–Kaspersky tweeting discovery of Shadow Brokers’ auction of Equation Group code)
16-AUG-2016 7:22 AM — http://cybersecpolitics.blogspot.com/2016/08/why-eqgrp-leak-is-russia.html (Info sec expert Dave Aitel’s assessment on hackers responsible)
16-AUG-2016 7:40 AM — https://twitter.com/Snowden/status/765513662597623808 (Edward Snowden’s tweet thread [NB: don’t be an idiot and click on any other links in that thread])
16-AUG-2016 7:22 PM — https://securelist.com/blog/incidents/75812/the-equation-giveaway/ (time zone unclear)
16-AUG-2016 ?:?? — http://xorcat.net/2016/08/16/equationgroup-tool-leak-extrabacon-demo/
17-AUG-2016 8:05 AM EST — https://motherboard.vice.com/read/what-we-know-about-the-exploits-dumped-in-nsa-linked-shadow-brokers-hack
17-AUG-2016 ?:?? — https://www.cs.uic.edu/~s/musings/equation-group/ (University of Illinois’ Stephen Checkoway’s initial impressions)
17-AUG-2016 7:23 PM EST — https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsas-use-of-software-flaws-to-hack-foreign-targets-posed-risks-to-cybersecurity/2016/08/17/657d837a-6487-11e6-96c0-37533479f3f5_story.html
18-AUG-2016 6:59 AM EST — https://twitter.com/RidT/status/766228082160242688 (Thomas Rid suggests Shadow Brokers’ auction may be “retaliation” — note at this embedded tweet the use of “retaliation” and the embedded, highlighted image in which the words “Panama Papers” appear in red. Make of that what you will.)
18-AUG-2016 2:35 PM EST — https://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-shadow-brokers-nsa-leakers-linguistic-analysis (Two linguists suggest Shadow Brokers’ primary language is English distorted to mimic Russian ESL)
You know what this reminds me of? Sony Pictures’ email hacking. Back and forth with Russia-did-it-maybe-not-probably, not unlike the blame game pointing to North Korea in Sony’s case. And the linguistic analysis then suggesting something doesn’t quite fit.American Refugees
Except there really is a problem. The embedded image here is the front page of each of the four largest newspapers in the U.S. based on circulation, total combined circulation roughly six million readers. NONE OF THEM have a story on the front page about the flooding in Louisiana, though three of them covered the California Blue Cut Fire. Naturally, one would expect the Los Angeles Times to cover a fire in their own backyard, and they do have a nice photo-dense piece online. But nothing on the front page about flooding.
The Livingston Parish, Louisiana sheriff noted more than 100,000 parish residents had lost everything in the flood. There are only 137,000 total residents in that parish.
Between the +80,000 Blue Cut Fire evacuees and more than 100,000 left temporarily homeless in Louisiana, the U.S. now has more than a couple hundred thousand climate change refugees for which we are utterly unprepared. The weather forecast this week is not good for the Gulf Coast as unusually warm Gulf water continues to pump moisture into the atmosphere. We are so not ready.
Longread: The last really big American flood
Seven Scribes’ Vann R. Newkirk II looks at the last time a long bout of flooding inundated low-lying areas in the south, setting in motion the Great Migration. This is the history lesson we’ve forgotten. We need to prepare for even worse because like the Blue Cut Fire in California and Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York, disaster won’t be confined to a place too easily written off the front page.
One more day. Hope to make it through.
 Edited for clarity. Kind of.
Monday means it’s movie day, and I think this charming little documentary fills the bill. Valley Of A Thousand Hills from Jess Colquhoun looks at Zulu youth participating in a skate camp and the impact on their lives. They’re quite optimistic in spite of limited resources and opportunities. The film left the feeling they’re on the verge of a breakthrough — like these kids could really change global culture if they wanted to. They appear more self-aware and energized than most adults I run into of late.
Wrath of Gods kind of weather
Might be time to brush off that copy of J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World and ponder a post-apocalyptic future under water. We’ve likely passed the 1.5C degree global warming threshold without any sense of urgency to act on climate change which fuels this wave of flooding.
Longread: Manners matter?
At Aeon.com, Professor Eleanor Dickey of University of Reading-UK discusses the ‘magic word’ and its use in early democratic society, and its decline with the rise of a hierarchical system in the fourth century BCE. Are we a more or less democratic society based on our current level of societal manners?
Catch you tomorrow if the creek doesn’t rise!
Steven Brill thinks we’re not worried enough about bioterrorism and dirty bombs. He makes that argument even while acknowledging that a dirty bomb attack launched in Washington DC would result in just 50 additional cancer deaths. And curiously, his extensive discussion about germ threats (inspired by a Scooter Libby report, no less!) doesn’t mention that the Russian military is currently struggling to contain an anthrax attack launched by a thawing reindeer.
That’s the problem with Brill’s opus: anthrax attacks only matter if they’re launched by Islamic extremist reindeers, not reindeers weaponized by climate change. (And if you were wondering, although he discusses it at length, Brill doesn’t mention that the 2001 anthrax attack, which was done with anthrax derived from a US lab, has never been solved.)
He makes a similar error when he spends 18 paragraphs focusing on what he (or his editors) dub “cyberterrorism” only to focus on OPM as proof the threat exists and includes this paragraph from Jim Comey admitting terrorists don’t yet have the capabilities to hurt us our Chinese and Russian adversaries do.
For his part, the FBI’s Comey worries more about a cyberterror onslaught directed at the private sector than one directed at the government. “These savages,” he says, “have so far only figured out how to use the internet to proselytize, not to wreak physical damage. What happens when they figure out how to use it to break into a chemical plant, or a blood bank and change the blood types? We know they are trying. And they don’t have to come here to do it.”
Biothreats and hacking are a threat. But it would be sheer idiocy to approach the problem, at this point, as primarily one of terrorism when climate change and nation-state adversaries clearly present a more urgent threat.
But it’s not just Brill who adopts some weird categorization. The article is perhaps most interesting for the really telling things he gets Comey to say, as when he suggests FBI drops investigations when they hear a “wing nut” making bomb threats in a restaurant.
“Think about it from our perspective,” Comey said when I asked about this. “Suppose someone is overheard in a restaurant saying that he wants to blow something up. And someone tells us about it. What should we do? Don’t we need to find out if he was serious? Or was he drunk? The way to do that is to have someone engage him in an undercover way, not show up with a badge and say, ‘What are your thoughts in regard to terrorism?’ ”
“Plenty of times it’s a wing nut or some drunk, and we drop it,” he continued.
I actually think the FBI, as an institution, is better than this. But to have the FBI Director suggest his bureau wouldn’t follow up if someone making bomb threats was deemed a radical but would if they were deemed a Muslim is really telling.
Which gets to the core of the piece. Over the course of the 18,000+ words, Brill admits — and quotes both President Obama and Comey admitting — that what makes terrorism different from the equally lethal attacks by other mentally unstable or “wing nut” types is the fear such attacks elicit.
President Obama described the difference to me this way: “If the perpetrator is a young white male, for instance—as in Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown—it’s widely seen as yet another tragic example of an angry or disturbed person who decided to lash out against his classmates, co-workers, or community. And even as the nation is shaken and mourns, these kinds of shootings don’t typically generate widespread fear. I’d point out that when the shooter or victims are African American, it is often dismissed with a shrug of indifference—as if such violence is somehow endemic to certain communities. In contrast, when the perpetrators are Muslim and seem influenced by terrorist ideologies—as at Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon bombing, San Bernardino, and Orlando—the outrage and fear is much more palpable. And yet, the fact is that Americans are far more likely to be injured or killed by gun violence than a terrorist attack.”
The FBI’s Comey agrees. “That the shooter in San Bernardino said he was doing it in the name of isil changed everything,” he told me. “It generates anxiety that another shooting incident, where the shooter isn’t a terrorist, doesn’t. That may be irrational, but it’s real.”
Nevertheless, all three — even Brill, in a piece where he takes Obama to task for not publicizing his change in dirty bomb response, refers to “deranged people and terrorists” obtaining assault weapons as if they are mutually exclusive categories — seem utterly unaware that part of the solution needs to be to stop capitulating to this fear. Stop treating terrorism as the unique, greatest threat when you know it isn’t. Channel the money being spent on providing tanks to local police departments to replacing lead pipes instead (an idea Brill floats but never endorses). Start treating threats to our infrastructure — both physical and digital — including those caused by weaponized reindeer as the threat they are.
And for chrissakes, don’t waste 18,000 words on a piece that at once scolds for fearmongering even while perpetuating that fear.
Need something easy on the nerves today, something mellow, and yet something that won’t let a listener off too lightly. Guess for today that’s John Legend’s Tiny Desk Concert.
I promised reindeer tales today, haven’t forgotten.
From Anthrax to Zombies
Tomorrow’s Friday, which means jazz. Guess I’d better start poking around in my files for something good. Catch you later!
After months of telling Bernie Sanders to drop out, the political chatterers are finally understanding one reason he did not do so: to maintain leverage over things like the party platform. After the platform was finalized yesterday, Bernie declared victory.
Pressed by supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic Party platform writers meeting this weekend in Orlando, Florida, adopted a progressive agenda that underscores the need for bold action on climate change, addresses criminal justice reform and calls for doubling the federal minimum wage.
“We have made enormous strides,” Sanders said. “Thanks to the millions of people across the country who got involved in the political process – many for the first time – we now have the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”
The Platform Committee also adopted an amendment focused on criminal justice reform which calls for an investigation by the Department of Justice to investigate all shootings involving police officers.
The platform that will be submitted at the Democratic National Convention later this month in Philadelphia also would support Congress putting a price on carbon and methane to discourage continued use of fossil fuels that are causing severe climate change. The platform also says lawmakers must consider the impact on the climate in all federal decisions and invest heavily in wind and solar power rather than natural gas.
Delegates allied with Hillary Clinton’s and Sanders’ campaigns also passed amendments to fight for a $15 federal minimum wage tied to inflation, urged passage of progressive immigration reform and called for legalization of marijuana.
There were three issues, however, where Sanders’ delegates lost: opposition to Israeli settlements, a ban on fracking, and opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The first two make sense: after all, those policy positions match Hillary’s stated position (though the US is supposed to be opposed to illegal settlements), so rejecting Sanders’ amendments equated to backing the nominee instead. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
But Hillary, of course, claimed to oppose the TPP during the primary, even if that claim was always sketchy coming as it did as she worked so hard to negotiate the crappy deal as Secretary of State. So the mealy-mouthed language in the platform about protecting workers — akin to the same language in the Colombia Trade Deal that did squat to protect workers — is more notable.
As is the idiotic opinion expressed by this person, described by Robert Reich as an acquaintance from the Clinton White House.
ACQUAINTANCE: “Don’t you think your blog post from last night was a bit harsh?”
ME: “Not at all. The Democratic Party is shooting itself in the foot by not officially opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership.”
[They talk about how the Democrats are supporting this to back the President.]
ME: “But it’s terrible policy. And it’s awful politics. It gives Trump a battering ram. Obama won’t be president in six months. Why risk it?”
ACQ: “They don’t see much of a risk. Most Americans don’t know or care about the TPP.”
ME: “But they know big corporations are running economic policy. They think the whole system is corrupt. Believe me, Trump will use this against Hillary.”
ACQ: “He can’t. She’s inoculated. She’s come out against the TPP.”
ME: “But it’s her delegates who voted not to oppose it in the Democratic platform. Her fingerprints are all over this thing.”
Trump may not have many articulated policy positions, but his stance against TPP has been consistent and (unsurprisingly loud). Reich is right: to the extent that platforms mean anything at all, this will be used by Trump to pitch Democrats as sell-outs to American workers.
And the notion that voters won’t react against TPP is insulting. Sure, they may not know how specifically bad TPP is, but workers do know that NAFTA sucked. And Trump is certainly capable of equating the two.
Whoever this person is, by nature of being a Hillary advisor, he or she is supposed to be a technocratic elite. But this is idiotic, both from a policy and a political perspective.
Oye como va
Bueno pa gozar
— excerpt, Oye Como Va by Tito Puente
This Latin jazz song was on the very first album I owned — Santana’s Abraxas. I have no idea what possessed my father to select this way back in 1971 because he’s not musically inclined. I prefer to think he was persuaded by the music store staff to buy it for me rather than think the cover art did it for him. To this day I don’t dare ask; I’d rather live with my illusion.
Perhaps he simply liked Oye Como Va by Tito Puente and decided I needed it. Maybe that’s what he wanted to listen to when I played the album over and over again, ad nauseam. The song is still easy to listen to even when played by a septuagenarian, isn’t it? Though Puente probably still felt the same way about this song in his last live performance as he did when he first recorded it in 1963.
The personal irony I’m certain my father never considered: the last line is a reference to a mixed race “mulatto” woman. That’s me.
Looks like it’s going to be a lovely late spring weekend here — hope you’re going to have a nice one, too. See you Monday!
This music video is the result of an insomniac walkabout. I went looking for something mellow I hadn’t heard before and tripped on this lovely little indie folk artistry. Not certain why I haven’t heard Radical Face before given how popular this piece is. I like it enough to look for more by the same artist.
Let’s go wandering…
Volkswagen: 3.0L fix in the offing, but too late for EU and the world?
Mixed government messages about hacking, encryption, and cybersecurity enforcement
Compare: FBI hires a “grey hat” to crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone account, versus FCC and FTC desire for escalated security patching on wireless systems. So which is it? Hacking is good when it helps government, or no? Encryption is not good for government except when it is? How do these stories make any sense?
Well, it’s not quite noon Pacific time, still morning somewhere. Schedule was off due to insomnia last night; hoping for a better night’s sleep tonight, and a better morning tomorrow. Catch you then!
It’s Friday. FINALLY. And it’s jazz exploration day, too. Today we sample some chamber jazz, here with Meg Okura and the Pan Asian Chamber Ensemble.
It. Me. That is to say, of all genres, this one feels most like a part of myself. Here’s another chamber jazz favorite — Quarter Chicken Dark from The Goat Rodeo Sessions. And another — Model Trane, the first cut in this linked video by Turtle Island Quartet.
You can see and hear for yourself what makes chamber jazz different from other genres: chamber instruments used in classical music to perform jazz.
Whew, I needed this stuff. Hope you like it, too, though I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
My morning was overbooked, only have time today for a few things that caught my eye.
Encryption and privacy issues
Go To Jail Indefinitely card for suspect who won’t unlock hard drives (Naked Security) — Seems odd this wasn’t the case the USDOJ used to force cracking of password-protected accounts on devices, given the circumstances surrounding a less-than-sympathetic defendant.
Amicus brief by ACLU and EFF for same case (pdf – Ars Technica)
Supreme Court ruling extends reach of FBI’s computer search under Rule 41 (Bloomberg) — Would be nice if the Email Privacy Act, now waiting for Senate approval, addressed this and limited law enforcement’s overreach.
Climate change and its secondary effects
India’s ongoing drought now affects 330 million citizens, thousands have died from heat and dehydration (Oneindia) — 330 million is slightly more people than the entire U.S. population. Imagine what could happen if even one or two percent of these affected fled the country as climate refugees.
Tiger poaching in India dramatically increased over last year (Phys.org) — Have to ask if financial stress caused by drought encouraged illegal killing of tigers, now that more tigers have been poached this year to date compared to all of last year. Are gains in tiger population now threatened by primary and secondary effects of climate change?
Though severe El Nino deepened by climate change causes record drought now, an equally deep La Nina could be ahead (Phys.org) — Which could mean dramatic rains and flooding in areas where plant growth has died off, leaving little protection from water runoff. Are any governments planning ahead even as they deal with drought?
Hope your weekend is pleasant — see you Monday morning!
Things are fried elsewhere, too, as you can see from the global map above. These locations are suffering from drought:
Colombia – Drought has affected hydroelectric generation.
India – south – Heatwave coupled with drought cost lives
Oceana (S Australia/Papua New Guinea) – Human trafficking reported, with girls sold in exchange for rice in Papua New Guinea due to drought-caused crop failures.
Vietnam – Livestock are dying due to drought
This is only a partial list of drought-affected countries; Mideast and Mediterranean countries, Thailand, more of the African continent, and the southwest U.S. also suffer from drought.
Some drought is due to cyclical trends like the current El Nino event, but much of the drought is deeper than the average cycle, and some of it is simply climate change. Many places are already facing agricultural crises, and others have been facing them for years now.
While the map above doesn’t reflect it, forecasts predict dryer-than-average conditions across the crop-growing region of the middle U.S. as well as a return to dryer conditions in California.
We are overdue for discussions about global food security as climate change worsens. We can start now.
Back to regular morning roundup programming tomorrow — see you then!
Once in a while, I indulge in the musical equivalent of eating chocolate instead of a wholesome meal. I’ll listen to my favorite tenors on a continuous loop for an afternoon. I have a weakspot for Luciano Pavarotti and Franco Correlli, though the latter isn’t one of the Three Tenors.
Speaking of which, this video features a really bizarre event: the Three Tenors performing at Los Angeles’ Dodgers Stadium in 1994. Poppy and Barbara Bush are there in the audience, too. What a supremely odd venue! And yet these guys did a bang up job in such a huge, open space. Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma at ~1:05 is my favorite cut, but it’s all fun.
Now let’s change the tenor…
Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates sides with FBI against Apple
Gates isn’t the best salesman for this job, promoting compelled software. Given Gates’ role as technology adviser to Microsoft’s current CEO Satya Nadella, how persistently invasive Windows 10 is, and Microsoft software’s leaky history, Gates comes off as a soldato for USDOJ. Do read the article; it’s as if Gates was so intent on touting USDOJ’s line that he didn’t bother to read any details about USDOJ’s demands on Apple.
UPDATE — 10:25 AM EST — Poor Bill, so misunderstood, now backpedaling on his position about Apple’s compliance. This, from a Fortune 100 technology adviser…~shaking my head~
Gates talks out of the other side of his face on climate change
Unsurprisingly, Bill Gates also looks less than credible when he pleads with students for an ‘energy miracle’ to tackle climate change. This is shameless: first, guilt-tripping minors in high school, second for the blatant hypocrisy. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation continues to hold investments in ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell because of their yields. Not exactly a commitment to alternative energy there. How’s that investment strategy working for you now, Gates?
Fossil fuel-based industries: wall-to-wall bad news
Speaking of crappy investments in dirty hydrocarbons, conditions are just plain ugly.
Office of Personnel Management’s CIO steps down
Donna K. Seymour stepped down from her role, the second OPM management team member to leave after the massive hack of U.S. government personnel records. She was scheduled to appear before Congress this week; that hearing has now been canceled by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Jason Chaffetz. Huh. That’s convenient. Wonder if she would have said something that reflected badly on a previous GOP administration? This bit from the linked article is just…well…
FBI Director James Comey called the hacks an “enormous breach,” saying his own data were stolen. U.S. authorities blamed China, which strongly denied the accusation before it said in December that it had arrested several “criminal” Chinese hackers connected to the breach.
Wow, I wonder what China could do if they had access to every U.S. government employees’ iPhone? Anybody asked Comey what kind of phone he carries?
That’s a wrap. I’m off to listen to something sung in a sweet tenor voice.