DOCUMENTS leaked by US techy spook Edward Snowden show us that the US government is able to access details of smartphone and internet activity under a scheme called Prism. The allegation is that the US intelligence agencies have an open line to Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype and Apple. They also record all of your phone calls. The Guardian reprots that the UK’s electronic surveillance agency, GCHQ, has access to the data. This might explain why the taxes for so many big Internet firm are so low. The elite want to keep paying foreign companies for data on British citizens off the books.
What does it all mean, though? We’ve picked out the best opinions on the news:
Perhaps this is just the way it is in the panopticon state. Tocqueville foresaw this, as he did most things. Although absolute monarchy “clothed kings with a power almost without limits” in practice “the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control.” What would happen, Tocqueville wondered, if administrative capability were to evolve to bring “the details of social life and of individual existence” within the King’s oversight? Eric Holder and Lois Lerner now have that power. My comrade John Podhoretz, doughty warrior of the New York Post, says relax, there’s nothing to worry about. But how do I know he’s not just saying that because Eric Holder’s monitoring his OnStar account and knows that when he lost his car keys last Tuesday he was in the parking lot of Madam Whiplash’s Bondage Dungeon?
When the state has the power to know everything about everyone, the integrity of the civil service is the only bulwark against men like Holder. Instead, the ruling party and the non-partisan bureaucracy seem to be converging. In August 2010, President Obama began railing publicly against “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity” (August 9th, a speech in Texas) and “shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names” (August 21st, radio address). And whaddayaknow, that self-same month the IRS obligingly issued its first BOLO (Be On the Look-Out) for groups with harmless-sounding names, like “tea party,” “patriot,” and “constitution.”
It may be that the strange synchronicity between the president and the permanent bureaucracy is mere happenstance and not, as it might sound to the casual ear, the sinister merging of party and state. Either way, they need to be pried apart. When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well.
SO. Can you patent human genes? The US Supreme Court – yep, it actually got that far before someone saw sanity - said you cannot:
The case involved Myriad Genetics Inc., which holds patents related to two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, that can indicate whether a woman has a heightened risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court, said the genes Myriad isolated are products of nature, which aren’t eligible for patents.
The high court’s ruling was a win for a coalition of cancer patients, medical groups and geneticists who filed a lawsuit in 2009 challenging Myriad’s patents. Thanks to those patents, the Salt Lake City company has been the exclusive U.S. commercial provider of genetic tests for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
The challengers argued the patents have allowed Myriad to dictate the type and terms of genetic screening available for the diseases, while also dissuading research by other laboratories.
America is going mad – stark, raving mad.
FOR sale: Mercedes E320 Cdi.
It’s not pristine. AS the eBay advert goes:
If you are looking for an immaculate, well maintained example of a Mercedes e320 CDI… you have come to the wrong place.
If however, you are low on self esteem, with a strapped budget, but shooting for the stars, welcome to my auction. May I present to you, one of the finest feats in Germanic engineering politely modelled by my ‘more to love’ missus. As you can see from the photos this car has seen things… things it cannot forget. I have owned this car for 3 years, and up to then it had been lovingly cared for and maintained. Since owning the vehicle, it has been thrashed, raced, rallied, and the interior has been smashed up in a domestic, not to mention the time my wife booted the wing because I suggested she eat a salad or two. ( please refer to photo of foot next to dent for reference) The car was lovingly cleaned in preparation for the 2012 summer olympics, and may be in need of another one now. This car has been a dream, and only broken down twice. But since it has had new brake pads, discs, thermostat, front springs, all the fuel lines replaced, and i even put some water in the squishes. as for the bad bits… there are none… just kidding there are lots. The cd changer in the boot doesn’t work, but the radio does ( we have already preset the channels to suit our clientelle)
The air conditioning isn’t working, but the electric windows do, so bonus. The car smokes when you boot it hard.
The rear subframe bushes could probably do with being replaced…
The good bits. Boot is big enough for 2 small or 1 big person ( see pictures)
This car is well admired and often stopped by members of her majesty’s police, who give out FREE advice concerning your drinking habits and whether or not your tires need replaced. ( which is soon by the way)
Purchase of this vehicle will result in a severe rise in the number of looks of admiration you get in your local town centre, I would personally recommend wearing a large gold plated chain, a half open shirt, shaving ones head, and wearing 1 bottle of cologne at any given time to truly get desired female attention.
The stereo system is suited to playing Russian Techno, Polish house, Bulgarian dubsteb, Romanian hard house, and turkish trance at full volume, whilst not detracting from the over glamour of the avian fecal mattered roof and rusty panels. Seriously now gentlemen. Ladies flock to this car. I’d like to say that I have customised the horn, but i haven’t. It would be great if someone did. If you win this auction I will save you time, effort and eye watering hassle by telling you where i hid the sardines. This car in the limbo of being to good to break, and to bad to be fat and seen in. all questions welcomed. We do not accept food as payment, nor coupons for iceland. As for terms and conditions, we will happily airlift this car to any destination in west africa, should you be in the possession of a cheque which you have overpaid, we will happily send you the difference. If you are a diplomat or sovereign who has 46,000,000 USD, but can’t access it for lack of a processing fee, please call us straight away, as I have a team of lawyers waiting for my signal to help. Get back in touch buddy, i’m worried the troops got to you. As for real terms and conditions. The car is crap. If you want it come and buy it. I guarantee 100% this car will cause you trouble, and cost you money. Do not plan on coming to try and shake us down on the price, we KNOW EVERYTHING that is wrong with this this vehicle. WE have driven the thing for 40,000 miles. We wouldn’t be selling it if it was any good whatsoever… it runs. be happy. SERIOUS BIDS ONLY. NO TIME WASTERS!
Unfortunately we have had to re-list this item, as it was taken down by ebay for not complying with a few of their rules. It is now compliant. Please feel free to bid, it is a genuine auction, the CAR is for sale… only the car.
sorry, has had to be re listed for a second time, we have revised it so it won’t get taken down again.
please no false bids. We actually want to sell the car.
THE Apple website - motto: “This is what matters… We don’t believe in coincidence or dumb luck”- fails to work on Macbooks. Something to do with a QuickTime permission issue.
Given the pomposity of its mission statement (see below), we find it rather amusing:
MIKE Olbinski is an Arizona photographer who recorded this rotating supercell forming over the northern Texas plains. He writes:
One thing to note early on in the first part is the way the rain is coming down on the right and actually being sucked back into the rotation. Amazing.
He’s right. Amazing.
EVER wanted to draw a dick on the Daily Mail but didn’t feel ready to showcase your work? Well, help is at hand. The Penis Drawing machine is here!
THIS is a great video for Adobe Photoshop. To plug an Adobe get together in Sweden, the photoshoppers installed a computer screen at a bus stop. We’re amazed no-one has done this to photobomb passing politicians and celebrities selfie-style:
PHOENS replaced by sandwiches is a Tumblr blog in which phones are replaced by sandwiches. It’s pretty simple. And sandwiches might be better than an apple:
TO Monywa, Burma, where a man on a scooter is trying to zip through the open toll gate. He never makes it:
THE elite love Google. It’s hard to pick just one example that epitomises the love the rich and powerful have for the big internet search advertising firm. It might be the sight of Eric Schmidt, Google’s billionaire chairman, nipping into Downing Street to talk business with David Cameron. They don’t talk about how via Google you can access images of paedophilia and all manner of abuse. They talk money and influence. And they know each other well:
Rachel Whetstone is Global head of communications and public policy at Google and is married to David Cameron’s former chief of staff, Steve Hilton. Naomi Gummer was formerly adviser to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, but is now a public policy adviser to Google. Amy Fisher Was a press officer for Google, and is now a special adviser to the Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman.
Also, Amy Fisher, once Google’s European PR supremo, works for justice secretary Chris Grayling. Sarah Hunter, once Tony Blair’s advisor on media policy, and Lord Derry Irvine’s god-daughter, works as UK’s had of public policy.
The Guardian, which has focused on News International’s chumminess with the Tory Party, reported on Gummer thus:
Row after Tory peer’s daughter is given job in culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s department. Naomi Gummer, daughter of Cameron ally Lord Chadlington, appointed in a ‘highly unusual’ move
IN photos: the as yet unnamed baby born to Ruth Carter and partner John Traverse from Warrington, Cheshire, who are the first in the world to give birth to a baby using EEVA IVF technology. The baby girl weighing 5lb 15oz was born today at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
EEVA is one of the most recent and ground-breaking advances in reproductive technology and uses time-lapse imaging systems, allowing embryologists to capture huge amounts of information, previously unattainable, about the way in which early embryos develop. This system allows embryos to be observed without removing them from the incubator and, as such, more closely resembles similar conditions that an embryo would see inside the body.
NEWFORD Parts Centre, Abbey Village, Lancashire, sells car parts. Ford was unhappy that the company was listed on the internet as Newfordcarparts.co.uk. So. Ford sued. And won. Ford motors says Newford Parts Centre was “trading off its fame, history and reputation to boost its own business”. The company had been trading on that web address for 14 years online, and 40 years offline.
Images from the offending website looks like this:
THIS might not be good news for people who (follishly) invested in Facebook stock at the IPO. There’s a distinct possibility that we’ve already reached peak Facebook and that it’s just not going to get any better from here.
There’s four things that determine how much money Facebook can make. How many users it has, how much time they spend using it, how many ads Facebook can show them in that time and the price FB can charge for those ads. To boost profits Facebook would rather like all four to be rising. However, in the mature territories, that’s not what seems to be happening.
SPACE Commander Chris Hadfield sang David Bowie’s Space Oddity as his finale to his International Space Station show. And when he did, he potentially opened a can of worms (and lawyers). You can send a man to live in space. No sweat. But it’s much harder to work out who owns the words he says when he’s up there.
The song “Space Oddity” is under copyright protection in most countries, and the rights to it belong to Mr Bowie. But compulsory-licensing rights in many nations mean that any composition that has been released to the public (free or commercially) as an audio recording may be recorded again and sold by others for a statutorily defined fee, although it must be substantively the same music and lyrics as the original. But with the ISS circling the globe, which jurisdiction was Commander Hadfield in when he recorded the song and video? Moreover, compulsory-licensing rights for covers of existing songs do not include permission for broadcast or video distribution. Commander Hadfield’s song was loaded onto YouTube, which delivers video on demand to users in many countries around the world. The first time the video was streamed in each country constituted publication in that country, and with it the potential for copyright infringement under local laws. Commander Hadfield could have made matters even more complicated by broadcasting live as he sang to an assembled audience of fellow astronauts for an onboard public performance while floating from segment to segment of the ISS.
iNotRacist -is the app. that will identity you as a non-racist. Bit discounts for politicians, policemen and golfers:
HOW do teenage girls use their phones? Answer: all the time. Bianca Bosker spoke to a 14-year-old girl about her life on a white iPhone S.
These are the pick of the quotes:
“I’ll wake up in the morning and go on Facebook just … because,” Casey says. “It’s not like I want to or I don’t. I just go on it. I’m, like, forced to. I don’t know why. I need to. Facebook takes up my whole life.”
Casey only parts with her phone during the hours she’s at school, when she leaves it in her locker. The rest of the time, she and seven friends keep up a running conversation over text messages.
WHEN Lee Rigby was butchered to death by lunatics making a human sacrifice to the god voices in their heads, we knew that no nutjobs would break us. We are fair. We are strong. And then the police moved to arrest two men who had made “offensive” comments on twitter. It took the police fifteen minutes to arrest two armed jihadi-obsessed psychos who had hacked a man to death in the street. What odds they were swifter in nicking a 23-year-old and a 22-year-old for allegedly breaking the Public Order Act?
As ever, someone looking to be offended found something to dislike on twitter. They called Avon and Somerset Police. The thought police then nicked the two Bristol residents on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred.
THERE’S a lovely little scam operating over in the US at the moment. Somewhere between ort of legal and foul and disgusting but sorta legal.
What they do is look around for someone using Bit Torrent or similar services to download movies n’stuff. Then they check whether they’ve downloaded various porn films. If they have downloaded one that the law firm owns the copyright to (and they’ve gone out and bought many copyrights, which are pretty cheap these days for porn films) then they sue them for copyright infringement.
HAVE you ever jiffawed at a jif? The inventor of the Gif says the thing should be pronounced Jif. Gif stands for Graphics Interchange Format. That’s graphic not jraffic. But Steven Wilhite says the ‘G’ of Gif should be used like the G in Germany. Said Steven (pronounced. Ste-veen):
”It is a soft ‘G’, pronounced ‘jif’. End of story.”
Of course jif is now known as cif.
IN this video, the hapless scooter boy suffers three accidents in a very short space of time.
I have no end of sympathy for him. The first time I ever drove a scooter was on a ‘fun’ track in Hampshire. I ended up wrapped around a fence in the car park. The next time I drove one was in Italy. As I headed towards the queue of terrified locals stood at the bus stop opposite the scooter hire shop, I knew that motorbikes and me made for an unhappy mix. Fortunately, I managed to twist the handlebars in time to slap into the bike renter’s car, which I then hired:
WHO owns the videos you make and post on YouTube? Well, if you make one yourself playing a Nintendo video game, they do. Alan Wexelblat writes:
The basic idea is that if someone makes a video of themselves playing a Nintendo game and uploads it to YouTube any ads shown with that video will be of Nintendo’s choosing and revenue from it will flow to Nintendo. Ads may appear beside the videos or actually be inserted before and after the video when people go to play it.
The problem here is that “Let’s Play” style videos are a pervasive form of information and sharing throughout the industry. I did a quick YouTube search for “let’s play” for this blog post and got back over 9.1 million hits. People create these videos to show off their skills, to highlight interesting things they’ve seen such as game “easter eggs”, to provide guides or walk-throughs, or just to share a bit of fun with friends. There are a few professional or semi-professional games writers who use this style of video to promote themselves or their channels, but they are a tiny minority of that nine million.
Nintendo has positioned its action as a gentler approach; rather than trying to ban content related to Nintendo games, they just want to make money off it by changing the video that an individual uploaded. Yeah, um, guys that’s not a whole lot better. It also comes across as cheap and lazy – rather than creating content for YouTube that fans and players would want to watch, Nintendo is just taking over other peoples’ content.
Nintendo is not alone. Google is there to help:
Nintendo will accomplish this by using YouTube’s Content Match ID system, which allows publishers, television networks or record labels to identify if content being used in a video is something from their products. Those entities can then monetize those videos.
And lest you think Nintendo look like swine, they explain:
“We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube. That is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.”
No, Instead of making you a criminal they will just take your money instead. Oh, the irony…
NOTE: In 2013, Nintendo made an annual profit of 7.1bn yen (£47m).
IN 1951: anyone uncertain of how to use a telephone was being educated:
WAR is utterly terrifying. It’s ugly. But in 1942, T.W. Smith, Jr., owner of the Sun Rubber Company, and designer, Dietrich Rempel, created something to give children nightmares: the Mickey Mouse gas mask, as approved by Walt Disney.