Royals vs Astros: Game 4

Astros Royals 2015 ALDSPlayed 18 at Shoal Creek yesterday. 1

After the round I had a quick beer with the guys then headed south of the river. I fired up the AM as I caught the southbound ramp on I-435 just as the Royals’ half of the 8th began. And then proceeded to chase down the highway at 85-90 miles an hour, weaving in and out of traffic as our Boys in Blue fortunes did an abrupt 180.

I made the manse in record time and sat listening in the car until the last out of the 8th, even though there was a perfectly good 60″ LED set less than 50 feet away.

Holy shit, guys! What a comeback…

Royals vs Astros: Game 4

Show 1 footnote

  1. Shot an 85, thanks.

Gene Patents Dead

Extremely good news: thanks to Australia it appears gene patents are dead. 1

A 69 year-old pensioner from Queensland has succeeded in a David-and-Goliath battle against a multinational corporation that claimed a patent over the “breast cancer” gene.

Australia’s highest court has unanimously ruled that a mutated gene that causes cancer cannot be subject to a patent, or the right to control use of the gene.

The case is a massive win for cancer survivor and grandmother Yvonne D’Arcy and the law firm that represented her, Maurice Blackburn, which took the case all the way to the High Court after repeated losses in the Federal Court. It argued that mutations in the so-called “breast cancer gene” BRCA1 were naturally occurring component of the human body that had been discovered, rather than an invention that could be patented.

But Medicines Australia and some intellectual property lawyers say the decision could slow access to new drugs. 2

Gene Patents Dead

Show 2 footnotes

  1. If not immediately, soon enough; of course certain American companies will fight this, just as insurance companies will fight self-driving cars.
  2. “Because,” said a Medicines Australia leech spokesman, “generally the company is only interested in developing medicines from which we will garner an obscene profit. We do understand for Medicines Australia to so benefit the patients, and by patients we mean cancer-riddled folk sometimes literally at Death’s Doorstop, the patients mu be willing to bend over and let us ass rape them. This may seem unfair but it’s our system.”

Royals vs Astros: Game 2

Astros Royals 2015 ALDS
We were outside for this one, over-seeding the lawn and setting small ‘surprises’ for the squirrels. 1

We had plugged in the Astas’ alarm clock on the front porch and were listening the way Thor intended: out in a waning late summer sun, beer to hand, dead squirrel bits nearby. It was near perfection.

Of course the Royals tried to ruin it. Johnny Cueto –a guy we’re still certain isn’t really a pitcher– was given the ball to start the game and immediately staked the Astros to a 4 run lead. You know….because he could. And the Royals continued their recent trend of approaching plate appearances as though they were playing Ban Johnson games.

But then someone must have mentioned that Sunday down in Minute Maid Park 2 the Royals will be facing a pitcher who in his last 16 innings has thrown no-hit ball. That’s 16 innings of  NO  HIT  BALL. And 8 of those innings were against the Royals.

And so our Boys in Blue woke up…sort of. At least enough to dink out a 1 run lead over the Astros, which allowed them to go to their bullpen.

And we won…kinda.

That shit won’t cut it come Sunday.

Royals vs Astros: Game 2

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Where ‘surprises’ equals customized M18s. The devices’ effective range of 50 meters is a bit much for a Brookside front yard, especially since we’ve already fielded a number of concerns regarding our unique rodent reduction program; apparently a little noise makes some people rethink their commitment to a rodent-free neighborhood.
  2. Have we mentioned what a pussy name that is for a ball field?

Royals vs Astros: Game 1

Astros Royals 2015 ALDS
Well, so far pretty much as we feared: the Royals were thoroughly average last night. Maybe in their hearts they were so disappointed in not facing the Yankees they just couldn’t take an interest in the Astros. They sure played like it.

Our Boys in Blue had better find the hunger that informed last season’s play or all too soon they’ll find themselves down 0-2 and facing Dallas Keuchel at Minute Maid Park. 1 Not a happy thought.

After that? A miserable autumn of the networks stuffing NBA and Chiefs games down our throats, miniscule relief coming only in the form of college football. It simply doesn’t bear thinking about.

C’mon, Royals: don’t be the team that dooms us to NBA and Chiefs games. Be the other team, the one that knows how to win.

Royals vs Astros: Game 1

Show 1 footnote

  1. Jebus H. Kerist – Minute Maid Park? What sort of piece of shit name is that for a baseball field? Jebus H. Kerist…

Verizon’s Zombie Cookie

Verizon is giving a new mission to its controversial hidden identifier that tracks users of mobile devices. Verizon said in a little-noticed announcement that it will soon begin sharing the profiles with AOL’s ad network, which in turn monitors users across a large swath of the Internet.

That means AOL’s ad network will be able to match millions of Internet users to their real-world details gathered by Verizon, including — “your gender, age range and interests.” AOL’s network is on 40 percent of websites, including on ProPublica.

AOL will also be able to use data from Verizon’s identifier to track the apps that mobile users open, what sites they visit, and for how long. Verizon purchased AOL earlier this year.

Privacy advocates say that Verizon and AOL’s use of the identifier is problematic for two reasons: Not only is the invasive tracking enabled by default, but it also sends the information unencrypted, so that it can easily be intercepted.

“It’s an insecure bundle of information following people around on the Web,” said Deji Olukotun of Access, a digital rights organization.

Verizon, which has 135 million wireless customers, says it is will share the identifier with “a very limited number of other partners and they will only be able to use it for Verizon and AOL purposes,” said Karen Zacharia, chief privacy officer at Verizon.

In order for the tracking to work, Verizon needs to repeatedly insert the identifier into users’ Internet traffic. The identifier can’t be inserted when the traffic is encrypted, such as when a user logs into their bank account.

Previously, Verizon had been sending the undeletable identifier to every website visited by smartphone users on its network — even if the user had opted out. But after ProPublica revealed earlier this year that an advertising company was using the identifier to recreate advertising cookies that users had deleted, Verizon began allowing users to truly opt-out, meaning that it won’t send the identifier to subscribers who say they don’t want it.

Verizon users are still automatically opted into the program.

“I think in some ways it’s more privacy protective because it’s all within one company,” said Verizon’s Zacharia. “We are going to be sharing segment information with AOL so that customers can receive more personalized advertising.”

A recent report by Access found that other large carriers such as AT&T and Vodafone, are also using a similar technique to track their users.

Verizon’s Zombie Cookie

Surveillance Society

A quick search for surveillance society on this site will bring up a disheartening numbers of posts. Here’s yet another one from the omnipresent security guru Bruce Schneier:

ID checks were a common response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but they’ll soon be obsolete. You won’t have to show your ID, because you’ll be identified automatically. A security camera will capture your face, and it’ll be matched with your name and a whole lot of other information besides. Welcome to the world of automatic facial recognition. Those who have access to databases of identified photos will have the power to identify us. Yes, it’ll enable some amazing personalized services; but it’ll also enable whole new levels of surveillance. The underlying technologies are being developed today, and there are currently no rules limiting their use…

The critical technology here is computer face recognition. Traditionally it has been pretty poor, but it’s slowly improving. A computer is now as good as a person. Already Google’s algorithms can accurately match child and adult photos of the same person, and Facebook has an algorithm that works by recognizing hair style, body shape, and body language ­- and works even when it can’t see faces. And while we humans are pretty much as good at this as we’re ever going to get, computers will continue to improve. Over the next years, they’ll continue to get more accurate, making better matches using even worse photos.

Matching photos with names also requires a database of identified photos, and we have plenty of those too. Driver’s license databases are a gold mine: all shot face forward, in good focus and even light, with accurate identity information attached to each photo. The enormous photo collections of social media and photo archiving sites are another. They contain photos of us from all sorts of angles and in all sorts of lighting conditions, and we helpfully do the identifying step for the companies by tagging ourselves and our friends. Maybe this data will appear on handheld screens. Maybe it’ll be automatically displayed on computer-enhanced glasses. Imagine salesclerks ­– or politicians ­– being able to scan a room and instantly see wealthy customers highlighted in green, or policemen seeing people with criminal records highlighted in red.

This is no longer fiction. High-tech billboards can target ads based on the gender of who’s standing in front of them. In 2011, researchers at Carnegie Mellon pointed a camera at a public area on campus and were able to match live video footage with a public database of tagged photos in real time. Already government and commercial authorities have set up facial recognition systems to identify and monitor people at sporting events, music festivals, and even churches. The Dubai police are working on integrating facial recognition into Google Glass, and more US local police forces are using the technology…

Today in the US there’s a massive but invisible industry that records the movements of cars around the country. Cameras mounted on cars and tow trucks capture license places along with date/time/location information, and companies use that data to find cars that are scheduled for repossession. One company, Vigilant Solutions, claims to collect 70 million scans in the US every month. The companies that engage in this business routinely share that data with the police, giving the police a steady stream of surveillance information on innocent people that they could not legally collect on their own. And the companies are already looking for other profit streams, selling that surveillance data to anyone else who thinks they have a need for it.

This could easily happen with face recognition…

Already the FBI has a database of 52 million faces, and describes> its integration of facial recognition software with that database as “fully operational.” In 2014, FBI Director James Comey told Congress that the database would not include photos of ordinary citizens, although the FBI’s own documents indicate otherwise. And just last month, we learned that the FBI is looking to buy a system that will collect facial images of anyone an officer stops on the street.

In 2013, Facebook had a quarter of a trillion user photos in its database. There’s currently a class-action lawsuit in Illinois alleging that the company has over a billion “face templates” of people, collected without their knowledge or consent.

One of the more depressing take-aways here is that America’s unique legal fruit of the poisoned tree concept –though evidence of a crime is at hand, it may not be used if it was obtained by illegal means– is about to be obviated by the extra-legal entities providing “evidence” to the authorities. More, such arrangement will break any remaining trust in the legal system, making said “evidence” less than trustworthy, “reasonable doubt” a certainty.

Outsourcing these activities to skirt legislation specifically designed to hold our Government in check is both abhorrent and easily abused. It also speaks volumes to the scorn with which our politicians view us.

Sam Lowry: My name’s Lowry. Sam Lowry. I’ve been told to report to Mr. Warrenn.

Porter – Information Retrieval: Thirtieth floor, sir. You’re expected.

Sam Lowry: Um… don’t you want to search me?

Porter – Information Retrieval: No sir.

Sam Lowry: Do you want to see my ID?

Porter – Information Retrieval: No need, sir.

Sam Lowry: But I could be anybody.

Porter – Information Retrieval: No you couldn’t sir. This is Information Retrieval.

Further reading on the matter can be found here and here.

Surveillance Society

The Flood

Obama's flood
Snicker. 1 2 3

The Flood

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Not to be a wet blanket, but if we take the predominant Western supernatural figurehead at His word (Genesis 8:21-22), the “fact” is He promised never to do that (the flood thing) again. Which means someone else is responsible. So…whom do you think? Obama? Nah, too easily type-cast, you know. More likely Biden – he’s always smiling like he just ate a canary. Though…now I think of it? It’s the anti-keerist himself: Ted Cruz. Yup, that’s the ticket!
  2. Or Boehner. Maybe that’s why they forced him out…
  3. Unless…maybe it’s Pope Francis, the e-vil motherfucker.