Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Rise of the Database and more...

Hi kids. I've been a busy camper lately and the writing muse just hasn't been a-knockin' lately. I WARNED YOU THAT THIS WOULD HAPPEN. Oops, I was channeling there. There are a number of things going on.

Changes, changes, changes. Ladybug is out job hunting. I am closing my office space and moving my work home to save my employer money. I dumped cable television and Internet for WiMax connectivity. My daughter's iPhone is DOA 3 months into a 2 year contract. The new year heralded some painful back problems. We are refinancing El Rancho Snabuloso to increase our odds of staying in our home if things really turn crappy.

Before discussing all that, I wanted to share an article by security expert Bruce Schneier. As you know, I am a fan of living a life free of outside surveillance. I don't need people meddling in my life. Nonetheless, it is important to know when a seismic cultural shift occurs so you can fight for what is still possible in the new situation. From birth records to death certificate, we have always been accessible, but in the age of data sharing, connections are being made that most people aren't even aware of. Schneier summarizes the new playing field rather well. I share it because I don't think most of my readers are aware of how the smallest threads of data can connect our disparate points of data out there or how that process even occurs.

Welcome to the future, where everything about you is saved. A future where your actions are recorded, your movements are tracked, and your conversations are no longer ephemeral. A future brought to you not by some 1984-like dystopia, but by the natural tendencies of computers to produce data.

Data is the pollution of the information age. It's a natural byproduct of every computer-mediated interaction. It stays around forever, unless it's disposed of. It is valuable when reused, but it must be done carefully. Otherwise, its after effects are toxic.

And just as 100 years ago people ignored pollution in our rush to build the Industrial Age, today we're ignoring data in our rush to build the Information Age.

Pollution is an interesting analogy. I am sure there are flaws in it, but it is an effective means of pulling the reader out of their normal thought process.

Rather than doing a bunch of quoting, I would admonish you to read the whole article (the comments are interesting too). I share one more interesting point...

We're not going to stop the march of technology, just as we cannot un-invent the automobile or the coal furnace. We spent the industrial age relying on fossil fuels that polluted our air and transformed our climate. Now we are working to address the consequences. (While still using said fossil fuels, of course.) This time around, maybe we can be a little more proactive.

I have a Norwegian friend who is a database consultant. On a recent data mining project in the US, he was shocked at the low level of privacy laws employed here. He says that the work he was doing would not be permitted in most European countries. Much of the identify theft that is rather easy to commit in the United States simply isn't possible in Europe. We need to adopt their privacy safeguards.

The 4th amendment of the US Bill of Rights is resilient enough to protect us from both public AND PRIVATE sector intrusions of our privacy; we just need to recognize this fact and enforce it through the various legal means at our disposal. Sadly, this amendment is usually the first one attacked when people are gripped by fear.

Enough of that.


For those of you with young girls in your sphere of family or friends, I submit the following prayer for them...

I am not a religious person, but if you watched the video, you will see that this hardly matters.

Finally, I am cleaning up the blog entries on the right. The major new addition is going to be the previous owner of the Eugene Torrents site and current owner of a new blog who comments under the name Catpsi. Lovers of Chaosium and Cthulhu will want to link immediately to this site. Commenter Dave should get a kick out of the Exopolitics site that Catpsi links too I think.

Some others, like Freida Bee and Isis: Floating Down Denial have either become private or have finished their time on the Internet Tubes, so I will be trimming our those links. Isis foresaw most of the current turmoil and gave several good hints for getting through it. If you stay towards the real (food water shelter) and move away from the ephemeral (unlimited petroleum and theoretical monetary policy), you will be doing yourself a favor.

PS: For the person who sent me the Meebo message about posting something new to bury the Sexy Men post, I did not do this post for you. A little equal time for all the babe-a-licious chick action is overdue and very called for in the current society.


The Colorman said...

What color?

ladybug said...

Definitly rethinking the "do it w/card" thing...and do it with cash. Makes you stay in your budget too...perhaps in the future "off grid"..will simply mean "untrackable"?

Also love the Gaiman! He's got so much more work I have to check out...
Anyone want to donate to my "Ladybug Sandman Charitable Fund"?...I only need about $500 (Vol. 1-4 and shipping) and it's for a good cause - knowing I would be having a REALLY GOOD TIME reading them throughout years!

Donate Now! ;P

catpsi said...

thanks for the nod and the link!

catpsi said...

EFF just created a "surveillance self-defense site" and announced it today actually, check it: https://ssd.eff.org/

The Moody Minstrel said...

I guess I put away my tinfoil hat too soon...

I guess I should consider myself fortunate for never really having gotten into the credit card habit. I only use my card an average of two or three times a month, and only to get things I can pay for in one automatic transfer lump. That way I just don't have to deal with it.

Frankly, it still freaks me out when I get a statement in the bill and find out what I bought the month before. The "buy now, pay later" mentality just hasn't wormed its way into my psyche.

Then again, Japan is still a very cash-oriented culture.

Don Snabulus said...


You are repetitive, redundant, and what color?


I think I am already the top donor. ;)


Good resource...thanks!


You are doing it right...as is most of Japan. Have it now and pay later is not a good way to stay ahead.

Here in America, billions were spent in advertising to ensure that 98+% of the population bought on credit...then the whole thing falls apart and not one iota of thought was spent on all the "experts" talking people into this stuff. The same "experts" are the first in line to blame the people they were previously "helping." Ain't that America.

Don Snabulus said...

Jon Stewart alludes to the experts "advice" here.

Pandabonium said...

Maybe there's a market for a "rent-a-muse" service.
Speaking of databases...check out the video in this Guardian UK article -
Revealed: police databank on thousands of protesters
- the comments of the 2 Police Constables doing the filming is quite revealing of their attitudes toward people who peacefully protest and the journalists who cover it all.

"polycon" - Inron, Madoff, Stanford, Wall Street bailout; see also "TARP"

The Moody Minstrel said...

None of that surprises me considering I once had an off-duty (American) policeman say to me not so long ago: "If I had my way, they wouldn't pepper spray these f****** peace protesters, they'd shoot 'em. Protesting against war during wartime is treason!"

The Moody Minstrel said...

Speaking of things not being said, has anyone hear heard about this before?