March 30, 2010
Recently, Paul Krugman has been advocating for US trade protectionism to counter China's apparent undervaluation of renminbi. Peking University Economics professor Yiping Huang disagrees.
How I'd hack your password is a good introduction to how easy it is to compromise a weak password. What's a weak password? Anything among the top 20 passwords revealed among the thirty million users of RockYou is a good start ("123456" is #1). Or you can look at the 500 worst passwords as drawn by Kate Bingaman-Burt based on a list by security expert Mark Burnett. An analysis of password cracking software tells you what to avoid when trying to generate a strong password, but you can follow these techniques, or give up all together.
"The laws are intended to make people fearful," Pearce said. The Arizona Senate passed SB 1097 (PDF) on Monday which, if signed by the governor, will require school districts to collect information on how many of its students are in the country illegally and report this information to the governor. This bill is seen by some as a first step in challenging Plyer v. Doe.
In the unusual talent department, a recent episode of Pilipinas Got Talent featured a not-to-be-missed performance of Banal Na Aso Santong Kabayo by Big Mouth. [more inside]
James Lovelock, 90, says we're too stupid to prevent climate change. "I don't think we're yet evolved to the point where we're clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change." One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is "modern democracy", he added in an extended interview. "I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while." He thinks only a catastrophic event would now persuade humanity to take the threat of climate change seriously enough, such as the collapse of a giant glacier in Antarctica.
Good to the Last Seder: "The Jews are known as the people of the Book, and that book, which has sustained them is... the Maxwell House Haggadah." The brainchild of the Joseph Jacobs Advertising firm, Maxwell House Coffee has provided copies of the haggadah for Jewish-American coffee purchasers celebrating the Passover Seder since 1934, a fact that led one rabbi to claim that the coffee company "did more to codify Jewish liturgy than any force in history." Although the Maxwell House Haggadah has received criticism from both secular and religious Jews, the haggadah is still so ubiquitous that it has even surfaced at the official Obama seder at the White House
"We are two reporters living with a family from Mexico, now in MacArthur Park, to learn a foreign language so that we may better report on our own city and country. We are living in their America."
Featuring Nellie McKay, Cyndi Lauper, Tori Amos, Martha Wainwright, Steve Earle, Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Kate Pierson (of the B-52s) and many others, Here Lies Love is the result of a recent collaboration between David Byrne and Fatboy Slim. 22-tracks long, it tells the story of the Iron Butterfly, aka Imelda Marcos, first lady of the Philippines, and her relationship with her childhood servant Estrella Cumpas. Its official release is April 6th, but until then you can listen to the whole thing on NPR Music. The double-disc set will also feature a 120 page booklet and a DVD of historical footage. [more inside]
[NSFWish] In this GlobalPost investigative report, Prague correspondent Iva Skoch gained rare access to one of Eastern Europe’s most secretive industries, uncovering a world where shifting human sexuality meets rampant commercial demand..In this multimedia report, we examine the complex and interlocking pieces of Prague’s booming gay porn business, from its roots in an American entrepreneur, to the cultural, moral and political foundations that make Prague a gay porn capital, as well as the economic necessities that drive many into the industry, and finally, the human toll it takes on workers.
9 Teenagers Charged After Classmate's Suicide. In April 2009, an 11 year old in Springfield, MA killed himself after enduring relentless anti-gay bullying. In January of this year, Phoebe Prince--a recent immigrant from rural Ireland to South Hadley, MA--killed herself after months of harassment from her high school classmates. And now, 10 days after the Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed an anti-bullying bill, 9 teenagers have been charged in Prince's death.
Described as a "well known scenster" in L.A. from the '70's, Art Fein long had a bizzare cable-access show with top musicians. Amongst his other accomplishmentsArt has managed the Cramps, produced the Blasters, but he is best known for his legendary cable access show where he has had dozens of great guests. [more inside]
Recent troubles with Muslim women's clothes have lead to the Quebec Government to begin proposing legislation on the issue of face covering and access to public services. The niqab has become a central symbol in the anti-muslim rhetoric of nationalist parties in Europe (political poster examples: France, Switzerland, and Britain) about the threat Islam poses to tolerant secular societies. [more inside]
The Long. Strange. Never-Boring Journey of a National Treasure. Andrew Corsello has a William Shatner interview experience.
Citing security concerns, Sony has decided to release a firmware update that will disable the "OtherOS" feature on its older (non-slim) PlayStation 3 systems. This is almost certainly a response to the system finally being hacked two months ago by George "GeoHot" Hotz. To counter Sony's disabling of the feature, Hotz, who previously stated that he would not be releasing custom firmware for the PS3, now plans to do so: "The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout its lifecycle. Software PS2 emulation, SACD playback, and OtherOS support are all just software switches you can flip. It's unbelievable you would go and flip one, not just on new boxes you are shipping, but on tens of millions already in the field."
Tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral argument in a case that has gotten very little media coverage, on whether a private person protected by a restraining order may bring a criminal contempt action to enforce the order. The petitioner pled guilty to beating the respondent, on the condition that he not be prosecuted for a second beating inflicted after she obtained a restraining order. The respondent brought her own criminal action for contempt for the second beating, and the petitioner received more jail time. He asserts, however, that he has a due process right to be prosecuted by the government, rather than a private person. [more inside]
Barack Obama Looks at Awesome Things. Way better than A History of Obama Feigning Interest in Mundane Things.
Pour en finir avec le jugement de Dieu The completely insane and dying Antonin Artaud's last public performance, a radio show which wasn't broadcast for 30 years thereafter. English translation here.
"People who use sows to hunt for truffles often find it hard to prevent a sex-crazed animal from eating the truffle she has found and may lose fingers in the attempt." (via) The NYT on decoding the genome of the Périgord Black Truffle . Attempts to make truffles cheaper and more accessible in the past have been met with some resistance.
Scarface school play... the shock value / hilarity is only slightly tempered by the rumour that it is actually by Jonas Åkerlund, director of numerous music video including one recent effort you might just have seen before.
How airplanes are repossessed. The rule is ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell—just get our airplane back.
The Large Hadron Collider is attempting to collide protons at 14 TeV today, and they're livestreaming and tweeting about it. They've had some delays, and mostly you hear people milling about, (press conference from Japan right now) but it's ramping up as we speak, so go check it out! If it's not a dud, it could be historical.
At this Year's National Bike Summit, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had a few words for the crowd. A week later he blogged about it and announced a major policy revision. [more inside]