Archive for the 'Economics' Category

“Mike,” the owner of a midsized web-hosting company, talks about the effects of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI/DSS) on web hosting companies and small online merchants who are his customers. s: If PCI/DSS were enforced today, what would happen? m: Well, all the small businesses would lie. Right? If you’re a small […]

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Here’s where you can download my “scary” DEFCON presentation: Reverse of the United States Great SealNovus Ordo Seclorum“A New Order of the Ages” “Death of Anonymous Travel”DEFCON 2009 – PDF MD5sum: c772681c37c9ad5d210c19c12eb43095 Thanks to everyone who sent in comments, suggestions, and encouragement. (Special thanks to the EFF lawyers for reviewing this beforehand– you guys rock!) […]

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Last week marked the original official deadline for the Digital Television Transition, after which analog television broadcasts would be terminated. (The official deadline was recently extended to June 12, 2009.) To ease the transition, the US government launched the TV Converter Box Coupon Program, which “allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each […]

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White-Collar Looting

One midsummer night in 1977, the power went out in New York City. “Thousands of people took to the streets and smashed store windows looking for TVs, furniture, or clothing… The police made 3,776 arrests, although…many thousands escaped before being caught. 1,037 fires burned throughout the City…” (Blackout History Project) The troublemakers weren’t faceless terrorists […]

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Credit bureaus and credit card companies have direct control over the risk of identity theft. They control the systems for granting and rescinding credit, including fundamental mediums for communication and related security features. Oddly, that doesn’t stop them from trying to profit when things go wrong. Credit companies strongly push their identity theft “protection” services, […]

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“Mind Your Business”

The motto on the very first official United States coin was “Mind Your Business.”  Designed by Benjamin Franklin in 1787, the front of the coin also bore a picture of the sundial with with word Fugio (Latin, “I fly”). Franklin was fond of aphorisms, and the design has been taken to mean, “Time Flies, Mind […]

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Our Revised News

Sign on the old historical archive in Santa Fe, New Mexico. One chilly day last September, United Airlines’ stock temporarily crashed more than $1 billion due to an accidental re-release of an old news report about its 2002 bankruptcy. The New York Times reported that “shares of United traded at one cent… down 99.92 percent, […]

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Matt Knox, a talented Ruby instructor and coder, talks about his early days designing and writing adware for Direct Revenue. (Direct Revenue was sued by Eliot Spitzer in 2006 for allegedly surreptitiously installing adware on millions of computers.) S: You wrote adware. You bastard. M: [sheepishly] Yes, I did.  I got to write half of […]

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A few months ago I walked into Radio Shack, looking for a short-range FM transmitter. I asked the woman behind the counter if the store sold FM transmitters. “I don’t know,” she frowned. “The Internet’s down. I can’t access our product catalog.” (Gah!) Weeks later, I walked into a U-Haul to rent a truck. The […]

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Gasoline Glitch

Driving across the country, we took a quick detour into Michigan off of I-90. We stopped at a gas station to fill up. As we pulled up to the pump, Jonathan noticed that the handle was topped with a plastic bag. “Looks like this one’s closed.” Oddly enough, all the pump handles were covered with […]

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United Airlines Stock Crash

United Airlines stock temporarily lost more than $1 billion in value last week, due to an “accidental” reposting of an old news article which indicated that UA was bankrupt. From the New York Times: “An erroneous headline that flashed across trading screens Monday, saying United had filed for a second bankruptcy, sent the airline’s stock […]

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GPS and Wall Street

For those of you who didn’t catch the full significance of Jon Warner’s GPS Spoofing demonstration, consider that GPS timing information is crucial for the financial industry: “Banking institutions and Foreign Exchange networks rely heavily on precision timing so a stock order placed on one side of the globe can be received almost instantly in […]

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Screwprivacy

Tonight, Colin and I were bummed out that we don’t get a cut when corporations sell our personal data. We decided to take matters into our own hands! Hence we created: http://www.screwprivacy.com/ Yes! Now you can benefit when hackers in Guam steal your bank account password. Don’t be left out of the financial windfall. The […]

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This evening I went to the Kendall Cinema to watch “Gonzo,” the latest documentary about Hunter S. Thompson. Afterwards, in honor of the doctor, I wrote the following letter to Rolling Stone magazine: To Rolling Stone, Several months ago you began stamping my name and address on piles of dead trees and convincing the United […]

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I just finished reading Paul Hawken’s excellent “Ecology of Commerce,” and noted a number of similarities between the environmental industry and information security. With respect to both the environment and information security, companies are not full internalizing the costs of their actions, leaving society to pay for many negative effects. Hawken points out that “when […]

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Eugenics

Picture the day when our genetic engineering techniques have become effective and practical. Barring regulation, in a capitalist society money will in fact buy better genes. “Better” could mean more resistant to disease, cancer, and other afflictions. It might also mean beauty, size, personality and intelligence.

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The Daily Voting Booth

“[Never forget] that the cash register is the daily voting booth in democratic capitalism. We don’t have to buy products that destroy or from companies that harm or are unresponsive. If we want business to express a full range of social and environmental values in their daily commercial activities, then we, too, will have to […]

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