Category Archives: doom

A Security Question

To my shame, I don’t have a certificate for my blog yet, but as I was flipping through some referer logs I realized that I don’t understand something about HTTPS. I was looking into the fact that I sometimes – about 1% of the time – I see non-S HTTP referers from Twitter’s t.co URL […]

Wooden Shoes As A Service

In international trade, the practice of selling state-subsidized goods far below cost – often as a way of crushing local producers of competing goods – is called “dumping”: Under the Tariff Act of 1930, U.S. industries may petition the government for relief from imports that are sold in the United States at less than fair […]

Mechanized Capital

Elon Musk recently made the claim that humans “must merge with machines to remain relevant in an AI age”, and you can be forgiven if that doesn’t make a ton of sense to you. To fully buy into that nonsense, you need to take a step past drinking the singularity-flavored Effective Altruism kool-aid and start […]

Even the dedication to reason and truth might, for all we know, change drastically.

The following letter, written by Carl Sagan, is one of the appendices of the “Expert Judgement on Markers To Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant” document, completed in 1993. It’s on page 331, and it hurts to read. Dr. D. Richard Anderson Performance Assessment Division 6342 Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, New […]

Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Economics

Late update: This post has been added to this excellent list of falsehoods programmers believe, and I’m pretty proud of that. Two similar jokes rolled past me late last week, the first when I mentioned that running a Java program in JVM in a Linux VM in a container on AWS is a very inefficient […]

Free As In Health Care

This is to some extent a thought experiment. The video below shows what’s called a “frontal offset crash test” – your garden variety driver-side head-on collision – between a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu and a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air. I’m about to use this video to make a protracted argument about software licenses, standards organizations, and […]

Barbiephonic (redux)

I have a funny story about the recent Hello Barbie networked-device security failure. This is doubly a repost – it started its current incarnation as a twitter rant, and longtime readers may remember it from the dim recesses of history, but the time has come for me to tell it again. Back in 2007 Mattel […]

The Devil And Strong Crypto

Period scenery-chewing aside, this is largely how I feel about strong, backdoorless cryptography. When the last wires were tapped, your last passwords broken and the State finally turns on you, how would you hide, with all your secrets exposed? The internet is a forest of crypto from coast to coast – the user’s crypto, not […]

Burning Down The Future

There’s an old line in the military: amateurs study tactics and academics study strategies, but professionals study logistics. It doesn’t matter how good your grand strategy is if you can’t feed your troops, gas up the humvees and keep planes in the air for the duration. In the same vein, in the political arena your […]

The Bourne Aesthetic

“The difference between something that can go wrong and something that can’t possibly go wrong is that when something that can’t possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.” –Douglas Adams I’ve been trying to get this from draft to published for almost six months now. […]