Month: March 2012

Is it a felony when companies ask for Facebook passwords? My letter to the FBI…

Padlock graphicIt has recently come to my attention that you thought it would be really clever to ask prospective employees for their Facebook passwords so that you could peek under the hood and see all the goodies about them that they don’t care to make public. I’m not entirely sure what it is you hoped to gain by this malicious little bit of snoopery, but I can assure you that, were our roles reversed, I would certainly not hire the likes of someone like you who thinks this is a good idea.

First, let’s visit the patently obvious. You seek to hire individuals that, for whatever reason, are willing to give their private, sensitive information to someone they barely know. Is that seriously the kind of security risk you intend to hire? If so, you’re a moron.

Second, let’s take a look at the slightly less obvious, Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. You might remember this document. It’s the one you blithely ignored when you decided it would be a great fucking idea to compromise the security of people’s accounts for your own nefarious purposes. Here’s a few choice bits you should read more closely, or even at all, for that matter. (more…)

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Don’t even LOOK at Pinterest without having your attorney present

Legal document
Read the fine print

Ugh. I’m no attorney and don’t even play one on TV, but after wading through only two pages of the new terms and scribbling notations like crazy, I’m inclined to just delete my account and never intentionally click through to their website again. Unless I’m horribly mistaken, I can only come up with four possible scenarios to account for their gobbledy-gook:

  1. Product of infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters that vaguely looks like a TOS;
  2. Cobbled together by a non-attorney copy/pasting from various random sources willy-nilly, including toilet paper packages, without fully considering the ramifications;
  3. Cobbled together by a rather lackluster and sleep-deprived law student who had word salad for lunch; or
  4. Cobbled together by a brilliantly mad Eeeevil intellectual property (IP) attorney in a secret underground laboratory as part of a grand conspiracy to ensnare as many people in an IP infringement net as imaginable because retaining those services was still cheaper than buying a movie studio, a music label or a death ray. (more…)

Journalistic framing in the spotlight: The Atlantic covers UNESCO coverage by The Daily Show

President Obama, captioned From Wednesday, March 21, 2012:

‘The Daily Show’s’ Advantage Over the MSM: An Eye for the Absurd

Political satirists sometimes enjoy wider latitude than journalists. It’s a distinct and vital genre for a reason. The press would nevertheless do well to step back, if only occasionally, and to look at the world as its [sic] seen from the Daily Show writers room, or the Onion headline writing desk. Satirists have a knack for hitting on angles that reporters miss due to excessively narrow framing. And deliberate temperamental irreverence is helpful if your job is to dispassionately observe.* In the aftermath of The Daily Show’s UNESCO piece, its angle and value added has been praised in numerous journalistic outlets. Going forward, the press should try to recognize absurdity ahead of the satirists, and bring to ensuing coverage the rigor that is the journalistic comparative advantage. (more…)

An agnostic crisis of faith

agnostic a symbolSo. What do you get when an agnostic bordering on atheism has a crisis of faith? That would be me. A significant chunk of my self-identification as an agnostic, a rather defining label to affix to oneself if one can define by negation, involved an active choice to specifically not believe in god, God, G-d, or gods, or goddesses, or spirits or angels or demons or ghosts or souls and a whole host of other things in which to rationally disbelieve.

To see myself inclined to believe, if only in fits and starts, is to have a knee-jerk reaction in the other direction. For were I to believe, ultimately, in the irrational, and for the most subjective and indescribable reasons at that, I may have to seek the grounds for a personal ethics in a manner already subject to an extreme of doubt, wherein some other nebulous and unproven reality dictates the rules of the game here. I’ve tried this approach, and when challenged, I ask the same, “and why should it be so?” as I ask of philosophy.

(more…)

We’ve been framed: on climate disruption, women’s rights, the economy, religion, party politics and damned near everything

Framed image of speech bubblesI just love serendipity.

Seemingly unrelated events: For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been wracking my brains over my next post on the subject of critical thinking. In email a while back, I had an exchange with someone over the importance of identifying the actual issues. Regarding recent posts at Scholars & Rogues, I’ve been on the brink of reply but left grasping at some inchoate…something. There was a word. Right there. At the tips of my tongue and fingers. And it was gone, along with the sense or structure of anything I might add. Then tonight it hit me. I searched. As luck would have it, this gold nugget from almost exactly five years ago popped up, only to reveal itself as perhaps the most generally relevant thing I’ve read in a fair while.

First Chapter: Framing the Debate by Jeffrey Feldman (more…)

Sen. James Inhofe, climate change denier, the Bible only proves you don’t understand words

Rep. James InhofeJust the other morning, I ran across this article from ThinkProgress:

Inhofe: God Says Global Warming Is a Hoax

That article links to a short clip from an interview Inhofe gave to one Vic Eliason at Voice of Christian Youth America to promote his book The Greatest Hoax:

“Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. (more…)

The Economist: When is it appropriate to smack my bitch up? Jordanian women: now; Ukrainians: later; Americans: don’t know

Battered woman / staged photography, not actual abuseHitting Women
The Economist, 08 Mar 2012

Douglas Adams was perhaps more right than he knew when he quipped that coming down from the trees was a big mistake.

I like to visualize data with “people in a room” to put things in perspective. Jordan’s numbers are just ghastly, but if the Ukraine is the basis for any optimism we’ve got a long way to go. (See graphic below.)  If, irrespective of wealth, we put 20 Ukrainian women and their spouses in a room, we could be fairly certain that one of the proud hubbies we could look in the eye hits his wife and that she’s okay with that because it’s justified.  A room full of Jordanians would, statistically, seem more like a domestic violence enthusiasts’ club.  Pot luck. Door prizes. Bring your spouse. (more…)