Because it's our world too

Using Game Theory to Break the SOPA Code

Posted by on Dec 2, 2011 in technology news | 1 comment

Blog featured picture by Daniel Millsap

If then but so

My neighbor was known for his wild parties. I could never sleep at night with all the crashing noises outside as he and his friends threw empty beer bottles against the brick wall. I tried calling him but he told me that it was a free country and that I should screw off. I couldn’t think of a way to get through to him so one day I started polishing my sniper rifle in the window opposite his house, like I always do but this time with the shades wide open. And Ill be darned; he hasn’t thrown a party since.

How a Game Theorist Might Look at SOPA

Introduction

Sometimes it’s impractical to pick up the phone and have a talk with the world about what you would like to accomplish, so sometimes it’s a lot easier to find alternative means of sending your message. Something that is strong enough to get your attention but subtle enough to convey what it is that can’t be said outright.

We (the government) would like the ability to immediately deny access to a website that, shall we say,”endangers public health” and worry about the little details like court orders etc later.

SEC. 102. ACTION BY ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PROTECT U.S. CUSTOMERS AND PREVENT U.S. SUPPORT OF FOREIGN INFRINGING SITES.
(b) ACTION BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.—
(5) RELIEF.—On application of the Attorney General following the commencement of an action under this section, the court may issue a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, or an in-junction, in accordance with rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, against a registrant of a domain name used by the foreign infringing site or an owner or operator of the foreign infringing site or, in an action brought in rem under paragraph (2), against the foreign infringing site or a portion of such site, or the domain name used by such site, to cease and desist from undertaking any further activity as a foreign infringing site.

Now Before you object, let me tell you how we can make your life difficult if you choose not to cooperate with us.

(4) ENFORCEMENT OF ORDERS.–
(A) IN GENERAL.—To ensure compliance with orders issued pursuant to this section, the Attorney General may bring an action for injunctive relief—(i) against any entity served under paragraph (1) that knowingly and willfully fails to comply with the requirements of this subsection to compel such entity to comply with such requirements; or
(c) ACTIONS BASED ON COURT ORDERS.—
2) REASONABLE MEASURES.
(A) SERVICE PROVIDERS.—
(i) IN GENERAL.—A service provider (also Internet Search Engines, Payment Network Providers, Internet Advertising Services) shall take technically feasible and reason- able measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order, including measures designed to prevent the domain name of the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) from resolving to that domain name’s Internet Protocol address. Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within 5 days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.

But we don’t REALLY want to make your life more difficult. Look harder and you will see.

(ii) LIMITATIONS.—A service provider shall not be required- I) other than as directed under this subparagraph, to modify its network, software, systems, or facilities; and
4) ENFORCEMENT OF ORDERS.—
C) DEFENSE.—A defendant in an action under subparagraph (A)(i) may establish an afirmative defense by showing that the defendant does not have the technical means to comply with this subsection without incurring an unreasonable economic burden, or that the order is not authorized by this subsection.

What do you say we forget the whole thing? But we will need a small favor from you. Do the job for us. It will be our little secret.

SEC. 105. IMMUNITY FOR TAKING VOLUNTARY ACTION AGAINST SITES THAT ENDANGER PUBLIC HEALTH.
(a) REFUSAL OF SERVICE.—A service provider, payment network provider, Internet advertising service, advertiser, Internet search engine, domain name registry, or domain name registrar, acting in good faith and based on credible evidence, may stop providing or refuse to provide services to an Internet site that endangers thepublic health.
(b) IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY.—An entity described in subsection (a), including its directors, officers, employees, or agents, that ceases or refuses to provide services under subsection (a) shall not be liable to any person under any Federal or State law for such action.

Conclusion

Things aren’t always as they appear to be, and many different readers may interpret things in their own special way. Sometimes, if we watch very carefully, we may observe the magician’s secret while he is busy trying to keep us fixated on his other hand waving about in the air.

Solutions and Recommendations

  • Read the bill for yourself.
  • Don’t rely on second and third-hand interpretations from your favorite website (or even mine!)
  • Don’t let others frame the issue for you because, before you know it, you will be looking at the issue in the way they want you to, which keeps you from seeing the real issue itself.
  • Resist the urge to constrain your interpretations to only a few possibilities. Make a list of questions as you read that strike you as odd or that connect from one area of knowledge to the next. Have you seen any similar patterns before?
  • Put yourself in the actors’ shoes. If you were in the shoes of each party, what would you do?

Supporting Documentation

govtrack.us > Congress > Legislation > H.R. 3261: Stop Online Piracy Act

PDF version of SOPA I used for interpretation (mirror site)

Daniel Millsap

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Black Hat 2011: Staring Into The Abyss by Richard Thieme

Posted by on Dec 2, 2011 in technology news | 3 comments

Black Hat 2011: “Staring into the Abyss: The Dark Side of Security and Professional Intelligence” by Richard Thieme

Nested Boxes

Peel Away The Layers

Richard Thieme, esteemed writer, speaker, and thinker on important topics such as the relationship between culture and technology as well as the spiritual dimensions of technology, gave a fast-paced yet very deep talk at the 2011 Black Hat Convention held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Listen Carefully Or You Will Miss It All

One must listen carefully to Richard Thieme speaking because the talk is nested and there different levels of meaning. Thieme sets the stage by saying

“I’m going to try and build a bigger picture of the security world than we are usually in the habit of hearing described in all of the conferences we go to and try and look at some of the nested realities in which security is really taking place and ask ourselves whether the word security itself is appropriate to what is in fact the behaviors that actually take place inside the ‘security space.’”

The World Is Grey

We often hear of hackers being classified according to their “ethics” into White hat hackers, Black hat hackers, and Grey hat hackers but Thieme challenges the notion that the terms mean anything and that they can be so easily pigeonholed.

“As we grow and go through developmental changes, hopefully our view of things gets more sophisticated, more nuanced, more complex, and that usually means a greater sense of the grayness of all things. You hear about black hat hackers and grey hat hackers and white hat hackers and they are often defined imprecisely. “It’s all grey. The world is Grey. Distinctions that seemed clear and precise in our earlier life all go liquid on us and we realize that everything is not as binary as the code which is hackable.” “The truth is fudged all the time. We are all in it together; The world is grey. Hacking is a subset of the world, therefore hacking is grey.””A black hat hacker is a hacker. A grey hat hacker is a hacker who knows when to fudge the truth; and a white hat hacker is a hacker who put the truth down somewhere and can’t remember where he put it.”

The Myth That Is Called Security

“So when we talk about the problems that confront security the weakest link in the chain is frequently the definition of the problem and the definition of the problem is really not what we think it is.””Security vendors sell solutions that address our fears, real or imaginary, and they sell the tools that can do what they can do. They can’t sell the tools that can’t do what they can’t do.””People lose the ability to think critically about information. People don’t know what is true so they believe simplest explanation that will secure their world so they can wake up in world that is same as when they went to sleep.”

The Problem Is Built Into The System Itself

Richard Thieme talks about being approached by a company that wanted him to work in the area of Brand Defense. It was explained to him that his job would be to create credible looking websites for the company where people could go to criticize the company or ask questions regarding a problem. Sound familiar? The goal was to control and direct the conversation in the direction that would be in the company’s own good. If someone got too close to the truth, Thieme stated, it was time to “blow it up” or to inflect the conversation.

The Solution

Be real with yourself. Don’t let that nagging feeling go untended. Do not rely on others to take care of the issues you see, because then you give all your power away. If you see some odd process going on in the background of your computer or your mobile phone, don’t rely on your favorite website to update you on the news. Start learning more about computers. And don’t forget to get the free and useful tool Wireshark so you can get started yourself in seeing what the fuss is all about.

I Want To Hear More Of What Richard Thieme Has To Say

You can learn more about Richard Thieme on his personal website.

If you think hes speaking style is elloquent then you just might find his books fun to read as well. You can download kindle versions of his books on Amazon.com

Richard Thieme Books

Mind Games by Richard Thieme. (From Amazon.com Description) Mind Games is a unique collection of 19 stories of brave new worlds
and alternate realities – stories of computer hackers, deception and
intelligence, puzzling anomalies, spirituality and mysteries of
consciousness, the paranormal, UFOs, alien life forms – in short,
everyday life in the 21st century.

Islands in the ClickStream by Richard Thieme. (From Amazon.com Description) CNN called Richard Thieme “a member of the cyber avant-garde”. Digital Delirium named him “one of the most creative minds of the digital generation”. Now Richard Thieme’s wisdom on the social and cultural dimensions of technology is available in a single volume. “Islands in the Clickstream” ranges beyond the impact of technology to spirituality, psychological insight, and social commentary. Now that people are used to living in virtual worlds and move easily between online and offline worlds, they want to connect that experience to the deeper issues of our lives, including spiritual issues. Some examples include “Dreams Engineers Have”, “The Crazy Lady on the Treadmill”, and “Whistleblowers and Team Players”. These essays raise serious questions for thoughtful readers. They have attracted favorable commentary from around the world and a fanatic, almost rabid fan base.

YouTube Video | DEFCON 19: The Dark Side of Crime-fighting, Security, and Professional Intelligence

The speech was also given at Defcon 19, and as of December 1, 2011, can be seen on Youtube.

http://youtu.be/XIfrfWgJlsI

Daniel Millsap

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North Face | The Outerwear for Champions

Posted by on Nov 29, 2011 in Shopping | 1 comment

NorthFace – The Outerwear of Champions

It’s that time of year again, when you can no longer stroll around the house naked or practice the Kama sutra in your back yard with that special someone because it’s just too damn cold. But wait

North Face To The Rescue

Nothing screams “I’m a confident, sexy, and independent woman” or “Hi, no time to talk now; I’m an important and busy man on my way to (receive my Nobel prize, attend an important legal meeting, speak with the shareholders) than a warm, elegant, sexy-looking Jacket from The North Face.

North Face Jackets are Sexy looking Jackets

Serious Jackets for Serious People

There’s a reason you see people climbing Mt Everest in these things. Because their clothing keeps your ass WARM. I don’t mean kind of warm in a “I can sorta almost feel my fingers but can’t move them” sort of way. No, I mean a “Oh shit it’s snowing so hard I can’t see two feet in front of me but why is it so HOT out here then” kind of warm.

Disclaimer

These Jackets are for badasses only, so don’t bother picking one up if you aren’t one.

I can’t wait! Tell me more!

So don’t buy your loved ones a shitty Kindle Fire or an overpriced iPad this holiday season. Buy them something they NEED and something they WANT.

Get them to the North Face, Fast!

Daniel Millsap

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Houston SPCA Windows of Life

Posted by on Nov 28, 2011 in Pets | 1 comment

If this video doesn’t bring tears to your eyes

then I don’t know what will.

Houston SPCA adopting animals at Galleria’s Neiman Marcus from Nov 25 – Dec 23

Neiman Marcus is located at 2600 Post Oak and is one of the many entrances to the maze we call the Galleria. If you are thinking about getting a pet then please stop by and take a look to see if you just may fall in love with one of the dogs or cats available from the Houston SPCA. These pets need homes and are full of love that they are just waiting to give you once you pick them up. All animals are healthy, both physically and behaviorally, as they go through a rigorous check up process that ensures that they are ready to be around you and your children.

What all do I get?

If you need any other reason than a loving companion, then why not consider the financial savings included when adopting an animal from the Houston SPCA:

Adoption package valued at over $400

The adoption package is valued at OVER $400 and includes…

  • A health evaluation, initial vaccinations, rabies vaccinations for animals three months and older
  • Spay/Neuter surgery
  • Deworming
  • Heartworm testing for dogs six months and older
  • Microchipping with free lifetime registration, 30 days of Shelter Care Insurance
  • And, of course, a friend for life!

Wait There’s more

As an added bonus, VCA Animal Hospitals will provide a complimentary overall wellness examination (within five days after adoption) and complimentary 14-day follow-up care for certain conditions to give your pet the very best in medical care. Plus, everyone receives a FREE bag of Hills Science Diet food! Adoption fees vary and restrictions may apply.

You can visit the Houston SPCA website at http://www.houstonspca.org

Daniel Millsap

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Leave Sasha Grey Alone

Posted by on Nov 28, 2011 in Entertainment | 3 comments

leave Sasha Alone

Leave Sasha Alone!!!

If you don’t know who Sasha Grey is then I don’t recommend that you go and Google her unless you are home alone with a few extra minutes of “me time.”

Somehow, I ended up on the TMZ website the other day where I saw a story about Sasha Grey, an award winning actress known for her legendary oral skills, who was recently mobbed by angry parents when she tried to put her skills to good use by reading to children at an elementary school in Compton, CA.

It seems that some parents, either way too knowledgeable about the porn business or with just too much time on their hands, decided to do their American duty by Immediately calling the school to complain about Sasha Grey. Apparently, QVC was not showing anything of interest and Nancy Grace wasn’t coming on for at least another couple of hours.

Now the real question is why these parents are such porno connoisseurs that they know whom Sasha Gray is and what she is doing on a daily basis in the first place. Also, I find it ironic that Kim Kardashian and family is given a reality TV program because of or despite the fact that she made a sex tape that was released publicly. Oh and she made $millions because of it too. You don’t think your children watch that show? I can close my eyes and turn in circles while pointing straight ahead of me and when I stop and open my eyes I bet I will be pointing in the general vicinity where you will find at least one female dressed like or with hair matching a Kardashian. So what’s the big deal? Can’t you wait six more hours until Nancy Grace comes on? Did the QVC channel go offline or something? Get over it and let the lady get on with her life, which is something you must not have.

We live in a society where a girl is given her own reality TV show for making a sex tape, and yet when someone who USED TO BE making lots of sex tapes but not anymore tries to do some good in her community, everyone jumps down her throat. (No pun intended).

When you stop giving adulterers their own segment on CNN, when you stop giving girls with homemade sex tapes the publicity they need to get their own television program, when you stop buying magazines with their picture plastered on it and stopdressing like and dyeing your hair the same color to look like these girls, THEN I’ll listen to you. Until then, go back to your crocheting and let the big boys and girls get on with their life.

Would you say no to this woman?

hubba hubba

Sasha, my darling

I just want to let you know that looking at you makes me feel like I am on a roller coaster as it gently slides to the top of the mound before coming to a stop for a split second – tingling sensations arising within me as I look down far below and realize that… here I come!

So Sasha, you go girl. I’ve got your back. And you can come read to me in bed any time.

Daniel Millsap

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Stop MicroManaging

Posted by on Nov 28, 2011 in Business | 10 comments

Hitler is the new greeter at your local store

customer centered

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun shown brightly, its rays gently massaging you just long enough for you to close your eyes and embrace the feeling before the bitingly cold wind tapped you on your shoulder, reminding you that it was now Winter. Maria was in a good mood. It was her first day working after the Thanksgiving holiday and she felt reinvigorated. She had worked overtime the week before and she smiled to herself as she remembered how happy her children were to receive the gifts she brought home for them. Nothing fancy, but it made Maria feel good to be able to provide for her family. She was looking forward to work……

It’s that time of year again

Grandma needed new winter clothes and so I sucked it up and took her to Wal-Mart yesterday. Not that I particularly enjoy the place but I can usually find what I need when I’m too lazy to go to the Galleria or don’t feel like waiting 3 days for Amazon.com to ship.

Not knowing where anything is, and especially lacking knowledge of where the Women’s clothing was, we asked the only employee in the area to help us. She was very patient as Grandma took her from place to place, telling her “no, that’s not what I’m looking for.” A less gentle soul would have taken the opportunity to answer that imaginary phone call telling her that they she was needed immediately in isle 4. But not Maria. She was a nice lady.

As I sat there waiting for grandma to make up her mind, I noticed a man, who we will call Frank, walk up and ask Maria to step aside for a moment. “What are you doing?” he asked, in the same tone of voice that you would use to try and stop someone before they started running naked through an elementary school. “This is not your area.”

Not wanting to let Maria’s kindness go to waste, I immediately interjected and told the manager that we had specifically asked her to help us find something. It was of no use. Frank (not real name) didn’t let his opportunity to rule over a subordinate go to waste.

Stop Micromanaging

You see Frank, if it weren’t for customers like granny and me, you would be out of a job. That’s why they hired you and Maria; because you know where the stuff is that we are looking for. When I ask someone where something is, I am happy when they go out of their way to help me find it, even if they don’t immediately know where that something is, because it shows that THEY CARE. Want me to go home with that warm and fuzzy feeling of having been satisfied as a customer? Then let Maria do her job.

Isn’t that what a manager is for?

Now I don’t doubt that in some handbook sitting in the trash somewhere it is written that all employees are to stay in their area, yada yada on and on, but that is probably so that they are not all hanging in the back of the store throwing a party. I don’t think it applies in this case, Frank.

What does this mean for the employee and the customer?

Good job ruining Maria’s day. She will probably think twice before going out of her way to help another customer because she knows that you are probably lurking around the corner, waiting for her to go beyond that imaginary line that you call her “area.”

What can I do to stop this from happening in my company?

Be more culturally sensitive and enforce the spirit of a rule and not just the rule itself. Cultural background has an impact on what employees end up doing when they are faced with a choice. Some may believe that it is right to help others no matter the cost while others may have been brought up in a culture where it was expected to follow the rules exactly. Having helpful employees is a valuable intangible asset to your company and its occurrence should be nurtured. Perhaps incorporating these ideas into your managerial training programs will help your business obtain or keep a competitive advantage, because when you piss customers off they are more likely just to stay at home and order online so they don’t have to deal with this kind of nonsense.

84,584 boxes of tissues were bought to wipe away the tears caused by Frank.

Daniel Millsap

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Houston Red Light Cameras and giving voters the middle-finger

Posted by on Nov 26, 2011 in Houston Red Light Cameras | 7 comments

The man hatches his new plan for social good.

yes mastah.

Have you ever been driving through an intersection that happens to have a red light camera on it? Have you ever accidently gone through only to see the camera flash in your rear view mirror? How does that make you feel? Nowimagine this: You were given a choice, in the form of a vote, on whether or not you wanted to have this fun little experience. And the vote passed in favor of disabling the cameras. (sigh of relief right?) Now imagine that a year or so later you are driving and miss the red light only to see the flash that should not even be there. NOW how do you feel? Not only do you begin to worry about whether or not you will receive an unwanted holiday card from the city but you are given the middle finger because you have been reminded that, even though you went to vote, and everyone else went to vote, and that the vote was to take them down, they are not down. (edit: looks like they did take them down.. and then put them back up. and then take them back down. and then put them back up?)

Even assuming arguendo that they were turned back on because they mayor said so, the fact remains that the action is still bullshit because that would mean that the Mayor is expecting us to tune into channel 11 news or read the Houston Chronicle every 15 minutes to see what the law was going to be for that day. Speaking of the law, isn’t that what the results of votes are for….

Picture of Jeremy Bentham

This guy has more Facebook friends than you do

Ah! It’s good ole’ Jeremy Bentham reminding us from the grave (sorta) that people avoid pain and the pain of not knowing whether or not the flash has any significance is good enough to keep us servants in line.

Photograph of a prison designed using Panopticon theory

home sweet home

“Hence we design the prison so that the prisoners are forced to behave as they ought because they think the unseen warder in the centre of the spider’s web is always watching them. We design the penal code so that self-interested people, desiring to avoid punishment, do what they ought.” (Harrison 2001)

or in his own words

You will please to observe, that though perhaps it is the most important point, that the persons to be inspected should always feel themselves as if under inspection, at least as standing a great chance of being so, yet it is not by any means the only one. If it were, the same advantage might be given to buildings of almost any form. What is also of importance is, that for the greatest proportion of time possible, each man should actually be under inspection. This is material in all cases, that the inspector may have the satisfaction of knowing, that the discipline actually has the effect which it is designed to have” (Bentham)

Yes but [ insert idiot here] ….. you say:

  • idiot #1: You shouldn’t have run the red light then.
  • Response: Nice try, but the issue is not about running red lights, it’s about the fact that the cameras are there after we voted against them.
  • idiot #2: Studies (insert ridiculous reference to CNN or whatever) show that these red light cameras reduce the incidence of accidents etc.
  • Response: Well isn’t that nice. But even if it were true,and once again, the issue is not about whether or not they prevent this or that, but why they are even there in the first place after we voted against it.
  • idiot #3: The city has a duty to fulfill its contractual obligation to the company that manufactures and operates the cameras. They will be fined millions if they break the contract.
  • Response: Well then they should have thought about that before signing the contract. We were not given a choice on whether or not we wanted to take them down 3 years from now, we voted to take them down now.
  • idiot #4: What are you worried about? Even though the cameras are still on and flash when you run the red light, they are not on in the sense that they no longer result in a ticket being sent in the mail.
  • Response: Well, yes they do?, and secondly, I didn’t vote on whether or not I wanted a ticket in the mail, I voted on the use of the cameras in the first place. You see, seeing that light flash in my mirror is just as bad, if not worse, than getting a ticket for it, because it reminds me that there is always the chance that I will get a ticket, even if I can get it thrown out (by wasting time writing, calling, showing up somewhere). It also reminds me that the people who gave us the choice don’t really give a shit and that they are going to do whatever they want anyway.

The ramifications

What kind of message does it send to the people when you give them a choice, and then take it back like a 3 year-old on the playground that is not happy because she got tagged “it.” That’s what voting is for: to gauge the sentiment of the people. And it is your (politician I’m talking to you) job to represent the sentiment of the people. That’s why we elected you. So get off your fat asses and start doing your job correctly.

The point of the camera is not so much in making the city extra revenue, or about saving you from an accident,

its about reminding you that “the man” is always watching you, and can inconvenience you at any time and for anything. And if you are bothered by that then tough, that’s your problem. Find a way to get past the hardwired reactions in your brain,learn to turn it all off, or go back to playing on your computer. Or better yet, go read a book.

Selected Writings on Utilitarianism (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) by Jeremy Bentham. With an introduction by Ross Harrison.ISBN-10: 1840221119

In the spirit of Maddox

7,8894,004 people have had their emotional affect violated by the man since the vote passed to take down the red light cameras.

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