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Surveillance

Cory Doctorow:

Some people are upset because they think Facebook made Grampy into a Qanon. Others, because they think Insta gave their kid anorexia. Some think Tiktok is brainwashing millennials into quoting Osama bin Laden. Some are upset because the cops use Google location data to round up Black Lives Matter protesters, or Jan 6 insurrectionists. Some are angry about deepfake porn. Some are angry because Black people are targeted with ads for overpriced loans or colleges

And some people are angry because surveillance feeds surveillance pricing. The thing is, whatever else all these people are angry about, they’re all angry about surveillance. Are you angry that ad-tech is stealing a 51% share of news revenue? You’re actually angry about surveillance. Are you angry that “AI” is being used to automatically reject resumes on racial, age or gender grounds? You’re actually angry about surveillance.

There’s a very useful analogy here to the history of the ecology movement. As James Boyle has long said, before the term “ecology” came along, there were people who cared about a lot of issues that seemed unconnected. You care about owls, I care about the ozone layer. What’s the connection between charismatic nocturnal avians and the gaseous composition of the upper atmosphere? The term ecology took a thousand issues and welded them together into one movement.

We need an anti-surveillance movement.

Sex, Lies and White Chicken Chili

The Fruit & Veg had a special on green bell peppers, so I bought too many. This… is not uncommon.

Looking for a way to use them, I found a recipe for white chicken chili which is pretty damn good. The recommended cooking times are a bit screwy though — it’s a 6-8 hour slow cooker dish which only takes 5+7+1+10 minutes on the stove? Nah-ah.

So what I did. Two chicken breasts, on the bone, cut into four pieces each. Black pot with some oil, fry until brown all over, maybe ten minutes. Remove from pot. Add some more oil, slowly fry celery, one onion, one large green pepper (all diced). Aim for 15 to 20 minutes. More if you have it. Add the four cloves of garlic, two teaspoons cumin, some chili flakes (which is what I had on hand) and maybe half a teaspoon red and another half black pepper.

Then I added some frozen chicken stock and a stock cube and one tin white beans, simmered the whole thing for maybe half an hour.

In the mean time, cook rice in the instant pot, 3/4 cup rice, one cup water, 2 minutes on high, open up, add a handful of frozen corn, close the lid and give it some time to percolate.

Fish out the chicken, shred it off the bones, stir back into the pot, serve.

All in all it took me maybe an hour and a half. I would suck in a quickfire challenge.

(And if you missed the important link above, here it is again. How to Cook Onions and How Recipes Lie.  Go read).

(Oh and I lied about the sex. Nothing to see here. Move right along).

Right diagnosis, wrong recommendation

Priscilla Snow’s Windows PC had “a few hiccups over the past couple of years”. She couldn’t open display settings, a MIDI keyboard interface stopped working, task manager would start to hang until force-closed, video capture cards had trouble connecting. Then, while trying to figure out why a remote desktop session wasn’t working, the task bars on Snow’s PC disappeared. The PC refused to launch any settings panels. After updating drivers and restarting the PC, the taskbars returned, but only for six days…. (long sad story on Ars Technica)

It turns out that her Hisense TV was generating “random UUIDs for UPNP network discovery every few minutes.” Windows, seemingly not knowing why any device would routinely do this, sees and adds those alternate Hisense devices to its Device Association Framework, or DAF. This service being stuffed full of attention-grabbing devices can hang up Task Manager, Bluetooth, the Settings apps, File Explorer, and more.

The fix is deleting hundreds of keys from the registry.  Snow did the same, and everything—Task Manager, MIDI keyboard, remote desktop, even a CRT monitor she had assumed was broken—started working again.

OK, so the Hisense TV is spewing out noise. Not very civilized, I get it.

Snow notes in chats attached to her post that she disabled “Set up network connected devices automatically” on her “Private networks” settings in Windows. And, of course, she recommend not buying the same Hisense 50Q8G she bought, or at least not having it on the same network.

So Microsoft Windows is trying to be too clever by half, filing everything it sees on the network for future reference to the point where it runs completely dry on resources, and that’s OK?

In all fairness, Ars Technica did kind of get it right in concluding:

The mystery is solved, but the culprit remains very much at large. Or culprits—plural—depending on how you think a Windows PC should react to a shapeshifting TV.

Continue reading…

RIP Vernor Vinge

As it is I’m halfway through _A Fire Upon the Deep_ at the moment. For some strange reason it reminds me of _The Sparrow_, maybe just because of the strangeness of the alien races depicted.

I remember really enjoyed _Peace War_ long long ago.

*sigh*

 

Keeping the Impis at Bay

One early evening while waiting for a train
I walked into an old station bar,
to buy a cold cider to kill a thirst
in the sweltering
thirty degree Celsius summer heat

and saw a very old cripple man
who nursed a glass of white wine
and he was talking to himself
and sometimes stuttered over his words.

When he looked up at me
there was fire in his eyes
and it was almost as if
he recognized me, from a dream
or a prophecy of something

and suddenly his face was calm
while he called me over for a chat
and I ordered a bottle of brandy for him
and another Hunters Gold for me.

He complained that the times were cruel
with one hand motioning to his missing legs
that he had lost in a train crash
and complained about Afrikaners
ignoring each other
and only living for themselves
while the nation is being led astray

and then suddenly said but my boy,
you know this,
have experienced it yourself
as a learned man without a job

but let me tell you something
about days long gone
even before the Boer war
(where the British killed
women and children in concentration camps) ,
many Afrikaner farmers
were executed at Slagtersnek
and it had been a terrible, terrible time

and then that holy Englishman John Phillip
meddled in our affairs
and now he haunts us again
peering in at the window panes

and I shook my head, did not understanding
exactly what the old man said
and heard something about
English people being in cahoots
with the current government
and ladies ruling as bosses
while educated Afrikaner men are jobless

and he swayed on his stool
and I rose to steady him
when he said to pour more brandy with ice
and complained that now nobody
is keeping the impis at bay
and pointed a finger at me

and I thought that he said
but you will do, or maybe
you haven’t got a clue
and leaning forward
strangely his breath was clear

and I heard him stuttering something
sounding like even uncle Paul
in church square knows
that soon all Afrikaner men
will be poor

and I said to him:
“My man we already are
with the new black regime,
but most Afrikaners
just do not realise it yet.”

He smiled at me then
and steadily held his glass, in a final salute
brought it to his lips
and faded into the naught
de-materializing in front of me.

Gert Strydom, 2010

Christopher Hope (1972), David Kramer

Really good gammon

Christmastime is gammon time, this time I tried a recipe, didn’t work that well, tried again, it worked well, made the second recipe again, it worked well again, so it’s a keeper.

The recipe that didn’t work well was Nigella’s Ham in Coca Cola. Way too sweet.

The recipe that works well is Nigella’s Ham in Coca Cola, but use apple juice, not Coke.

Also, like with turkeys, our gammons are smaller. Don’t miss the bit where Nigella says “an hour per kilo”, 2 1/2 hours = 2 1/2 kilos is a huge hunk of meat.

Also, Onion & Mustard Sauce.