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The NY Times, quoting an FBI lawyer:
"No one should be promising their customers that they will thumb their nose at a U.S. court order," Ms. Caproni said. "They can promise strong encryption. They just need to figure out how they can provide us plain text."

U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet, 27 Sep 2010
In other words, they can pretend to promise strong encryption.

And from an op-ed piece last month (added blue words mine):
But in the end, it is governments, not private industry, that want to rule the airwaves and the Internet.

Texting With Terrorists, 9 Aug 2010
Phil Zimmermann said that a bill (introduced by Joe Biden in 1994) that included these words
It is the sense of Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment shall ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law.
spurred him to make PGP available--where PGP is, of course, encryption for the masses (strong, not make-believe).

For a while, PGP included an algorithm which, Wikipedia tells us,
... derives much of its security by interleaving operations from different groups ... which are algebraically "incompatible" in some sense.
where "in some sense" is handwaving, and where the groups in question are
  • addition modulo 65536 (i.e., C65536)
  • multiplication modulo 65537 (isomorphic to C65536)
  • bitwise exclusive OR
    (i.e., C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2×C2)

Back in 1996, I sold an essay to Suck.com. The Sucksters edited it ruthlessly; one ill-considered change made it look like I was putting words in someone's mouth. An attentive Suck reader questioned that very sentence. Blaming something on someone else is not my idea of a good time, but I wrote back to the good reader to explain what had happened.

On the one hand I was annoyed with Suck, but on the other hand I felt like I didn't have a leg to stand on. Consenting to potentially stupid editing was the price I paid for taking their money.

That was my first experience writing prose for pay. Ironically, I'd described my day job as a form of prostitution in the silly bio I wrote to go along with my essay.


There was a special place in my heart for the sycamore tree in front of my family's home in New York, planted to replace a maple tree downed by a hurricane. I admired the tree's form, climbed it countless times, and built stuff from its lumber.

Last year, my brother and I sold the house in New York. I was tempted to harvest some more wood from the tree, but there weren't any good-sized limbs I could take off without changing the tree's form for the worse. The lowest branch, for example, had a dogleg right over the walkway to the front door, an endearing quirk that I loved seeing every time I walked outside. As much as I like sycamore lumber--and it's not an easy variety to find commercially--I preferred to let the new residents enjoy the tree as it was.

Just today, I heard that the house's new owners have had the tree cut down. Not only can I not get too annoyed because I took their money, but I've come to realize that getting annoyed in general just doesn't do any good.


background image of the tree as captured by Google Street View

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Happy (September) nineteenth, everyone.

I suspect that the appeal of The American would defy characterization by latent semantic analysis
(see the Napoleon Dynamite problem).

Me? I liked it.
Echeveria crenulata atalunerc airevehcE
A sad day for justice. Two things.

At Jaguar, the typical customer is referred to as the fictional "Mrs. Schwartz on Long Island" (at least, so says the NY Times). This amuses me because I'm from Long Island.

Fucking hell A German brewery won an appeal* at the Trade Marks and Design Registration Office of the European Union, allowing them to use the trademark Fucking hell for their brand of pale ale (and associated clothing, ...). The name derives, of course, from Fucking, Austria and from hell being German for "pale".

* Under Article 7(1)(f) CTMR, signs may not be registered if they are disparaging, discriminatory, blasphemous or derogatory, incite criminal offences or insurrection. from the green channel of an RGB photo