Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Russia -- and Wikileaks -- Won the Election

Maybe Wikileaks' hacked emails didn't throw the election to Donald Trump, but they had an effect, and they were published for his benefit.

So it appears in light of remarks made yesterday by the head of the National Security Agency.

The NSA's director, Michael S. Rogers, blamed Wikileaks for  "furthering a nation-state's goals" by publishing hacked emails before the presidential election. 

The emails came, you'll recall, from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign. 

"There shouldn't be doubt in anyone's mind," Rogers said:
"This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect."  
If that doesn't scare you, it should. It sounds like The Manchurian Candidate

Rogers was speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference on November 15, 2016, according to, which published an article on the interview the same day. See the article here.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

A wee break from the ascension of Mr. Evil:  The title sequence to The Durrells (PBS). I love it.

The Durrells - TV Titles from Alex Maclean FreeState on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Web Flies or Crawls, Depending on Where You Live

Here's inequality at its most basic: Nationwide, high-speed broadband service is available to almost twice as many wealthy neighborhoods as poor ones, according to The Center for Public Integrity, an investigative journalism web site. 

There's a practical reason. Broadband signals piggyback along telephone lines. The signal fades with every mile it travels, so the provider needs pricey equipment to boost it. They make that investment in wealthier neighborhoods, where more customers are presumably willing pay extra for faster service. 

It makes perfect business sense -- except that high-speed internet service is being reclassified as a utility, an FCC decision affirmed in June by a Washington, DC federal court. Utilities have a responsibility to provide service to everyone who needs it, no matter how shallow their pockets. 

There's more legal wrangling to come, but in effect, DSL providers are going to have to up their technology game in neighborhoods like Washington, PA, a town south of Pittsburgh. In pricey neighborhoods there, "the speeds goes up to 150 Mbps over fiber-optic cable," wrote authors Allan Holmes and Ben Wieder in October 2016. "[DSL service in] the surrounding areas reaches 15 Mbps." 

The FCC defines high-speed internet as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. 

It's only one example. "The largest noncable internet providers [AT&T, Verizon] collectively offer faster speeds to about 40 percent of the population they serve nationwide in wealthy areas compared with just 22 percent of the population in poor areas," the article continues. It's about 27 percent in middle-income neighborhoods. 

Cable technology should be more egalitarian: The signal doesn't degrade much as over long distances. On the other hand, cable service isn't available everywhere either.

The New York Times, June 14, 2016: "Court Backs Rules Treating Internet as Utility, Not Luxury," by Cecilia Kang
The Center for Public, October 14, 2016: "DSL Providers Save Faster Internet for Wealthier Communities," by Allan Holmes and Ben Weider


Saturday, November 12, 2016

No Help from Wolf Blitzer

There’s a strong argument that there’s nothing more hilarious to a child than the notion of adults screwing up.  --Andy Borowitz 

See how Borowitz explained the bizarre result of this year's presidential election -- when he doesn't understand it himself -- here:

FididdlyDaily Rises from the Dead

One of my many opinions about The Donald was dead wrong: That he was unelectable for any political position.

Starting in mid-January, we citizens of the US of A are at risk for unpleasantries ranging from targeted retaliation for minor insults about POTUS right up to nuclear warfare. And those are just the ones we'll notice.

I'm not going to spend the next four years making potshots on Facebook. Our new dangers are only part of the reason. The other is that some of my very dearest people are right wing. 

I had to take one friend off my newsfeed a month ago because her pro-Trump posts -- utterly ignorant -- were nauseous. It's not her fault: She was raised that way, in Missouri, no less.

My posts won't be ignorant, but none of my people are going to have to read stuff they hate just to stay in touch. 

Nobody has to read FididdlyDaily, but news and comments will be here for anyone who wants to. 

Nope -- Nothin' Here from 2015

Nope -- Nothin' Here from 2014

Nope -- Nothin' Here from 2013

Apple People are Certifiably Cool

One of the side effects of job-hunting is that when you do get an interview, it makes you cra.

Take the interview I had a few weeks ago at Apple. Getting a job at Apple, I've heard, is harder than getting into Stanford. Righto. Sure.

Apple is a rare bird. It makes $6,000 per square foot in its retail stores. The stores are well lighted, and they shine in the dark like the sole moviehouse in a small town.  They don't have a lot of square footage, which is largely why, when you go inside, they're so crowded. Crowded, well-designed, noisy, and staffed with salespeople who are overwhelmingly twenty-something, confident, soft-spoken, low-key, unflappable, articulate, and cool.

Cool above all. The first ten times I went to an Apple store I felt like a fugitive.

Which is why it tickled me absolutely silly to be invited to one of their group interviews. There, in a group of nine (smaller than the previous day's group of 15 or 20), I sat next to eight people who were pitch-perfect to the i-note. In one of the exercises, where we chatted with and then introduced a fellow applicant, I found out that I'd bought my first Apple the year he was born.

The twenty-something generation is very different from mine. They aren't run by the clock. Off work hours, they start something and finish it before they do the next thing, and if the first thing they start isn't done on time, then everything else runs late. My generation--well, okay, I--time things pretty precisely and have options for pausing and/or bailing a project if I start to run late. For twenty-somethings who aren't actually working, late is one hour. For me, late is 15 minutes. This isn't a complaint, it's a sociological observation.

I didn't get a job at Apple, but now I feel like a fugitive all over again.
This post was drafted in 2012.