Friday, August 5, 2011

Job Numbers, Hacktivism May Be Good For You

Michael Gerson
Paul Krugman
"Both parties read the same Bible and pray to the same God — but apparently listen to different economists." - Michael Gerson
"It’s not just that the threat of a double-dip recession has become very real. It’s now impossible to deny the obvious, which is that we are not now and have never been on the road to recovery." - Paul Krugman

Job numbers released today claim that the private sector added 117,000 jobs, however, as Paul Krugman relates, over 40% of our population is now unemployed, maybe permanently. The indications of the incentives that the Obama administration is working on may make him look ridiculous, a drop in the bucket that evaporates in the seasonal heat. Certain areas of the economy continue to make money, for example, GM posted an 89% increase in sales over this time last year, simply by raising the base price of their cars and trucks, twice... And despite the volatile stock market, companies like Goldman Sachs continue to rake in money hand over fist, even AIG has posted a profit since their almost demise three years ago...

Still, the right wing uses smoke and mirrors to hide their ineffectiveness at coming up with practical solutions, creating all of this high drama over the debt ceiling, and saying the next fight will be over a balanced budget. Right now, we should be focusing on the getting the economy back on its feet, not letting the regulators sit around on their thumbs, and rebuilding trust among our friends and allies. After all, a balanced budget hasn't done well for states like California, and it could create a bigger mess on the federal level. But it might be a good thing to have the whole federal government shut down on Fridays, including the air traffic controllers...

Now that the House is on recess for five weeks, why not sublet all of their offices for the season? Or, we could put some refugees in there, say, from Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Somalia... To save some money when they come back, we should limit the number of staff each Congressman has, say, to three or four people. If they want more, let them pay for them out of their own deep pockets. Or let the folks back home decide how many they want to pop for... In the case of my own representative, who does nothing, we could limit him to one part-time secretary. Even then, he would find a way to make it onto Keith Olberman's Worst Persons In The World list...

One of the sectors that is booming, is the area of computer security, mainly because all government agencies use private sector companies instead of developing departments of their own. See, we already are limiting government in so many ways. Not only is security a growth industry, but lately many of the security companies themselves have come under cyber- attack, especially the ones that boasted how they could bust the hacker group Anonymous: "The Web site of ManTech International, a $2.6 billion computer security company that won a major F.B.I. contract, sells its services this way: “Whether an intrusion is conducted by a skilled outsider with criminal intent, an adolescent hacker seeking a thrill or a disgruntled employee bent on revenge or espionage, the potential risks to the organization are enormous.”

Last Friday, ManTech was that organization.

A band of Internet vigilantes calling itself Anonymous said it had sneaked into ManTech’s computers to demonstrate the company’s insecurity. The group released what it said were internal company documents and, in language that suggested the handiwork of an adolescent hacker seeking a thrill, taunted the company online: “It’s really good to know that you guys are taking care of protecting the United States from so-called cyber threats.”
“A little bit of public humiliation is going to go a long way in helping the security industry clean up.” - Jeff Moss
Public humiliation is the best way to institute change, especially in the egotistical world of hacking and security. Even after an embarrassing hack, many of the companies that sell their software and services to groups like the Pentagon and the FBI, continue to peddle their flawed products to the paranoid children in procurement. No wonder the Chinese have had such an easy time obtaining information on military contracts...: "The most notorious breach of a security company came early this year after an executive at HBGary Federal, a relatively small consultant eyeing a government contract, boasted publicly of his ability to unmask the members of Anonymous. In response, hackers made off with a large trove of the company’s e-mail messages and dumped them online, exposing details of its business transactions.

Greg Hoglund, who is the chief executive of HBGary, the parent company that owns a minority stake in HBGary Federal, said that the breach was the result of “a human mistake” and that his firm, along with other security companies, had fortified their systems since then.

"It was a wake-up call for the entire security industry,” Mr. Hoglund said. “It probably needed to happen. I wish I didn’t have to be the sacrificial lamb.”

We are poor little lambs, who have lost our way, baaaa, baaaa, baaaa... Thankfully, we have the Black Hat conference, now taking place in Las Vegas, and groups like Anonymous that engage in hactivism, exposing the weaknesses of human designed systems... Stay thirsty, my friends...

How about those late night jokes?

"A man jumped the White House fence, but after a brief chase, the Secret Service was able to talk President Obama into coming back and finishing his term." – Conan O'Brien

"I see Congress more as a bunch of monkeys. High-fiving each other in celebration, having forgotten that mere moments ago they were throwing their own feces." – Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones

"Our prayers are answered! America's own 'Legion of Doofs.'" – Jon Stewart on the new congressional Super Committee

"President Obama signed the new debt bill into law. But it doesn't really solve the problem. Economists say in 10 years, the deficit will be $27 trillion. But you know what? In 10 years, that'll be President Bieber's problem." – Jay Leno

"Just 10 days until the big Iowa Republican presidential straw poll. How many think Mitt Romney will win the straw poll? How many think Michele Bachmann will win? How many would rather vote for the straw?" – Jay Leno

"Happy birthday to President Obama, who is turning 50, although Republicans in Congress are demanding he cut his age to 40." – Jimmy Kimmel

"President Obama celebrated his 50th birthday in his hometown of Chicago. Oprah jumped out of the cake. Then she jumped back in. She loves cake." – Jimmy Kimmel

"It's interesting to see the Tea Party go from a small group of people that everyone thinks is crazy to a large group of people that everyone thinks is crazy." – Jimmy Kimmel

"President Obama celebrated his 50th birthday in Chicago. Obama cut the cake, then Republicans cut everything else." – Jimmy Fallon

"While eating at a burger place , President Obama gave a free milkshake to an 11-year-old boy. Not to be nice, he just wanted to get rid of it because he saw Michelle coming." – Jimmy Fallon

"According to a new poll, voters described the way Congress behaved during the debt debate as 'disgusting, stupid, and ridiculous.' They would have also accepted 'gutless and cowardly.'" – David Letterman

"A lot of people want to know what Osama bin Laden's last words were. In a new article, they tell you: 'Come in.'" – David Letterman

"The Louvre has more bare breasts than any other institution in the world, with the possible exception of the Clinton Library." – Craig Ferguson

‎"I don't believe in birth control. If you want to control your fertility, do it the way God intended: with a cold, loveless marriage." – Stephen Colbert

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