Category Archives: Commentary

Junk food and alcohol dominate Aussie diets, with only one in five getting enough veg, CSIRO finds – ABC News

Junk food and alcohol dominate Aussie diets, with only one in five getting enough veg, CSIRO finds – ABC News:

Junk food and alcohol dominate Aussie diets, with only one in five getting enough veg, CSIRO finds
By Alex Brewster
Posted 2h ago2 hours ago, updated 2h ago2 hours ago

The survey found the only one in five Australians are eating enough vegetables. The rest are eating a diet, dominated by alcohol, takeaway, food and confectionery.

Exclusive: Twitter removes suicide prevention feature, says it’s under revamp | Reuters

Exclusive: Twitter removes suicide prevention feature, says it’s under revamp | Reuters:

Twitter Inc removed a feature in the past few days that promoted suicide prevention hotlines and other safety resources to users looking up certain content, according to two people familiar with the matter who said it was ordered by new owner Elon Musk.

CLICKBAIT From Ars Technica: LastPass users: Your info and password vault data are now in hackers’ hands

LastPass users: Your info and password vault data are now in hackers’ hands | Ars Technica:

Also concerning is the fact that user vaults are now in the hands of the threat actor. While cracking the password hashes would require massive amounts of resources, it’s not out of the question, particularly given how methodical and resourceful the threat actor was.

Dan Goodin and Ars Techica should be embarrassed about their reporting on this story. Yes someone MAY have  your Lastpass  vault. I use 2 factor Authentication, so this means nothing. If you don’t use 2 factor, it means if the bad guys aim a supercomputer at YOUR vault only, in about 50,000 years, that computer will probably crack it, and get your passwords. It will have cost millions in compute power, but they MAY get you Youtube password! OMG!

I have one question. In 100 years, will you, or anyone you know care? Why would they pick YOUR vault? If you are the head of the NSA or a spy in the Kremlin, your data might be valuable, but not mine, and probably not yours.

If a hacker can access this site using may password, stored in Lastpass, in a hundred years,I will be long dead, and so will this domain, my bank account, and my Twitter account. 

PLEASE Ars Technica,  focus on the real security issues, Phishing, browser and operating system vulnerabilities, and social engineering. Or perhaps Crypto scams. Even The Donalds NFT card scam. Not a theoretical risk from Lastpass.


More from this Clickbate on Ars:

LastPass customers should ensure they have changed their master password and all passwords stored in their vault. They should also make sure they’re using settings that exceed the LastPass default. Those settings hash stored passwords using 100,100 iterations of the Password-Based Key Derivation Function (PBKDF2), a hashing scheme that can make it infeasible to crack master passwords that are long, unique, and randomly generated. The 100,100 iterations is woefully short of the 310,000-iteration threshold that OWASP recommends for PBKDF2 in combination with the SHA256 hashing algorithm used by LastPass. LastPass customers can check the current number of PBKDF2 iterations for their accounts here.

Whether they’re a LastPass user or not, everyone should also create an account on Have I been Pwned? to ensure they learn of any breaches affecting them as soon as possible

Say no more. – Phil Stephens

Smartphones Are a New Tax on the Poor | WIRED

Those of us who easily afford a phone, or internet connection forget how difficult and expensive it is for those on low or even no income to survive.

Increasingly, accessing government services requires smart-phone apps, text messages, and/or internet access.

Going to a government department, and queuing up for sometimes hours, and often being asked to come back with one more peace of paper for even basic services is difficult, and humiliating.

I have had to comfort a friend who was suffering depression, and struggling to cope with bureaucracy for her basic services.

It works for the government, because it is cheaper to have computers replace people.

It is the poor who pay the price…


Smartphones Are a New Tax on the Poor | WIRED:

THE HIGH COSTS of connectivity represent an increasingly large slice of household incomes for low-wage workers. Even though maintaining these connections has become necessary for many low-wage workers, their incomes have not kept pace. According to 2020 numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, those in the lowest 20 percent of income earners spent $150 more a year on their cell phones than they did in 2016. The cost of connectivity represents more than half of what these households spent on electricity, and nearly 80 percent of what they paid for gas. As a proportion of household income, the lowest earners spent four times more on phones than high earners. With inflation looming, these issues are likely to get worse before they get better.

Only Four Countries have more COVID-19 infections per day than Australia!

I I’m shocked, and to be honest a little afraid, but in Australia we seem to have just decided that we have to live with COVID-19.

For two years Australia live the world in keeping COVID at bay. We closed borders, focused on vaccinating citizens and ensured masks, sanitiser, and distancing rules and were to protect Australians from the virus.

It succeeded, despite a few mistakes, but with a election drawing near, and the public getting restless, state and federal governments chose to abandon most restrictions and throw their country open to travel and to visitors.

The results are graphic and clear to see. Uur medical system is staggering under the load of people being infected on a daily basis.

Most of the infections are relatively minor because the majority of the Australian population has been vaccinated and many have also had a booster shot meaning that most cases are quite mild.

However the number of infected medical staff and ambulance crew is so high that hospitals all are struggling to maintain adequate services under the load of incoming cases.

Are we really so selfish that we can’t wear masks in public, especially at “spreader events” were large crowds gather in the interest of the lives of our elderly and at-risk friends and family?

Thanks to the ABC for an excellent discussion of the issues here:

Are we at a point where Australians tolerate people dying from COVID-19? – ABC News:

“We seem to have closed our eyes to the suffering and the deaths that are still occurring due to Omicron, so I think it’s bordering on irresponsible,” Professor Toole said.

Christine Negroni » New Book on 737 MAX Explores Boeing’s Phenomenal Descent

Christine Negroni is an amazing aviation reporter, so to see her offer such a glowing review of this book makes it a must for me!

Thanks Christine, and thanks Peter Robinson.


Christine Negroni » New Book on 737 MAX Explores Boeing’s Phenomenal Descent:

In the world of air accident investigations, finding out what led to a crash is followed by finding out why.

Why is critical. That’s one reason I often write about the fallacy of attributing an accident to “pilot error”.

Pilots (mechanics, designers, schedulers, dispatchers, flight attendants, etc.) will make mistakes, that is inevitable. Tracking those errors upstream to see what in the system led to those mistakes is how aviation gets safer. Or, as Key Dismukes, one of my favorite human factors scientists once told me, “The airplane, the designer, and the pilot are part of a complex system. Under certain circumstances, things happen that leave the crew trying to figure out what’s going on.”


Robison book cover graphic 1347x2048

Why Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky Thinks the Home Is the Future of Travel – The Atlantic

Why Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky Thinks the Home Is the Future of Travel – The Atlantic:

The most compelling statistic for me is the number of people who are using Airbnb for long-term stays. Twenty percent of our nights booked now are for 28 days or longer. Half of our stays are for a week or longer. These are big increases from before the pandemic, and I think it’s related to the fact that people don’t have to go back to the office.


The most compelling statistic for me is the number of people who are using Airbnb for long-term stays. Twenty percent of our nights booked now are for 28 days or longer. Half of our stays are for a week or longer. These are big increases from before the pandemic, and I think it’s related to the fact that people don’t have to go back to the office.

We’re seeing is an increase in people traveling with pets, as people are staying longer. Use of the Wi-Fi filter on Airbnb has increased by 55 percent since before the pandemic, so people obviously care more about their Wi-Fi connection, and they want to verify the speed of the internet if they’re doing Zooms.

Report: Only 21% of remote workers say they are aware of cyberthreats | VentureBeat

Report: Only 21% of remote workers say they are aware of cyberthreats | VentureBeat:

What could POSSIBLY go wrong??

According to a new report by Unisys, 61% of hybrid and remote workers feel primarily responsible for maintaining their digital security, yet only 21% are aware of sophisticated online threats.

The survey identified a widespread lack of consumer awareness on avoiding and addressing online threats. Two out of five (39%) people report not being wary of clicking on suspicious links, despite phishing attacks accounting for more than 80% of reported security incidents. Just 21% are aware of more sophisticated scams like SIM jacking, which is when a scammer gets a user’s phone number transferred to a phone they control.

Additionally, two out of five (39%) are not wary of clicking on links in text messages, emails, or social media. Fewer than half (44%) are aware of so-called SMiShing, which is where a scammer texts asking for personal or financial information, and only a quarter (24%) know which organization or department in their company to report scams to.

Almost half (45%) in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand have downloaded or installed software not approved by their IT department, typically because these other apps are ones that they use in their personal life (42%), or because they are perceived to be better than those provided by their company (42%).

Copyright, History and Disappearing Books

Copyright is a legal device to protect the creator of a work from having that work copied and devalued without his permission. The definition is: The exclusive legal right to (publish, distribute, sell, perform) a literary, musical or artistic property.

There was no need for copyright before the printing press, because the only way to copy anything was by hand, and the process was slow. If you wanted a copy of the Bible, you hired a scribe, who would then work for three years making an (error prone) copy. The cost was high, and the results were in themselves an original work of art.

Early Copyright

The republic of Venice granted the first privilege for a book in 1486. France followed in 1503. The first copyright privilege in England bears the date 1518.

in April 1710 In Great Britain the Statute of Anne marked the world’s first copyright statute. It granted publishers of a book legal protection of 14 years with the commencement of the statute. It also granted 21 years of protection for any book already in print.

American publishers regarded the work of foreign (i. e., non-US) authors as unprotected ‘common’ property. Thus, numerous unauthorized American re-prints appeared until 1891, when the United States finally stopped sanctioning literary piracy. In 1896 the American Congress joined the international copyright union, despite petitions by such noted British novelists as Charles Dickens, far earlier, in 1837.

It was not until complaints by American authors such as Mark Twain, who was fed up with publishers’ ignoring American writers in favour of English writers whose books could be re-printed more cheaply because there were no royalty costs. A further point of aggravation for Twain was the Canadian piracy of his work. This resulted in cheap copies of his books flooding across the border within days of their release in the US.

He was hurt badly in 1876, when a Canadian publisher issued Tom Sawyer before the American edition even appeared.

Concerns about Canadian piracy of works by American authors lead to the U. S. Copyright Act in 1886.

The 20th Century – Things Start Going Bad

In 1998, the Walt Disney Company realized Disney’s copyright on Mickey Mouse was due to expire in 2003. Rather than allowing Mickey to enter the public domain, Disney campaigned Congress for an extension bill. (I’m sorry but who really cares about mickey any more? I don’t see Mickey Mouse comics in the news agent, and I doubt children really have more than a passing interest. It is the 21st century. The Mickey Mouse Revue, an automated musical tribute to Disney songs that opened Walt Disney World in 1971, was sent to Tokyo’s Disneyland in 1980 and was warehoused for good in 2009. I think people go to Disneyland/world for more modern attractions, despite THOSE ears)

Disney’s campaign donations – more than $6.3 million in 1997-98, helped Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. This extended the term of protection by 20 years for works copyrighted after January 1, 1923. Works copyrighted since 1978 got “life plus 70” rather than the existing “life plus 50”. Works made by corporations got 95 years. Works copyrighted before 1978 were protected for 95 years.

The Modern Context

Instead of Copyright protecting an author or publisher long enough for him to ensure an income from his work, Copyright law has become a stranglehold on invention, creativity and thinking.

I live in Australia, so America’s recently found righteous indignation over copyright law should have little impact. But that is not the case.

America has used the DMCA to shove its intellectual-property laws down the throat of every country it does business with.

A Cnet article says, in part:
Australia will be required to adopt U.S. intellectual-property rules, including laws covering the “circumvention” of copy protection, and software patents that have alarmed advocates of open-source software, according to a trade agreement that President Bush signed on Tuesday…

A less-noticed section of the free-trade agreement deals with copyright.
“The agreement strengthens protections for intellectual property and promotes electronic commerce,” Bush said, before signing a bill committing the United States to the arrangement. “Our two nations are committed to the reduction of trade barriers and other restrictions that are keeping too much of the world from the kind of prosperity and opportunity that the developed world takes for granted.”

The agreement requires Australia to recognize software patents, to extend the duration of copyrighted works and to essentially adopt key portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That 1998 law has been attacked by computer scientists and open-source programmers in the United States as stifling innovation and outlawing legitimate activities like making a back-up copy of a legally purchased DVD.

Australia will be required to enact laws punishing anyone who “circumvents without authority any effective technological measure that controls access” to copyrighted work or who distributes hardware or software that is designed for circumvention or is marketed that way. As in the DMCA, some limited exceptions permit such activity by authorized researchers and government employees for “the sole purpose of preventing the access of minors to inappropriate online content.”

One section goes further than existing U.S. law and commits both nations to enacting bans on tinkering with “rights management information.” A related bill is pending, but has not been approved, in the U.S. Senate.

A more opinionated comment is here:

The Australian Governments version:

The short description is that this law is forcing the rest of the world to enact the seriously broken American copyright laws.

Down to today.

This article by The Atlantic highlights the problems with these modernized copyright laws. They make it almost impossible to print or reprint works from the near past. The fear that someone who holds copyright (for 90 years in some cases) makes it an exercise in terror to print anything.

If an author has died or disappeared (or if a publisher has folded, and not passed copyright back to the author, a common problem) it is difficult if not impossible to track down the copyright owner for the years or decades involved.

If I want a copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau (I have an electronic copy on my Kindle, and a paper version here beside me) published in 1854 it is not a problem. If I want something from the 1950’s I can always find Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye or Fahrenheit 451. But most books from that period are gone.

The Missing 20th Century

The Article published by The Atlantic suggests that the books written from the 1920s to the 1990s are now a disappearing breed. Why? Because the copyright laws described above are making it almost impossible to print or distribute these books.

This article looks at 2500 newly printed (paper) books selected at random. These are new books. They are not eBooks, or used. They are in the Amazon warehouse (or close by).

Books published before 1923 are free of copyright, hence they fall in the public domain and can be re-printed. The graph comes from University of Illinois law professor Paul Heald.

The Conclusion