September 11, 2008

Emphasis mine

1. I've been fortunate to yet still be a monkey.

I also went to a luncheon at the fuel distribution point here when it was finished and had an interesting conversation with an Iraqi engineer.

Him: ?Are you married??
Me: ?Yes?
?What is your opinion of marriage??
?I?ve been married 13 years; I don?t have an opinion anymore.?
?In Iraq they say a husband is like a monkey, a donkey and a dog. At first she loves you like a pet monkey, then she orders you around like you are a donkey, then you are an old dog, you bark and bark and no one listens.?
?It?s just like that in America too.?
?Is it true in America you only marry one women??
?Yes?
?An in America if you leave she gets half??
?Yes?
He rolls his eyes and says ?Thank God I am Iraqi.?

****

2. I'm a lifelong registered Democrat but for a short time I punched the renegade button and went Non-Partisan. The attitude of "a pox on both of their houses" didn't work for long, I figured that it was ultimately a cop out. Since there is no place for the arts in the Republican Party (short version: Liberals own and are defined by the transgressive mandate, this is why I believe that there's precious few good art on the Right), therefore the only political party for me has to be the Dems. And yet still, there's a totalitarian creep that bugs me about our party (for example, as I left LA there was legislation to ban fast food and smoking outdoors). Finally, I will vote for whomever I want, regardless of party. How can we keep our elected leaders honest when we let them keep us in their pocket? That's a surefire way of letting your voice disappear into groupthink.

And the added bonus: one might thus have a chance to effect --even in a small way- the prospect of a major overhaul of the ideas that underlie not only the Democratic Party but also what it means to be Liberal. Make no small plans, people.

Left in Dark Times, BHL advises, grew out of a phone call he received from Sarkozy on January 23, 2007. The two men go back to Sarkozy's election in 1983 as mayor of Neuilly, the Parisian suburb in which L?vy votes. They'd lunched together many times over the years, developing, L?vy writes, "a kind of friendship." L?vy confesses himself alternately drawn to the brilliant, temperamental Sarkozy, a rightist eager to draw Socialists to his banner in last year's French presidential election, and put off at times by Sarkozy's "show-offy tone." (L?vy makes no mention of a primal underlying awkwardness ? his novelist daughter, Justine L?vy, had her husband stolen a while back by none other than Sarkozy's new wife, Carla Bruni, a tale at the heart of Justine L?vy's novel, Nothing Serious.) The immediate occasion of Sarkozy's call? Andr? Glucksmann, L?vy's old "New Philosopher" peer, had just published a piece in Le Monde endorsing Sarkozy against his Socialist opponent, S?gol?ne Royal. L?vy puts Sarkozy's remarks between quotation marks: "Let's get to the point. What about you? When are you going to write your little article for me? Huh, when? Because Glucksmann is fine. But you, after all, are my friend." L?vy resists. "Personal relationships are one thing," he replies. "Ideas are another. And no matter how much I like and respect you, the Left is my family." Sarkozy interrupted him, L?vy recalls, in rough language. "These people who've spent 30 years telling you to go [expletive] yourself? ? Do you really believe what you're saying, that these people are your family?" L?vy stands his ground, replying, "I've always voted for the Left, and I'm voting for the Left this time, too." Sarkozy eventually hangs up on him. Though not without, L?vy writes, a slightly "sleazy" insinuation that it's all "an unfortunate misunderstanding" they'll clear up down the line. The phone call shook L?vy. It's that openness to being shaken in his beliefs ? as when he ventured as a young man to Bangladesh, and later through the hellholes of Pakistan in search of Daniel Pearl's killers ? that makes L?vy more appealing than many of his detractors. "Had my thinking really become so Pavlovian," he writes, "that, as I'd just said to him, the Left was my family and you don't betray your family?" A week later, L?vy finds himself mouthing something similar to a French weekly embarked "on its umpteenth report" on the rightward drift of French intellectuals. He realizes afterward that his argument from the "family" metaphor is "frankly pathetic ? and even goes against some of my basic convictions."
...and the most basic conviction relevant here is a belief in freedom, a belief that I think has started to disappear in our cultural milieu. Artists should stop to consider that art as we know it -Western art- wouldn't exist at all without this essential precondition.

***


3. Et tu, Facebook?

All that is necessary to create the Facebook Botnet is to have users choose install a rogue Facebook application written by an outside developer -- in this case, one called "Photo of the Day".
Once the user chooses to install the application, the unsuspecting user is inducted into the hacker's army and unknowingly follows orders any time he or she logs into Facebook.
Facebook downplayed the attack, saying that any developer that could figure out how to make a successful application would make money other ways.
The researchers -- mostly affiliated with the Greece-based Institute of Computer Science -- describe their innovation in a paper (.pdf) as a demonstration of an "anti-social network" -- essentially a hijacked social network that can be used for a number of nefarious purposes.
Their demo attack was very simple and surprisingly effective. They created an application that displayed a new National Geographic photo daily on a user's Facebook page -- though the app was not approved of by National Geographic.
But in the background, the application is also downloading three large photos from a targeted site. But the user's browser never displays the images. Any application with enough users will then act like a denial of service attack flooding the chosen website with requests for data. The user stops being a part of the attack after logging out, but joins again every time he returns.

Posted by Dennis at September 11, 2008 3:54 AM

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