Shopping Up A Pole

Wondering if this is also part of social distancing. 


Shopping cart up a pole. 


No one else up there. 


Safe from Coronavirus, hopefully. 

 

Maybe some illusive toilet paper to be found in the sky mall? 


Desperate times calling for desperate measures or an anxious society is losing its mind. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Free COVID-19 Cure

This sign was just too great. 


Advertisement with the little slips at the bottom to tear off. 

Free Cure for COVID-19.
Please take an information strip below

And what do the strips say:

Stay the F**K at home


I wonder why no one took any of the strips? LOL


Like every meaningful issue, we have people on both sides of the aisle fighting it out what is the right thing to do. 


And when it comes to life and liberty, passions certainly run high. 😉


(Credit Photo to my son-in-law Itzchak for sharing this with me from his friend in California)

Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy.”

What an interesting time this week during the coronavirus for my bar-mitzvah parshas of Tazria and Metzora, where we learn about how to handle someone with the plague of leprosy…What’s fascinating though for our times is that right here in the Torah, long before medical science understood germs, washing of hands, and disinfectants, we have the first instruction on quarantining someone who is sick. The person with leprosy is deemed impure and is put outside the camp in quarantine, repeatedly checked (e.g. tested) by the Kohen, until they are healed, at which time they are purified before being allowed back in. What we don’t see with leprosy is that the whole community is put in a state of quasi quarantine as we are doing now globally with the coronavirus.


In the end, I see this coronavirus blowing up with some people forever anxious and germophobic and others becoming complacent and careless about the whole thing. Either way there will be more sick and dying people, as well as anger at the system that over time repeatedly failed us. This week’s parsha is a good reminder to go back to the ultimate wisdom of the Torah and read again how we handle the leper and manage with a thoughtful risk-based management approach and an eye on the ultimate purity—physically and spiritually—of the individual and the community.

(Free Photo via Pixabay)

tURNING yOUR dEVICE aGAINST yOU!

Eavesdropping
So interesting article in BBC about the Samsung’s “Listening TV.”



This TV has voice activated controls and they don’t just take commands, but…



“If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”



So aside from hackers (and spies) being able to turn your phone and computer mics, cameras, and GPS location data on and off to surveil and eavesdrop on you, now the dumb television set can listen in as well. 



You can be heard, seen, and found…whether you know it or not. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal with eyes and ears from here and here with attribution to Firas and Simon James)

Disability Rights – To Life Or Death

Disability Rights - To Life Or Death

I read today in the Wall Street Journal an editorial by Joni Eareckson Tada–which I couldn’t have disagreed with more.

Let me start by saying that I have the greatest respect for Ms. Tada who is herself a quadriplegic and has overcome unbelievable challenges to become a huge successful author, radio show host, and advocate for disabled people.

Yet in the editorial, she rails against those with disabilities that choose death over life and the laws that would enable this.

She says, “first it was assisted suicide,” and now it’s unlawful birth suits after a child was born with severe disabilities that could have been genetically screened for, and an upcoming Belgium law that may “legalize euthanasia for children with incurable diseases–who, with the support of their parents or guardians, ask to die.”

Ms. Tada calls these out as some sort of incredible “double standards” vis a vis the “freedom and dignity that the ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act] championed”–she says that “instead of helping the disabled live full lives, new laws seek to help them die.”

While I appreciate her sentiments, I cannot agree with them–not everyone is Ms. Tada who decided she wanted to live and was able and fortunate to do what she has done.

This is a free country and people deserve the right to decide for themselves, making an informed and a well-thought out decision and with their loved ones, if they are too young, old, or otherwise unable to make the decision anymore for themselves.

Having seen the ravages of disability, especially with my own mother, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and other ailments, I cannot believe that anyone would try to force life on someone who has endless pain and suffering and wishes only for their final peace.

Ms Tada asks, “What type of society do we want?” She goes on claiming that “if we are seeking a good society then we do well to defend the rights of the helpless-not nullify their rights,” yet this is exactly what Tada is advocating by seeking to nullify their right to end their suffering.

If it amazing that people will “put down” a sick dying animal to relieve it of it’s suffering when it is beyond cure, but we don’t show the same mercy to fellow human beings when they are in the clutches of death and torment.

There is most certainly a time when it is enough pain, enough disability, when there is no more hope, and the most decent human thing we can do is free the person from their intolerable suffering.

Life is a wonderful thing if it can be lived, but if it is a living hell, then we should be merciful and let people go to their final resting place without the anguish that only they can ever really understand.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to GizM ()17)

Balancing Cybersecurity And Citizen Freedom

Balancing Cybersecurity And Citizen Freedom

There is a very interesting discussion of the protection of Federal Networks and the Fourth Amendment in “Cybersecurity, Selected Legal Issues,” Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress (3 May 2012).

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in conjunction with the National Security Agency (NSA) rolled out EINSTEIN, an intrusion detection system (IDS) in early iterations, and later an intrusion prevention system (IPS) at all Internet points of presence (POPs) for the government.

The system works through copying, storage, and deep packet inspection of not only the metadata for addressing information, but also the actual contents of the flow. This handling is necessary in order to identify suspicious malware signatures and behavior and alert the United States Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT) in order to block, quarantine, clean, and respond to the attacks and share information about these.

However, the civil liberties and privacy issue with EINSTEIN is that according to the Fourth Amendment, we are protected from unreasonable search and seizures. Thus, there are concerns about the violation of the Fourth Amendment, when DHS monitors and inspects addressing and content of all email and Internet communications to and from federal agency employees and the public–including not only from government email accounts and systems, but also from private email accounts such as Yahoo and Gmail and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The justification for the use of EINSTEIN includes:

1. The government cannot reasonably get warrants in real time in order to safeguard the federal network and systems at the speed that the attacks are occurring.

2. The government places banners and user agreements on all Federal networks notifying users of monitoring, so there is no expectation of privacy in the communications.

3. The monitoring is conducted only for malicious computer activity and not for other unlawful activities—so “clean” traffic is promptly removed the system.

4. Privacy protections are ensured though review mechanisms, including Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) reporting to Congress every six months and a sunset provision requiring monitoring reauthorization every four years.

This tension between monitoring of Federal networks and traffic and civil liberties and privacy is a re-occurring issue when it comes to cybersecurity. On one hand, we want cybersecurity, but on the other hand, we are anxious about this security infringing on our freedoms—whether freedom of expression, from search and seizure, from surveillance, or from potentially costly regulation, stifling innovation, and so forth. It is this tension that has stalled many cybersecurity bills such as the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), The Computer Security Act of 2012 and more.

In the absence of a clear way forward with legislation to regulate and enforce, or incentivize, standards and best practices for cybersecurity, particularly for critical infrastructure protection, as well as information sharing, the White House released Presidential Policy Directive/PDD-21 on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience to establish DHS and other federal agency roles in cybersecurity and to manage these on a risk-based model, so that critical infrastructure is identified, prioritized, assessed, and secured accordingly.

While PDD-21 is a step in the right direction, it is an ongoing challenge to mediate a balance between maintaining our values and constitutional freedoms, while at the same time securing cyberspace.

One thought is that perhaps we can model cybersecurity after the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 that separated federal military from domestic national guard and law enforcement powers. Using this model, we can create in cyberspace a separation of cybersecurity from our borders outward by the federal government, and within the domestic private networks by our national guard and law enforcement.

Thus, we can create stronger security radiating out at the national periphery, while maintaining our important freedoms within, but always working together to identify and neutralize any and all threats to cyberspace. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Throw Out The Pre-Crime With the Bathwater

Terrorist_screening

The Atlantic (17 April 2012) has an article this week called ” Homeland Security’s ‘Pre-Crime’ Screening Will Never Work.”

The Atlantic mocks the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) for attempting to screen terrorists based on physiological and behavioral cues to analyze and detect people demonstrating abnormal or dangerous indicators.

The article calls this “pre-crime detection” similar to that in Tom Cruise’s movie Minority Report, and labels it a  “super creepy invasion of privacy” and of “little to no marginal security” benefit.

They base this on a 70% success rate in “first round of field tests” and the “false-positive paradox,” whereby there would be a large number of innocent false positives and that distinguishing these would be a “non-trivial and invasive task.”

However, I do not agree that they are correct for a number of reasons:

1) Accuracy Rates Will Improve–the current accuracy rate is no predictor of future accuracy rates. With additional research and development and testing, there is no reason to believe that over time we cannot significantly improve the accuracy rates to screen for such common things as “elevated heart rate, eye movement, body temperature, facial patterns, and body language” to help us weed out friend from foe.

2) False-Positives Can Be Managed–Just as in disease detection and medical diagnosis, there can be false-positives, and we manage these by validating the results through repeating the tests or performing additional corroborating tests; so too with pre-crime screening, false-positives can be managed with validation testing, such as through interviews, matching against terrorist watch lists, biometric screening tools, scans and searches, and more. In other words, pre-crime detection through observable cues are only a single layer of a comprehensive, multilayer screening strategy.

Contrary to what The Atlantic states that pre-crime screening is “doomed from the word go by a preponderance of false-positives,” terrorist screening is actually is vital and necessary part of a defense-in-depth strategy and is based on risk management principles. To secure the homeland with finite resources, we must continuously narrow in on the terrorist target by screening and refining results through validation testing, so that we can safeguard the nation as well as protect privacy and civil liberties of those who are not a threat to others.

Additionally, The Atlantic questions whether subjects used in experimental screening will be able to accurately mimic the cues that real terrorist would have in the field. However, with the wealth of surveillance that we have gathered of terrorists planning or conducting attacks, especially in the last decade in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as with reams of scientific study of the mind and body, we should be able to distinguish the difference between someone about to commit mass murder from someone simply visiting their grandmother in Miami.

The Atlantic’s position is that  terrorist screening’s “(possible) gain is not worth the cost”; However, this is ridiculous since the only alternative to pre-crime detection is post-crime analysis–where rather than try and prevent terrorist attacks, we let the terrorists commit their deadly deeds–and clean up the mess afterwards.

In an age, when terrorists will stop at nothing to hit their target and hit it hard and shoe and underwear bombs are serious issues and not late night comedy, we must invest in the technology tools like pre-crime screening to help us identify those who would do us harm, and continuously work to filter them out before they attack.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Dan and Eric Sweeney)