Monday, April 07, 2014

Will Russia need to invade Ukraine to “protect ethnic Russians?”
Ukraine: Pro-Russians storm offices in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv
Pro-Russian protesters have stormed government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities.
In Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv they clashed with police, hung Russian flags from the buildings and called for a referendum on independence.
Ukraine's acting president called an emergency security meeting in response.
… In a message posted on his Facebook account, he said: "The people who have gathered are not many but they are very aggressive. The situation will be brought under control without bloodshed. But at the same time, a firm approach will be used against all who attack government buildings, law enforcement officers and other citizens."

I'm assuming this is not related to the Ukraine. Probably not to Snowden, either. But, like Putin, this could be someone with an old KGB mindset.
Michael Riley reports:
Hackers who raided the credit-card payment system of Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. belong to a sophisticated Russian syndicate that has stolen more than 160 million credit-card numbers from retailers over seven years, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The Russian group is well known to U.S. authorities, who have indicted several members and linked it to pillaging more than 100 companies, including Citigroup Inc. and J.C. Penney Co.
Read more on Bloomberg Businessweek.

TSA again. If you have no choice (“You wanna fly? Den youse gotta get soiched!) have you given “consent?”
Orin Kerr writes:
My co-blogger David Post says that the Fourth Amendment allows air travelers to leave airport security screening areas if they wish without the TSA’s permission:
I am permitted to leave [the screening area] without TSA permission, whether they like it or not, because the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on “unreasonable . . . seizures” gives me that permission. We have a word for this, too, in the law, when government agents don’t allow us to leave freely: ”being in custody.” And the government cannot put me in custody when they have absolutely no reason to believe that I have broken the law – the 4th Amendment prohibits that. Nor can they say “you’ve consented to being in custody when you go to the airport,” any more than they can say “you’ve consented to being in custody whenever you leave your home, so we can grab you and hold you whenever we damn please.”
It’s perhaps worth noting that the caselaw is generally to the contrary.
Read more on WaPo Volokh Conspiracy.

Perhaps governments should not be allowed to build government systems. Did no one notice this?
Diane Rado reports:
Just hours after the state launched a new, multimillion-dollar teacher licensing system last year, an educator logging in was shocked to find a serious security breach.
“I discovered that by doing a public search using any educator’s name, ALL of our personal information is available to everyone. This is alarming!” the educator emailed to a colleague. “I was able to put in your name and find out your address, phone number, and Social Security.”
During the months ahead, the glitch-prone system that has been compared to the Obama administration’s troubled Affordable Care Act website incorrectly labeled one educator a felon. Others were mistakenly listed as delinquent on child support, which could block them from getting a license, according to records obtained by the Tribune.
In late January, the Illinois State Board of Education abruptly canceled its $3.6 million contract with the company hired to build the system. That sparked a dispute over unpaid bills that remains unresolved.
Read more on Chicago Tribune, but subscription required to read full article.
Savvy readers will just nod their heads and know this stuff happens, and frequently. But that doesn’t make exposure of personal information and Social Security numbers any less concerning.

This is much more “touchy-feely” than my suggestion that the government give every citizen a kilo of pure cocaine. It should remove addiction from the gene pool.
Pew – America’s New Drug Policy Landscape
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 6, 2014
“The public appears ready for a truce in the long-running war on drugs. A national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 67% of Americans say that the government should focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Just 26% think the government’s focus should be on prosecuting users of such hard drugs. Support for a treatment-based approach to illegal drug use spans nearly all demographic groups. And while Republicans are less supportive of the treatment option than are Democrats or independents, about half of Republicans (51%) say the government should focus more on treatment than prosecution in dealing with illegal drug users. By wide margins, the public views marijuana as less harmful than alcohol, both to personal health and to society more generally. Moreover, just as most Americans prefer a less punitive approach to the use of drugs such as heroin and cocaine, an even larger majority (76% of the public) – including 69% of Republicans and 79% of Democrats – think that people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana should not have to serve time in jail.”

Perspective for my fellow professors. (and a hint why there are so many “for profits”)
Whoa. Education Is A 7 Trillion Dollar Industry.
… A handy infographic.

Perspective. (So far, my students haven't asked me this question.)
Why won't you DIE? IBM's S/360 and its legacy at 50
IBM's System 360 mainframe, celebrating its 50th anniversary on Monday, was more than a just another computer.
The S/360 changed IBM just as it changed computing and the technology industry.
… Big Blue introduced new concepts and de facto standards with us now: virtualisation - the toast of cloud computing on the PC and distributed x86 server that succeeded the mainframe - and the 8-bit byte over the 6-bit byte.
… Success was a mixed blessing for IBM, which got in trouble with US regulators for being "too" successful and spent a decade fighting a government anti-trust law suit over the mainframe business.

An Adroid App for the Bicycle club?
– tracks and records your path, speed, distance when you drive or walk. Path Finder shows real time data, maps out your path, shows suggestions and allows you to save your route for future reference. It uses the GPS Sensor in your phone to record the geographic statistics. It works on both Driving and Walking mode.

I'm starting three Math classes this week. These may help my students.
Calculators & Tools
The ultimate Calculator has to be WolframAlpha which as you can see has a page of its own with several slideshows to help you learn how to use it.
For drawing and exploring graphs, use the outstanding Desmos Graphing Calculator.
For some other useful calculators and tools and accompanying notes see the following pages.
The pages in the series:

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