URLs du Jour

2020-02-04

Whoa, so how about those Iowa caucuses, hm? Here's hoping New Hampshire shows them how to do things right next week…

  • Empowering government to go after sources of "disinformation"? She's got a plan for that: Elizabeth Warren Absolutely Wants the Government To Punish Facebook for Spreading Disinformation.

    PEN America, an advocacy organization that defends writers, journalism, and free speech in general, asked Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) 10 pressing questions about how she would combat various threats to free expression. Warren responded by attacking Facebook repeatedly—indeed, she mentioned the social media company more times than she mentioned President Donald Trump.

    As evidenced by her answers, Warren believes that Big Tech is one of the greatest threats to free expression, if not the greatest. (Her proposed solutions to this supposed problem are themselves significant threats to free expression.)

    Apparently Mark Zuckerberg is going to play the role of Emmanuel Goldstein in Elizabeth's totalitarian dystopia.

    But, seriously, you can totally trust the Warren Administration would go after "disinformation" using objective, transparent, non-partisan, well-defined criteria.


  • So speaking of misinformation: I was listening to the local TV news last night, and they had an item (syndicated from some third party) raising alarm about how poor security at state and county websites threated election integrity. It seems to be based on McAfee research, summarized here: Election Website Security: Protect Your Vote in 2020. The claimed problems are:

    • A lot of state/county websites don't reside in the .gov top level domain (TLDs). McAfee alleges (somewhat credibly) that the .gov domain registrars impose validity checks when they hand out addresses, not present for other common TLDs, like .us and .org.
    • Too many county websites don't offer their services over HTTPS. Which (in theory) allows snooping and (possibly) alteration of the traffic between your web browser and the government site.

    There's a lot of "coulds" in the threat:

    Hackers typically look to carry out their attacks with the least amount of effort and the fewest resources. Instead of hacking into local voting systems and changing vote counts, hackers could conduct a digital disinformation campaign to influence voter behavior during the elections. These attacks would seek to suppress or disrupt the voting process by setting up bogus websites with official sounding domains and related email addresses. From there, hackers could use those bogus email addresses to send mass email blasts intended to feed unsuspecting voter email recipients false information on when, where, and how to vote.

    All in all, though, the impression was left by the TV resport that the bad guys could alter vote totals by hacking into government websites. That's not what the McAfee research was about.


  • The Google LFOD News Alert rang for this patch.com "neighbor news" article: Republican Matt Matern Offers Voters a Choice. Oh, yeah, one of the guys we looked at the other day.

    The byline on the article says "By Julia Cottrell, Neighbor". But it's actually Matt himself:

    The sky was gray and snow had just begun to fall as I left Manchester on a Saturday afternoon in mid-January. The annual meeting of "The Walpole Society for Bringing to Justice Horse Thieves and Pilferers of Clothes Lines and Hen Roosts" was convening at half past six as they began their 205th year, and I didn't want to miss it.

    It was already dark by the time I reached the Town of Walpole, a small community nestled in the hills above the Connecticut River in Cheshire County, just east of the border with the state whose junior Senator is leading in the polls in New Hampshire, even though his socialist platform of high taxes and government regulation are the antithesis of the Granite State's "Live Free or Die" motto.

    Yes, apparently that's a thing:

    [Walpole, Amirite?]

    But Matt's article, unfortunately, goes downhill fast from his promising beginning. Yes, he's not Trump, that's a plus, but all but one of the other sixteen candidates on the ballot could make the same claim.


  • Over on the other side, the Conway Daily Sun provides LFOD thoughts from Robin Tyner: Voters need to hear from candidate Tulsi.

    Mainstream media promotes corporate candidates, while smearing those who refuse PAC money (Tulsi and Bernie). CNN is excluding Tulsi from its New Hampshire town hall, although she met all requirements.

    The “Live Free or Die” and “First in the Nation” state must not allow national corporate media moguls to usurp our voices and stifle our freedom to hear from all candidates. This blatant, undemocratic bias disrespects our Founding Fathers and the thousands of my fellow New Hampshire veterans who fought for freedom.

    As the Washington Examiner notes, Tulsi is (indeed) being unfairly excluded from CNN-hosted "town halls" that include Yang, Steyer, and Deval Patrick. FYI, as I type, she hasn't yet qualified for the February 7 debate at St. Anselm in Manchester.


  • And our final LFOD item, local radio station WOKQ highlights: Comedian Roasts NH State Motto on Netflix Special. The appropriate excerpt from Ronny Chieng's routine:

    Oh yeah, there are some f-bombs in there. Apologies if you didn't read this first.

Alien: Covenant

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Yet another Alien movie! I remember seeing the first one at (I think) DC's Uptown theater back in 1979. And being antsy on the way home afterward imagining monsters lurking in every dark corner. Fortunately, this one I watched, over forty years later, in my well-lit New Hampshire living room, and had no creepy premonitions of being facehugged by a space lobster.

This is a sequel to 2012's Prometheus, the second in a planned trilogy of prequels to Alien. It concerns the misadventures of the colonization ship Covenant, bound for a happy new planet with a couple thousand colonists in hibernation, monitored by android Walter and the ship's computer, Mother.

Alas, a wayward neutrino pulse causes havoc with the ship's systems, awakening the ship's crew, and managing to kill one of them. And they notice an even happier planet much nearer than their original destination. Let's go there!

Fortunately, the only sensible crewmember, a young lady named Ripley Daniels, convinces everybody to stick to the original plan, and the mission proceeds with no further problems.

Just kidding! Daniels' pleas fall on deaf ears, and they're off to the new planet, Which turns out to be, more or less, filled with hostile beasties! And also (it turns out) David, from the previous movie. What's he been up to?

Anyway, it's decent. If they make another one, I'll probably watch it, even though (like the Star Wars prequels) the outcome is known ahead of time.