The NSA introduces us to the “zettabyte”

Talk about farm subsidies, the NSA is almost finished with its new data farm in Utah. According to NPR, it holds five zettabytes of data! 

“There is almost certainly surveillance that they would like to do and have not been able to do because they didn’t have the storage or computing resources to perform the searches.” Soghoian adds. “And this will give them the ability to do more searches through more innocent people’s information.”

The estimated power of those computing resources in Utah is so massive it requires use of a little-known unit of storage space: the zettabyte. Cisco quantifies a zettabyte as the amount of data that would fill 250 billion DVDs.

via Amid Data Controversy, NSA Builds Its Biggest Data Farm : NPR.

The thing costs $1.2 billion to build and will cost $20 million per year to operate. Frankly, I think I’d rather see that money go to actual farmers.

The NSA’s own social network

And the hits just keep on coming.

In other words, Accumulo allows the NSA to do what Google does with your e-mails and Web searches—only with everything that flows across the Internet, or with every phone call you make.

via What the NSA can do with “big data” | Ars Technica.

Bloomberg must go

…we live in a complex world where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.

via Bloomberg Says Interpretation of Constitution Will ‘Have to Change’ After Boston Bombing | Politicker.

Excuse me, but Bloomberg has become a moronic grandstanding statist dipshit. I used to like this guy, but he has only proved the point I always make that the party in power becomes the party about power, and this exemplifies this point perfectly, albeit in a very specific way.

Funny thing about civilized societies is that people sometimes die in tragic fashion. The fact that these bozos were caught within a week thanks mostly to the vigilance of private citizens and the technology under their control speaks volumes about the value of our civil liberties.


If I had the power to just order things to be the way I think they should be I’d require some logical security responses like the armoring of cockpit doors that practically eliminated airliner hijacking as a threat then beyond that do little or nothing. A huge nation can absorb a blow or two and once It’s seen there’s no real impact on our culture the terrorists will go on to other, more compliant, targets.

But that’s not the way we seem to do things around here. Instead we throw trillions into byzantine security programs and overseas adventuring, most of it useless, then we try to blame others for the resultant debt. So any further suggestions I have for improving the peace must be mapped against that broader scene of government greed and stupidity.

via The terahertz revolution and local security – I, Cringely.

Cringely echoes my sentiments exactly. I anticipate someone calling for a ban on pressure cookers any minute now. You know it’s coming, which would be a real tragedy.

Some of my mother’s best meals came from a pressure cooker.

Knee jerking

During a 1991 mortar attack on 10 Downing Street, then-prime-minister John Major reportedly said to his staff after surviving the near-miss, “I think we had better start again, somewhere else.”

If I admire anything about the British, I revel in their indomitable attitude in the face of tragedy. I think of that quote whenever something like the events of yesterday take place and the media fans out in search of reaction. We end up hearing a lot of crying and navel gazing, but I wonder how many times the reporter passed over the guy who said simply, “It’s an awful thing that three died, but we’ll be fine,” and moved on to find dinner.

I expect the authorities to find the rotted soul who carried out the act, but sadly, I also expect that our leaders will begin the process of parading the emotional to help pass more restrictive laws. We’ve spent trillions on “Homeland Security,” and yet this bombing still happened. Meanwhile, our country is blanketed by cameras, our travel is choked by checkpoints, and our private correspondences are much less so.

When the dog escaped from the house last Sunday through the door that my daughter failed to close properly, I didn’t say to my wife, “Well, I guess we better get rid of that door.” We need that door. The lesson learned by my daughter is simply this: Make double sure she closes it when the dog is inside.

Amen, Dan

What is it about weddings that make otherwise intelligent, reasonable people (especially women) complete idiots? If your fiancé is demanding a destination wedding and their last name isn’t Gates, Buffet, or Bloomberg, get out now.

2. Do not have a destination wedding. Expecting your friends and relatives to show up at your wedding with a gift? Thats reasonable. Expecting your friends and relatives to burn through their vacation time and spend thousands of dollars they dont have in order to show up at your wedding on a beach in Hawaii or in a castle in Spain with a gift is the height of assholery. If you cant afford to fly your friends and family to Hawaii or to that castle in Spain, and you cant afford to put them up, you cant afford a destination wedding.

via Savage Love by Dan Savage – Seattle Columns – Savage Love – Dan Savage – The Stranger, Seattles Only Newspaper.

Reality check is coming due

Ultimately, we should blame the American voters. The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money. Many voters have decided they like spending a lot on themselves and pushing costs onto their children and grandchildren. They have decided they like borrowing up to $1 trillion a year for tax credits, disability payments, defense contracts and the rest. They have found that the original Keynesian rationale for these deficits provides a perfect cover for permanent deficit-living. They have made it clear that they will destroy any politician who tries to stop them from cost-shifting in this way.

via Another Fiscal Flop –


I find myself ambivalent about the whole gun issue at least in this sense: I do not think that people should be arming themselves to the point where they can take down a platoon of cops.

On the other hand, I think that if you are brave enough to strip the emotion that rages on this subject and look at the actual facts, you will see that most of the gun violence takes place with the use of illegal guns. More laws doesn’t change that. We have plenty of history that says so.

The tragedies we’ve seen in Newtown, Aurora, and other places were perpetrated by people with serious mental issues, and we as a society have failed to deal with this. People prone to violence will commit violence if left to their own devices. If we have no systemic way to deal with these individuals, then we will see these tragedies, guns or no guns.

The worst school massacre took place in 1927 by who killed nearly 40 people, destroyed an entire school, and more, and never fired a shot.

What I fear more than guns is the emotional response to a problem. After 9/11, our knee-jerk response to the threat of terrorism gave us the Patriot Act. Three trillion dollars later, and the ability for the Feds to conduct warrantless wiretaps and all kinds of other surveillance on its citizens, do you feel any safer or more proud to be an American?

Weapons of mass hysteria

So, if it seems like these dreadful crimes are occurring more frequently, it is really the immediacy and pervasiveness of media coverage that creates the impression. And thanks to state-of-the-art technology, it can feel as though the tragedy happened in your own backyard.

via Column: Keep Conn. shooting in context.

We are as a society in far danger from the hysteria this creates than from any gunman.