On the political
As you may have heard, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation repealing the law that had forced us to terminate our California Associates. We are pleased to invite all California Associates whose accounts were closed due to the prior legislation to re-enroll in the Associates Program.
The Amazon Associates Team
I first read this as Amazon giving up and quietly reinstating their associates program and thus paying the sales tax they owe. Alas, not the case. I guess California vs. Amazon, Amazon wins.
The Department of State is proposing a new questionnaire as a precondition of getting a US passport. If the applicant is a newborn it might not be too much of a burden, but for an adult it reads like it was written by George Orwell.
If you’re a grown up and considering getting a passport, you should check in at the comment site or just email GarciaAA@state.gov and let DoS know that their estimate of 45 minutes to gather the required information is probably off by a couple of years.
A few of the questions, which I swear I am not making up:
5. List your mother's residence one year before your birth:
6. List your mother's residence at the time of your birth:
7. List your mother's residence one year after your birth:
8. Mother's place of employment at the time of your birth:
- Dates of employment:
- Name of employer:
- Address of employer:
9. Did your mother receive pre-natal or post-natal medical care?
- Name of Doctor:
- Dates of appointments:
10. What type of document, if any, did your mother use to enter into the United States before your birth?
11. Please describe the circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth:
Please list all of your residences inside and outside of the United States starting with your birth until the present.
Please list all of your current and former places of employment in the United States and abroad.
I declare under penalty of perjury that all responses contained in this document are true and correct, to the best of my knowledge.
False statements made knowingly and willfully in passport applications or in affidavits or other supporting documents submitted therewith are
punishable by fine and/or imprisonment under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. 1001 and/or 18 U.S.C. 1542.
This is so far beyond idiotic, so completely utterly absurd, that I’m tempted to believe that someone is pulling a hoax in releasing the document to get people riled up, like claiming there will be death panels or some stupid fabricated outrage like that. I suppose filling in “I’m sorry, but my memory of the circumstances three months before I was a zygote is a little hazy these days” would at least be true and correct, but might not lead to quick issuance of a passport. It is not just the flabbergasting stupidity of asking questions that no adult could possibly answer, but questions that utterly irrelevant to providing a passport that is galling. Dear DoS: derp?
Who would’a thunk a little site like dis.org, the on-line clubhouse for a few bay area computer types, would make both the barracuda block list and the UAE block list. How cool is that?
If you’re not in the UAE: here’s the block list http://www.etisalat.ae/assets/document/blockcontent.pdf
And if you’re inappropriately blocked: http://www.etisalat.ae/index.jsp?type=proxy
Finally, conclusive evidence of the presence of whole trays of yellow cake in Iraq, and at extremely low prices, well within the reach of any organization.
I was curious after posting some hints about how to protect your privacy to see how they worked.
Using EFF’s convenient panopticlick browser fingerprinting site. Panopticlick doesn’t use all the tricks available, such as measuring the time delta between your machine and a reference time, but it does a pretty good job. Most of my machines test as “completely unique,” which I find complementary but isn’t really all that good for not being tracked.
Personally I’m not too wound up about targeted marketing style uses of information. If I’m going to see ads I’d rather they be closer to my interests than not. But there are bad actors using the same information for more nefarious purposes and I’d rather see mistargeted ads than give the wrong person useful information.
Testing Panopticlick with scripts blocked (note TACO doesn’t help with browser fingerprinting, just cookie control) I cut my fingerprint to 12.32 bits from 20.29 bits, the additional data comes from fonts and plugins.
It is also interesting to note that fingerprint scanners (fingerprints as on the ends of fingers) have false reject rates of about 0.5% and false acceptance rates of about 0.001%. Obviously they’re tuned that way to be 50x more likely to reject a legitimate user than to accept the wrong person and the algorithms are intrinsically fallible in both directions, so this is a necessary trade-off. Actual entropy measures in fingerprints are the subject of much debate. An estimate based on Pankanti‘s analysis computes a 5.5×10^59 chance of a collision or 193 bits of entropy but manufacturer published false acceptance rates of 0.001% are equivalent to 16.6 bits, less accurate than browser fingerprinting.