May 2005
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Month May 2005

Flaws in the National ID Card – Supported by Feingold & Kohl

Joseph Menn:

The standards are intended to weed out impostors applying for licenses, in part by requiring state employees to check on the validity of birth certificates and other supporting documents. After states adopt the necessary changes, anyone applying for or renewing a license will get one reflecting the new standards.
But once the law takes full effect three years from now, it will also give many more bureaucrats access to personal information on people nationwide. And it will add more data to each file — including digital copies of documents with birth and address information.
To some industry experts and activists concerned about the fast- growing crime of identity theft, putting so much data before more eyes guarantees abuse at a time when people are increasingly concerned about who sees their personal information and how it gets used.
“It’s a gigantic treasure trove for those who are bent on obtaining data for the purpose of creating fake identities,” said Beth Givens of the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Armed with a stranger’s name, Social Security number and date of birth, it’s not hard for fraudsters to take out bogus loans that can wreck a victim’s credit record.

Additional Background. Let Senators Kohl & Feingold know your views on this latest personal information grab.

Great Doonesbury

Check it out.

Losing Control of Your PC (Dell, this time), continued

Art Wolinsky:

Wait a minute… Let me see if I have this right. You installed Dell Support on my computer and then tell me that if I don’t want the upgrade, I’m going to have to pay you help me get off what you put on?
After some discussion, it is absolutely clear that is the case with “no exceptions”. Any software support I need, no matter what the nature of that support, I am going to have to pay for.

Similar to Microsoft charging for anti-virus software…

Salon’s take on the EliteTorrents FBI takedown

Andrew Leonard:

Haven’t we seen this rerun before? A particular version of file-sharing software becomes popular. The entertainment industry starts paying attention. Lawsuits begin to fly. A few people get their fingers burned, and then we do it all over again. Napster, Kazaa, Grokster and now BitTorrent — the names change but the story doesn’t. The software will get better and the busts will get bigger. Same as it ever was.
The latest news in the file-sharing wars was delivered via a press release from the Department of Justice with all the solemn portentousness of an announcement that a major terrorist had been captured. “This morning, agents of the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed 10 search warrants across the United States against leading members of a technologically sophisticated P2P network known as Elite Torrents.”

New USPS Stamps: Famous Scientists


USPS:

Four American Scientists-Thermodynamicist Josiah Willard Gibbs, geneticist Barbara McClintock, mathematician John von Neumann and physicist Richard P. Feynman-were honored with postage stamps dedicated in a special ceremony today at Henry R. Luce Hall, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

2005 Mad City Marathon Photos

Hundreds of photos here.

Today’s Mad City Marathon enjoyed perfect weather, unlike last year’s deluge (Quicktime Video). Quite a few iPods this year.

Intel: Losing Control of Your PC

Intel is baking Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into its latest chipsets, according to the Register. Slashdot has a discussion as well. Bad news for wintel pc users as these tools mean that someone can shut down activities on your computer….
UPDATE: More

America Runs on AMT

Albert B. Crenshaw:

The AMT, as it is widely known, was created to catch up with the clever rich. Now, though, it has little impact on those folks and instead is whacking millions of fairly ordinary Americans. In fact, according to the Treasury Department, next year a typical family with two children will have to pay the AMT if its income exceeds $67,890. And by 2015, as many as 50 million taxpayers will have to pay it.
The AMT has, however, been very, very good to the Treasury. It is pulling in $18 billion in tax revenue this year, and by 2015 the AMT could be pouring $210 billion annually into the government’s coffers. Washington insiders for some time now have been laughing that it would be cheaper for the government to repeal the regular income tax and keep the AMT.
This may be funny, but it’s not a joke. The crossover point, when the AMT begins to produce more revenue than the regular tax, is now projected to be 2013.

Meanwhile, our Senators Kohl & Feingold recently voted for a massive big business tax giveaway on overseas earnings.

The Pleasures of Local Businesses

I’ve had several recent great experiences with local small businesses that are worth sharing:

  • Harmony Valley Farm (Saturday morning Farmer’s Market) offers a 1LB bag of triple washed greens for $7.00. Great stuff and lasts a week.
  • Ideal Body Shop performed some minor body work on an older car last summer. Unfortunately, paint on the repaired area recently began to chip. I drove the car back to Ideal and they replaced the part at no extra cost – no questions asked!
  • I stopped at Sentry Hilldale to pickup some fruit recently. While looking over the strawberries, an employee stopped to make sure I chose those that did not have any mold. Refreshing!
  • Flying recently, I’ve been very pleased with Midwest Airlines. Sign up for their periodic email promotions. I’ve flown to several east coast cities for $180 to $210 round trip (keep looking – Flying from Milwaukee rather than Madison saves you some money) on their “Signature Service” – the traditional Midwest configuration with comfortable domestic business class seating.

Shop local, it’s good for all of us.

Lessig: The Choirboy

An amazing New York Metro article on child abuse at the Boychoir School. Prominent Stanford IP Lawyer Larry Lessig acknowledges the abuse he suffered at the School while taking a case to the New Jersey Supreme Court for another child abuse victim. Powerful stuff. Julie Leung has more.