William S. Lind publishes some interesting thinking on the next model of US Defense Forces:
Two readers, Marion and Herbert, asked whether the Swiss militia model might be relevant. The answer is clearly yes. Switzerland’s defense has been based on a militia for a very long time, and it has enabled Switzerland to preserve its neutrality, maintain its liberties and decentralized political system (real power lies at the cantonal, not the federal level of government) and keep its defense expenditures down. The Swiss militia is an ideal basis for defending Switzerland from 4GW. In fact, Switzerland already has an arrangement other countries will need to move to in a 4GW world: the regular armed services support the militia, instead of the other way around.
“Great Concept, making the unreadable illegible”. Check it out.
Bruce Schneier on “Trusted” Computing:
The Trusted Computing Group (TCG) is an industry consortium that is trying to build more secure computers. They have a lot of members, although the board of directors consists of Microsoft, Sony, AMD, Intel, IBM, SUN, HP, and two smaller companies who are voted on in a rotating basis.
The basic idea is that you build a computer from the ground up securely, with a core hardware “root of trust” called a Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Applications can run securely on the computer, can communicate with other applications and their owners securely, and can be sure that no untrusted applications have access to their data or code.
This sounds great, but it’s a double-edged sword. The same system that prevents worms and viruses from running on your computer might also stop you from using any legitimate software that your hardware or operating system vendor simply doesn’t like. The same system that protects spyware from accessing your data files might also stop you from copying audio and video files. The same system that ensures that all the patches you download are legitimate might also prevent you from, well, doing pretty much anything.
National Public Radio published a growing list of podcasts.
9 Million Miles for the Ultimate Drive, an interesting annual BMW test drive promotion that supports the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. This initiative, which raises at least $1M annually, passed through Madison today.
Patrick Paternie on US culture and station wagons:
The term station wagon has evolved from a G-rated to an X-rated word and back again among U.S. automotive marketers. But love it or call it a five-door sedan, the station wagon is the iconic American automobile.
Station wagons flourished along with the growth of two other definitive aspects of the modern American lifestyle, the suburbs and the interstate. The epitome of nuclear family-era transportation, a roomy, luxurious station wagon and a AAA TripTik was a recipe for family bonding and adventure before National Lampoon’s Vacation and the Griswolds turned it into a rolling-disaster movie script.
By the end of the 1950s station wagons accounted for nearly one of five new car sales. It was the aspirational vehicle of the period, as evidenced by the Country Squire’s status at the top of Ford’s lineup.
Quite a bit of news Monday on the ongoing US Government Tax Shelter Investigations:
Ironically, the Supreme Court overturned the US Department of Justice’s indictment of Andersen, which cost thousands of people their jobs:
While hearing arguments in Andersen’s appeal, Justice Antonin Scalia at one point described the government’s theory of the case as “weird,” according to The New York Times.
What’s more, the justices “were so clearly sympathetic” to the former Big Five accounting firm, that the only question remaining at the end of the session was how quickly the Court would overturn the conviction, the paper added.
Of course, even if the conviction is overturned, it would not be much help to the thousands of former employees who lost their jobs and the former partners who lost their equity.
Real tax reform is long overdue. Will we see it from our politicians? Unlikely, when both Feingold and Kohl are supporting bills like this very large, multinational corporation tax giveaway.
I’ve known Bob Pfaff, indicted today, for 20 years and have always found him to be a great friend and honorable man. I’ve posted a few items on this previously here. The recent Kelo Case is also worth watching in this context.
The Oil Drum:
Katrina IS a big deal today and will be for weeks to come, not just because New Orleans is below sea level and not just because she could cause massive loss of life and property, but because Katrina could also disrupt Gulf supplies of petroleum (the GOM supplies around 1.3mbpd, we use around 20mbpd in the US) from rigs, refineries, and pipelines, etc., for a while.
Great Site, via John Robb.
James Cook left on a business trip to Florida, and his wife Paula went to Oklahoma to care for her sick mother. When the two returned to Frisco, Texas, several days later, their keys didn’t work. The locks on the house had been changed.
They spent their first night back sleeping in a walk-in closet, with a steel pipe ready to cold-cock any intruders. The next day, they met the man who thought he owned their house, because he had put a US$12,000 down payment to someone named Carlos Ramirez. The Cooks went to the Denton County Courthouse and checked their title. Someone had forged Paula Cook’s maiden name, Paula Smart, and transferred the deed to Carlos Ramirez. Paula’s identity was not only stolen, but the thief also stole her house. Even the police said they’ve never seen a case like this one, but suspect the criminal was able to steal the identity and the house with just Mrs. Cook’s Social Security number, driver’s license number and a copy of her signature.
Via Bruce Schneier who points out that the National ID card (supported by our good Senators Feingold & Kohl) won’t solve this problem:
This is a perfect example of the sort of fraud issue that a national ID card won’t solve. The problem is not that identity credentials are too easy to forge. The problem is that the criminal needed nothing more than “Mrs. Cook’s Social Security number, driver’s license number and a copy of her signature.” And the solution isn’t a harder-to-forge card; the solution is to make the procedure for transferring real-estate ownership more onerous. If the Denton County Courthouse had better transaction authentication procedures, the particulars of identity authentication — a national ID, a state driver’s license, biometrics, or whatever — wouldn’t matter.
If we are ever going to solve identity theft, we need to think about it properly. The problem isn’t misused identity information; the problem is fraudulent transactions.