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Transportation, Energy, Scientific Breakthroughs, Global Warming and Environmental Policy

Note that various articles on the housing markets of the UK, USA and Australia are recorded at House Price Crash Discussion Forums
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little c
 19 Oct '17  18:45 : 0 recs

T
his week’s security scandal is the discovery that every household with wifi in this country has a network that isn’t really private. For 13 years a weakness has lurked in the supposedly secure way in which wireless networks carry our information. Although the WPA2 security scheme was supposed to be mathematically proven to be uncrackable, it turns out that the mechanism by which it can compensate for weak signals can be compromised, and when that happens it might as well be unencrypted. Practically every router, every laptop and every mobile phone in the world is now potentially exposed. As the Belgian researcher who discovered the vulnerability points out, this could be abused to steal information such as credit card numbers, emails and photos.

It is not a catastrophic flaw: the attacker has to be within range of the wifi they are attacking. Most email and chat guarded by end-to-end encryption is still protected from eavesdroppers. But the flaw affects a huge number of devices, many of which will never be updated to address it. Since both ends of a wifi connection need to be brought up to date to be fixed, it is no longer safe to assume that any wifi connection is entirely private.
The story is a reminder of just how much we all now rely on the hidden machineries of software engineering in our everyday lives, and just how complex these complexities are. The fact that it took 13 years for this weakness to be found and publicised shows that no one entirely understands the systems that we all now take for granted. Also this week, a flaw was discovered in one of the widely used chips that are supposed to produce the gigantic and completely random numbers which are needed to make strong encryption truly unbreakable. Even the anti-virus systems that many users hope will protect them can be turned inside out. First the Israeli and then the Russian intelligence agencies appear to have penetrated the Russian-made Kaspersky Anti-Virus, a program of the sort which must have access to all the most sensitive information on a computer to perform its function.

And then there are the known unknowns: the devices which most users do not even notice are connected to the net. It is estimated that there will be 21bn things connected to the internet by 2020, from baby monitors and door locks to cars and fridges. Billions of these are unprotected and will remain that way.

But this kind of technological failure should not blind us to the real dangers of the digital world, which are social and political. The information about ourselves that we freely give away on social media, or on dating sites, is far more comprehensive, and far more potentially damaging, than anything which could be picked up by a lurking wifi hacker. The leak of millions of user accounts from Equifax, the credit reference agency, is only the most recent example of the plundering of personal information by criminals.
Such hacks might be regarded as the outcome of technical wizardry, but are dependent on human shortcomings in recognising and fixing security flaws. Others would be impossible without tricking real users out of their passwords first. In criminal hands, social engineering beats software engineering every time, and the problems of the internet cannot entirely be solved by technical means. Until we design for human nature, no perfection of machinery can save us.
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little c
 17 Oct '17  08:25 : 0 recs

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. The English philosopher and mathematician, A.N. Whitehead declared, "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato" and many would agree. Born an Athenian nobleman, Plato rejected social privilege to devote his life to philosophy. A teacher of Aristotle, Plato founded perhaps the most famous philosophical school in history, the Academy, and his works such as The Republic, The Symposium and the Phaedrus are the main reason we know anything about Socrates.

Plato established the dialogue as a vehicle of philosophical thought and his writing on topics as varied as love, government, politics, ethics, friendship, metaphysics, law and cosmology set out the terms of much of what we call philosophy today. He is responsible for some of the most spellbinding philosophical ideas ever laid down; notably his theory of the forms - that all things on earth are imperfect copies of their perfect archetypes in another realm - and his myth of the cave (that humans are like men sitting in a cave seeing shadows on the wall). Plato would have us step out of the cave and walk in the sun.
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little c
 13 Oct '17  05:35 : 0 recs

There is a bitter pill we must swallow!
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little c
 10 Oct '17  00:39 : 0 recs

Good morning to everyone reading 'Serious Topics', 'The Third' and other social media online tonight. I trust that all is well with all of you this October. 'The Financial Times' leads tomorrow with some editorial comment on the hard questions of fossil fuel divestment.

The salmon pink newspaper takes the view that the decision that faces Cambridge university is political not economic! What do you think, Thoughtful?
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little c
 08 Oct '17  13:21 : 0 recs

An electric hybrid!
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little c
 06 Oct '17  11:51 : 0 recs

Can you please address the topic. Lord Byron!
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Lord Byron
 06 Oct '17  08:38 : 0 recs

https://venturebeat.com/2017/05/06/ai-powered-trading-raises-new-questions/
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little c
 06 Oct '17  05:10 : 0 recs

How to get to work today?
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Lord Byron
 04 Oct '17  12:15 : 0 recs

All men are not born equal and nobody has any inalienable rights.
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little c
 03 Oct '17  19:27 : 0 recs : edited 2 times : last edit 03 Oct '17  19:28

Good morning to everyone reading 'Serious Topics', 'The Third' and other social media online tonight. I trust that all is well with all of you this October. 'The Financial Times' leads tomorrow with some editorial comment that privacy is under threat from the facial recognition revolution. The salmon pink newspaper takes the view that without protection, Slightly Optimistic, the rights of citizens and consumers will wither. Are zorro and MingToo not bothered? Should we be, Gorgeous George Sore Ass?
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little c
 29 Sep '17  20:19 : 1 rec

Good evening to everyone reading 'The Third' today. I trust that all is well with all of you. 'The Financial Times' leads tomorrow with some editorial comment that Ryanair still flies a flag of contempt for customers The FT concudes that regulators cannot allow the chief executive to defy the law with impunity.
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little c
 29 Sep '17  01:07 : 1 rec : edited 1 time : last edit 29 Sep '17  01:11

Good morning to everyone reading '[io]Serious Topics[/io]', 'The Third' and all other social media today! I trust that all is well with all of you. The London 'Times' leads today with some editorial comment on playing fast and loose.

"Ten days ago Michael O’Leary apologised for a wave of flight cancellations by Ryanair, sitting under the slogan “Always Getting Better”. Steadily getting worse would have been more accurate. Mr O’Leary’s airline has now announced another 18,000 cancellations, inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of customers, losing the trust of the flying public and exhausting the patience of pilots who say they are leaving the company “in droves”. In his confessional last week Mr O’Leary boasted that “when we make a mess in Ryanair we come out with our hands up”. This suggestion of complete transparency is itself misleading ... "


'The Times' thunders that Michael O’Leary appears to think Ryanair is so big it can bend the rules on passengers’ rights to breaking point. He has another think coming, MingToo! What do you think, Lord Byron?
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George Sore Ass
 27 Sep '17  08:55 : 1 rec

Easyjet aims for electric planes on journeys less than 2 hours within 10 years

Timescales seem a bit ambitious. Most modern airliners take years to design and then years more testing. I imagine something as radical as an electric plane would need special regulatory approval, as well as new or updated rules. For example, regulations about the amount of extra fuel required to allow for diversions or alternative airports would probably need to explicitly include electric planes and define ways to measure the excess charge remaining.

Airline engines have extensive testing relating to bird strikes and so on, so any new engines will need to be tested for that, and a variety of other scenarios from bad weather, hot weather, water ingress, lightning strikes etc.

They'd need replaceable batteries, because short-haul low cost airliners need to be turned around fast.

I suspect there is an element of PR here - creating an impression of easyjet as forward-thinking, environmentally conscious, even if they know the reality is that they're likely to be burning fossil fuels long after most cars are electric.

But it's encouraging at least that the physics are at the point where this is a plausible engineering proposal and not a ridiculous fantasy, even if the reality is likely to mean it takes rather longer than 10 years.

Electric vehicles aren't new, but it does really feel now like we're at the threshold of a new era where they become the norm rather than the exception. But I think hydrogen is probably more plausible as a clean energy alternative for aircraft before batteries do.
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little c
 26 Sep '17  02:27 : 1 rec

Stephen has solar panels, Big C, although possibly not on his own apartment!
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little c
 25 Sep '17  16:47 : 0 recs

Could you please try and write in sentences in future, Lord Byron, as I have no idea what you are writing about here in 'Serious Topics'. Raise your game!
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Lord Byron
 25 Sep '17  15:53 : 1 rec

T e s l a
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little c
 25 Sep '17  11:37 : 1 rec : edited 3 times : last edit 25 Sep '17  12:22

Good morning, George Sore Ass! I trust that you had a really good weekend! If I may nevertheless address your question directly, Gorgeous, although it is actually addressed to Thoughtful:

" ... Given the UK government's well-documented incompetence when it comes to IT systems and managing markets which you seem to have noticed, is there not even a little doubt in your mind that brexit (which is probably about 1000 times as complicated, fundamentally changes the market for all commercial and industrial enterprises and requires huge new IT systems) in all likelihood will be a clusterf8ck of unprecedented proportions?"


There are many precedents for this kind of change, Gorgeous, as you well know! The millennium bug, for example? So what are you on about, George Sore Ass? What do you think, Thoughtful? Out of interest, Gorgeous, have you got nothing better to do with your life than write such stupid questions here in 'Serious Topics'! Raise your game, George Sore Ass!
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George Sore Ass
 25 Sep '17  09:50 : 1 rec

Thoughtful,

Given the UK government's well-documented incompetence when it comes to IT systems and managing markets which you seem to have noticed, is there not even a little doubt in your mind that brexit (which is probably about 1000 times as complicated, fundamentally changes the market for all commercial and industrial enterprises and requires huge new IT systems) in all likelihood will be a clusterf8ck of unprecedented proportions?

George
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little c
 24 Sep '17  14:01 : 1 rec

The ayes have it!
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Lord Byron
 24 Sep '17  12:45 : 1 rec

We are always being watched by eyes.
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