Sunday, March 6

Threatening To Brick It -

Standoff: Apple vs FBI . . .

The FBI wants and needs Syed Farook's material from an Apple gadget he used before he died. The gadget is a mini-computer which includes a telephone function called an iPhone 5c.

These mini-computers known as smart phones often include other functions and applications such as calendars, cameras and photo galleries, alarm clocks, contact lists, music players or FM radios, space for notes or memos, etc.

I would like to explore this situation and advance the discourse on it here if it's still at all possible.

I think Apple should hoover up all of the material which was stored on that gadget after it was delivered in pristine virgin condition to the purchaser, a local government agency in California. Then, I suggest, Apple strip its proprietary computer code from the material.

Apple's special computer code is their intellectual property which we would not want to touch with a barge pole. The Apple system is the conveyance upon which the Farook material rides and should be separated from this material which the FBI needs.

Then, I suggest, the material could be reformatted into a long-established neutral computer code or markup script. The material on the calendar could be formatted into the simple basic calendar format or a database kind of arrangement. There is a similar basic format for contacts.

The rest of the material such as notes and memos could be formatted into Rich Text Format or some other neutral presentation. All of this Farook material can be ported over to a thumb drive and delivered to the FBI, according to Mr Comey's preference.

I would like to sidestep all this password guessing. My own passwords are often in Hebrew. It seems quite possible to me that Farook's passwords might be in Urdu or even in Arabic. I really believe it would be best for everyone to avoid this issue altogether.

I presume that Mr Farook's right to privacy expired along with him. It wasn't even his mobile phone; it was his employer's gadget. Thus, whatever Mr Farook left on the gadget constitute ordinary business records. Could there be clues to terrorists on there? Perhaps.

Meanwhile, I understand that Tim Cook has gone apocalyptic; viz: he is threatening to turn the phone under contention into a useless brick. If he does that to enough people at least some of them might be charmed into spending another $500 for another iPhone to replace their useless brick.

And when Tim Cook uses the word privacy, why does it seem like he really means secrecy? I don't understand why ordinary law-abiding citizens need so much secrecy on their telephones. I mostly just keep my grocery shopping lists on my smart phone. But since so many young people have been sending pix of their genitals lately, maybe there are widespread feelings of inadequacy in the population.

I hope this exploration and these suggestions encourage people to generate some more creative approaches to resolving this situation.

I am very unhappy that Apple seems to consider itself an autonomous nation state beyond the sovereignty of our government, since Civilization is currently under attack by a group of rogue cult organizations which seems to share Apple's illusion.

Let's try to emphasise more cooperative attitudes!

:: FBI Director James Comey
Comments on San Bernardino Matter

:: I am a former participant
in a Berkman Center group blog.


Monday, February 15

Some Weekend Lit Links -

An interview which explores the process of adapting
Lev Grossman's The Magicians from print to TV.

# From beyond the grave, Charb wrote an
Open Letter on Free Speech and Islamophobia.

# The Art of Short Travel Sketches by Peter Lewis.

# The danger of equating speech with violence.

# A Sampler of Web Comics.

# Twitter Characterizes
Criticism of Islam as "Hate Speech"


Monday, February 8

Into A Tartan Labyrinth -

Interesting bit of jiggery-pokery
in the British Parliament recently,
revolving around Donald Trump.

Or maybe it wasn't really about Trump at all . . .

Who is Donald Trump? In case you've just arrived from a different planet, he is an American property developer known for large commercial projects, rather than private residences. And he is currently running for high public office.

The newly-established Petitions Committee in Parliament received a petition signed by about a half-million people, proposing to bar Donald Trump from entry into the UK, because his presence wouldn't be conducive to the public good. The counter petition opposing the bar, proposed to "mind our own business" and refrain from meddling in the internal politics of the US, which garnered a scant 44,000 signatures.

What appeared to be a few dozen MPs gathered together in Westminster Hall to conduct a moot debate and discussion about the matter; the session lasted for three hours and was then aired over here in the States on C-SPAN.

Paul Flynn (Labour) delivered the introduction. He indicated that the petition was inspired by Trump's proposal for a travel ban on Muslims entering the United States, but I don't recall Flynn mentioning what prompted Trump's remark. Trump was reacting to a terrorist attack in California.

On December 2, 2015, two ethnic Pakistanis murdered 14 people and seriously wounded 22 others who were gathered together to celebrate an informal Christmas holiday party in San Bernardino, California.

Anti-Christian attacks are not unknown in contemporary Pakistan where rogue elements who are Muslim Supremacists have sometimes terrorized the Christian minority. And these well-documented events have been duly reported in their news media.

They also have an ongoing Blasphemy problem in Pakistan which Muslim Supremacists can use to intimidate the Christian minority. It appears they are now trying to impose it on the UK, too.

Perhaps, the most vociferous proponents of the Trump Entry Bar were Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (SNP), an ethnic Pakistani, and her colleague, Tulip Siddiq (L), an ethnic Bangladeshi - Bangladesh used to be East Pakistan.

What a remarkable cluster of Coincidental Pakistanis!

The woman who generated this petition believes that Donald Trump is just a character in a TV series. To the best of my knowledge, Donald Trump has not urged his followers to go out and kill the Muslims or rape their wives or burn down their houses. I haven't heard him say anything that approaches the threshold of so-called "Hate Speech."

Usually, when there is a terrorist attack, we would expect the British government to offer condolences.

Instead, this time, we've got: 14 murders committed by two ethnic Pakistanis and these two women ranting in the British Parliament about the American Public's reaction to these 14 bloody corpses.

This was a disgraceful spectacle.


Wednesday, December 30

Holiday Tidings -

What happened to me? Where have I been?

Sorry about the Blog Hiatus! I had to find a new Internet Provider. The Clear company was acquired by Sprint and went out of business. I had been using a Clear Stick which looked liked a thumb drive and plugged into my laptop. I decided to continue with mobile broadband and had to make other arrangements.

I believe this was my longest hiatus away from my Blog since I started it. Not to worry - long time Bloggers don't just walk away from their Blogs and leave their readers hanging.

So, let's do a bit of catching up . . .

The long-awaited new episode of the Jesse Stone TV movies finally aired on one of the Hallmark cable channels this past fall. For aficionados of this series, it was like revisiting old friends, since the movies feature a continuous core ensemble of characters.

This series is more similar to the British TV Mystery Detective programs such as Vera, Inspector George Gently and DCI Banks than to current American versions of the genre.

The Jesse Stone stories are set in a small New England town which is a satellite of the Boston metropolitan area, comparable to the traditional English village settings. And there is a moody, atmospheric regional landscape featured, enhanced by the musical background.

The stories unwind in more than the usual American hour, affording more time for the exploration of motives and plot twists.

In contrast to the current American emphasis on technical evidence, this more old-fashioned approach relies more on human intelligence.

It is the only TV series I am inclined to binge-watch when the movies are aired one after another.

# Christmas was blissfully quiet in our house - for a change. We had a turkey with the traditional fixings and a sumptuous chocolate cake for dessert which one of the women baked.

A local TV chef shared her special recipe
for chestnut soup, which sounded interesting.

# There were the usual reruns and holiday movies on TV with only one surprise: a couple of obscure cable channels aired Hugo as a children's movie.

It is beautifully crafted cinema, but rather long, and I'm not sure it can be appreciated that much by children.

# Another surprise occurred Sunday evening on the CBS 60 Minutes program which featured an interview with Joaquin Garcia alias Jack Falcone. Who was Jack Falcone? He was like Donnie Brasco.

I must admit that I found it a bit unsettling to see him on national TV unexpectedly. Joaquin Garcia touched my life in a peculiar way. He led a special sting operation in my old neighborhood here in South Florida which extirpated my neighborhood cop and a few others.

One of the results of the ensuing mess was my tour of duty as a Neighborhood Crime Watcher in a rather blighted and dangerous area.

It is also notable because any mainstream media record of the episode is being inexorably erased from the Internet.

Archives of the local newspaper which covered the story, for example, may be removed from the Internet after a limited number of years.

Soon, there may be no trace of it for journalists, historians, or scholars to reference at all.

# A new fad seen around here this Christmas was a whimsical touch on automobiles - putting on a pair of stuffed brown reindeer antlers and a red nose on the front grill or hood ornament.

+ I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Let's try to count our blessings.


Friday, October 23

Mez: A Scottish Twist? -

The Meredith Kercher Murder Case . . .

Most of the American Public has already turned the page on this case; these days they are preoccupied about whether Caitlyn Jenner is going to date men or women.

Yet, there are still some who continue to discuss Jack the Ripper, as well as other cases for which there have not been any clean, clear, and crisp resolution.

Catching up with the latest developments in this case, the Italian Supreme Court has finally issued its long-overdue written verdict, although its translation into English is not yet complete. I am basing my impression and interpretation of it mainly on Barbie Nadeau's descriptive report.

In the American system, we are used to either one of two verdicts in a murder case: Guilty or Not Guilty. But the Scots are a fiercely independent people and maintain a number of legal constructs in their system which are at variance with the U.K. and the U.S. systems. One of these constructs is a third verdict option: Case Not Proven.

Hitherto, I was not aware that this Scottish-style option was available in the Italian system, but strangely enough, this is the outcome the Italian Supreme Court seems to have delivered to us. Initially, I was incredulous, but when I looked it up at Wikipedia, I was surprised to read there that the Italian system has had this third Scottish option available to it since 1989.

What does this kind of verdict mean? From my interpretation, I would contend that this is an acquittal which does not exonerate the Accused.

The Court accepted and affirmed the presence of Knox and Sollecito in the house, but wasn't satisfied with the evidence presented to them that the two could be placed within the murder chamber.

The Court - under their system - might have been able to stipulate that Knox and Sollecito were engaged in passive complicity, acting as accessories, conspired to pervert the course of justice, failed to properly dispose of human remains, or some other more Italianesque illegality.

Instead, the Court claimed "insufficient evidence" which means that the Prosecution did not make their case to the Court's satisfaction - i.e. Case Not Proven.

Thus, only time will tell whether Amanda Knox ever picks her feet in Poughkeepsie.


Monday, October 12

The Globalized Neighborhood -

Wonderful news this past week reveals that many residents of Havana are now able to connect with the rest of the world via the Internet using new Wi-Fi hotspots, as reported by Mimi Whitefield and Patricia Mazzei at the Miami Herald.

Are you a flaneur?
Or do you have any interest at all in the activity?

"Walter Benjamin described the flaneur as the essential figure of the modern urban spectator, an amateur detective and investigator of the city."

Fort Lauderdale is not a very walkable city, but more "eyes on the street" promotes better Public Safety, and the Police Chief here wants to re-introduce Community Policing.

Despite a plethora of neighborhoods sprawled out hither and yon, his goal may be very difficult to achieve any time soon.

Locally, police are seeking information about the death this past week of 67-year-old Robert Regan, which has been characterized as a homicide. Reagan was known in his neighborhood as a community activist.

It is believed that he came in contact with drug dealers who have been targeting Fort Lauderdale lately by flooding the city with a dangerous designer drug called Flakka, much of which seems to originate in China.

"Writing about Place
in the Age of the Global City"

was an interesting recent panel discussion featuring
Luc Sante, Vivian Gornick, and the LAT's David Ulin, who talked about the role of cities in an age of globalization.


Monday, July 20

In Broad Daylight -

A Florida Murder Mystery and More . . .

It's been a year since FSU Law Professor Dan Markel was murdered, but it appears that little progress has been made toward solving the crime. Police seem to be pinning their hopes on an automobile of interest. We can only guess that it was a well organized crime by someone who had studied Dan Markel's daily schedule and circuit of whereabouts.

:: Reporter Jennifer Portman
gives us an update from Tallahassee.

:: And a local update was aired on NBC Miami.

# Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History by Gary Lawson.

:: An entertaining review by Alfred Soto.

# Christopher Fowler shares his ten
Favorite Forgotten Crime Writers who
have vanished from today's bookshelves.

# Mike Ripley's July 2015 column.