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Links January 2012

Cops in Tennessee routinely steal cash from citizens [1]. They are ordered to do so and in some cases their salary is paid from the cash that they take. So they have a good reason to imagine that any large sum of money is drug money and take it.

David Frum wrote an insightful article for NY Mag about the problems with the US Republican Party [2]. has an interesting article about eco-friendly features on some modern cruise ships [3].

Dan Walsh describes how to get the RSA SecureID PAM module working on a SE Linux system [4]. It’s interesting that RSA was telling everyone to turn off SE Linux and shipping a program that was falsely marked as needing an executable stack and which uses netstat instead of /dev/urandom for entropy. Really the only way RSA could do worse could be to fall victim to an Advanced Persistent Attack… :-#

The Long Now has an interesting summary of a presentation about [5]. I never realised the range of things that stores, I will have to explore that if I find some spare time!

Jonah Lehrer wrote a detailed and informative article about the way that American high school students receive head injuries playing football[6]. He suggests that it might eventually be the end of the game as we know it.

Fran├žois Marier wrote an informative article about optimising PNG files [7], optipng is apparently the best option at the moment but it doesn’t do everything you might want.

Helen Keeble wrote an interesting review of Twilight [8]. The most noteworthy thing about it IMHO is that she tries to understand teenage girls who like the books and movies. Trying to understand young people is quite rare.

Jon Masters wrote a critique of the concept of citizen journalism and described how he has two subscriptions to the NYT as a way of donating to support quality journalism [9]. The only comment on his post indicates a desire for biased news (such as Fox) which shows the reason why most US media is failing at journalism.

Luis von Ahn gave an interesting TED talk about crowd-sourced translation [10]. He starts by describing CAPTCHAs and the way that his company ReCAPTCHA provides the CAPTCHA service while also using people’s time to digitise books. Then he describes his online translation service and language education system DuoLingo which allows people to learn a second language for free while translating text between languages [11]. One of the benefits of this is that people don’t have to pay to learn a new language and thus poor people can learn other languages – great for people in developing countries that want to learn first-world languages! DuoLingo is in a beta phase at the moment but they are taking some volunteers.

Cory Doctorow wrote an insightful article for the Publishers Weekly titles “Copyrights vs Human Rights” [12] which is primarily about SOPA.

Naomi Wolf wrote an insightful article for The Guardian about the “Occupy” movement, among other things the highest levels of the US government are using the DHS as part of the crackdown [13]. Naomi’s claim is that the right-wing and government attacks on the Occupy movement are due to the fact that they want to reform the political process and prevent corruption.

John Bohannon gave an interesting and entertaining TED talk about using dance as part of a presentation [14]. He gave an example of using dancerts to illustrate some concepts related to physics and then spoke about the waste of PowerPoint.

Joe Sabia gave an amusing and inspiring TED talk about the technology of storytelling [15]. He gave the presentation with live actions on his iPad to match his words, a difficult task to perform successfully.

Thomas Koch wrote an informative post about some of the issues related to binary distribution of software [16]. I think the problem is evenm worse than Thomas describes.

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