Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another idea becomes reality---by someone else.

Many years ago I imagined taking a trip across Russia traveling from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok on the Siberian coast on the Trans Siberian railroad. The Trans Siberian Railway actually runs from Moscow to Vladivistok. My dream had me getting off the train where ever I felt like and meeting the local residents and playing chess at the local chess club. I also thought I would record the entire trip over the Internet before it was fashionable to do such things. People thought I was crazy. I actually started learning Russian, but like so many ideas I have, I never really did anything about it. To be honest I was afraid.

Well, Google has done it. Check out the following link: Virtual Tour on the Trans Siberian railroad. Though the chess is missing the railroad trip is here. Enjoy!

Here is a segment:

Bobby Fisher playing at the Moscow Central Chess Club in 1957

Thursday, February 04, 2010

NSA and Google together--Scary!!

This is scary. It was reported today in the Washington Post that NSA and Google are joining forces to fight cyberterrorism and industrial espionage.
The world's largest Internet search company and the world's most powerful electronic surveillance organization are teaming up in the name of cybersecurity.

I find it very difficult to understand how NSA could do this at all without having access to the Google servers and search files. In order to find something you have to have access to the area where it is taking place. Given that idea I find the following lines in the Post hard to believe.
the alliance is being designed to allow the two organizations to share critical information without violating Google's policies or laws that protect the privacy of Americans' online communications. The sources said the deal does not mean the NSA will be viewing users' searches or e-mail accounts or that Google will be sharing proprietary data.
I do not think that this is a good idea for the privacy of the American people and is just another attempt by the NSA to use fear to gain another entry point into the lives and thoughts of Americans. I mean why is it any less outrageous for American spy agencies to have access to Google files than it is for Chinese spy agencies to try to examine them to search for dissidents. Does anyone think that the NSA will not examine those same files for intelligence on those same dissidents and on American dissidents? I will be talking about these issues on NormAtNite next Tuesday night. Tune in if you have ideas on this issue.

We made a mistake after 911 by allowing NSA to begin spying on Americans without warrants. In my view, we are now compounding this error by not screaming bloody murder about this potential alliance between Google and NSA. As written in the Post,
But achieving collaboration is not easy, in part because private companies do not trust the government to keep their secrets and in part because of concerns that collaboration can lead to continuous government monitoring of private communications. Privacy advocates, concerned about a repeat of the NSA's warrantless interception of Americans' phone calls and e-mails after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, say information-sharing must be limited and closely overseen.

I am not sure it can be overseen. Call in next Tuesday and let me know.


On another issue. We will be asking the question Is Internet access a civil right? This question was raised in a blog I read, and recommend to everyone called TeachPaperless. Teachpaperless believes that Internet access is a civil right and makes a solid case for it. We will talk about this on NormAtNite for 15 minutes on Tuesday also.