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Links for 2012-05-20

  • Nikola Tesla Wasn’t God And Thomas Edison Wasn’t The Devil : Correcting some egregious misconceptions about an Oatmeal comic regarding Tesla and Edison — explaining some realities about invention, scientific progress, and the history of electricity. “I’d contend that nearly every invention in the engineering or sciences is an improvement on what has come before – such as Tesla’s improvements to alternating current. That’s what innovation is. It’s a social process that occurs in a social context. As Robert Heinlein once said, “When railroading time comes you can railroad — but not before.” In other words, inventions are made in the context of scientific and engineering understanding. Individuals move things forward – some faster than others – but in the end, the most intelligent person in the world can’t invent the light bulb if the foundation isn’t there.”
    (tags: nikola-tesla history electricity innovation invention progress science thomas-edison the-oatmeal)

  • Jamming Tripoli: Inside Moammar Gadhafi’s Secret Surveillance Network : The very scary future of state control, censorship, and totalitarianism in the age of the internet. A presentation from Amesys, a subsidiary of Bull S.A. “explained the significance of Eagle to a government seeking to control activities inside its borders. Warning of an “increasing need of high-level intelligence in the constant struggle against criminals and terrorism,” the document touted Eagle’s ability to capture bulk Internet traffic passing through conventional, satellite, and mobile phone networks, and then to store that data in a filterable and searchable database. This database, in turn, could be integrated with other sources of intelligence, such as phone recordings, allowing security personnel to pick through audio and data from a given person all at once, in real time or by historical time stamp. In other words, instead of choosing targets and monitoring them, officials could simply sweep up everything, sort it by time and target, and then browse through it later at their leisure. The title of the presentation — ”From Lawful to Massive Interception” — gestured at the vast difference between so-called lawful intercept (traditional law enforcement surveillance based on warrants for specific phone numbers or IP addresses) and what Amesys was offering.”
    (tags: massive-interception future state-control censorship privacy internet email totalitarianism libya amesys bull-sa gadhafi surveillance)