Homeland Insecurity

I just got forwarded an article in the Atlantic about Bruce Scheier where he correctly points out that the search for fool-proof security technology is a pointless quest for a non-existent Holy Grail and encourages investigating the side effects of some of our technological choices. The important themes I liked from the article where
  • Wholeheartedly embracing purely technological solutions can lead to disaster when they fail if no backup exists. The various calls for electronic voting mechanisms especially after the US 2000 Presidential Elections are a prime example of this kind of disastrous thinking.

  • The most important aspect of a security solution isn't how impervious to attack it claims to be but how resistant to compromise it is in the face of failure.
The second theme is important in that it correctly implies that a single technological choice is not a sufficient secure solution.


Slavery Reparations

Every once in a while something happens that reminds me of how alike my dad and I are then I begin to wish we had a closer relationship. The recent satire of the calls for slavery reparations on K5 is something I completely agree with while comments in favor of reparations make me uneasy. Imagine my surprise to find out my dad feels the same way which is surprising since I remember him being in favor of it a few years ago. We definitely need to talk more often than we do. :(

Claiming to deserve reparations several years after the fact when you've had the chance to better your lot but have failed horribly (this goes for both Africans and African Americans) seems like a rather specious argument to me. I mean really, why does it have to stop at black people? Following this logic the native Americans should sue to get America back. Then, of course, the black people would be SOL (shit outta luck) because the the wealth has been transferred to its rightful owners who happen to not have been slave masters.


Pharmaceutical Companies and Drug Marketing

I hate when things aren't black and white. On the one hand I'm completely in favor of the current state of drug patents because it enables Pharmaceutical companies to recoup expensive research costs. However, after talking to a few insiders I heard that these corporations actually spend more on marketing their drugs (all drug marketing is ethically questionable IMHO) than actual research. Here're some stats from this month's issue of Playboy
Original estimated profit from sales of Prozac: $70 million

Actual revenue from Prozac: $3 billion in one year at its peak

Annual amount spent marketting anti-depressants to consumers: $200 million

Annual amount spent marketting anti-depressants to doctors: $1.5 billion