Why So Many Top Hackers Hail from Russia — Krebs on Security

According to an analysis (PDF) by The College Board, in the ten years between 2005 and 2016 a total of 270,000 high school students in the United States opted to take the national exam in computer science (the “Computer Science Advanced Placement” exam).

Compare that to the numbers from Russia: A 2014 study (PDF) on computer science (called “Informatics” in Russia) by the Perm State National Research University found that roughly 60,000 Russian students register each year to take their nation’s equivalent to the AP exam — known as the “Unified National Examination.” Extrapolating that annual 60,000 number over ten years suggests that more than twice as many people in Russia — 600,000 — have taken the computer science exam at the high school level over the past decade.

Source: Why So Many Top Hackers Hail from Russia — Krebs on Security

although there currently are just over 42,000 high schools in the United States, only 2,100 of them were certified to teach the AP computer science course in 2011.

“Very few middle schools teach this in the United States,” Allen Paller said. “We don’t teach these topics in general and we definitely don’t test them. The Russians do and they’ve been doing this for the past 30 years.”

What if jobs are not the solution but the problem? | Aeon Essays

Economists believe in full employment. Americans think that work builds character. But what if jobs aren’t working anymore?

Source: What if jobs are not the solution but the problem? | Aeon Essays, by James Livingston, professor of history at Rutgers University in New Jersey, author of many books including Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul (2011) and No More Work: Why Full Employment is a Bad Idea (2016)

These days, everybody from Left to Right – from the economist Dean Baker to the social scientist Arthur C Brooks, from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump – addresses this breakdown of the labour market by advocating ‘full employment’ … Shitty jobs for everyone won’t solve any social problems we now face.

what social scaffolding other than work will permit the construction of character … imagine a world in which the job no longer builds our character, determines our incomes or dominates our daily lives.

what purposes could we choose if the job – economic necessity – didn’t consume most of our waking hours and creative energies?

Can we let people get something for nothing and still treat them as our brothers and sisters – as members of a beloved community?

Where have all the insects gone? | Science | AAAS

Surveys in German nature reserves point to a dramatic decline in insect biomass

Source: Where have all the insects gone? | Science | AAAS

A weather station for biodiversity

Researchers in Germany hope to develop a set of automated sensors that will monitor the abundance and diversity of plants, animals, and fungi with the help of pattern recognition and DNA and chemical analysis.

The mass of insects collected by monitoring traps in the Orbroicher Bruch nature reserve in northwest Germany dropped by 78% in 24 years.

In 1989, the group’s traps in one reserve collected 17,291 hover flies from 143 species. In 2014, at the same locations, they found only 2737 individuals from 104 species.

Why America Can’t Escape the Cycle of Hunger – CityLab

The new book Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance Between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups argues that food banks and pantries don’t chip away at underlying issues that keep people food-insecure.

Source: Why America Can’t Escape the Cycle of Hunger – CityLab

Walmart doesn’t pay its workers very well. And because it pays its workers so poorly, they have to rely on food stamps and food banks to make ends meet. So then, Walmart goes ahead and uses its charitable donations to pay food banks, to pay anti-hunger groups to support SNAP—which enables [Walmart] to pay its workers low wages. And then it also redeems about 1 in 6 SNAP dollars around the country.

Government has, for the most part, abdicated its role in providing for people’s rights to food [through] cutbacks to SNAP and cutbacks to welfare. … What I’m trying to call attention to is that this approach (food banks) solves hunger for today. It gives people three days’ worth of food at the end of the month; next month, they arrive at the same damn situation. It doesn’t solve poverty, much less the issues around economic inequality and power. It doesn’t address the wages that people get paid, so they don’t have to go to the food bank.

Where we’ve come with this after 35 or 40 years of doing this is that the way the public thinks we deal with hunger is through a food drive. They think that’s a solution to hunger, and it’s not.

Sixty percent of the non-elderly who receive food stamps are in households where there’s at least one person working. The reason they’re on SNAP or visiting food banks is because wages are so low.

SNAP has become a work support program. Work support programs used to be things like childcare. Now we’re subsidizing part of the cost of employment to companies.

We really need to focus on income inequality as a nation. We need to be raising wages and supporting workers in a way that they can make a decent living. That way, people can feed their families and don’t need to be subsidized by the government because they’re working low-wage jobs. So it’s a rethinking of the way we structure how people work in this country.

Social Cooling

Social Cooling describes how big data and a lack of privacy is greatly increasing pressure to conform … describes the long-term negative side effects of living in a reputation economy

Source: Social Cooling

Their ‘derived data’, which is protected as corporate free speech, is more valuable than ‘your data’.
If they say they don’t sell your data, ask if they are selling theirs.

When algorithms judge everything we do, we need to protect the right to make mistakes.

When everything is remembered as big data, we need the right to have our mistakes forgotten.


“Privacy is the right to be imperfect.”
— Tijmen Schep

“we have close to four or five thousand data points on every adult in the United States.”
— Alexander Nix

The Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna Takes On the Amazon-Whole Foods Merger – The Atlantic

The freshman House representative Ro Khanna wants to see a broad rethinking of how the government evaluates mergers like Amazon-Whole Foods.

Source: The Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna Takes On the Amazon-Whole Foods Merger – The Atlantic

the FTC and DOJ need to consider all of these factors and make a holistic determination: Is a merger on balance helping wages, jobs, investment for innovation, and prices? Or is it, on balance, not?

And the problem of the current antitrust legislation is that it’s just a litmus test on prices and doesn’t consider all these other equally important factors. And that’s really the philosophical debate between Brandeis and the consensus all the way from Theodore Roosevelt versus the shift to free-market absolutism that Robert Bork enabled.

The US Supreme Court just decided access to Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat is fundamental to free speech — Quartz

Source: The US Supreme Court just decided access to Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat is fundamental to free speech — Quartz, by Ephrat Livni

Today (June 19), the justices unanimously held that states can’t broadly limit access to social media because cyberspace “is one of the most important places to exchange views.”

Acknowledging that every advance in technology leads to new abuses by criminals, the notion that states can bar access altogether is anathema to the high court. The opinion noted that convicted criminals, perhaps more than others, would benefit from joining the societal conversation. The justices write:

Social media allows users to gain access to information and communicate with one another on any subject that might come to mind. With one broad stroke, North Carolina bars access to what for many are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge.

Elon Musk Publishes Plans for Colonizing Mars – Scientific American

Source: Elon Musk Publishes Plans for Colonizing Mars – Scientific American

RE: “Making Humanity a Multi-Planetary Species” by Elon Musk

Elon Musk has put his Mars-colonization vision to paper, and you can read it for free.

Musk’s Mars vision centers on a reusable rocket-and-spaceship combo that he’s dubbed the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). … The ITS boosters will be designed to fly about 1,000 times each … Each ITS ship would probably be able to make 12 to 15 deep-space journeys during its operational life, Musk wrote, and each fuel tanker could likely fly to Earth orbit 100 or so times.