Ramblings & ephemera

Thieves use Bluetooth to find laptops in cars

From “Phone pirates in seek and steal mission“: MOBILE phone technology is being used by thieves to seek out and steal laptops locked in cars in Cambridgeshire. Up-to-date mobiles often have Bluetooth technology, which allows other compatible devices, including laptops, to link up and exchange information, and log on to the internet. But thieves in […]

Hear someone typing & know what was written

From Edward Felten’s “Acoustic Snooping on Typed Information“: Li Zhuang, Feng Zhou, and Doug Tygar have an interesting new paper showing that if you have an audio recording of somebody typing on an ordinary computer keyboard for fifteen minutes or so, you can figure out everything they typed. The idea is that different keys tend […]

How to fake an anthrax scare

From Bruce Schneier’s “White Powder Anthrax Hoaxes“: Earlier this month, there was an anthrax scare at the Indonesian embassy in Australia. Someone sent them some white powder in an envelope, which was scary enough. Then it tested positive for bacillus. The building was decontaminated, and the staff was quarantined for twelve hours. By then, tests […]

A living story, tattooed on flesh

From The New York Times Magazine‘s “Skin Literature“: Most artists spend their careers trying to create something that will live forever. But the writer Shelley Jackson is creating a work of literature that is intentionally and indisputably mortal. Jackson is publishing her latest short story by recruiting 2,095 people, each of whom will have one […]

Interesting way to acquire someone’s signature

From Simson Garfinkel’s “Absolute Identification“, chapter 3 of Database Nation: Already, the United Parcel Service, the nation’s largest package delivery service, is also the nation’s leader in biometric piracy. For most packages, UPS requires that a signature be written to serve as proof of delivery. In 1987, UPS started scanning the pen-and-ink signatures recorded for […]

A wonderful postmodern joke

A postmodern joke from Disinfotainment: How many deconstructionists does it take to screw in a light bulb? Even the framing of this question makes a grid of patriarchal assumptions that reveals a slavish devotion to phallocentric ideas – such as, technical accomplishment has inherent value, knowledge can be attained and quantities of labor can be […]

Symbolic sight

From "The Habit of Democracy" by Adam Gopnik in the 15 October 2001 issue of The New Yorker, a review of two books about Alexis de Tocqueville: Newcomers, like newborns, have symbolic sight. They see faces first, and features later. 

French policians and French writers

From "The Habit of Democracy" by Adam Gopnik in the 15 October 2001 issue of The New Yorker, a review of two books about Alexis de Tocqueville: [Tocqueville] decided to devote himself to politics in France, and, like all French literary men, made a mess of it. (French writers are emporers of conceits; French politicians […]

Amongst family and friends

From "The Producer" in the 15 October 2001 issue of The New Yorker, an article about the Hollywood producer Brian Grazer: His creation achieved its brilliant apotheosis a few years ago, when he reconceived Brian Grazer as a form of performance art. He started putting photographs of himself, grinning like a pixie, in dime-store frames […]

He stopped in time

Joe Freeman & I were at a party at Jans & Sarah’s. He announced to me that his company had just decided on a new name: Iron Jelly. "Why that name?" I asked. Joe explained, "Well, I was looking through a list of words, and I went down the list until I saw two next […]