Monday Miscellaneous

I guess we’re living in a surveillance state after all. FBI demands Lavabit‘s SSL encryption key.

The U.S. government in July obtained a search warrant demanding that Edward Snowden’s e-mail provider, Lavabit, turn over the private SSL keys that protected all web traffic to the site, according to to newly unsealed documents.

The July 16 order came after Texas-based Lavabit refused to circumvent its own security systems to comply with earlier orders intended to monitor a particular Lavabit user’s metadata, defined as “information about each communication sent or received by the account, including the date and time of the communication, the method of communication, and the source and destination of the communication.”

Why are there so few women in science? A lovely essay written by Eileen Pollack.

Presented with identical summaries of the accomplishments of two imaginary applicants, professors at six major research institutions were significantly more willing to offer the man a job. If they did hire the woman, they set her salary, on average, nearly $4,000 lower than the man’s. Surprisingly, female scientists were as biased as their male counterparts.

It’s apparently not difficult to get a concealed gun permit in Utah, even when you don’t live there.

My achievement doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons. One, I don’t live in Utah. I’m a resident of Washington, DC, a city that holds concealed handguns in roughly the same esteem as working escalators. I’ve never shot a gun. And in distinctly un-Utahn fashion, I’m nursing a hangover. Fortunately, none of that matters here. After four hours at Dukes Defense, I have a completed application and a snazzy graduation certificate for my wall. Sixty days after my application is processed, I’ll be able to carry a concealed weapon in no fewer than 32 states. It’s great for road trips.

Fox News and Republicans celebrate the fact that the EPA shuts down during government shutdowns.

A full 94 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 16,204 have been furloughed for the duration of the government shutdown, impeding the agency’s ability to regulate pollution, monitor air and water quality and clean up Superfund sites. It could also, as the Guardian reports, prevent them from enforcing those new CO2 standards for coal-fired power plants.

Some aren’t too torn up about that possibility. Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn, for example, tweeted the following:

There is some good news out of the shutdown, the EPA can’t issue new regulations.

— Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) October 1, 2013

Personally, I think we should have expected the government shutdown, because seriously Republicans would just rather not govern.

Fox’s John Stossel:

“I’m hoping the shutdown will wake people up and say, hey, maybe we don’t need all this stuff,” [Strossel] said. “We could close whole departments. Why do we need a Commerce Department? Commerce just happens, government gets in the way.”


“So, you’re pro-shutdown?” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked.

“Yeah,” Stossel replied. “Shut more down!”

Zimmerman’s wife doubts his innocence.

Shellie Zimmerman appeared on the NBC program with her attorney and discussed the trial, her divorce and a Sept. 9 domestic dispute.

She said she never saw a gun during the incident, although she said she felt threatened when her husband gestured toward a holster on his hip and repeatedly told her to “step closer.”

“I saw him in a stance and a look in his eyes that I’ve never seen before,” Shellie Zimmerman said.

Shellie Zimmerman said she did not press charges because she said police told her she and her husband would each go to jail but she would likely stay there after pleading guilty to perjury related to George Zimmerman’s murder case.

[Emphasis mine]

There’s a new Hyperbole and a Half! [1]

And your miscellaneous photo of the week: Giant chart of beer.


[1] Incidentally, the same effect may comes into play when people drink.

Overall, 38% of the experiments found expectancy effects. All 3 of the social influence studies found that expectancy set increased susceptibility to social influence, whereas none of the aggression studies found effects for expectancy set. Studies on creativity, mood/emotion, sexual aggression, sexuality, and miscellaneous topics yielded mixed findings and there were too few within each topic to consider further. Three topics, cognitive/motor performance, decision making/risk taking, and stress/anxiety, included at least 10 studies and were examined at more depth.

Or, in English, people tend to become more susceptible to peer influence when drunk because of subconscious factors and not because of the alcohol itself. [Return]

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Here’s a radical idea

If the government shuts down, all members of Congress are immediately up for recall.

Edited to add:

Apparently Australia did something similar in 1975?

After the 1975 shutdown, Sir John Kerr, Queen Elizabeth II’s official representative in Australia, dismissed and replaced then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. A new bill that authorized funding for the government was passed almost immediately. Then, Kerr proceeded to dismiss the entire Australian Parliament.

Though at the time the methods were deemed unorthodox, history has proven them successful. Case in point: Australia has not had another government shutdown since.

Edited to add:

At least the search for Dr. Jo Elliott-Blakeslee is continuing.

The Craters of the Moon National Monument was granted an exemption that will allow 10 of its staff to continue the search for Dr. Jo Elliott-Blakeslee, 63, who went missing in the park Sept. 19.

Originally, only three employees were told they could remain at work to take care of necessary functions during a government-ordered furlough. However, exemptions were granted because the monument was conducting an emergency search, Plan Section Chief John Apel said Wednesday.

Ten employees volunteered to continue working through their furlough, and were cleared by the government to continue the search.

Because of the furlough, none of the park staff members are being paid for their work. Apel said that Congress may later vote to issue back pay, but there are no guarantees.

I’m still beyond words to how much I hate hate hate the fact that one political party could unilaterally shut down the government like this.

Also: Thank you, Jon Stewart, for saying what I can’t.

Last night, Jon Stewart laid into House Republicans for celebrating the government shutdown as not really being a big deal, since they’re not personally feeling the negative effects of it.

Edited to add:

And now the capital is in lockdown.

….that was kind of expected, actually.

Capitol police said Thursday that shots were reported fired outside the Capitol and all staffers were warned to stay inside and away from doors.

“If you are in an office building, shelter in place,” an audio message broadcast to Capitol offices said, also warning those on the grounds outside to seek cover.

And more:

“A vehicle struck a bollard at 15th and Pennsylvania,” near a checkpoint that allows access to the south side of White House complex, a law enforcement source told POLITICO. “It continued driving down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Captiol and was pulled over at 2nd and Constitution.”

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