The Department of Defense is freaked out that the commercially-manufactured microchips in their tech might contain "kill switches" that bad people could use to remotely knock the devices out of operation. So at the end of last year, DARPA launched its Trust In Integrated Circuits program to develop methods for sussing out chips with "malicious" circuitry hidden inside. IEEE Spectrum writer Sally Adee looked at the technicalities of the controversy. She told me, "I think interviewed every electrical engineer in the country so I could wrap my head around 1) why that's a big deal and 2) how it would affect me (I'm selfish that way.) From IEEE Spectrum:
Feeding those (fever) dreams is the Pentagon's realization that it no longer controls who manufactures the components that go into its increasingly complex systems. A single plane like the DOD's next generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, can contain an “insane number” of chips, says one semiconductor expert familiar with that aircraft's design. Estimates from other sources put the total at several hundred to more than a thousand. And tracing a part back to its source is not always straightforward. The dwindling of domestic chip and electronics manufacturing in the United States, combined with the phenomenal growth of suppliers in countries like China, has only deepened the U.S. military's concern.
Recognizing this enormous vulnerability, the DOD recently launched its most ambitious program yet to verify the integrity of the electronics that will underpin future additions to its arsenal. In December, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon's R&D wing, released details about a three-year initiative it calls the Trust in Integrated Circuits program. The findings from the program could give the military–and defense contractors who make sensitive microelectronics like the weapons systems for the Fâ€‘35–a guaranteed method of determining whether their chips have been compromised. In January, the Trust program started its prequalifying rounds by sending to three contractors four identical versions of a chip that contained unspecified malicious circuitry. The teams have until the end of this month to ferret out as many of the devious insertions as they can.
Vetting a chip with a hidden agenda can't be all that tough, right? Wrong. Although commercial chip makers routinely and exhaustively test chips with hundreds of millions of logic gates, they can't afford to inspect everything. So instead they focus on how well the chip performs specific functions. For a microprocessor destined for use in a cellphone, for instance, the chip maker will check to see whether all the phone's various functions work. Any extraneous circuitry that doesn't interfere with the chip's normal functions won't show up in these tests.
“You don't check for the infinite possible things that are not specified,” says electrical engineering professor Ruby Lee, a cryptography expert at Princeton. “You could check the obvious possibilities, but can you test for every unspecified function?”
I came up with the idea of automating call queues for phone banks while trying to organize one for myself, it was a total hassle to find everyone’s phone number on a particular committee, so I built CommitteeCaller last semester. Over the last couple of months I’ve worked with several local causes to develop the idea into a generalized activist tool that is my thesis – Cause Caller. The result is a fully extendable, platform that drives a “live” VoIP application that hopefully takes a lot of the hassle out of phone banking.
Right now Cause Caller is a bit of a blank slate – while I have almost all of America’s federal politicians (Congressional representatives, Senators, etc.) in the database, I am really interested in building state level politicians into it. Causes also need to be added as right now there are only two: the demo cause and SolarOne’s I Heart PV Cause. This is where you can help – if you are or you know any activists looking to organize phone banks, please forward this to them! I’m going to be presenting this project for my thesis at ITP on Friday, May 9th at 12:20pm, so I’ll be incorporating feedback I receive over the next week into the “results” section of my presentation.
Boing Boing readers may remember some static from the State of Oregon about whether their statutes are public or private.
Tim Stanley, the CEO of Justia and myself have had three phone calls with the staff of the Office of the Legislative Counsel, examined their proposed so-called "public" license, and believe we've established that we're going to have to agree to disagree. As such, we've retained counsel and referred the matter to him for the next steps.
Readers may be interested in a recent post by William Patry, author of the 7-volume treatise on copyright, on the subject Oregon goes wacka wacka huna kuna. Despite the technical legal words used in the title, he does a great job explaining the basic concepts.
Paul sez, "A couple of days ago, an "educational" documentary aimed at discouraging music piracy was announced in the Australian press. Today it appears that at least one of the artists was lied to about the intent of the piece. Allegedly, he was told the film was to be about trying to survive as a musician and his statements were spun to present the view that the life of an artist is made more difficult by the downloading of his work. The closing quote is great:
I'm from a punk rock band, it's all about getting your music out any way you can - you don't make money from the record, the record companies make the money from the record. If they can't make money these days because they haven't come onside with the way the world is going, it's their own problem.
Prague's Big Sister internet-enabled brothel has long been high on our list of travel destinations ever since our globetrotting siblings at Gridskipper first bought it to our attention a couple of years ago. (But only from a sociological perspective, you understand, not because we want to boink our way to international notoriety via the dozens of video cameras set up throughout the establishment which broadcast the goings-on to tens of thousands of the site's subscribers.) Short of going to Prague or coughing up a $40 monthly membership to join the website, the best way to see what Big Sister is all about is photographer Hana Jakrlova's Big Sister photodocumentary project...
Link to Fleshbot post (nsfw). Shown here, the, ah, polar bear theme room inside the Big Sister brothel.
We're getting close! Jim, our dedicated Bushleaguer, is in his 23rd hour of playing GTA IV for the world record. It was a long, long night but he's nearing the 24th hour. The good news is he's doing surprisingly well, the bad news (in his words) after all this time he's only slept with one hooker.
Other favorite stats:
25.27% of the game completed
34 missions passed
started 23 fires
killed 10 people with bare hands
shot to death 31 times
265.46 is the longest jump distance
1 kill with a molotov cocktail
$50.00 most spent on a date (and although not a big spender he did score 5 times)
38,188 spent on health care
...and the stat he's particularly proud of? 0 times cheated.
On Monday, I referenced this famous Diane Arbus photograph of Eddie Carmel, "The Jewish Giant." BB reader Christopher Washer pointed me to a terrific Sound Portraits profile of Carmel, who died in 1972. The documentary was produced by Jenny Carchman, who first saw the Arbus photo as a little girl and couldn't get it out of her mind. From the description of the program, titled "The Jewish Giant":
The Jewish Giant began with Jenny's search to uncover a story that has remained a secret for 25 years. Eddie was normal sized until he became a teenager, when he began to grow uncontrollably (he suffered from acromegaly, a then-incurable condition resulting from a tumor that had developed on his pituitary gland). According to The Guiness Book of World Records, Eddie grew to be 8'9". As an adult, the only work he could find involved exploiting his freakishness. He starred in B-grade monster movies (The Brain that Wouldn't Die), made two 45 records ("The Happy Giant" and "The Good Monster") and was billed in the Ringling Brothers Circus at Madison Square Garden as "The Tallest Man on Earth." Eddie died in 1972 at the age of 36 in Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. His coffin was custom made.
The Jewish Giant is a story of suffering, of not fitting in, of the body betraying itself, and of the bizarre life-twists that can subsume a family. It's a story about what it's like to be a regular person looking at the world from inside a not-so-regular body.
After a video of the Ladies of Liberty City began circulating around, in which men drive around, pick up sex workers and/or drive over them, shoot prostitutes standing on street corners, and get some freaky-ass, legs-in-the-air, booty-shaking lap dances, everyone got all up in arms over it.
The girls at Feministing weren't having it: "It is no question that GTA is merely reflective of the bigger misogyny embedded in capitalist patriarchy, but the question is why is a game that depicts such violence towards women so popular?" (Jesus Christ, if this is what degrees in gender studies hath wrought, polysyllabic bloggers still carping about the patriarchy, please fucking stop handing them out.)
Jack Thompson nearly had a heart attack over it. (To wit: "Grand Theft Auto IV is the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio. We now have vaccines for that virus... The 'vaccine' that must be administered by the United States government to deal with this virtual virus of violence and sexual depravity is criminal prosecutions of those who have conspired to do this.")
A Ghost Bike is a white-painted bike that is placed at a location where a cyclist has been hit. According to an old post on bello velo, this photo depicts the first Ghost Bike, memorializing an accident on Holly Hills Boulevard in St. Louis, Missouri. It was created by Patrick Van Der Tuin who saw a cyclist hit by a car. A few days later, he and his friends locked several bikes at locations where he knew cars had collided with cyclists. Since then, the meme has spread nationwide. GhostBike.org is a clearinghouse of Ghost Bike installations and photos of the sites. Link to GhostBike.org, Link to bello velo (via CT2)
My friend John Alderman snapped this photo of an umbrella burial ground just outside of Tokyo's Ikebukero train station. After a huge storm, the wind deposited the mangled mass of cheap umbrellas into a pile. Link