Jake Tapper Lectures Donald Trump Over His Irresponsibility

Worth watching the whole thing.

Blaming Users for Stupid Security Schemes

CNN’s Scott Andrew wrote a story advising people to not share old photos on Facebook.

In an act of social media solidarity with high school seniors who are finishing out their final semester at home, Facebook users are sharing their own senior photos with the hashtag #ClassOf2020.

It’s a sweet sentiment, sure, but beware: Your post could help potential hackers crack into your private accounts, according to the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit that tracks, among other things, internet scams.

Malevolent scammers can scan sites for this hashtag and find the name of your high school and your graduating year — two common online security questions. And if your social media account isn’t locked up, they can find out a lot more about you.

So before you share, the bureau suggests you tighten your security settings so strangers can’t find your information as easily and regularly change the security questions you use to access online banking and other services.

This gets the issue completely backwards.

The problem is not that people share photos of senior photos online. That is a completely normal, human thing to do. For many of us, our senior photos have been online for years due to other people uploading scans of our yearbooks.

No, the problem here–and the one that really deserves more coverage–is that banks and other businesses continue to insist on using security questions to protect accounts in 2020.

There is zero security in security questions, and it should be a scandal that so many institutions still force customers to use them.

CNN–Clickbait Network News

Twitter user Peter Hague recently noticed a fairly typical example of how CNN has become little more than a clickbait site at times, with almost no quality control in the articles it publishes.

The article in question concerns a tweet that Elon Musk sent about an asteroid that will make a near-Earth approach in 2029.

The CNN headline blasts Musk for hyping a non-existent threat,

Despite Elon Musk’s alarmist tweet about an asteroid hitting Earth, NASA says there is no known threat

Ugh. Elon’s at it again talking crazy. So what did Musk say? According to the first three paragraphs, Musk apparently tweeted that an asteroid is going to hit the Earth even though NASA disagrees,

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, tweeted that a “big rock” is going to hit Earth, and that we “currently have no defense.”

But NASA, seems to disagree.

Musk’s tweet was a response to another by comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan, who shared an article reporting that NASA has begun preparations for the 1,100-foot-wide asteroid Apophis, which is scheduled to pass by Earth on April 13, 2029. Apophis named after an Egyptian god of death.

Jesus, Elon, stop scaring people into thinking Apophis is going to hit the planet. Lets go to Twitter and reply to his tweet to that effect.


So Joe Rogan made a tweet about Apophis, and Elon Musk retweeted him in order to add that this particular asteroid poses little threat to the Earth but that “a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defense.”

Don’t worry, though, CNN’s Leah Asmelash isn’t going to let the facts get in her way.

Musk didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “big rock,” so it’s hard to know what he was actually referring to.

NASA’s website, though, clearly says, “No known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact with Earth over the next 100 years.”

Apparently Asmelash’s editors are fine with her rewriting “eventually” into “within the next 100 years by a currently known asteroid.” As the NASA website that she links to notes (but she omits), there are known asteroids that do have a significant risk of hitting the earth in the next 200 years (and by significant, we’re talking about less than .2 percent). And, of course, there are asteroids that we do not know about.

Large objects have hit the planet during the time that homo sapiens have existed, including the Arizona Meteor Crater which was created 50,000 years ago by a meteor estimated to be 60 meters in diameter. According to NASA estimates, that impact released the equivalent of 15 million tons of TNT–equivalent to a small hydrogen bomb (most US nuclear weapons, in contrast, have only about 500 kiloton yields).

Similarly, Asmelash hits out at Musk’s claim that we have no defenses, but the best she can muster is,

“While no known asteroid larger than 140 meters in size has a significant chance of hitting Earth for the next 100 years, NASA and its partners are studying several different methodologies for deflecting a hazardous asteroid,” he said.

Basically, even if an asteroid were hurtling toward Earth, scientists believe they will have the technology to deflect it off course and prevent collision.

Rather than try to illuminate or educate about the potential risks from asteroids and the costs/difficulties in actually doing anything about it, Asmelah apparently saw a chance to write a clickbait story about an “alarmist tweet” that exists entirely in her own story’s mischaracterization of it.

Shame on CNN for this sort of nonsense.

CNN Survey of European Attitudes Toward Jews

These are disturbing statistics,

Anti-Semitic stereotypes are alive and well in Europe, while the memory of the Holocaust is starting to fade, a sweeping new survey by CNN reveals. More than a quarter of Europeans polled believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Nearly one in four said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world.

One in five said they have too much influence in the media and the same number believe they have too much influence in politics.

Fire Nancy Grace

Nancy Grace should have been fired a long time ago. Of course if they fired everyone worth of such distinction at CNN, who would be left to put on camera?

Chez Pazienza: An Open Letter to CNN Regarding Nancy Grace (Huffington Post):

Is that simple and unambiguous enough for you to get through your heads the gravity of the situation that the world’s most irresponsible cable news presence has put your network in? Is it finally sinking in just how reckless, unhinged and flat-out dangerous Grace is — and what an embarrassment she is to the CNN brand I have to assume you value — now that she’s used your airwaves to make the ludicrously inflammatory claim that Whitney Houston may have been murdered, without a shred of actual proof? Did you cringe when one of your level-headed anchors, Don Lemon, was forced to follow up her ridiculous, histrionic accusation with a disclaimer distancing CNN from the opportunistic ravings of one of its own? Are you maybe, now, after all this time, beginning to realize the level of shame that Grace has heaped at your doorstep for the past seven years — seven years in which you’ve inexplicably given her free rein to bullhorn whatever wild theories or self-serving but ultimately defamatory blather have popped into her overactive mind?

You can’t let this continue. Enough is enough.

I’ll say it again: You have got to fire Nancy Grace — and you have got to do it now.

Netflix and Time Warner Sued Over Lack of Closed Captioning

The National Association of the Deaf recently filed a lawsuit against Netflix and Time Warner for failing to provide closed captions on their online video offerings. According to the lawsuit, less than 5 percent of videos offered over Netflix streaming contain closed captions. The Time Warner lawsuit targets the lack of closed captioning on CNN’s online videos.

The odd thing is that Netflix has in the past blamed technological difficulties for the lack of captioning. According to Reuters,

In 2009, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt reported on the company blog that technological difficulties were hindering its attempt to add captions to streaming video. The advocacy group argued that captioning is technically possible, pointing to titles already captioned.

That is apparently a reference to this blog post in which Hunt wrote,

Encoding a separate stream for each title is not an option – it takes us about 500 processor-months to make one encode through the entire library, and for this we would have to re-encode four different formats. Duplicating the encoded streams is prohibitive in space too.

So we are working on optionally delivering the SAMI file (Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange), or similar, to the client, and having it render the text and then overlay it on the video at playback time. Unfortunately, the tools for rendering SAMI files in Silverlight, or in CE (Consumer Electronics) devices, are weak or non-existent, and there is some technology development required.

I would expect to deliver subtitles or captions to Silverlight clients sometime in 2010, and roll the same technology out to each CE device as we are able to migrate the technology, and work with the CE manufacturer to deliver firmware updates for each player.

That is absurd. By that I don’t meant that it isn’t correct — Microsoft Silverlight was always full of fail and Netflix committed to moving toward HTML5 back in 2010. Rather it is the frequency with which the technological objection is raised in issues like this.

Accessibility is an issue that should be easily addressable by contemporary technologies in a way that wasn’t possible in the past (or at least much more cheaply and seamlessly than in the past). Instead software companies keep churning out products that actually take us several step backwards and often make it much harder to implement accessibility.

If I walked into someone’s office and pitched a new Internet-based collaboration tool that was the bee’s knees except for the fact that it wouldn’t allow people in one state to collaborate with employees in another state, I’d be laughed out of the room. But walk in with a system that works great except that it is completely unusable by blind or deaf people and nobody seems to give a shit.

We need to do a better job of holding developers’ feet to the fire on this one. Having a system that can’t accommodate blind or deaf people isn’t only a legal and moral issue, but its also a failure of imagination on the part of those developing these technologies. Really, you want me to spend thousands to millions of dollars on these systems and you’re not skilled enough to make them accessible to the blind and deaf? Not impressed.