ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, September 16

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

London’s terror level raised to critical after “bucket bomb” in Tube. Sixth terror incident in UK in a year (BBC)

The “critical” designation means more attacks are expected very soon.

29 were injured in this attack, though the number could have been much higher if the bomb had worked as planned.

The bomber escaped and is presumably being hidden by his terror-support group.

Comment: As ZipDialog has said repeatedly, the problem goes far beyond policing and surveillance, essential as those are.

The New York Times does not lead with the London Bombing story.

Instead, it leads with British criticism of a Trump tweet that said the bombers were “in the sights of Scotland Yard” (New York Times)

Comment: Really??? The Times thinks the tweet is more important than the bombing.

Has their hatred of Trump caused them to lose their news judgment altogether? That’s a rhetorical question. They supply the answer daily.

 Professor at NYC’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Antifa leader tweets “I think it’s a privilege to teach future dead cops” (Fox News)

After the tweet and Isaacson’s continued defense of it became public, the university placed him on “administrative leave.” (Daily Caller)

Comment: Perhaps he can become a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

Yep, the cybersecurity chief at Equifax was a music major without computer science background or credentials. Susan Mauldin has just “retired” (MarketWatch)

This is real, not a joke (except on us, whose info was stolen).

Comment: As they would say in New Jersey, “I gottcha MFA right here.”



For Equifax’s Chief Security Officer, how much expertise in computer science and data analysis would you expect?

If your answer was ZERO, then you are correct!!

At first, I thought this LinkedIn profile for Susan Mauldin, Equifax’s chief security officer, was a joke.

It’s not.

The joke is on us.


Do you think the Chief Information Officer has a stronger background?

Nope. BA in Russian, an MBA, and then some work in a bank.

Here’s the report from CNN:

In response to a CNNMoney inquiry, the company said Susan Mauldin is retiring as chief security officer and Dave Webb is retiring as chief information officer.

A LinkedIn profile for Susan M. says she’s served in the CSO role since 2013. She previously worked at First Data Corporation, Sun Trust Banks and HP. She studied music in college and earned her MFA from the University of Georgia.

Webb joined Equifax in 2010, according to his company bio. He previously served as chief operations officer at Silicon Valley Bank and as a vice president at Goldman Sachs. Before earning his MBA, Webb earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian from the University of London.

Comment: Equifax, you got some ‘splainin’ to do. 

ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, September 11

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ Remembering those who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Those in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, the airplanes, and the selfless first responders.

As the prayer says, “May their memory be for a blessing.”

Florida’s massive cleanup begins

Miami Airport closed Monday because of “significant water damage.” Fears for Florida Keys and southwest FL

Updated coverage in Miami Herald

Gangs loot in Ft Lauderdale. Smash windows, grab boxes of shoes and clothes from stores (NBC Miami)

Comment: They will claim to be victims, not the perps, in 3, 2, 1 . . .

Btw, Houston and south Texas maintained law and order after their disaster. Let’s hope other cities in Florida can, too.

Speaking of crime, the creator of McGruff, the Crime-Fighting Dog, dies. Jack Keil was 94. (New York Times)

Comment: He was 650 in dog years.

 Yawn: Hillary criticizes Donald as she rolls out her book. Upset about identity politics . . . when used by others.

That’s a shocker. She says Trump “used race to win the election” (Washington Post)

She adds that his inaugural speech was a white-nationalist cry from the gut.

Comment: Mrs. Clinton is shocked, shocked to discover identity politics is being practiced in America.

She plans to search high and low to find the political party that relies on it and on divisive ethnic- and racial-mobilization.

We wish her the best of luck.

China pushing for lots more electric cars. Global manufacturers rush in, despite risks (New York Times)

Comment: The main risk is to intellectual property.

To gain access to their market, the Chinese demand outsiders give away their proprietary technology to local firms.

First, robot vacuum cleaners. Now, lawnmowers.

The best ones, by Husqvarna, currently run $2,000 to $3,500. They rely on GPS and advanced electronics, mow 1.25 acres, and have anti-theft devices. (Link to story here)

Comment: As with all electronics, expect the prices to drop steadily.

Once manufactures produce really heavy-duty machines, the robots should save enormous $$$ maintaining highways and parks.

Expect autonomous snow-plows and more over the next few years.

Equifax: Still neck-deep in trouble after the hack. Their site to see if you have been hacked is returning random results (Slashdot TechCrunch)


Hat Tip to

Michael Lipson for the Equifax story

◆ Ed Vidal for Ft. Lauderdale

ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, September 8

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ We are enduring the hardest test of our lifetime for national-disaster response efforts.

Huge Hurricanes Back-to-Back and a Third Looming

The number of elderly in South Florida only compounds the potential tragedy.

Comment: So far, I have been impressed by 

  • The high quality of weather forecasts, often 4-5 days out
  • The learning by federal, state, and local authorities after Katrina
  • The much-greater competence of authorities in Texas than in Louisiana, in Houston than in NOLA, and in FEMA today than under Bush. (Granted, being more competent than NOLA officials is a very low bar.)
  • The exceptional contributions by volunteers in Texas. Here’s hoping for the same in Florida.
  • The absence of looting and other predation after Harvey. (Again, a welcome improvement over Katrina.)

Here’s hoping the worst weather forecasts don’t come true for Florida, the response is as effective as in Texas, and that the long-term recovery effort lets people rebuild their lives.

The hack of Equifax computers records is the most massive to date

It exposes sensitive personal data on 44% of the US population.

To compound the injury, several executives seem to have sold the company’s stock before the hack was publicly disclosed.

ZipDialog has a separate post on the mess (link here)

 Rules for dealing with  alleged sexual assault on campus to be rewritten by Department of Education 

The New York Times gets the basic story right (link here):

Saying that the Obama administration’s approach to policing campus sexual assault had “failed too many students,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said on Thursday that her administration would rewrite the rules in an effort to protect both the victims of sexual assault and the accused.

Ms. DeVos did not say what changes she had in mind. But in a strongly worded speech, she made clear she believed that in an effort to protect victims, the previous administration had gone too far and forced colleges to adopt procedures that sometimes deprived accused students of their rights. –New York Times

Comment: The problem is their headline: “Betsy DeVos Says She Will Rewrite Rules on Campus Sex Assault”

She plans to rewrite the rules on allegations of campus sex assault.

The key word is “allegation.” That word is missing from the NYT headline.

The victims deserve thorough, fair investigations, with appropriately harsh penalties for sexual harassment and coercion when those have been proven. At the same time, the accused deserve through, fair investigations and a chance to present their side. The whole point of due process is to sort through the allegations.

◆ FIRE, the leading supporter of free speech on campus, uses this headline:

Education Department says it will finally confront its role in campus due process crisis (FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)

◆ Competition in Artificial Intelligence: IBM invests $240 million in AI Research Lab with MIT (Forbes)

Forbes reports IBM is struggling in the area, competing against Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.

The lab will focus on areas like training AI algorithms that don’t require extensive supervision and exhaustive manual labeling of data. Right now, many deep learning systems require people to go through and label each piece of data — like, say, that’s a car in the image.

In hardware, the lab hopes to move beyond what’s popular in AI today — namely, graphics processors usually made by Nvidia — and start experimenting with processors that don’t rely on traditional chip designs, such as quantum computing, an area IBM has already been pursuing. –Forbes

Comment: This is another example of how US leadership in basic research in the physical and biological sciences pays off for the larger US economy. A glance at Kendall Square (next to MIT) and Silicon Valley’s close connection to Stanford reinforce this critical point.

While the Humanities sink into political advocacy, second-rate ideology, and irrelevance to most serious students, the sciences and empirical social sciences continue to advance.

The Debbie Wasserman Schultz scandal continues to unfold (Daily Caller)

The scandal centers on IT professional, Imran Awan, who (with family members) handled computers and software for lots of Democratic House members, led by DWS.

Awan was arrested trying to flee to his native Pakistan with significant cash. Federal prosecutors have brought some charges against him and expect to bring more.

Awan’s wife has already fled to Pakistan.

Because the family handled sensitive computer work for many Congressmen, they had access to all their computer files.

Most D’s fired them after the initial investigations turned up serious problems. DWS did not and actually pushed hard against investigators. We still don’t know why.

It is unclear whether sensitive information was stolen and perhaps sent to overseas entities, used for blackmail, etc.



That HUGE Equifax hack….really bad. Also bad: three execs there sold stock before the disclosure

The hack itself was massive, exposing 143 million names and their social security numbers to criminals.

That’s about 45% of the US population.

It is one of the largest and most-damaging computer hacks ever, according to Engadget.

The criminals had access to information that could allow them to create or take over accounts for many of the people impacted since they have names, addresses, birth dates, social security numbers and “in some cases” drivers license numbers. –Engadget

Now, Bloomberg is reporting

Three Equifax Inc. senior executives sold shares worth almost $1.8 million in the days after the company discovered a security breach that may have compromised information on about 143 million U.S. consumers.

Marisa Salcines, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based company, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.–Bloomberg

Comment: Confer Desi Arnaz