In case you were wondering, that poster on the wall in the background at the end of this season's premier when Levitt was talking to Houston was an 1899 production by Strobridge Lithographic featuring the minor magician Zan Zig:
In case you were wondering, that poster on the wall in the background at the end of this season's premier when Levitt was talking to Houston was an 1899 production by Strobridge Lithographic featuring the minor magician Zan Zig:
I believe I first heard the advent hymn a solis ortus cardine in the 80s, when I was living just up the road from the Benedictine Abbey of S. Martin in Ligugé, France. The monks there were known for their chants, so I picked up their Chefs-d'oeuvre Grégoriens (on cassette tapes back then). It served well as a soundtrack for my quasi-total immersion in the middle ages.
Here's what Wikipedia offers about the song:
A solis ortus cardine … is a Latin poem by Coelius Sedulius (died circa 450), narrating Christ's life from His birth to His resurrection. Its 23 verses each begin with a consecutive letter of the alphabet, making the poem an Abecedarius…
The first seven verses, with a doxology verse by a different writer, were used from the early Middle Ages onwards as a Christmas hymn. They write of the striking contrast between the grandeur and omnipotence of the Word of God (the second person in the Holy Trinity) and the vulnerable humanity of the child in whom the Word became flesh.
Although I have a sentimental attachment to the version by the Choeur des Moines at L'Abbaye de Ligugé, I think this video by the Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis in Transylvania presents the lovely melody at its best:
A solis ortus cardine
ad usque terrae limitem
Christum canamus principem,
natum Maria Virgine.
Beatus auctor saeculi
servile corpus induit,
ut carne carnem liberans
ne perderet quos condidit.
Caste parentis viscera
caelestis intrat gratia;
venter puellae baiulat
secreta quae non noverat.
Domus pudici pectoris
templum repente fit Dei;
intacta nesciens virum
verbo concepit Filium.
Enixa est puerpera
quem Gabriel praedixerat,
quem matris alvo gestiens
clausus Ioannes senserat.
Feno iacere pertulit,
praesepe non abhorruit,
parvoque lacte pastus est
per quem nec ales esurit.
Gaudet chorus caelestium
et angeli canunt Deum,
palamque fit pastoribus
Pastor, Creator omnium.
Gloria tibi, Domine
Qui natus est de virgine
cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula.
Why bother with artificial intelligence when we're still pretty incompetent with natural intelligence? And yet the fact that a venture is ill advised has never stopped us before.
We aspire to control others without being able to control ourselves.
We judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves.
We take more readily than we give.
Let's talk for a moment about our brain. No, not "our brain" as in us, the crosier of Popehat. (Some blogs have a staff; we have a crosier.) I mean "our brain" as in us, the species homo sapiens somewhat laughably sapiens.
What I want to say is this: we're certainly not going to let the fact that we're baffled by our real brains impede us from trying to build fake ones, right? Perhaps aiming for artifice in matters brainial will help us grasp things actually intracranial.
Of course, if we really knew how to exercise the natural contents of our collective brainboxen, then faced with the prospect of artificial intelligence, we'd all be running around screaming, "No! Stop! Skynet! Nexus!" (Of course, some of us would be doing it with the intonations of Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka, but hey.) We'd all recognize that if we can so easily rationalize our own hypocrisy, then even if we had an anthrobotic system that was tweaked to honor the n laws of robotics, someone somewhere would hack hypocrisy and rationalization right into it. Next stop, SHODAN.
Anyhow, we are blissfully oblivious to risks. And thanks to functional MRI and kindred advances in technology, such as electron microscopy and laser-scanning light microscopy, we (as a species) now stand at the threshold of understanding the brain's architecture and adaptability. We have begun to recognize that "neural circuits tell activity how to propagate, and neural activity tells circuits how to change". It's a great time to be alive, if only for the advent of much better sci-fi.
So what would a computer program based on the way our brains actually work be like? Not one inspired by cheesy 1980s intuitions about fuzzy logic, but a rigorous adaptation of principles actually embedded in our wetware?
Happily, thanks to Jeff Hawkins (the dude who founded Palm and Handspring) we can now begin to understand the answer to that question.
The lawn is still green, but it hasn't been growing swiftly the way it does during summer. It is green but covered with leaves, brown, purple, and yellow, that lie quietly unless crackled by walkers through.
I should clear them away before the first snowfall. It's not that I mind the leaves, nor fear the disdain of those who care more about leaves and green than I. It's just that when our dog runs through the snow this winter, it'll be better for her without duff beneath.
I have a leaf blower– a nice one. Powerful and noisy. But I don't think I'll use it today. Instead, the rake. Its wooden handle clashes with its green plastic tines, as it seems to know since it continually comes unscrewed as if trying to escape. But, twisting it tight and holding it firmly like a scythe, I make my way to the top of the yard on one side and sweep, sweep, step, sweep, sweep the leaves toward the ravine. Sweep, sweep. Stop and twist the handle. Sweep, sweep, step. Shake away the leaves clumped among the tines.
As I uncover the green, my thoughts detach from the now automatic action of the rake. Raking life. A leaf falls, dead, and it's a part of the whole system. Implicated in that cycle, I sweep that leaf and its kindred back toward the trees from which they fell. The ravine is a source of life, the creek below, and the trees reach ever upward, story after story. Always more leaves, and always more life, though not always the same trees and never the same leaves. Sweep, sweep. Twist.
In summer, the cut grass smells of life, which is nearly the only reason I mow it. So do the crisp and crinkled leaves on a cool bright autumn day. I like being here without the power and without the noise, alive in the action of raking away the waste and making way for the snow dog and for spring. I like life. I want more life. Life all around. Life on the house.
We could use some extra, yes? Another round with friends.
As you throw yourself into the seasonal
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"Not that there's anything wǎng (往) with that…."
There's no denying it: Chinese is a language full of homophones. And this profusion of words that sound alike but have different meanings can be confusing. But fear not! In the previous post in this series, I offered some reassurance: Mandarin grammar is easy. In that same spirit of optimism and oversimplification, I will now explain why the daunting abundance of homophones is a price well worth paying given what it buys: a simple system of pronuncation.
My main goal is to explain Mandarin pronunciation informally, so I will avoid linguistic terminology and fine distinctions. Words such as "alveolar", "plosive", "labio-dental", and "velar" occur only in this sentence, so you're past them now. (ht2mp) My subsidiary goal is to harvest corrections, so bring 'em on!
There have been many systems for transcribing Chinese sounds into languages that use the Latin alphabet, but there's no question that the dominant, standard system today is Pinyin. Googling "pinyin chart" in your preferred search engine will yield many examples of the conventional Pinyin table, which is a 2-dimensional grid of syllables. My favorite software for associating these syllables with sounds is the downloadable Pinyin Chart from ChinesePod.com.
For pedagogical reasons, I have rearranged the Pinyin table and annotated it. Here's my cheat sheet as a PDF. And here it is as a JPG:
I'll refer to it a few times below.
Continue Reading »
Continue Reading »
Addicted to good music?
Do yourself and/or a loved one the favor. Seriously.
"It was my understanding that there would be no Mandarin."
If you find yourself thinking this, gentle Popehat reader, well… 不对! For I am a language nerd, and recently I've been nerding out on Modern Standard Chinese (as the PC crowd call it) because I wanted to climb the mysterious, misty peaks of the Northern Song, and do that non-suicidal magical fog dive thing from the end of Crouching Tiger, and lose myself for a time in the coursing waters of the Yangtze River. I wanted difficulty. I wanted to say 'friend' and still not enter.
Well, if you've heard that Mandarin is nearly impossibly difficult for the Unitedstatesian mouth and ear and eye, then I'm here to tell you that everything you've heard is a lie. That's right– a lie. It's lies all the way down. An infinite regress of anti-truth. Mandarin, it turns out, is easy!
To be a bit more accurate: the grammar is astonishingly simple (all things considered), and the pronunciation patterns are a middling challenge, but the writing system is stultifyingly hard. Nate Silver tells me that when you average these, you get "easy".
I'm operating on the theory that some of you also may be ponderin' the Pǔtōnghuà, or that some of you may have kids in Mandarin immersion and may want to keep up with them, or that some of you, way beyond a rank beginner such as I, may be willing to share your more advanced tips and insights. On that theory, I want to let you know some of what I've learned so far.
In particular, I want to give (0) this introduction emphasizing that the grammar is well within reach, (1) a newbie's guide to the pronunciation of Mandarin, (2) a quick and dirty intro to how the characters work and how to learn them, and (3) an overview of some of the better online resources at Youtube and elsewhere. My goal is not to gather and dump as much info as possible, but rather to summarize only the essential facts and opinions that make the way easier for a beginner. From there, of course, the road goes ever on and on, and I'm not qualified to navigate that path.
So…. Hankerin' for some hàn zì? Ready to get Zhōngwénny wid it?
The Good News: Grammar
First, let's talk about grammar. If you have dabbled in a romance language, then you know about the conjugation of verbs across persons and numbers, about gendered nouns, and about the agreement of adjectives in gender and number with whatever they describe. If you've indulged in Greek or Latin or German or Russian or any other heavily inflected language, then you also know about the wonders of noun declension across cases. And let's not even get into the nuances of time, aspect, tense progression, and counterfactuality.
There comes a point in the study of these language when the lightbulb goes on and the learner realizes in practice what the trivia books had maintained all along: these are all the same language, and so they all work the same way. Well, more or less. Yes, each has its vocabulary and its idioms and its subset of linguistic functionality, but at heart, they're all descendents of the same ancestor of Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit.
In the wake of this enlightenment, one feels the call of the wild. The allure of linguistic isolates, such as Basque and Korean, and the siren song of untraceable languages, such as Hungarian or Japanese or Finnish, become irresistible.
Then there's Mandarin Chinese: simple, logical, beautiful in grammar; maddeningly complex and subtle in expressive capability. And spoken all over the 'verse!
Mandarin has no articles (a, an, the). It has no gender for nouns. It is almost entirely uninflected: each verb has exactly one form that never changes, and each noun has exactly one form, no matter what role it plays in a sentence. For the most part, the difference between singular and plural is not marked. The basic syntax of a simple sentence, as in English, is subject-verb-object, and qualifying phrases packed before the verb or the object follow a logical sequence. Mandarin has no tenses construed as time (past, present, future, past perfect, present perfect, future perfect, etc.); instead it emphasizes aspect (anticipated, continuous, habitual, progressive, completed, etc.) and marks this with a particle. In short, it's simple.
By way of comparison, think about what you have to learn for each verb in French. Consider aimer (to love):
Past, simple aspect: j'aimai, tu aimas, il/elle/on aima, nous aimâmes, vous aimâtes, ils/elles aimèrent
Past, incomplete aspect: j'aimais, tu aimais, il/elle/on aimait, nous aimions, vous aimiez, ils/elles aimaient
Present: j'aime, tu aimes, il/elle/on aime, nous aimons, vous aimez, ils/elles aiment
Future: j'aimerai, tu aimeras, il/elle/on aimera, nous aimerons, vous aimerez, ils/elles aimeront
Past perfect: j'avais aimé, tu avais aimé, il/elle/on avait aimé, nous avions aimé, vous aviez aimé, ils/elles avaient aimé
Present perfect: j'ai aimé, tu as aimé, il/elle/on a aimé, nous avons aimé, vous avez aimé, ils/elles ont aimé
Future perfect: j'aurai aimé, tu auras aimé, il/elle/on aura aimé, nous aurons aimé, vous aurez aimé, ils/elles auront aimé
A different form of aimer is needed for each person and each number within each time and (for the past) in each aspect. That's the Indo-European way! Now let's consider the Mandarin way:
He, she, or it: tā
To eat food: chī fàn (吃飯)
Here's the verbal system:
Completed: tā chī fàn le (他 吃飯 了)
Ongoing: tā chī fàn (他 吃飯)
Possible: tā huì chī fàn (他 会 吃飯) [Edited for syntax per comment below. -dcb]
Simple. A modal (huì, sometimes roughly equal to "will") to indicate future possibility and a particle (le) to indicate completed aspect. All else depends on context, not form. See how "tā" (he/she/it) doesn't change? And see how "chī fàn" doesn't change? Of course, there are micro-rules about whether to put the particle right after the verb, or after a clause, or at the end of a complex sentence, or in two places. Most of the time, it's easier simply to say when ("tomorrow", "yesterday", "someday") than to bother with aspect particles. But still, how much simpler it is to learn that than to learn the literary tenses of French!
By the way, there's an expression, "chī bǎo le ma" (吃饱了吗), that literally means "Have you eaten your fill?" But it's used as a routine greeting in rural China in much the same way that "Grüß Gott" ("Say 'hi' to God!") is used in the boonies of Bavaria. It has approximately the same flavor as "How's it goin'?"
Anyhow, behold the lack of mutability:
I see you done. You see I done.
I see you. You see I.
I will see you. You will see I.
I see it. It see I. You see it. It see you.
And let's talk about "to be":
English: am, are, is, was, were, shall be, will be, have been, had been, will have been, to be
Mandarin: shì (是)
In any event, Mandarin uses "to be" much less frequently than English does. It depends instead on juxtaposition and intelligence.
So if Chinese grammar does not require bulk memorization (or deduction) of nouns and verbs in their various forms, then what is there to learn besides vocabulary? Well, there are some syntax rules about when to mention the time, place, and method of an action. So, for example, there's a subject-when-where-how-verb pattern: I around five pm at the restaurant with my wife dine. (Not too far from German or Latin, really.) And there are various ways to express durations. And there are many formulaic ways to express the speaker's attitude toward the topic at hand. And there are particles to indicate causal relationships.
There are charmingly logical idiomatic patterns. For example, Mandarin famously has no direct equivalent of "yes" and "no", but instead relies on repeating or negating the verb in question (or providing multiple-choice options!):
Q: "Is that the new model?"
Q: "You have|not-have an iPad Mini?"
Perhaps the most important grammatical feature that distinguishes beginners like me from folks who know what they're doing is Mandarin's abundant use of "classifier" or "measure" words. We have these in English, but they're uncommon. They're words like "blade" in the expression "a blade of grass" or like "pair" in "a pair of pants". No idiomatic speaker of English would ever refer to "a grass" or "a pants". (Note: this is different from collective nouns such as an "exaltation of larks" or a "pride of lions", since larks and lions can be referenced properly on their own.)
Well, Mandarin has a bucketload of these, some referring to things bound like scrolls/books, some referring to anything rectangular and medium-sized, and so forth. A pack, a cup, a box, a piece, a crowd, a pair, a set, a kind — similar to English, these– but also a word for things with handles, for things bound by string, for items of correspondence, for rooms, for articles of clothing, for wheeled things, for stick-like things, and even for large, permanent things! The correct use of them is a big deal.
There are some other grammatical formulations that are easy to learn but different from English. For example, some verbs come automatically with a meaningless default direct object, even if it's not the object you mean. "To eat", for example, is "eat rice" even if you're not eating rice. (See chī fàn above!) "To read" is "read book" unless you specify some other object, and "to sing" is "sing song", and "to run" is "run step". There's also a strong tendency to order things from large to small, from earlier to later, from logically prior to consequent, and so forth. And, most cool, Mandarin includes many four-character sayings that are part of the common culture; the more of these one understands, the better. But more on those in another post.
Despite many small rules, Mandarin is left within reach of us langnerds by its startling lack of many of the big rules that we have come to expect if we've spent time mainly with languages that have them. Throwing them out at no cost is indeed refreshing.
Here's my favorite name for a dead-end street in France. I respect its current and former intellectual humility, and I celebrate its medievalizing wit.
How will you be passing the time as Hurricane Sandy– aka "the Frankenstorm"– passes your way?
We'll be watching 1930s and 1940s movies unless and until the power goes out. Our goal is to make it through at least one flick by each of the actors who have possessed and now torment actor Scott Ratner's mind:
('Like' the vid if you like the vid!) Good thing he became obsessed with talkies instead of silents. But I hear he also does a mean Buster Keaton and a passable Harold Lloyd.
Suppose you're a person of libertarian persuasion. If you live in a swing state, then your vote for neither Obama nor Romney may have a marginal effect on the electoral outcome. If you do not live in a swing state, then your vote for neither major candidate is, at best, a protest. Perhaps it'll give you bragging rights when things inevitably go horribly awry for whoever happens to be in office. Perhaps it'll amplify in some infinitesimal way the visibility of third parties in this two-party nation and thereby nudge our system toward acknowledging their existence in potentially consequential ways (such as inclusion in the debates).
Then again, perhaps your vote for, say, the Libertarian Party, if cast, will be entirely misguided and even detrimental to the small-'l' libertarian cause.
At the Volokh Conspiracy, a crowd we consider kindred spirits, Ilya Somin has previously made the case that a vote for the Libertarian Party is not only a wasted vote, but a vote contrary to the interests of the one and (so far) only mechanism by means of which actual libertarian influence has been exercised to good effect: working within the major parties to move their ideological centers of gravity freedomward:
Libertarians have had some genuine successes over the last 35 years. These include abolition of the draft (heavily influenced by Milton Friedman's ideas), deregulation of large portions of the economy (of which libertarians were the leading intellectual advocates), major reductions in tax rates (facilitated by libertarian economists, libertarian activists, and the legislative efforts of libertarian-leaning Republicans), the increasing popularity of school choice programs, increases in judicial protection for property rights, gun rights, and economic liberties (thanks in large part to advocacy by libertarian legal activists), and heightened respect for privacy and freedom of speech (promoted by libertarians in cooperation with other groups). Libertarian academics and intellectuals have also done much to make libertarian ideas more respectable and less marginal than they were in the 1960s and early 70s.
What all these successes have in common is that they were achieved either by working within the two major parties or by efforts outside the context of party politics altogether. The Libertarian Party didn't play a significant role in any of them.
This line of thinking is part of an ongoing reflection in those parts on whether the Libertarian Party does more harm than good to the general pursuit of its espoused goals.
Most recently, Somin has argued that libertarians ought not to vote for Gary Johnson:
I certainly understand that some libertarians might want to support Johnson simply to express their views, regardless of whether or not it actually helps advance our cause. But I am skeptical that such “expressive voting” is the way to go. …far better to do it through blogging, public debate, research, or just discussing politics with your friends and acquiantances, working to win them over to your point of view. If we choose to vote, however, I think we should vote for the least bad of the candidates that have a realistic chance of winning. The chance that your vote will be decisive is extremely low, but still just barely high enough justify taking the responsibility seriously.
So then…. What do you make of his argument? Does the so-called "protest vote for Johnson" have value? If so, does it have more value than a vote for "the least bad of the candidates that have a realistic chance of winning"? How might we decide? Must a rebuttal of Somin ultimately hang on emotional, subjective, or aesthetic factors?
Maybe that's so.
His last duchess Goya depicted several times, most memorably in an enigmatic painting in which her defiant stance seems to contradict the connotations of her mourning apparel. She points down toward the dust at her feet, where some finger — his? hers? — has inscribed "solo Goya".
Seems like something's going on there. He kept this painting among his possessions from the time of its creation until his death in 1828.
However that may have gone, Leider was surely right about Velázquez, the greatest Spanish painter of the 17th-century, and maybe the greatest of them all — the painter of whom Ruskin supposedly said that everything he does "may be regarded as absolutely right" and to whom Ruskin ascribed "the highest reach of technical perfection yet attained in art."
Why wouldn't Goya want to be Velázquez redux? The earlier artist had lived a charmed life as court painter to Philip IV, under whose auspices he cranked out not only a seemingly endless supply of stock portraiture, but also some of the most psychologically and intellectually compelling images in western art.
It didn't matter what Goya wanted, though. It was not to be. Living through the French Revolution and the Peninsular War, Goya was surrounded by destruction, corruption, incompetence, and folly. Sure, he became court painter — nominally the same position Velázquez had held. But Goya's monarch was an imbecile surrounded by monsters. Recognizing the sad irony of his plight, Goya pulled no punches when it came time to speak truth to power.
In the 1650s, Velázquez had created an unprecedented and beloved portrait of his king's young daughter surrounded by her ladies in waiting and some courtiers on the entertainment staff: Las Meninas, as it has come to be called. There she stands, head turned charmingly to one side, while the universe plays out in orbit around her. Off to the side, the painter himself stands facing us, brush and palette in hand, and applies his wizardry to an enormous canvas– one identical in size to Las Meninas itself, the only painting of such a size in his oeuvre.
In the background, a silvery mirror reflects the King and Queen, implying that they're standing just about where we stand when we behold this picture. Is Velázquez painting a double-portrait of them? Is he painting Las Meninas? The puzzle, typically Baroque, dissolves into play as the small fellow in the corner kicks the resting dog. His foot has made contact, but the dog has not yet responded; we're trapped in hang time between the moment of order and the predictable chaos about to ensue. The painter waves his laden brush and weighs his options.
How could Goya, a deeply gifted critic of his world and times, not want the liberty to play such games, and in such style? Called upon in 1800 to portray the extended family of Charles IV, he creates this:
In a knowing and telling play on the earlier artist's work, Goya presents a travesty of Las Meninas. In place of that gloriously wonderful child, the Infanta Margarita, Goya installs the doltish King's draconian wife, Maria Luisa; the turn of her head is the same, but hardly charming. The ignoble royals mill about unharmoniously, a senseless cluster. The woman who failed to show up for her sitting? Goya includes her anyhow, but turns her head away toward the darkness! The King, all decked out in regalia, medals, lace, and velvet? Nothing but periwig and prattle. That child nestled between the king and his bride? People say he looks a lot like the Prime Minister, Godoy.
In the shadows off to the side, behind an enormous canvas, stands Goya himself, just like Velázquez. He seems to sigh.
Like Beethoven, Goya went stone deaf; he lived another 40 years or so in silence as he watched the world tear itself apart. In his 70s, he holed up in a little two story house near Madrid, pondered his failures of nerve and will and fate, and nursed his unsurprising depression. For his eyes only, he filled the plaster walls of this house with oil paintings– dark, brooding, sinister paintings. Saturn (Time) Devouring His Children. The Fight With Cudgels. The Fates.
Perhaps they speak of a heart unfulfilled, these paintings. Perhaps of a Goya who only ever wanted two things. Goya was able to project virtual worlds of his own design, to paint anything his imagination might offer. Looking back on a life that didn't go as he had planned and considering a broken world teeming with corruption, why did Goya surround himself with vivid, symbolic depictions of that same chaos, that old night?
It's something to ponder. It's something to pity.
The internet is pretty slick. Every attached computer has a unique address sort of like a phone number. (Sometimes, entire sub-networks lurk behind a single address through the miracles of IP and routing and such, just as entire switchboards of phones may lie behind the phone number of a main switchboard, but that's another story.)
Thanks to Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), files can be sent from one address to another with amazing efficiency. The brilliance of TCP's design lies in this: the rate at which stuff is sent automatically throttles up or down in response to network latency as measured by response time!
Let's break it down. TCP is cool because "transmission control" sounds like "mission control" and that sounds like something NASA would have. But TCP is also cool because of how it works. Grossly simplified, it works like this:
Now, here's the trippy science factoid du jour: researchers at Leland Stanford Junior University have discovered that Harvester Ants (including, apparently, the most venemous insect in the world) have been using TCP all along… behind Vint Cerf's and Bob Kahn's backs! Says the press release:
…the rate at which harvester ants – which forage for seeds as individuals – leave the nest to search for food corresponds to food availability.
A forager won't return to the nest until it finds food. If seeds are plentiful, foragers return faster, and more ants leave the nest to forage. If, however, ants begin returning empty handed, the search is slowed, and perhaps called off.
…They also found that the ants followed two other phases of TCP. One phase is known as slow start, which describes how a source sends out a large wave of packets at the beginning of a transmission to gauge bandwidth; similarly, when the harvester ants begin foraging, they send out foragers to scope out food availability before scaling up or down the rate of outgoing foragers.
Another protocol, called time-out, occurs when a data transfer link breaks or is disrupted, and the source stops sending packets. Similarly, when foragers are prevented from returning to the nest for more than 20 minutes, no more foragers leave the nest.
Further research into what these critters might teach us will be undertaken at the newly funded FourmiLab. Meanwhile, I leave you with a meditation on Proverbs 6:6 by e. e. cummings: go(perpe)go from his 1935 manuscript No Thanks (in George James Firmage, ed., E. E. Cummings: Complete Poems, 1904-1962, Revised, NY: Norton, 1994, p. 403 or thereabouts).
About 2 months ago, Cisco pushed to its consumer-grade routers a firmware upgrade that stripped away the ability to log into and configure the routers locally. Instead, consumers thus upgefirmed were treated to a Cloud Connect signup page where they could establish an account that would centralize management of consumers' routers in Cisco's servana.
By the fifth of July, Cisco had backpedaled. "Did we say mandatory? Did we push that firmware? Oopsie. Our bad." They then made it clear that any consumer could opt out and maintain local control of his consumer-grade router by simply following the friendly instructions, which begin "We are sorry to see you downgrading to our Classic software (non-Cloud)…."
Now, via Ars Technica, comes word of the latest fad in centralized management of the people's resources.
…wireless researchers in Germany proposed a way to improve the communications abilities of first responders…: creating an “emergency switch” that lets government employees disable the security mechanisms in the wireless routers people have set up in their own homes. This would allow first responders to use all the routers within range to enhance the capabilities of the mesh networks that allow them to communicate with each other.
…The residents’ wireless traffic would still remain private, in theory…..
This even though bandwidth is already set aside for that purpose.
I, for one, regret that I have but one subnet to allocate for my country. But just to hedge, I'll be printing up a selection of bumper stickers and t-shirts featuring salient slogans:
Anyhow, I'm all for it. First Defenders, after all. And The Children.
What could possibly go wrong?