About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

20 June 2011

Anonymous and Lulzsec Declare war on Corruption

After hacking the sites (and systems) of the CIA, the FBI, various US government departments, various corporations (most notably SONY), Lulzsec, and Anonymous have released a joint call to arms - a Jihad if you will - against corruption. And like many Jihadi movements, many commentators have already labeled it as "cyber-terrorism". Their "press release" is quite impressive, and full of good intentions but some points come to mind.

  • While the announcement itself asks for support for Wikileaks, how the evidence for corruption will be documented is not detailed. One of the standout features for Wikileaks is its impressive documentation, anonymisation and verification process. Simply releasing information is not enough, which leads to ...

  • How will the supposed corruption evidence be proven. It is one thing to break into a "secure" network, and even to retrieve data. But the legitimacy of the data needs to be proven - sufficiently that it will be difficult to label as a fake. Considering the skills of the attackers, there is actually a higher burden of proof to ensure legitimacy of the data.

  • Proving corruption will require a lot of corroborating evidence; and rarely will corruption be highlighted by a single data source. Furthermore, corroboration will require a number of disparate sources - e.g. an instruction via email linked to a bank account statement linked to an email on the success of the scheme. How many sources require infiltration before evidence is sufficient?

  • Inevitably there will be innocent bystanders hurt in the process - either because they are unknowing mules or wrongly targeted. Verification problems yet again?

  • Hacking into networks is illegal - and will remain illegal for the foreseeable future. Good intentions or not, this badly written, but informative article gives a good overview of the moral dilemmas awaiting the prospective hacker.

Given the revelations over the weekend relating to South Africa's own arms deal corruption saga, I am quite keen to see the results of this mass action. And I don't think it is cyber terrorism, yet. And, I do have some grave doubts on whether any real prosecutions or changes to corporate and government activities will actually result from this.

New Layout

I decided to try a new layout on this blog, with a few subtle changes on the template. It works well with my desktop, iPad and my laptop - but there may be some machines with low resolution that it doesn't work on.

19 June 2011

Movie: The Lincoln Lawyer

Most legal thrillers are based on "good" lawyers. Matthew McConaughey's character is initially difficult to like as a good lawyer - he is after all a lawyer that primarily defends petty criminals, often successfully. The story itself revolves around the lawyer coming to defend a rich man accused of rape, and the subplots start to unravel as he realises that there is a tricky catch-22 at play on maintaining his lawyer's pledge of client confidentiality and to uphold justice.

The movie is well acted, with some very impressive support actors, such as William Macy as the PI, it does tend to drag on a bit towards the end. It's a good story, well paced, and quite entertaining.

Movie: The Adjustment Bureau

Based on a Phillip K Dick novel, the story revolves around a politician (played by Matt Damon) who accidentally stumbles upon a shadow group of individuals who steer humanity's progress in life. What most humans consider to be accidents are in fact the effects of the meddling minders; geared to keep everyone to plan.

Effectively, in the debate around fate vs free will - the movie's premise is that free will does not exist - not because it cannot exist - but because humanity does not have the discipline to make effective use of it.

The movie is fairly divergent from the main plot of the original story; and does not really preach any particular morality or any particular religious doctrine (though the adjustment bureau being likened to angels or similar does exist). There is the fairly sinister view, that the higher power does not necessarily equate in terms of good and evil (for example, the politician's whole family was effectively terminated so that he can overcome adversity to become a new sort of politician); which does spin a new take on the fate vs choice debate.

Overall, it is a well scripted, entertaining movie.

Romeo & Juliet

I have never been to a ballet before, though not because of a lack of opportunity. S, bought tickets to "Sleeping Beauty" in 2008, but I was in Cape Town that week, and thus missed it. M was very keen to go to South African Ballet Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet, and being the last weekend of the show, we went on Friday evening.

I love classical music, and Prokofiev's score for Romeo & Juliet is quite impressive - given the relatively small orchestra that accompanied the ballet. The music does provide a great backdrop to the story (quite truncated from Shakespeare's version). In addition to the music, the stage, props and costumes were spectacular - and are apparently based on the original South African production of the ballet in the 1960s!

As for the ballet itself - I wasn't too impressed. I am not a big fan of dance productions - I just don't understand it. Although some of the ballet scenes were easy to decipher - especially the fairly spectacular sword fights - in my opinion, the ballet alone will not be able to portray the story. Perhaps, it was just not a good production - but the same holds for other dance theatre I have been to.