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Michael Gracie

Mortgage VIPs

Via WSJ:

Do all Washington politicians get their loans directly from CEOs in the mortgage industry? Readers might be wondering after learning about Countrywide Financial and its VIP treatment for Senators Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D., N.D.)…

Mr. Conrad then recounted how he came to receive preferential treatment from the country’s largest mortgage lender. The Senator evidently believes that his latest version of events, in which he gets a sweetheart mortgage from a CEO only after first contacting the former CEO of the largest wholesale purchaser of home mortgages, somehow makes his conduct appear more appropriate.

Pffsst. Aren’t these the same folks that are now trying to bail out the mortgage industry?

Monday Ugly in tech security

Like “Coyote Ugly,” but actually ugly:

First…hackers busted into the website of the US Consolate General in Russia. As if the US didn’t have enough problems off shore…

“This latest attack highlights the fact that no organization is immune from infection, and that no matter what the size of the company, it must defend its webpages fully to avoid being stung.”

No doubt there – attacks on institutions are commonplace – it’s just that they have good PR teams to keep it hush hush.

Next…a German onion router administrator gets arrested. Clearly not the guy’s problem, but getting arrested highlights the risks of running a Tor server in this day and age (as well as the cluelessness of some politicians regarding technology). What’s Tor? Inquiring minds check here first.

Last but not least… a bunch of laptops were pre-loaded with Vista, as well as a 13-year old boot sector virus. Plenty has already been said on Vista and it’s security. But I can’t help but chuckle.

Politicos Rewrite Wikipedia “History”

wikipedia.jpgPoliticians and their cohorts have once again proven they have little to do except cover their own butts. They’ve spent who-knows-how-many-taxpayer-dollars making false entries in Wikipedia, never realizing that their tracks were glowing flourescent green on a dark wooded path. The politicos still don’t get it, and they never will. It takes, at minimum, amoebic intelligence to figure it out, but that is something they simply do not possess.

“We already know, of course, that politicians live primarily for re-election and typically view the truth as an impediment to the higher purpose of unfettered self-aggrandizement,” said Declan McCullagh.

You may know, Mr. McCullagh, but most of the citizenry doesn’t quite get it yet. However, given enough time, enough distribution channels, and enough idiocy, they will.

Watch for “political appointments” out of the FTC

The FTC has recently come out with a very long report detailing how CAN-SPAM is working. Brian McWilliams pointed out that while they interviewed numerous people for the work, including folks at the Direct Marketing Association, they forgot to talk to Steve Linford over at Spamhaus.

While this is not a particularly strange omission (as Brian notes Steve was not very happy with CAN-SPAM), I am more curious as to the cause of the sudden shift of gears. The FTC was just saying CAN-SPAM wasn’t working too well a few months ago. Meanwhile, they have been out and about, cracking heads, and getting some decent PR as a result. Cripes, they even even shut down a splog ring!

Then a turf war started between the FTC and Congress, and now it looks like someone has caved. All that comes out of Congress is noise, so they couldn’t have anyone lingering around doing something about the issue. The FTC seems to be backing off (and spewing some sound of their own), and there is no doubt a few politicians will be waving this “report” around and taking the credit. I wonder who is getting the next appointment.

Redefining the next “Internet” for the worse

Telecomm providers are running scared. Shackled with old technology, piles of debt, and a thoughts of a bygone era, they continue along M&A paths without a clue as to whether their actions will make things any better. Certainly, much of the thinking isn’t going to change.

Threatened, the telcos turn to lobbyists (and in turn, Congress). Lobbyists push protectionist measures on behalf of their clients. Congress will propose taxation and further regulation. Politicians will convince the general public that they have everyone’s best interests in mind, all to rein in the cowboys (like Google, Vonage, Amazon, and eBay). They’ll captivate their audience with their “do-goodness,” while they fly around on some telco company’s private jet to all the town hall meetings.
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Find me the politician, and I will vote for him

Plato call the four political virtues wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice. I am hard pressed, off the top of my head, to think of a politician who holds them all dear, so I will break it down…
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Tricky or viral – political email needs help

The general consensus was that politicians didn’t have much of a clue what technology was all about. Then Howard Dean raised a ton of funds via the internet, and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. If I had a poll right now based on a political party’s use of technology as a gauge for results, I’d say the Republicans were about to get their asses handed to them. They are fumbling around with email lists and viral marketing concepts, and the effort is getting all messed up.
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Don’t buy anymore spam filtering software – the problem has been solved!

A major breakthrough has been made in the war on spam, one that might put the problem to rest for good. Politicians from the US and UK have agreed to cross the pond every year for a spam summit. According Derek Wyatt, head of the All Parliamentary Internet Group, “That will really help to beat things like spam and spim [spam over instant messaging].”

Rumour has it the first forum will address the following major issues:

– Statuatory requirements to set auto-emptying of Outlook junk mail folders upon exit, and
– Allocating substantial funds (in the billions) to develop public awareness campaigns on how to restrict IMs only to those people on a personal buddy list

Great stuff!
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Politicians: Spamming Enemy #1

Tony Blair is a spammer. Everyone else has already covered this story, so I won’t say much more. Politicians are worthy of very little of my CPU’s time. Here you go: Scotsman.com News – Latest News – Prime Minister Accused of Sending Out Spam.