Mekhong Kurt’s Techdirt Profile


About Mekhong Kurt

A retired university teacher from Texas who washed up on Asian Shores in August, 1985, and has been here all except 1988-90 ever since, alighting in Thailand in June, 1994, where I've been ever since.

Mekhong Kurt’s Comments comment rss

  • Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:15am

    Re: Driverless vehicles

    I forgot to add that at 60mph, you're traveling at about 88 feet *per second.* Which means you have 3.4 seconds to stop before impact. And part of that will be lost to varying reaction times.

  • Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:10am

    Driverless vehicles

    Though I'm very much for this kind of vehicle in principle, I'm not convinced of their safety, at least in heavy traffic.Comparing a driverless ground vehicle to an airplane on autopilot isn't really a valid comparison, since the flight safety regulations are far more stringent than traffic laws are. For example, aircraft are required minimal lateral and vertical distances from the nearest other aircraft, substantial distances, particularly horizontally (three miles, as I recall a commercial pilot telling me, I think). I suppose if a driverless vehicle was programmed to maintain a safe distance between itself and the car in front of it (in any lane, where more than one lane flows in the same direction) I might feel better, but I haven't read about any such feature. (It may be there and I simply don't know about it, true.) Bettering the rule of thumb, I'd say a minimum of 1.5 average car lengths for each 10mph speed, with a vehicle moving ever slightly back as its speed picked up, rather than a sudden increase after 10 more mph have been added. 2X's would be even better, IMO, a not entirely uninformed opinion, as I drove an 18-wheeler after taking a three-week training course, one driving on a converted airstrip, another week devoted to over-the-road driving with an instructor, plus I took high-speed driving training when I was in police-security work years ago. Stopping a fully-loaded 18-wheeler from 60mph with just six 18-wheeler lengths between me and a vehicle in front of me is a very iffy matter, if it's even possible. In that case, we're talking in the range of 100 yards.

    I have read of potentially using driverless engines to pull elevated trains and subways at the city level, and that makes considerable sense. Especially if such a system includes constant human monitoring by someone with the ability to shut down the train immediately should the "autopilot" fail in any way. That might help us gradually increase our comfort level with the idea.

    Good article, Mr. Ho -- thanks.

  • Feb 20th, 2012 @ 1:29am

    Threatening commenters

    Well said, Mike. I constantly encourage people with views that differ and even oppose my own to speak up, loud and clear, as is the right of all of us. and by "all of us" yes, my specific reference is the American one, since I'm an American, but it is also global -- as I strongly believe speaking up is a downright genetic human right, period. Screw the dictators and their lackeys.

  • Feb 20th, 2012 @ 1:20am

    (untitled comment)

    Is Minister Teows former U.S. Co-President Dick Cheney's evil-as-Dick brother, or what???

  • Feb 20th, 2012 @ 1:09am

    Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers

    Time to summon white hats to mau-mau these folks at Takedown. Some good guys should band together to constantly takedown Takedown, letting the b*st*rds have multiple overdoses of their own medicine.

    Phaps they'll come to understand the concept of restraint once the corn cob is swiftly ascending their posterior nether regions. . . .

  • Feb 19th, 2012 @ 11:34pm

    (untitled comment)

    Maybe it's something in the air or water back in his district, perhaps combined with noxious gases wafting north from the refineries along the Gulf Coast. After all, the water table tilts south and east from Smith's district -- right into, by the way, Rep. Ron Paul's. That would explain why Smith's (and Paul's) constituents keeping sending him back to the Capitol, and why Smith appears to have a serious learning disability or something. (Paul's just plain weird, but I guess polluted water and air could account for that, too -- mild mercury poisoning maybe?)

  • Feb 19th, 2012 @ 11:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: There is no cost to the economy

    Thanks for a nice chuckle there, @Hephaestus!

  • Feb 19th, 2012 @ 11:05pm

    Penetrating critical systems.

    Right off, let me say that I am not myself any sort of computer expert at all. However, I do know and have known some over the years, including a few with cybersecurity in both the civilian and [U.S.] military spheres.

    Apparently, it *is* possible to penetrate these systems, though if they're established as closed intranets, entirely disconnected from the global World Wide Web, they are harder to penetrate than would be the case were they connected to the global network. But not impossible, not by a long shot.

    It's a matter of public record and many news reports that there have been a number of cybersecurity breaches of our government networks, including defense and intelligence networks. My impression, and it could be incorrect, that the majority and most alarming have apparently been caused by other nations' agencies; China is the usual suspect, with good reason, though one wonders just how "inert" even some of our ostensible allies -- Israel, Britain, France, and Germany all spring readily to mind -- actually *are.* While HUMINT (human intelligence) can be invaluable, especially coming from a long-term, deep-cover mole within a defense, intelligence, security-law enforcement agency, so can be intelligence gained in other ways. Further, if a hostile actor finds a way to defeat or circumvent defense barriers on networks, he can go on the attack, including -- potentially -- taking a network down. Or so I understand.

    My point is that while this legislation is yet one more abomination coming out our increasingly abominable Congress and should go right straight down the toilet (along, metaphorically, with certain Senators and Representatives, by the way), if my understanding that we are at risk is correct, then perhaps -- but ONLY perhaps -- something by way of legislation needs to be done, though we need to ride herd -- hard -- on the critters under the Capitol Dome, with whips close to hand to be sure they don't make further encroachments on the Constitution.

    If they persist, thought elections aren't far away, in the first place, only 1/3rd of the Senate will be facing re-election, assuming the currently-sitting Senator plans to stand for office again (and I think a few are retiring), so the second place becomes reasonable: start recall-election drives. Even if state laws make it impossible to have such an election prior to November's general one, the negative publicity could hurt a candidate hard, perhaps even causing him or her to go down in utter flames -- and shame. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!, IMHO. Let 'em burn. Few currently on the scene, on either side of the aisle, deserve anything better anyway.

  • Feb 19th, 2012 @ 8:55pm

    The takedown of

    It's now about 11:00 P.M. (EST) Sunday, February 19th and I just tried to go to the company's web site, but got the message "The connection was rest." Then I tried, and got a 403 Forbidden error message. And I tried both several times each, with the same results every time.

    I don't have any idea if this is relevant, but I am in Bangkok, not the U.S. However, I didn't get any messages from any Thai government agency, though I sometimes do. (Internet laws here are broad and liberally used by the authorities.)

    This takedown is just one more in an increasing parade of "Sins of Shame" by our government. (Yes, I'm an American long resident abroad.) My Thai friends sometimes ask me if the American government is striving to "out-Thai Thailand," or even to surpass China. I have no answer. With each new act of sheer idiocy -- this one apparently at the behest of the *Secret Service* for gawd's sake! -- it appears increasingly likely that I'm going to have to start answering those questions from my local friends with a mournful, disgusted "HELL yes!"

    I've e-mailed both my Senators and my Congressman (Texas). One Senator is that rarest of creatures, a fairly moderate Republican, but she'll be retiring, so I don't look for any meaningful help from her. The other is a staunchly conservative Republican and not favorably disposed towards such complaints. My Congressman, though he has served since well before the Tea Party movement arose, has since closely identified with that movement and is even less likely than my conservative Senator to look on any such complaint with anything other than pure disdain. I've also written the White House and the FCC. I've also commented far and wide in forums such as this, and e-mailed countless letters-to-the-editor. I write an irregular, infrequent blog and have railed against this sort of cr*p there.

    I would do more, if I could figure out just what that might be, given that I'm on the other side of the planet.

    It's bad enough that these takedowns happens entirely "approval-free" as far as our judicial branch is concerned, since it has been excluded from even an ounce of review, never mind any actual, meaningful oversight of such nefarious activities. It's even worse that various amendments to the Constitution apparently have been unilaterally declared by the Executive branch not to be applicable in such cases:

    Fourth Amendment: the entire amendment -- "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    Fifth Amendment: the penultimate sub-provision therein -- "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

    Sixth Amendment: if the reason behind the government's action was based on alleged *criminal* activity, then the entire amendment applies, particularly the "Confrontation Clause" -- the right to face one's accusers. This right was enshrined even in *Roman* law. In looking up the texts for these amendments, I was reminded that the Supreme Court has justified this right by citing the Bible itself -- Acts of the Apostles 25:16 (commonly, "The Book of Acts," or, simply, "Acts"). The right's thread continues unbroken right up to our contemporary law. Or did.

    I hope my fellow Americans continue to bring pressure to bear on both elected and other governmental representatives at *all* levels of government of this abominable, unjustifiable behavior. In the instance of such officials mouthing platitudes about "I'm a Christian," remind him or her of that passage from Acts as well as the Constitutional amendments. And I urge any of my fellow Americans who haven't done anything to start becoming engaged in our public civil life, and not just in this instance, but across the board.

    Where is the basis in the Constitution for the Executive or Legislative branches of government to make end runs around the Constitution itself, effectively neutering it?

    No, I'm not some sort of constitutional lawyer or scholar. In fact, I'm not a lawyer at all. But I CAN read.

    Please act now. Raise holy hell.

  • Feb 15th, 2012 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Good point about perhaps Iranian law does indeed have a provision similar to ours banning individuals from having access to specified technologies for a court-imposed period of time. I thought of that angle, too.

  • Feb 11th, 2012 @ 5:43pm

    Anonymous Coward's Comments

    Anonymous Coward, I've seen quite a few of your comments here and there and enjoyed reading them, even when we don't precisely line up in terms of point of view.

    Here, however, I have no idea why you made your original criticism, nor what impels you to keep defending it when it has been pretty well shot down in flames. Consider the following response fro @Donnicton:


    Donnicton, Feb 11th, 2012 @ 9:16am

    Actually, I'm pretty sure that technology played a pretty damn big factor in this guy's story getting out of Iran.


    I would take that observation a level higher, considering that this article is, after all, in That is, had the Iranian made his film using traditional Hollywood-style equipment somehow, technologically speaking, this wouldn't be a story. Had that happened, the story would have been focused not on the technology itself, but on the question of how in the hell he managed to use such bulky equipment despite his being banned from making films, period. But he didn't. He used a smart phone. Smuggled the film out on a thumb drive concealed in a cake. (I bet the Iranian authorities are x-raying the dickens out of cakes exiting the country NOW!)

    And *that's* what makes the tech part of the story.

    Yes, there would have been a story regardless of the technology, and in this case, one worth telling in whatever fashion possible, including plain old typing it out to read. Or writing it in a journal by hand. After all, Iran is very much at the top of the news these days, and while nuclear issues dominant at this particular moment, it has and continues to offer other important stories.

    Remember Neda Soltan, the lady shot to death in Teheran in 2009? In her case, technology *was* part of the film -- it wouldn't have been possible *without* a smart phone -- who would have died before a regular film crew could have set up. Further, the shakiness, blurriness, uneven focus and lighting give the short film a gripping atmosphere created BY the very technology in the hands of an ordinary -- i.e., not trained in making films -- person.

    @Anonymous Coward, in this case, I part ways with you. Especially given that your criticism descends, at times, to near the level of spurious ad hominem attacks on Mike. I don't know Mike, so I have no idea if he's a great guy or nit, but that doesn't matter: he's a tech journalist, and as best as I can tell, he has brought us a newsworthy incident to consider.

    This one's a real head-scratcher, A.C. . . .

  • Jan 24th, 2012 @ 6:42pm

    (untitled comment)

    I just shared this on my Facebook Wall, with this comment:


    I keep getting contradicted in comments sections on news stories about the pending SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) in the U.S. House of Representatives and the companion pending PIPA (Protect Internet Property Act) over in the U.S. Senate, but this story clearly shows why those telling me I'm an idiot -- and who imply I'm at best disloyal to my country -- to worry and should just trust the government to "get it right." Yeah, sure. In the story below, all this crap happened that SOPA and PIPA would enshrine in law if passed (and signed by the President, of course). And guess what? -- it happened over Thanksgiving weekend in *2010.* If existing laws THEN allowed this trash to happen, then why in hell do we NEED SOPA or PIPA, or whatever monstrosity comes out of a House-Senate Resolution Committee??? And why do we have such laws anyway? I don't see how anyone can possibly argue they pass Constitutional muster -- read the 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments, for starters.

    I wrote my Senators and Representative about these proposals, telling them I completely oppose them in ANY form. Got a tinned response from one Senator that completely ignored what I had e-mailed her and made it clear -- but implicitly, not explicitly; she's clever -- that she thinks this kind of abuse of the American citizenry is hunky-dory. So, I wrote her back and told her it's a damned good thing she's retiring, as far as I'm concerned, because not only would I not vote for her again (as I have before) were she to vote for it, but I would do whatever tiny little bit I could do from nearly 9,000 miles away to campaign against her. As I will tell my other Senator and Representative should they respond similarly, as I fully expect them to do, if they bother to respond at all. And they ARE up for re-election, and standing.

    This story makes a joke of the American concept of freedom and of our faith in our Constitution.


    I'm no lawyer or Constitutional scholar, but I CAN read, and this crap violates the Constitution numerous ways. Plain and simple.

    Imagine if a policeman shot and killed someone with dubious cause then said, "Don't worry -- trust me." THEN the court bought that "defense."