Archive for August 23, 2009

Fashion PSA

While I am willing to concede that in general, I should never, ever attempt to give fashion advice, I am still comfortable saying that nobody needs eyes painted on the back of their jeans so that their ass winks as they walk.

Don’t just watch the first few seconds and stop the video – make sure you skip forward until you see the action/cut boards and the ducks at least. Based on the notes in the Consumerist article via which I found this, the eyes apparently only work if your pants are sufficiently snug. I’m surprised they stayed classy enough to not have a version that’s a big pair of hands that squeeze closed on your ass every time you take a step. I honestly cannot imagine what I would do if I were to see someone in these in real life.

Same low protein, less chlorine

I am unreasonably excited that King Arthur Flour is coming out with an unbleached cake flour. I love their bread flour, and my entirely-uneducated-bias is against bleached flours. I’m really hopeful that this shows up in my local food store. Sadly, I cannot even find regular cake flour in my local food store, so my hopes are not too high. Anyone who live around me have suggestions of where I can get cake flour around here? My Cake Bible has been pouting at me every time I use regular all-purpose in a birthday cake, but I cannot bring myself to order flour over the internet.

Don’t let them swab you

In a similar vein to yesterday’s post on data, I just noticed this NYTimes story reporting that DNA evidence can be fabricated in a lab to match a target, given a sample of their DNA, or their DNA profile from an earlier sample. Even if it seems expensive and cumbersome to start fabricating DNA evidence to frame people, there are some very interesting legal implications here just from this process being known.
While the article says that they were able to fabricate blood that a testing lab processed as if it were from the target rather than the actual source, one thing it does not comment on is whether, with further or different evaluation, it would be possible to detect that manipulation was performed.
Either way, the clock has now started on the race to see which crime procedural show airs a story based around this first….

Never admit you like Star Wars

I really enjoyed this article about how little information is needed to personally identify you. The answer is, a lot less than you might think, and using more benign information than you might imagine. 1990 census data showed that 87% of people in the US could be identified based on their zip code, gender and date of birth. I found their results on movie preferences even more interesting: “Knowing just a little about a subscriber–say, six to eight movie preferences, the type of thing you might post on a social-networking site–the researchers found that they could pick out your anonymous Netflix profile, if you had one in the set.”
As the article goes on, bringing up RFiD tags, phone tracking, and surveillance cameras, you get the idea that the only real protection you have is hoping that nobody really wants to bother tracking so much information about you. It is not plausible to perfectly control what information you allow to be released when small, diverse facts when grouped with the right databases can pinpoint who you are. Better to be aware that this is now possible and focus on having legislation that controls how such data can be used and what individual rights we have to access our own data, correct it, and ideally remove it.