For Gold, Peace, and Freedom


Scott Burton Explains the Electoral College System

September 30th, 2007

Although many people like to think of the United States as a “democracy”, the American political system has never been truly democratic. One important example of this is the electoral college system, where it is possible for candidates to win elections even though they were not really elected by the majority of the people. This article by Scott Burton, who was an independent candidate for U.S. Congress in 2006, provides a good overview of the electoral college system, explains why it is flawed, and suggests some possible reforms that would make the system more accurately reflect the intent of the voting public.

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The Failures of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act

September 29th, 2007

This article by Aaron Turpen of MilitantLibertarian.org points out some of the problems with the McCain-Feingold act that was passed back in 2002. While the style of this piece might seem a little “ranty”, I agree with the general gist of it.

In general, campaign finance “reform” has done nothing to stop political corruption and is actually hurting independent candidates and alternative parties like ours by severely restricting contributions from individuals. Meanwhile, the Big Two parties continue to get around the laws by funneling millions of dollars through their PACs (Political Action Committees) and other affiliated organizations. These stupid laws need to be repealed and full rights of political free speech should be given back to the people.

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Anti-Spam Newsletter Released

September 28th, 2007

John Graham-Cumming, developer of the famous anti-spam tool POPFile and founder of the software company Electric Cloud, Inc., has released the latest edition of his newsletter. It is normally published twice per month and contains informative news items and technical descriptions about the latest spamming techniques and the methods that are being employed to combat them. If you subscribe to the newsletter from the link at jgc.org, you can access the archived issues from previous months. This is the 62nd edition.

Regular readers will know that I’ve been predicting the death of the MIT Spam Conference for some time. How wrong I was. The MIT Spam Conference is back and has been expanded to two days (March 27 and 28, 2008).

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2008, but the conference is operating an unusual sliding submissions process. You are invited to submit any time from now until the deadline and you’ll get a yes/no answer within two weeks.

Details are here: http://spamconference.org/

Last week I spent a day at the Virus Bulletin 2007 conference in Vienna giving a talk about The Spammers’ Compendium (see www.jgc.org for slides).

My overall impression was that the spam talks were weak. Of all the talks only one made me go ‘a ha!’: Vipul Sharma’s talk:

* Continual feature selection: a cost effective method for enhancing the capabilities of enterprise spam solutions

Vipul Sharma, John Gardiner Myers, Steve Lewis, Proofpoint

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Traffic Pods, Royal Surf Offer Weekend Specials

September 27th, 2007

Two different traffic exchanges are offering substantial bonuses for frequent surfing on Saturday, September 29. Traffic Pods is running a “power hour” each day from the 29th until October 5 in which there will be a one-hour period when all credits earned from surfing, including the bonus pod points, will be doubled or tripled. The TrafficPods admin has announced that the first bonus hour will begin at 3:00 PM Central Time, or 21:00 GMT on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Royal Surf has also announced some interesting opportunities for bonuses this weekend along with the results of some recent contests. In addition to increasing the bonus link credits that appear on the surfbar after every 20 pages surfed, there will be an opportunity on Saturday to win a free upgrade for one month. The only catch is that the upgrades will only be awarded to members who surf at least 1500 pages for the day, which will mean several hours of surfing. The details of the new Royal Surf promotions are provided below.

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Upcoming Product Sample: Apple Cinnamon Cheerios

September 26th, 2007

After receiving a $20 check from Synovate earlier today, more good news arrived from another survey company in the form of a product sample notification, this time for a new formula for Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. I had already taken a survey on this topic a few days ago, but it was not 100% certain whether I would be selected to continue with the rest of the study or not. Fortunately, this email clarified the issue rather nicely.

Recently you completed an on-line survey about Apple Cinnamon Cheerios products and you agreed to participate in a second phase of the study, if selected. This note is to let you know that you have been selected to participate in the follow up portion of the research study. Thank you for your willingness to participate–the manufacturer is very interested in your opinions.

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LPStuff.com Adds Libertarian Ornaments, Books, Coffee Mugs

September 25th, 2007

New supplies have arrived at LPStuff.com, an e-commerce site that sells Libertarian Party merchandise and other libertarian-themed items. The most recent arrivals include Christmas ornaments printed with the LP logo, two new sizes of Libertarian Party coffee mugs, and new shipments of books, including the original hardcover edition of Harry Browne’s Why Government Doesn’t Work.

This is a good opportunity for us bum marketing enthusiasts and other money-making aficionados who have libertarian leanings to support our cause, as a portion of the item sales helps to fund the LP and other related organizations. Meanwhile, I am hoping that the site eventually sets up an affiliate program of some sort that would allow commissions for referred product sales. This would allow people like me to support the cause of liberty and make some money at the same time, which of course is one of the primary objectives of any Libertarian Internet marketer!

Until then, we can read the content of the latest email below and also check out the LP Stuff Forum, where we can register our opinions and suggestions with the current staff of LPStuff.com.

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AdBux Completes Payouts, Changes Premium Upgrades

September 24th, 2007

The AdBux program has completed its round of August payouts today, sending out funds to members who had reached the $10 minimum threshold. They have also made some significant changes to the way that premium membership upgrades are handled, making it possible for members to subscribe to this feature one month at a time or pay in advance for 6 or 12 month blocks, thus receiving a discount on the monthly rate.

Meanwhile, subscriptions to the new autoline service have temporarily sold out for regular members, while premium members are still assured of gaining placements and receiving new referrals. My own autoline subscription is scheduled to expire in about four days, and so far its value has been rather questionable. I have obtained 12 referrals from it so far, some which have been semi-active, but the actual monetary gain has only amounted to about 50 cents. The main problem that we are having in making money with this service is not so much the idea of the autoline system itself or even the individual referrals, but the fact that there just aren’t enough ads for my referrals to click on in order to accumulate any significant earnings.

Fortunately, this latest update has brought some hope that there may be some relief from these pitifully low earnings on the horizon. Apparently, the AdBux staff is going to introduce some new options for earnings such as signup offers, paid surveys, contests, and bonus point opportunities. These new features are supposed to be implemented by October 1, and will hopefully increase overall participation as well as the commissions that I am receiving from the autoline referrals. You can check out the details from the program’s latest email below.

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MySurvey September Newsletter

September 23rd, 2007

The next issue of Opinion Matters, the monthly newsletter of MySurvey.com, was released as an email to members today. Apparently they are now awarding reward points for installing or upgrading their MySurvey Messenger software, which functions as a kind of alert system to let you know if there are any surveys currently available at the site. They have also implemented the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology on their web pages for additional privacy and security.

Join Mysurvey.com Here

Meanwhile, after adding a few new reward items for redemptions, they have finally released the results of a survey about sleeping habits. As usual, the actual text of the newsletter has been published below for your reading pleasure. One spelling error from the original copy has been corrected (”securily” was changed to “securely”).

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Royal Surf Awards Coins, Clarifies Captcha Issue

September 22nd, 2007

Co-admin Catherine “Lady Cat” Heiter has sent out another update for Royal Surf today. Currently there are daily contests occurring in which every member who has surfed at least 25-100 pages (the precise number is random and is chosen at the end of each day) is entered into a drawing in which the member can win from one to five royal coins. These coins can be saved up and used toward future advertising purchases or upgrade packages in order to defray their cost. With a sufficient number of royal coins, it is possible to obtain free advertising in addition to the usual traffic exchange credits that are earned through surfing activity.

The other major issue that is addressed in the update involves a new captcha system that was recently implemented as an anti-cheat measure to prevent auto-clicking and other forms of traffic exchange fraud. Apparently some members were having problems distinguishing between the capital letter “O” and the number “0″ whenever the turing number verification screen was displayed. The email update says that the capital “O” letters have a dot in the middle of them while the zero does not. However, after surfing about 140 pages earlier today, I noticed that there was an additional distinction that made the difference more obvious- the zeros have a slash through them, making them appear somewhat like the “null set” symbol from mathematics. The letter “O” is wider, more rounded than the zero, and does not contain the slash.

You can read the details of this latest Royal Surf newsletter below:

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Nerve Agents: A Quick and Dirty Guide

September 21st, 2007

Although actual attacks are relatively rare, powerful chemicals called nerve agents can be quite nasty if you should ever suffer prolonged exposure to them. This article, originally produced by a Constant Content author writing under the moniker of “joebuck”, provides us with some basic information about the various kinds of nerve agents, including their effects, symptoms of exposure, detection strategies, environmental concerns, and relative difficulty of production.

Nerve agents have been much a part of the news over the last ten years, but not many people are familiar with these mind–bogglingly lethal substances. Originally developed by Nazi scientists in the 1930’s, this type of chemical was originally intended to be used as a pesticide. Although they never actually used them, they found them to be deadly.

The big three – Soman, Sarin and Tabun – are organophosphors, meaning that the basis of their chemistry is a molecule of organic phosphorus. In their weaponized form, these chemicals affect the nervous system by inhibiting the action of cholinesterase, a chemical in your body that allows electrical signals to pass from nerve to nerve. Without this chemical regulator, muscles go into spasm – they contract and cannot relax. Symptoms of exposure to Sarin are: increased salivation, runny nose, constricted pupils, difficulty breathing, vomiting, convulsions, and death within a space of a few minutes. Death is typically caused by suffocation – the muscles around the victim’s lungs and diaphragm can’t relax and the victim can’t inhale. The only antidote to exposure is intramuscular injection of atropine sulfate, which will keep the nervous system going until the nerve agent can be eliminated. The caveat is that it must be administered at the first sign of exposure.

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The Economics of Spam: Informative Video

September 20th, 2007

Approximately one month ago Professor Ross Anderson, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of computer security, gave a very informative lecture for the University of Cambridge on the topics of spamming, scamming, phishing, and other Internet-based activities that he places under the category of “wickedness”. This video of his lecture delves into some of the details of how spammers and scammers operate, with a focus on how we can accurately detect their activities.

The topics covered range from the usual phishing spam-and-scams to fake escrow and banking sites to what he calls “postmodern Ponzi schemes”, known to most of us in the Internet marketing world as HYIP. Professor Anderson describes the ongoing struggle between the various types of scammers and the (mostly futile) attempts by governments, financial institutions, and computer security professionals to thwart their operations.

The video is one hour long and is presented in a fairly academic style, so if you are normally an impatient or easily bored type of person, you may not find it particularly entertaining. However, if you have any interest in the rapidly converging fields of economics, computer security, and good old-fashioned spam, you might want to watch this one whenever you have enough time.

Besides Ross Anderson who was cited above, other contributors to this video include Richard Clayton, Tyler Moore, Stephen Murdoch, and Shishir Nagaraja.

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