Our memories are all we have


SPETT.UMBERTO ECO A NAPOLI (SUD FOTO SERGIO SIANO)
SPETT.UMBERTO ECO A NAPOLI
(SUD FOTO SERGIO SIANO)

I am in China for work, with a few connection to the real world outside, so Italian news usually comes to me late, when I am able to connect to internet from hotel; great firewall allowing.

Being isolated from the Italian reality put things into a different perspective, allow you to keep less news with more time to digest and think about.

It happened a few days ago I learned of the death of Umberto Eco, one of the greatest Italian tinker of our age. He was a great writer, a great thinker, a truly free spirit.

The first thing I did when I knew about his death was to feel a great sorrow, in a moment my country needs desperately to turn back to its origin loving culture and what culture means, losing such a man was a great loss.

I used to write to my daughter every day, and force her to do the same. No matter what just the silliest thing, but I want her to learn to be committed and to use an old way of communication such writing (although with email).

After the new, instead of writing the usual nonsense we love to share one to another, I asked my daughter, 12, to read the letter Eco wrote to his nephew just to make her understand the importance of living, learning, knowing and remembering.

http://espresso.repubblica.it/visioni/2014/01/03/news/umberto-eco-caro-nipote-studia-a-memoria-1.147715

I am trying, not sure with how much success, to rise her with a critical eye on reality, trying to give her the tools to understand where things come from and just not see the moment but live it, knowing and understanding why things are what they are.

The letter was all I am trying to teach my daughter, but with way better words and meanings. But I am not Umberto, and have not a blink of his incredible knowledge.

But I remember when I was younger I did not understand the need to learn things and memorize them, I got the reason growing old, when I understood that my experience (therefore my memories) are the metric to analyze the world. And probably now I say I should have memorized more.

The Eco sad news move something on me so  I was started reading back some interviews with Eco and it make me think, what is the meaning of our lives? memories.

At the end it is memories that shape our life, and growing old we will add memories that will be the reason we lived for.

How we shape those memories is our job, we can build them good or bad, silly or deep. But it is all up to us. but to make memories we have to live them, somehow.

Reading, travelling, doing things. and those memories are the building blocks of what we are and will be. To make memories we need to understand what we see and what we do.

I have the vision of my daughter when she was ready born, a wonderful ugly conhead. So small and so a great responsibility with the lightest wight.

I remember when we discovered my wife was pregnant, I were in the kitchen when she told me the result of the test, i was shaking.

And I remember the teenage friends and our nightly talk about politics or music.

I remember the good and bad part of the job, and the people I worked with.

I remember my mistakes (this is why I write on management so much)

I remember what I would have liked to know at work (This is why I write on technology so much)

I remember that I fall in love with Japan looking at anime and manga, and then going deeper into that country history and culture, alas not language, shame on me, so I have had to enjoy Banana Yoshimoto only in italian, I am sure loosing so much (with all the respect for the translator).

I remember my first trip in USA, where all was not, at the end, so big but not all food was Mc Donald.

I remember how was wide opening to discover back my latin heritage (thanks Rika), and starting to understand the good (and bad) of the spanish speaking world.

I remember how was incredibly rewarding to read and understand Joice, Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle in the original language, see what only the original language can gives you. I can see Holmes home, as well as Miss Marple smile looking out of her windows. Are part of my life.

I remember how was amazing to open my life to the spanish language, writers, music and culture (I could not have understood and appreciate Orozco or Frida Kalo without knowing that culture, see, watch, talk, smell, listen, breath that culture).

I usually say to my daughter that if you know more you will find more things to enjoy. Reading is a wondeful way to find new wonderful things. Studying history and, also, its implications gives you the ability to look at the world with different eyes, so understanding different cultures, languages, foods and so on.

I disagree with the ones that claim that ignorance is a best way to happiness, ignorance is the easiest way, easy path is never (or seldom) the best path. And I disagree with the ones that for fear close themself in a shell wasting their life in useless fears, and ultimately I disagree that to preserve its own identity you have to close to the different, stranger and new.

So different from the world we are shaping for our sons. A world of people with no memory of the past is doomed to live the same errors again and again, isn’t it? Isn’t what we see everyday? Do we still care (or humanity have ever cared about) historical memory?

C’è poi la memoria storica, quella che non riguarda i fatti della tua vita o le cose che hai letto, ma quello che è accaduto prima che tu nascessi.

Then there is the historical memory, one that isn’t about the facts of your life or things you’ve read, but what happened before you were born.

Life is a learning path, and memories are the foundations of this learning. without memory of the past we can not build good memory for the future, unless we like to live in a lie (but so many did it, isn’t it?).

There is more truth in a novel than in any political speech, there is more truth in a joke than in any serious comment. Probably this is the reason why novelists, writers and comedians have, usually, the sharpen vision of our world; they have to work with memory for a living.

The moment we stop making memories, for us and for the others, we just stop living.

 

La memoria è un muscolo come quelli delle gambe, se non lo eserciti si avvizzisce e tu diventi (dal punto di vista mentale) diversamente abile e cioè (parliamoci chiaro) un idiota. E inoltre, siccome per tutti c’è il rischio che quando si diventa vecchi ci venga l’Alzheimer, uno dei modi di evitare questo spiacevole incidente è di esercitare sempre la memoria.

The memory is a muscle like those of the legs, if not used fades and you become disabled (mentally) and therefore (let’s face it) an idiot. And also, since for all there is a risk that when we get old we get Alzheimer, one of the ways to avoid this unfortunate incident is to exercise more and memory.

How many times I have seen people that stopped to use their “brain” muscle, close to learn and understand (hope you can appreciate the difference between know and understand, although the first is a mandatory step to the second).

I hope to have more human beings like Umberto Eco, that was so proud and joyful  to play with memories, and I hope my daughter will learn something from that letter.

May be when she will be my age….

She will try to write the same post, just better.

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Our memories are all we have was originally published on The Puchi Herald Magazine

Are we using a double standard in IT security?


chinatousaAre we using a double standard in IT security?

In the last years Cyber Security has raised as a major concern in any sector of our lives, from government to business and even at private and personal level. But I am wondering if there is a sort of double standard when we judge facts happening when they are related to cybersecurity.

Let’s make some example:

We all have read concerns rising form the rumoured new rules that china will impose to companies selling IT equipments in some sensitive sector like financial, western expert have raised all so of questions pointing out that this will damage western IT companies and claim this will be a protectionist move. So let us think a little bit about this. The new China rules are not clear right now, there are rumours that it will impose to release source code to the Chinese government and the same will impose back-door to the equipments.
The claimed reason is that it is to protect key assets in China, because government cannot trust vendors. The western answer is that this is pure speculation and a move to rise protectionist barriers against foreign IT competitors.
What is lacking in those analysis is that if those rules will be as rumours claims they will have a negative impacts on Chinese companies too.

In order to be able to sell their equipment abroad Chinese IT companies will have to, literally, duplicate their line products one for China and one for the rest of the world. Different codes will be a mandatory need to be able to sell their equipment outside the country, and they will find a competitive landscape that would be even more hostile than the one we have now, dramatically  rising costs.

At the same time is interesting to note how in some western countries, take USA as an example, the fact to be a Chinese company is enough to be banned from federal tenders just because they “could” contain back-doors used by Chinese government, companies like Huawei and ZTE are facing this sort of fate in USA. No proves or facts have to be presented, the suspect is enough. The Rogers committee voiced fears that the two companies were enabling Chinese state surveillance, although it acknowledged that it had obtained no real evidence that the firms had implanted their routers and other systems with surveillance devices. Nonetheless, it cited the failure of those companies to coöperate and urged US firms to avoid purchasing their products: “Private-sector entities in the United States are strongly encouraged to consider the long-term security risks associated with doing business with either ZTE or Huawei for equipment or services. US network providers and systems developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects. Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems.”
I wonder why nobody rise the protectionist flag in this case, probably because suspects are credible?
So while upon suspects of working for a government we are allowed to ban a company, in front of solid facts as

  • the NSA activities of espionage (see Edward Snowden revelations and Greenwald articles),
  • back-door implanted by companies upon state requests (think of the RSA BSAFE default crypto algorithm DUAL_EC_DRBG affair or the old FBI magic lantern trojan not detected by Norton and other antivirus)
  • Backdoors implanted modifying HWSW by NSA on major IT vendors intercepting the equipment before they reach the customers (ANT programs) without vendors agreement or knowledge see also:

https://nex.sx/blog/2015-01-27-everything-we-know-of-nsa-and-five-eyes-malware.html

http://blog.thinkst.com/p/if-nsa-has-been-hacking-everything-how.html

 

we consider it normal and trust USA equipment.

Still wondering why Chinese government do not trust western stuffs for key areas?

Another interesting example of dual behavior when talking about cyber-security is the well-known recent Sony pictures Hack. No doubt on the media has been done about the North Korean identity of the attackers, but a few solid facts (actually no one) have been presented to sustain it. On the other side Cyber-security experts have tried to rise some perplexity on this quick attribution. Sony has a long story of failed cyber security protections and successful hacks, I wrote on this since the first PSN network problem, but at those times nobody were pointing so easily to a suspect. So why media have identified this time the bad guys while cyber-security expert sill have concerns? Taia global was probably the first company to rise public concerns about this too quick attribution, followed by other serious sources, companies and researchers. If you read the news now doubts on North Korea attribution is widely accepted but in the public opinion the guilt is clear.

We could continue to show other examples, it’s common to find statistics showing that the major source of cyber attack is China, but forgetting to mentions what is the rate of attack that China face or a minimum explanation of why could there be so many sources to be used. May be if you visit China you would find out that mobile internet is so widely common that would not be a surprise to imagine how easy should be to install botnets here. Just walk on the street, you’ll see an incredible number of people walking and playing with their smart phone (there 4G connection are normal) and then using the computer at home. And where there are home users and bandwidth there  you have botnets.

We should probably change the dual standard mode and start to consider CyberSecurity as a worldwide complex problem that need neutral metric to be correctly evaluated otherwise we will base our decision on prejudices and not facts.

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Are we using a double standard in IT security? was originally published on The Puchi Herald Magazine