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Kagi (Continued); Genetic Paparazzi; Just
I briefly mentioned Kagi Search in the previous issue and wanted to spend a bit more time on it in today's edition.
The above video is from a 1973 short video by Richard Serra dubbed "Television Delivers People". It is often noted as the source of our modern phrase: "You Are The Product". You most certainly are the product for virtually all free services you partake of, and as the video notes of commercial television, you may also be the product even if you're paying for the privilege of using a service.
Kagi appears to be one of a short-list of organizations truly trying to give you back some control over at least some of this surveillance. I've been using their WebKit-based browser, Orion, for a while, and between the built-in baseline tracking prevention and my continued use of uBlock, DisconnectMe, and Trace, I don't see ads, have a ton of red in my Console ledger, and also spend more time than I'd like trying to get many sites to work properly in-browser because they break due to the use of said privacy enhancements.
As noted in the previous issue, Kagi opened up their new search engine to general use and I hit the subscribe button almost immediately (to go above the daily free search limit), and tapped it as default in Safari, Orion, and Vivaldi (which I have to use because too much work-related online things break if I don't use a Chromium-based browser). Their FAQ has all the reasons why I did this, including the fact that they support DuckDuckGo's search bangs.
Another reason is their support of something called "lenses", which are custom, curated search engines you can build for "vertical" searches, like this one I have when I just want results for vulnerabilities and exploits from sites I trust:
The lenses are working incredibly well, and search results in general are high quality.
Now, just because I'm paying for the service and the Kagi folks make a ton of privacy claims doesn't mean they adhere to them (though that's easy to double check in their Orion browser and DevTools views of the Kagi interactions). I'm hoping they enlist a trusted (by me) third-party to perform regular, ongoing audits to ensure they continue to do what they say on the tin.
Ten USD/month is not cheap. We're all being subscribed to death, and as a family, we're looking at dropping many subscription services this year, especially since most are adding commercials of some sort anyway.
Given how much of my work and personal interests rely on researching things, dropping some monthly coin for better search results and no (well, "less" is likely a better term) surveillance seems worth it (so far).
In light of various U.S. states' pending and passed legislation, plus the threat of some very draconian Supreme Court decisions coming down, I'd especially urge folks potentially impacted by such situations to give Orion and Kagi Search a go (along with Disconnect Me's privacy DNS)
I've been tracking Putin's war against Ukraine since it started, and you may remember that a number of officials and dignitaries visited Russia's leader quite a bit during the beginning of the war in [futile] attempts to end the senseless violence.
One throwaway tidbit from reports of each of these visits was the fact that every individual visiting the Kremlin refused to take a Russian PCR COVID-19 test. The reasons for each were that they didn't want Moscow to get a hold of their DNA. Madonna has even (reportedly) added some crazy stuff to concert riders in an effort to stop her DNA from being stolen.
It turns out, this fear of DNA being stolen and misused is "a thing", and there's a great paper from the Georgia State University College of Law dubbed: "Genetic Paparazzi: Beyond Genetic Privacy" (reg. req'd).
I blathered quite a bit above, so I'll let the abstract do the talking and encourage folks to check out the entire paper. It's a quick, accessible, and free read.
The domain of accessible information about celebrities, political leaders, and other public figures is expanding as technology evolves, placing new stresses on already uneasy legal boundaries around their privacy. The availability of cheap, fast, and informative genetic sequencing technologies, combined with growing public interest in genetic information, makes it likely that we will soon witness paparazzi carrying swabs and sterile tubes in search for genetic materials connected in some way to the public figures they pursue. In a world in which genetic paparazzi are not only a possibility, but a probability, courts will inevitably be asked to determine the legal status of genetic materials and information obtained from public figures without consent. The genetics of public figures serves as a useful test case of the legal framework governing genetics and privacy, because public figures are at the same time beneficiaries of more rights than most of us — in the form of rights of publicity — and fewer rights — in the form of diminished expectations of privacy.
When disputes involving genetic paparazzi ultimately reach the courtroom, judges will have to confront scenarios that touch on fundamental questions regarding the nature of genetics and its relationship to concepts of personhood and identity, property, health and disease, intellectual property, and reproductive rights. While the question of what courts will decide is intriguing, this Article moves beyond such predictions to focus on how resulting court decisions in seemingly narrow cases may have broad and potentially harmful impact. Despite the complexity of the legal issues that such suits will implicate, the constraints of existing law make it likely that courts will address such disputes largely through the lens of traditional privacy and publicity rights. In this Article we argue that pursuing genetic paparazzi cases through the narrow lens of existing privacy and publicity law would ignore the multidimensional nature of genetic materials and information, leading to unintended and problematic consequences for how the law approaches genetics. We go on to highlight additional aspects of genetic materials and information that policymakers, courts, and lawyers ought to consider when responding to media excursions into the genetics of public figures so as not to impede other genetic interests that might be implicated.
One recent (to me) entry into this category is Just. It is designed to be a command runner, not a build system, so it avoids much of
make's complexity and idiosyncrasies. No need for
It has lots of crunchy goodness:
Linux, MacOS, and Windows are supported with no additional dependencies. (Although if your system doesn't have a
sh, you'll need to choose a different shell.)
Errors are specific and informative, and syntax errors are reported along with their source context.
Recipes can accept command line arguments.
Wherever possible, errors are resolved statically. Unknown recipes and circular dependencies are reported before anything runs.
.envfiles, making it easy to populate environment variables.
Recipes can be listed from the command line.
Command line completion scripts are available for most popular shells.
Recipes can be written in arbitrary languages, like R, Python or NodeJS.
I like the recipe lister, language-agnostic recipes, and much saner recipe definitions than found in many other environments, and I'll be giving it a workout over the coming weeks as I wrap some data/visualization workflows into some Just recipes.
Tons more in store over the coming week. So many great things are being built and introduced! We truly live in a time of plenty, at least when it comes to digital resources. ☮