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randomname
09-03-2013, 02:20 PM
Is The Economist left- or right-wing?
Sep 2nd 2013, 23:50 by J.C.

Editorís note: This week, to mark the 170th anniversary of the appearance of the first issue of The Economist on September 2nd 1843, this blog will answer some of the more frequently asked questions about The Economist itself.

SOME readers, particularly those used to the left-right split in most democratic legislatures, are bamboozled by The Economistís political stance. We like free enterprise and tend to favour deregulation and privatisation. But we also like gay marriage, want to legalise drugs and disapprove of monarchy. So is the newspaper right-wing or left-wing?

Neither, is the answer. The Economist was founded in 1843 by James Wilson, a British businessman who objected to heavy import duties on foreign corn. Mr Wilson and his friends in the Anti-Corn Law League were classical liberals in the tradition of Adam Smith and, later, the likes of John Stuart Mill and William Ewart Gladstone. This intellectual ancestry has guided the newspaper's instincts ever since: it opposes all undue curtailment of an individualís economic or personal freedom. But like its founders, it is not dogmatic. Where there is a liberal case for government to do something, The Economist will air it. Early in its life, its writers were keen supporters of the income tax, for example. Since then it has backed causes like universal health care and gun control. But its starting point is that government should only remove power and wealth from individuals when it has an excellent reason to do so.

The concepts of right- and left-wing predate The Economist's foundation by half a century. They first referred to seating arrangements in the National Assembly in Paris during the French Revolution. Monarchists sat on the right, revolutionaries on the left. To this day, the phrases distinguish conservatives from egalitarians. But they do a poor job of explaining The Economistís liberalism, which reconciles the leftís impatience at an unsatisfactory status quo with the rightís scepticism about grandiose redistributive schemes. So although its credo and its history are as rich as that of any reactionary or revolutionary, The Economist has no permanent address on the left-right scale. In most countries, the political divide is conservative-egalitarian, not liberal-illiberal. So it has no party allegiance, either. When it covers elections, it gives its endorsement to the candidate or party most likely to pursue classically liberal policies. It has thrown its weight behind politicians on the right, like Margaret Thatcher, and on the left, like Barack Obama. It is often drawn to centrist politicians and parties who appear to combine the best of both sides, such as Tony Blair, whose combination of social and economic liberalism persuaded it to endorse him at the 2001 and the 2005 elections (though it criticised his governmentís infringements of civil liberties).

When The Economist opines on new ideas and policies, it does so on the basis of their merits, not of who supports or opposes them. Last October, for example, it outlined a programme of reforms to combat inequality. Some, like attacking monopolies and targeting public spending on the poor and the young, had a leftish hue. Others, like raising retirement ages and introducing more choice in education, were more rightish. The result, "True Progressivism", was a blend of the two: neither right nor left, but all the better for it, and coming instead from what we like to call the radical centre.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/09/economist-explains-itself-0?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ee/economistleftorright

eduardo89
09-03-2013, 02:26 PM
The Economist are a bunch of Keynesian liberal progressives.

I dated a girl for 2 years and her dad is the head of their Berlin office, he's a New York Jewish democrat. I met a lot of current and former Economist writers, including the former editor, all are liberals and worshipers of central banking.

Danke
09-03-2013, 04:40 PM
I dated a girl for 2 years and her dad is the head of their Berlin office
So she is free now?

eduardo89
09-03-2013, 04:42 PM
So she is free now?

Yeah, PM me if you want photos.

Danke
09-03-2013, 04:44 PM
Yeah, PM me if you want photos.

I prefer video.

eduardo89
09-03-2013, 04:44 PM
I prefer video.

Well first take a look and see if you're interested. I'm sure she'll send you video if you want.

green73
09-03-2013, 04:46 PM
The Economist are a bunch of Keynesian liberal progressives.

I dated a girl for 2 years and her dad is the head of their Berlin office, he's a New York Jewish democrat. I met a lot of current and former Economist writers, including the former editor, all are liberals and worshipers of central banking.

Was she to one you told to shave?

eduardo89
09-03-2013, 04:47 PM
Was she to one you told to shave?

What do you mean?

green73
09-03-2013, 04:55 PM
What do you mean?

You once told me about a girlfriend you had in Germany. You demanded that she shave.

randomname
09-06-2013, 08:38 AM
The Economist downplaying the latest Snowden leak


The NSA's crypto "breakthrough"
Sep 2nd 2013, 15:00 by T.C.

ONE difficulty of reporting on spy outfits like America's National Security Agency is the veil of secrecy they operate behind. This makes it hard to know exactly what they are and aren't capable of. It is also one reason why Edward Snowden's revelations have been so fascinating. They offer a glimpse—limited and incomplete, to be sure—behind the curtain, and help to constrain the bounds of just what such agencies can do.

Take a recent post on Wired's security blog. It discusses the latest Snowden leak, which details the size of America's secret-intelligence budget. In particular, Wired picks up on James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, talking about investing in "groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit internet traffic". And it links to another post in which James Bamford, a veteran chronicler of the NSA, describes the agency as having made "an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users". That sounds a lot like saying that the the spooks have managed to break at least some of the cryptographic codes that protect everything from secure e-mail to e-commerce.

If true, it would be a very big story indeed. Such codes are ubiquitous because they are widely thought to be secure. If such a breakthrough has indeed happened (and Mr Snowden, for one, has said that it hasn't) what would it look like? Not being privy to the NSA's deepest secrets, Babbage has no idea. But he can speculate.

The most likely (and least interesting) answer is that the NSA has found a bug in the way that specific programs implement cryptographic protocols. Such flaws are fairly common, and can usually be fixed simply by patching the software. (Though that relies on people finding the flaws and then sharing that information widely, which NSA would be unlikely to do.) However, Mr Clapper's and Mr Bamford's use of "groundbreaking" and "breakthrough" to describe the NSA's advances could be read as suggesting that something more fundamental could be at hand—perhaps even a flaw in the mathematics that underpin cryptography.

Electronic cryptography relies on the curious fact that some mathematical operations are easy to do in one direction but virtually impossible to perform in reverse. For example, multiplying two enormous prime numbers together to get a third colossal number is easy. But, analysing a colossal number produced in this way and trying to determine its prime factors is colossally difficult. So difficult, in fact, that it stumps even the world's snappiest supercomputers. This bit of mathematics—integer factorisation in the argot—forms the foundation of most of the internet's cryptographic systems (codes based on other kinds of mathematical operation exist, but they aren't as commonly used).

Researchers already know that it is possible, in theory, to break such encryption by building a quantum computer, an unusual machine that relies on various kinds of quantum weirdness to perform its calculations. A mathematician called Peter Shor proved in 1993 that such a computer could be used to speed up integer factorisation drastically, to the point where much of the internet's existing security infrastructure would be useless.

Does the NSA have a quantum computer in the basement of its headquarters in Maryland (pictured above)? It is theoretically possible, but pretty unlikely. For building a working quantum computer is itself terribly tricky. University laboratories have been trying for years, but the technology is finicky and progress has been slow. The record for prime factorisation using Shor's algorithm currently stands at the number "21", which was split into its prime factors (7 and 3) in 2012. A Canadian firm called D-Wave is presently selling a specialised kind of quantum computer—Lockheed Martin, an American defence giant, and Google have each bought one—but it is not suitable for this kind of work. And contrary to spy thrillers and conspiracy theories, it is far from obvious that a government agency could be so much more advanced than the academic cutting-edge, especially in a hardware and technology-heavy field like quantum computing.

There is another option, though. Mathematicians are much easier to get hold of than quantum computers, and do not require any fancy technology to work (a computer, a stack of paper and a bin will suffice). Signals-intelligence agencies employ them by the hundreds. And although it is difficult at present to find the prime factors of big numbers, no one has actually formally proved that it has to be so. In other words, no one knows whether the present state of the art is the fastest way to do things. Quicker ways may well exist.

Indeed, earlier in the year, there was some excitement in cryptographic circles when a pair of new papers reported the first significant progress in years in something called the "discrete logarithm problem". The discrete logarithm problem is intimately related to the problem of prime factorisation; progress in one usually leads to similar progress in the other. The advance in question was limited to a specialised subcategory of the problem, and the consensus seems to be that it does not, by itself, pose a threat to existing encryption protocols. But in mathematics success often builds on itself. A development can suggest new tactics for attacking a puzzle. And the scent of a hot topic can lure clever mathematicians with fresh ideas.

Babbage will now put on his tinfoil hat. Crypto-cognoscenti will tell you that spy agencies can sometimes be ahead of the game. The mathematics that enable modern cryptography (specifically, those which allow secure communication over a public network like the internet) were for a long time thought to have been invented by two groups of Americans—Whitfield Diffie, Martin Hellman and Ralph Merkle on the one hand, and Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman on the other. But in 1997 GCHQ, Britain's signals-intelligence agency, admitted that a group of its own in-house mathematicians, Clifford Cocks, James Ellis and Malcolm Williamson, had actually come up with something very similar a few years earlier.

Science often works like that: once the tools become available to tackle some problem, several researchers come up with similar ideas independently in a short space of time. Famous examples include Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz inventing the calculus, Charles Darwin's nearly being scooped to the theory of evolution by natural selection by Alfred Russell Wallace, or the discovery of the mechanism which gives elementary particles mass, associated with the British physicist Peter Higgs but which two other groups of theorists also cracked, all within months of each other.

Could something similar have happened with the problem of finding prime factors of large numbers? Has some group of anonymous mathematicans in Maryland improved their algorithms to the point where attacks on encrypted communications might become feasible? Again, probably not. But it is impossible to know—unless, of course, another set of more candid researchers come up with something similar in short order.