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Friday, October 31, 2008

Arrrr

OK, so it's not Talk Like A Pirate Day. It is Halloween. The lovely and incognito Mrs. Borepatch brought home an eyepatch for Little One-Eyed Dog. Shockingly, she actually wore it (Little One-Eyed Dog, that is; not Mrs. Borepatch).






















Then she ran and hid. Heh.

It's quiet ...

... too quiet.

The lovely and helpful Mrs. Borepatch is helping out one of her girlfriends, who owns a Halloween store. As you can imagine, it's crazy there.

#1 son is out at the movies with the pack of 16 year olds. Some of them are driving. Yikes.

#2 son is trick-or-treating with a friend, in the friend's neighborhood. Makes sense, as we're on kind of a busy street, rather than in a neighborhood.

We got all of one trick-or-treater stop by, here at chez Borepatch. I guess word gets around that this isn't as much of a child-friendly blog as I had thought it is.

It's really, really quiet. Wierd.

Well, at least #2 son is in full-on Halo-3 Riot Gear. Notice the trigger discipline. Didn't remind him to do it - it was (ahem) full-auto on his part.

That's my boy!

Jack-o-Lanterns



Not up to my usual level of intricacy, but not bad pix from the iPhone.

Oh, yeah. Did someone just win a game somewhere?

Halloween Epic Fail

I like to carve Jack-o-Lanterns at Halloween. I've done some pretty interesting ones in past years, and was going to have a shizzle Flippity Floppity Floop of a post, until I encountered Epic Fail:
  • Disk crash on laptop wiped out the awesomest New England Jack-o-Lantern pix EVAH. Backup on the lovely and costumed Mrs. Borepatch's laptop doesn't seem to have this one. Flash Drive containing pix is lost in the clutter.
  • Photos from previous years need to be scanned. HP printer/scanner/fax needs ink for printer component. Printer/scanner/fax machine won't get past initial error screen. Hey machine, I don't want to print. I want to scan. HP, you su[redacted, in the interest of keeping this at least a sort of family-friendly blog - ed].
  • My Jack-o-Lanterns are simply not up to expectations this year. Mr. Borepatch, you will simply have to do better than this.
Oh bother.

So just because, here's something that makes me smile. Set snark to "kill", Mr. Sulu ....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Linux Fanboy Humor

Liberty, this one's for you. Heh.

Well knock me over with a feather

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
  • hell (6x)
  • shoot (3x)
  • bastard (2x)
  • zombie (1x)
Oh, bother. And I thought I was doing so well. Jeez, people are so strict these days. Good thing I never posted anything like this ...

I'd like to thank the Academy ...

Wow! Too Old To Work, Too Young To Retire (one of my daily reads) tagged me with the Superior Scribling award. I'd think he has the award confused with the Insane Goober Ranting award, but the other folks on his list are serious bloggers all. Well, it's possible that JayG could join me in Insane Goober Ranting land, but mostly after he posts another Road Rage update. Thanks, TOTWTYTR!

The list is hard, as I have to pick only five. Make sure to check out my blogroll, because I follow all of them literally every day (and so should you).

Random Acts of Patriotism seems to have started blogging about the same time I did (summer 2008), and has a very different blogging style than I do. I'm from the Insane Goober Ranting school of blogging; he's from the Thoughtful and Can Actually Write school of blogging. I've linked to a couple of his posts, as ones that quite simply paint a picture in your mind. I wish he would post more, but the muse speaks to each of us in her own way. I just glad that his muse isn't the Insane Goober Ranter like mine is.

I'm looking forward to when the election is over, and JD shifts (a bit) from politics to Cowboy Action Shooting with his sweet, sweet Marlin .45LC. Mmmm, Lever Gun! Frequent, eclectic posts (of the non-Insane, non-Goober type).

I've learned more about concealed carry from Weer'd Beard's posts than from anywhere. While I don't carry, I may some day. If I keep hitting his place, I'll likely have a clue. Plus, he's your one-stop-shop for all your trainblogging needs.

Edge's Conservative Movies is a different sort of blog, (mostly) about great films. You could do way, way worse than his list for family movie night. Plus he has amazing posts like the 1960s TV Signoff. I don't know where he finds all this, but I'm glad he does.

Fighting For Liberty is another Linux fanboy, and holds the record for making coffee shoot out my nose the furthest (look, I warned you about the Insane Goober thing): Where's your BSOD NOW, Bitch!? Maybe a bit in the Insane Goober camp, and maybe that's why I dig his sense of humor. Maybe NT did it to us ...

All y'all are tagged.

One thing I think is left out is a mention of the bloggers who made the biggest impact on your blogging. This isn't part of the meme, but for some reason, I think that this is important (gosh, maybe this should be another meme!). For me:

JayG is my blogfather. I'd tag him, except he's already been tagged by bloggers much better than I. If you hate my blog, blame Jay. Wh00t! Nobody better to break a bunch of WallyWorld clays on a sunny, Indian Summer afternoon!

Kim du Toit. I stumbled on Kim's place two or three years ago. Kim's the one who inspired me to get off of my lazy butt and take my kids shooting. While #1 son isn't too into it, #2 son has really turned into my shooting buddy, and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't read Kim.

Tam, incredibly, was a very early visitor here, and was my first commenter. The idea that she'd bother to check out my blabbing was a big shot in the arm, early in my blogging career. I love the breadth of topics that she posts on - the obscure history in particular. I haven't quite mastered her level of snark - the Insane Goober Rants keep bubbling up in mine.

Breda's post about the mouse in the bucket is one of the most moving that I've read. In a sense, she's Joe The Plummer for Second Amendment issues: so completely, totally normal that she can't be dismissed as a kook. Then she patiently explains that a five foot tall woman sometimes can't carry a policeman around for protection, so she takes this. Plus, I can probably die content if I can get the lovely but reluctant Mrs. Borepatch to go shooting with her. And no, it's not what you're thinking. I'd tag her, but I'm sure that a million others have already.

Oh yeah, the rules, yadda yadda:
Of course, as with every Bloggy Award, there are A Few Rules. They are, forthwith:
  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Chuck Norris wouldn't ask this ...

Pretty funny, actually. If it's Palin-bashing, then it's superior Palin-bashing. But come on, who would ask this question? Dustin Hoffman yes, Chuck Norris no.

No, he doesn't carry it in his "Manbag"

Obligatory post about Real Men here. Obligatory post about Girly Men here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Al Gore must have been in London yesterday

Seems it was the first October snowfall in London in 86 years. While Parlaiment debated mooted a Global Warming Reduction Bill. You can't make this up.

Still, not everything's rosy in An Inconvient Truth land. Seems the proles aren't buying it:

Recently the American media has begun to notice the odd incongruity of saturation media coverage here which insists that global warming is both man-made and urgent, and a British public which increasingly doubts either to be true. 60 per cent of the British population now doubt the influence of humans on climate change, and more people than not think Global Warming won't be as bad "as people say".

Both figures are higher than a year ago - and the poll was taken before the non-summer of 2008, and the (latest) credit crisis.

Yet anyone looking for elected representatives to articulate these concerns will have been disappointed.
Look, you lot - we're the smartest kids in class. Teacher said so. You you all just fall into line. Don't make me want to change my tone.
The closest thing to a British Inhofe is Ulsterman Sammy Wilson, Democratic Unionist Party, who'd wanted a "reasoned debate" on global warming, rather than bullying, and recently called environmentalism a "hysterical psuedo-religion".
Sammy, here's yer "reasoned debate", you racist sexist imperialist oppressor, you.
"When the history books come to be written people will ask why were the only five MPs... who voted against this ludicrous bill," [Tory barrister Christopher Chope] said.
Nah. We've seen this before. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

Firewalls

I (somewhat surprisingly, to me at least) got some interesting feedback on yesterday's post about testing your firewall.

Anyone who doesn't use dial-up (e.g. AOL) needs to have a firewall, and this includes you Mac and Linux fanboys. A firewall is the Internet equivalent of a one-way valve - you can connect to the Internet through it, but the Internet can't connect to you. Firewall software has been shipping in all sorts of things for quite some time now, and it's very likely that if you have a low cost Internet router (like a Linksys), it comes with firewall capability, no extra charge.

This isn't a panacea - it's not for nothing that I keep repeating Borepatch's Law of Security:
"Free Download" is Internet-speak for "open your mouth and close your eyes."
Firewalls have gotten very good, at least as far as home users are concerned. They are very effective in stopping attacks that we used to see all the time. That is, they are if they're turned on. If the firewall software is disabled, then your home computer is almost certainly riddled with malware. So you should check it out, by using one of these online scanners (note: while I think Steve Gibson has an over-the-top description of what's happening, his scanner is safe and effective).

When you run it, you should expect to see solid green in the results. This means that you're entirely invisible to the Internet, at least until you connect there with your browser, iTunes, etc. Even then, only what you're connecting to will be able to communicate with your computer. This is A Good Thing, because it means that you don't have to scramble to patch the Windows Vulnerability From Hell.

Corporate firewalls are a whole different kettle of fish that I won't get into here. If you're interested, start with this.

Mac and Linux fanboys need to do this, too. Remember, you're both running Unix, which has tons of server processes (well, some, anyway). Linux fanboys probably already know this, and know that if they run sendmail, they need to set up a Firewall/DMZ configuration with Snort. Mere mortals will live with Gmail. ;-)

Mac guys, make sure your firewall's on. You're a smaller target, but there's a ton of legacy BSD code in OS X, and lots of people know how to write exploits for BSD.

UPDATE 29 October 2008 21:29: Heh.

Woah

Scene, chez Borepatch:
#1 son: I'm riding my bike to the library.

Me: Well done, you. What are you getting?

#1 son: Faust. By that german dude.

Me: Goethe. You get that assigned in English?

#1 son: Nah. Camelot has some cool songs about him, and so I thought I'd read it.

Me: !!!
Rock 'n' Roll. Corrupting the youth of America. As Insty would say, "Faster, please."

Shoeblogging







And what impressive shoes they are. Chanel, no less. $2,200, no less.

Of course, it was Madonna who wore them.

I must admit that I'm not much of a Madonna fan, but she gets props for making the usual suspects insane:
“I am horrified that Madonna can see these shoes as fashion,” says Lyn Costello, part of the Mothers Against Murder And Aggression group (MAMAA).
That said, I do think you have to give Madonna credit for the definitive rendition of "Santa Baby." Just sayin'.

UPDATE 29 October 2008 19:41: Via a comment at RobertaX's place, it seems that Lipstick.lace.brassknuckles blogged this back in May. Oh bother.

[sigh] Borepatch - bringing you breaking news from 5 months ago!

UPDATE 4 November 2008 17:59: It looks like a lot of folks are coming here via Google Images. Welcome, and take a look around! I have a Best Posts category - if you don't like these, well it's about as good as I can offer up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Microsoft vulnerability from Hell

Well, maybe not from Hell, but it's serious enough that Microsoft released an unscheduled patch to cover it. That's very, very unusual. Rich Mogull has a good, short description of the problem:

It’s a nasty vulnerability in the Server service that allows remote code execution without authentication. You should already be blocking TCP ports 139 and 445 at the perimeter, so nothing unusual to change on the firewall.

But this is totally wormable, requires no authentication, and allows arbitrary code execution. It’s the evil trinity of vulnerabilities. Oh, did we mention it’s being actively exploited and that’s how MS found it? This folks, is a true zero day.

So, is this a problem for you? Not if one or more of these apply to you:
  • You're a Mac Fanboy. Go back to sneering at the poor Windows slobs.
  • You're a Linux Fanboy. Go back to explaining to the Mac fanboys that it's actually cooler to recompile your kernel. No, really.
  • You use a company Windows box, but you know that your company's IT keeps up on this.
The rest of you, you're fine if you have a firewall (like a Linksys) as long as the firewall is turned on.

Don't laugh - I have a buddy who used to do security audits for companies. At one, he asked if they had a firewall. They said yes, and then brought in a (powered off, disconnected) firewall box. Seems it had been blocking some stuff, so they took it out. But hey, they had one, right?

If you want to check to see if your firewall is working, there are a bunch of on-line scanning options. One that's been around for quite some time is Steve Gibson's Shields UP! (yeah, it's a little breathless, but the scan works fine. It should only take a few minutes, and if everything's green, you're fine:

Don't believe the polls, v2.0

Stolen Thunder is a must-read for anyone who wants to actually understand what the heck is going on with the polls. It's no surprise that the MSM scorecard is (ahem) pretty weak tea:
Says Gallup; “Early voting ranges from 14% of voters 55 and older (in aggregated data from Friday through Wednesday) to 5% of those under age 35. Plus, another 22% of voters aged 55 and up say they plan to vote early, meaning that by Election Day, over a third of voters in this older age group may already have cast their ballots.”

The last two statements are very good news for McCain and bad news for Obama. This is because it demonstrates that enthusiasm to actually vote by republicans is equal to enthusiasm to vote by democrats. This runs directly against claims made in polling up to now, demonstrating that participation in polls is not directly related to voting this year. Second, the higher participation by senior voters and weaker participation by younger voters is directly in line with historical norms, again running against the poll expectations that this year would see a wave of young people voting but seniors staying at home.
I've said before that I flat out don't believe the polls, because the numbers look funny when you look at them. There seem to be some assumptions that run completely counter to historical norms. We're now seeing actual results (early voting) that suggests that the historical norms are right, and the new weightings are wrong.

Watch the polls over the weekend - you very well may see a "surge" for McCain as the pollsters realize that their current trajectory would be a Truman-Dewey scale miss, and correct their internals.

Of what use is an Intellectual Class?

I come from a family of intellectuals, as does the lovely and well-read Mrs. Borepatch. Between us, we have 3 parents who were PhDs and tenured University professors (the fourth patent was a librarian, so my intellectual bona fides are fully paid up). I myself have two University degrees: Electrical Engineering, and a double major in History and Economics. I was in the Honors program at State U. I say this not to brag, but to set out at the beginning that this is not an anti-intellectual screed. Well, not a normal anti-intellectual screed, anyway.

The question under consideration is what is the value to society in having an intellectual class?

Education, the media, and Hollywood are all the province of intellectuals. They see themselves - as a class - as the "vanguard of progress." The literature is full of self-congratulation that goes all the way back to Socrates (the unexamined life is not worth living) and Plato (the philosophers are the proper guardians of society). In general, there's much to admire here (although ix-nay on the ilosopher-king-pay, thank you very much).

So we can rephrase the question more specifically: if the Intellectual Class does not deliver what it promises, what is the downside? Is this downside worth the bother?

The shortcomings of the Intellectual Class are all around us, and are abundantly documented. The American Thinker writes on why intellectuals as a class are anti-capitalist:
Schooling, maintains Nozick, breeds in intellectuals a sense of superiority, and with it a sense of entitlement to the highest rewards society has to offer - not just top salaries but praise comparable to that lavished on them by their teachers. After completing their formal academic training in the centralized environment of the classroom, intellectuals go forth into a seemingly chaotic capitalist society, which purports to reward individual citizens by merit but in fact applies a different standard of merit from the one imparted in the classroom.

So an open, capitalist society falls just short of satisfying intellectuals' sense of entitlement.

Orson Scott Card (a writer, and therefore an intellectual by definition) is sharper in his criticism, and moves from the general to the specific (as far as societal value is concerned):
These "intellectuals" show not even the slightest sign of ever having questioned their own opinions.

Now, I have to regard this as the minimum standard for being regarded as a genuine intellectual -- that you have questioned your own beliefs and subjected them to rigorous tests of logic and evidence.

What is striking is the number of conservatives or small-l libertarians who used to be liberals. I am firmly in this camp, as is Lissa. If the Intellectual Class were healthy, you would expect former conservatives taking up a liberal mindset, which doesn't seem to happen almost ever.

The problem is that the liberal canon is increasingly unexamined, too. As a result, a lot of the "facts" that they left believes are total hogwash. For example, "Niger Uranium Story Based on Forged Documents" (no it wasn't). "Everyone knows that the temperature is going up, and it's our fault" (the data is surprisingly suspect). These unexamined premises, these incorrect data points, these uncomfortable truths that they don't seem to dare examine lead them to the most astonishing sorts of public hypocracy, like feminists turning their back on Hirsi Ali:
In the UK at the moment, we have a number of ex-Islamists bravely speaking out about the extremism they once espoused. Surprisingly, not all the criticism they have had has come from those they have “betrayed”. Some has arisen from the left, who accuse them of creating trouble, or toadying to Western interests. Perhaps it is a racist view that “brown people” shouldn’t speak out about their religion in the same way that white liberals feel free to do about their own religious backgrounds; perhaps it’s a fear of the extremists themselves; or perhaps it’s a loathing of their own society’s assumed hypocrises that leads to this sort of snidely remark from a liberal academic.

So a warning to Muslims who choose to criticize their religion or even extremist segments of it. Don’t expect to get away with the sort of thing white liberals get away with saying about Catholicism or the Church of England, because they won’t like you causing trouble.

Don’t expect solidarity or support, you will be seen as the authors of your own misfortune.

Most of all, don’t expect the snidely liberals to watch your backs.

They are so very tired of you.

The ultimate example (again, with the feminists) was the sad spectacle of Bill Clinton:
Yet, when sued under that same law by a state employee for an incident that occurred when he was a governor--having a state policeman escort her to his hotel room, where he allegedly demanded oral sexual services from her--he brazenly declared that the law didn't apply to him. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.

And when the law suit progressed, he not only lied under oath, but suborned perjury from others, both through bribes, and through threats, both direct and relayed through others, to prevent her from getting a fair hearing in court. It came out that he had not only engaged in the incident for which he was being sued, but had also indulged in sexual activity with another extreme subordinate, on company time at the work place, and (as the most powerful man in the world) exposed himself to potential blackmail through this reckless behavior.

Too often, "debate" is little more than a middle-school level name calling, like "Bush Lied." Card again:
When they trumpet examples of Republican "lies," they usually turn out to be in the following categories:

1. Statements that turn out to be wrong, though they were believed to be right at the time they were spoken. (In the rational world, we call these "mistakes.")

2. Statements that interpret legitimate data in ways that support the Republican view. (In the rational world, we call these "differences of opinion.")

  1. Statements that point out obvious contradictions between what the Democratic candidates say and what they have said and done in the past. These are called "negative campaigning" and "mudslinging" and "distortions" and, of course, "lies," but these countercharges are offered instead of coherent explanations.

His final point is correct, but does not address why they act like they do:
What I find from most self-styled "intellectuals" in American public life is a laziness so profound as to be frightening. These are our opinion leaders and university professors? Have they forgotten that "the never-doubted opinion is not worth speaking"?

Have they forgotten? Of course not (remember, they aced the final). So why do they act like this? A marketing person would say that they're damaging the brand. We certainly see this with the public's reaction to the media: By 5-to-1 Public Thinks Media Trying To Elect Obama. Chart the New York Times share price over the last 5 years and you'll see the downside of what they are doing. Perhaps the most important intellectual tool I learned in Economics, was qui bono? When something doesn't look rational, ask yourself "who benefits"? This is the key to the mystery.

The Intellectual Class operates essentially as a Guild. The members (professors, senior newsroom staff, etc) have considerable control over who is hired and promoted. For many years, a small intellectual-left core group provided a subtle leftward weighting in hiring and promotion decisions. This has compounded over the course of many decades, until a slight leftward bias has become overwhelming. Over fifty years, the frog has been thoroughly boiled.



OK, so professors are a bunch of pointy-headed pinkos. So what?

The small problem is that they forget how to think. The left has been intellectually impoverished for some time now, and this is due to promoting less qualified leftists and driving away more qualified rightists. It doesn't matter which side is right or wrong, the arguments that you hear in academic circles are weak to the point of sudden failure. Eric S. Raymond describes the catestrophe:
I have encountered entire academic fields that have been effectively
destroyed by Left politics, in the sense that they can no
longer talk about anything other than power relations. Postmodern
literary criticism is only the most obvious example; for that matter,
postmodernist anything is reliably a nihilist swamp obsessed
with ‘agendas’ and ‘power relations’ to the exclusion of its
ostensible subject matter.

Here’s one that affects me particularly: the damage done to
cultural anthropology has been horrific, with the perverse effect of
making my amateur and tentative essays in it look far stronger than
they would have if the field were actually healthy.

OK, so professors are dumb pointy-headed pinkos. So what.

They teach our children, that's so what. They're no longer searching for truth, but are busy indoctriating our kids. While the schools fail at teaching kids how to read, write, and do math, their charges are reliably liberal. Obama may be the first to ride this wave, but he won't be the last. It's all about power. Qui bono? Left-leaning Intellectuals.

Given that the country is split in thirds (Republican/Intependent/Democrat), why should the other two thirds of the country support this? The Mainstream Media and Hollywood are already in big financial trouble, as they drive big portions of their former readers and viewers away. This is fixing itself, in a way that will be astonishingly painful for the MSM and Hollywood.

So what about the schools? This is the third leg of the Intellectual Class, and it's the least responsive to the market. It's also arguably the most important - we'll continue to need engineers, doctors, and computer programmers (chemists, too!). At what point will the public decide that the social cost is more than the social benefit?

A healthy Intellectual Class is probably critical to the health of the Republic. We don't have a healthy Intellectual Class.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shelby Foote: The Civil War

I'm almost done with Shelby Foote's master work, The Civil War: A Narrative. "Almost" means 200 pages to go in volume 3* - this is a long, long telling of a long, long war. I'm a history buff, so this was a natural, especially when seen on the "Bargain Books" shelf at Barnes and Noble.

If you've seen PBS' The Civil War, you'll remember Foote, with his gracious southern manner and white beard. Foote passed on in 2005, but is remembered in a Youtube tribute that is good enough to post here.



While not all of Ken Burn's material came from Foote's book, a huge amount did. It's impossible to do this justice in a post, but here are some impressions of the books:
  • While I'd studied the "Grant vs. Lee" bit before (I'm a history buff, after all), I'd never really understood how it worked. Lee was a master of maneuver, and this was how he had beaten all the previous Union generals. While it was true that "Grant wouldn't stay whupped", that really wasn't the key to Grant's genius. By continually threatening first Richmond and then Petersburg throughout 1864, Grant immobilized Lee. Even Lee understood that the end was only a matter of time once things settled down to a siege outside Petersburg.
  • The Confederate generals really were that much better than the Union ones, but they couldn't be replaced. About the only Confederate general who "rose through the ranks" was Nathan Bedford Forrest, and that wasn't nearly enough. As more and more of the original Confederate generals fell in battle (Stonewall Jackson, of course, but also Albert Sydney Johnston and many, many more), their places were filled with less capable men. The new commanders simply couldn't accomplish for Lee what their predecessors could. The Union, on the other hand, kept bring on new men until they found a set who could win battles.
  • Everyone remembers William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea" - having lived in Roswell, GA, I can personally attest that they haven't forgotten. Or forgiven. Most folks haven't heard about his march though South Carolina at the beginning of 1865, which was much, much more destructive - South Carolina was seen as the "Cradle of the Confederacy", and the destruction was designed not to provide supplies (as in Georgia), but explicitly to lay waste as a punishment. Foote's discussion of the burning of the capitol city of Columbia underlines how this wasn't a bug, but rather was a feature.
This is admittedly no light work - I've been reading this off and on since June. However, this is well worth a read, especially for Europeans who want to better understand how Americans tick. It's not accurate to say that America has never been invaded and occupied; the portion south of the Mason Dixon line has.

* Volume 3 is 1060 pages plus notes, bibliography, maps, etc. The three volumes are combined well over 3000 pages.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

1929 Motivational Posters


I was very surprised to see that these were so old, although a lot of the old Commie/Ruski posters were explicitly motivational. These are from 1929, and were sold by subscription to companies. The International Poster Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston is running an exhibit from this artist.

No idea what the price is (probably not cheap), but I liked this one. This one is cool, too, although juxtaposing the words "shooting" and "Munich Olympics" is not so cool.

Behind Enemy Lines

Today we went into Boston, to provision the kids for Halloween. Newbury Street is the deepest blue of the Blue States, but it had to be done.

Surprisingly, even here there are signs of purple. Trident Booksellers had a Turkey Hunting magazine to go with the New Age reading, so I picked it up (Turkey Hunting, that is; I got all the Chakras I can use).

Even here, it seemed, the Saracuda phenomenon is on display. The good Governor has an admirer (or two, or twenty) at Newbury Comics. I did not pick one of these up (not sure where I'd wear it, but I'm a boring old coot). I might have gone for one of the "Maverick/Cougar" ones if they had had any, as that slogan tickles the lovely and apolitical Mrs. Borepatch.

The true object of the recon was Army Barracks, an actual Army/Navy store on Mass Ave. Resupplied, we organized the squad to return to friendly lines when the kids reported hunger pangs. Those with teenagers know you don't go far without stopping to refuel. A quick inventory of the shop showed an excellent stock of MREs. Two to go, please:

We may be the only picnic at Boston's Christian Science Plaza to feature Pork Rib and Beef Ravioli MREs. Probably are. The heat pouches are pretty interesting. I felt slightly guilty pouring the water out on the sidewalk - it's probably full of interesting chemical compounds. Thumbs up from #1 son and #2 son on the taste. The kids thought it was cooler than McDonald's, although I imagine that any number of our service men and women would happily swap.

UPDATE 26 October 2008 17:58: You can read the Mrs' take here.

And you have to watch this video, taken in 1903 by one of Thomas Edison's team, who mounted a camera on the front of a Boston streetcar and filmed it as it drove from Copley Square to Boylston Street. Doesn't look much like that now, although I guess that there's the outside possibility that one of the pedestrians here is wearing a "VPILF" t-shirt.

Foodblogging - Ted Bread

One nice thing about the weekend is that there's time to cook. One nice thing about Autumn is that it's colder, so you don't mind running the stove to bake.

Bread is really, really easy to make. It's also really, really forgiving of mistakes. Sure, if you want to be a professional baker, you need to pay close attention to get repeatable results. (You can see where I'm going, can't you? Ted Bread is a bit like Calvinball) For me, variation is half the fun.

Quite some time ago, the kids started calling this "Ted Bread". Here's the basic recipe, and a couple of variations:

Start a packet of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar "proofing" in a cup warm (not hot!) water. Warm as in "bathwater for baby", not "I really like a nice hot shower". In 5 minutes, you'll see a foam forming on the top - this means that the yeast is having a real swinging time, in a free-love-for-yeast sort of way.

Next, stir in around 3 cups of flour and a teaspoon of salt. The dough will be pretty sticky, so you'll add flour "by feel" (until it's not sticky anymore) while you knead it. How much you knead it will determine the texture of the loaf - more kneading will give you more of a french baguette texture, with big air bubbles in the loaf and a chewy mouth feel. Less kneading will give a finer, softer (and perhaps less interesting) loaf. I said that it was forgiving.

Now time comes into play. Cover with oiled waxed paper and put in a warm place. My stove has a "Bread Proof" setting (I love my stove), but you can do this instead:
  • Turn on your oven to 200 degrees, for two minutes.
  • Turn off your oven. You now have a warm, dark place to let the yeast have its way with the flour.
Let the bread rise for an hour and a half to two hours. Then "punch it down" (knead it one final time), shape it into loaf, and turn the oven on to 450 degrees. Bake 20 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when you rap it.


Fresh bread with homemade chicken soup.

Variations: This bread is more or less a blank canvas - you can make it into all sorts of different things, from Cinnamon Rolls to Olive loaf to Baguette. Here are two quick variations.

Herb Loaf. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs to the mix when you add the flour. I used minced-basil-in-a-tube this time, because I was out of minced-italian-herbs-in-a-tube and minced-garlic-in-a-tube.

Baguette. There are four tricks to baguettes:
  • Give it at least ten minutes kneading, to really stretch the dough. Do not skimp on this step.
  • After the dough rises, you need to knead it into a baguette shape. Not only will this make it look like a baguette, but it will improve the texture (can't knead too much), and change the surface-to-volume ratio. Basically, you knead it down (to flatten), and then fold both sides over to meet in the middle. Do not change the direction of the kneading, just keep repeating the kneed-fold pattern. The loaf will get longer and narrower as you do this. You will need to stop every 5 minutes to let the dough "relax" - it will be much easier to continue kneading after 2 minute rest. Turn the load over so that the "seam" is on the bottom, and make a series of shallow diagonal slashes long the top of the loaf.
  • Let the formed baguette rise a second time. You'll want at least 45 minutes, but an hour and a half is better.
  • When you put the loaf in to bake, pour a half cup of water into a metal baking sheet that you pre-heated with the oven. This will make a cloud of steam, which commercial bakers have injected in their special baking ovens. This steam will make the crust more crusty and baguette-ish.

Range Report - Keltec PF9

The last trip to the Range was a cornucopia of shooty goodness, and a chance for me to celebrate diversity in my own, cordite-wreathed way. The Keltec PF9 demonstrates the importance of not discriminating on the basis of size.

Now I don't carry a pistol, but this would be a neat one if I did. It's tiny, but gives you 7 rounds of 9mm europellet goodness in double action semi-auto.

It's so small, that I couldn't really use a two handed grip. My left hand interfered with my trigger finger. Expect to shoot one-handed with this.

7 yards, 13 rounds (more or less two mags), slow fire. I should have tried rapid fire, as any serious action you'd get at 7 yards while you were carrying would likely be (ahem) hurried.

Rapid fire with this would likely be all over the map, until I got used to it. There are two reasons:
  • This pistol is snappy. Since it weighs (ballpark) half as much as the Springfield XD, and shoots the same round, the recoil is twice as pronounced. Sir Isaac Newton will not be denied. Getting back on-target took more concentration than with a heavier pistol.
  • The trigger is double action only, so it's a long trigger pull. In many ways, it felt like shooting a revolver, which was interesting. I'd expect that this is something that you'd get used to after putting a hundred or two rounds down range.
The iron sights seemed OK (IOW, I don't remember either particularly liking or disliking them). Given that I seem to be somewhat persnickety about sights, there's a good chance that you won't mind them, either.

If you want to use this as a carry piece, expect to practice with it more than with a larger pistol. It's plenty small and compact, and the recoil should be controllable once you're used to it, but it seems more like driving a sports car than an SUV. Light weight, nimble, manual transmission. Kind of fun, actually.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Everything you need to know about Gun Control

Just go watch. Right. Now.

Just added Pistolero to the blogroll.

Autumn

Range Report - .22 Winchester Magnum

This is a first for my range reports, talking not so much about the gun, but rather the cartridge. I had the chance to try a (pre-1966) Winchester 1894. Done that before, and love it (Mmmm, Lever Gun!). What was new was the cartridge, the .22 Win Mag (the Wikipedia article is quite good, BTW).

The .22 Win Mag differs from the .22 LR in two respects. It is much higher velocity (2000 fps), and it's quite a bit spendier - same ballpark as 9mm. So for plinking, budget accordingly.

It is a lot of fun to shoot, especially in this rifle. No recoil at all, a bang loud enough to make you grin but not so loud as to distract. #2 son would love this. The lovely and high velocity Mrs. Borepatch would, too.

Accuracy from the 1894, as always, is more than satisfactory. 25 yards (I know, I know, but it's an indoor range), 21 rounds, slow fire:


A couple more times practicing with this, and I'd get the grouping down to "minute of rabbit." Not that you'd shoot rabbit with this - there likely wouldn't be a lot left to eat. This rifle and cartridge would be just the thing for a Coyote infestation.

Saturday Redneck - My Give A Damn's Busted

Jo Dee Mussina is a local Massachusetts girl who made it big in the country music industry. What I particularly like about her music is that it's songs with attitude.

My Give a Damn's Busted is a great example of this attitude. It continues the country tradition of "Done Me Wrong" songs.

I said earlier this week that I didn't believe the polls, and quite frankly think that the poll internals are crooked. Certainly what we've seen of the media lately is crooked. This Saturday Redneck's for both of them.


Well, you filled up my head with so many lies.
You twisted my heart till somethin' snapped inside.
I'd like to give it one more try,
But my give-a-damn's busted.

You can crawl back home, say you were wrong;
Stand out in the yard and cry all night long.
Well, go ahead and water the lawn:
My give-a-damn's busted.

I really wanna care.
I wanna feel somethin'.
Let me dig a little deeper:.
No, sorry: nothin'.

You can say you've got issues, you can say you're a victim.
It's all your parents fault, after all you didn't pick 'em.
Maybe somebody else has got time to listen:
My give-a-damn's busted.

Well, your therapist says it was all a mistake:
A product of the Prozac an' your co-dependent ways.
So who's your enabler these days?
My give-a-damn's busted.

I really wanna care.
I wanna feel somethin'.
Let me dig a little deeper:.
No, still nothin'.

It's a desperate situation, no tellin' what you'll do.
If I don't forgive you, you say your life is through.
C'mon, gimme somethin' I can use:
My give-a-damn's busted.

Well, I really wanna care.
I wanna feel somethin'.
Let me dig a little deeper:
No, I'm sorry.
Just nothin', no.
You've really done it this time, ha, ha.
My give-a-damn's busted.

The Anti-Redneck Song

I've been struggling for an idea for this week's Saturday Redneck. The lovely and musical Mrs. Borepatch offered this suggestion:
Mrs. Borepatch: Well it's not very redneck, but I've had the Barry Manilow song "Weekend in New England" running through my mind since we walked the dogs yesterday.

Me: "Not very?" It's the Anti-Redneck. It sucks all the redneck out of the room.
Those of you with a redneck infestation are encouraged to try it. Now if y'all will excuse me, I'm off to play some Travis Tritt.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I still vote for Luigi

JayG could not be reached for comment. Or Lissa.

Moustachio'd animal, monkey Famous moustache

Actually, I once shaved my moustache. The lovely and long married Mrs. Borepatch had never seen me without it. Took several hours for her to notice. Heh.

How not to demonstrate handgun safety

By the police, no less.

Chicks Wizards with Guns

Autumn in New England

It's getting cold, which means that Fall is really here.

The leaves will be gone soon, but now it's the last blaze of glory. Walking the dogs is a treat.

Small One-Eyed Dog thinks that she's a bed warmer. At least when it's cold.

Range Report - Springfield XD

A buddy in the office got a brand new Springfield XD, in 9mm. In a fit of generosity, he asked me to come shooting with him (thanks, Burt!).


I must not be the biggest fan of the Semi-Auto Europellet pistols, because I don't seem to shoot them much. This could make me reconsider. I enjoyed the Glock 22, and this was a lot of fun. Here's what I really liked:
  • Excellent iron sights. I'm surprised that the Springfield web site doesn't seem to feature this. The white-dots-on-black-background are very easy to see, and lining the dots up puts you bang on target (so to speak). Both my regular readers will remember that bad iron sights can ruin the whole shooting experience for me. No problem here.
  • Grip safety. I like 'em, this has one. It also has that neat "Ultra Safety Assurance™" safety in the trigger. Looks like to negligently accidentally discharge, you'd have to be both gripping the piece and have your finger on the trigger.
  • It points very much like a 1911.
  • Excellent surprise trigger break. This trigger actually surprised me, so it took a magazine to get my groups where I wanted them. Yeah, I know: "Ted, ur doin' it rong." One of the best triggers I've shot.
No complaints on accuracy. It will shoot much better than I can, but still gave me a big old grin. 7 Yards, 32 rounds (2 magazines), slow fire:

Since I don't carry for self-defense, I've never really focused on magazine size. The 16 round magazine lets you shoot for a while, though. Unless you're doing rapid fire:


Grouping not so nice here. You'll notice the flyer near the top of the target. The surprise break really surprised me there. 7 Yards, 16 rounds.

Shooting things is fun
. Boy, howdy. Thanks for letting me shoot it, Burt!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Talking is overrated

The lovely and YouTuby Mrs, Borepatch has a post y'all want to see. Really.

Although I have to be honest, this sort of thing never happened when I was at the range. Maybe she'll wear heels next time she comes shooting.

Why I shoot

I know I promised a Range Report, but it's late, and I'm tired. And I had a realization tonight, about something that RobertaX asked and JayG picked up.

Why do you shoot?

Because I can be me for a while. No, it's not a bad 1970s song. And it's not whining, either.

I'm pretty good at what I do at work, but there are some times that how I act is as important - or more - than what I do. The role. This is necessary and important sometimes, and I don't begrudge what has to be done.

I love being a husband and a dad, but sometimes (increasingly? I hope not, but maybe I'm not sure) how I act is, once again as important - or more - than what I do. Again, I don't feel the need to run from this.

But tonight the lovely and beneficent Mrs. Borepatch covered at home. I got to go shooting. As just me.

It isn't a night off from responsibility - responsibility the the shooting buddy who's always with you, at least if you're doing it right.

Tonight it was just me, and the guns, and the targets. Doing as well as I can. Responsible just for me, just for a while. It was a moment of Zen, in a literal sense.

I love it when #2 son comes shooting with me. He's my shooting buddy, but I sometimes have to concentrate more on him than on my shooting. I love when the lovely and accurate Mrs. Borepatch comes shooting with me, but I have to focus on her having a good time, so she'll come back.

Tonight was just me, the guns, and the targets. Doing as well as I could. My moment of stepping out of roles, and just focusing.
Front sight.

Surprise break.

X-Ring.
I'm a lucky man.

Range Report coming

Been shooting, report to come. Right now, there's an IPA holding things up.

It's a good day, Scooter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chicken Fried Bacon

All right, since all the cool kids are bacon-blogging, offered for your consideration is Chicken Fried Bacon Strips. With gravy. Hell Yeah!

Yes, it's from Texas. Why did you ask?

Hack teh vote

I guess I was a little too flippant in Monday's search term safari. Seems those crazy kids are trying to hack the vote:

Service has been restored to the website that handles Ohio's voter registration and elections information after hackers breached its defenses. The intrusion is just one of several assaults confronting the Secretary of State's office as tensions mount over next month's presidential election.

IT workers took the site down on Monday to "detect and prosecute any illegal breach of our voting infrastructure to maintain voter confidence," Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said in a statement. On Tuesday, the site returned, although parts of it remained in "static" mode, meaning a campaign finance search database and other features were unavailable.

Sheesh. Hope these guys are more l337 than that Democratic politician's kid who got into Sarah Palin's email. And the Ohio techies are busy doing damage control:
Brunner's office has not disclosed details of the breach, except to say that voters' personal information was not accessed.
So they didn't know enough to keep those meddling kids out of the server farm, but don't worry your pretty heads about your info. Well, that's sure a relief!

In other security news, the Federales rounded up computers used by the doofus who claimed that he broke into Hannah Montana's Miley Cyrus' Gmail account. Seems risque pix of the teen idol were involved.

I'd say, just turn the loser over to Billy Ray. Guy will have more than an achy-breaky heart when the can of whoop-ass gets closed up again.

And what is with Tennessee, anyway? Both the Palin hacker and this guy are from the Volunteer State. No offense to Tennesseans, but y'all got some l4m3r hacker wannabes down there.

The Financial Times Gets It

That the polls are off:
The RealClear Politics website’s average of polls, which gives Mr Obama a lead of 6.8 per cent over Mr McCain, offers a better guide to the situation. It compares to John Kerry’s lead just a few weeks before he lost the 2004 election to Mr Bush. It is also slightly lower than Mr Obama’s lead over Hillary Clinton shortly before she bested him – and the media – in the New Hampshire primary at the start of the year.
Via Jules Crittenden, who has more from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the New York Post.

Anyone talks to you bout polls, hold on to your wallet.

Crypto Geek Cred


On a T Shirt, for that "I helped beat back the Nazis" mathematical guru in your life. All proceeds go to saving Bletchley Park.

I know, I know - brute force encryption key cracking is so 1990s. But this was 1940s. "Big Iron" meant lots of moving parts!

Poll discovers Journalists think that Math is hard

OK, I just made that up, but it's pretty clear that Journalists simply don't understand statistics. Well, Stats is hard (I thought it was harder than Calculus, but that's me). However, it's not asking too much for them to have someone who does know stats to check things out for them, is it?

Because otherwise, they won't realize that the current polls are mathematically impossible:
The variance for current polls listed at Real Clear Politics for this morning ranges from the Pew poll which advertises a 14-point lead for Obama, to the Battleground poll which says the lead is only 2 points. The variance is too great (and there are polls relatively close to both ends, demonstrating proof of statistical invalidity for the published confidence level) for even the casual observer to accept as a reasonable. There are four polls which show a 10 point lead or greater for Obama, and another five which show a 6 point lead or less. It is mathematically impossible for so many polls to be valid, yet disagree to such a degree with valid methodology. [emphasis in the original]
Lots of discussion of statistical confidence intervals in the post, but it's mostly painless. The key parts, though, are about how the pollsters (Gallup, in this case) are just making up the methodology:
Gallup has admitted that this model has no precedent, and uses over-samples of urban and youth voters, in the presumption that they will sharply increase participation this year.
Other than the "this model has no precedent" bit, it's rock-solid.

Other pollsters seem to be similarly "rock-solid":
For example, in the Oct 20 poll Pew undersamples seniors and oversamples the 50-64 age group, oversamples high school only education by a large amount, and fails to note regional breakdowns or the urban/suburban/rural split. These are critical points which Pew fails to address, and which hshould [sic] make the reader wary.
JD Drummond has a must read about lousy polling methodology, and concludes that while the press is happy to be fooled, the candidates aren't acting like they are:
So, could I be wrong? I have to be honest and admit that I could. But in that case, we'd have to ask why the polls do not generally agree with each other, why Gallup is trying to spin three different models at the same time to get a grasp of the picture, why McCain and Obama are both so interested in Pennsylvania, yet neither is working very hard in Ohio right now. We'd have to explain why McCain-Palin rallies are now attracting thousands more people than Obama-Biden rallies, why Letterman suddenly found it cool to have McCain on his show and SNL decided they wanted Palin on theirs. We'd have to explain why there are not a lot of Obama signs visible, but we hear about his army of lawyers getting ready. We'd have to explain why McCain and Palin appear to be so relaxed while Obama and Biden look like they're worried.
So what does this all mean?
  1. I stand by my earlier post. I don't believe that the polls are valid. I'll even add to that, saying that I don't believe that the actual election results this year will be within the margin of error (IOW, they're all a crock).
  2. The pollsters are confused. Gallup, for example, uses three different and mutually exclusive weightings, none of which are historically valid, nd none of which agree with each other. See the Stolen Thunder link for details, but this reinforces point #1.
  3. The press doesn't have a clue that the polls are worthless. Whether this is due to mathematics ignorance or willful ignorance is left to the reader's imagination.
  4. The press may be trying to walk back from the ledge. Whether they can resist the temptation to double down on their hopey-changey candidate remains to be seen.
  5. The candidates know better. You want to know what's really happening? Watch them. No way is Obama up by 14 in Pennsylvania - why would he campaign there if he were?
It seems that a lot of this campaign has been about "fool the rubes." The polls, and the press' flogging of the polls fits this pattern. Ignorance or willful ignorance?

UPDATE 22 October 2008 19:27: OK, I'm slow on my blog reading today, because Kim du Toit sums the situation up with the Quote of the Day:
The Cliff Notes explanation is that if I’d ever designed a commercial qualitative research study with so obvious a set of prejudices and misconceptions, I’d have been fired.
UPDATE 22 October 2008 21:15: It just keeps on coming. Zombietime has a post about the "Clever Hans Effect" as a source of polling bias.
This phenomenon is now called "The Clever Hans Effect": the attitude of questioners can affect respondents' answers even if the questioner is trying to remain neutral. If a horse can notice subtle verbal or visual cues, then a person -- who is much more attuned to human culture and emotions -- can probably notice them even more so (possibly also without even realizing it).
I'd really like to see an analysis on what this does to the confidence interval and margin of error. Interestingly, the CE does not relate to accuracy, but rather to repeatability. In other words, you can have a perfectly repeatable poll stuffed full of, well, what comes out of Clever Hans.

Polls. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The man can write

Different bloggers have different styles. Mine is "frequent+spew" (if you've just recently found this site, you've been warned). Words like "thoughtful" don't really enter into it.

While I've only been blogging a few months, this style has come out. For better or worse, it's likely to be like this for a while.

Random Acts of Patriotism started blogging about the same time I did, and his style has also really emerged. Thoughtful? Boy, howdy. Sick of politics, he writes about reloading shotgun shells with his Grandfather. Man sure knows how to write.
When I raise the gun and feel it hit my cheek right on the sweet spot, and the bead appears, following the clay, and I know it's going to break before I pull the trigger, there he is.

When I go out with the juniors or assist at a Ladies Day, and I'm teaching someone to how to hold and point a shotgun, I can hear his voice.
Me, I just blather stream of consciousness. When I find someone who can really write, I have to confess a twinge of envy. Or more than a twinge, here.

Election 2008 Prediction #1

#1, as in I expect to do more.

No matter who wins next month, Sarah Palin and Saturday Night Live are the big winners so far. We'll see more of them, especially if Obama wins (I can't imagine what the security would be for a VP Palin on SNL).


Yeah, it starts out with the regular, predictably un-funny jokes. Watch it.

"Your brother Steven is my favorite Baldwin brother." And Tina Fey when she's told that the "real one" is here? Now that's a funny joke, I don't care who you are.

UPDATE 2 November 2008 15:11: It's kind of scary, but I see I'm getting Google hits on this page by folks looking for election predictions. I have more serious analysis here.

Foodblogging - Chicken Soup

Both my regular readers know that I love fried chicken. Pan fried, not deep fried, thank you very much. It's about the definition of what the good Lord put the chicken on this good earth for.

So what can get me to roast, not fry, the bird? Soup the day after. Fried chicken, for all its finger-lickin' goodness, provides no carcass to boil up. Water to cover, salt and pepper corns, couple carrots, whatever may be left over in the fridge - it all combines in an alchemy for the next day's soup. Well, stew is more like it. The picture's not much, but you should smell it.


I like to finish with savory herbs (Thyme and Oregano do nicely; dried will do nicely) plus some Old Bay (lay off the salt a bit because you're adding more here). Finish with some Balsamic vinegar. I actually like to put in too much (a couple tablespoons in this batch), but then cook it for another 30 minutes. If you put it in right before serving, only use one tablespoon; however, the cooking time will blend the flavors very nicely indeed.

I'm making pasta (flour, eggs, salt, roll in the pasta machine with #2 son). The lovely and epicurean Mrs. Borepatch is making biscuits with #1 son. For once, the whole family is in the kitchen together, and nobody's yelling!

Maybe apple crisp later. Not a bad day, Scooter.

World's First Ultra-Light Airplane


Well, OK, maybe not the first. But this one was tricked out not only with wheels, but with a chair for the pilot. Before this, the pilot flew the plane while lying down.

Didn't get year, make, and model, but I think it's a Wright Brothers design, and a little younger than the Stanley Steamer.

Not a car, but it was at a car museum! (I don't want to create Yet Another Blogpost Category).

1908 Stanley Steamer


You'd drive this down to pick up that new-fangled .30-06 cartridge that the young whippersnappers are all shooting.

The Stanley twins were tinkerers, in the great 19th century American tradition. They originally were in the photography business, but sold out to Eastman Kodak. Their cars were interesting in that while as cars they were primitive (all cars were primitive, back then), their steam engine was one of the most advanced designs in the world. While it was extremely light weight, it was also extremely safe (I don't think that any of their car owners were ever injured by a boiler explosion, for example).

It was also a screamer, for the period. A Stanley Steamer set the world land speed record in 1906: 127 mph. It was also classy - while you can't call it the Rolls Royce of its day (Rolls Royce was producing cars back then), William McKinley rode in one (the first president to ride in a car), and Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to buy one.

Originally in the back of the car, the engine was moved to the front. The resulting rounded compartment caused the design to be christened the "coffin nose" - you can see why in this picture.

Although for a while the Stanley Motor Carriage Company was the second largest US car manufacturer, the Stanley brothers had backed the wrong horse. The engine - while a technological marvel for the steam age - was much more expensive than the internal combustion engines. Once they passed steam in terms of power and reliability, the writing was on the wall. While the company staggered on until 1927, it was relegated to a luxury niche. At almost ten times the price of a Ford, it was the Bentley of its day.

The dashboard is very cool (sorry, no pic). It has some features obviously "car-like": steering wheel, gauges, etc. It also has some decidedly non car-like features: valves for the steam lines.

From the Owl's Head Transport Museum. Worth a day trip for those of you in the Northeast, especially if you have kids.

UPDATE 21 October 2008 16:59: Boy, that was fast. Chrisb points out that Jay Leno has one. There's a cool video of him and his ride here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Zealand men firing blanks?

Since neither of my regular readers is a kiwi, I'll point out the following from The Australian:
Research presented to a gathering of international fertility researchers in Brisbane today was told that the sperm volume carried by the average New Zealand man decreased from about 110 million to 50 million per millilitre between 1987 and 2007.
No problem in either Oz or the Home of the Brave:
This contrasts with Australia and the United States, where no decline has been seen. Studies from Scotland and France show marginal declines.
That's now serious the crisis is for kiwi men - the french are kicking your ass in manliness. Ouch.

Swiss Researchers catch up to 1960s

Well, better late than never:

Swiss researchers have demonstrated a variety of ways to eavesdrop on the sensitive messages computer users type by monitoring their wired keyboards. At least 11 models using a wide range of connection types are vulnerable.

The researchers from the Security and Cryptography Laboratory at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne are able to capture keystrokes by monitoring the electromagnetic radiation of PS/2, universal serial bus, or laptop keyboards. They've outline four separate attack methods, some that work at a distance of as much as 65 feet from the target.

The article goes on to quote some "principle security analyst" breathlessly saying that this is "very James Bond." Well, the Sean Connery Bond:
TEMPEST is a codename referring to investigations and studies of compromising emanations (CE). Compromising emanations are defined as unintentional intelligence-bearing signals which, if intercepted and analyzed, may disclose the information transmitted, received, handled, or otherwise processed by any information-processing equipment.

[snip]

The term TEMPEST was coined in the late 60's and early 70's as a codename for the NSA operation to secure electronic communications equipment from potential eavesdroppers[2] and vice versa the ability to intercept and interpret those signals from other sources.
Don't get all excited, I'm not letting any classified cats out of any black bag operations here. TEMPEST has been unclassified since the mid 1980s at least, so the only secret here is why the Swiss researchers weren't in the know.

Does this matter to you? Well, if nobody can get closer than 65 feet to your computer, you're probably OK. And anyone who wants your info enough to drive the TEMPEST collection van through your neighborhood probably has other was to get it.

Especially if you haven't turned WiFi security on.

UPDATE 24 October 2008 20:46: Unlike in the past, not only did I beat Insty to the punch, but gave you debunked, not hyped security news. Lord knows that there's plenty of real security news that's bad. OK, this is bad, too, but it's been had for decades. And you should still turn on your WiFi security.

More Security Kabuki in the UK

Want to get a new cell mobile phone? Bring your passport:

Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance.

Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase. Privacy campaigners fear it marks the latest government move to create a surveillance society.

Gee, ya think? Boy, that "unwritten constitution" sure is the shizzle flippity floppity floop.

Let's see, a monster database filled with info on normal folks doing their daily business? Easy for Bad Guys to bypass? Random errors inconveniencing regular people without catching terrorists?

Good thing that would never happen here.

It's a crying shame, really, what the UK is doing to itself.

UPDATE 20 October 2008 19:57: Soon, you'll need a passport to buy disposable diapers nappies. Fortunately, all the security cams will catch the hardened eco-criminals dropping them in the garbage can dustbin.