Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
Sledgehammer's Performance and Custom Cycles

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Listen up, Apple Marketing Droids

You suck and I hate you.

Specifically, the lack of cut and paste on the iPhone is a sore point that I've mentioned before, and I see that you're ignoring me.

But other people aren't.



So what's the deal here? You're making me want to jailbreak my phone. And this is why you suck and I hate you.
I shouldn't have to go looking for something called QuickPwn to get something basic like cut and paste on my phone, mkay?
Look, this cut and paste doodad looks Insanely Great. If I have to jailbreak the dang thing, that may just get me fooling around with it so it will sync with Linux. Oh wait, that would be insanely great, too.

You guys are idiots. Please stop this foolishness Right Now, kthanxbai.

Blagojevich more corrupt than at least 59 Illinois politicians

"How can you throw a governor out of office with incomplete or insufficient evidence?”
Um, by a vote of 59-0? I dunno, maybe the bit about getting arrested by the Federales was the giveaway?
Afterward, the Senate president, John J. Cullerton, said, “Today we mark a shameful low in the proud tradition of our state.”
So who's next?

But it seems that Change has finally come to the Land Of Lincoln. President Obama:
"For months, the state had been crippled by a crisis of leadership. Now that cloud has lifted."
Gee, I feel better already.

Best Birthday Present, ever

Your dad, back from Iraq:
Cavalry mechanic Casey [Hurles], 23, hid inside a giant box to surprise the excited six-year-old.
Welcome home, sir, and thank you.

From the UK Sun, who is not ashamed to call the troops "Our Boys". Well done. Keep up the ecraser les bien pensants thing!

Would Jesus Play Football?

To many of you, the words "Contemporary Christian Country Music" are enough to get you to flee the room. Don't.

Tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday, and the question that - stunningly - hasn't been asked before in this orgy of professional competitiveness is What Would Jesus Do? More specifically, would he play football?

Readers of a more liberal persuasion are allowed to start giggling now.

D. Glass is (was?) a band that is really hard to find much about, even on Al Gore's Intarwebz. They do have a set of songs up for free download on Open Source Audio, which is pretty cool. If they're not around anymore, that would be a shame, because this song is simply hilarious.


Would Jesus Play Football? (D. Glas)
My neighbor's the grandson of a preacher,
And he's always got something to say,
Like how the world would be better
if people took the time to pray.

Well, Saturday's a day of football,
and he always loves to watch them play,
But he said to me there was something wrong
with the spirit of the game.

(Chorus)
Would Jesus play football?
Would he knock you down and try to hurt you?
Would he rub it in when they scored a touchdown?
Would he try to beat your team 49 to nothing?
Would Jesus play football, or would he let you win?

I turned on the game.
I hadn't watched the sport in years.
The players came out, and the fans went wild,
Waving flags and screaming cheers.
The players took position, and when they finally kicked the ball,
There was a crackin' of helmets and a smashin' of pads,
And I could hear my neighbor call:

Would Jesus play football?
Would he knock you down and try to hurt you?
Would he rub it in when they scored a touchdown?
Would he try to beat your team 49 to nothing?
Would Jesus play football, or would he let you win?

I know there's nothing like the weekends.
All my friends are here today.
Push 'em back and hit 'em harder,
Cuz that's how the game is played.

Would Jesus play football?

You bet I was relieved
when my neighbor returned home in one piece.
There was a smile on his face and a jump in his step,
And he asked if I believed.
I picked me up a football,
and he went back for the pass,
And as he reached out to receive it,
I saw the light at last.

Would Jesus play football?
Would he knock you down and try to hurt you?
Would he rub it in when they scored a touchdown?
Would he try to beat your team 49 to nothing?
Would Jesus play football, or would he let you win?
Oh, and the correct answer is: Yes, if he lived in Texas. But he'd have to cut his hair.

Heh.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Twenty Random Things About Me

Old buddy Roger tagged me via a Facebook note, which was a new experience. I mean, I haven't spent the time over there to really figure out how Facebook works. Blogger's easy - it's all about me, me, me (and you!). On Facebook, it's a cacophony of everyone talking all at once. Not that this is bad, mind you, but it's a bit of a new thing for me.

So I'll do my Twenty Random Things bit here, and inject it into Facebook tomorrow.

Roger lays out the rules:
Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 20 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 20 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.
OK, here you go:

1. I turned down a job offer from Cisco Systems back in 1990. I would have been employee #250 or so, and the stock was at an adjusted price of, oh, a penny a share. It took a long time before the lovely and decidedly middle class Mrs. Borepatch would let me live this down. Business acumen: I doez not haz it.

2. I've visited every continent except for Antarctica.

3. I was baptized Presbyterian, grew up Episcopal, and was married in a Mormon church. And I've been thrown out of (asked to leave) Easter Evensong service at Westminster Abbey. Really.

4. I had an Internet stalker. The fun sort, not the creepy sort. Sadly, the site no longer seems to be there.

5. At State U, I was in the Astronomy Club, and ran the observatory one evening a week. Yes, I was a nerd. I also worked at a beer store, delivering beer kegs to the Fraternities. I may have been a nerd, but I was a popular nerd on a Friday night. "Beer man's here!"

6. When I was 14, we drove from Maine to Los Angeles and back one summer, camping across the country. Best. Summer. Vacation. Ever.

7. My hardest Electrical Engineering class was Fields and Waves, about light, radio, and that sort of thing. It was taught by Professor Field. I kid you not.

8. I know how to play the bagpipes. I will only play them if JayG sings ...

9. I first loaded Linux on a computer in 1993, 0.99 kernel version. 25 floppy disks in the install. I named the computer KGBVax, and you can still see it in old email archives.

10. I've visited (set foot in) 26 different countries. I didn't have a passport until I got married, so it's all been in the last 20 years.

11. I read a lot, but I don't read fiction. I used to read a lot of Science Fiction, but haven't read any fiction of any sort for years.

12. Writing - and other forms of communication - is important for my job; unsurprisingly, I'm pretty good with words. Even so, I hate Scrabble.

13. I have University degrees in History, Economics, and Electrical Engineering. Pretty clearly, I sometimes have trouble making up my mind.

14. I was teaching a class when the lovely and unexpected Mrs. Borepatch went into labor with #2 Son. I was completely unprepared for this, because #2 Son wasn't due for another week and there had been no signs of impending labor. The Doctor induced labor - I think because the due date was December 31 and he didn't want to be on call that evening.

15. I can lay bricks, and build a wall that will not fall down. Dry stone, too.

16. I've built two wine cellars.

17. I used to have a snow plow for by Ford F250. A BIG snow plow. The truck was pretty old and not too reliable, but boy was it fun to plow with.

18. My favorite teacher in Elementary school was a former Marine, and veteran of the Pacific Theater of World War II. Unfair or not, he got better behavior from us hellion boys than the other teachers. We were simply in awe of him.

19. I remember where I was when I heard that JFK had been killed. Yes, I'm that old.

20. I once turned a boxed-in dead space over our stairs into a linen closet, in our first house. I think that this was the first time that the lovely and pretty handy herself Mrs. Borepatch was undeniably impressed with my handyman skills.

I don't think I'll tag anyone, because (a) it seems that everyone is already tagged, and (b) the Songs Of Your Life meme was enough writing, and I'm worried that people won't talk to me any more. Feel free to do one if you want.

Endless Pig Candy

Welcome visitors from the Bredalucion!  The Endless Pig Candy plan is here, but a more practical one is here.

Oh, and stop and take a look around!

And it probably is a good idea to have a "bacon" tag ...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mrs Borepatch tells me ...

That no, I'm not a retard, I'm just slow.

After 20 years of marriage, this counts as a win.

"That's the face of a victim of gun control"

It's not pretty.  Read it.  Now.

From the land where Great Britain used to be.  People want to do it here.  Share the picture - Gun controllers are willing for this to happen here.

People Eating Tasty Animals

So am I done mocking PETA?  Moi?

The best sort of PETA folks are found over at Sometimes Far Afield.  If you like Brigid* - shoot it and then cook it - you'll like this.

Well, I like it.  So go read.  Besides, who doesn't like this?
Interested in a shotgun with Damascus or twist steel barrels?
Like I said, go read.  Now.

* What's the difference between Brigid and me?  Other than she's (a lot) better looking?  Or cooks better?

You'll actually see her out hunting at 5:30AM.

News Flash: "Iceman" shot to death

Seems the 5,000 year old "Iceman" discovered under a glacier in the Alps was killed by an arrow in the back, not by exposure as originally thought.

In other news, Boston Mayor Tom Menino demands Common Sense™ "smart arrow" microstamping legislation.

Be afraid, be very afraid

#1 Son has his driver's permit.

Dang, it just seems like yesterday that Mickey Mouse was at the center of his world ...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NASA Scientist: Global Warming a load of hooey

James Hanson is the NASA scientist best known for setting off the whole global warming bit that goes something like ZOMG we're all gonna dieeee!!!!1!!. I have some posts that talk about him, along with the rest of the man-is-causing-global-warming crowd.

Well, it seems like I'm not the only one who think he's an overblown, grandstanding windbag. His boss does, too:
Dr John Theon, who supervised James Hansen - the activist-scientist who helped give the manmade global warming hypothesis centre prominent media attention - repents at length in a published letter. Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009, and excerpts were published by skeptic Senator Inhofe's office here last night.
Thank you, Senator Inhofe.

This report is simply stunning in its bluntness.

“My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit. Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it.

"They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.”

Now this is still in the nicey-nicey scientific discussion form. What is says translated into plain English is that the models don't model the climate system, the data has been jimmied, and the scientists are blowing smoke to hide what they're up to. Strong stuff.

Usually you'll get a bureaucratic gloss that requires you to read between the lines to get to the I think he's a lying SOB part. Not here. Seems Hanson's claims that the NASA higher-ups tried to shut him up lack some transparency, too:
“Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA's official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind's effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress."
Make that an overblown, grandstanding, lying windbag. Remember, Hanson was the one who said Global Warming deniers should be jailed.

Look, I can be wrong on all this man-made-global-warming stuff. I do think I have solid reasons for skepticism, though. But I need reproduceable, transparent data, not shouts of "denier!!!11!One!"

I don't rant very often here, but Hanson looks to me to be perverting the scientific process for cheap personal benefit, and that's just wrong. If the world listened to him, million of people would be hurt, and that's even more wrong. And he's trying to win the argument by cheating, which is more than a little annoying. We deserve better.

The definition of "expert"

Is someone five minutes ahead of Insty. Of course, he has to cover everything. I pride myself on being your one-stop shop for all your Internet Security and Zombie needs ...

Now, anyone who's been in tech will remember the term blinkenlights, from this sign that has been posted in just about every engineering lab in the free world:

What's interesting is that the Chaos Computer Club - a group of German computer guys, hackers in the good meaning of the term - did this for real, on a huge scale, and Internet accessible.

They thought that if you were to wire each office in an office building so that you could have a central computer turn each office's light on or off, it would essentially make the building into the world's largest LCD billboard. If you made a little graphics language, it would be easy to program the computer to draw pictures (or even little animations). If you made the computer Internet-accessible, then you wouldn't have to be in Germany to program it.

They called it The Blinkenlights Project, and you can find it here.


This is all above board (unlike the ZOMG! Zombies!!!1! road sign), done with the cooperation of the building owners. They've done buildings in Hamburg, Paris, and most recently Toronto.

So, Bad Hacker - No biscuit! (but funny as all get out). And Good hacker! Well done you! All from programmable signs. Remember folks, signs don't inform people: people inform people.

There's an analogy in there, just on the tip of my tongue, if I could only recall it ...

Another PETA veggie-fetish video

Since the Cool Kids are doing it, I'll jump in. Only mine is completely safe for work, or the kids around, or your mother-in-law.

Just make sure that nobody's got a mouthful of beverage when they watch it. Seriously.



Hat tip: Knuckledraggin my life away, which has a ton of funny stuff. If you're looking to get offended, well, this is the place. That makes it even funnier.

And what is it that makes vegitarians (the organized ones, anyway) such a rich target for mockery? The self-importance? The refusal to mind their own business? Comment away!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Honey, how about a cruise for our Anniversary?

It'll be unforgettable! Especially the 50 foot seas and being airlifted to safety bit.

I mean a Force 9 Gale? Srlsy?

Via The Drawn Cutlass, who has a must-see picture for anyone who's ever been on a boat. I remember an acquaintance talking about the time when green water came over the bow of the aircraft carrier he was on.

What do you get when you cross a road sign with a computer?

A target rich environment.
Programming is as simple as scrolling down the menu selection to “Instant Text”. Type whatever you want to display, Hit Enter to submit. You can now either throw it up on the sign by selecting “Run w/out save” or you can add more pages to it by selecting “Add page”

** HACKER TIPS ** Should it will ask you for a password. Try “DOTS”, the default password.
No, the picture wasn't Photoshopped. And no, changing the password doesn't help, because there's an easy-peasy way to change it back. Not that you'd do that.

The moral of the story is that some computer security problems are best fixed with a good lock. And an audit trail.

JayGmobile

Sadly, it's not on the Massachusetts Approved Firearms Roster.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Second Amendment for Dummies

Everything you need to know right here. Go read, or you'll make Baby Vulcan cry.

Pistolero to Curtis Lowe to Knuckledraggin, nothing but 'net.

Empty your pockets ...

... says the nice lady with the gun. Yes, ma'am:


Not much of a haul. I do love the NRA pocket knife, though. At Christmas, I had to leave it at home because I didn't want to give to the nice TSA man. It was very annoying not having it - I find I use it every day.

Got a Monster.com account?

Change your password.

Monster.com is advising its users to change their passwords after data including e-mail addresses, names and phone numbers were stolen from its database.

...

The company disclosed on its Web site that it recently learned its database had been illegally accessed. Monster.com user IDs and passwords were stolen, along with names, e-mail addresses, birth dates, gender, ethnicity, and in some cases, users' states of residence. The information does not include Social Security numbers, which Monster.com said it doesn't collect, or resumes.

Now there's probably not that will immediately hurt you in this. However, the information that has been stolen is pretty darn useful for a phishing scam. Be on the outlook for unsolicited emails that seem to know a lot about you.

Amazing video of a walk through London

What do you get if you got for a walkabout through the city of London, taking a picture every eight steps?

Well, when you put the photos together at ten frames a second, you get an insanely great feel for what it would be to actually go for a walkabout through London.
The walk is part of a larger project named URBAN EARTH (the baffling capitals are theirs, not ours). Mumbai, Bristol and Mexico City also get the treatment. The aim is to show these cities from a new perspective, "(re)presenting cities to show what they are really like for the people who live there - a direct challenge to the media that distort the reality of the places in which most of us now live".
We lived for a year in the London area, and this brought back a ton of memories.



Urban Earth also has Bristol (UK), Mexico City, Mumbai, and Guadalajara. I'd be willing to help do Boston. This is simply a fantastic use of the new media.

Tactical Cuteness Grenade

Sunday, January 25, 2009

God Bless Joe Biden

Actually, it explains a lot.

Quote of the Day - Of what use is a University?

Of what use to whom?
The function of a university (as explained by Gramsci and Marcuse) is to produce minds indoctrinated with 'progressive' thought - so indoctrinated that any ideas that are hostile to the cause will be rejected by them (without consideration) ...
Paul Marks at Samizdata.

Maybe the smartest thing I've ever read on Al Gore's Intarwebz about the Intellectual class was Eric S. Raymond on Gramscian Damage.  My own, poorer attempt at analysis is here.

In any case, I entirely agree with Marks:
As for reforming the universities - they can not be reformed. They must be de-funded - no more taxpayers money for them (directly or indirectly).
Harsh, but unfortunately all to well earned.  And I say that as a son (and a son-in-law) of University professors. 

Hope

Seems you can create your own Hopey-Changey poster.  Here's mine, offered in the spirit of a new beginning.  Not only is there not much not to like about #2 Son with a sweet Winchester 1894, it's likely to give the vapors to all the right folks.  Well, I can hope, can't I?

Quote of the Year

"I'm going to have to learn how to walk in heels again."

Guys, shopping with your sweety can pay off, if you're lucky.  I'm a lucky man.  Boy, howdy.

And ladies, Cole Haan - on sale at the Nordstrom's Ladies Shoe Petting Zoo.  The Lovely and Well-Heeled Mrs. Borepatch has blogged all about it.

Now if I can get her to wear them to the range.  Actually, I'm quite overcome with the thought of it ...

And nominations for 2009 Quote of the Year are now officially closed.

In Soviet Russia Britain ...

... the state controls more of the economy than in Cold War era Hungary:
PARTS of the United Kingdom have become so heavily dependent on government spending that the private sector is generating less than a third of the regional economy, a new analysis has found.

The study of “Soviet Britain” has found the government’s share of output and expenditure has now surged to more than 60% in some areas of England and over 70% elsewhere.
But I'm sure that the enlightened NuLabor government is taking urgent action to address the imbalance.  Oh, wait:
“Labour has failed to encourage private sector investment across the country. Instead of supporting enterprise and small businesses, Gordon Brown has used the public sector to cover up his failures,” said Theresa May, the shadow work and pensions secretary.
You can almost map the economic well-being of the different regions by the portion that's government funded.
Across the whole of the UK, 49% of the economy will consist of state spending, while in Wales, the figure will be 71.6% – up from 59% in 2004-5. Nowhere in mainland Britain, however, comes close to Northern Ireland, where the state is responsible for 77.6% of spending, despite the supposed resurgence of the economy after the end of the Troubles.

Even in southern England, the government’s share of spending is growing relentlessly. In the southeast, it has gone up from 33% to 36% of the economy in four years.
Unfortunately, Captain Oblivious [Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman] is at the helm:
“In the long term we need to do something about it. This does suggest the crowding-out phenomenon of the private sector and it also suggests there is a lack of entrepreneurial activity.”
Don't see a linkage there, do ya, Scooter?  Of course, this would never happen here in the USA ...

Via Samizdata., who put things in perspective about our lapdog media:
By this evening, these stark truths will have disppeared down the memory-hole and, by tomorrow morning, everyone will be getting on the urgent business of finding a strategy for bringing all this rampant, wild-west, cowboy capitalism back under control.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Banana Republic on the Potomac

In The Wealth And Poverty Of Nations, David Landes writes:
... some Latin American countries were able to borrow ridiculously large sums from official lenders (World Bank, IMF) and from private commercial banks, acting with the encouragement of their governments and, no doubt, tacit assurance of a rescue safety net. Much of this money found its way back to secret private accounts in the United States, Switzerland, and other cozy shelters.

This combination of mismanagement, profligacy, corruption, and open-ended borrowing - development without efficiency constraints - cannot long endure. Such structures are intrinsically brittle, because everyone is straining to the limit and everything is interconnected. Sooner or later, someone gets worried; the balance sheets do not balance; the lenders get cold feet; it becomes impossible to pay old debts with new. Panic!

This happened in the Mexico peso crisis of 1994-95. [pp 493-4]
Chris Byrne puts the current economic situation in perspective:
So let me get this straight...

In order to "bail out" and "stimulate" our economy, the politicians have committed to, or are proposing, that we spend an amount equal to our entire current budget; in the process increasing our national debt to more than our annual gross domestic product; and imposing a debt load on every household larger than their median yearly income.
The most interesting question that nobody seems to be asking is who's going to lend us four trillion dollars?

I mean, the banks are broke. The economy is slowing down, to the point that it's basically free to ship goods around the world, because there are so many more ships than goods needing shipping. So forget China buying trillions in bonds.

Can we borrow 29% of our GDP? Are there enough people with money that are willing to lend it to us that this is even possible?

Now I'm sure that there are all sorts of smart finance people in the Administration who can explain to me where all this will come from. What they can't explain is how this won't push the cost of federal borrowing up: the laws of supply and demand say that when demand goes up, so does price. You demand more loans? Interest rates go up. We're already seeing this happen to long-term government bond rates.

As the cost of capital goes up, business investment falls. Employment is strongly linked to business investment, so if the Fed.Gov does not apply the "stimulus" cash very efficiently indeed, business hiring will be down - unemployment will rise. Where's the smart money betting on Fed.Gov efficiency?
... mismanagement, profligacy, corruption, and open-ended borrowing - development without efficiency constraints ...
That's not all. The economy is slightly down (it's a recession, not a depression), but this means that production is down; there's less stuff to buy. Now inject an additional 28% into the money supply*. I'm sure that the Administration's smart finance guys will be happy to explain to me that this won't be inflationary.

Sorry, I don't buy it, Scooter.

So what are we looking at? Higher interest rates, higher unemployment, and higher inflation.

But that's not the worst of it.

The USA represents about 28% of world GDP. We're about to borrow cash to the tune of 8% of the world's total output. What happens to their interest rates?
When the US Economy catches cold, the world's economies get pneumonia.
High interest, high inflation, high unemployment, that's what the Administration is fixin' to give to the rest of the world. Tired of having to pretend you're Canadian when you're in Paris? Just wait. Boy, howdy.

But that's not the worst of it, either.

We've seen government financial activity like this, over and over. Latin America has lived on it for decades. Ever wonder why? Landes again:
The heart of the matter is Latin America's need to go on borrowing, if only to pay the interest on the older loans. A research student from Latin America once complained to me about this burden of old debt and the vexatious, small-minded foreign insistence on repayment. "You don't have to repay," I pointed out; "a sovereign nation can always repudiate." "Yes," he replied, "but then where shall we go to borrow more?" Exactly.
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the "stimulus" spending won't be full of pork and political payoffs, and will be wisely directed by our Ivy League betters in a far-sighted and efficient manner. Maybe the laws of supply and demand don't actually apply to Barack Obama, so long-term government borrowing rates won't rise. Maybe there's so much money around that industry won't get crowded out by Fed.Gov borrowing, and employment won't go up. Maybe extra spending amounting to almost $50,000 per household won't drive up prices for all the rest of us. Maybe for a change, the rest of the world won't get hit twice as hard by this as we do.

And maybe we won't need to keep borrowing, because Congress' appetite won't grow with the eating.
Such structures are intrinsically brittle, because everyone is straining to the limit and everything is interconnected.
I think that the Unicorn that pees 89 octane into my tank is going to show up, any day now.

* Yes, I know that it's more complicated than this, and depends on whether you're using M1, M2, etc. But you can't argue that there isn't 4 trillion more dollars being spent, or you'll make the Baby Jesus Congress cry.

UPDATE 25 January 2009 09:55: Alan has pictures of the money supply. Can't say I'm happy to be right.

UPDATE 25 January 2009 10:02: Want to know why they call it the dismal science? SeekingAlpha has a chart of federal borrowing here. Make sure to read the comments. I'm not sure if I believe it, but if true, this is stunning:
The cost of the bailout ($4.6165 trillion) exceeds the inflation adjusted cost of the Marshall Plan, New Deal, S&L Bailout, Nasa's Lifetime Budget, the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq wars and also the Lousiana Purchase, combined ($3.92 trillion).
UPDATE 25 January 2009 10:13: There's a link in the SeekingAlpha comments to boingboing, which has the breakdown of the bailout cost vs. inflation-adjusted other costs. It seems pretty plausible:
Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion
UPDATE 25 January 2009 11:22: And you think that I'm being negative?

The perils of being a sign language interpreter

Heh.

My link is safe, but if you click through Cutlass', you'll see the problem.

I'd like to see the sign language version of George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words" bit. Double heh.

They Say it's Your Birthday ...

... So Happy Birthday To You!

And since I have it on good authority that Fifty is the new Forty, then a young whippersnapper like you must be, what, 29?

In any case, many happy returns of the day!

Gretchen Wilson - Come to Bed

Gretchen Wilson is an true to life country music Rags-To-Riches story. Her mother was 16 when she was born; her dad left them two years later. She grew up in trailer parks, dropping out of school in the 8th grade, making money by singing in bars.

She was "discovered" singing there, but it only led to a regular gig with a house band.

Her big break was when John Rich (from Big and Rich) found her and asked her to write music. Her 2004 self-titled album contained the hit Redneck Woman but also the even bigger hit Here for the Party, which hit #2 on the Billboard Top 200.

Ms. Wilson is one of the Lovely and Here-For-The-Party Mrs. Borepatch's favorites, so it's a little strange that it's taken so long to get an appearance here at Borepatch. Now January is Hot Country Ladies month here at Saturday Redneck, and this video is nothing if not that. While it doesn't fall into the Not-Safe-For-Work category, it's probably not the smartest thing to watch while you're at work.


Gretchen Wilson - Come To Bed (Official Music Video)

Come to Bed (songwriters George Teren, Rivers Rutherford, Gretchen Wilson)
Sometimes we fight
'Bout who's wrong and right
And stay up all night
And sometimes we drink
And say hurtful things
That we don't mean

Pre Chorus

Yeah, we're both screamin'
But nobody's listenin'
Let's take this madness
Out of the kitchen

Chorus

Come to bed
Let's just lay down
There's just one way
We're gonna work this out
Forget what I did
Forget what you said
Oh, darlin' (darlin')
Come to bed


Well, I love you
You know I do
And you love me, too
So let's just stop
Remember what we've got
Before it all gets lost

Pre Chorus

Just take my hand
It's been way too long
Turn out the lights
And turn each other on

Chorus

Come to bed
Let's just lay down
There's just one way
We're gonna work this out
Forget what I did
Forget what you said
Oh, darlin' (darlin')
Come to bed

Bridge

And let's put aside our pride
For feelin's for tonight
In the mornin' we'll see things
In a different light

Tag Chorus

Just come to bed
Let's just lay down
There's just one way
We're gonna work it out
Forget what I did
Forget what you said
Oh, darlin' (darlin')
Come to bed



Friday, January 23, 2009

MacIntosh Malware on the loose

Windows fanboys can stop smirking ...
Pirated copies of Apple Inc.'s new iWork '09 application suite that are now available on file-sharing sites contain a Trojan horse that hijacks Macs and leaves them open to further attack, a security company said yesterday.
Lots of other interesting technical details deleted, because we can stop right here.

The reason is that only the stupid or the corrupt have to worry, so that lets y'all off the hook. There are really only two things to know:

1. Don't steal software. Well, duh.

2. Remember Borepatch's First Law:
Free download is Internet-speak for "Open your mouth and close your eyes."
You mean Bad Guys would target people stealing software programs with malware? Knock me over with a feather. (/snark)

And yes, it works just like a Windows trojan horse. Runs with root privilege, too, so you're screwed. Careful what you download, and from where.

Remember Sarah Palin's email?

It got hacked a while back. Remember?

Remember the tut-tutting from the bien pensants about how private webmail accounts were no way to run a government?
The practice is dangerous, said experts, and can run counter to laws ensuring government is open and accountable -- a tough point for Palin, who has made "open government" a catchphrase of her political identity.
Well, guess what? Seems the Obama Administration - not a week old - is doing the same dang thing on an industrial scale:
Obama transition staff who are headed to the White House tomorrow have created special email addresses using Google's free Gmail accounts to work around the fact that their transition emails will go dark at 11 a.m. Tuesday, at least an hour before they will have access to their new government accounts.
Never mind the idiocy of shutting off the transition email account - we'll ignore the gross incompetence because, well, what do you expect in a transition? I'm waiting for all the folks who thought that this was A Very Bad Thing Indeed (when Gov Palin used Gmail) to tisk tisk about the new administration's use of same.

(still waiting)

(crickets chirping)

The clearest indicator of media bias is when they uncritically print rubbish about one side, but you never hear the same rubbish raised about the other side. Now I don't care if you print the rubbish. I don't care if you don't print the rubbish, either. I don't even care if you print the rubbish about one side and refuse to print it about the other.

Just don't blow any of this "no bias here" smoke up my tailpipe, if you know what I mean.

From the Formerly Great Britain

The Coast Guards are now required to fill out a form before rescuing vessels in distress.
Yesterday, one coastguard said: 'When we were first told about this, we simply couldn't believe it.
I'd say that you guys are so screwed, but I fear that you have company on this side of the pond now.

Well, thank God for the Royal National Lifeboat Service. They're a registered charity, rather than the UK.Gov, so they'll still rescue people. Well done, chaps.

Via the Drawn Cutlass, a very interesting new-to-me blog.

Shoot your alarm clock

Yes, I know that it violates the Four Rules, but I want one.



Got to be illegal in Massachusetts, though.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The gift keeps on giving

My Global Warming is broke


Hello, I'd like to report a bug in my Global Warming. Yes, I did try rebooting it, but that that just gave me another six inches of snow. I really think that it's a bug. Can you please tell Al Gore? kthanksbai.

Tips for Slow Windows Computers

Slashdot has an interesting discussion about how your Windows box might get slow without being infested with spyware. Also what to do about it.

Moderate geeky skillz useful, but probably not required.

Mathematician Terrorists

Since all the cool kids are doing it, here goes:

At John F. Kennedy International Airport today, a Caucasian male (later discovered to be a high school mathematics teacher) was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a compass, a protractor and a graphical calculator.

According to law enforcement officials, he is believed to have ties to the Al-Gebra network. He will be charged with carrying weapons of math instruction.
And just to show that we don't only discriminate against mathematicians, here's an engineer joke:
An engineer was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week." The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket.

The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want." Again the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?"

The engineer said, "Look I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that's cool."
Actually, a talking frog is kind of cool. Just wash your hand when he's done ...

No link between violent video games and school shootings

So says a Texas A&M University researcher. Seems he has data and everything. And it seems that he doesn't like a lot of how people have studied this in the past:
Writing for the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, Prof. Christopher Ferguson criticizes the methodology used in earlier research linking games to violence and aggression. He also points out that no evidence of violent game play was found in recent high-profile incidents such as the Virginia Tech massacre, the Utah Trolley Stop mall shooting and the February, 2008 shooting on the campus of Northern Illinois University.
The most telling bit? This:
Actual causes of violent crime, such as family environment, genetics, poverty, and inequality, are oftentimes difficult, controversial, and intractable problems. By contrast, video games present something of a "straw man" by which politicians can create an appearance of taking action against crime.
Pols whipping up a frenzy so that they can be "seen to do something"? That's got to be a first.

Via Slashdot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Newbie Ambulance

TOTWTYTR, I think he needs more training.

Security Humor

It's kind of all-security-all-the-time here today, so to lighten the mood, a tech support call to the security helpdesk:
Tech support: What anti-virus program do you use?
Customer: Firefox.
Tech support: That's not an anti-virus program.
Customer: Oh, sorry...Internet Explorer.
Heh. If that's your thing, you'll find more here. Some are hilarious.

Everybody Polka Patch!

In the Brave New World that is Web 2.0, everyone's going to use their browser for everything. Word Processor? Google Documents, via your browser. Email? Gmail, via your browser. Remote login? Thin Client, via (you guessed it) your browser.

What made the buzz get cranked all the way up to 11 is that you don't need to care about what computer people use to connect. Use whatever you want. Windows? Sure. Linux? OK, geek boy. Mac? Get your Think Different cult on. Everyone plays!

So what happens when there's a security bug in the browser? Ah, but there are so many browsers. Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Chrome. They can't all be bad, right?

Wrong. OK, technically, they're not vulnerable. But they run Quicktime, which is vulnerable, and which is all over Al Gore's Intarwebz. All browsers run Quicktime. And Quicktime has a nasty bug that will get you pwned, no matter who you are.

So clicky here to patch. Yes, you.

A good day for bad news

Yesterday was Coronation Inauguration Day, and the press was (ahem) busy. That made it the best day in recent memory to bury bad news. After all, the press simply wasn't interested in much else.

So what kind of bad news might be good to bury? How about the biggest compromise of credit cards in history? Hackers stealing a hundred million cards - what, didn't you hear?
Hearland Payment Systems, a credit card payment processor, apparently chose the completely innocuous day of January 20th, 2009 to inform the world that a data breach occured, and that it did not affect any “merchant data or cardholder Social Security numbers, unencrypted PINs, addresses or telephone numbers”. What possibly was affected, however, was every credit card number that traversed their payment processing system.
So, Mr. Good-Day-To-Hide-Bad-News PR Man, just who might that be? Well, did you ever use a credit card?
Anyone who used a Visa or Mastercard at one of a quarter of a million businesses may have been affected. For the small number of you who fall into this category, I recommend going through your old credit card statements just in case you were one of the victims. In all honesty, the probability of any one person being victimized by this is pretty slim, but vigilance is never a bad thing.
Oops. Glad that everyone's getting the word.

I have to hand it to Heartland's PR department. They chose the announcement timing very, very well.

UPDATE 21 January 2009 20:12: Rich Mogul has more about the way the hack was done.

UPDATE 21 January 2009 20:37: Uh oh - my secret's out. I get my security news at Liberty's place ...

Heh.

New Shooter

Don from the officehas been following my shooting for some time. He's actually been shooting before, with his dad when he was 8. Since he's my age (i.e. an old fart), this was a long, long time ago. He didn't enjoy the experience, probably because his dad had an odd choice of guns for an 8 year old: a derringer in .38 special (probably something like this), and a .30-06 hunting rifle.

Actually, I think his shoulder is still sore from that experience.

I was a little surprised when he took me up on the shooting offer, because his wife is extremely anti-gun. She grew up in Brazil under the Generals - they were corrupt, brutal, and armed, which is a bad combination.

The first thing about taking a new shooter is safety, and Don was a quick study with the Four Rules. The question then is what to shoot? A .22 pistol is often recommended for beginners, and for good reason - almost no recoil, moderately quiet, easy to control. But Don's a big guy, and knew what to expect (he's from the south, and most of his family is still there with their guns); while we didn't talk about it in so many words, it seemed like getting back on the horse was what was called for.

But not with a derringer. The Ruger SP101 is heavy, so there's a lot of mass to soak up the recoil. The .38 cartridge is certainly a step up from a .22, but is not overpowering. And it's a revolver - what's nice about it for a new shooter is that the design is dead simple: everyone understands how it works. There are no controls other than the bang-switch. Simple, simple, simple.

Plus you can shoot it single action. Single action is always more accurate than double action (in a revolver), and more accurate means the new shooter has more fun. After the first five rounds (making friends with Mr. Revolver), Don was sending all the bullets into the X Ring, often through the same holes (that's his shooting on the target in the picture).

Not bad for not having shot in (mumble) years!

I wanted to do a "compare and contrast" exercise with an autoloader, and "simple" means Glock. Now you've added two controls: a magazine release and a slide release, but that's it.

This was a step up from the SP101, recoil-wise, and it opened Don's groupings up a bit. Still, everything was in the 9 ring or better (once again, the results of Don's shooting is shown in the picture).

When we were done, we both had the expected big grins. He'll come back, which will be very nice indeed - it's always nice to add a shooting buddy. He's also thinking about taking his Son-in-law, which is also nice.

Likely it's an uphill battle to get his wife to the range. Her childhood had some traumatic episodes that involved bad guys with guns; worse, they were from the government and were definitely not there to help. Here in the USA we're lucky that way. I suggested that the Second Amendment was not there by accident, and this seemed to strike a nerve.

So not a bad day - shooty goodness with a friend at the range, and new shooter, and a civics lesson all rolled into one.

UPDATE 24 January 2009 09:34: Welcome visitors from StumbleUpon! I have some more New Shooter Reports, and some Range Reports too. If you like what you see, come back again sometime! My best posts are here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Four Rules of Wii Safety

1. Always use the Wiimote wriststrap.

2. Always use the Wiimote wriststrap.

3. Always use the Wiimote wriststrap.

4. Always use the Wiimote wriststrap.
Otherwise, you might have an unintentional, err, "discharge".

Mac Fanboys, get your NSA security guide

Really. It was made in the NSA; you know they make great stuff ...

Don't be too CNN!

Of course, it sounds better in the original Chinese:

1. Don’t be too CNN | zuò rén bùnéng tài CNN | 做人不能太CNN

Meaning: A synonym for a malicious frame up and blurring of the line between right and wrong.
Background: During the smashing, looting, and arson this March in Lhasa (known now as ‘3-14’ after the date), a news report by CNN used a photo cropped so it appeared Chinese military officers in a truck were attacking protestors. The undoctored picture, in fact, shows a group of protestors lobbing rocks at said vehicle.

There's more, much more at The Dark Visitor, your one-stop shop for hip Chinese Internet slang. Me? I just buy soy sauce*.

* If you hadn't guessed, this is Chinese Internet slang.

De-Worm your Windows Computer


I posted last week about the new Uberworm that has everyone talking. Well, me and 9 million infected PCs that are spewing Spam as we speak. Don't be one of them.

Microsoft makes a free Malware Removal Tool that you should use, which should pretty painlessly de-worm you if you need it. While you're there, you should make sure that you have the patch for the bug that the worm is exploiting. You'll have to reboot after installing it, but hey, it's Windows!

Besides, it's orange flavored ...

iShot The Sheriff


New iPhone app to help yer Boomershoot score.
Tap in the variables such as weather conditions, ammunition type, distance to target, and wind speed before exhaling and gently squeezing back on your second amendment right.
Hat tip to El Reg, from which I shamelessly stole the post title.

You may be Tactical, but you're not Tacticool

Without a minigun in your SUV, that is.


Dude, you're going to scratch the nice paintjob with all that brass ...

They have video, which I have to admit is pretty darn impressive. Plus pix of the new presidential limo, Cadillac One.

Via a Facebook post by Gene Spafford, a real security guru.

Monday, January 19, 2009

That's a bug, not a feature

What's wrong with this picture?

Both my regular readers are probably thinking what's wrong is that we're going to get another rant about online banking. Well, yes you are, but that's not the point. Buckle up, because I'm about to roll out Borepatch's Second Law of Security.

Let's think about a brick-and-mortar bank. It will be in a building with decent security. More importantly, the security will be well understood. There are people whose business it is to know how long it will take someone to knock a hole in drywall, or cinder block, or vault steel. Or bullet-proof glass, for that matter. When you design a bank branch office, you take these things into account.

You also take area characteristics into account. Is it a good neighborhood? High traffic? Well lighted? All of these effect the security of your customers when they're not in your building. The system of the branch office is more than just the building.

So what's the system of the online mobile bank? We need to understand this to understand the risks of the different system components to get a good understanding of the overall risk.

There's the web site itself (logo blurred out here to protect the guilty). My experience is that you'll find the best security in the Defense Department. Very close behind that is security at the major banks. I have made some snide comments in the past about online banking, but the problem isn't that they don't have cutting-edge technology, or skilled operations personnel, or processes and procedures that are backed by executive management. Someone's in charge of the system - you can ask the question who's the online security guy and get an answer. While there will always be the occasional security vulnerability in the web portal, the risk here is low.

There's the Internet, that sits between you and the web site. Security is lousy here, but the encryption used to scramble your data while it flies over Al Gore's Intarwebz is so good that the risk here is basically non-existent.

There's your phone, and your phone's browser. Technology is moving very, very fast here, which means that security is an after thought. You have many different vendors - one makes the phone, a different one makes the software, and a third one that sets everything up. For me, it's some company in China who makes the phone, and Apple who makes the software (OS X and Safari), and AT&T who sets things up.

So when it comes to your phone, you are the "online security guy". You need to configure the phone securely and make sure that things are working correctly. Not your bank - after all, it's your phone, not theirs.

So what's the risk of the overall banking system? Negligible risk in the banking web site and Internet transport, but indeterminate risk in your phone.

In an engineering sense, "indeterminate" is a Bad Thing, because you can't estimate costs and risks. It's more than just Ted has a bad feeling going on here, there are serious issues that you need to know before you know if the overall online mobile banking system has unacceptable risk:
Do you have a password on your phone? Passwords aren't the be all and end all, but not having a password means that any Tom, Dick, or Harry can use your phone.

Is all the data stored on your phone encrypted? If your company gives you a phone, and there's a guy in IT who sets things up, the answer very well may be "yes". Otherwise, it's almost certainly "no". "No" means that any Tom, Dick, or Harry can get your data if they get your phone.

Does your phone's browser clear all sensitive data when you're done browsing? Does it remember passwords? Does it save cookies? Does it have some sort of optimization to make it run faster, that involves saving a bunch of data so that the next time you go to http://uberl33tbank.com you get peppy load times?
You have some sort of chance of knowing the answers to the first two questions; you have almost no chance at all of getting an answer to the third. Even more importantly, your bank can't find out, either - the web site can ask the browser a number of interesting questions, but not about these things.

So we're back to indeterminate. This is Bad Security juju, and this is where I will point to Borepatch's Second Law of Security:
Assume that all data on your phone is public data if you ever lose your phone.
Remember Tina Sherman? She has a loving husband - so loving, in fact, that he used his camera phone to take some photos of her in the all-together. Then he lost the phone. Then Mrs. Sherman found that she was the (ahem) star of a raft of web sites.

Imagine now that instead of naughty pix of the little lady, Mr. Sherman had his banking account and password on his phone.

Indeterminate.

So if you know how the system works and think that the benefits outweight the costs, then go ahead. That, in fact, is the way that the system is supposed to work. As for me, I don't think I'm smart enough to figure out what my phone is doing.

So my recommendation to you is use an ATM, or if you absolutely must bank online, use your home computer. Just follow the 2 Simple Rules for Safer Browsing.

Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, do not remove under penalty of law.

UPDATE 19 January 2009 21:14: Chris Byrne left a information-rich comment that is well worth your while.

The Two Things about George W. Bush

The Two Things is an interesting analytical framework, because it forces you to prioritize. I quite like their Two Things about economics: One: Incentives matter. Two: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. That's a workable understanding that you can use to see why the bailouts are a slow motion train wreck, headed our way.

So what are the Two Things about George W. Bush? At the close of his administration, we have the advantage of retrospect.
One: He got the war on terror right, because he was stubborn. Most Washingtonites would have given up; he didn't. This was a big, big win.

Two: He was one of the worst of the Big Government insiders. Like LBJ, he chose guns and butter, bigger bureaucracy (No Child Left Behind), and the nanny state (McCain Feingold). This was a big, big miss.
There's no question that history will be kinder to GWB than the press was. His big government mindset will be continued under Obama, and Iraq is doing well enough that it's the O-Man's to lose. The media is already walking back from the cliff, so Bush's war on terror legacy is safe.

Personally, I agree with Obama:
I think personally he is a good man who loves his family and loves his country. And I think he made the best decisions that he could at times under some very difficult circumstances.
Good luck to the stupid Republican party, though - that #2 pretty much did you guys in.

Do It For The Children™

I posted last week about unanticipated consequences. Offered for your consideration, CoyoteBlog on Phoenix building codes designed to keep small children from falling into swimming pools and drowning. Who could possibly object to that fer crying out loud?

Of course, everyone who voted for the codes thought of everything, right?
Can anyone see any possible problem with making it impossible for small children to exit the house? Perhaps, say, in a fire? Once I bring my house up to code, because none of the children’s wing of the house has any window or door except to the pool area, the state will have made it absolutely impossible for small children to escape in a fire. Yes, the state has forced me to turn the back of my house into a fire trap for kids. That is, of course, unless I reverse all the changes 5 seconds after the inspector leaves my property, which of course I would never, ever do because I am a good American who pledged allegiance to the state every shool day of my childhood.
And thus is created another Hardened Criminal, intentionally violating our laws. If he gets out of line on something (oh, I don't know, how about Global Warming orthodoxy), he should be vigorously investigated.

Dunno, maybe he has guns, too.

And for all the good Doobees who let their kids burn up in a fire, I'm sure that there will be the proper amount of brow furrowing and tut-tutting and mistakes-were-made noises by all the bien pensants.

Marketing Win, and Fail

On this day in 1915, french engineer George Claude takes time out from shooting at les bosches to patent the Neon Nube. Advertising would never be the same again.

Happy Birthday

Dolly Parton is one of my favorite entertainers. Love her or hate her, what you see is what you get. This interview by the BBC's Parkenson is typical. I looked for (but couldn't find) her appearance on Graham Norton, which is worth Tivoing. Happy birthday, Dolly!







And Happy Birthday to two of the giants of the Industrial Revolution, James Watt (creator of the first practical steam engine) and Sir Henry Bessemer, who created a process to make Steel dirt cheap. Our would wouldn't remotely be what it is today without them, but they weren't as funny as Dolly.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tuxedos, Breakout, and 4k of RAM

Atari famously introduced Pong in the 1970s, on what we'd now call a game console (the Atari 2600). Well gosh, said the marketing folks, how about a whole home computer? This way parents would drop big bucks so that little Junior would get all computer-edumacated. Pong would be the sugar coating to launch a thousand hackers, if you'll let me mix my metaphors.

Behold the Atari 400 home computer. It had a CPU, 4k of RAM, a slot for software cartridges, and a steep price tag. The keyboard was a touch-sensitive film, rather than full-motion keys. Kind of weird, since you would typically see these in industrial environments, and the Atari was definitely not designed for that. Maybe they were worried about coffee spills.

I don't remember the home of 1978 being this much fun. With the price tag, maybe only people who owned Tuxedos could afford it:



The Atari 400 was pretty quickly replaced by the Atari 800, which expanded to a whopping 48k of RAM. It still had the goofy cartridge slot (getcher Tux on and let's play Breakout!), but at least it had a real keyboard.


Alas, all things must end, and Atari was no exception. High flying in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Space Invaders made the 2600 one of the best selling Christmas presents of 1979), the company was poorly managed and went under. I actually had a job interview with a company (Ford Aerospace, which also went under; I didn't get caught because I didn't take the job) that had taken over Atari's tricked out Earthquake-proof headquarters. One of the guys who interviewed me described being in the building during the 1991 quake, and seeing the shockwave approach from his office window. The shock passed by with no effect, as the huge shock absorbers in the basement did what they were designed to to.

Good Book, Bad Book

The Barnes and Noble guy patiently explained to us that they were both "coffee table" books. You've never been to dinner at Mom's, Scooter. Hugh Heffner could not be reached for comment. Which brings to mind this quality bit of snark:

"If I were in charge of the TSA's budget, I'd give most of it back."

Bruce Schneier is a computer security guru who also spends a lot of time dealing with non-computer security.  Reason has a must-read interview with him where he talks about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and how it is spending a lot of time and effort on things that won't make security better.
The TSA focuses too much on specific tactics and targets. This makes sense politically, but is a bad use of security resources. Think about the last eight years. We take away guns and knives, and the terrorists use box cutters. We confiscate box cutters and knitting needles, and they put explosives in their shoes. We screen shoes, and they use liquids. We take away liquids, and they'll do something else. This is a dumb game; the TSA should stop playing. Some screening is necessary to stop the crazy and the stupid, but it's not going to stop a professional terrorist attack. We don't need more and better screening; we need less. On the other hand, I like seeing the direction they're heading in terms of behavioral profiling, though we need to be careful. Done wrong, it's nothing more than stereotyping; but done right, it can be very effective. It needs more focus on people and less on objects. We can't manage to keep weapons out of prisons; we'll never keep them out of airports. Oh, and stop the ID checking—the notion that there is this master list of terrorists that we can check people off against is just plain silly.
It's simply filled to the brim with basic, sensible ideas that you know will never see implementation, because they're too sensible:
Spending money on airport/airplane security only makes sense if the bad guys target airplanes. In general, money spent defending particular targets or tactics only makes sense if we can guess them correctly. If tactics and targets are scarce, defending against specific ones makes us safer. If tactics and targets are plentiful—as they are—it only forces the bad guys to pick new ones.
More:
I believe that approximately two security improvements since 9/11 have made airplane travel safer: reinforcing the cockpit door, teaching passengers they have to fight back, and—maybe—sky marshals.
The article also discusses the idiotic security measures that will be at the inauguration, that will pose a public safety hazard.

Sigh.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

ZOMG! Nazi Zombies!

#2 Son was showing me Call of Duty: World At War, and what did I see? Nacht der Untoten. Hmmm, says I: could this be what it sounds like?

You bet!

Shotguns, Garands, machine guns, and frickin' flame throwers! AND you can play multiplayer on X-Box live.



I'm guessing that posting will be (ahem) light this weekend ...

Actually, "Damn Yankee" is two words

Gator says it better.

Airline Marketing: the Good, the Bad, and the Hilarious

Wow, you can get lost on YouTube. The airline marketing fail post's United ad led me to the museum of outdated airline TV ads.

I couldn't find the British Air Out of my way - I'm a British Air stewardess! ones, which is a real shame. This one is pretty good, though.



This one is a hoot. I guess kudos to them for the "Golly, some business flyers are businesswomen" moment. It felt like looking at a museum exhibit, though - you just know that someone was really, really excited at how cutting-edge it was, but time waits for no businesswoman.



Mercifully short (no pun intended), this can almost make you understand how Gloria Steinem ticks. Almost.



As for this, it's the 1960s equivalent of today's advertisers using the word "shizzle." Watch it at your own risk.



And this is #2 Son's favorite. Nancy is a bit of a ditz, but gosh, she's nice!



One of the most interesting collaborations that Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle produced was Inferno, a modern day recreation ofDante's Inferno. Populated with modern-day villans, Hell contains a special place for advertising executives. Specifically, the ones that created the "Fly Me" campaign.