Sunday, August 31, 2008

Is this country great, or what?

And her recipe for Moose stew? It begins "First, shoot a moose ..."

Oh, and William Shatner's album?

So incredibly, unbelievably bad, even Sarah Palin can't fix it.

Road Trip with #2 son - Home

620 miles, 10 hours, 55 MPH the whole way. What, don't you love Mother Gaia?

High points of the trip:

#2 son at Niagara Falls (seeing all the Canadian flags flying everywhere), bursting into song: Blame Canada.

Sitting in the park in front of the County Courthouse, Ravenna, OH. With #2 son. Eating eclairs from Deluxe Pastry Shop. Could have been 1969 again, except I hadn't met #2 son then.

#2 son getting autographs from the air show pilots in the lobby of the hotel in Cleveland.

Room service dinner with #2 son, who seems never to have had it before.

Worth every minute, and penny.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Road Trip with #2 son - Day 3

Cleveland Rocks - especially when the Blue Angels fly overhead with afterburners on. (Warning - they fly way better than they make web sites; mute your speaker if you clicky-clicky).

#2 son and I went to Ravenna, a small town where I lived as a kid. It's been a while (hint: less than 40 years, but not a lot less).

This was the reason for the road trip. #2 son was a good sport. It helped that Deluxe Pastry Shop is still open - although we had to stop by the Library to ask for directions. Seems Librarians know everything!

And the A&W Drive In is still there in Kent. Looks the same, too.

The Air Show was as cool as air shows are. Interestingly, the precision formation flying (i.e. the hard stuff) didn't seem to get as much crowd reaction. When the afterburners kicked in and the parking lot shook, that's when everyone giggled like schoolgirls (well, *I* did, anyway).

Oh, and the gift shop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has a great selection of CDs - as you would expect. I picked this up:

Worst. Album. Ever.

Yes, this is the one with "Lucy in the skys, with diamonds."

So bad, it's a "must have" item.

Palin choice disasterous to Obama campaign

I think that the McCain/Palin decision is possibly fatal for the Obama campaign. The reason is summed up in the maxim used to describe how to do successful competitive analysis:
Don't look for your opponent's weakness. He'll change that, if he wants to be successful. Instead, look for the weakness in his strength. He doesn't want to change that.
If there's a single issue that has driven (and will continue) to drive the electorate this year, it's the complete disgust with the status quo. Large majorities believe that the country is on the wrong track. Obama beat Clinton on this with a single word:


Kiss that one goodbye. And no, the reason is not that Palin is a woman. It's because while he talks a good reform game, she's an actual, you know, reformer. She has an actual record - she took on her own party for corruption and beat it. When you look at Obama's record in Chicago (to get along with the Machine, you go along with the Machine), she is walking, breathing rebuke to his entire brand.

The debates you hear right now about "experience" are entirely beside the point. Same thing with the talk about Hillary supporters crossing over. Sure, some (maybe a lot) will, but what's important is why they cross over.

McCain just let all the air out of Obama's balloon, and it's going to take a miracle for him to get it back. He'll have to come up with a completely new message, one that resonates with the electorate to the same level that "change" does, and get that out to the voters. Maybe he can, but that's not where the smart money bets.

300 Electoral Votes for McCain this November. Minimum.

Mark Steyn has a must read on Palin, and no, it's not just for the title of the post ("The Hostest with the Moostest").

Quote of the Day - Sarah Palin edition

Sarah Palin makes Andrew Sullivan regret some key life choices.
Sarah Palin got Tom Brady pregnant, and then left him.
Just go read. Keep scrolling.

Saturday Redneck - Phil Vassar

We had a heck of a scare with one of the kids this week. JD, even more so. Sometimes life reaches out to you in a way that lets you know how fragile it is.

Today's Saturday Redneck is Phil Vassar's "Last Day of My Life." Hug someone you love today.

I just left Bobby's house:
The service was today.
Got me thinkin' about how fragile life is,
As I drove away.
You know Amy was his only love,
In a moment she was gone, long gone:
It could have been me or you.
Oh, baby, there's no time to lose.

So I'm gonna bring home a dozen roses,
An' pour us a glass of wine.
An' I'm gonna put on a little music,
An' turn down the lights.
An' I'm gonna wrap my arms around you,
An' rock you all through the night,
An' I'm gonna love you,
Like it's the last day of my life.

I drive off when the sun comes up:
I get back when it's gone down.
There's so much I wanna do with you,
But I can't be around.
Whoa, time has been just like a theif,
It's stolen too much from us,
So once it's gone we can't make it up.
So tonight, let's get back in touch.

I'm gonna bring home a dozen roses,
An' pour us a glass of wine.
An' I'm gonna put on a little music,
An' turn down the lights.
An' I'm gonna wrap my arms around you,
An' rock you all through the night,
An' I'm gonna love you,
Like it's the last day of my...

Life is a rainbow, it's a spring snow,
It's the mornin' dew.
An' I don't wanna waste another minute,
Without you.

I'm gonna bring home a dozen roses,
An' pour us a glass of wine.
An' I'm gonna put on a little music,
An' turn down the lights.
An' I'm gonna wrap my arms around you,
An' rock you all through the night,
An' I'm gonna love you,
Like it's the last day of my,
I'm gonna love you
Like it's the last day of my life.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Road Trip with #2 son - Day 2

In many ways, Niagara Falls feels like a Casino - it's designed to separate you from your money. Easy to find the far-from-the-falls, pay parking; hard to find the close-to-the-falls, free parking. Tatty souvenir shops. An actual, you know, Casino.

But. It's. Cool.

You have to look at it in motion to get a feel for the sheer power of it - a picture simply cannot capture it. Even mega-lame turned-90-degrees video.

Then on to Cleveland.

Lots of fun at the science center - thanks for the suggestion, Breda! But they're a little, shall we say, discriminating of who they let in?

3 questions about Sarah Palin

1. How will "Hillary democrats" view her? Lissa has a great post with a roundup of "Huzzah" reactions from the folks who wouldn't vote for Obama anyway. We're not the target demographic. I think we'll need a few weeks for this to sink in with the real target demographic.

2. Assuming that the McCain folks are right, and this leads to a Reagan-Democrat style crossover vote, what will this do down-ticket? IOW, will this lead to better luck for GOP Senate/House/Governor races?

3. If not, then how will a Democratic congressional majority deal with VP Palin that doesn't really tick off the Hillary Democrats?

Boy, howdy, this looks like maybe the most interesting election I've ever seen, and I'm a wicket old fart.

UPDATE 29 August 2008 21:16: Well, someone seems energized by Palin:
Oh and my email box is still being flooded with emails from people saying that they're donating and volunteering for McCain for the first time. One person said they had to hit the donate button on McCain's website five times before they didn't get a server error.

The election just got more interesting

Well, this should just about lock up some folk's vote for McCain/Palin. I daresay more than a couple.

Weerd Beard looks to be riffing on Steven Green's drunkblogging meme.

This is going to be a much more interesting autumn.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's not a Temple

Don't know why I watched any of The Speech (flipping through channels), but I have to disagree with folks who say it's a Greek Temple. Greek (and Roman) temples were rectangular. See this page for discussion, with many, many floor plans. Rectangular. This was curved. Not a Greek temple.

However, there is a name for it: a folly.

You'd think that people as smart as the Democrats would have someone that knows this. Maybe they do, just nobody has the stones to tell the Higher Ups.

Road Trip with #2 son - Day 1

It's a long way from Boston to Niagara Falls, but it's a lot of fun with a buddy:
  • Singing off-key to Toby Keith together. We'll put a boot in your @ss, it's the American Way!
  • Playing Freebird over and over because it's his favorite.
  • Playing More than a feeling over and over because it's also his favorite. Thanks, Guitar Hero! Best. Video. Game. Ever. (for parents!)
  • Cheezeburgers at Fuddruckers. Not the greatest burgers, but he did ask "Can I haz Cheezeburger?"
We'll see the falls tomorrow, and then onward. But this day has been made of awesome.


Now that things are a little more back to normal, #2 son and I are off on a road trip. Next stop, Niagara Falls. Posting will be non-existent until this evening

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Computer virus in space

On the International Space Station.

Nasa has confirmed that laptops carried to the ISS in July were infected with a virus known as Gammima.AG.

The worm was first detected on Earth in August 2007 and lurks on infected machines waiting to steal login names for popular online games.

Seems the infection came in via a USB device that an astronaut brought to orbit. The laptop does not have a network connection (what - no WiFi?), so the threat seems, err, remote.

Via Slashdot, which as always offers up quality snark in the comments:
Network security really isn't that hard! It isn't like it's rocket scie... oh... nevermind...

Range Report - AR-15 with #2 son

Cliff's Notes version: he loved it. We'll do this again.

I won't go much into technical details, since I've covered this twice already. The technical is the same - accurate, easy to shoot, nice rifle.

Instead, I want to focus on the experience of shooting, I'll also not repeat what I said in a comment over at PDB's, about Appleseed, other than to say that shooting has to be fun for new shooters. Otherwise, they won't go back, and you'll end up shooting alone.

#2 son liked things that I hadn't even thought about. For example, it was really easy for him to load the magazine. This has never been a problem for me, but it has been one for him. Removing the frustration while reloading was a clear win for him.

He also liked the almost total lack of recoil. Both my regular readers hear me whine about recoil all the time, but I'm perfectly comfortable with something packing a little oof, like .30-.30 (mmmm, Lever Gun!). Him, not so much. But even I noticed: between us, we shot 80 rounds of .223 - I had a big old bruise the last time I shot 40 rounds of .30-.30.

But these are "hygiene" features. Removing a bad experience here reduces the chance of that "I didn't have a very good time" experience. But the most important component of fun is hitting the target. #2 son was ecstatic. I won't post a pic, but all his prairie dogs were very satisfactorily perforated.

I'd go so far as to say that the AR-15 might be the ideal gun for a first time shooter. There are two downsides:
  • It's a fairly significant BANG, especially when compared to a .22.
  • The ammo is quite a bit spendier than .22. Quite a bit.
However, you should balance that with the upside:
  • The first time shooter might think "I'm shooting a real rifle. I can do this, it's not unpleasant at all."
  • The first time shooter might think "Holy cow! I'm hitting the target!"
  • The first time shooter might think "What's the big deal with 'Assault Weapons'?"
  • The first time shooter might think "This is fun. I should do this again."
Not much of a Range Report, but y'all really don't need another discussion of gas ejection thingamabobs, and you have a bazillion better places to get it. We're turning into AR fanboys chez Borepatch because it's just plain fun to shoot.

At least he's our SOB

Barbara left a comment in reply to Random Acts of Patriotism's remembrance of Ted Kennedy at Chappaquiddick. Now I don't want to get into the whole driving-while-submerged thing, so please just don't start. This is New England, and this has been thrashed to death for decades (and will continue to be, for more decades). That's not my point.

What was interesting was Barbara's comment:
As a man, he may not be the best, but as a senator, he's helped more people than anyone could imagine.
And while I disagree with much of Senator K's politics, I have to agree with Barbara here.

BUT. And here's where it get interesting to me (as a registered Independent) - it looks like this is pretty much standard defense for a bunch of the Democrats, from Democrats. Consider:
  • Bill Clinton, serial sexual abuse of women who worked for him.
  • Robert Bird, KKK grand poobah.
  • Sandy Berger, stole documents from National Archives.
  • Gerry Studds, who had sex with an intern.
No real consequences to any of these guys. So how come?

Back to Barbra's comment. They want to help people, so we'll forgive and forget. The press, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic party, is a, shall we say, unindicted co-conspirator here. The message is that motives are more important than actions, or (in translation) "He may be an SOB, but he's our SOB."

This is actually OK as far as it goes. Politics is a rough sport, so I'm perhaps a little more forgiving here than RAOP might be.

BUT. Again, we come to the "but", and since there's even money that one of my three readers is a Democrat, I'd like to ask two questions:
  1. Is there a GOP equivalent of the Democratic pols listed here? Note that I'm not asking about GOP pols caught in a scandal - those are legion. I'm looking for ones caught who remain in leadership positions in the party.
  2. If Democrats self-identify as the party of "nice", then doesn't this sacrifice the moral high ground? Surely there are many, many other equally nice-motivated Democrat pols in Massachusetts who could take Sen Kennedy's seat. Wouldn't the Democratic agenda be advanced by throwing him (and Clinton, and Byrd, etc) under the bus?
It seems like this hurts the team. It is certainly a big reason that there's no longer a "D" after my name on the voter registration list. The must read on this topic is Ron Rosenbaum's "Goodbye all that: How the left's idiocies drove me to flee." Or Norm Geras. Or Neo-Neocon. Or Lissa.

So I guess a better question would be: is it worth circling the wagons around your SOBs, at the cost of increasing irrelevance? Does it make it harder to implement the agenda by covering for the Old Guard?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Foodblogging - Fried Chicken

#1 son loves fried chicken (OK, OK, we all do), and since he's home, I'm fixin' to fix it. Pan fried, not deep fried.

I like to cut up a whole chicken, because it's surprisingly easy to do this, and we find two-for-one sales on whole chicken a fair amount. Makes for a cheap and yummy dinner. It's a twofer!

The most important thing about fried chicken is the crust, and the most important thing about the crust is preparation. The chicken pieces needs at least an hour soak in buttermilk, which will give it a slightly slimy coating - do not skip this step, or Col Sanders will kick herbs and spice in your face.

BTW, you don't need to keep buttermilk around - add a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar to a quart of regular milk, and you'll be set. Yes, you'll get a little curdling, but don't sweat it. When you're done with the soak, the dogs will thank you for the icky, raw chickeny milk.

Take the chicken out of the milk (I just shake it off and stack it on a plate). This is the best time to season it, because it's a little slimy, and the sliminess will keep the seasoning on the chicken when it fries. The dredge will de-slime the pieces, so don't worry.

I like combination of Old Bay (just about my favorite spice), sweet paprika, and hot paprika. You want the chicken pieces completely coated with spice, but the mix of sweet/hot is something you'll want to adjust for your own taste. If you don't like Old Bay, you will need something with salt, as salting the pieces after they fry just hasn't worked well for me.

Once seasoned, dredge in flour - this is where the slime coating turns into yummy coating in waiting.

Important: Let the chicken rest on a cooling rack for 30 minutes while you heat the oil. This lets the coating harden somewhat, and you'll get a much better crust.

Now here's the heresy: I don't really care if you use shortening or oil to fry in. I find oil is easier, and some people think that used Crisco is icky. The oil should only come half way up the chicken, so you're probably talking a little over a finger's width of oil. We're pan frying, not deep frying.

Fry at 350 degrees for around ten minutes per side, flipping once. Remember, even with a good cast iron skillet, you'll have a hot spot in the middle. This hot spot is where you should fry the thighs (dark meat will put the extra heat to good use). You'll see moisture pooling on the top of the pieces as they fry - this "sweat" is a good thing, IOW, it's no sweat. The pieces in the middle will have a dark spot in the crust - dark is what you want; black is too much of a good thing.

Interestingly, my chicken is the best in the house, chez Borepatch. However, my biscuits would make a strong man cry.

Update 26 August 2008 19:26: It's best to check the chicken after 8 minutes. Mine was dark (yum!), not black (not yum), but ten minutes might have landed us smack in non-yum land.

The Washington Post has a Security Blog?

Who knew? But it's pretty darn good. I haven't run across Brian Krebs before, but he has a series of investigations going back months, that provides a great layman's introduction to cyber crime. For example, Digital Forgeries:
For example, let's say I'm a scammer and I've just gained access to someone's online account and I want to move their funds to my own account. The victim's institution says, "Hold on there, cowboy. In order to prove you are who you say you are, we'll need to see a scanned copy of your driver's license and a utility bill with your name and address on it." At scanlab, those images would cost me about $60 total ...
Perhaps it's a reflection as to how jaded (even suspicious) to things MSM-ish, but this is really good journalism. Kudos to the WaPo for investing in this sort of thing - we need a broader public than security geeks like me.

Added to the Blogroll.

Get yer Common Sense Gun Control Restrictions

Ever wonder what those mean? Well, they all involve more rules and judgment to be exercised by the Bruce has the goods:
To believe in gun control, and the Left's Utopian vision of a gun-free America (the one Barack Obama's desperately pretending to disavow now), you have to believe that a 108-pound woman does not have the right to protect herself from an enraged 270-pound, knife-wielding assailant.

That's one sick n' twisted belief system.
RTWT, and ponder: if that happened in South Carolina, imagine what would happen here in the People's Republic.

Monday, August 25, 2008

If all goes well

#1 son comes home tomorrow. Posting likely will be light for a bit.

UPDATE 26 August 2008 15:56: Home, with #1 son. Normalcy returns, for some value of "normalcy."

How do you spell "Single Point of Failure?"


Seems that an al-Qaeda trained suicide squirrel took out Switzerland's power grid.

No, I'm not making this up.
Swiss TV's emergency power back-up was too puny too cope with demand - and many Swiss sports fans were left very frustrated. The outage at Switzerland's national broadcaster coincided with the closing ceremony of the Olympics and also the Formula 1 race in Valencia.
This is why you don't just write up your Disaster Recovery Plan, kids, you practice it. Maybe PETA wouldn't let them?

UPDATE 26 August 2008 12:26: Rachel Lucas has a typically hilarious rant about squirrels, that's worth a read. But the comments are simply outstanding. My favorite was Og:
Squirrels are rats with tails. Evil rats with tails. Very, very tasty evil rats wiht tails.

Smackdown: Linux fanboys vs. Mac Fanboys

Actually, looks like both will hate this. Mac fanboys will hate the "looks like a Mac" bit, and Linux fanboys will hate the "doesn't trumpet its Open Source credentials" bit. The price? Free:
What's free, looks like Mac OS X, just works and is actually Linux? The answer is gOS, which recently launched a new beta that builds on the distro's initial success and adds new tools like integrated Google Gadgets for Linux.
The whole article is interesting, as this is disruptive on a lot of levels - to Microsoft (duh!), Apple (duh!), and traditional Linux fans:
For Linux purists and those that enjoy spending hours fiddling with configuration files, gOS will be an utter disappointment. But gOS isn't aimed at hard-core Linux users. It's aimed at otherwise computer illiterate users who simply want an easy way to check e-mail, browse the web and share some photos online.
Several points come to mind. First, this is being marketed just about exclusively to computer manufacturers (hell0, Microsoft!). This means that lack of hardware drivers is pretty much taken off the table. Driver support is a big, big problem for Linux, but if the computer ships with everything it needs, well hey, problem solved.

Second, security is both better and worse. Better, since gOS is designed to use web applications (for example, Google Apps). If there's a security hole in the app, Google will update it, and everyone's all set - presto, chango! Secure is worse, since it doesn't look like there aren't any system tools to let you patch your system. If there is a security problem in the OS (and there will be), it's not at all clear how you get the fix.

Third, it runs WINE by default. WINE is a program that lets you run Windows apps on Linux, so your kids have at least a chance of playing their games on it, you have at least a chance of running iTunes on it, etc.

Fourth, it's backed by Google's deep, deep pockets. Interesting times a'coming.

UPDATE 26 August 2008 21:30: #1 son says he doesn't trust WINE - a bunch of stuff didn't run correctly, he says. iTunes being one.

On hold

On vacation? Check.

#2 son wants to go shoot an AR and turn into an AR fanboy? Check.

Ready for roadtrip with the boys? Check.

Not doing any of this? Check.

Off to the hospital again. Man, I was a young guy until I had kids. Full head of hair, too. Hard as it may be to believe.

Quote of the Day

From Sharp As A Marble, offered without comment because it needs none:

So Virginia laws require that if you enter an establishment that serves alcohol you must openly carry. So, for the first time I openly carried my firearm in public.

Nobody ran screaming that there was a man with a gun. I didn't shoot the waitress because she didn't fill up my water on time. I didn't have the urge to murder a throng of school children.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Interesting view on the Election

As a baseball season, from Chris Lynch:
In baseball it is said that that every team is guaranteed 54 wins and 54 losses. It is what the team does with those remaining 54 games which determines success of failure for the season.

The same is true in Presidential politics. The Republicans are guaranteed a certain amount of votes from their base and the Democrats are guaranteed a certain amount from their base. It is how the undecideds, independents and centrists vote that will determine the next President.
Plus, another post on the current odds, and that now may be the time to jump on McCain (in Vegas).

Booze and Breasts

Oh, come on - this is a public service. It will attract all sorts of low lifes (except you!) and maybe some security-fu will rub off.

The Winerack Bra is basically a Camelbak beverage pack in a, err, different location. I'd post pic, but it looks like exactly what you're thinking right now.

I presume that this was designed by a guy.  Via El Reg, which is absolutely on fire lately. If you like snark, you'll like them.

Oh, and to all the low lifes coming here via Google search strings, there are some security posts right before this one that you want to read. No, really.

Anatomy of a Blog Spam Attack

There's a very interesting article at The Register that shows how blog spam is now being used to install malware. If you blog, or read blogs (in other words, all of you), should go RTWT.

One of the best things about the article is that the authpor guides you through a series of situations where your security radar should start going off:
  • Clicking a link to a server in eastern europe (, etc)
  • Getting an XP security popup when you're running Vista, or vice versa
  • Getting an antivirus popup from an antivirus that you don't run
  • Unexpected offers of free antivirus or antispyware*
  • Unexpected appearance of very small browser windows
Yes, I'm a security geek, but all of you should go read this. It's not technical, but it does give you a lot of food for thought. One of your best lines of defenses is a healthy skepticism about what you download.

Ranum's Law: Sometimes in security it's easier not to do something stupid than it is to do something smart.

Borepatch's Law: "Free Download" is Internet Security Speak for "Open Your Mouth And Close Your Eyes."
* There are some good online antivirus scans, but you have to go to the vendor's web site to get them - they don't just pop up at any old random web site. Trend Micro has a good one called Housecall.

If you have your own blog site, you should read this

Long title, not snappy and pithy, but if you have a blog that's not hosted (e.g., the password protection for your site may not work:
It's one of the simplest hacks we've seen in a long time, and the more elite computer users have known about it for a while, but it's still kinda cool and just a little bit unnerving: A hacker has revealed a way to use Google and other search engines to gain unauthorized access to password-protected content on a dizzying number of websites.
Basically the problem is with something called "cloaking" - if you don't have a "hidden, password protected" part of the site, you are probably OK. If you do - say, a member's forum, then all of the content may be showing up in Google's cache.

And no, this isn't Google being evil, it's Google doing what it does.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

In China? No iTunes for you!

Seems that out of the 8 million tracks on iTunes, there's a Free Tibet album. Sounds pretty rockin': Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Moby, Suzanne Vega. It's called Songs for Tibet, and it's gotten iTunes banned in China.
If you like iTunes and you are one of the billion people residing in China, you may have noticed that you no longer have access to the eight million songs on it. An album, 'Songs for Tibet' was downloaded more than 40 times by Olympic athletes as a sign of solidarity for Tibet's cause. Ironically, this compilation had songs criticizing the 'Great Firewall of China,' and that is the very thing that prohibited these songs from reaching the Chinese public.
Much more at The Register.

They still think that they can keep the lid on the Internet, and they still don't think that this will hold them back. I guess time will tell, but Kevin Baker has a really interesting series of posts with Quotes on how central control combined with suppression of politically incorrect thinking destroyed the Soviet economy.

Via Slashdot, which has this comment offered to you in its entirety:

Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.

1. WE are in control Muthafucker
2. 40 million dead and counting.
3. Don't make me re-educate you.
4. If 12 year olds are good enough for Mao, then they are good enough for the Gymnast team.
5. Pollution? What pollution?
6. One kid. It's the LAW.
7. Never too young for a job!
9. Never met a technology we couldn't steal.

Saturday Redneck - Johnny Cash

Hurt was written by Christina Aguilera Nine Inch Nails, but the great Johnny Cash sang it too, undoubtedly for June. A song for howling at the moon.
I hurt myself today
to see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
the only thing that's real
the needle tears a hole
the old familiar sting
try to kill it all away
but I remember everything
what have I become?
my sweetest friend
everyone I know
goes away in the end
and you could have it all
my empire of dirt

I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns
upon my liar's chair
full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
beneath the stains of time
the feelings disappear
you are someone else
I am still right here

what have I become?
my sweetest friend
everyone I know
goes away in the end
and you could have it all
my empire of dirt

I will let you down
I will make you hurt

if I could start again
a million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way
UPDATE 23 August 2008 16:38: Squeaky Wheel Seeks Grease points out it was Nine Inch Nails, not Christina Aguilera. Thanks.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Made of Fail

Not the Emergency Room, where everyone was great.

The need to go there with your kid, that's made of fail.

Light posting until things get under control.

Slow posting

Mr. Windshield is still trying to establish dominance, and I'm not completely convinced that I'm not the bug.

Posting later.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who's Secretary of the Department of Irony?

Seems someone broke into the Department of Homeland Security's phones. Seems they made a bunch ($12,000) worth of calls. To Afghanistan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.
"In this case it's sort of embarrassing that it happened to FEMA themselves — FEMA being a child of DHS, with calls going to the Middle East," Johnson said.
Well, what's a few calls between friends? Now PBX hacking is very old school, so I guess there are some retro style props to the Bad Guys here. And current style props for target selection - maximum embarrassment value here.

Hat tip, Slashdot, where as always, the comments provide superior snark.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Voting machines - what could possibly go wrong?

Especially if someone takes them home the night before election day? Fortunately, the Ohio.Gov is on the case!

I'd say something snarky, but this comes pre-mocked.

As always, XKCD comes to the rescue:

ChiCom.Gov cheats at Olympics - pix at 11

Internet search engines see all, forget nothing. Even Google's self-inflicted lobotomy wasn't enough to keep the lid on this:
I don't really feel that it's about the gymnastics age limit, or even really about whether fraud occurred. At this point, I believe that any reasonable observer already understands that age records have been forged. This story now is really about Internet censorship, the act of removing evidence while at the same time claiming that the evidence is wrong. For the first time I watched search records shift under my feet like sand, facts draining down a hole in the Internet.
Seems that he found online docs from a ChiCom.Gov site that showed that one of their gymnasts was under age. Then the document disappeared from search engines, including Google's cache.

The ChiCom.Gov isn't at issue here. Anyone who's shocked that they might actually, y'know, cheat ain't exactly the highest watt bulb around. What's been amply demonstrated is that the Intarwebz archives have all the authority of, well, Wikipedia.

We also know what Google's price is. Hey guys, if you're going to be evil, don't be cheap. Or stupid.

Polygamy makes men live longer

Really. Scientists say so:
Want to live a little longer? Get a second wife. New research suggests that men from polygamous cultures outlive those from monogamous ones.

After accounting for socioeconomic differences, men aged over 60 from 140 countries that practice polygamy to varying degrees lived on average 12% longer than men from 49 mostly monogamous nations, says Virpi Lummaa, an ecologist at the University of Sheffield, UK.
Several thoughts come to mind:
  1. Dr. Lummaa is obviously not married.
  2. I most certainly am.
  3. Dr. Lummaa's suggestion is not a good plan for long life, Chez Borepatch.
Just Sayin'.

Windshield or bug?

Bug. Be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This is the literal definition of "Uber Cool"

German police seize teens' motorized office chair

Why does this sound like it will show up on Country Fried Home Videos?

BERLIN (AP) -- German police have confiscated what may be the world's fastest office chair. Police say officers happened on the contraption - the work of two inventive 17-year-olds - in the western town of Gross-Zimmern on Saturday.

The pair had added a lawnmower engine, bicycle brakes and a metal frame to the revolving chair - making into a go-kart-like vehicle.

Via Slashdot, who as always have the best comments. My favorite:
Much like the ShamWow, it's from Germany, and you know how they make good stuff.

Oh, and here's the obligatory shout out to the greatest TV commercials in the last 10 years, VW's "Unpimp your ride". These kids have a great future.

Lose your wallet, no gun purchases for you!

Here's a happy combination, gun control and airport security. There will be a quiz at the end of post: which is worse?

Via Emergent Chaos, comes this heart warming story about what happens if you lose your wallet at the airport:
For more than a month this summer, airline travelers who forgot or lost their identification ended up being added to homeland security database of suspicious persons, a secret change that accompanied a tightening of the rules about flying without identification in June.
RTWT, but basically your name got added into a database if you lost (or someone stole) your wallet between gates at O'Hare. Not to worry, though, it would only be in the database for 15 years:
But either way, according to a USA Today story, their names get added to a database of people believed to be possible threats to aviation. The names are kept for 15 years and can be shared with law enforcement.
"But Ted," I hear you say, "what's the problem with sharing this with law enforcement?" Hmmm, what could possibly go wrong?

Then, the article speaks of Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League, in a rather negative light

He opposes the idea of asking people for background checks or identification at gun shows, even if they are suspected terrorists listed on a terrorist watch list.

So do I. Suspected terrorists are not convicted terrorists.
Maybe they just lost their wallet in O'Hare.

Data collected for one purpose is often not useful for other purposes. Even when it's not being used to push someone's agenda.

Oh, and the quiz? It was a trick question. They're both worse, when you put them together.

Monday, August 18, 2008

More Airport Security Kabuki Theater

To old to work, too young to retire gets a heapin' helping, and quote of the day:
OK Mr. Better Than Those Other Airports, answer this. Why is it that your laser like gaze picked up my CPAP, but not the identical model in Mrs. TOTWTYTR's carry on?
Keeping us safe from terrorists, patting down emergency medical technicians. Way to go.

Plus he gets a heapin' helping of "helpful" airline gate agents. RTWT.

Security researchers should pack heat

But I'm not sure if that's legal in Turkey:
A Turkish computer hacker who was helping that country's media and national police investigate computer crimes was kidnapped and tortured by a notorious ATM hacker, according to a report from the Turkish press.
We've come a long way from the Napoleon Dynamite stage of hacking:
Napoleon Dynamite: Well, nobody's going to go out with *me*!

Pedro: Have you asked anybody yet?

Napoleon Dynamite: No, but who would? I don't even have any good skills.

Pedro: What do you mean?

Napoleon Dynamite: You know, like nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.
It's possible that this is a publicity stunt, but sheesh.

All the Malware that's fit to print

Looks like Newsweek (and the Washington Post) has been unwittingly serving up malware in banner ads.
The ads redirect users to a site that falsely claims users' PCs are infected with malware and urges them to buy and install software that will remedy the problem. The banner graphic posed as an ad for, which bills itself as an online foreign currency exchange.
Remember, kids - "Free download" is high tech speak for "open your mouth and close your eyes."

It's not just them, either:
Newsweek joins a growing list of name-brand websites accused of exposing its readers to dangerous ads. Last week, we reported on a new breed of ad that used malicious Adobe Flash code to hijack the clipboard of users' PCs., and other websites were said to be running the abusive ads.
One risk that we don't often think of is that the media is so panicked about their collapsing business model that they may take an ad from anyone, even without an agenda (see Betrayus, General). We've got a plausible vector here, especially for targeted attacks.

So remember the rules of safer browsing, be smart when you download, and get your security news from sites that don't have ads, like (ahem) this one.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - ABBA?

I'm sorry, you may have lost my vote, dude.

"What were you thinking?," Isaacson asked him, looking incredulous.

"If there is anything I am lacking in, I've got to tell you, it is taste in music and art and other great things in life," McCain joked.
Gee, ya think?

OK, so it's puff (ask the POTUS-wannabes what's on their iPod). Still, we expect a little more from the guy who wants to lead the Free World. Sort of like girlfriends: JFK and Marilyn Monroe - you may not agree with what he did, but you have to give him points for style. Monica, not so much.

This is McCain's Lewinsky moment.

Just to show I'm not afraid to put a quick top 10 out for y'all, here's a list that a real POTUS could get behind, because everything on it either broke new ground, shows the world style, or kicks butt. Sort of like us.

Ground Breakers:
Elvis - Burning Love

Ramones - Rockaway Beach

Springsteen - Thunder Road
Style Setters:
Muddy Waters - The Blues had a baby, and they named it Rock and Roll

Duke Ellington - Autumn Leaves

Nat King Cole - (Get your kicks on) Route 66
Butt Kickers:
Toby Keith - Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue

Wings - Live and Let Die

Tom Jones - Thunderball

Travis Tritt - T-R-O-U-B-L-E
Butt-kickin' - that's what folks look for in a POTUS. Not a Dancing Queen.

And that guy choking with laughter? Fred Thompson.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Today in History

Ten years go President Clinton gave a television address to the nation, in which he described an "inappropriate" relationship with an intern, In span of a few short minutes, he forever changed the way that posterity would view his initials.

The Death of Environentalism

Jonathan Adler at Volokh points to a very interesting article by Roger Pielke, Jr on the rapid decline of the number of people who identify themselves as environmentalists (80% in 1991, 40% now). Pielke poses some interesting questions:
If we were in one of my environmental policy classes, an obvious question to ask of this data would be, does this trend reflect a failure of the environmental movement? A failure of the public? Something else?
Adler comments:
Does this mean that Americans are less supportive of environmental protection than in the past? I doubt it. One possibility is that an increasing percentage of Americans reject the idea that the environmentalist movement has a monopoly on what it means to be "pro-environment."
I think that Adler's on to something, which is also reflected in the comments to Pielke's post:
Interesting. I really hadn’t considered that “Environmentalist” was becoming synonomous w/ extremist. I just started letting my memberships drop about 15 years ago - the near-constant apocalyptic fear-mongering, the money begging, the Alar debacle; it just got to be too much.
What's important for the "Environmental Movement" is donations to keep the machine running. What's important to most of the public is clean air, clean water, etc. The environmental organizations have identified themselves with the movement, and the public isn't buying it. And so the organizations turn the volume up to 11 in their fund raising.

When you combine this mismatch with the overall decline of brand power, you have a bad moon rising. While we all are willing to be persuaded, nobody likes to be sold. As the organizations have "professionalized," their brand has shifted from "Environment" to "Friends of the Earth" or "World Wildlife Federation." These are not the same thing, and from this poll, it looks like the public in general doesn't think these organizations are doing a very good job.

The same thing has happened to feminism. Most people support women's rights, but most do not identify themselves as feminists. Dr. Helen nailed why:
I tend to agree with Smithy--although I will go a step further and say it is not craziness on the part of unhinged feminists--it is craftiness. There is a logic and the subtle art of propaganda in these feminists' statistics that scream "give me more funding for women's issues ASAP."
So what we're seeing is brand damage. It seems not to be damage to the movement's brand (protecting the environment or women's rights); support for these seems to be high. The damage is occuring to the organization's brands.
  • Do I support protecting the environment? Sure, within reason.
  • Do I support Friends of the Earth? Dunno. What's their agenda?
The Internet is making all of this much easier - organizations can organize and tap into money that they never could before. Expect this sort of damage to accelerate, as the organizations increasingly focus on their hard core (money donating) supporters.

The whole Anthropogenic Global Warming debate smells precisly like this, and is potentially enormously damaging to the green movement. There's also a danger to Second Amendment rights groups, too. The NRA sometimes looks like they think that they're the movement, but the Heller case history says otherwise. That's brand damage waiting to happen, if it hasn't already.

UPDATE 17 August 11:02: The Mainstream Media is now seen by a large portion of the public (their former subscribers/viewers) as continually trying to sell us a particular point of view. To the detriment of their bottom lines.

UPDATE 17 August 11:17: Reason Hit and Run offers an outstanding example of this sort of silliness. Just read it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Fool and his money

My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?

My first thought was "I don't think so." My second thought was "says who?" My third thought was "didn't you have to learn this sort of stuff back at State U?"

Well, yes. I did have to learn that, back in the (surprisingly interesting ) Engineering Economics class. The calculation is pretty straight forward, and not too much different than calculating a mortgage. The input assumptions are the key.

So let's start with the $3,951.78 value as a starting point. If we convert this to a monthly income, with 3% interest rate, 5 year term, and zero value at the end of 5 years, Excel says that this works out as $71.01 a month (it's the PMT function).

So, a different way to look at it: is this corner of the Internet worth $71 a month? Beats me. That works out to around 76¢ a post.

Since this line of thought seems to be going nowhere, let me just say that I accept cash and personal checks.

Saturday Redneck - Brad Paisley

In line with this week's Class Warfare theme, it's probably the right time to inject some humor. Country music has a long history of this, and Brad Paisley does it as well as anyone today. While this mostly plays off the "Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus" idea, there's a definite class awareness towards the end.

Offered for your consideration, I'm still a guy.
When you see a deer you see Bambi
And I see antlers up on the wall
When you see a lake you think picnic
And I see a large mouth up under that log
You're probably thinking that you're going to change me
In some ways well maybe you might
Scrub me down, dress me up but no matter what
I'm still a guy

When you see a priceless French painting
I see a drunk, naked girl
You think that riding a wild bull sounds crazy
And I'd like to give it a whirl
Well love makes a man do some things he ain't proud of
And in a weak moment I might
walk your sissy dog, hold your purse at the mall
But remember, I'm still a guy

I'll pour out my heart
Hold your hand in the car
Write a love song that makes you cry
Then turn right around knock some jerk to the ground
'Cause he copped a feel as you walked by

I can hear you now talking to your friends
Saying, "Yeah girls he's come a long way"
From dragging his knuckles and carrying a club
And building a fire in a cave
But when you say a backrub means only a backrub
Then you swat my hand when I try
Well, what can I say at the end of the day
Honey, I'm still a guy


These days there's dudes getting facials
Manicured, waxed and botoxed
With deep spray-on tans and creamy lotiony hands
You can't grip a tacklebox

With all of these men lining up to get neutered
It's hip now to be feminized
I don't highlight my hair
I've still got a pair
Yeah honey, I'm still a guy

Oh my eyebrows ain't plucked
There's a gun in my truck
Oh thank God, I'm still a guy

Friday, August 15, 2008

NASA: Let's Nuke The Moon

Well, kinda:
A few weeks ago we got first word of NASA's plan to crash a spacecraft into the moon next February.
Seems they're prospecting for water, with an interplanetary JDAM.

Frank J could not be reached for comment. I think he needs to hire a lawyer.

UK.Gov: merely incompetent, or drooling idiots?

I report, you decide:
A War On Terror board game designed in Cambridge has been seized by police who claim the balaclava in the set could be used in a criminal act.

The satirical board game was confiscated along with knives, chisels and bolt cutters, from climate protesters during a series of raids near Kingsnorth power station, in Kent, last week.

The game's creators, Andrew Sheerin and Andy Tompkins, web designers from Cambridge, have expressed total shock at the inclusion of their toy among "criminal" items.

Andrew, 32, said: "I saw pictures of the board game in papers and was absolutely baffled.

"Surely no member of the public is going to believe that a board game could be used as a weapon?"
Andrew, this is the UK.Gov you're talking about, not just any old "member of the public." Besides the balaclava in question was embroidered with the word "EVIL". 'Nuff said.

Via Slashdot, where I turned to in hopes of quality snark. Ever faithful, they delivered:
Because when I think 'hijacking an airplane', I think about wearing a balaclava with the word EVIL stitched to my head.
Bruce Schneier cuts to the chase:
Don't they realize that balaclavas are for sale everywhere in the UK? Or that scarves, hoods, handkerchiefs, and dark glasses could also be used to conceal someone's identity?
So as a public service to any UK.Gov readers (you know who you are!): any Google search for police+seize+game+[your ministry name here] is way bad PR, mkay?

And as a public service to any European readers who think that Americans are idiots, consider your continent mocked. And there's a lot more where that came from.

Quick note on Beretta triggers

I've been pretty hard on Beretta, talking smack on their triggers not once, but twice. Well, in the cold clear light of dawn evening, I've decided that this is not a bug, but a feature.

Specifically, it's probably what Col. Jeff Cooper refers to as a two-stage or military trigger (The Art of the Rifle, p.55):
With the two stage trigger, the initial movement of the trigger must be achieved before the actual firing pressure is applied. This first movement of the trigger, which may be as much as a quarter of an inch in some cases, is lightly sprung and is referred to as "take-up" ... I prefer a two-stage trigger to a single stage, partly because I think that it is mechanically more reliable, but mainly because I grew up on the militry trigger and find it more comfortable.
So what I thought was a "spongy" trigger seems to be a two-stage one. I'm a bit humbled to find my self in disagreement with Col. Cooper, but I didn't spend part of my youth at Uncle Sam's summer camps, and he did.

I recall that he had a lot to say about the Beretta 92 (much of it not particularly complimentary) in To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth. I'll look though it and see if he, too, complains of the Beretta's trigger.

In any case, I think I'll try it again with an open mind.

Rifle Bleg

Does anyone know where to get a butt plate for a Lee-Enfield Mark IV? Ideally, with an issue cleaning kit as well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Mrs. teaches me to shoot

Well, kinda.

For my birthday, she got me shooting lessons at the range with #2 son. So off we went today - I'm late posting tonight because I was goofing off at the range.

Shot a bunch of stuff - all pistols. Glock .40 (first time), .357 (first time, in both wheel gun and semi-auto), Smith snubbie (first time), Beretta 92 (first time). Lots of fun. That's not the point of the post, though.

We worked on trigger control and the "surprise break" (essentially not being able to anticipate when the BOOM will happen). Yes, I hear you say - everyone knows you're supposed to do this. But knowing it and doing it - ah, there's the rub.

Before we started, Tom (our teacher) asked me at what range I was confident I could repeatedly hit a paper plate. "10 yards," I said somewhat optimistically. So Mr. Paper Plate went out to 10 yards. Oh boy, said I, here's the comeuppance.

Tom reminded me to concentrate on slow trigger squeeze and surprise break. The results were, ahem, gratifying:

Boy howdy, with the snubbie, no less. I don't have a ruler handy, but my thumb covers the group. I've never shot like that before.

The Beretta was interesting. Some of you might remember a previous trip to the range with a Beretta Cx4 Storm. I didn't get along with the trigger. Well, the Beretta 92 has the same trigger. However, this time the voices in my head had this discussion:
Me: I don't like this trigger.

Beretta: BANG!

Me: It went in the same hole!

Me: I don't like this trigger.

Beretta: BANG!

Me: It went in the same hole!

So, maybe Mr. Cx4 and I should have another get together.

Needless to say, I'm pleased as punch. I'd think I was bragging, but as they say it ain't bragging if you can do it. Besides, y'all can look through the Range Report archives if you want to giggle at my marksmanship.

In any case, I have the best wife in the whole world. Can't wait until Christmas ...

Oh, and #2 son? 2" group at 5 yards. He's got to be the best shot in his school, but this is Massachusetts after all. Oh, and one more (weird) thing: seems my dominant eye is my left one, even though I'm right handed. Seems I should shoot rifles like a southpaw. I'll have to try that, but any suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Worldwide streaming media - press Ctrl + Alt + Del

Seems the giant screen in Olympic Stadium showed more than the opening ceremonies:

The global audience tuned into Beijing's National Stadium got to see Microsoft's dirty laundry aired in public during the opening festivities: the Blue Screen of Death on massive Olympian-sized monitors, as systems tasked with running the coordinated visual spectacle and reportedly powered by Windows XP Embedded apparently crashed.

Those viewers include, of course, Bill Gates.

El Reg has a screenshot, so stop by.

Scientific Fraud

Kim duToit posted about this, so I assume most of you have run across the "Caspar and the Jesus Paper". It (and this) is a long post, and you should definitely RTWT if you care about how science is used in public debates.

Cliff's Notes version for those who don't have the time to RTWT: The Global Warming "Hockey Stick" showing that most warming has been recent, and man-made (as shown in Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth") is not just hooey, it's almost certainly fraudulent.

While I don't know for certain, I suspect that Kim picked up on this particular story since he has a background in statistics. Statistics originally got started so that there would be a mathematical way to know when someone's trying to snooker you.

While I wasn't trained as a scientist, I was trained as an engineer (Electrical, thanks for asking), so I'm not a complete n00b when it comes to the Scientific Method. I don't want to shock you, but lots of science is hooey. That's just how science is; a wag once described the scientific process as "not replacing a falsehood with a truth, but rather replacing a falsehood with a more subtle falsehood." So I don't have a problem with Anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW) being wrong. I do have a problem with actual, you know, fraud. The pre-meditated sort, for professional gain:
That the statistical foundations on which they had built this paleoclimate castle were a swamp of misrepresentation, deceit and malfeasance was, to Wahl and Amman, an irrelevance. For political and public consumption, the hockey stick still lived, ready to guide political decision-making for years to come.
Orson Scott Card discussed this some time ago.

What's crucial is that Steve now understands why the "censored" data sets are smaller than the ones Mann used. The full source data includes those misleading results that shouldn't have been used. But the "censored" data sets leave it out.

This means that Mann knew exactly what he was doing. This was not an accident. Mann ran the program on the data without the misleading numbers, and then he ran it with the misleading numbers. What he published was the results that made his ideological case.

This is background to the "Jesus Paper" post. It's more accessible (not much discussion of statistics, for example), and more entertaining, but both describe the same fraud. I'd like to think that this is an isolated incident, but it's not.

Bjorn Lomborg is a statistician, and wrote a book called the Skeptical Environmentalist. It documented a bunch of mistakes and failures in climate model computer programs. It was well documented (you might say excessively footnoted) and peer-reviewed by earth scientists. Michael Crichton has a long but worthwhile post that discusses this (among other cases of politically motivated scientific orthodoxy):
The scientific community responded in a way that can only be described as disgraceful. In professional literature, it was complained he had no standing because he was not an earth scientist. His publisher, Cambridge University Press, was attacked with cries that the editor should be fired, and that all right-thinking scientists should shun the press. The past president of the AAAS wondered aloud how Cambridge could have ever "published a book that so clearly could never have passed peer review." )But of course the manuscript did pass peer review by three earth scientists on both sides of the Atlantic, and all recommended publication.) But what are scientists doing attacking a press? Is this the new McCarthyism-coming from scientists?
The worst was Scientific American - once a great magazine - debasing themselves with a whole issue as a hit piece on the Skeptical Environmentalist. Not only did they only publish critical articles by notorious, bised authors like Paul Ehrlich, not only did they refuse Lomborg the space to rebut these articles in detail, not only did they threaten to sue him for copyright infringement if he posted his rebutal online, but they titled the issue "Science defends itself from 'The Skeptical Environmentalist'".

Well now. I may be a rube that went to State U, but science doesn't need to defend itself. Nature provides the data, and if it's not reproduceable, you're wrong. "The scientist proposes and nature disposes."

All of this is cut from the same cloth, which is the intellectual class trying to wrap its pet theories up in scientific garb. When someone smells a rat, and starts a, you know, actual scientific discussion about the matter, all you hear is wagons being circled and Professor Torquemada issuing an excommunication. Sentence first, then the trial. Ask Larry Summers.

Personally, I'm skeptical about the whole AGW theory, because I'm actually pretty well versed on long-term (i.e. million-plus year) climate variation, and it doesn't look like anything is particularly out of whack today. I'm also pretty well versed in computer programming, and the fallibility of computer models. But I'm willing to keep an open mind - you know, be scientific, and look at the evidence.

However, when some idiot in the press (or worse, the American Association for the Advancement of Science) tells me that the debate is over, that there's a "consensus", that people who are unconvinced are "deniers" who should be fired (or jailed) - I reach for my wallet, and you should, too. Consensus? What the heck does that mean in scientific terms? I don't give a dang about the consensus, I care about the data. Oh, and I really, really care if you won't show me your data (like Mann and his Hockey Stick).

Deniers? Every scientific advance from Galileo to Darwin to Nils Bohr involved denying accepted wisdom. If you can't take the heat, get the heck out of the lab.

The sad realization is that much - maybe a majority - of the scientific community is involved not in science, but in class warfare. Eric Raymond - as always - puts the knife in:

Secularists and leftists enjoy sneering at conservative Christians who believe in the Rapture and other flavors of millenarianism. Reasonably so: it takes either a drooling idiot or somebody who has deliberately shut off most of his brain, reducing himself to an idiotically low level of critical thinking, to believe such things....

It is therefore more than a little amusing to notice how prone these ’sophisticated’ critics are to their own forms of idiotic millenarianism.

You're part of the in crowd, or you're not. Me, I guess I'm not.

UPDATE 17 August 2008 16:07: Confederate Yankee has a very interesting post about how we may actually be heading into global cooling (meaning new Ice Age). He has temperature graphs for the last 12,000 years, the last 100,000 years, and the last 500,000. It's well worth your time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Class Warfare

Zendo Deb at TFS Magnum is on a roll, with domestic and foreign examples of government screw-ups, to go with the recent ones here:
Common sense protections are one thing, but spending 13 hours on paperwork to follow a suspect?
We've all heard the passive voice defense from some Gov flack: Mistakes were made. So why does the government and its supporters on the left tolerate repeated government screw-ups?. Deb offers a suggestion:
They don't want to stop crime. They want to stop police, so the population will be in fear. Scared, unarmed, helpless - defines both sheep and the average citizen of the UK.
Or Washington DC, or Chicago, or Orange County California. We can extend this to areas other than policing - look at the ridiculous Rules Of Engagement that hobble our guys in Iraq.

But again, why would they want this? It's not that they want to stop the police per se. Rather, it's a power grab by the intellectual class. Class warfare. Consider:

The intellectual class in this country at least are the highly educated ones: doctors, lawyers, teachers, journalists. All of these have two things in common. Firstly, they were all the smartest kids in their class. Not the strongest, or fastest, or most entrepreneurial. They got the best grades, by fitting into the mold of the intellectual class.

Secondly, and most importantly, they got ahead not through individual one-on-one confrontation, but by using the power structures of the intellectual class to their advantage. Now they're entrenched at all levels of the government (lawyers), schools (teachers), and media (journalists), using the power of these institutions to get ahead.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), try to extend this to international relations. The entire European Union is the European intellectual class writ large, in a very real and legally binding sense. No wonder lefty intellectuals say we should be more like Europe.

They use this power by setting up rules and regulations. Complicated rules and regulations, that someone outside the power structure will be unlikely to navigate successfully. If these rules don't work, they'll add new rules. If those don't work, they'll add more. Eventually, they tie everyone else in enough knots that they win, just like in Middle School. The rules, of course, are not enforced against members of the intellectual class ....

Say Uncle has a good post on cops, and how most of them are (surprise!) regular, decent guys. He doesn't go far enough - the cops are trapped between trying to do a good job, keeping everyone safe, and their bosses - members of an intellectual class that hates their guts.

Well, maybe that's too strong, but the intellectual class doesn't trust them worth a darn. And I think that this explains why things are often set up to guarantee FAIL, like in Deb's examples. The UK.Gov simply doesn't want competent, autonomous policing, because that would be control exercised by someone other than the intellectual class.

So the real question to ask when you see one of the monumental screw-ups is not whether the folks in charge are idiots, because they're not. It's not even whether they want this outcome, because they don't. The right question is whether they are willing to grant control to people who can make things better. The answer to that is "no" unless the people under consideration are part of the intellectual class.

The following groups are not part of the intellectual class, and continually labor against suspicion from them: police, military, small businesses, anyone in favor of smaller government or the second amendment. These groups will never get the benefit of the doubt from the press, or government, or courts, because they're outsiders.

Even brits realize that they have no rights

And even the technical press is talking about it. This can only be a sign as to a massive failure in the soft and cuddly LuLabor "I can haz human right?" marketing campaign:
These really aren’t Rights at all - rather, they are an expression of the conviction that the current model of the British welfare state is somehow inevitable and proper. In linguistic terms – note the liberal use of words such as “appropriate” and “reasonable” – they are a bureaucrat’s wet dream, setting out in no uncertain terms not the scope of our aspirations, but the limit to our freedoms.
The similarity to "reasonable restrictions" on the second amendment seem very, well, European:
Let me get this straight. If I want to carry because I have to walk through a neighborhood that’s a warzone, I need to get medical clearance, take a polygraph, and I can only carry as I’m walking through that neighborhood as long as The Queen deems it to be a legitimate reason?
Yeah, that's about it.

Mother says die

There's been some discussion lately about Democratic Party as the "Mommy" (nurturing) party and the Republican Party as the "Dad" (disciplinarian) party. It's been crazy insane busy, so I've forgotten the links.

In any case, here's an example from the Great White North (Canada) where Mom's not so nurturing. Even though the doctor says "operate now", Mom tells a cancer patient that no, she doesn't see the emergency and won't authorize immediate treatment. But she still loves you, really:

The tumour in Debbie Trelenberg's abdomen was so large she was unable to fasten her jeans. She feared the mass might rupture – a sentiment shared by her family doctor – but an operation to remove it in Edmonton was nearly four weeks away.

So Ms. Trelenberg packed a bag, put on sweatpants and headed to the United States.

Mommy didn't think it was a big deal. Don't worry your pretty little head now, dearie:

Now that Ms. Trelenberg has lost her appeal, the next step, should she choose to pursue it, is to make an application for a judicial review.

However, Tracey Bailey, executive director at the Health Law Institute in Edmonton, said such a review typically focuses on whether the “decision was made in a fair and reasonable way” and not on the medical details of the case.

Medical details relevant? Nah.

“Given the speed with which her tumour enlarged and the aggressiveness of the cell type,” wrote Dr. Sails in the letter dated March 7, “I am convinced that it could easily have ruptured at any moment.” If that had happened, Dr. Sails wrote, it could have resulted in the “spillage of massive amounts of malignant cells through her abdominal and pelvic cavities.”
Maybe they don't have enough doctors because they're trying to catch all the rats and cockroaches.

Me, I can't wait for the Democrats to give us HillaryCare. We just won't have anywhere to go for our operations.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hey dude, don't be evil

Or stupid.

Seems a lot of folks are getting all confused-like about the war in Georgia. Just because armored columns are moving south into Georgia doesn't mean you need to look towards I-75 and Chattanooga:
Did you know that Russian troops are thrusting into the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia? That's what readers will learn from a Google Maps graphic accompanying a news story about Russian incursions into Georgia
He's got screen shots, too. Wonder if these will disappear from the Google Cache?

Looks like Sky News got confused as well:
It appears Google is not the only one feeling a bit geographically befuddled. The venerable Sky News is proudly displaying a handy guide to Georgia on a smart 'In-Depth' page (presently here), explaining that it is "also known as the Peach State and the Empire State of the South".
Hey, no war for peaches!

Cyber attacks in Georgia traced to Russia

Internet servers in Georgia (Europe, not US) are under attack from Russian sources.

Unconfirmed reports claim the notorious RBN (Russian Business Network) are behind the attacks and that Georgian internet servers were owned by foreign attackers on Thursday - the day before Russian tanks rolled into South Ossetia.

Interests in cyber-attacks as an adjunct to real-world conflict has increased since the denial of service attacks took out the internet infrastructure of Estonia in April last year. The attacks coincided with a dispute of the relocation of WWII-era monuments and affected Estonian parliament, bank, newspaper and government sites.

The assaults were blamed on Russian nationalists.
We've seen this before, from China, too. And not just us:
Three more western nations have blamed China for an upsurge in hacking attacks against government computers.
Now, computer exploits still have a long way to go to match .308 caliber exploits, but it looks like cyber-war is no longer a theoretical part of actual war.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Classified National Security info OK, farecard details not so much

Publishing it, that is.

Apologies to both of my readers for dropping the ball on this one (you need to get all your internet security info via Insty!).

Seems you can publish the Pentagon Papers, or information about US monitoring of terrorist SWIFT financial transactions, but not a technical presentation about security weaknesses in the Boston subway "smart" farecard?
A federal judge on Saturday granted the Massachusetts transit authority's request for an injunction preventing three MIT students from giving a presentation about hacking smartcards used in the Boston subway system.
But wait - it gets better!
But then the conversations took a hostile turn when MBTA mentioned an FBI criminal investigation of the MIT students.
As always, the clueless government flack offers up a nonsensical justification:
The MBTA, which is a state government agency, alleges in its lawsuit that "disclosure of this information will significantly compromise the CharlieCard and CharlieTicket systems" and "constitutes a threat to public health or safety."
Health and Safety? Wow - this is maybe the first security vulnerability ever to threaten public health and safety. Unless you're talking about the health of the Mass.Gov's revenue stream:
"Our research shows that one can write software that will generate cards of any value up to $655.36," the document says.

So, the Mass.Gov hires some lame company to create a farecard system. Company screws up the design of the system, which has all the security integrity of swiss cheese. Smart students find the problem, and publish. Gov threatens them with the Federales.

Let's look at the Massachusetts lefties. You know the ones I'm talking about: the ones who complain about the "illegal" NSA wiretaps. The reasoning goes like this:
  1. NSA listens to phone calls from one guy outside of the USA to another guy outside the USA.
  2. Because the phone call is routed through the USA, the terrorists now have fourth amendment protections.
Let's play the "Word Substitution Game." Replace "MBTA" with "DoD" and "Farecard system" with "terrorist monitoring", and see who squawks:
A federal judge on Saturday granted the Defense Department's request for an injunction preventing three MIT students from giving a presentation about a classified terrorist monitoring system.
So here's your chance, MassLibs. Stick up for the first amendment, student protest, and "up the system".

Or. Shut. Up.

UPDATE 10 August 2008 10:42: Via Slashdot, news that the MIT Student Newspaper has put the student's DEFCON presentation on-line. Good for them.

Also, for those of you who think that these kids are skating on the Black Hat side of things, they're working with their professor, Ron Rivest, who is one of the big names in computer security. The Mass.Gov screwed up, and is trying to cover their butts via the court system. Remind you of anything?

UPDATE 10 August 2008 16:49: Digital Soapbox linked from an information-rich post. If you're at all interested in ways to keep this sort of thing from happening again, check it out.

Riddle me this

What do you get when you cross a government bureaucracy with a nation's healthcare system? Vermin:
The cleanliness of most NHS [National Health Service - ed.] hospitals in England is threatened by frequent invasions of rats, fleas, bedbugs, flies and cockroaches, a report claims.
But there's an explanation, really:
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust said that, as the fourth largest in England, it was likely to encounter more pest control problems, and might be recording incidents differently to other trusts.
See, they're really busy. All right, then. Let's try this on for size:
A Massachusetts General Hospital spokesman said that, as the fourth largest in the USA, it was likely to encounter more pest control problems, and might be recording incidents differently to other hospitals.
I'll take "Non-Government Controlled Healthcare" for $1000, Alex.

It's kind of wierd to see really smart people say that they can drive the cost out of the healthcare system and extend coverage. They never tell us to get ready for this. Wonder why.

Hat tip: Samizdata.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Quote of the Day

To Old To Work, Too Young To Retire has the mot just on the mainstream media's reaction to the John Edwards affair:
The bigger part of this story is that it was the oft derided National Enquirer that broke the story while the soon to be extinct Main Stream Media made more excuses than John Belushi in "The Blues Brothers" when Carrie Fisher had him trapped in that tunnel.
I don't care who you are, now that's funny.

Maybe I had the wrong song for Saturday Redneck. Edwards is easy: Your Cheatin' Heart. Too easy - there are a million songs here. The media is more interesting. Continuing today's Toby Keith theme, how about I Wish I Didn't Know Now What I Didn't Know Then:
I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then
I wish I could start this whole thing over again
I'm not sayin' it's you could never be true
I just don't wanna know how it ends

Saturday Redneck - Toby Keith

Lissa recently wrote a very insightful post about what it's like being the only one in your family to stray from the liberal canon. She loves her family, but disagrees with much of what they think about things political. She followed up with a beautiful post about coexistance:
They’re living proof that, although liberals don’t agree with conservatives over a host of issues, that doesn’t make them stupid, or evil, or ill-intentioned.
Today's Saturday Redneck is Toby Keith's Love me if you can.
Sometimes I think that war is necessary.
Every night I pray for peace on Earth.
I hand out my dollars to the homeless.
But believe that every able soul should work.

My father gave me my shotgun that I'll hand down to my son, try to teach him everything it means.

I'm a man of my convictions. Call me wrong, call me right.
But I bring my better angels to every fight.
You may not like where I'm going, but you sure know where I stand.
Hate me if you want to, love me if you can.

I stand by my right to speak freely. But I worry 'bout what kids learn from TV.
And before all of debatin' turns to angry words and hate,
sometimes we should just agree to disagree.
And I believe that Jesus looks down here and sees us,
and if you ask him he would say

I'm a man of my convictions. Call me wrong, call me right.
But I bring my better angels to every fight.
You may not like where I'm going, but you sure know where I stand.
Hate me if you want to, love me if you can.

I'm a man of my convictions. Call me wrong, call me right.
But I bring my better angels to every fight.
You may not like where I'm going, but you sure know where I stand.
Hate me if you want to, love me if you can.