Thursday, April 30, 2009

The flu looks french

Via Jay, this:reminded me of this:

J'ai mal aux ventre ...

I hate Blogger

Just sayin'.

And Google "technical" "support" is teh sux0Rz.

UPDATE 30 April 2009 21:49: Sorry, I meant to say "sux0Rz". It's a fine distinction, admittedly.

Prince Charles: 18 - 12 = 99

Seems that Bonnie Prince Charlie skipped out on some math classes at Eaton. A year ago, he said that Man Made Global Warming was going to kill us all in 18 months:
The Prince of Wales has warned that the world faces a series of natural disasters within 18 months unless urgent action is taken to save the rainforests.
So how did Charles know that ZOMG we're all going to die!!!1!!one!?
He conceded that at times he had been forced to keep his counsel when he would have liked to have spoken out. "You learn as you go along. I am going to be 60 this year. I would be a blinding idiot if I had not learnt a bit by now."
Well hold on, there Scooter. So how's that 18 Month Plan working out?
A phrase associated with that great Roman, Julius Caesar, is of course "crossing the Rubicon". Last month, in Brazil, I warned that the scientific evidence showed we had less than one hundred months before we were at our own Rubicon and there was no going back. We now only have ninety-nine months – actually very nearly ninety-eight, before we reach the point of no return, with decisions that will lock us in to our future course. [Emphasis mine - ed.]
18, 100, "very nearly ninety-eight", whatever. The science is settled!

Hey you deniers! Get the heck off my lawn!

Here's a video in honor of His Royal Highness' scientific insight:

Hat tip, The Register.

Some Dinosaurs survived the Meteor extinction

The dinosaurs disappeared at the end of Cretaceous Era ended 65 million years ago, in a Blazing Asteroid Impact Of Doom. Except for the ones that didn't:
Jim Fassett, a paleontologist who holds an emeritus position at the U. S. Geological Survey, recently published a paper in Palaeontologia Electronica with evidence that points to a pocket of dinosaurs that somehow survived in remote parts New Mexico and Colorado for up to a half million years past the end of the Cretaceous period. If true, these dinosaurs would be the only ones that made it to the Paleocene Age.
Which leads to the question: could dinosaurs have survived longer, in even more sheltered environments? Surviving even to this day in exceptionally sheltered - nay, insular - climes? Like Boston, for example:

The New York Times Company has threatened to shut the Boston Globe if employee unions don’t agree to broadscale cuts of pay and conditions.

The cuts, that will save the struggling paper $20 million a year, includes pay cuts, the end of pension contributions by the company and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees now enjoyed by some veteran employees.

Alas, the climate seems to be changing, even in as close minded and insular a place as Boston. Hurry and buy a dinosaur while you still can. I hear that they're good for lining birdcages and training puppies.

UPDATE 10 March 2010 20:24: OK, here's real (non-snarky) info about real dinosaurs and whether it was the asteroid or something else that done 'em in. The science is more interesting than you may think.

Hospital medical devices infected with Conflickr virus

How many times do we have to tell people that everything is connected to Al Gore's Intarwebz? Even stuff that shouldn't be, like Heart Monitors and MRI devices:
Recently, the Conficker/Downadup worm infected several hundred machines and critical medical equipment in an undisclosed number of US hospitals. The attacks were not widespread; however, Marcus Sachs, director of the SANS Internet Storm Center, told CNET News that it raises the awareness of what we would do if there were millions of computers infected in hospitals or in critical infrastructure locations. It's not clear how the devices (including heart monitors, MRI machines and PCs) got infected. Infected computers were running Windows NT and Windows 2000 in a local area network (LAN) that wasn't supposed to be Internet accessible, but the LAN was connected to one with direct Internet access. A patch was released by Microsoft last October by November that fixes the problem, but the computers infected were reportedly too old to be patched.
But don't worry. I'm sure none of the Electric Power Grid is connected to the Internet. Oh, wait.

Maybe this is it. I'm fixin' to hang up my Internet Security gig and get a law degree. I smell Class Action suit, just about everywhere. Imagine the questions that a Hospital Director wouldn't want to (or be able to) answer in front of a jury.

Like who thought it was a good idea to put an MRI machine online?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bad Guys pwn your PDF long time

Whee! There's a security bug in Adobe Reader (you know, the application that lets you read PDF files). It applies to you - yes, you. Windows, Mac, Linux - all vulnerable. I expect that browser plugins are vulnerable, too, since they use the same engine.

Even worse, it's a "Day Zero" exploit - no security patch is available for you to protect yourself. Exploit code is circulating, so there's a chance that the Bad Guys might have a "party at your place", and you know what a mess they'll leave behind. Fortunately, it's super easy to protect yourself:

Step 1: Start Adobe Acrobat Reader. For Windows users, you'll go to your Start menu, and Acrobat 9 is probably there.

Step 2: Go to the Edit menu, and select Preferences.

Step 3: Highlight "Javascript". The box labeled "Enable Acrobat Javascript" is probably checked. Click the box to get rid of the check.

Step 4: Click "OK". Bravo - you're safe. No pwn you long time for you (at least via PDFs, at least by this method).

Don't worry about losing Javascript - this only effects Acrobat reader, not your browser. Not that it's not more security to control Javascript in the browser (Firefox users can take a look at noscript), but it breaks lots of Al Gore's Intarwebz.

UPDATE 16 May 10:43: Patch is available now.

Definition: Beclown

SYN: Tragic lack of self-awareness.


Compare and contrast

The MSM reaction to this:

With the MSM reaction to this:

I'm sure that they'll be right on the "What did they know and when did they know it" in 3 .. 2 .. 1 ..

Oh, wait.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Banking Crisis caused by Gay Marriage

No, wait - by uninsured people. Or something:
Especially odd is the notion that the only tenable position, unless we are to go Marxist, is social democracy. Would we not have had a financial crisis if we'd had really super single-payer health care?

It is true that the belief in both tighter bank regulation and a larger welfare state cluster on the left, but if social democracy is some sort of preventative cure-all, how come the US economy is outperforming places like Denmark, Sweden, and Germany, not to mention the OECD as a whole? Why, if the problem is "American style capitalism", are the biggest GDP declines found elsewhere? I understand that the left finds it politically convenient to link the uninsured and the banking crisis, but this seems only very slightly less silly than blaming it on gay marriage--indeed, looking at the countries worst effected, the latter's correlation seems stronger.

New York Times on Cyberwar

This is a very, very interesting article. John Markoff has long been the best information security reporter in the MSM. There's an awful lot of hype here, but there's an awful lot that rings true as well:
When American forces in Iraq wanted to lure members of Al Qaeda into a trap, they hacked into one of the group’s computers and altered information that drove them into American gun sights.
A little while ago, I posted about Resource Poisoning, and how it can wreak havoc among users who trust the resource:
A very old attack technique is called "Denial of Service" (DoS) - basically trying to make a service unavailable or unreliable. If someone were to dump a tanker truck load of motor oil on the beltway around 6:00 AM, the police would have to block off the highway for safety reasons, and folks would have an interesting commute. This is the obvious (and uninteresting) form of DoS. What if instead someone switched all the road signs, so that traffic to Chicago were sent down the road towards Albuquerque?
So back to the NYT article. Is it hype? As Mythbusters would say, the threats are plausible (and no surprise to either of my regular readers):
Every few months, it seems, some agency, research group or military contractor runs a war game to assess the United States’ vulnerability. Senior intelligence officials were shocked to discover how easy it was to permanently disable a large power generator. That prompted further studies to determine if attackers could take down a series of generators, bringing whole parts of the country to a halt.
Certainly the idea of nation states engaging in cyber attacks is nothing new, and the article talks about Russian attacks on Estonia and Georgia. Are we doing it? Who knows.

My feeling is that if we're not doing it, someone in the Fed.Gov should be fired.

UPDATE 28 April 2009 23:07: But Security Kitteh should not be fired:

Cyberwar, heh.

Blogroll Addition

Mulliga at Shangrila Towers blogrolled me with some very kind words indeed. Thank you, sir (always best to be respectful to someone who will soon be an attorney). Check him out - you can also find him on the blogroll here.

And a note to anyone else out there that may have blogrolled me - if I haven't noticed, please email me and I'd be happy to add you as well.

Just a friendly reminder

Firefox users, you'll want to click Restart Firefox Now. Internet Explorer users, you'll want to switch to Firefox. Really.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I got a pair of dice swinging in my Detroit Casket

Right next to Pontiac:
Let's see. They still have Buick, GMC, Hummer, and Saab to jettison and then they might have a chance. At the very least, kill Buick and GMC. There is simply no reason for these brands to exist anymore. Even by letting Pontiac die - and it's about 15 years too late in coming - they're not cutting deep enough. They're still clinging to the namesakes of a bygone era in the hopes of roping in folks who remember "back in the day".
As GM dies a piece at a time, here's a tribute to a world class flameout.

Drive Like Lightning (Crash Like Thunder)
I'm gonna take my baby
On a little joy ride
She'll be ghost-white pale
Sittin' by my side
Shakin' like a leaf
And it ain't no wonder
Drive like lightning
Crash like thunder

I'm gonna race with the devil
Speedin' down the track
And if he beats me to the line
I ain't a-comin' back
You ain't worth nothin'
When your six feet under
Drive like lightning
Crash like thunder

Drive like lightning
Crash like thunder
Ain't worth nothin'
When your six feet under
All wrapped up
In hot chrome and steel
Drag my body
Behind the wheel

Got a pair of dice swingin'
In my Detroit casket
I got a rabbit foot hangin'
From my black leather jacket
We won't get out alive
So it ain't no wonder
Drive like lightning
Crash like thunder

Baby please try to understand
I'm just a little speck of dust
Blowin' in the sand
We won't get out alive
So why should we wonder
Drive like lightning
Crash like thunder
UPDATE 27 April 2009 22:15: Random Acts of Patriotism has a musical tribute of his own.

Bad Guys pwn you long time

Today is shaping up as all security, all the time. And the news is pretty bad:
Criminal hackers continue to penetrate many more company networks than most administrators care to admit, according to two security experts who offered a list of the most effective exploits used to gain entry.


I believe that a determined but not necessarily well-funded attacker can pretty much break into any organization," Skoudis said. "If you think it's less than 50 percent, I think you need to look a little more carefully."
Ed Skoudis has been doing security for a long time. This is a very pessimistic view of security, but I've also been pretty pessimistic (for example, about the electric power grid).

The problem is that unless you're looking for precisely the right thing at precisely the right time, you won't know if you've been pwned. Even people who do all the right things are looking for a needle in a very large haystack. The distribution of information is very asymmetric, and favors the attacker.

Everything is vulnerable. You know some (but not all) of what is. You'll catch some of the attacks (but not all). All in all, it's a thankless job.

At least the pay's decent.

Funniest security trick ever

Both my regular readers will remember this security comic:

SQL Injection is a technique where instead of filling out a field in a web server form normally (for example, "Name" = "Bobby Tables"), an attacker sends database code (the "DROP TABLE Students;" part).

So where does this turn into the funniest security trick ever? Well, it seems that one Edvin Syse in Norway changed the name of his company from Syse Data to ';UPDATE TAXRATE SET RATE = 0 WHERE NAME = 'EDVIN SYSE'

As a joke, of course. Then Google found out (scroll down for the english translation).
This in turn created enough traffic at Brønnøysundregistrene for them to request that we change the name. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused for Brønnøysundregistrene.
Astute readers will have figured out that the Brønnøysundregistrene is the Norwegian IRS.


Hat tip: Emergent Chaos.

New Vulnerabilities pwn you long time

There's a new security update for Firefox, and it's a doozy, so when Firefox asks you to restart, click "yes". From the SANS Security Consensus mailer (highly recommended):
Multiple Mozilla products, including the popular Firefox
web browser, Thunderbird email client, and SeaMonkey application suite, contain multiple vulnerabilities in their handling of a variety of inputs. Memory corruption, cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, script injection, bypass same origin policy, information disclosure and url spoofing are some of the vulnerabilities in these
products. Some of these vulnerabilities upon successful exploitation might lead to arbitrary code execution.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? Boy, howdy. "Arbitrary code execution" is the Holy Grail of Bad Guy hacking - their code runs on your computer. It pwns you long time.

But those of you who run Internet Explorer can stop smirking - you have some security fining to do, too:
Microsoft Whale Intelligent Application Gateway (IAG) is a VPN solution that provides secure remote access to corporate networks remotely. It installs with "WhlMgr.dll" ActiveX control, which has been identified with multiple stack based buffer overflows. ActiveX control is identified by CLSID:8D9563A9-8D5F-459B-87F2-BA842255CB9A. The specific errors are in the "CheckForUpdates()" and UpdateComponents()" methods while passing specially crafted arguments to hem. A malicious web page that instantiated this control could exploit these vulnerabilities to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the current user. The user will have to be enticed to visit these malicious pages.
This is super extra crazy Bad News because of the broken security architecture of Internet Explorer. Basically, the browser can load code snippets (called ActiveX Controls) which execute in your CPU. Since ActiveX Controls can be downloaded from arbitrary web sites, Microsoft added a "security" model to protect you from J. Random Bad Guy: the code has to be digitally signed by a trusted organization.

Sounds good, right? Here's the problem:
That box at the bottom? Always trust content from Microsoft Corporation? Everyone always checks it, because otherwise you get a million security popups. When this box is checked, all ActiveX Controls from Microsoft are silently downloaded from the web server and execute in your browser.

Including our friend, the WhlMgr.dll ActiveX control. J. Random Bad Guy web site can serve up this ActiveX Control, and your browser will happily (and silently) download and execute it. The Bad Guy web site then exploits the vulnerability to run the arbitrary Bad Guy code. You get pwned long time.

Even worse, there's no good way to update the ActiveX Control to a version that isn't vulnerable; you often have to reinstall the application it came with.


So use Firefox. Just click "yes" when it tells you it needs to restart to install security updates.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Theft at Fenway Park

Ellsbury stole home. Man, it sure is fun to watch him play. Big brass ones, that lad.

Oh, and the Sox are leading 4-1 after 6 innings - they very well may sweep the Yankees to go 10-0 out of their last ten. And it doesn't look like letting Manny go has hurt:
During the Red Sox current 9-game winning streak they have a team OPS of 1.025. That's the same OPS Manny Ramirez has for the season.
And maybe it's just me, but it seems like everyone is faster on the basepaths without Manny dogging it. Even Ortiz seems to have some pep.

Looking like a good season, yessir.

A funny thing happened on vacation

With all that "free time", my blogging was seriously off. Not only was the quantity lower, the quality of the posts were, too. Posts were rushed. Aw heck with it. We have to go - just click the "Publish" button already!

Sorry about that.

I did get a chance to be the father and husband that I like to be, when I can. Kind of nice, that.

New Cruise Package aims to revive struggling Tourism industry

Via an email from Don, we see this:
I was checking cruise lines because I heard the rates are very cheap right now. I found a Somali cruise package that departs from Sawakin (in the Sudan) and docks at Bagamoya (in Tanzania).

The cost is a bit high @ $800 per person double occupancy but I didn't find that offensive. What I found encouraging and enlightened is that the cruise is encouraging people to bring their 'High powered weapons' along on the cruise. If you don't have weapons you can rent them right there on the boat. They claim to have a master blacksmith on board and will have reloading parties every afternoon. The cruise lasts from 4-8 days and nights and costs a maximum of $3200 per person double occupancy (4 days). All the boat does is sail up and down the coast of Somalia waiting to get hijacked by pirates. Here are some of the costs and claims associated with the package.

$800.00 US/per day double occupancy (4 day max billing)

M-16 full auto rental $ 25.00/day ammo at 100 rounds of 5.56 armor piercing ammo at $15.95

AK-47 rifle @ No charge. ammo at 100 rounds of 7.62 com block ball ammo at $14.95

Barrett M-107 .50 cal sniper rifle rental $55.00/day ammo at 25 rounds 50 cal armor piercing at $9.95
Pretty funny, actually, although it's clear that the author has absolutely no idea what ammo costs these days. Box of 25 .50 BMG for a sawbuck? Sign me up ...

And speaking of .50 BMG, it turns out that there's a Diplomatic solution to this whole mess:

The lost boy, found

I've always been the adventurous sort, and this goes all the way back as far as I can remember. I'd go "exploring", and the next thing that you know, mom would be frantic. When #2 son and I went on a road trip last summer, I pointed out the place where I wandered off a couple weeks after we moved to town.

So happy birthday, mom, from your little found boy. Not so little anymore, but happily found nonetheless.
The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wand’ring light,
Began to cry, but God ever nigh,
Appeard like his father in white.

He kissed the child & by the hand led
And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, thro’ the lonely dale
Her little boy weeping sought.

- William Blake, The Little Boy Found

Home, sweet home

1000 miles, 16 hours. Decided to push on instead of stopping.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Random travel musings

It seems that half the billboards in the Carolinas are John 3:16, and the other half are for adult novelties. Seems it is indeed a long, long way from Sunday morning to Saturday night, at least in Rocky Mount. Probably a master's thesis in there.

After the billboards, the sign at the Delaware bridge saying "Escort Area" caused raised eyebrows. Probably something to do with Arkansas governors. Or New York.

Roy Rogers has proper fried chicken and biscuits - much better than the Colonel. I can make much better cinnamon rolls than Cinnabon, though, even if they're not up to Brigid's level ...

The iPhone stinks for blogging.

Yacht for sale

For the discriminating buyer.

On the plus side, 100,000 HP means there's ample power for all your needs. On the minus side, you need to have 600 feet of dock frontage at the marina. But #2 Son has found a gun that he likes more than the 1911:

Prospective buyers can see the yacht in person in Wilmington, NC. Inquire at the Battleship North Carolina Memorial.

Montgomery Gentry - Gone

Nothing lasts forever, including vacations. Not only is vacation over, but we have the long drive home. Fortunately, country music has plenty of songs about changes, and some of them are great driving music.

Montgomery Gentry have been a major recording duo since their platinum album "Tattoos and Scars" in 1999. Their mix of country and hard driving rock have given them two more platinum albums and two gold ones.

It's been said of country music that the songs have either happened to you, or happened to someone you know. "Gone" captures change in a way that a lot of folks can relate to. Troy Gentry said that he knew this song was going to be a hit because the first time they performed it, the audience started singing along.

Gone (Songwriters: Bob DiPiero, Jeffrey Steele)
This ain't no temporary, typical, tearful good-bye, uh uh uh
This ain't no breakin' up and wakin' up and makin' up one more time, uh uh uh
This is gone (gone) gone (gone) gone (gone) gone

Gone like a freight-train, gone like yesterday
Gone like a soldier in the civil war, bang bang
Gone like a '59 Cadillac
Like all the good things that ain't never coming back
She's gone (gone) gone (gone) gone (gone) gone, she's gone

This ain't no give it time, I'm hurtin' but maybe we can work it out, uh uh uh
Won't be no champagne, red rose, romance, second chance, uh uh uh
This is gone (gone) gone (gone) gone (gone) gone

Gone like a freight-train, gone like yesterday
Gone like a soldier in the civil war, bang bang
Gone like a '59 Cadillac
Like all the good things that ain't never coming back
She's gone (gone) gone (gone) gone (gone) gone
She's gone

She's gone (gone) gone (gone) gone (gone) gone, she's gone

Gone like a freight-train, gone like yesterday
Gone like a soldier in the civil war, bang bang
Gone like a '59 Cadillac
Like all the good things that ain't never coming back
She's gone (gone) she's gone (gone) she's gone (gone) she's gone
She's gone

Gone like a freight-train, gone like yesterday
Gone like a soldier in the civil war,bang bang
Gone like a '59 Cadillac
Like all the good things
Well, she's gone

Long gone, done me wrong
Never comin' back, my baby's gone , shes gone
Lonely at home, sittin' all alone
She's packed her bags and now she's gone
Never comin' back, she's gone
No no never, no no never, no never comin' back
Montgomery Gentry trivia: Eddie Montgomery is brother of country singer John Michael Montgomery.

Vacation Flotsam and Jetsam #5

What happened to all the Krispy Kreme shops? They used to be thick as thieves in the south; now it's easier to find a Dunkin Donuts shop.

The "Kenny G" school does not improve The Girl From Ipanema. Even if you have a beach. Maybe especially if you have a beach.

A while ago I posted about the fires in Myrtle Beach. 67 houses destroyed, another 100 damaged. Route 22 is closed, because the wind keeps shifting and the fire keeps breaking out of the containment ring.

A couple days ago, I had a post about an outing at a shooting range and a landscape garden. I shamelessly stole the title from a magazine (that we actually subscribe to), Garden and Gun. I kind of like the magazine, but it's expensive shotguns and "gracious southern living", and I don't think they want me in their club:

That right there is a custom-made t-shirt from Blown Away Airbrush (their web site is down, but included for posterity), at Broadway on the Beach in Myrtle Beach. I had to ask for the AK-47, and even pull a picture up from Google Images on the iPhone. But no problem after that. Redneck. I haz it.

And has anyone else noticed that Obama stole his motto ("Yes we can!") from Bob the Builder ("Can we fix it? Yes we can!"). I feel a Photoshop coming on, once we get home ...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Because it's cool, that's why

It's been weeks since I've had a post in the "Earth shattering Kaboom" category. Alan has it. Srlsy.

Interesting Spam

Gmail seems to be letting more spam through these days, and it's all of a new twist on the 419 scams. However, instead of an appeal to pure greed (the Nigerian Finance Minister), it appeals to Christian charity.
From Mrs Susan Morgan

BP [38 Rue Des Martyrs Cocody
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

I am the above named person from Kuwait. I am married to Mr.Abram Morgan, who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.

Before his death we were both born again Christian. since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2. 5 Million (Two Million and Five Hundred thousand U.S. Dollars) in the bank here in Abidjan in suspense account.

Presently, the fund is still with the bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that i have seriouly sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows, propagating the word of God and to endeavour that the house of God is maintained.
The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my husband’s efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence i know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the Lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.
I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband’s relatives is around me always I don't want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank here in Abidjan. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the Lord is my shepherd. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.
Contact me through my e-mail address for more information’s, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your reply. Remain blessed in the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs Susan Morgan.

Folks, this is a scam. Pass this on to the people at your church.

Peter Peepsight dares the Industrial Guards

An ad from the June 1945 issue of The American Rifleman. This was a gift from ASM826 - beach reading he said, and was precisely right. It's very interesting, because the assumptions of an age long gone are preserved, like an insect in amber, in the articles and ads. Like the Irish policeman here (Shimerin' shamrocks!).

The June issue would have been shipped in May, and so would have been put together in April. The war in Europe was still going on then, but it's pretty clear that everyone expected things to be over in months, not years. I wonder how much this expectation led to the decision to drop the atom bombs, rather than move forward with Operation Olympic.

I plan to most much of this issue over the next month or so. Thanks, ASM826!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Outstanding USA Today article on Cybercrime

Ever read a newspaper story on a subject you are knowledgeable about, and said to yourself these people have no idea what they're writing about? I've been quite harsh about the media, so it's only fair to give them their props when they come through with an article that is pretty much spot on about Internet Security.

Brian Acohido has an article in today's USA Today, Cybergangs use cheap labor to break codes on social sites. It's front page, above the fold, and describes how the Bad Guys have harnessed well educated but inexpensive labor in their latest attack vector.

To carry out many of these automated attacks, cybercriminals first must overcome "captchas," the distorted letters and characters that users of an e-mail or social-networking account are required to type to complete certain online forms. For years, captchas have helped to stop or bog down automated programs aimed at creating, among other things, e-mail accounts that promote scams such as fake computer virus protection and bogus accounts on social websites that can be used to collect personal information on legitimate users.

Now, security specialists say, a growing number of captcha-breaking groups are using real people to type in captcha responses for cybergangs around the world. This is allowing the gangs to create fake e-mail and social-network accounts by the tens of thousands — and use them as the starting point for a variety of cyberscams spread by e-mail and instant messages.

Basically, they're paying people to enter the captchas - up to a penny per captcha. One security researcher looked into the job openings that were advertised, and came away astonished and dismayed:
The job description as translated by Shevchenko: "Your new job is printing English text that you see in the pictures. (Images of captchas were shown.) All you need is to know English alphabet and know where the keys are located on a keyboard. For every correctly entered word you will receive up to 1 cent, depending on the level that you have achieved. Your only limit is your typing speed. Every minute, you'll be able to correctly type the text from 10 pictures on average. Thus, with an average price of 0.5 cent per one correctly typed text from a picture, your salary will be 3 US dollars per hour."
$3/hour is not had when the average take home pay is $2000/year. All you need is an Internet connection and the patience to type 35 captchas per minute.

This is a great article. Kudos to the MSM for giving it prominence.

One of these things is not like the others

No, it's not the flyer in the lower left hand target. One of these is rapid fire. I make no bones about the fact that I'm a shooting dilettante - while I've improved considerably in the last year, I'm really not all that good. Slow fire is easy, so a thumb-sized group isn't all that impressive. I'd like to get that rapid-fire grouping down to plate sized.

It's a bit like climbing a mountain: each crest that you conquer merely reveals the next peak. Sure is fun, though.

Garden and Gun

It was quite an outing today. Got to love the 1911. The middle of that there X-Ring is hanging on by a thread.

Then it was off to Brookgreen Gardens, for some Olympic-sized springtime flower display:

I had a very interesting time discussing photo composition with #2 Son. The garden is very formal in places, and while that means each shot comes pre-composed by the landscape architect, it also means that it's pretty regular in layout.

I find that I prefer things just ever so slightly off-center, because it makes things more interesting. Sort of like how a Japanese landscape architect might design a garden. This tree was much easier to capture that way than the fountain above, because there's no inherent regularity imposed by a designer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Duct Tape - it seems that there really is nothing it can't fix

Like unruly courtroom defendants:
POCATELLO, Idaho — An eastern Idaho judge who lost patience with the disruptive behavior of a defendant ordered court officials to tape the man's mouth shut with duct tape during a court hearing. The unusual move was ordered by 6th District Judge Peter D. McDermott during a probation violation hearing for Nicklas Frasure, 23.
Well played, Your Honor. Well played.

I'm thinking that if you're at a hearing about your alleged parole violation, getting all mouthy is a sub-optimal strategy. Just sayin'.

Vacation Flotsam and Jetsam #4

Doug's Car Crushing Company on Rt 501 outside of Marion, SC is not a Myrtle Beach boardwalk attraction, but it should be. Srlsy.

Sparky's on Rt 501 outside Marion, SC is very similar to Perry's Nut House on Rt 1 outside Belfast, ME. Pecans instead of fudge, but it's the same schtick. If you like that sort of thing, then these will be places you like.

Is Paris Burning?

No? OK, how about Myrtle Beach?

Taken from my iPhone, on Rt 22 headed into Myrtle Beach, at [REDACTED] miles per hour.

It's right up next to Rt 17 (the main drag, for all you yankees that haven't discovered the many pleasures of the fair city). The Sun News reports:
One home has been destroyed and several others are threatened after a large woods fire got out of control on S.C. 90 near Conway, according to Todd Cartner, spokesman for Horry County Fire Rescue.
Out of control - I'd say that's about right. This is going on right now. I feel very Army of Davids-ish.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Save the Planet - Starve the Children

You get more of what you measure; this is a common management mantra - the implication being, of course, that you should measure the most important data. So what happens when you measure silly data?

You get more silliness, of course. Like the UK professors who want to reduce UK carbon emissions by starving the UK's children:

Public-health researchers in London have come up with a new plan to save the planet: wealthy westerners should all reduce by several inches in height by starving their children. This would not only save food, but make people much lighter, meaning that cars and buses would use less fuel.

The new insight comes from Professor Ian Roberts and Dr Phil Edwards of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. According to the two men:

A lean population, such as that seen in Vietnam, will consume almost 20% less food and produce fewer greenhouse gases than a population in which 40% of people are obese (close to that seen in the USA today) ... a lean population of 1 billion people would emit between 0.4 and 1.0 gigatonnes less carbon dioxide equivalents per year compared with a fat one.
You in the back there, with the pitchfork - put it down, please. These are Extremely Smart Researchers, who trying to Save The World™. Can't make an omlet without breaking some children eggs, and all that.

My first reaction was "this cannot possibly be reported correctly." Initially, the report itself seemed innocuous - nothing about comparisons of UK and Vietnamese body weights. The press misquoting the poor scientists? Not really - this was from the scientist's press release.

This study is built on multiple false premises. The first is that mankind's carbon dioxide emission is causing global warming. This is highly suspect at best, and there's a good chance that there's scientific fraud at its core. The second is that this particular study uses lousy metrics (BMI). Even assuming that our carbon dioxide were in fact the problem, BMI does not measure fatness. It essentially measures height, since the weight is divided by the square of the height. The Register disects this in an instant:

It's not hard to show how stupid this is. Take a normal healthy adult male standing 5'10" and weighing 12 stone - BMI 24, "healthy" - and scale him up in all dimensions by 7 per cent. He is a slightly larger, exact copy of his smaller self; an almost identical physical specimen.

But he stands 6'3", and because human beings are three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional as the BMI requires them to be, he weighs nearly 15 stone - for a BMI of 26. Suddenly he is "overweight", though he is an exact scale model of a "healthy" person.

But let's ignore the flawed first premises and shoddy data, and look at the poverty of reasoning and (dare we say it) compassion that is on display? Suppose the scientists were right. Their press release compares the size of people in the UK to the size of people in Vietnam. Reducing the size of those in the west towards the developing world's mean would in fact offer up the benefits of reduced public transport energy requirements.

What's the undiscussed impact of their plan? Malnutrition. Children who are malnourished don't grow as large, but their brains don't develop the same as if they were well fed.

It would be easier to dismiss this as an outlier if it were the first time that environmentalists have promoted policies that would harm or kill children. It's not.


This, children, is how Dr. Mengele got his start. Or eugenics. Some must suffer now because it will All Be So Much Better Later. All will be for the best, in the best of all possibly worlds. We had to starve the children to save the children.

Environmentalism has emerged as a ferocious latter-day Moloch. The ancient Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily described Carthage's altar to Baal Moloch:
There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus [Baal] extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire.
The statist left's (as opposed of what remnants of libertarian left) reckless pursuit of the New Jereusalem is fixin' to get a lot of folks killed. Sadly, if history is any guide, it will be "women and children first."

But these people are nicer - and smarter - than we are, so it's all OK.

If you think that I was harsh on the study, click through and read what El Reg has to say about it. They look into what the government of Vietnam has to say about malnutrition there, and it's ugly.

Vacation Flotsam and Jetsam #3

1 Adam 12, 1 Adam 12. Man seen approaching beach carrying what appears to be an arsenal. Presumed to be heavy infantry due to presence of mortars. Last seen wearing an Eastern Carolina Football hat. Must be from New England.

What is it with no stores in 30 miles having any Ronsonol? Just wondering.

50 degrees and raining at home. I promise to bring some of this back with me ...

Recommended Reading - Love My Rifle More Than You

In a dress, away from the base, you'd never guess I was a soldier. Always been a girl that catches a guy's eyes. And yet I do fifty-five pushups in under a minute. Tough, and proud to be tough. I love my M-4, the smell of it, of cleaning fluid, of gunpowder: the smell of strength. Gun in your hands, and you're in a special place. I've come to look forward to that.
Col. Jeff Cooper wrote that while war offers little in the way of glamor, what glamor there is is very glamorous indeed. He was, of course, writing about the warrior, who sometimes has to face - and win - hand to hand combat.

It's different for our women warriors, who are assigned to duties where hand-to-hand combat is not expected. This sets up an informal dual-tier system, and that means that women are always viewed differently. There's always the unspoken thought that when the going gets tough, the men go to the front.

Love My Rifle More Than You is a very unsentimental book. Harsh, almost.

Kayla Williams was an Arabic translator assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, during Operation Iraqui Freedom. A self-described "punk-rebel" who found an unexpected - and sometimes uncomfortable - home in Uncle Sam's Army, she found something unexpected in herself.

There's also always the unspoken thought that you're the only female around.
A woman soldier has to toughen herself up. Not just for the enemy, for battle, or for death. I mean toughen herself to spend months awash in a sea of nervy, hyped-up guys who, when they're not thinking about getting killed, are thinking about getting laid.
There's not much in this book about OIF itself. Most of it is about the stresses of the post-invasion occupation, after the main fighting was over, but while everything was still very unsettled. About the struggle to cope.
Speak to infantry soldiers who have been in tough situations for a long time, and they will say that they treat everyone as the enemy. That's how they deal. That's how they survive.

I consider myself a reasonably compassionate person. I speak the language, and I have Arab friends, so I believe I'm better equipped than most soldiers to see these civilians as people. Not simply as the enemy. But even for me there are times I am feeling overwhelmed by the situation. God, why can't we just kill everyone - or leave them to fucking kill each other? Because I can't care any more.
Like the time she was riding shotgun with a convoy, and a local car starts to cut them off. Everyone's nerves are frayed from VBIED suicide bombers:
The car is not pulling back. He's not getting the message.

It's tremendously loud with no doors. No one in the Humvee but me sees this car yet. It's in my field of fire. It's my call to decide what to do next.

I raise my weapon and point into the car. I can feel my adrenaline pumping. I do not know what's going to happen.

I will shoot if this car is beginning to feel like a threat.

My weapon status is red. Always red on the convoy now. My safety's on, though I know some soldiers are not bothering with keeping their weapons on safety anymore. But I do. It's still less than a second. Flip, squeeze. After the first round, I can fire at will.

Just then, a passenger on my side turns to look for the first time.

It's a little boy. Not more than eight or nine years old. I'm pointing my weapon at a boy who looks exactly like Rick's little brother.

The boy looks at me looking at him.

I lower my rifle and hold it with one hand across my knees. Without thinking, I wave at the boy with my other hand.

And after a moment, he waves back.
This book will make you think. It will also make you appreciate the sacrifices our men and women in the service make, because their sacrifice doesn't end when the bullets stop flying.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vacation Flotsam and Jetsam #2

The interconnected world saved us today. We when we were getting ready to head out, we forgot to pack a prescription. Ten years ago, this would have resulted in a trip to the Emergency Room. Now, the nice folks at the CVS here checked the computer, and confirmed that the CVS at home was where we normally filled the prescription. I walked out with the meds - no fuss, no muss.

The next time that I see Al Gore, I intend to thank him for his Intarwebz thingie.

Half a mango, the juice of one lime, an Anaheim pepper (seeded), and a pinch of salt makes a dandy sauce for grilled chicken or fish. Take it for a spin in the blender first. Serve over rice, ideally at a table overlooking the beach. Oh, a chilled Riesling is just dandy with it.

Fireworks on the beach are the shizzle Flippity Floppity Floop.

9th Circuit: 2nd Amendment Incorporated under 14th

Via Insty, a writeup at Volokh:
Second Amendment Incorporated by Ninth Circuit Panel, in Nordyke v. King. For those who count such things, the unanimous panel consists of a Reagan appointee (Judge O'Scannlain, who wrote), a Carter appointee (Judge Alarcon), and a Clinton appointee (Judge Gould).

Turn out the lights, the party's over. The Second Amendment will not be legislated out of existence, no matter what Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein want. Here's why.

The 9th Circuit is the Moonbat circuit, centered on the San Francisco - Portland - Seattle axis. In the Moonbat Circuit, two Democratic and one Republican appointees unanimously held that the Second Amendment is incorporated by the 14th. The reasoning is brutal to the gun grabbers:
(1) It points to evidence that the right was seen as very important by the Framers, and concludes, "This brief survey of our history reveals a right indeed 'deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.' Moreover, whereas the Supreme Court has previously incorporated rights the colonists fought for, we have here both a right they fought for and the right that allowed them to fight."

(2) It points to continued support for the right from the Framing on, noting among other things that 44 state constitutions contain a right-to-bear-arms provision.

(3) It particularly points to the support of the right, including its self-defense component, around the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified.

Massachusetts gun laws are toast. Stick a fork in them; if the Moonbat Circuit has no dissent - let me say that again, no dissent - then the Second means what it says.

This morning, I didn't think that today could get any better. Please excuse me while I go do the Happy Dance.

UPDATE 20 April 2009 15:04: More at Volokh here. Wiggle room for gun banners, but not a lot. Certainly the idea of incrementalism leading to all guns being banned had had a stake driven through its heart, by the Moonbat Circuit, no less. I perhaps won't do the Happy Dance as vigorously, but I will dance nonetheless.

UPDATE 20 April 2009 16:55: Heh:

Borepatch. The 9th circuit is totally my bitch.

UPDATE 20 April 2009 21:15: Welcome visitors from Chad Crayton. More Second Amendment stuff here.

"A little bit greener, a little bit warmer"

That is a line from JoDee Mussina's song, "Heads Carolina." She's a Massachusetts girl, and so had an instinctive understanding of the desperate need for spring, denied.

I speak for all Massachusetts residents when I say that Palm trees are the shizzle Flippity Floppity Floop.

And while this isn't Saturday, here's a little Massachusetts-Carolina redneck comin' atcha.

"Heads Carolina" (songwriters Tim Nichols, Mark D. Sanders)
Baby, what do you say we just get lost?
Leave this one horse townlike two rebels without a cause.
I got people in Boston.
Ain't your daddy still in Des Moines?
We can pack up tomorrow.
Tonight, let's flip a coin

Heads, Carolina Tails, California.
Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer.
Up in the mountains, down by the ocean.
Where? It don't matter, as long as we're goin'
Somewhere together. I've got a quarter.
Heads, Carolina Tails, California.

We can load what we own in the back of a U-haul van.
Couple modern day Moses', searchin for the promised land.
We can go four hundred miles before we stop for gas.
We can drive for a day, and then we'll take a look at the map.

Heads, Carolina Tails, California.
Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer.
Up in the mountains, down by the ocean.
Where? It don't matter, as long as we're goin'
Somewhere together. I've got a quarter.
Heads, Carolina Tails, California.

We're gonna get outta here if we gotta ride a Greyhound bus.
Boy, we're bound to outrun the bad luck that's tailin' us

Heads, Carolina Tails, California.
Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer.
Up in the mountains, down by the ocean.
Where? It don't matter, as long as we're goin'
Somewhere together. I've got a quarter.
Heads, Carolina Tails, California.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Well, at least he got my "good" side

ASM826 tries some photography. Yikes - I'm a day late on this one posted.

I do have to say, though, that reloading is a lot of fun. It's insanely easy, too - if you have someone like ASM826 to take care of all the details first. But there's a real satisfaction in seeing the munitions coming together.

And once again, thanks ASM826!

I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue ...

Actually, it was the wrong weekend to spend 16 hours in the car. Eseell from Found: One Troll has not one, but two posts on the migration to IP version 6.

If you're not a tech geek, it's an insight into a shift that's happening under the hood of Al Gore's Intarwebz. If you are a tech geek, it's a really interesting view from the trenches of an ISP who is in a hurry to get it running.

Insanely cool site of the day

If you were to follow this link to Goosh, you'd find something like this:

A Unix-like shell, running in your browser (via AJAX). I'm not sure what you'd do with it, but it's insanely cool if you're on old Unix-head like me.

Found via a referrer log, which means that someone knows how to visit this site from a browser-based Unix command shell running under AJAX. That's impossibly cool.

Vacation Flotsam and Jetsam

We've joined Dick Cheney in his classified, undisclosed location for some R&R. Wifi is ubiquitous (other than that danged NSA warrantless wiretap thing), so blogging will be back to the regular schedule. Here are some random thoughts:

Waffle House is Food Of The Gods. That's quite a following there, Scooter - although it's a bit astonishing that some of these Waffle House songs have explicit lyrics.

Saigon Sam's Mil Surplus store in Jacksonville, NC (right across the highway from Camp Lejeune, you can't miss it) is the shizzle Flippity Floppity Floop. I now have one of these to put on the Jeep:

It will appear opposite this one from Bruce:

When you hear that I've been deported from Massachusetts, this will be why.

I initially read the store sign as "SIGINT Sam's", which would be totally cool, but I'd have to kill you now that I've told you. And I hope this "Camp Lejeune" summer camp thing works out for the kids this year. They seem pretty strict.

A case of MREs seems like a fine addition to a minivan on a road trip, especially with teenage boys. Don't worry about the added weight hurting your gas mileage, since the MREs won't last very long ...

Maryland Drivers are the worst in the land

And I live in Massachusetts - I know bad drivers when I see them.

I even have proof:

68,000 pounds of truth, being passed on the "suicide" side by a driver in Laurel, MD. No offense, T-Bolt.

And offered for your consideration: when you cross the border from Virgina to North Carolina on I-95, the speed limit increases from 65 MPH to 70 MPH. Traffic speed doesn't change. It's almost like they're using an artificially low speed limit to raise funds with speeding tickets, or something.

UPDATE 20 April 2009 9:26: A comment makes me think that this sweeping condemnation needs more background. Here's my answer, but I think it's worth pulling up to the post:
I should have elaborated. The drivers were consistently overly aggressive, from the first rest area southbound on I-95 to the Wilson bridge over the Potomac.

Multiple lane changes, especially in heavy traffic is what I was talking about. When I took that picture, we were in stop and go traffic, and people were moving across three different lanes to try to get an extra 100 feet.

The Mrs. and I had about a half an hour discussion about this. Every time the subject was about to change, someone woulod do another "can you believe that" maneuver.

Not trying to slander all MD drivers here, and in fact I was one of them for 12 years. Just making an observation based on almost 1000 miles of travel on I-95.
The discussion that the Mrs. and I had was how we used to drive like this, too, when we lived in Maryland. I remember a trip to Utah once where I was the terror of the highway, until I realized I didn't need to drive in that over-the-top-aggressive manner. We've been gone long enough that it was quite striking when we were suddenly back in that environment.

I have no idea what causes this, but it appears from my experience to be a local phenomenon. Anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thank you, ASM826!

For hosting the famille Borepatch at your secret lair. We simply could not have had a better time, and appreciate the hospitality of you and Mrs. Random Acts of Patriotism.

And Edge, it was great to meet you, too. Your secret behind-the-scenes-story about which movie to see and which to (ahem) not see is safe with me!

As those of you who read this and his blog might guess, firearms were involved. More tomorrow, but for now let me just say that I do not have Garand Thumb, and #2 Son still has his ear-to-ear grin from his first ever reloading episode. As do I.

And now I can move both of you to the Bloggers I've Met category!

And to those of you who haven't seen ASM826's post about how the Internet has made it possible for two guys with similar interests to meet up, where this never would have been possible before, run do not walk. The way I write it, it sounds sort of icky; the way he writes it - well, it's the way it should be written.

Why we beat the Soviet Union

Ate them for breakfast, you might say. Different world, although it's the one I grew up in.

Come the Revolution

You'll die in a toilet. Via Insty, a look behind the curtain of Socialized Medicine:
A woman died in labour in a hospital lavatory after her induction was delayed because of a lack of specialist staff, an inquest was told yesterday.
You can almost hear the bien pensants muttering mistakes were made - where they'd be sharpening the pitchforks if this had been Kaiser Permanente. What they miss is that this happens over and over again:
Having lived in the UK, I can only explain American liberal's support for government health care as being driven by ignorance. The UK press is simply full of this sort of thing, like the time a woman gave birth in a hospital restroom, and the nurses refused to help her:
I first saw this in the Times (Baby's birth and death in lavatory of hospital with no trained staff), but there is a considerably more detailed account in This Is London (Mother forced to give birth alone in toilet of 'flagship' NHS hospital) (A very similar account appeared in the Daily Mail.)
Never happen here.

Really? Is our government less risk adverse than the UK government? More willing to delegate authority down the chain of command? Less inclined to mutter mistakes were made as they turn their faces away from a government-created mess? More willing to create a process loop that continually improves the product?
When the tax code is hopelessly complex and entangling, the powerful and well connected don't have to pay. When government takes over your health care, don't expect the same standard of care that Congress will get. It's worth more to the Department of Health to take care of them.

You and me? Well, mistakes were made.

New Cybercrime Study out

It's very interesting. Not because of the conclusions:
  • 2008 was the biggest year ever for Cybercrime.
  • The financial services industry was disproportionately targeted.
  • Most successful hacks were discovered by someone other than the victim.
Not hard to see that coming. No, what makes this very, very interesting indeed is that the data came from a study of 90 confirmed data breaches, representing 285 Million compromised credit cards.

Yes, that was "million". At around $15 to reissue each card, that's $4 Billion of hard cost damage, from 90 incidents. This doesn't cover theft from fraudulent transactions and the rest.

Yes, that was "billion".

The biggest news is that this finally puts to rest the old chestnut that "most attacks come from the inside" - from people who work for the organization. Only 20% of the 90 incidents were, something that will only surprise security researchers stuck in 1989.

The Old School attack methods - deceit, misuse, physical theft - are pretty clearly ineffective: only 10% of the card numbers were compromised that way, although people tried in 43% of the cases. Old School doesn't pay.

New techniques like malware and hacking were seen in the breaches that got 90% of the cards. This pays, which is why the Bad Guys are attracting some very good talent indeed.

It's not surprising that 69% of the organizations that were victimized didn't realized what was happening until someone (often Visa or Master Card) called them to let them know. Visa, Master Card, American Express (and a few other credit card companies) got together quite some time ago to form the "Payment Card Industry" (PCI). The PCI issued a Data Security Standard which sets actually quite a low bar for security, but all companies that process, store, or transmit card data are required to comply.

Want to guess what percent of the companies victimized here were compliant?


Companies hate to spend money to comply with PCI. Billions of dollars are lost because of this. Security is hard, and expensive, and you still often lose. Now, at least, there's some very good data that shows just how bad things are.

Most disturbing (for you and me) is that the Bad Guys are shifting their targets to something that will be much more painful to you and me:

Big Money Now: The big money is now in stealing personal identification number (PIN) information together with associated credit and debit accounts. In 2008, Verizon Business witnessed an explosion of attacks targeting PIN data.

Hitting Consumers Hard: PIN-based attacks hit the consumer much harder than typical signature-based counterfeit attacks in which a consumer’s credit card is compromised. Investigators found that PIN fraud typically leads to cash being withdrawn directly from the consumer’s account – whether it is a checking, savings or brokerage account – placing a greater burden on the consumer to prove that transactions are fraudulent.

If large numbers of account holders start losing big money from their accounts, expect big time class action lawsuits. I expect that companies will cover these losses, because with the high level of PCI non-compliance, the discovery process will expose what will only be explained as gross negligence. Note that I'm not talking about Banks here - in my experience, banks have very good (and very well funded) security programs. Instead, look to retailers (see the TJX incident) and processors (Heartland) as the most likely first class action target.

Overheard in the Borepatchmobile

Somewhere southbound on Interstate 95:

Me: We got off to a good start today. We're already to Hartford, and on a normal day we'd be dropping you kids off at school around now.

#1 Son: On a normal Saturday, we'd be asleep around now.

About right, that.

As we've headed south, we've been heading forward in time, or at least in climate. At first the trees are bare and grey. Then the first shadow of green. The odd willow tree, always the first to leaf out. New York City is almost green.

We've been seriously deprived of Spring this year.

Johnny and June Carter Cash - Ring of Fire

Hotter than a pepper sprout.

Johnny Cash needs no introduction, even to people who don't listen to Country. His is old school Country, with simple arrangements and not much in the way of electrified Rock 'n Roll. But he loved his wife with a flame so bright that when she finally burned out at 73, so did he.

Shortly after her death in 2003, and very ill, he made a surprise appearance at a concert. Just before singing "Ring of Fire" one last time, he talked to the audience about June:
The spirit of June Carter overshadows me tonight with the love she had for me and the love I have for her. We connect somewhere between here and heaven. She came down for a short visit, I guess, from heaven to visit with me tonight to give me courage and inspiration like she always has.
He died two months later, heartbroken.

Some people might think that this is a sad story, but I think that it's a triumph of the spirit. That a man could find - and keep - a woman like that: a friend, a lover; through good times and bad. I couldn't really ask for more, myself.

My friend Lissa is getting married today, to a fine young man who doesn't look like he has the outlaw image and drug trouble that Cash had. But still, I hope that their life together has that same burning that Johnny and June captured, and lived, and loved.

Ring of Fire (June Carter, Merle Kilgore)
Love is a burning thing
and it makes a firery ring
bound by wild desire
I fell in to a ring of fire...

I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down,down,down
and the flames went higher.
And it burns,burns,burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet
when hearts like our's meet
I fell for you like a child
oh, but the fire went wild.

UPDATE 6 June 2009 18:24: Welcome visitors who found this via Google Images. I have another Johnny Cash post about his cover of Nine Inch Nail's Hurt. I also have a bunch of country music posts for other artists. It's a weekly thing, so if you like this sort of thing, stop back on Saturdays. Or more often, even!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Taxes are for the little people

Forget you pay your taxes? You could be Treasury Secretary! But only if you're a Democratic (not Republican) big wig. Or you could be a Senator. Or a dozen other examples.
-Al Franken tax-cheat
-Charlie Rangle tax-cheat
-Caroline Kennedy tax-cheat
-Timothy Geitner tax-cheat
-Tom Daschle tax-cheat
Taxes are for the little people. Healthcare? Not so much, once the Fed.Gov controls it:
Democratic blogger Ezra Klein appears to be positioning Dem health care reforms as a way to cut costs, on the grounds that a reformed system will be able to make "hard choices" and "rational" coverage decisions, by which Klein seems to mean "not providing" treatments that are unproven or too expensive--when "a person's life, or health, is not worth the price."
But I'm sure that there won't be a two-tier healthcare system, one for the politically well-connected nomenklatura, and one for the rest of us. I mean, that's crazy talk.

Besides, Al Franken deserves better healthcare than my kids do. Or something.

UPDATE 17 April 2009 23:29: To Old To Work, Too Young To Retire says it better, and in fewer words:
National Health Care, the efficiency of FEMA, the compassion of the IRS.

Where's Borepatch?

Off to breathe free air, in Myrtle Beach. Regular posting tonight, and then off at 0600, with the bow of the minivan pointed south.

ASM826 from Random Acts of Patriotism has offered - in an insane fit of generosity - to feed my crew of teenage boys tomorrow night, along with Edge from Edge's Conservative Movies. Alas, we'll get there too late for any "recoil therapy", but it will be great to meet some of the folks from Al Gore's Intarwebz.

And if you're off to Parts Unknown, wondering where to shoot, this site is incredibly helpful. It informs me that the Myrtle Beach Indoor Shooting Range is but a hop, skip, and jump from Borepatch classified undisclosed location. In the unbelievably unlikely event that one of my regular readers is down near Myrtle Beach and wants to meet up to do some shooting next week, send me an email or leave a comment!

And boy howdy, do I wish I had know about that site last year at this time, when we were at Hilton Head. The MCRD Recreational Firing Range at Paris Island ("MC" = "Marine Corps") is a public range. #2 Son and I visited Paris Island, but missed our chance to celebrate the Second Amendment with some of the gentlemen (and ladies) who defend it for us, every day.

And posting will be regular while we travel, due to the miracle of Blogger's "schedule post" option. After all, friend Lissa is getting hitched tomorrow, which calls for a special, gettin' hitched Saturday Redneck. Y'all stop by and make yourselves comfortable, hear?

Google sees all


Seems some thugs in San Francisco snatched Janina Valiente's purse, hopped in a car, and sped away. Half a mile away, they got busted by the police, who knew right where they were. Google told them.

It seems that Miss Valiente had installed Google Latitude on her cell phone. Latitude is an app that shares your location with your friends - in this case, Miss Valiente's sister. Sister relayed location of phone (as reported by Google) to the police, who collared said thugs and placed them in durance vile. Well done, all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Microsoft beclowns self; Linux now cool

The tech world has a minor buzz about Microsoft's recent "report" stating that Apple is expensive, and Steve Jobs is an idiot, and Apple's customers just buy Apple because they want to be cool. Or something.

I had thought it was all a bit of a yawn, until the tech press threw a blanket over Microsoft and started hitting it with baseball bats:

Linux is never mentioned, of course, and some might argue that this report is a smokescreen to keep people from looking at the third alternative. And since this report emphasizes both short- and long-term costs and expenses, Linux is actually the elephant (or the jaunty jackalope) in the room.

The fact of the matter is, Microsoft is foolish to do more than work on its own products and make them as good as they can. I don't understand this incessant need to belittle everything that is not Microsoft. The company does it with products. And with the entire Open Source movement. And with people. And on every level. The only other company that engaged in this sort of juvenile behavior was Sun Microsystems when Scott McNealy was CEO.

You're as mature as Scott McNealy. Ouch.

And Linux? Cool, baby:
Microsoft is irked by Apple, that's all. I would be, too. But again, the company is taking its eye off the Linux ball. Linux is cool too, in a more nerdy, geeky way.
The author also points to The Register's surgical dissection of this report, What Price Nonsense?

Grab some popcorn. This'll get good when the Mac fanboys get back from de-worming their computers.

Places I've been

visited 28 states (12.4%)
Create your own visited map of The World or another interesting project

Kind of a lot, really. Too much, in fact, when there were small children at home. When your 2 year old doesn't look up from what he's playing with when you come through the door, that's a wake-up call.

Hat tip: Engineering Johnson.

First Macintosh botnet found

A botnet is a collection of remote-controlled malware agents that are surreptitiously installed on a user's computer. The remote controller typically uses the now-controlled computer to send spam or steal credit card and bank account numbers. Botnets have been exclusively on Windows computers - because of large market share and weak security. Until now.

All you Windows fanboys can stop grinning now. OK, go ahead and grin - this day's been a'comin' for a while.

Anyone want to guess how the bots got installed? Anyone? OK, here's a hint: Borepatch's First Law: "Free Download" is Internet-Security speak for "Open your mouth and close your eyes."

The botnet comes courtesy of two trojans dubbed OSX.Trojan.iServices.A and OSX.Trojan.iServices.B by Mac anti-virus provider Intego, which first documented them in January. The malware is surreptitiously included in copies of Apple's iWork 09 productivity suite and Adobe's Photoshop CS4 that are distributed on warez sites. Intego said three months ago more than 20,000 people had downloaded the rogue installers.
As Ron White would say, "You can't fix stupid."

Windows fanboys are still grinning, I see. So for all of them - and smugly over-confident Mac fanboys - offered for your consideration: