Sunday, May 31, 2009

Don't fly if you have the flu

Really. Chris Brunner catches the DHS secret plan (cunningly hidden on their web site, under Press Releases):
Anyone exhibiting symptoms is being referred to an isolation room where they can be evaluated by a public health official before proceeding to their destruction.
His emphasis. They've changed the site to disappear this plan, but they can't fool me. I mean, if you can't trust a Presser, what can you trust?

And the obligatory reference to you are on the way to destruction:

And lastly, the coolest government overreaction ever, to some students who put up a bunch of All Your Base Are Belong To Us signs: arrest them.
Sturgis Police Chief Eugene Alli says the signs could be, "a borderline terrorist threat depending on what someone interprets it to mean."
Terrorists. Good thing they didn't also have the flu.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spaceman Spiff

Animated to the Battlestar Galactica theme.

More Spiff here.

Killing me softly

Telling my whole life with his words ...

Insty points in his usual brevity-is-the-soul-of-blogging way to a must read post from The Other McCain, which absolutely dissects how the Left thinks. I know, because I used to be a leftie apparatchik, and all I can say is that every word is Absolutely. Spot. On.
This vision is what the conservative rejects, and what makes the conservative convert such an effective leader is that he knows full well what he has rejected -- and he knows it personally, first-hand, subjectively. He knows the flattering deceit of believing himself more enlightened, more tolerant, more sophisticated than his fellow man, merely because he identifies as a Democrat, a liberal, a progressive.
And it doesn't happen by accident, either. Although I'm not a conservative, I went through exactly this in my journey away from the left:
The point is, if you feel like you've been suckered -- hustled, flim-flammed, bamboozled, sold out, ripped off -- and you have both pride and curiosity, you will begin to wonder whether it was all just a scam from Day One.
The only thing I would add is an explicit reference to the Mastodon Main Stream Media. I'd vote for "scam from Day One".

What the heck are you waiting for? Go. Read. It. Now.

Dangerous Ideas

Dangerous to whom? Ideas that are dangerous only to the thinker (think Darwin Awards) can be deadly, but aren't subversive. Ideas that would otherwise be entirely benign to the thinker can be fatal, if a powerful group thinks that its interests are threatened.

Freedom has always been one of these ideas.

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on this day in 1431, for this idea. Hers was not a personal notion of freedom, but powerful English national interests were threatened, and Joan had to go.

Can't have that sort of thing.

On this day in 1989, inspired by this idea, protesters in Beijing constructed the Goddess of Democracy. For a brief few days, Tienanmen Square - Ground Zero to the state sponsored Cult of Mao - was home to hundreds of thousands of people who, for some strange reason, had a personal notion of what freedom should be. Who didn't need the Vanguard of the Intelligentsia to lead them, for their own good. Powerful Party interests were threatened, and the Goddess had to go.

Can't have that sort of thing.

Some ideas are inherently subversive, because they make people think that they should be allowed to choose for themselves. Think for themselves.


Brad Paisley - Little Moments

UPDATE 30 May 2009 22:47: Doubletrouble, in a comment, leaves a link that is worth your time before you read this post. I haven't verified the information at the link, but if it's true, it's disturbing. Paisley is a funny and talented songwriter and performer, and I hope it's not true - and it would certainly change my opinion of him if it were.

UPDATE 31 May 2009 09:31: Sailor Curt does some more investigation, and thinks that there's more to this story, in the Paisley's favor. Details in the comments.

While I'm no expert, I also don't think that there's a big secret to marriage: if you like each other she'll forgive your sorry butt, when you least deserve it but need it the most.

Part of this is making sure that you're friends before you pop the question. Part, though, if continually remembering why you like her.

Brad Paisley captures this perfectly in Little Moments. It's funny, but it also hits very close to home on the little things that remind you that not only do you love her, you really like her.

Little Moments (Songwriters: Chris DuBois, Brad Paisley)
Well I'll never forget the first time that I heard
That pretty mouth say that dirty word
And I can't even remember now what she backed my truck into
But she covered her mouth and her face got red
And she just looked so darn cute
That I couldn't even act like I was mad
Yeah I live for little moments like that

Well that's just like last year on my birthday
She lost all track of time and burnt the cake
And every smoke detector in the house was goin' off
And she was just about to cry until I took her in my arms
And I tried not to let her see me laugh
Yeah I live for little moments like that

I know she's not perfect but she tries so hard for me
And I thank god that she isn't 'cause how boring would that be
It's the little imperfections it's the sudden change in plans
When she misreads the directions and we're lost but holdin' hands
Yeah I live for little moments like that

When she's layin' on my shoulder on the sofa in the dark
And about the time she falls asleep so does my right arm
And I want so bad to move it 'cause it's tinglin' and it's numb
But she looks so much like and angel that I don't wanna wake her up
Yeah I live for little moments
When she steals my heart again and doesn't even know it
Yeah I live for little moments like that
Making an appearance at the end of this video is Mrs. Paisley, the actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley (star with Steve Martin in Father Of The Bride). They met on the set of his video I'm Gonna Miss Her (a hilarious video, well worth the click through). Not only was the rest history, it showed up in this song:
Brad Paisley has stated that Kim was the basis for his 2004 hit Little Moments. Specifically the opening part, which reads as follows:
"Well I'll never forget the first time that I heard that pretty mouth say that dirty word. And I can't even remember now, what she backed my truck into. But she covered her mouth and her face got red and she just looked so darn cute. That I couldn't even act like I was mad- Yeah I live for little moments like that."
The two events were taken right from the first time Brad heard her swear and how she started to blush when he found a dent in his truck.

Friday, May 29, 2009

About that last post

It was Borepatch's Unified Field Theorem, which links Shiva, The Hubble Space Telescope, Al Gore's Intarwebz, and a cool chick from Nebraska with a guitar.

I'm expecting the Nobel Committee to leave a comment any minute now ...

Beautiful Destruction

Ten thousand years ago, a star about the same size as our Sun exploded. While this has been known for centuries as the Eskimo Nebula - because when viewed in a low-power telescope, it looks like a man's head covered by an eskimo-style parka - the Hubble Space Telescope showed the beautiful destruction that remains. The debris eventually forms new solar systems, and so, Shiva-like, is an engine of creation as well.


Back on Planet Earth, the Internet is exploding business models, most notably for the Recording Industry. Dinosaurs like me still like CDs, but some folks ask why buy it when you can download it for free? The studios are in Big Trouble, and you don't need something as powerful as the Hubble to see it.

But Shiva-like, new worlds are forming. Through the miracle that is Al Gore's Intertubes, we find Beautiful Destruction, a song by Leesha Harvey.

If you like Sarah McLaughlin, you'll like her. Unlike McLaughlin, Harvey has an amazing Internet story:
Who knew that a guitar, a web cam, and an internet connection could lead to a career change?

Leesha had played music for years in a variety of venues but never considered it more than a hobby. But in 2007, on a whim, she started posting videos of her singing her original songs on YouTube. Within months, her videos were receiving thousands of hits, and fans were asking, “Where can I buy the CD?”

You can download her music here. Free. It looks like she's in Nebraska, so if you're there too, you might want to catch one of her shows. The rest of us will have to catch her on Youtube.

A new music industry is forming from the stardust you find with a camcorder, a broadband connection, and incredible talent. I am Shiva, destroyer of Worlds Buisness Models.

IMPORTANT: Windows XP users need to get security fix

If you run Windows XP, Windows 2003 (probably not many), or Windows 2000 (again, probably not many), you need to go here to get a fix from Microsoft RIGHT NOW. Just this once, it's OK to use Internet Explorer rather than Firefox; the fix seems to be broken when using Firefox. It should only take a minute.

The problem is that Quicktime-embedded video can trigger silent download and execution of malware (translation: you can be pwned without knowing it simply by watching a video in your browser).

There are exploits in the wild right now. I don't know if they're up on Youtube or other popular sites, but this is urgent.

If you run Vista, or Windows 7, or Linux or Mac, you don't need to worry.

Technical details available here. Also here.

Man food for Father's Day

Who doesn't like that? It is coming up, right?

Chris Byrne has a cookbook that your dad wants. I have dad's copy on order; it doesn't have a quadruple bypass burger recipe, but that just isn't the same without the naughty nurse waitresses ...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eat what you want and die like a man

No, I'm not going here tonight, because it's 2000 miles away. We might, if they had one in Massachusetts. Of course, in Massachusetts, people would get a heart attack just from looking at the place.

The waitresses are a hoot.

The title, of course, is from the world's unhealthiest cookbook.

Sorry about the autoplay - I can't figure out how to keep it from starting automatically. Hey CBS, don't annoy your viewers. Oh, wait ...

Hat tip, Life on Sleepy Creek.

UPDATE 28 May 2009 21:47: Fixed embedding. Sorry.

UPDATE 1 June 2009 16:52: Removed embedded video, because autoplay is too annoying for words. If you want to watch it, you can find it at

In other Wedding Anniversary news ...

Couple married 81 years reveal secret to their success:
The secret to a long and happy marriage is a little argument every day, according to the couple who should know best.
We have so got this nailed. And here's good advise any day:
Mr Milford, a retired dockyard worker, said: “To win over your sweetheart you need a dose of old-fashioned chivalry and don’t let your standards slip.”
Bravo and congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Milford.

So who's first to die?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guns don't cause suicide

Bob S does the work so that you don't have to. He has data and everything. All I can add to his excellent post is that while the suicide rate declined by 12% between 1981 and 2006, Americans purchased on the order of 100 Million new firearms.

If he keeps this up, the Brady crowd will be even sadder pandas.

Southern Cross

The southern hemisphere sky is strange. I got to be quite good at identifying the constellations as a youngster: first Boy Scouts and then the Astronomy Club at State U - yes I was a geek, why do you ask?

Then came the trip to Johannesburg, and suddenly there were no familiar constellations. I wish I had had this picture (from Astronomy Picture of the Day) - there's a lot worth seeing.

There's the Southern Cross, made famous by the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song in the 1980s. There's Alpha Centauri, the closest star after the Sun, and the brightest star in the southern sky. For Science Fiction geeks, there's the Coal Sack, center stage for Niven and Pournelle's space opera The Mote In God's Eye.

This is quite an amazing picture, and several times larger if you click through to AOPD.

Yes, I'm still a geek. Why do you ask?

How often is "getting to the range enough"?

In the chat during last night's Gun Nuts Radio, someone posed the question: what does it mean to get to the range enough? How often do you think you should go to get as good as you want?

I'd like to repeatably get thumb-sized groupings at 25 feet for slow fire, and palm sized groups at 25 feet for quick fire.

I only got into shooting three years ago. Not counting the few dozen trigger pulls as a kid, plinking with my friends, I have fewer than 2000 rounds sent down range. Not a lot, and certainly not enough to become more than - at best - a passable shot.

Now it's quite a hike to get to the range. Since it's a production to get there, I don't go often. One result is that I don't shoot much .22. When a man has a hankering for Recoil Therapy, he's looking for a little more therapy than a .22 will serve up, if you know what I mean.

Ideally, I'd go twice a month, a hundred rounds a session, 2500 a year or so. Combined with the Airsoft 1911 in the basement for recoil-less practice (perhaps 1000 trigger pulls a month), this might almost be enough.

Quote of the Day

I read the Dallas Morning News often. It's kind of like dropping by the tarpit to take a look at the last Mastadon before it goes under.
Clicky through to read how you can't fix stupid in the Mastodon Main Stream Media.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Bjorn Lomberg is a major figure in the Climate Change debate, having had his book The Skeptical Environmentalist savaged in a hatchet job by the once great Scientific American. He gives a great TED talk about what the most important global social problems are, and how to effectively prioritize solutions:

The problem, alas,is that he's thinking like a scientist. He's misidentified the actual problem, confusing it with the stated problem.

It's not about helping poor people, it's about grabbing power and making sure that The Right People are in a position to do The Right Thing. We know it's The Right Thing, because they're The Right People, see?

I mean, how is the environmental movement supposed to stamp out fossil fuels prevent Bangladesh from flooding if you keep distracting us with nonsense about keeping babies from getting Malaria? Never going to get any votes that way. Send a check to Oxfam, or something. Besides, the science is settled, I say!

Hey you deniers - get the heck off my lawn!


The Fed.Gov requires you to fill your tank with 10% Ethanol. It turns out that this is a pretty bad idea from a public policy perspective:

First, the primary job of the Environmental Protection Agency is, dare it be said, to protect our environment. Yet using ethanol actually creates more smog than using regular gas, and the EPA's own attorneys had to admit that fact in front of the justices presiding over the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1995 (API v. EPA).

Second, truly independent studies on ethanol, such as those written by Tad Patzek of Berkeley and David Pimentel of Cornell, show that ethanol is a net energy loser. Other studies suggest there is a small net energy gain from it.

Third, all fuels laced with ethanol reduce the vehicle's fuel efficiency, and the E85 blend drops gas mileage between 30% and 40%, depending on whether you use the EPA's fuel mileage standards ( or those of the Dept. of Energy.

Fourth, forget what biofuels have done to the price of foodstuffs worldwide over the past three years; the science seems to suggest that using ethanol increases global warming emissions over the use of straight gasoline.
Oh, and click through to the read the bit about how your engine is going to croak after Congress raises the percentage of Ethanol in Gasoline to 15%.

So, it's bad for the environment, it's bad for transportation, it makes people hungry because it raises the cost of food, and it will destroy your engine. So why is Congress so bullish - drunk, you might even say - on Ethanol?

Revenooers. No, not BAT men, but Congressmen. The agricultural industry would be the moonshiners, and plenty of palms are being greased in the form of campaign contributions. In the dry terms that Economists and Historians like to use, this is classic rent seeking, where an interested party buys off someone in the government to force the use of the interested party's product.
Rent seeking generally implies the extraction of uncompensated value from others without making any contribution to productivity, such as by gaining control of land and other pre-existing natural resources, or by imposing burdensome regulations or other government decisions that may affect consumers or businesses. While there may be few people in modern industrialized countries who do not gain something, directly or indirectly, through some form or another of rent seeking, rent seeking in the aggregate imposes substantial losses on society.
With the new administration making it clear that their philosophy is one of a much more naked use of governmental power in the interest of favored parties, this is an expression we'll see a lot more of, no doubt.

All the sophisticated, Ivy League types who think that this is a (ahem) high octane idea, have forgotten just how long this has been thought A Bad Idea:
In their petition, the candlemakers cite several economic 'advantages' that might be had from blocking out the Sun, by increasing consumption of products: tallow, leading to the increased production of meat, wool, hides, etc; vegetable oil, leading to the increased production of poppies, olives, and rapeseed; resinous trees, leading to more bees, hence crop pollination; whale oil, leading to a larger merchant navy that would boost France's prestige and standing.
Hey, dudes, Whale Oil is out - someone needs to update this to something later than 1845.

Oh well, they're probably smarter (and nicer) than I am, anyway. And with a ton of Ivy League college debt, they probably need the rents more than I do. Or something.

Catch a Falling Star

One of the great things about the Internet is that it gives a way for ordinary people to distribute extraordinary material they create. Tony Rowell is a photographer; in years past, he might have a gallery.

Now he has a picture on Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Another great thing about the Internet is that it's now simple to pull together related items. For example, Perry Como's 1957 song Catch A Falling Star was the first Gold Record - ever. It was also the first Grammy for a Male vocalist - ever.

I'm not sure what Mr. Como would think of this Internet thing, but I suspect that he'd like Mr. Rowell's picture.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Workplace safety laws: not for the State

Well, the State of California University system, anyway:
A few days after Christmas of 2008, a young technician in a biochemistry laboratory at the University of California-Los Angeles began to transfer a tablespoon of t-butyl lithium from one container to another. T-butyl lithium is pyrophoric, meaning it ignites on contact with air, but Sheri Sangji wasn't wearing a protective lab coat—instead, she had on a flammable synthetic sweatshirt. Somehow the stuff spilled onto her clothing, and she was engulfed in flames. Sangji died from her burns 18 days later, and UCLA officials bemoaned the "tragic accident" that killed her.

According to a recently completed government investigation, the fire could have been foreseen. On May 4, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health cited the university for multiple "serious"—i.e., potentially life-threatening—violations, including its inability to show that Sangji had been trained to handle the dangerous substance and the lack of proper protective attire. UCLA's own safety officials had already faulted the lab on the latter issue back in October, but the problem went uncorrected.
The laws are to protect the little guy, right? Oh, wait:
Why the difference between industry and academe? For one thing, the occupational safety and health laws that protect workers in hazardous jobs apply only to employees, not to undergraduates, graduate students, or research fellows who receive stipends from outside funders.
Of course, I'm sure that there's a terribly sophisticated argument proving that it's different when the State exploits its workers than when private industry does it. I'm probably not smart enough to grasp the nuance. Or something.

Boston Police - the leader in bogus Internet prosecutions

A justice from Massachusetts's highest court has ordered police to return a laptop and other gear seized from a Boston student's dorm room after rejecting prosecutors' arguments that hoax emails he was suspected of sending might be illegal under a computer crime statute.
So what was the "crime" alleged by the police? Seems the suspect sent some emails. Emails containing exaggerations:
When police requested a warrant to search the dorm room, much of the factual basis provided that a crime had been committed were two emails sent in early March that falsely claimed the roommate was participating on a gay dating website. At least one them was suspected to have been sent by Calixte.
The police have been ordered to immediately stop the investigation and return all items to Mr. Calixte. So good. But what if the Electronic Frontier Foundation hadn't gotten involved, to help Calixte defend himself?

I've been working Internet security for a long, long time, and what's striking is how the police have never had a good handle on the law, what's allowed, and what's prohibited. Don't take my word for it, The Hacker Crackdown covers this in gory detail, and that was written fifteen years ago.

So if you get prosecuted, the chances of you being prosecuted by someone with a clue are very, very low. At the same time, the chances of being prosecuted for "hacking" are much, much higher. This isn't the only case where someone was dragged before the Bench for saying things that weren't true on the Internet. The similarities to gun laws are obvious: if you're unpopular, there are many ways to turn you into a felon.

And the PC hothouse that is today's University system guarantees that this wasn't a fluke, and that prosecutions will continue. Some Internet exaggerations are protected speech, you see, but some are Hate Speech.

UPDATE 25 May 2009 13:55: It's a twofer:
A South Carolina judge has ordered the state attorney general's office to stop pursuing criminal charges against while a lawsuit related to prostitution ads on the popular classifieds site makes its way through the courts.


On Friday, Judge Weston Houck granted Craigslist's request for a temporary restraining order preventing McMaster and his employees from "initiating or pursuing and prosecution against craigslist or its officers and employees in relation to content posted by third parties on Craigslist's Web site" until the court rules on the merits of the site's lawsuit.
What's clear is that prosecutors are doing what prosecutors do - throw as many (sometimes idiotic) charges against a defendant in the hopes that something will stick. It's likely not overly cynical to think that it's also motivated by a desire to intimidate the defendant into copping a plea.

While it's good that the courts (sometimes) refuse to buy into it, you need deep pockets to fight The Man off. This is perhaps the most persuasive reason to oppose all new computer crime legislation.

FINAL UPDATE 25 May 2009 14:10: Everything that you need to understand how idiotic the Boston situation is, encapsulated in a comment at Slashdot:
So he used computer technology to announce that someone was gay... and he got into legal trouble. Well, the courts are going to be swamped if the police ever find out about Halo 3.
The law is now officially an ass.

A lot's changed in the last 6 months

Even Google can remember Memorial Day now. Change!
Backstory here.

The reason behind Memorial Day

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mmmm ... Lever Gun!

There's a real purty one, over at Cemetery's place. Another "sleeper" (read his "About Me"), living behind enemy lines in New Jersey. Can it be that New Jersey is even worse than Massachusetts on the Second Amendment?

Doesn't seem to slow him down much, though. Cemetery, I assume that "Double Duelist" is something to do with Cowboy Action Shooting, because those wheelguns look like they'd be right at home there.

Sorry it took so long to get you on the blogroll!

Power and the Barrel of a gun

"Power comes from the barrel of gun."

That's what the top line of this poster says. It's a quote from Chairman Mao, who knew a thing or two about politics.

In our gerrymandered political landscape, it's easy to despair - there are so many examples: taxes are for the little guy, concealed carry permits are for the politically well connected. What's a Regular Joe to do?

Brigid has an excellent suggestion, that there's strength in numbers. But that's not the only way.

The Supreme Court reads the election returns. So do Congressmen. The power of the NRA doesn't come from its 4 million members. Rather, it comes from the NRA's perceived ability to speak to 100 million gun owners in a language that they understand. This is political power wielded on a wholesale level, and is a worthy effort.

While Congress has been effective in gerrymandering the districts, there is always a set of districts that remain competitive. Perhaps someone retired, and so the seat becomes open. Perhaps someone voted in a way that is very unpopular with what people in the district. Often, a swing of a few points will make a safe race into a cliff-hanger, or a close race into a defeat.

There's something that we sometimes forget, that give us our opportunity in these situations. Political power can also be wielded on the retail level. The main points made in both Glenn Reynold's An Army Of Davids and Hugh Hewitt's Blog is that the Internet has enabled each of us to create a relatively high-trust environment. Our circle of family and friends is also a high trust environment. The media doesn't matter there, nor does the current accepted political power structure.

Each of us can harness this, to exercise political power. Retail.

And so, here's my deal with the devil. Nicki Tsongas is the Representative for my district, the 5th Massachusetts. Here's the letter I've written to her office:
Dear Representative Tsongas:

Enclosed please find my $50 donation to your re-election campaign, which you should know is the first political donation that I have ever made. I hope that it is a down payment on what will be a long-term relationship. Please understand that I am a registered independent, and quite frankly am very skeptical of your position on an issue of importance to me, the Second Amendment.

Unfortunately, you as a Democrat inherit a lack of credibility about protecting the rights of law abiding gun owners. Over the years, the party has developed a sort of negative credibility on this issue: when I hear a Democrat saying that they support the Second Amendment, I simply assume that I'm being lied to.

I would be delighted to find that you are a different sort of Democrat, and that you do not want to further erode the lawful use of firearms. To that end, I will commit to the following: I will increase my donation to $500, and I will sign up ten like-minded people in the 5th district to do the same. What I am asking for is the following information from your office:
  1. Please let me know whether you think that I should be prevented from owning a so-called "assault weapon" such as the AR-15. In order to help you make this determination, let me state that I am not a convicted felon, and in fact have help Top Secret security clearances requiring investigation of my background by the intelligence services.
  2. Please let me know whether you support banning hunting rifles, such as the Thompson Center Triumph. As you may not know, this has recently been banned by the New Jersey Legislature (bill A2116, 12 June 2008). As you also may not know, this is a .50 caliber muzzle loading rifle, not known for its popularity among the gang bangers of Jersey City.
  3. Please let me know whether you support banning antique firearms because they are .50 caliber or above, as was done by this same New Jersey statute. As background information, this is of particular interest to me, as I am inheriting the family's Civil War musket carried by my great-great grandfather in Sherman's army. I would not want to become a felon for maintaining possession of a family heirloom.
  4. Please let me know whether you support the banning of lead ammunition (as was recently passed by the California legislature), or requiring the use of ammunition "micro-stamp" technology in new firearms, as was proposed in S.2605; I would also be very interested in your opinion on whether these proposals are back-door attempts to make ammunition prohibitively expensive for low-income Americans.
  5. Please let me know whether you believe that I should be prohibited from purchasing a firearm from my cousin, without a third party having run a background check. If you support closing the "Gun Show Loophole", please explain to me what percentage of firearms used in crimes are purchased via this loophole, and how legislation to prevent this will stop that illegal activity without preventing me from buying my cousin's firearm. To help you in this, let me state that he is not a convicted felon, either.
These are all initiatives backed by the Democratic party, and which (mostly) are planks of the party platform. I believe that each of these will fail in their stated goals of reducing crime or protecting the environment, while at the same time inconveniencing the lawful use of firearms. Your opinions will be of great interest.

As I said, I hope that you are a different sort of Democrat. As further background, let me say that I believe that I am in a position to raise the stated contributions: I hold an executive position at a company in this district, I am active in the New England shooting community, and I write a blog with a small but rapidly growing readership (, there is a link there that will show you how many visits I have had).

But here's the rest of the deal. If you tell me that you support any of the five issues, or if your reply leads me to think that you are not being honest with me, or if you do not reply at all, then I will have no alternative than to think that you support your party's efforts to reduce my rights to own a firearm. In that case, I will donate to - and will actively raise the same contributions for - your opponent in the upcoming election.

Just so that you know, I do not, in fact, own any firearms, but I do not at all appreciate past efforts of your party (my old party) to prevent me from doing so.

I eagerly await your reply.
Kind of wordy, to be sure, but specific.

Now I don't have a lot of hope that Nicki Tsongas will change her doctrinaire view of gun control. However, I do think that the following conversation will be had in her office:

- This is a constituent that is paying attention.

- This is a constituent who has not been politically active in the past, but who is energized by this issue.

- For every constituent who sends a letter, ten (or a hundred) more don't.

- He says he thinks he can mobilize those ten. Maybe he can't, but he's not afraid to tell us how to check.

- We only got 51% of the vote in the last election.

Multiply this across 435 districts nation wide, and this gets up-close-and-personal to 435 Representatives. It will validate what they read in the polls, and it shows that we're watching them.

Do I like having to spend cash money to get my Representative to vote my way? Not at all. Do I think that she will be a doctrinaire supporter of the Democrat's statist claptrap? Yes I do.

Am I willing to make a deal with the Devil on this? Sure am. With enough of us, we can sell this, retail. The personal is political.

UPDATE 11 June 2009 20:53: Welcome visitors from The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles! Thanks for the link, Albert. Take a look around while you're here. If you like this post, you might also like this one on what the real problem with government is.

What we're doing right

I find that as I get older, it's easier and easier to drop into a pessimistic view of things. The world is going to Hades; the new generation is a bunch of slackers. Hey you kids! Get off my lawn!

Steven Pinker give us some perspective, on the millennium scale, to show that in some very important ways, the world is not going to Hades. His TED talk about the Myth of Violence surgically disassembles the notion that the modern world is more violent than times of old, or even that modern industrial warfare is more deadly than ancient times.

In fact, this often isn't true; it's Confirmation Bias. As you age, you do gain experience. The flip side is that your earlier memories start to fade into the sepia-hued mists of time. Rolling back the curtain will sometimes restore perspective to something that's more solidly grounded.

Watching this, I was reminded of Eric Raymond's discussion The Myth Of Man The Killer. He approaches the same subject from a different perspective, and isolates one of the fundamental fallacies of modern leftist political philosophy:
If Hobbes underestimated the sociability of man, Rousseau and his followers overestimated it; or, at least, they overestimated the sociability of primitive man. By contrasting the nobility and tranquility they claimed to see in rural nature and the Noble Savage with the all-too-evident filth, poverty and crowding in the booming cities of the Industrial Revolution, they secularized the Fall of Man. As their spiritual descendants today still do, they overlooked the fact that the urban poor had unanimously voted with their feet to escape an even nastier rural poverty.
So, the State as an arbiter of stable markets has allowed - for centuries - an expanded view of "the other" as a potentially valuable partner. As Pinker says, one compelling reason that we should not bomb the Japanese is that they made my minivan (OK, he didn't say it exactly this way, but work with me).

The State, as a perfecter of the human spirit, not so much. Raymond, again:
Another, darker kind of romanticism is at work as well. To a person who feels fundamentally powerless, the belief that one is somehow intrinsically deadly can be a cherished illusion. Its marketers know full well that violence fantasy sells not to the accomplished, the wealthy and the wise, but rather to working stiffs trapped in dead-end jobs, to frustrated adolescents, to retirees — the marginalized, the lonely and the lost.
The Ancients spoke of the Golden Mean, and I dare say would not be surprised at the sad outcome of the last century's Statist experiments.

If you want a Mind Enhancing Ray, you're hard pressed to find one better than the TED lectures. Free as in speech, and free as in beer. It's a twofer!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Proposal that would increase US domestic security effectiveness

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, this is your moment. An anxious nation looks to you in its hour of need. You hold in your hands the ability to instill a clue in the Secretary of Homeland Security (well, a little one, any way).

All you need to do is ask this at the next White House press conference:
What specific security benefit does the Department of Homeland Security expect to get from video cameras on the urinals in the Houston airport?
Whatever the immediate answer is, this particular piece of Security Kabuki will join its creator, now the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary of Paperclips, in his new office in Wichita Falls.

P.S. No, I'm not making this up. Click through for details (and pictures).

Likelihood of journalists understanding science report correlated with avian swine


I don't care who you are, now that's funny.

Plus, everything you really need to understand about cancer research (with a link to actual, you know, science).

Hat tip: Hit and Run,

Negative interest rates?

To combat deflation? Oy.

With World+Dog predicting inflation - and lots of it - this seems like that discussion at the Buggy Manufacturer's Convention, about how horse diapers are the shizzle Flippity Floppity Floop.

OK, buggy makers didn't actually say "shizzle". Or "Flippity Floppity Floop". Work with me, people.

Tim McGraw - If You're Reading This

I was born barely a dozen years after the end of World War II. A boy growing up in the 1960s was surrounded by still fresh memories of that conflict. Toys, games, television: we were immersed in it.

It was mostly impersonal, though. Other than a grade school teacher who told us a few - very few - stories of his time as a Marine in the Pacific Theater, I didn't know anyone who had fought.

Or so I thought. In the last few years, my best friend's father started talking about his time in Normandy and northern France. Hard fighting, harrowing stories.

I mentioned that Rick and I would have loved hearing these stories in the 1960s. Didn't want to talk about it then, he said. It was too close, and life was full of kids, and family, and making his way in the world.

So why now, I asked. Not that I minded having to wait, but my curiosity was peaked. A lot of my buddies didn't make it back. I don't want people to forget them.

Memorial Day dates back, formally, to the years immediately after the Civil War, that great crucible that tested and finally made this country whole. There were no kids like me then, kids who didn't have a family member that had fought. Or maybe didn't come back. Shelby Foote, in his master work The Civil War: A Narrative, relates the words of Captain Holmes, from Keane New Hampshire, on one of the myriad of Memorial Day gatherings:
But even if I am wrong, even if those who are to come after us are to forget all we hold dear, and the future is to teach and kindle its children in ways as yet unrevealed, it is enough for us that to us this day is dear and sacred ... For one hour, twice a year at least - at the regimental dinner, where the ghosts sit at table more numerous than the living, and on this day when we decorate their graves - the dead come back and live with us. I see them now, more than I can number, as once I saw them on this earth.

Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us at the onset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us.
At the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards, Tim McGraw performed a song about a soldier who didn't come home. Reporting to those who come after us.

If You're Reading This (Songwriters: Tim McGraw, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
If you're reading this
with my Momma sittin there,
looks like I only got a one way ticket over here.
Sure wish I
could give you one more kiss
and war was just a game we played when we were kids.

I'm laying down my gun;
I'm hanging up boots.
I'm up here with God and we're both watching over you.

So lay me down
in that open field out on the edge of town.
And know my soul
is where my momma always prayed
that it would go.
If you're reading this,
I'm already home.

If you're reading this
half way around the world,
looks I won't be there
to see the birth of our little girl.
I hope she looks like you.
I hope she fight like me,
And stands up for the innocent and weak.

I'm laying down my gun;
I'm hanging up boots.
Tell dad I don't regret that I followed in his shoes.

So lay me down
in that open field out on the edge of town.
And know my soul
is where my momma always prayed
that it would go.
If you're reading this,
I'm already home.

If you're reading this,
there's going to come a day
when you'll move on
and find some one else -
and that's OK.
Just remember this:
I'm in a better place,
where soldiers live in peace
and angels sing amazing grace.

So lay me down
in that open field out on the edge of town.
And know my soul
is where my momma always prayed
that it would go.
If you're reading this,
I'm already home.
This weekend when you gather with your families at the Barbecue table, take a moment to recognize and salute the ghosts who join you, whether from the thickets of Chancelorsville, or the hedgerows of Normandy, or the sands of the Middle East.

Thank you. Rest in peace.

UPDATE 23 May 2009 22:51: ASM826 writes in the comments:
Either record them, or get him to write it. There is a national project at the Library of Congress to collect these stories while there is still time:

There are also hundreds of university, state, and local historical societies working on this. Here's what Rutgers is doing:
This is great information, and terribly important. When I was a boy, the World War II veterans were in their prime. Now they're in their nineties. Each year there are fewer left. If you know one, or know one who does, please capture their memories, to bear report to those who come after us.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Traffic Analysis

When I was a wee lad, as a freshly-minted engineer at Three Letter Security agency, they took some considerable time to teach us about Traffic Analysis. It's a technique that you can use to get lots of interesting information, by watching patterns of activity or communication.

A famous example of this happened in World War II, in the run up to the D-Day invasion. The Allies wanted to fool the Germans into thinking that the invasion would come at Calais, at the narrowest part of the English Channel. If the Germans believed that this was the invasion target, they would hold off deploying troops to Normandy, thinking the invasion was a feint.

So, how do you convince the Germans? They were pretty smart, after all. Well, you use that smartness to snooker them. George Patton, America's best general, had been cashiered for slapping a soldier. He got to play the role of CIC, First US Army Group (FUSAG). A commander needs a command, and this was provided by radios.

Armies used radio extensively to coordinate movements. Orders were sent via radio (encrypted, or coded) from FUSAG HQ to several make believe "Corps HQ" in Southeast England, whence more messages would be sent from each Corps HQ to several phantom "Division HQ", and on down the chain. A small army of radio technicians spent their days sending completely made up messages back and forth to each other.

The Germans, of course, were listening, and using the patterns of signal, reply, etc to build an org chart of Patton's Army Group. To verify that all this activity was legit, the Luftwaffe made repeated recon sorties over Kent, photographing inflated tanks and empty tent encampments which made the whole thing look real.

The attack, of course, came in Normandy, where they had been keeping things as quiet as possible. The German's sophisticated traffic analysis had led them into a blind alley.

This doesn't mean that Traffic Analysis doesn't work; on the contrary, it works very well indeed. It took an elaborate deception - including double agents - to fool the German General Staff. There's a very interesting resergence of interest in Traffic Analysis in the internet security industry, as companies like Damballa look for networks of trojan horse programs running on subverted computers. You may not know what's being said, but you see that A is talking to B.

This is all well and good, you may be asking yourself, but what does that have to do with me? As it turns out, plenty:
Anonymized data collected from GPS-enabled devices may not be as anonymous as you think, according to researchers who show that knowing someone's general home and work locations can be enough to identify an individual uniquely.
Your cell phone is ratting you out, leaving an elsectronic trail of bread crumbs that someone could use to identify not just some random Joe, but Joe Bloggs of 791 Elm Street. You don't have to be smart as a General Staff Oberstleutenant to start to fit the puzzle pieces together:
Of course, one of the two most common locations any person frequents are those of his home and work. What Golle and Partridge found is that attempts to anonymize, or obfuscate, personally identifying information may fall woefully short if a user's residence and office can be deduced.
"Obfuscation techniques which prevent re-identification based on (approximate) home location alone may not be adequate if the subject's (approximate) work location is also known," they write. "In fact, we show that home and work locations, even at a coarse resolution, are often sufficient to uniquely identify a person."
Once a subject's home and work are known, snoops can use data compiled by the US Census Bureau's LEHD, or Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics, program, which tracks where people live and work. Although only "privacy-preserving synthetic data" is publicly available for download, Bayesian techniques can be used to work around this limitation.
OK, bayesian math means that you do have to be as smart as an Oberstleutenant, but work with me. Data people thought was randomized was only mostly randomized, and can be reconstructed - via a heapin' plate of careful traffic analysis with a side of math - to find you.

Larry Ellison was right when he said You have no privacy; get over it.

UPDATE 15 November 2014 16:57: More on FUSAG and the effort ot fool the German Abwehr here.

Whale Cam

I'm channeling my inner Blackfork, or perhaps my inner Weer'd Beard, but this is simply insanely cool. Sperm whales caught on camera stealing cod from fishermen's lines.The fishermen don't think it's so cool, though. That's real money disappearing down the gullet, and there aren't many fishermen that can aford the loss. They knew there was something up with the whales, and invited the Scripts Institute of Oceanography to record what was happening.

The whales gently grab the line in their mouths and jiggle it. The fish are jarred loose, and the whale has its snack. If you watch the video, the clicking that you'll hear is the whale's echo location sonar.

Now I just have to channel my inner Brigid and come up with a recipe for bacon-wrapped whale.

Mmmm ... whale! And there are probably some fishermen in Alaska who might like to try it.

ZOMG! Zombie cows!

Fortunately, the 3rd Infantry Division is on it.

Been a while since I posted on Zombies. Been slacking off, I guess.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Four Rules Fail

Looks like he's violating all of the 4 rules simultaneously. Must be some kind of record.

Der Furher only likes the ORIGINAL Star Trek

There's proof. Watch it now, because these tend to get dissappeared from YouTube.

Is there nothing that this scene can't do? This one is not only really funny, it's the best adaptation of subtitle dialog of action taking place in the scene.


The Obama administration has just raised the mileage standard for new cars by about 33%.

I was trained as an Engineer, which means I had to take a lot of math and science. Despite the government's best efforts, you cannot change laws of nature. If you want a car to go 33% further on a gallon of gas, you have only three choices:

1. Increase the efficiency of the engine by 33%. Unfortunately, we've had 30 years of research into more efficient engines, and all the big gains are to be had in the early years. Front wheel drive (shrink the power train), unibody construction (instead of a frame), and computer-controlled fuel injection (instead of carburetors) make up the bulk of the gain to date. Despite the promise of hybrid technology and regenerative braking, there simply isn't anywhere near 33% gains in this (for highway driving, at least).

2. Reduce the power-to-weight ratio. No more V8 for you, Mr. Zette - how about a nice 5 cylinder like Mr. Volvo? Well, then Mr. Vette drives just like Mr. Volvo. Say goodbye to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, President Obama! (translation: ain't gonna happen).

3. Reduce the weight of the car by 33% or so, while reducing power by an equal amount. Car handles the same, but gets better mileage. You can have performance and fuel efficiency. You can have it all!

Except you can't. Sir Isaac Newton will not be denied:
Whenever a object A exerts a force on another object B, B simultaneously exerts a force on A with the same magnitude in the opposite direction.
Let's consider an object A:

Which of these object B options would you be safer in?

Kind of obvious, isn't it? You can't have it all. Even when some politician pushing an agenda tells you that you can. King Canute couldn't command the tides to recede, and President Obama can't command roadside trees to be gentler on the occupants of cars that crash into them.

Someone's fixin' to die. A lot of someones:
The National Academy of Sciences has linked mileage standards with about 2,000 deaths per year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every 100-pound reduction in the weight of small cars increases annual traffic fatalities by as much as 715.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said that the 35 MPG standard would save about one million gallons of gas per day. So how does that savings balance against the 2,000 fatalities per year that the National Academy of Sciences says are caused by those same lighter cars?

For the sake of being utilitarian, let’s generously assume that the mileage standards reduced the price of gasoline by $1. That would translate to daily savings of $1 million. Is that savings worth killing more than five people per day, plus other non-fatal injuries and property damage?

In I'm Here To Help, I talked about what is the problem with government: people who think that they know more than they actually do:
They will look at you blankly if you ask them what the unanticipated consequences of their proposal is:
So if you were actually able to ban all legal guns, how would that reduce crime?

[Lots of over-estimated benefits and under-estimated costs redacted]

OK, what will this do to the rate of women killed by abusive boyfriends or ex-husbands, who can't get a gun to defend themselves. What does your study predict for numbers?

[Blank stare]
Dead homeowners are part of the over grazed Common Pasture of society. Women and kids, too. So are higher levels of gun violence.

Who gets hurt? This question needs to be asked any time someone proposes one tiny, incremental, almost unnoticeable further harvest of the Common Weal. Nobody is not an acceptable answer - someone always gets hurt, intentionally or not. Maybe this cost is outweighed by the benefits, maybe it isn't. But it's never zero.
Dead drivers. Widows and orphans. Dead children. In their thousands each year, sacrificed on the altar of Mother Gaia by a priesthood of unquestioning faith. Unshakable faith, matched with overweening power, creating overwhelming carnage.

Just remember, though - these people are smarter and nicer than you are.

UPDATE 21 May 2009 20:31: Megan McArdle has another example of government scientists finding the politically expedient answer, despite the fact that it will kill sick people:
The most worrying thing here is the real possibility that the FDA got the result the EPA wanted. Will they be tempted to get the answer Medicare would like to hear about the relative merits of expensive medications?

Again, I'm not saying we shouldn't do CRE. But for all that Democrats are enjoying thinking of themselves as the Party of Guys in White Coats With The Answers, the binary discussion of CRE (we'll find what works!) is borderline religious in the way it treats government researchers.

Meme World! Party Time! Excellent!

OK, there are indeed three exclamation points in the title (!!!!1!one!!), but this is a Country & Western meme from JayG. I mean, if that doesn't deserve three exclamation points in the title, nothing does.
Okay, so there's two fiction inspired posts in one day today. This one's inspired by The Blues Brothers, the scene where they go to Bob's Country Bunker and wind up playing a country & western bar. Saw a clip of the start of that scene the other day, and it got me to thinkin'...

What could I sing in that scenario? Could I do an entire C&W set of songs I know by heart?
Jay, now that's just wavin' a red flag in front of a bull, good buddy.

Now, Country has a million songs, but slow down Cowpoke. We're gonna have to do some weedin' out:
  1. Disqualify great country songs that my voice simply can't do justice to. Anything by Martina McBride (Anyway) or Allison Krause (When You Say Nothing At All) goes here.
  2. Disqualify great songs where the material is simply not appropriate being sung by a guy. Kellie Pickler's "Red High Heels" or SheDAISY's "She Gets What I Deserve". Unless it's in a bar in Provincetown, MA, in which you get double points. If you know what I mean.
  3. Disqualify songs that I simply do not have the skill to sing. Anything from Cowboy Troy or Big and Rich goes here. I just couldn't pull it off.
With that, there's still a bunch of great honkey tonk songs that I know by heart, and can sing creditably. And no, I'm not afraid to perform in front of a crowd. Someday maybe I'll tell you about being out with The Guys from the Tokyo office, when I sang karaoke Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto ...

Where The Stars And Stripes And the Eagle Fly - Aaron Tippin
It's Five O'Clock Somewhere - Alan Jackson
One In A Row - Buddy Jewel
Wolves - Garth Brooks
Letters From Home - John Michael Montgomery
There Goes My Life - Kenney Chesney
Tattoos & Scars - Montgomery Gentry
I Just Wanna Be Mad - Terri Clark
The Cowboy In Me - Tim McGraw (have to change key; I'm a barritone)
Love Me If You Can - Toby Keith
One Hot Momma - Trace Adkins
T-R-O-U-B-L-E - Travis Tritt
The Song Remembers When - Trisha Yearwood
What the Cowgirls Do - Vince Gill

That's my fourteen. Now here are the ones that I'd like to be able to do, but simply could not possibly pull off:

I Play Chicken With The Train - Cowboy Troy (Me? Rap?)
Paris - Faith Hill (more like a show tune - you need actual talent)
Blacks and Whites - Phil Vasser (ditto)
Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy - Big & Rich (don't think I could perform the way this needs you to perform when you sing it)
Hurt - Johnny Cash (you have to live it to sing it; having lived it doesn't mean you can sing it)
Walking In Memphis - Lonestar (ditto)
The Moon and St. Christopher - Mary Chapin Carpenter (ditto ditto)
How Far - Martina McBride (I don't feel bad; nobody can sing like her)
Live Like You Were Dying - Tim McGraw (I don't think I could sing this without choking up)
'Til You Love Me - Reba McIntyre (beautiful song, but it's about a stalker; too creepy if it was sung my a dude)
Boondocks - Little Big Town (I can't do amazing, four-part harmony with myself)
All Night Long - Montgomery Gentry (I can't play guitar this well)
Somebody Like You - Keith Urban (I really can't play guitar this well)
Drinkin' Me Lonely - Chris Young (my voice doesn't remotely have the range to sing this)

This is not your Father's Netbook Linux

Moblin Linux is a joint project by Intel and Novell, and shows you what can happen when a couple of deep-pocket corporations put some wood behind the Netbook Linux arrow:
Moblin is Intel's Linux-based based mobile platform for netbooks and MIDs. It is heavily optimized for the Atom processor and is designed to work well on small form-factor devices. The project is gaining significant traction among Linux distributors and many have partnered with Intel to participate in the development effort. Individual distributors will integrate Moblin components into their own netbook platforms or build their own derivatives.
And combined with the eeePC 1008HA, you reach the state of want:

Vatican: The Internet is Blessed

According to Fr. Frederico Lombardi, SJ, Il Papa's head PR flack:

While some in the Church and other denominations will happily condemn the net - along with radio, TV, printing etc. - as instruments of the Devil, Lombardi concluded his speech by recalling Pope John Paul II's joy at being able to connect with Catholic Youth celebrations by TV, and declaring that "television is blessed".

Now, Lombardi said, "I shall have to work more – all of us shall have to work even harder, so that every day it will be more and more true, to say, and so that we might be able to say with greater and greater conviction: the internet is truly blessed!"

And hey, why not? Although as the Church finds Youtube, they'll find stuff like this (Safe for Work, but turn down your speakers unless folks have a -ahem- broad sense of humor).

And hey, why not? ... whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.

Or maybe something from the Song of Solomon ...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

Another favorite is gun control and "common sense regulation". Moving toward common ground for so many of the liberals means we have to agree to their position that 1.)Regulations are good, 2.) We don't have enough regulation, & 3.) That regulations will solve the problem.

Well, no. I don't have to agree to those.
From Bob S at 3 Boxes of BS (click through to see what they are). Bob was kind enough to blogroll me, and I followed a visitor back. Glad I did.

Welcome to the Borepatch blogroll, Bob. And get well soon.

If you lived your life like Twitter ...

... your best friends would shoot you.

Don't be this guy. Srlsy.

Hat tip: Steve Johnson's Pragmatic Marketing.

Chain Gang

You thought that the Devo song was allegory? Junior doesn't hit the books like you think he should?

You need the Study Ball!
For the low, low price of £75, you can shackle your student to his assignments (figuratively) and a 20 pound ball of iron (literally).

Concerned mums and dads set the desired study time on the Study Ball and attach it to their child's ankle.

A red digital display counts down the "Study Time Left" and the device beeps and unlocks when the time expires.

The prison-style device weighs 9.5 kg (21 pounds), making it difficult to move while wearing it.

It cannot be locked for more than four hours and comes with a safety key that allows the manacle to be opened at anytime.

See? It's safe! Has a "safety key" and everything.

Still no Macintosh patch

Come on, Apple. We've been waiting six months. Srlsy.

More than six months after Sun Microsystems warned that a flaw in its Java virtual machine made it trivial for attackers to execute malware on end users' machines, the vulnerability remains unpatched on Apple's Mac platform.

Most other operating systems, including Windows and major Linux distributions, fixed the bug months ago. That's a good thing given it is actively being exploited in the wild.
Actively exploited, no patch, months after the Boys From Redmond jumped to. All you Windows fanboys can stop smirking at the Mac crowd, please.

Java is the programming language from Sun Microsystems that runs on pretty much any device you see. This means that it's not your run-of-the-mill security problem:
"This bug, and others like it, are essentially 'write once, own all' type deals," Immunity researcher Bas Alberts wrote in an email to The Reg. "So yeah, they're fairly interesting to people on the offense side of the fence."
Note to Apple engineering: stop drinking the kool-aid and patch the bug, please. Sheesh.

Those of you with Macs, you're on your own until Apple takes care of business. Here's what you do:
  • Mac OS X users should disable Java applets in their browsers and disable 'Open "safe" files after downloading' in Safari.
  • Soylatte users running untrusted code should upgrade to an OpenJDK6-based release, where possible. No future releases of the JRL-based Soylatte branch are planned at this time. If this is an issue for you, please feel free to contact me.
  • No work-around is available for users otherwise running Java untrusted code.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

20% of teenagers claim to have hacking tools

Well, according to the press, or something:
According to Panda Security, we should take seriously the statistic it gathered from a survey of over 4,000 15 to 18 year-olds that nearly one in five of them have the knowledge to use ‘advanced' Internet-distributed hacking tools. Of that group, nearly a third claimed to have used them on at least one occasion.
Advanced tools, even. Well now. Pretty big news, wouldn't you say? You might indeed, if you (like Mr. John E. Dunn, our intrepid reporter) didn't read anything more than the Panda Press Release. If you read the actual study, you find this:
The surveys were carried out online
Stand down from Battle Stations, all.

And a quick, helpful note to Mr. Dunn: 98% of teenagers aged 15 to 18 claim to have gotten lucky last Friday night with that hot chick from advanced placement Calculus.

Well, they do.

Nuk Neh! De-Cloak Antivirus Device!

Sophos Antivirus has achieved an industry first: a Klingon translation for their antivirus scanner:

No, I'm not making this up. Via Slashdot, where (as always) the comments deliver:
What pitiful Klingon would need anti-virus protection? A true warrior relishes at the opportunity to die the perfect death at the hands of Canadian Pharmacy pop-ups.

Where can I find this dishonored warrior?
Err, right next to the dishonored warrior who left this at the top of their page?
$Header: index.html,v 1.2 2009/05/08 14:53:14 james Web page status: Draft 0.8. Req action: Mktg to review wording and imagery (better screenshots required etc..), and QA to check links. Expected launch date: July 2009. Software status: Ready. $
I'm sure that Sophos Marketing has nifty new screenshots coming. Along with an improved blurb (you did say Need some blurb here, didn't you?):

Now, I think that Sophos has a decent product, so I guess we should all appreciate the humorous touch here. Lord knows that there isn't enough hilarity in the Internet Security industry, so well done Sophos for lightening the doom and gloom. And in that vein, Slashdot has the last word, about whether Klingon Warriors use Windows:
Klingons don't use WIMP interfaces. [Windows Interface with Mouse Pointer - ed.]

A real warrior carves bits onto his harddrive with the tip of his Bat`leth.

Borepatch: The Internet Leader in Potty-Mouth

Oh dear.
Sorry, Mom. I shall endeavor to do better.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

To Old To Work, Too Young To Retire asks:
Should I install the MS Malicious Software Removal Tool? I ask because some people consider most stuff by MS to BE malicious software!
Well, assuming that you don't want to download loadlin, the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool really is the shizzle Flippity Floppity Floop.

Microsoft is doing something right here. As you can imagine, they see lots of malware, and they've packaged up the tool to delete it from your system.

And it's free. So well done, Microsoft.

Download it here, or run it online in your browser (Internet Explorer, of course - but it's OK just this once).

It's Personal

The Intellectual Class prides themselves on their superior thinking ability. It's how they entered their field (the University, or the media); it's how they advance once in it. Always the best students in the class, they learned very early how to collect information, how to sort the wheat from the chaff, how to muster the winning argument.

So it's been a bit of a mystery as to why so many lean towards, or are sympathetic to socialism. After all, it's not like there are a wealth of examples of successful socialist economies. Or any at all.

So what gives?

To understand it, you need to understand the Intellectual Class, and their view of their role. We can start a couple millenia ago, with Plato, in The Republic:
Socrates makes it clear that one is virtuous if and only if one is a philosopher. For we already knew that virtue requires knowledge, and now we learn that only the philosophers have knowledge (esp. 474b-480a).
Mind you, this may be nonsense on stilts, but this is the sort of thing a young member of the intellectual elite gets immersed in. Certainly I did, when I was a downy cheeked member of the "best and brightest."

OK, well so what? Eventually the overwhelming evidence of socialist failure will out, won't it? After all, there are no examples of successful socialist experiments, and many (and tragic) examples of its failures. Why the life long loyalty to an empty philosophy?

Well, everything you need to know about this, you can read at Megan McArdle's:
Yet writers are, as a class, extraordinarily at risk. They spend their twenties, and often their thirties, living paycheck to paycheck. They are extremely well educated, and all that education is not only expensive, but builds expensive habits. You end up with a lot of friends who make much more money than you--who don't even realize that a dinner with $10 entrees and a bottle of wine is an expensive treat, not a cheap outing to catch up on old times. Our business is in crisis, and we lose jobs often. When we do, it's catastrophic.

This is what David Brooks calls "status-income disequilibrium", and unless you are among that happy breed of writers who is married to someone with a high-paying job, or who has a trust fund, you feel it keenly. Everyone you write about makes more than you. Most of the people you know make more than you. And you come to feel that shopping at the farmer's market, traveling to Europe, drinking good coffee, are minimum necessities. Your house is small, your furniture is shabby, and you can't even really afford to shop at Whole Foods. Yet you're at the top of your field, working for one of the world's top media outlets. This can't be so.
It's personal. One is virtuous if and only if one is a philosopher. All this expensive intellectual training can't have been a waste - it must be that the system is rotten.

It's not at all astonishing that they cling to a socialism that promises them power and (relative) wealth. In fact, it would astonish if they weren't. They'd be on the barricades, except they're men (and women) of words, not deeds.

UPDATE 20 May 15:58: Holy cow, it's a T-Boltalanche! Thanks for the link, T-Bolt, and welcome all. If you like this, you might also like a series I wrote a bit back starting with the Founder's view of the 2nd Amendment (T-Bolt just had a post about this, too).