Friday, July 31, 2009

It's not what a man says that matters

It's what he does. There's your window to his soul.

Via Insty, the American Thinker posts this:

It made me think of this.

Wouldst thou have men speak good of thee? Speak good of them. And when thou hast learned to speak good of them, try to do good unto them, and thus thou will reap in return their speaking good of thee.

- Epictetus, ca 120 AD


It's an old chestnut that a statesman is a dead politician, but every now and then you run across a real statesman. Someone who puts leadership ahead of ego, promoting the common weal.

ASM826 asks an important question:
6. With your counselor's approval, choose a speech of national historical importance. Find out about the author, and tell your counselor about the person who gave the speech. Explain the importance of the speech at the time it was given, and tell how it applies to American citizens today. Choose a sentence or two from the speech that has significant meaning to you, and tell your counselor why.

What famous speech would you pick if given this assignment?
I'm cheating, since this wasn't a speech, but a letter. Sent from President Lincoln to General Grant upon the latter's capture of Vicksburg. Lincoln had been free in his advice to Grant during the campaign, all of which Grant had ignored.
I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did -- march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.
The sentence is this: I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.

This was a man who knew to keep his eyes on the prize. He knew that all history would remember was victory, and the sooner the bloody conflict was past, the sooner the country could start to heal. There have not been many since who would so put their ego aside for the good of the country, but this is what to look for in a leader.

From Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative.

Critical security update for Adobe Flash

You want this, because people are being attacked right now.

Adobe Systems Inc. today issued a security update to its Flash player to plug at least a dozen security holes in the software, including some that hackers have been using in to break into vulnerable systems.


The latest update brings Flash player to version Updates are available for most Flash installations on Windows, Mac and Linux machines. To find out what version of Flash you have, visit this page.

Flash is what makes Youtube work, so this is a high-value app for the Bad Buys to go after. You don't want to wait a week or three when there's attack code out there.

Up the system! Power Parking Spaces to the People!

Seems like San Francisco's nifty new e-Parking meters have all the security robustness and strength of moonbeams or cotton candy:
Hackers have figured out a way to trick San Francisco's computerized parking meter system into giving away unlimited free parking by cloning the smart cards used to pay fees.

Speaking at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, hackers Jacob Appelbaum, Joe Grand and Chris Tarnovsky said they were able to compromise the system by monitoring the communications that occur between the electronic meters and the smart cards. They were then able to carry out what's known as a replay attack, in which the communications were repeated on their own blank smart cards.

"We own the San Francisco parking meter system," Appelbaum said in an interview with El Reg. "They clearly did not do enough due diligence if at all from a security perspective. The idea that someone is not already exploiting it is sort of laughable."

Well knock me over with a feather. New public services introduced without any security?

Next thing you know, they'll say electronic voting isn't secure or something. Oh, wait ...

UPDATE 31 July 2009 10:49: More at Slashdot, where the comments are - as always - interesting. Including a discussion of Concealed Oscilloscope Permits. Really.

Epic security fail at Apple

Suppose you were a security guy at Apple. Suppose someone told you that a Bad Guy could take over anyone's iPhone just by sending it an SMS text message:
Researchers have uncovered a bevy of vulnerabilities in smart phones made by multiple vendors, including one in Apple's iPhone that could allow an attacker to execute malicious code without requiring the victim to take any action at all. The iPhone bug allows an attacker to take complete control of the coveted device simply by sending the owner an SMS, or short message service, message, said Charlie Miller, principal analyst at Independent Security Evaluators.
You'd think that someone would have thanked him for pointing this out, and rushed quick-like-a-bunny to get a patch, right? You'd think wrong:
He said he informed Apple's security team of the vulnerability several weeks ago and has yet to receive an official response.
Two words: Bush League.

It's Black Hat time again, as in the Black Hat Briefings, as in the world's premier security conference. Good security news a-comin' for the next bit.

Except from Apple. Even worse, the problem is caused by a rookie mistake in their code:
The bug resides in CommCenter, a service that's responsible for handling SMS, wireless and other functions in the iPhone. By default, it runs as root and isn't limited by an application sandbox. That makes it an ideal vector for taking control of the device. What's more, the messages are delivered automatically and often aren't easy for users to block.
This is why privilege is bad, mkay? Of course, both my regular readers already knew that.

So, your Jesus phone (and mine, too) can be pwned by any old Tom, Dick, or Harry, without me knowing about it or having to do anything, remotely. And Apple won't answer the phone. K3wL.

This says something really, really bad about Apple security. Nobody's home, nobody's listening, and nobody (maybe) will do something if there's a problem. There's an arrogance, and a sense that Bad Things only happen to other people that is really quite extraordinary.

Hey Apple, think different. Than you do right now, I mean.

UPDATE 31 July 2009 08:01: Added link to The Register. That's what I get for doing up the post at 11:30 at night ...

UPDATE 31 July 2009 17:02: Apple has a fix in iTunes 3.0.1. Connect your phone to your PC and click "Check for Update" in iTunes. So well done, Apple.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I have got to get back out to Black Hat

Because all the Cool Kids are there:
The DEFCON Shoot is a public event that happens just prior to the DEFCON hacker conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is an opportunity to see and possibly shoot some of the guns belonging to your friends while taking pride in showing and firing your own steel, as well, in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
Black Hat is more intellectual, more corporate, more buttoned-down. Corporate sponsorships and all that. DEFCON is the "let your hair down" and computer security Capture The Flag - on other people's computers (well, team competitions, anyway).

3 years ago I took #1 Son to Vegas for Black Hat. We didn't go to the shoot, which was a crying shame.

Paypal shutting down a Wounded Soldier Charity?

Dirtcrashr points to a post by Kevin Baker at Smallest Minority about how a raffle he is running to raise money for the Soldier's Angels charity got Soldier's Angels Paypal account shut down.

Seems Paypal doesn't like guns, possibly enough so that they'd stop all people donating to a charity that supports our wounded soldiers. Classy.

To gunbloggers, Kevin asks that you pass this along.
So where does that leave us? Well, you can call Soldiers' Angels and do a transaction over the phone. During normal business hours (PST) you can call (626) 529-5114, or you can call their voicemail service any time at (615) 676-0239, leave them a callback number and they'll get back to you - probably the less expensive option, timewise. It's not as convenient as a mouse click, but it beats snail-mailing a check.

You can also contact PayPal. Their Customer Service phone number is (402) 935-2050.

I've never asked this before, but I would appreciate it if every gun- and mil-blogger on the web and every gun board picked this up and spread it far and wide. I'm tired of gun-bigots. PayPal needs to hear from US - the law-abiding gun owners of this country - that we're no longer willing to just roll over when we're abused by the companies we "trust" just because we believe in and practice the rights guaranteed to us under the Second Amendment.
I'm late to the party, but would add this: Paypal is owned by eBay. You can also contact them at 866-934-9647 (press voice menu item #2).

You can also contact eBay Press Relations at (408) 376-7458. This is probably the most important thing that anyone can do. Please be polite, but let them know that they are at the beginning of a (so far) small but rapidly growing press nightmare, and they'll want to check into this. Ask them politely for a call back when they've had a chance to get to the bottom of things.

Believe me, if the media relations department gets a couple dozen calls asking why they're shutting down charities helping wounded soldiers, someone will check.

Remember, be polite!

UPDATE 7 August 2009 12:03:
Updated post here.

Science, explained

The Czar of Muscovy is a deeply insightful man. Not because he linked here (OK, that doesn't hurt), but because he explains how science really, really works:
Do scientists hold back on releasing data? You bet, just as Dr. Shiller did. And the reason he did was not because he feared a visit from the Men in Black Labcoats, but because he wasn’t 100% clear he had the data to support his suspicion. Good science can be triggered by a hunch, but it can never be supported by one: there must be evidence. And many scientists withdraw or redact their pet hypotheses if the data isn’t checking out. Peer review happens, and if you aren’t perfectly sure your data supports your claim, you’re sunk. This is what is happening with Global Warming right now: scientists have reviewed a lot of the data and declared it junk or flawed. Now they want to see the rest of it, and it is “disappearing.”
There's a lot of Junk Science to be found, especially when you look at the Global Warming scene. Some scientists are on the gravy train, and some are publicity hounds. But the scientific community in general is working more or less the way it always does.

Not sure what he does for a living, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he were a scientist, or was trained as one. RTWT.

You know, that reminds me of the time ....

Gator has a great post for any Yankees who ever lived in the South (or any southerners who ever knew a Yankee living down there). Kind of a 23 point Public Service announcement for the Yankees to help them settle in:
3. Remember: "Y'all" is singular. "All y'all" is plural. "All
y'all's" is plural possessive.
There's more, so much more. But it reminded me of when we first moved to Atlanta from Way Up North in Yankeeland. The moving van was being unloaded, so the neighbors came over to welcome us to the neighborhood (and you know, be all neighborly like). I was talking to my new next door neighbor when the man came off the van carrying my snow shovel. My neighbor broke up.

"Y'all won't need that. The Lord brings it; the Lord will take it away."

Man, I miss Atlanta.

Quote of the Day

If you have assumed a character beyond your strength, you have both played a poor figure in that, and neglected one that is within your powers.

- Epictetus, Golden Sayings (LXXIX)

Gentlemen, start your engines patches

Ladies too:
Microsoft issued two emergency updates on Tuesday to fix critical security bugs that leave users of Internet Explorer and an untold number of third-party applications vulnerable to remote attacks that completely commandeer their computers.
Windows Update is your friend, if you're of the Windows persuasion (Mac and Linux users are obviously not effected). So go ahead and click the link - you'll be glad that you did.

This is an interesting update for three reasons. First, it's an out-of-cycle update. Microsoft tries to hold all the updates and release them on "Patch Tuesday", the first Tuesday of each month. This makes it much, much easier for Microsoft customers to manage updates. The fact that this is released on a day that's not Patch Tuesday says that this is important stuff.

Second, one of the updates is for one of their development tools, Visual Studio. Gobs of software developers use this to create their own applications, and those applications may also be vulnerable.

Third, ActiveX is front and center. Both my regular readers are steeling themselves for another rant about how ActiveX is an Abomination unto the Lord. Well, it is:
As previously reported, one of the ATL bugs being squashed allowed attackers to bypass so-called kill-bit protections, which are used to seal off ActiveX controls that are later determined to be insecure or otherwise unreliable. The bug is significant because it has the effect of resurrecting vulnerabilities that were patched long ago.
So if you'd had a problem before, and patched it then, it may have come back again. No extra charge ...

So what's up with all this? Well the World's security community is gathering for the annual Black Hat Briefings, and all the Cool Kids are strutting their security stuff, showing off all the vulnerabilities they know:

This is only the ninth time Microsoft has issued security updates outside of its normal schedule. It comes as thousands of hackers and security professionals convene in Las Vegas for the Black Hat and Defcon conferences.

Already, Adobe has chimed in to say that its both its Flash and Shockwave media player applications use vulnerable versions of the ATL, but only versions of those programs that use IE are affected. The company plans to issue fixes. In the interim, users should be protected by installing the patch for MS09-034.


Smith and fellow researchers Mark Dowd and David Dewey plan to discuss one of the issue during this talk at Black Hat.
It'll be an interesting week. I'll keep you posted - Adobe is said to be preparing a set of fixes, too.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And while we're mocking music ...

What's one more?
OK, two more:Heh. Farce the Music is teh awesome.

Dear sweet Jesus, protect us

Steven Seagal's album, Songs from the Crystal Cave. Wikipedia is a little harsh:
The style can be described as "outsider country-meets-world music-meets-Aikido."
Ouch. But not as bad as the reviewer comments at Amazon:
I must say, after several listens in the comforts of my mom's basement and while drinking unsweetened grape Kool Aid from a goblet I made for a lady friend who didn't want it nor me, this album makes The Beatles look like The Monkees. Mr. Seagal, who is able to hit the high notes as if he was eunuch, really made me yorn for the days of when The Torkelsons was still on tv. This man needs to go on tour sharing his gift like Tom Cruise shares herpes. Bravo, ol' chap. Bravo.
Quality snark served up right there.

Hat tip: Farce the Music.

Bring popcorn

Rob Allen brings teh funny with Obama's birth certificate. But what's funnier is what crawls out of the woodwork and into his comments section. Boy, howdy.

Seems a lot of folks don't remember Dan Rather and the 2004 election.

As a public service to half his commenters, let me just say "Soylent is people!"


This man is a priest. He has faith, and makes personal sacrifices - financial and family, especially - in service to his calling. He gives of himself, for the benefit of others. The danger is compromising himself in service not of his faith, but of an establishment who looks to him to prop up a political and social structure.

Bad things have sometimes come from this, like the Albigensian Crusade, where maybe 100,000 people were put to the sword. Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. Kill them all. The Lord will know his own.

This man is, in a sense, also a priest. He also has faith, that the universe is intelligible to the human mind. He also often makes sacrifices - those scientists doing theoretical (as opposed to applied) research often make much less than their applied compatriots.

The danger to him is the same as to the other sort of priest - compromising his principles in support of an establishment looking to him to prop up the political establishment.

Bad things sometimes come from this, too. Like Eugenics. There's more than a casual sense that the theory of Man-made climate change is another.

What happens when you base your decisions on a shaky premise? More or less what you'd expect:
A recent industry study into the UK energy sector of 2030 - which according to government plans will use a hugely increased amount of wind power - suggests that massive electricity price rises will be required, and some form of additional government action in order to avoid power cuts. This could have a negative impact on plans for electrification of transport and domestic energy use.
Seems that wind power costs more - a lot more - than fossil fuels. This is why most electricity is generated by burning coal. Wind power will cost more, and that cost will be paid by someone. Ah, no matter, say the political establishment. After all, Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius:
... last Thursday, Anglesey Aluminium, the biggest consumer of electricity in Wales, announced that it would cease production, precisely because it could see no prospect of signing up to a long-term supply of electricity at a rate at which it could make a profit. And on the day of Miliband’s announcement, a group of Labour MPs presented a “Save Our Steel” petition, saying: “We need to make sure we act before the light goes out.” It may well be that the English steel mills will become unable to compete globally, even at current domestic energy prices; but deliberately to make them uncompetitive is industrial vandalism ...
This is a very interesting article, because of a particular juxtaposition made by the author, Dominic Lawson. He cites all sorts of numbers on the cost and (lack of) effectiveness of current green initiatives on one hand, and the moral posturing of the political establishment on the other:

Miliband’s citing of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech in support of his policy of subsidising the construction of many thousands of otherwise uneconomic wind turbines might appear grotesque, even comical; but not if you genuinely believe that Britain’s switching from coal to wind power for its electricity generation will save the lives of countless Africans.

I have no idea whether Miliband truly believes that it will - but if he does, he is deluded. The UK is responsible for less than 2% of global carbon emissions - a figure set to fall sharply, regardless of what we do, as a result of the startlingly rapid industrial-isation of countries such as China and India: each year the increase in Chinese CO2 emissions alone is greater than those produced by the entire British economy. On the fashionable assumption that climate change is entirely driven by CO2 emissions, the effect on global temperatures of Britain closing every fossil fuel power station would be much smaller than the statistical margin of error: in effect, zero.

Never mind that the numbers don't - and can't - work. Never mind that the data justifying action is suspicious. Action must be taken, and taken now, and never mind the consequences. They won't (much) fall on Oxford and Cambridge, but rather on Leeds and Wales (Detroit and West Virgina, to my American readers). And who really cares about them, any way? Caedite eos.

Interestingly, this isn't new - we've seen what happens when this sort of Kulturkampf economic policy is done over the course of a couple or three decades:
Today two principles now drive the political economy of the blue states—and so shape the Obama administration today. The first one is the relentless expansion of public sector employment and political power. Although traditional progressives such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Fiorello La Guardia, and Pat Brown built up government employment, they never contemplated the growth of public employee unions that have emerged so powerfully since the 1960s.


The only way to pay for these expenditures rests on the second key blue economic principle—the notion of an ever expanding high-end “creative economy.” This conceit is based on the notion that tangible things matter little and that, as former Wired magazine editor Kevin Kelly put it, “communication is the economy.”


Since [the "creative"] class had less need than traditional industries for basic infrastructure, a confluence of interest has emerged between the post-industrial elites and the public employees. Money raised from the monied post-industrial elite would essentially buy social peace by funneling largess not into improving the roads, subways, or ports but into the pockets of the public employees.
What's the downside to the Intellectual elites if energy prices double? They can afford another $100 a month, and their jobs are safe. Joe the Blue Collar steelworker? We'll have to do up a government skills training program for him, like Data Entry or something. And anyway, we really don't like all those grubby factories and smokestacks, anyway. Let China do that, a long, long way away. And we'll need more Chinese linguists then; every cloud has a silver lining and all that, what?

I've said many times that I think that the Republican Party is the Stupid Party. The poverty of intellect on display there is nothing short of astonishing. So to make the 2010 elections a little more interesting, here's the key to a massive win for them:

It's all about what the Democrats will do to the pocketbook of Blue Collar America, stupid.

The Democrats are in the pocket of the radical environmental movement, so this is a target-rich environment. Expect higher gas taxes? Tons of Democratic Party proposals. Higher electricity bills? Cap and Trade. Mileage standards that add hundreds of dollars to the price of a car? Cigarettes? Alcohol? Trans-fat? Take your pick of what's already been done to Blue Collar America.

There's no tax cut, no government program that the Democrats can promise that would add up anything close to the thousands of dollars a year that Joe Blue Collar pays right now.

Add up the number, and talk about it. And keep talking about it. And point out what the number will be when Health Care is run from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Democratic Party coalition is massively mal-adapted to survive in that environment - all they know is how to mouth pious platitudes about the working man, while keeping the real message to themselves. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

I'd say "you're welcome", but this is. after all, the Stupid Party.

An update on the UK Meterological Office

Last week, I posted that the UK Met Office refused a Freedom of Information Act request to release a data set that is being used to justify the theory that man is causing global warming.

The story is not being reported in the Mastodon Main Stream Media, but is showing no signs of dieing down. Slashdot has a furious thread where the debate is raging on what this means about science. Neither of my two regular readers will be surprised at some of the arguments being made that data and method needs to be disclosed in full so that anyone - especially your opponents, who have a vested interest - can test them.

But this really sums up my feelings on the matter:

The thing I cannot understand is this. We have a bunch of scientists, lots of them. Starting with Michael Mann in front of Wegman, but including Jones, Thompson, lots of really well known and respected people. They have all done work which supposedly proves that the human race on Earth is facing catastrophe. They supposedly have decisive evidence for this, in the form of data and code.

We then have a lot of sceptics who allege that the data does not exist, is not as described, and the code used to process it does not do what it is said to do, and that there is no such threat as described, or at leas that there is no evidence for one.

You would expect the scientists to immediately produce their evidence and their code and to silence debate once and for all. It would be so simple, it would just be end of story, and now lets focus on what to do about it all. But they do not. Instead they refuse to reveal anything. Jones, for instance, refused to even reveal the names of the stations in China on which his study was based. Mann would not reveal the algorithm which generated the hockey stick to a Congressional Committee. Thompson is silent. Yet supposedly this secret evidence proves decisively, contrary to the claims of sceptics, that the future of the human race is under severe and imminent threat?

It makes absolutely no sense. They never give any reasons for refusing that make any sense either. Sometimes it is commercial considerations. What commercial considerations can there be that outweigh the possible extinction of humanity? Sometimes it is, as Jones once is reported to have said, that they do not want people trying to poke holes in it. WTF??? Sometimes, as with Thompson's ice core data, there is just silence.

It is very hard to believe that this wonderful evidence really exists, and really is as represented. Or maybe it is, and they really do not want to convince everyone of the threat? I don't know, but the story as told makes absolutely no sense. Something is not right here.

Bingo. +5 Insightful, right there.

There's something going on all right. Ockham's Razor says that it's not scientific. Nothing else remotely makes sense.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What I did know about health care

Kate at Small Dead Animals has a very interesting post about Canadian vs. American care.

What I didn't know about health care

Uninsured people are about as healthy as insured people are:
If insurance companies do avoid covering people who are "likely to need care," this suggests that the uninsured are unhealthy. But 60% of the uninsured are in excellent health (Table 10) (In fact, overall the uninsured are only slightly less healthy than the insured).
Hat Megan McArdle, who has a pretty interesting analysis.

OK, but only one

I mentioned that this blog was tragically nude-free. Can't have that.

What, you were expecting something different?

Some folks are fixin' to be disappointed

It seems that has made me the top result for "erin andrews nude pix". Oh, boy. Google, too.

My blog is sadly - tragically, even - nude free. Not that we don't appreciate the fairer sex, of course. Particularly when well armed.

And let me repeat what I said in the post that seems to be CNN flypaper:
So if you absolutely must chase smut, don't use Internet Explorer, don't click through to any "security" sites you see advertised at the smut shop, and don't download any helpful "security" programs from the smutters.

I kind of think that this all goes without saying, but a million pwned computers in the global botnet zombiepocalypse army would tell me that I'd be wrong.
No extra charge - it's all part of the service.

But it's given me a great new tag name ...

Monday, July 27, 2009

I just don't get it

I turned the TV to a channel I hadn't seen before - The Wealth Channel. Something about the Hapsburg dynasty, kind of low budget history in a early-days-of-PBS kind of way. That's not what I don't get.

It was followed by "Africa Safari Somethingorother". Hmmm, said I - let's give this a shot. Well, after 15 minutes, I realized that nothing was actually, you know, going to be shot. And everything looked so yummy.

I guess I've been reading too much over at Albert's place.

Daily Stoic

Ever seeking Tranquility without, you seek her where she is not to be found; and where she is, there you don't seek her.

- Epictetus of Phyrgia (AD 55 - ca 135)

James Stockdale said that Epictetus was what got him through 7 years of emprisonment and torture in North Vietnam.

Nolo Contendre

The legal principle of nolo contendre is a legal principle where a defendant does not dispute the charges, while simultaneously refusing to admit to guilt (it is typically translated as I do not wish to contend). It is often termed "No Contest".

Ilya Somin over at Volokh posts that you're probably a felon. And in the spirit of full disclosure, here is my dirty laundry, hung out on Al Gore's Intarwebz:

"1. Used any of the hundreds of substances banned by federal law, including smoking small amounts of marijuana and the like when you were in college."

Well, yeah. It was the 1970s. Now I never much cared for it, and only did it 3 or 4 times. I preferred alcohol as my poison of choice, and as the song says didn't have any regrets to drown but tried to anyway - but yeah. Never mind that the Statues of Limitations have run out, it wasn't enough to keep me from getting a Top Secret security clearance back in the early 1980s.

"2. Underpaid federal taxes (often even inadvertently)."

Beats me. Between living in the UK for a year and being in the Internet startup game for a decade, I have absolutely no idea how to do my taxes anymore. I have the best CPA in the land, and no intention to change.

But could the prosecute me for something here? Who knows? If they do, I plan to invoke the "Geithner Defense". Other than the "My taxes are too dang high already" defense.

"3. Cut corners in your business dealings."

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Looking at the mail fraud case Somin linked, it makes me wonder if selling something on eBay could get you to the Big House.

"4. Mishandled supposedly dangerous substances or did a poor job of supervising workers who handled them."

Paint. Malathion, household solvents. We've had a bunch of stuff that the movers wouldn't ship for us. I'd tell you what we did with it, but might get in trouble or something ....

"5. Violated a wide range of miscellaneous federal regulations."

This one is a lock. We can start with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). All I can say is that I'm a trained professional, and don't try this at home.

So that's me. What're you in for?

From: God To: Fed.Gov Subject: Shape Up

About the first thing a larval hacker learned, back in the day, was how to forge email. It's trivially easy, and frankly I'm not letting the cat out of the bag by showing you here. There's a point to all of this, but first I want to show how trivially easy it is to do this.

Disclaimer: You know this, but don't try this at home. Srlsy.

Telnet is the program Unix machines use to log in across the network. It's horribly insecure, but sadly ubiquitous. Basically, it takes a character (or line) that you type on your computer, wraps it up in network packets, and sends it across the network to the other computer, which handles it like it was typed directly on the keyboard there.

A cool thing about telnet is that you don't have to use the normal telnet port (TCP/23); you can use any old port that you want. If there isn't some program listening on the other computer, this won't do you any good. But if there is something - like email - listening on the other side, you can send data directly to the program. In this case, you can forge email.

Here's what it looks like:
First, I open command prompt & go to telnet client by typing telnet.. Below is the session:

Microsoft Telnet>o 25
220 ESMTP Sendmail Version 8.x.x; Mon, 28 Sept. 2008;
We do not allow to send fake or bulk emails...
250 Hello Nice to meet you..
250 Sender Ok
250 Recipient Ok
354 Enter mail, end with "." on a line by itself..
I am Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft. I would like to offer you a job for Microsoft

Corporation. If you are interested to work with Microsoft, then reply me at my mail address.
Bill Gates
250 2.0.0 iF3NDLS240106 Message Accepted For Delivery.
My first one was a little different - I sent it from ""* but it's exactly the same. Fake.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, it seems that the UK.Gov is spinning up criminal investigations based solely on an email they received:

Exclusive The government faces accusations of technical incompetence and waste after it went to the High Court to shut down the Fathers 4 Justice website, wrongly claiming campaigners had threatened to publish the home addresses of 237 judges.

Lawyers for Matt O'Connor, the controversial group's founder, are now preparing action against the Ministry of Justice to recover costs and damages from taxpayers. He alleges civil servants failed to perform basic checks on the origins of the threat before launching a legal attack.

The battle began in late June, when the Ministry of Justice received an email falsely purporting to come from O'Connor. It said Fathers 4 Justice would expose judges on its website as revenge for perceived unfairness in family court decisions.

The UK.Gov got an injunction forcing Fathers 4 Justice to take their web site down. Fathers 4 Justice complied, and appealed, asking for the email. Guess what they found:

"I'm not a techie but any fool could have looked at the Message-ID and seen it was a fake - a 10-year-old could have done it," O'Connor told The Register, adding that no attempt was made to verify the email by contacting him directly.

"Someone there is either extremely gullible or vindictive."

Let's leave aside the question about whether the UK.Gov would have targeted say, a mother's group, or a minority rights group, as opposed to white males. What's clear is that there are a bunch of mouth breathers in the UK Ministry of Justice. Mouth breathers that can get court orders.

I know that the *.Gov exempts itself from Criminal Negligence statutes, but this seems to rise to that occasion.

Oh, and one last word to the wise: Don't do this at home. Srlsy.

* Heaven is a non-profit organization, so it has a .org domain.

It's spelled "Hai". Srlsy

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sorry to disappoint you

Barack is very disappointed with me!

I only scored 21 on the Obama Test

Hat tip: Ballot, Soap, Jury, Ammo.

What if healthcare is a human right?

Marko sees a bumpersticker on a Soylentmobile:

Yesterday morning, on my weekly sojourn into town for Dadcation Day, I spotted a bumper sticker in the Borders parking lot that had me shaking my head:


He then shines the light of logic on the whole thing. You'll pick up 5 IQ points just from reading it. But the whole thing got me thinking. What if we take the hippies at their word? If we assume - for the sake of argument - that healthcare realy is a human right, what do we find?

Hint: nothing that will make the hippies happy.

Let's think about rights, in this country, at least. As defined in the Constitution, there is a common theme:

The right of free speech, religion, and assembly:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The right of self defense, and defense of your home and country:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The right not to have unwanted government guests:
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right to be left alone:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
And on, and on, and on. Every single one of the amendments in the Bill of Right stops the government from doing something, except two: the 6th and 7th, which deal exclusively with the workings defined in Article III - the judiciary.

So there is simply no current example of any right like is currently proposed in the "HEALTH CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT" formulation. In fact, if you were to apply a Bill of Rights approach to healthcare, it would look something like this:

Congress shall pass no law restricting the people's access to health care.

So where's the fly in the ointment? Government is going to restrict people's health care, once they control the system. They have to, or it will bust the budget. Agreed, there's rationing today - your insurance company won't pay for everything, either, because it will bust their budget. But your insurance company isn't dressing up their marketing brochures with fancy talk about human rights.

So, a right is something that the government is (or should be) prohibited from restricting. The government will (by necessity) restrict your health care once they run the system. Thanks so very much for playing, and remember: Soylent is people.

Lost and found

Paladin has a great post about family, and searching for the lost family cemetary:
At some point, the headstones were uprooted and the gravesites were plowed over and put in cultivation. The headstones were hauled off into the woods and dumped. The story of the misplaced headstones drifted around our family for many years and had almost died out by the time I learned of it. Nobody seemed to know exactly where the headstones had ended up. At that time my Grandmother was still living in Louisiana, not far from the area where all this took place so many years ago. We went for a visit around the holidays every year, and I decided to take the opportunity to do a little snooping around.
That's all I'll quote, because you need to read the whole thing. We carry our history with us every day. Sometimes it's a burden, but sometimes - as Paladin shows - it's a triumph.

Core, not Context

L'affair Obama-Gates-Crowley isn't going sway. The first reaction is "this is trivial; get over it". It isn't, and it won't. Surprisingly, marketing tells us why.

Geoffrey Moore introduced the ideas of Core and Context in his book Living On The Fault Line. He was trying to describe how a corporation's executive management should prioritize their employee's (and their) time. A task was core if it could effect the stock price; everything else was context. Essentially, this is a "stick to your knitting" analysis.

The Crowley brouhaha is core for Obama. We can tell this by three reactions that happened over the weekend. Remember, weekend is where PR flacks send bad news to die, but these happened anyway:

1. The House of Representatives is considering a bill to demand that Obama apologize to Crowley. It's sponsored by a Republican, so it has the feel of "dog bites man." What's interesting is that Rep. McCotter thinks this has legs - otherwise, he wouldn't have introduced it.

2. In news of "man bites dog", Democratic mayor Richard Daley says that Obama blew it. Daley is from Obama's home town of Chicago, so this is very unexpected. Of course Daley would think this, but why on earth would he say it?

3. Obama dropped again in Rassmussen's daily tracking poll, to net -11. The other two are reflections of this, although the devil - and the interesting bits - is in the details.

Core and Context. Politically, anything that can move Obama's political fortunes is core. This incident is effecting his political fortunes: his popularity is dropping, political enemies think he's weakened enough that they can strike, and nominal political allies think he's weakened enough that they don't cover for him. Why?

During the campaign, Obama had two unstated but assumed attributes that attracted much of his support from independent voters: the promise of a post-racial America, and the promise of a well thought out vision for America (spun by the media as "moderate" even though it wasn't). Here's the money quote from Rassmussen:
The President is now seen as politically liberal by 76%. That’s up six points from a month ago, 11 points since he was elected, and the highest total to date. Forty-eight percent (48%) now see him as Very Liberal, up 20 points since he was elected ...
So much for that "well thought out" moderate vision thing. Now add Crowley, which belies the post-racial thing. Obama's coat tails were tied to this vision of the man. In a thoughtless, off-the-cuff moment, he let the mask slip, and the nation saw it. He devalued his brand, as the marketing people would say; and devalued brands simply are never repaired. Ever.

And so both enemy and friend start sharpening the political long knives.

Obama is certainly not finished, but he's hurt himself more than people realize. Of course the democrats will continue to support him. Of course the republicans will continue to oppose him. But the independents are shifting away from him, because they think that they know how he ticks - and they don't like it. I believe that historians looking back will see this as one of the key moments in his presidency.

UPDATE 26 July 2009 10:05: As a postscript, I wonder if this might effect the Sotomayor SCOTUS vote. Her "wise latina woman" comment might be seen very differently through the lens of the Crowley incident.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It seems that there's a market for free Internet blather

I haz it. Purveyors of fine blather since June, 2008. 50,000 served, although some are from parts unknown.

Yesterday's Tamalanche and today's JayGalanche pushed things over the top, but it's quite strange to see things running at around 2,000 hits a week or so. There's clearly a market for free, downloadable blather. Glad to do my part.

Thanks to the folks who stop by regularly.

Quote of the Day

I found myself in Bayou Renaissance Man's archives (not a bad thing to find yourself doing, BTW), and found this which sums up my feelings on President Obama's remarks about the Cambridge police department:
I'm reminded of the old, wise pastor who was one of my instructors before ordination. I asked him once what he considered to be the worst sin an average person was likely to commit. He snorted. "The sins of the flesh, which most people put in headlines, are so common as to be almost petty. The worst sin?" He paused thoughtfully. "To my mind, that has to be to take away someone else's good name. If you gossip, or spread falsehoods, or slander somebody, the damage you do can never be undone. You can stand in the middle of the public square, and cry aloud that you'd lied, and what you'd said wasn't true: but there will always be those who'll assume you don't mean it, or were made to recant under pressure. They'll continue to believe the worst of the person you initially defamed, and continue to spread your initial falsehoods about them. Since such damage can never be undone, I think that's about the worst sin of which I can conceive for ordinary people.

Give 'til it hurts

Ready to head out to the Goodwill store? Better go over the checklist of items to drop off:

Clothes the kids have outgrown? Check.

Ugly Father's Day neckties? Check.

Claymore landmine? Check.
A land mine recently left at a thrift store was authentic -- but luckily inert.


A Goodwill employee familiar with military explosive devices found the land mine. An area strip mall was evacuated and a bomb squad called in.
I blame the Gun Show Loophole. We clearly need some "Common Sense" Landmine Control laws.

Mary Chapin Carpenter - The Moon And St. Christopher

This week was the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the 37½th anniversary of our last visit. Bittersweet memories.

Nothing captures this feeling better than Mary Chapin Carpenter's song, The Moon And St. Christopher. She described this mood in one of her bi-monthly columns in the Washington Times:
The interconnected themes of regret and redemption -- not to mention that of the mighty and the proud getting their inevitable comeuppance -- have long been rich veins mined by artists, particularly in traditional country music.
Carpenter was one of Country's biggest stars in the 1990s, winning five Grammys in four years between 1992 and 1995. Her 1990 platinum album Shooting Straight in the Dark was followed by 1992's quadruple platinum Come On Come On and 1994's double platinum Stones in the Road. And then the commercial success was gone. Which is a shame if you, like me, like songs with more depth than the typical Country Pop du jour.

The Moon and St. Christopher (Songwriter: Mary Chapin Carpenter)
When I was young I spoke like a child, and I saw with a child's eyes
And an open door was to a girl like the stars are to the sky
It's funny how the world lives up to all your expectations
With adventures for the stout of heart, and the lure of the open spaces

There's 2 lanes running down this road, whichever side you're on
Accounts for where you want to go, or what you're running from
Back when darkness overtook me on a blind man's curve

I relied upon the moon, I relied upon the moon
I relied upon the moon and Saint Christopher

Now I've paid my dues cause I have owed them, but I've paid a price sometimes
For being such a stubborn woman in such stubborn times
I have run from the arms of lovers, I've run from the eyes of friends
I have run from the hands of kindness, I've run just because I can

But now I'm grown and I speak like a woman and I see with a woman's eyes
An open door is to me now like the saddest of goodbyes
It's too late for turning back, I pray for the heart and the nerve

I rely upon the moon, I rely upon the moon
I rely upon the moon and Saint Christopher

I rely upon the moon, I rely upon the moon
I rely upon the moon and Saint Christopher
To be my guide

Friday, July 24, 2009

Through the Looking Glass, and out the other side

Yesterday, I posted about what I was doing trying to replace the old cotton twine that was the strap for the old family powder horn. Well, tons of you (OK, four of you) left comments with links to sites historical, and to sites catering to re-enactors. Straps (excuse me: lanyards) galore!

And what did I find was the most popular? Rawhide - exactly the stuff I bought. And so, a braided strap lanyard for the powder horn.

I know that my daddy put the old cotton twine on it these sixty years ago, but even he said it looked bad. This has the feel for what a mid-nineteenth century hunter might have had. And now the horn proudly takes its place on the wall Chez Borepatch.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment. This was all much simpler than I feared it would be!

UPDATE 24 July 2009 17:58: Fixed a (inadvertently) funny typo. Thanks, Scotaku!

UPDATE 25 July 2009 13:37: Welcome visitors from MArooned! Thanks, Jay - it's quite an honor to be referenced as "gun pr0n" by you! To new visitors, the story of the rifle is here.

Natural Law

The Stoic philosophers are an under-rated bunch. Bertrand Russell offers the typical reaction, in his A History of Western Philosophy:
There is, in fact, an element of sour grapes in stoicism. We can't be happy, but we can be good. Let us therefore pretend that, so long as we are good, it doesn't matter being unhappy. This doctrine is heroic, and in a bad world, useful; but it is neither quite true nor, in a fundamental sense, quite important.
The most famous of the Stoic philosophers, of course, is the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. In his Meditations, he wrote of:
... a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed ...
This was from the Big Guy himself, back around AD 170 to 180. While he clearly did not mold his Empire to fit this vision, educated society did pick up this notion of jus naturale - Natural Law. The early Church absorbed it from the upper classes, and it ultimately flowered in the Renaissance, and especially the Enlightenment.

Compare: a ... government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed ...

with: ... deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Some "sour grapes". Somehow, I don't think that the old Emperor would be surprised at the fruits of his pen. After all, he wrote this in Meditations:
How ridiculous and unrealistic is the man who is astonished at anything that happens in life.

The first rule of a gun fight ...

... is bring a gun:
A 74-year-old man shot and wounded a teenager who attempted to carjack him with a knife early this morning in southwest Houston, police said.


When the victim got out of his car, he told investigators that the teen came up to him and pressed a knife against his throat.

"He said, 'Give me your car or I'll kill you,'" said Victor Senties, a spokesman for the Houston Police Department.

The victim was able to reach inside his car to get a pistol. He fired two shots at the suspect, Senties said.

[Pause to let cheers die down]

Alas, it's not another to add to Jay's Dead Goblin count, as the suspect is in the Hospital in fair condition. But Bravo Zulu to Mr. Peters.

Hat tip: Don via email.

Professor Henry Gates is an elitist Donkey

I only say "donkey" because I'm too polite to say "Jack@ss":

The Cambridge cop prominent Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. claims is a racist gave a dying Reggie Lewis mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in a desperate bid to save the Celtics [team stats] superstar’s life 16 years ago Monday.

“I wasn’t working on Reggie Lewis the basketball star. I wasn’t working on a black man. I was working on another human being,” Sgt. James Crowley, in an exclusive interview with the Herald, said of the forward’s fatal heart attack July 27, 1993, at age 27 during an off-season practice at Brandeis University, where Crowley was a campus police officer.

But wait, there's more:
The white police sergeant criticized by President Barack Obama for arresting black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his Massachusetts home is a police academy expert on understanding racial profiling.

Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley has taught a class about racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black, said Academy Director Thomas Fleming.

"I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a police officer. He is very professional and he is a good role model for the young recruits in the police academy," Fleming told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Gates, however, says the Sgt. Crowley is a racist. So let's ask the question: Who has advanced his career by highlighting and exploiting race?
As a black intellectual and public figure, Gates has been an outspoken critic of the Eurocentric literary canon and has instead insisted that black literature must be evaluated by the aesthetic criteria of its culture of origin, not criteria imported from Western or European cultural traditions that express a "tone deafness to the black cultural voice" and result in "intellectual racism."
No wonder he sees racism everywhere, even in Cambridge. He's a professional. Meanwhile, Sgt. Crowley is being taught to keep his place.

Glad to see President Hopenchange leading us to that post racial future.

UPDATE 24 July 2009 10:06: Welcome visitors from View From The Porch, and thanks Tam! Take a look around. One thing that I didn't say in my post (but this is a great time to add) is that Cambridge, Massachusetts is Ground Zero for political correctness. You knew that.

But Cambridge has an African-American Mayor, Massachusetts has an African-American Governor, and you all know about President Hopenchange. Every one of them is a member of the same closed circle of lefty elitists as Gates. It's unsurprising that they've all closed ranks with this Harvard Jackass. I'd say disappointing, but my expectations of the lot of them weren't that high to start with.

I can't say that I'm a big fan of Unions, but this case is the poster child for why we need them - to protect the little guy from the Bosses. Good grief - I'm channeling Joe Hill. God save this Honorable Republic ...

UPDATE 24 July 2009 11:54: I don't know why this cracks me up, but it does. #1 out of 600 Million ...

Update 25 July 2009 17:57: It's even worse. Boy, Howdy. Gates running a charity that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars but only gives tens of thousands in charitable grants?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This is the worst malware I've ever seen

Srlsy. Don't open that email. Even Linux won't help your security.

Duct Tape

It seems you really can fix just about everything with it, including Lunar Rovers.


Generally to be considered "scientific", something has to be falsifiable - where anyone can try to duplicate your observations or results. If there's no way that this can be done, then the thing cannot be held to be scientific. Carl Sagan used a typically accessible parable that illustrated this critical part of the Scientific Method:

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"

Suppose (I'm following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

"Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle -- but no dragon.

"Where's the dragon?" you ask.

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."

[Lots of ingenious tests for the dragon's existence presented and explained away.]

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder.
So the primary - perhaps singular - requirement of science is data. Access to data (to see if someone made a mistake or to compare it to a different set of data) is simply a given, if something is to be considered scientific. Otherwise, how is the hypothesis falsifiable? The assertions would be immune to disproof.

An interesting thing is going on in the Global Warming debate - one group of scientists (the global warmers) is refusing to release their data. Steve McIntyre asked the UK Meteorologic Office to send him their data, so he could check it:
You stated that CRUTEM3 data that you held was the value added data. Pursuant to the Environmental Information Regulations Act 2004, please provide me with this data in the digital form, together with any documents that you hold describing the procedures under which the data has been quality controlled and where deemed appropriate, adjusted to account for apparent non-climatic influences
They said no. Their reasons were very, very interesting:
The Met Office received the data information from Professor Jones at the University of East Anglia on the strict understanding by the data providers that this station data must not be publicly released.
Well now. Leaving aside whether the University of East Anglia in general, and Professor Jones' projects in particular are publicly funded, doesn't this make it hard to analyze the public policy recommendations related to climate change? The Met Office heartily agrees:
We considered that if the public have information on environmental matters, they could hope to influence decisions from a position of knowledge rather than speculation. However, the effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between states and international organisations. This relationship of trust allows for the free and frank exchange of information on the understanding that it will be treated in confidence. If the United Kingdom does not respect such confidences, its ability to protect and promote United Kingdom interests through international relations may be hampered.
Well, well, well.

So what can we say about any conclusions, recommendations, or reports issued by the UK Met Office, that are based on this data? They are unfalsifiable.

McIntyre is very unpopular indeed among the Global Warming set, because he focuses on their data. He's the reason that you never hear about the "Hockey Stick" any more - he found that the data was cooked and the computer model was buggy, in a way that produced the hockey stick shaped curve. How bad is the data? Some of it no longer exists:
In passing, I mention an important archiving problem. Pete Holzmann identified actual tags from the Graybill program. We found that 50% of the data had not been archived. Was this selective or not? No one knows. Graybill died quite young. His 21 notes were notoriously incomplete. Worse, when the Tree Ring Laboratory moved a few years ago, apparently they forgot to arrange for old samples to be protected. Their former quarters were destroyed. Some of the records were apparently recovered from the trash by one scientist but others are permanently lost.
This is what the IPCC's $50 Trillion recommendation is based on. RTWT. The situation isn't just worse than you think. It's worse than you can possibly imagine. And some of you have quite good imaginations.

The science is settled, you see, but no, you can't have the data. You can't even see what was done to quality control the data, because it might damage a government's ability to protect it's national interests.

Oops, gotta go. It's those darn Deniers, back on my lawn again ...

UPDATE: More on the UK Met office here.

Through the looking glass

I needed a long rawhide cord for the powder horn, so I could hang it with the old family musket. So I went off to AC Moore, a big craft store.

While looking through 87 rows of craft supplies for rawhide, I made a wrong turn in Albuquerque and ended up in the knitting section.

Boy, howdy, there sure are a lot of different sorts of yarn. Colors, textures, sizes. There are clearly a lot of folks who knit.

But I found my rawhide. Now I'm trying to figure out whether to use a single loop, or get fancy and braid several strands before tying it to the horn. I don't have any idea how people used to carry their power horns - if anyone has any better idea, let me know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A word to the wise about those Erin Andrews pix

You do know that they're filled with malware, don't you?

Supposed hidden camera footage of US sports reporter Erin Andrews on offer online often leads to malware, security firm Sophos warns.

Websites claiming to provide nude video of glamorous ESPN reporter Erin Andrews are in reality a trick designed to trick both Windows and Mac surfers into installing malware. Hackers are taking advantage of hype around supposedly covert footage of the glamorous reporter to distribute Trojan horse malware.

Malicious code ultimately designed to fleece users by tricking them into buying rogue security software of little or no utility is hosted on sites that can pose as affiliates of reputable news outlets, such as CNN. In reality the sites are complete fakes, but smut-seeking surfers might still find their way onto them anyway because of the use of black hat search engine optimisation techniques.

So if you absolutely must chase smut, don't use Internet Explorer, don't click through to any "security" sites you see advertised at the smut shop, and don't download any helpful "security" programs from the smutters.

I kind of think that this all goes without saying, but a million pwned computers in the global botnet zombiepocalypse army would tell me that I'd be wrong.

I don't think that's what was meant by "Reactive Target" ...

Just sayin'.

What do you want for Christmas?

How about a 1/8 scale, jet powered, radio-controlled SR-71?



UPDATE 22 July 2009 10:51: Via Brad_in_MA in the comments:
Video? We got video. Below's an almost 3-minute segment of a test flight.

I've flown RC. I've seen good RC pilots. The fellow flying his 13' SR-71 is damned good. His craft is also powered w/ 2 gas turbine engines rated at 30# thrust each.
I love the barrel roll. Brad's right, although I'd say he's insanely good.

Quote of the Day

Sailor Curt hits center mass on Chuck Schumer:
I think what he meant to say was "Right now, when you walk down the streets in New York or Nassau County or Westchester County, you can have the solace of knowing that if someone has a gun on them, there's about a 99 percent probability that they're a criminal. After this law, there's a good possibility that they might be a law abiding citizen...we can't have that."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Download complete in 3 .. 2 .. 1 .. 3 ..


Why I'm a Global Warming Skeptic, part II

It seems that yesterday I fed the trolls.

I followed an interesting Sitemeter hit back to a blog where people were discussing Global Warming. Fellow Northeast Gunblogger Weer'd Beard had left a comment there pointing to my original post about why I'm a Global Warming skeptic.

A comment there replying to Weer'd basically said that I was spouting nonsense, and ended:
This is all just the same bogus junk science and fake petitions and other nonsense I've seen pop up all across the blogosphere. And most of that stuff can be traced back to oil, coal and gas industry astroturf campaigns.

You've been had, and so has your friend in the Bore Patch.
Well, then. I left a comment in reply summarizing the primary cause of my skepticism, which is that we've just come out of a climatic period called the "Little Ice Age", where we have historical records showing warming over around 300 years. The Little Ice Age was preceded by the Medieval Warm Period which was warmer than things are now. Most pertinent to the current climate debate, none of the computer models explain the shift from Medieval Warm Period to Little Ice Age, or why we came out of it in the 1700s and 1800s.

And this is where I made my mistake. I assumed that folks on the left were interested in an exchange of views, with an opportunity to examine new evidence and debate facts. Instead, here is a sample of the "enlightened" responses:
Wow, Ted, you're a twit.

You may be reading books/reports, but you most certainly don't seem to be comprehending them.
There is scientific fact, and then there's BS junk science peddled by flat-earthers like Ted. I'll stick with real science, thank you.
Oh, and some airbrushing to try to remove the Medieval Warm Period. Most interesting was this comment, though:
"None of the models explain why the Medieval Warm Period was warm. None of them explain why the Little Ice Age was cold. None of them explain the transition between them, which is around 3 times the magnitude of the worst case warming scenarios today, and around ten times the "consensus" estimates." [my comment - ed.]


Obviously, the trool has never bothered to take a science class, preferring instead to memorize and spout inane republic talking points.

Here's the deal, troolie -
The Greenhouse Effect is very simple science. I understood it in the 7th grade.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Burning hydrocarbons (i.e. fossil fuels - aka gasoline) yields CO2 and water. CO2 has been increasing in the atmosphere over the past several decades. The source is burning of gasoline.

The mean global temperature has been increasing over the last several decades. This tracks with the increase in CO2 and the increase in the burning of gasoline.

Real scientists say this. Not politicians, not paid oil company hacks. Real scientists.

That's all she wrote.
Translation: God said it, I believe it, that settles it. And I think you meant Republican talking points, Scooter.

Ironically, these folks all seem to absolutely believe that they represent the Defenders of Science, while dismissing inconvenient arguments and piling on Judenwissenschaft ad hominem attacks. Sadly, they're not by any means the only ones, as Bjorn Lomborg could tell you.

And this is why I'm very skeptical about the whole Mankind-is-causing-climate-change thing. Counter arguments are not met with scientific discussion, the arguers are trashed as enemies. This obviously isn't science coming from the pro- Global Warming side, and so I wonder what else isn't science. Adding in the sorry history of fraudulent data presented as evidence for their cause, and the brutal "remedies" proposed, my BS meter is pegged.

And this is a shame, actually. I'm quite ready to agree that the climate is changing. I'm even willing to be convinced that we're at the heart of it. I am not willing to be steamrollered.

Jim seems strangely out of place, but puts his sarcastic finger on things over in the comments:
Why bring history into this Ted? History has nothing to do with the current climate problems. It is obvious to anyone with a brain that humans are killing the earth and we have to put a stop to it. Who cares if a few million or even a billion people suffer and/or die to save the earth - there are too many humans as it is anyway. Get with the consensus and pony up your sacrifice to save mother earth.
Heh. And so let me say that I'm proud to be a leading Internet purveyor of flat-earth, tool-of-the-energy-industry, republic [sic] talking point, reading-but-not-comprehending, trooling [sic], paid-oil-company-hack BS! Sold more Rumors than Fleetwood Mac, I have ...

Hey you deniers trolls, get the heck off my lawn!

Crowd boos congressman on Cap and Trade vore

Mike Castle is a Stupid Party Republican congressman from Delaware. In a town hall meeting, he was loudly booed by the crowd (around 7:15 into the video) when he backed the Carbon Dioxide as global warming side.

More interestingly, one of his constituents said that he should be voted out because of his vote in favor of Cap and Trade. The cheers are quite astonishing (4:12 into the video). It's unknown if the crowd had a cauldron of tar and a bag of feathers.

This next election looks like it will be the most interesting one in my memory.

Hat tip: Watts Up With That.

Better security leads to different attacks

This is perhaps the chief - not the only, but the chief - reason that I tell people that they cannot expect to protect themselves from attacks from the NSA, CIA, and KGB FSB. Script kiddies, yes. CIA, no.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why I run Linux at home

My work laptop has been running progressively slower over the last month or so, and has been having a series of mysterious crashes. Today, the CPUs were pegged at 99%, and after rebooting (with no applications running), 2 of my 4 GB of RAM were being used.

No, I don't think it was malware - I spent a fair amount of time looking, after rebooting into safe mode.

How about restoring to Windows Update's June restore point? No dice.

So, in 100 days, Vista got crufty, and it's being re-imaged right now.

Here at home is a different story:
ted@Ubuntu:~$ uptime
19:35:50 up 24 days, 35 min, 2 users, load average: 0.20, 0.23, 0.23
I updated drivers last month, so my uptime is "only" 3 weeks and change.
Rock solid, no spyware. The way I like it.

Borepatch: The Internet Leader in World's Oldest Cities

Strange. I also posted on Henry Allingham, but it's nowhere near the top. This is #4 out of 45 Million.

Old Wine

Twenty-five years after the Apollo 11 landing, we had a party. I found some bottles of a 1969 vintage Bordeaux in the local wine store, and thought it would be great as a centerpiece for the evening. They had regular 750 ml bottles, and larger magnums. Before I sprung the big bucks for a lot of decades-old wine, I thought I'd get a (750 ml) bottle to try. Frankly, it was disappointing - age did not sit lightly on it. Still, it was good enough, and the connection to the past was irresistible.

But the wine store was out of all the small bottles. Gritting my teeth, I parted with more dollars than I liked for a magnum. Only one, because while I wanted the wine, it simply was too old and poorly aged to get more.

At the party, as I opened the bottle, I told everyone that the wine was a little disappointing. As people took a sip, their expression turned to one of "what on earth are you talking about?"

It seems that the same wine ages differently in different sized bottles. Wine in large bottles tends to age more slowly than wine aged in small bottles. Instead of sadly past its peak, a shadow of memories of a greater self, this wine was at its peak. Glorious. Probably the best wine I've ever tasted.

Jack Kennedy's Treasure Fleet

I was 11 years old, and it was late. We simply weren't allowed to stay up that late - after 11:00. But this was no normal day. We all huddled around that old Black-and-White television set, watching a terrible picture that showed the first man on the moon. Dad was in Paris finishing his PhD research, and watched it projected on a huge screen at the Place de la Concorde. This was maybe the last time that an American's money was no good in Paris.

We haven't been back, since Gene Cernan climbed back aboard the LEM in December, 1972. Some folks think this is a crying shame. I used to be one of them. Now I recognize that there could not have been any other outcome. We've seen this before.

Between 1405 and 1433, the Chinese Ming dynasty sent a series of exploration voyages to southeast Asia, India, and even Africa. While the Portuguese under Prince Henry struggled down the western coast of Africa in their tiny caravels, huge Chinese treasure ships sailed to Calicut and Mogadishu.

And then they were gone, as if they had never existed. Why?

The historian David Landes spends considerable time on this question in his indispensable The Wealth And Poverty Of Nations. The Chinese voyages differed in one critical way from those of Diaz and Columbus: the Chinese voyages were motivated by a desire to glorify the Middle Kingdom, while the European ones were motivated by the desire for filthy lucre:
In the 1430s a new emperor reigned in Peking, one who "knew not Joseph." A new, Confucian crowd completed for influence, mandarins who scorned and distrusted commerce (for them, the only true source of wealth was agriculture) and detested the eunuchs who had planned and carried out the great voyages. For some decades, the two groups vied for influence, the balance shifting now one way, not the other. But fiscality and the higher Chinese morality were on the Confucian side. The maritime campaign had strained the empire's finances and weakened its authority over a population bled white by taxes and corvee levies.


So, after some decades of tugging and hauling, of alternating celebration and commemoration on the one hand, of contumely and repudiation on the other, the decision was taken not only to cease from maritime exploration but to erase the very memory of what had gone before lest later generations be tempted to renew the folly.


At the same time, [the Chinese] desire to overawe meant that costs far exceeded returns. These voyages reeked of extravagance. Whereas the first profits (the first whiff of pepper) and the promise of even greater ones to come were a powerful incentive to Western venturers, in China the pecuniary calculus said no.


The vulnerability of the program - here today, gone tomorrow - was reinforced by its official character. In Europe, the opportunity of private initiative that characterized even such royal projects as the search for a sea route to the Indies was a source of participatory funding and an assurance of rationality. Nothing like that in China, where the Confucian state abhorred merchantile success.
So why did we leave the Moon, never to return? Why is NASA wandering in the wilderness? Let's update Landes, shall we? In Europe America, the opportunity of private initiative that characterized even such royal Government projects as the search for a sea route to the Indies low-cost way to orbit was a source of participatory funding and an assurance of rationality. OK, then.

The heroism of the Astronaut corps doesn't change the fact that NASA will not - and can not - ever do what Columbus did. If they want to make a difference, to make it possible for people to live in Space, they should declare that they will purchase X kilograms of orbital launch delivery at $Y per kilo, and get out of the way. Unlike the X-Prize and Spaceship-One, NASA's pecuniary calculus will always be a football game, played between the Johnson Center Eunuchs and the HHS Mandarins.

But hey, this is all crazy talk, right? I mean, NASA would never skew things because of politics, right? Right?