Monday, August 31, 2009

Division of responsibility

#1 Son has a new netbook.

Because his old eeePC wasn't getting the job done. Or something.

Oooooh Kaaaaaay.


War On Terror casualties highest since September 2007

Afghanistan casualties highest ever.

84 Coalition deaths in July and 81 in August; 76 and 74 of these were from Afghanistan. Afghanistan is shown in blue in the chart, and Iraq is shown in red.

What's stunning is the silence you hear in the media about this. What happened in September 2007, the last time the casualty lists were this long? Remember?'s "General Betray Us" advertisement was condemned today by the U.S. Senate.

Voting 72-25, senators passed a resolution sponsored by conservative Republican John Cornyn of Texas.

The anti-war group's full-page ad appeared in The New York Times last week as Gen. David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill. It carried the headline "General Petraeus or General Betray Us? Cooking the books for the White House."

Presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd voted against the resolution. Sen. Barrack Obama did not vote.

Other things that have fallen through the memory hole include:

New York Times, July 8, 2007:
It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.


Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate.
Harry Reid, April 20, 2007:
(CBS/AP) The Senate debate on Iraq grew sharper Thursday when Majority Leader Harry Reid said the war had been lost and that President Bush's troop buildup is not stemming the rampant violence. That statement prompted Republicans to declare that Democrats do not support the troops in Iraq.

"I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and — you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows — (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," said Reid.
OK, perhaps that's a bit unfair - after all, 137 coalition troops died that month, and worse was to come. But what about later, when things were clearly settling down?

Nancy Pelosi, May 17, 2008:
Whatever the military success, and progress that may have been made, the surge didn’t accomplish its goal.
Boy, it sure is quiet lately. I can see why Reid and Pelosi don't want to say anything - it's their guy who has to sort it out. I can see why the Stupid Republican Party won't say anything - they aren't they type to dance ghoulishly on the graves of our servicemen for political gain.

But where's MoveOn? Their web site is talking about a candlelight vigil, but don't get all excited: it's for the "victims" of our unreformed health care system. Nothing on the war.

Well, here's some noise. Don't forget who is still on the front line, defending us:
It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that two soldiers from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, have been killed in Afghanistan.
That was today.
Two International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service members were killed today in separate incidents involving Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonations in southern Afghanistan.
That was today, too. Those were Americans.

Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, that they come home soon, and safe, and victorious.

Climate Change: Politically convenient?

Now hold on there - what right wing, climate hating, knuckle-dragging, science-denying site might say something like this?

The BBC:

Talk about climate change is everywhere, from the classroom to the UN. It is undoubtedly an important issue, but has our enthusiasm for tackling climate change led us to neglect other pressing and arguably more immediate environmental concerns, such as poor air quality in our major cities? Why has climate change attracted so much political attention and the loss of plant and animal species so little?

Far from being an 'inconvenient truth', could the climate change debate actually be rather politically convenient?

Radio 4 has a 30 minute show on the subject. It's only available online for another 3 days, so go listen.

Hat tip: Roger Pielke, who also has a very, very interesting of what passes for scientific "review" these days (at least in some quarters).

Che's daughter poses nude for PETA ad

Well, almost nude. And Eric Raymond, err, barbecues it:
The not-so-subtle message here is that vegetarianism is revolution is sex; you too can fight the power and score hot naked rebel chicks by, er, eating tofu. Yeah. Forget all that whining about the objectification of women, one just like Lydia will serve herself up on a platter if you just strike the right clenched-fist poses and munch your beansprouts; we promise. (Well, it sort of has to read that way, doesn’t it? Otherwise what would be the point of the ad campaign?)


If you’re morally confused enough not to find this photograph ludicrous on its face and gape at it in disbelief, wondering “What was PETA thinking?” you’ve entered the state of doublethink required for left-wing politics. Next, you can believe that you’re fighting for freedom and “the people” by advocating an ever-larger and more intrusive state apparat. Hey, it worked for Che!
I must confess that I simply don't get the whole Cult of Che thing, other than as a signal that the devotee is ready for the Soylent tanks. I also think that the PETA meat-is-murder thing misses the issue on levels both practical and symbolic, but maybe that's just me.

It is pretty astonishing that the feminist left doesn't reliably go ballistic over this sort of thing (remember the Dixie Chicks ad?), but Eric has a bit on that as well. RTWT

And speaking of barbecued veggies, I had some quite good grilled asperagus last night. With a red wine demi-glace filet. Alas, that steak was murdered, too - I asked for medium rare, and got well done.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Biased reporting on Ted Kennedy, part MCLXII

Philip Greenspun serves it up, comparing reporting on Kennedy's death to reporting on EMC founder Richard Egan's:
Globe reporters have not been as kind to Egan as they have been to Ted Kennedy; Egan being disciplined for being AWOL at age 18 gets a larger percentage of coverage than does Ted Kennedy’s killing of Mary Jo Kopechne when he was 37 years old, married with three children
As I've said before, I don't actually mind them being biased. I just can't stand it that they think I'm dumb enough to fall for that "unbiased professional journalist" shtick.

And a bonus track from Professor Greenspun's place, a heart-warming story about a (Ted Kennedy-style) hero dog:
A friend’s Samoyed recently asked himself how he could serve his country. Inspired by Ted Kennedy, this hero dog decided that he would not work directly with the poor, who can be both smelly and unsightly. Nor would he give more than one percent of his Milk Bones to charity (source). He tried to get his paws on some other folks’ money and then spend it to help the poor, but lacking the power to tax (or opposable thumbs), he was unable to get the $$. Sammy also decided against serving in the U.S. military in a war zone. Finding both Senatorships in Massachusetts occupied by unassailable incumbents (despite the terrible hardship of the job, some American heroes are willing to serve multiple terms in the U.S. Senate), Sammy the Samoyed had only one remaining option in order to become like his hero Ted Kennedy. With a little help from the New England Patriots cheerleaders, this photo shows Sammy enduring the kind of hardships that made Ted Kennedy Barack Obama’s hero.
Click through to the pic. Quality snark, yessir.

This boat is contructed from 100% AWESOME

And I feel the same way myself, frankly:

UPDATE 9 September 2009 21:13: Welcome visitors from Stephen Bodio! Take a look around. Today's goofy stuff here. If you like it, stop by - it's free!

Dieses Fahrzeug geschützt von Smith & Wesson

From Adventures in Deutschland:
We saw this on our way out of town Saturday. On a Texas highway, I would not have even looked twice. On a German side road, my jaw dropped. So many things about this vehicle screamed mis-placement to us but none more-so than the bumper sticker, "This vehicle protected by Smith & Wesson". Nice.
There's a picture, too. As Lissa would say, "That's a Big Ol' truck!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Smart Monster Trucks

And Europeans like to call us rednecks. Heh.

Regarding Senate bill S.773

Dear Fed.Gov,

I've been working in Computer Security since 1984. I'm published in the technical literature, and my articles have been included in anthologies of Internet Security topics. I rather immodestly state this not to blow my own horn, but to establish a professional relevance for the following discussion.

Y'all are invited to kiss my Security:
The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.
But rather than being part of the problem, let me volunteer to be part of the solution. I'm happy to revise your "Cyber Security Professional" exam, which is guaranteed to be idiotic and useless, because it will be written by the people who let this happen.



P.S. Oh, and can you please show me where in the Constitution it lets you make me get "certified" so that I can run my own Internet site?

Morons. Fix your own house before you start telling me what do do with mine.

Hat tip: Bitmap.

UPDATE 29 August 2009 13:51: Looks like we've found someone even dumber than the U.S. Senate:

Australia's leading criminologist thinks online scams have escalated to such a point that first-time users of computers should have to earn a licence to surf the web.

Russel Smith, principal criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology said the concept of a "computer drivers licence" should be taken seriously as an option for combating internet-related crime.

Russel Smith of Australia, I'd call you an idiot, but I've already said you're dumber than the low-watt bulbs that we've sent to the Senate. A helpful hint, though: Vegemite Soylent is people!

UPDATE 29 August 2009 14:08: More at Slashdot, including this gem of wisdom:

Say we get in a war with China and they attack our power stations in the US via a massive cyber attack - do you want there not to be guidelines at that time?

Sensitive facilities like power stations should not be directly connected to the internet in the first place!

Yup. You'd almost think that the Fed.Gov was less interested in protecting critical infrastructure than grabbing power and bossing people around, or something. But you'd be a hater if you thought that. Or something.

UPDATE 29 August 2009 22:09: Welcome visitors from! Please take a look around. In particular, How to hack a classified network describes the trouble the Defense Department has in keeping the Bad Guys out of the classified networks (the unclassified federal infrastructure is a security nightmare, but the problem is even on the classified part as well). General security stuff here, and Security Kabuki is here.

Quote of the Day

From Sevesteen, about his eeePC with Linux:
With Eeebuntu, I am very impressed with this little computer--It does just about everything I need in a computer, while remaining compact and very portable. I would almost call it the J-frame of computers...
Now that's the mot juste, right there.

Borepatch: The Internet Leader in Why Obamacare is Terrible

Well, it is.

Doc Watson - My Little Buckaroo

I was cleaning out the garage a few years ago, getting rid of old junk, when I stumbled across an old CD of lullabies. Daddies Sing Goodnight, which I used to play every night for the kids at bedtime.

There in the garage, surrounded by clutter and junk, I was suddenly back in a rocking chair with a sleepy little boy on my lap, listening to Doc Watson sing "My Little Buckaroo."

I saved that CD.

Doc Watson is one of the greatest "Flat Pickers" ever, despite going blind from an eye infection as a toddler. He picked up guitar young; he was good enough as a child that his father bought him a $12 guitar of his own - a lot of money for the 1930s North Carolina mountains.

My Little Buckaroo was my introduction to Doc Watson, and it was my favorite song on the lullaby CD. Looking back, I wonder if Doc sang it to his son, Merle - it was a popular song in the 1940s and 1950s, and was recorded by Roy Rogers and Eddie Arnold, among others.

I can't find a video of Doc singing My Little Buckaroo, so here's the instrumental of Black Mountain Rag:

My Little Buckaroo (Songwriters: M.K. Jerome, Jack Scoll)
Close your sleepy eyes, my little Buckaroo.
While the light of the western skies is shinin' down on you.
Don't you know it's time for bed, another day is through.
So go to sleep, my little Buckaroo.

Don't you realize, my little Buckaroo,
That it was from a little acorn that the oak tree grew?
And remember Buffalo Bill was once a kid like you.
So go to sleep, my little Buckaroo.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blogroll update

I see that I have been remiss (clueless, really) - BobG from Near The Salty City has had be on his blogroll for probably a while. Sorry for being a bit slow, Bob, and welcome to the Blogroll here.

And talking about blogroll, can I just say that if you're not reading Paladin on Fridays, you're missing out, His Girl Friday feature fills the void that used to be occupied by Kim du Toit's Weekend Women. Beautiful and classy, and you'll learn a thing or two. If you hurry, you'll get there while it's still Friday. I think he's open late, even.

Climate Change Data suspect

Sometimes when you try to turn an Apple into an Orange, you get a Lemon. We hear that the "Science is settled" about Climate Change, and it's All Our Fault. The proof, we're told, includes the "inconvenient fact" that 1998 was the warmest year in a thousand years.

Interesting. How exactly do we know? After all, the Thermometer was only invented in the early 17th Century. There's a chance - albeit a slender one - that the measurements show that 1998 was the warmest year in 350 years. How do they know what the temperature was before that?

Easy, say the Climate Warming Crowd. There are lots of "proxies" - other measurements that map pretty well to temperature. Tree rings will vary - growth will typically be faster in warm years, slower in cold ones. Ice cores, pollen counts from cores drilled into prehistoric bogs, even harvest records from medieval monasteries or Imperial Chinese court documents. These are reasonable proxies - everyone agrees on this.

So we have direct temperature readings for 100 or 200 years (the data is surprisingly weak when you go back more than 60 or 70 years). There are tree rings that go back maybe a thousand years. Ice cores will take you back tens or hundreds of thousands of years.

Ah, but these are different types of data. How do you put them together? Splicing:
Splicing data sets is a virtual necessity in climate research. Let’s think about how I might get a 500,000 year temperature record. For the first 499,000 years I probably would use a proxy such as ice core data to infer a temperature record. From 150-1000 years ago I might switch to tree ring data as a proxy. From 30-150 years ago I probably would use the surface temperature record. And over the last 30 years I might switch to the satellite temperature measurement record. That’s four data sets, with three splices.
What's tricky is how you join them. You don't want big discontinuities in the record occurring where the data sets are spliced. Data sets are calibrated, or zeroed to try to make sure that the record stays smooth. This can be tricky, and can lead to False Positive results - reporting that something is happening, when in reality it's just an artifact of the data instrumentation:
But there is, obviously, a danger in splices. It is sometimes hard to ensure that the zero values are calibrated between two records (typically we look at some overlap time period to do this). One record may have a bias the other does not have. One record may suppress or cap extreme measurements in some way (example - there is some biological limit to tree ring growth, no matter how warm or cold or wet or dry it is). We may think one proxy record is linear when in fact it may not be linear, or may be linear over only a narrow range.
So back to the "Warmest year in 1000 years" headline. Remember Mann's "Hockey Stick" graph, the one from Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth? The temperature was pretty stable until 150 years ago, and then it spiked, remember? What happened 150 years ago?

Well, say the Climate Change Crowd, the Industrial Revolution started cranking out, well, industrial quantities of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. All that CO2 is what's to blame, and they have computer models to show it. Fair enough. Ignore the many problems with with models. The Industrial Revolution was built on steam power, which was driven by Coal. And it did hit its stride around 150 years ago.

But is there anything else that happened around 150 years ago? Why, yes. The temperature data sets changed from proxies to actual thermometer readings. The sudden upswing in average global temperature is entirely from a different set of measurements than the earlier data sets. Entirely.

So, could this be a False Positive, an artifact of splicing two different data sets together. Y es it could be. In fact, it's likely that this is the case, and that's why you don't hear the Climate Change Crowd talk about Hockey Sticks and "Global Warming" anymore. Want proof? What if we ignore the thermometer readings, and just look at the proxy temperatures? We have tree ring data that goes right up to the present - why stop 150 years ago? What does it tell us about recent climate?

You can see that almost all of the proxy data we have in the 20th century is actually undershooting gauge temperature measurements. Scientists call this problem divergence, but even this is self-serving. It implies that the proxies have accurately tracked temperatures but are suddenly diverting for some reason this century. What is in fact happening are two effects:

  1. Gauge temperature measurements are probably reading a bit high, due to a number of effects including urban biases
  2. Temperature proxies, even considering point 1, are very likely under-reporting historic variation. This means that the picture they are painting of past temperature stability is probably a false one.

All of this just confirms that we cannot trust any conclusions we draw from grafting these two data sets together.

So, the proxy data is not accurate enough to get reported by the Climate Change Crowd, but it's plenty accurate enough to show that 800 years ago was cooler? Selection Bias, anyone?

And if you think I'm harsh accusing the scientific community of selection bias, how about this little tidbit about one of the proxy-based data sets:

For some reason, the study’s author cut the data off around 1950. Is that where his proxy ended? No, in fact he had decades of proxy data left. However, his proxy data turned sharply downwards in 1950. Since this did not tell the story he wanted to tell, he hid the offending data by cutting off the line, choosing to conceal the problem rather than have an open scientific discussion about it.

The study’s author? Keith Briffa, who the IPCC named to lead this section of their Fourth Assessment.

When you combine this with repeated errors in the reported data - and with total refusals to release the data for scrutiny - you should be very skeptical of any claims about climate change. Any.

There is a massive, ugly problem with data integrity concerning climate change. Rather than being a done deal, things are getting curiouser and curiouser. Settled? You must be kidding. The science is getting very interesting indeed.

UPDATE 26 November 2009 19:01: More about Dr. Biffra here.

Party Time! Excellent!

Facebook, explained

I've said may times that I just don't get Facebook. Say Uncle explains it to us:

I’ve been on facebook for a week. Here’s what I have learned:

Everyone is having a bad day.

People hate Mondays.

But they like cats.
There's more, and funnier. What's scary is that it just about sums Facebook up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Tibetian Buddhists had a tradition that at first glance seems strange. When someone was dieing, the Lama (priest) would take their pulse. At the moment of death, the Lama would begin to instruct the deceased in what Buddhists understood to be needed for the next cycle of reincarnation.

So why instruct a dead man? The explanation sometimes offered is that "you don't die all at once", so presumably there's time for a last minute knowledge top-up.

I found this to be profoundly unsatisfying when I first heard it. Institutions do not form and maintain themselves over centuries for something like this. There is a value to the community that ensured this tradition's continued practice: death is a time for the community to reflect on what it is to live, and die, and be human.

A meditation.

I find myself returning to the topic of Senator Kennedy. He was not popular among many of the people in this corner of Al Gore's Intarwebz. A common theme is hope that he is now meeting some sort of justice for his many, and obvious, failings.

I also find myself returning to the Volgi's comments that I linked last night:
I’d instead ask for God’s mercy upon his soul, for if we ask only for justice, we may receive only justice, and even a saint would flinch at that.
Now that's a meditation, on life, and death, and what it is to be human. And in my meditation, I find things in my own life that are less than exemplary. Things that, were I to receive mere justice, would make me flinch.

Grace is the central mystery of the Christian faith.
We're surrounded by it, but there's a trick that many people seem not to learn. Frederick Buechner describes the maddening simplicity of the situation:
A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do.

There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.
But only say the word, and I shall be healed.

It’s not the recognition of my own unworthiness or even the realization that He doesn’t care that I’m not worthy, that He embraces me despite my unworthiness.


“Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

He says one word, and I’m all better. And in that series of moments, I can only cry. I can only bare myself, offering Him the little I have, and ask Him to do with it what He will.

And He does. With a word, I am healed.

Does Ted Kennedy deserve this? Or does he deserve Justice? All I know, I've learned from Country Music: Now don't judge me, and I won't judge you/Because we all get judged in the end.

Or maybe a different song: I pray, to be a better man.

So good night, sweet Senator. And flights of Angels someone who sings like an Angel to sing thee to thy rest.

I Told You So (Songwriter: Randy Travis)
Suppose I called you up tonight
And told you that I love you
And suppose I said I want to come back home
And suppose I cried and said I think I finally learned my lesson
And Im tired of spending all my time alone
If I told you that I realized you're all I ever wanted
And it's killing me to be so far away
Would you tell me that you love me too
And would we cry together
Or would you simply laugh at me and say...

I told you so, Oh I told you so
I told you some day you would come crawling back
And asking me to take you in
I told you so, but you had to go
Now I've found somebody new
And you will never break my heart in two again

If I got down on my knees
And told you I was yours forever
Would you get down on yours too and take my hand
Would we get that old-time feeling
Would we laugh and talk for hours
The way we did when our love first began
Would you tell me that you've missed me too
And that you've been so lonely
And you've waited for the day that I returned
And we'd live and love forever
And that I'm your one and only
Or would you say the tables finally turned

would you say...

I told you so, Oh I told you so
I told you some day you would come crawling back
And asking me to take you in
I told you so, but you had to go
Now I've found somebody new
And you will never break my heart in two again
And so my meditation on life, and death, and justice, and grace: LORD, grant me grace, not justice.

But only say the word, and I shall be healed. Amen.

Blogroll addition

Via a Sitemeter trackback, I see that Matt W has been kind enough to blogroll me. Matt seems to be another computer and firearms enthusiast, with a ton of interesting links on his page.

While it looks like I've been on his blogroll for some time, I'm happy to add him here.

If anyone else reading this has added me to their blogroll, please let me know and I'll add you here.

Will the Fed.Gov default on the national debt?

Jeffrey Rogers Hummel thinks so:
Almost everyone is aware that federal government spending in the United States is scheduled to skyrocket, primarily because of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Recent "stimulus" packages have accelerated the process. Only the naively optimistic actually believe that politicians will fully resolve this looming fiscal crisis with some judicious combination of tax hikes and program cuts. Many predict that, instead, the government will inflate its way out of this future bind, using Federal Reserve monetary expansion to fill the shortfall between outlays and receipts. But I believe, in contrast, that it is far more likely that the United States will be driven to an outright default on Treasury securities, openly reneging on the interest due on its formal debt and probably repudiating part of the principal.
I'm not so sure, although I agree with him that if a crisis comes, it will come quickly. Think collapse of the Soviet Union quickly - over in a year, and altogether too fast for politicians to grapple with.

Here's why I'm not so sure - summed up in a passage from David Landes' indespensible The Wealth And Poverty Of Nations:
The heart of the matter is Latin America's need to go on borrowing, if only to pay the interest on the older loans. A research student from Latin America once complained to me about this burden of old debt and the vexatious, small-minded foreign insistence on repayment. "You don't have to repay," I pointed out; "a sovereign nation can always repudiate." "Yes," he replied, "but then where shall we go to borrow more?" Exactly.
The problem is that the current model since Reagan has been "run smallish deficits (as a % of GDP) and let economic growth drive Fed.Gov revenue higher." If you remove the cost of the Iraq war (and arguably you shouldn't), then deficits have been a couple percent of GDP, even under Bush.

Obama aims to change that. His plans will simultaneously increase spending and reduce growth - reasonable people can argue over how much of each will occur (the slope of the lines), but it's simply not credible to argue the trajectories (are they headed north or south).

Add in the slow motion fiscal train wreck that is first Medicare and then Social Security, and the Fed.Gov will simply be out of maneuver room. If we need to borrow a Trillion dollars a year - 8% of GDP, default is simply not an option. The borrowing would be funding current expenditures, and the political class will not have the courage to jeopardize Grandma's monthly checks.

This is probably the single most compelling reason for the Fed.Gov to not be involved with healthcare (more than it is now), as the scope of the problem would put health benefits on the chopping block, by necessity.


I've mentioned before that I did The Gimp, the open source Photoshop application. Yesterday, I had to push my Gimp-fu to the limit (including learning how to make shiny, glowy neon eyes), but it was in the service of The Greater Good.

A little grainy because it's expanded to 8 times its normal size, but it positively glows on the Teddy Bear.

Offered for your consideration, the Northeast Bloggers submission to Monster Hunter International. Over at Jay's place.

UPDATE 27 August 2009 18:27: Link now points to Jay's post, rather than the blog main page.

Concerning Ted Kennedy

I have nothing to add, except The Gormogon's view wins the "Thoughtful, insightful analysis" award, regarding prayers for Justice:
I’d instead ask for God’s mercy upon his soul, for if we ask only for justice, we may receive only justice, and even a saint would flinch at that.
Kissing Suzy Kolber wins the "Describes Massachusetts Perfectly" award. Perfectly described, but impossible to excerpt. Go read - you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Deutschland Uber Alles" as music on Obama's conference call with the Rabbis?

You have got to be kidding me:
Eyebrows were also raised by the choice of hold music that played to rabbis before the call began.

"First mistake," Moline tweeted, as he waited for the call to begin. "Music on hold is 'Deutschland uber Alles,' " a classical German anthem, the lyrics to which in part say, "Preserve and protect our Kaiser, our land."
Seems he was pitching his health plan to the Rabbis, and there was music when their conference call was on hold. That's one smart Administration, right there.

Oy vey.

New in Snow Leopard - lame anti-malware

Apple's upgrade to OS X - dubbed "Snow Leopard" - contains two security surprises. The first surprise is built-in anti-malware.

Apple is dipping yet another toe into the anti-malware pond with a feature in the latest beta version of its forthcoming Snow Leopard operating system.


The feature causes users who try to install applications known to be malicious to receive a pop-up window warning that the file will damage the computer and should be moved to the Trash.

Mac Fanboys might be forgiven for thinking that they didn't need any. I mean, they saw it on TV and everything:

But Apple thinks you need it. Interesting.

The second surprise: it's incredibly lame anti-malware:
At the moment, though, the feature offers fairly limited protection. Based on an analysis of a corresponding preferences file called XProtect.plist, it appears that the feature checks for only two known Mac trojans. And it only flags those files if they were downloaded from the internet using Entourage, iChat, Safari, and a handful of other applications, according to this person. Files that were downloaded using Skype and dozens of other net-facing applications aren't covered, nor are files on DVDs and thumb drives.

Now in reality, Macs are indeed a target for malware. Not like Windows, of course, and the malware is more targeting the Mac user rather than the Operating System. So Mac users also need to remember Borepatch's First Law of Security:
"Free download" is Internet Security for "Open your mouth and close your eyes."
As with firearms, the most effective Internet safety device is the one found between your ears. Especially when compared to this lame anti-malware.

Safer Social Networking

Frankly, I don't "get" Facebook, and I really don't get Twitter (I mean, 140 characters? Srlsy?). However, some of y'all seem to like it, and so here's a good read on keeping safer when you're doing the Social Networking thing. It's full of good stuff like this:
Most recently, attackers hijacked some Facebook accounts, and posing as members sent messages to their friends to dupe them into viewing a video clip link, which instead was actually a Trojan that silently downloaded malware onto their machine once they opened the link.
Knowing how they target you is the first step in keeping them out of your computer.

Note: Yes, I know this is a year old. I'm a slow learner ...

Gentlemen prefer blondes

But hackers prefer Firefox and Opera:
Security researchers at Purewire have leveraged vulnerabilities in malware infrastructure to track the criminals behind it. In a three-month long project, they used security flaws in exploit kits to get operators to expose themselves (Obnoxious interstitial ad between link and content) when they access the kits' admin control panels. Data collected shows that 50% of those tracked use Firefox, while 25% use Opera.
It's actually not a bad idea to use what the pros use. Actually, security guru Rich Mogul has a good article on this, too.

Hmmm, I wonder if they read Borepatch?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

E pur si muove!

It is said that when the Inquisition made Galileo recant the Heliocentric theory (that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not vice versa), he muttered at the end, And yet it moves. Scientists have sometimes faced powerful, entrenched interests that have had the power to make the scientists uncomfortable.

Of course, that would never happen today:
Abstract: Paleoclimatic studies indicate four epochs of global cooling during the last 4 000 years, i. e. during the few centuries before and after 2000 BC, 800 BC, 400 AD, and 1 600 AD; the quasiperiodicity corresponds to cyclic variation of solar activity. Global temperature changes influenced regional precipitation patterns: Northern Europe was wetter while the middle- and low-latitude lands were more arid during colder epochs. Both sets of cold climatical conditions were unfavorable for agricultural production. Historical records show that large demographic movements in history took place because of crop failures and mass starvation, rather than escaping from war zones. The “wandering” of the Germanic tribes during the first two or three centuries of the Christian Era is one example. Whereas the accelerated release of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is ultimately to cause global warming, historical evidence indicates, however, that global warming has been on the whole a blessing to mankind. Global cooling, on the other hand, has curtailed agricultural production and has led to famines and mass migrations of people. Perhaps the most important task at the present is not so much computer-modelling of greenhouse effect on global climate, but water-management and agricultural researches to insure food-supply for an ever increasing world population.
Emphasis mine. You can almost smell the fear - the article discusses a series of climate changes over the centuries (not a surprise to either of my regular readers), strongly correlated with changes in Solar activity. But the author feels the need to add a non sequitur about Carbon Dioxide. E pur si muove, indeed.

In other news from the Late Holocene, James Aber has a quite interesting history of climate from the early Middle Ages. For those of you who didn't spend many hours in University history classes, Le Roy Ladurie is a big gun in the History biz. His Montaillou is a fascinating view into the workings of the Inquisition in late Middle Ages France. Abner is short on the Inquisition, but long on tidbits like this:
800-1000s: Aletsch and Grindelwald glaciers (Switzerland) were much smaller than today.


880-1140: Radiocarbon dates on trees that grew in Canada far north of modern timberline.


1215: Oberriederin (irrigation canal) overrun by advance of Aletsch glacier; radiocarbon dates on buried larch; canal head still covered by modern Aletsch glacier.
The historical record is filled with examples of times when the world was colder than now, or warmer.

But the Science is settled! Hey you deniers - get the heck off of my lawn!

Because that's where the money is ...

Why do people hack computers? Motivations have changed from exploring the tech landscape (1990s) to fame in the community - "leet" status (early 2000s) to filthy lucre (today).

Cisco has a very interesting paper by their security research team, where they tracked down a "bot herder" (someone who takes over computers) and spent some time with him in IRC.

If you're interested in the psychological - rather than technical - aspects of the Dark Side, this is a very good read indeed.

ObDisclaimer: I used to work at Cisco, and know the folks involved in this report. Smart guys.

I bought tools today

I also bought a locking toolbox. Don't ask.

On the plus side, the Snow Cone ice shavers that Wally World had on sale make just dandy slushies. Yay, me!


Every now and then you run across something that reminds you of the things that are important in life. Stories of self-respect are something that we don't see much of these days - while perhaps the historical tale, they don't fit the current left-intellectual narrative.

Did It My Way has one that could have come down from Shakespeare, or Virgil, or Homer, about a man he knows who's lost everything but his self respect:
He never asked for charity, worked every day, and only asked for something I threw away. To the best of my knowledge he does not drink,smoke, nor stand on a street corner begging with a cardboard sign.

But for the grace of God go I.
To bend - but not break - under pressure that would destroy another man. That's a man who's earned our respect. RTWT.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Shooter

Over at Liberty's place. Dang cute little guy, too.

No, I'm not talking about Liberty, but thanks for asking.

I'm not usually a fan of Performance Art ...

... but this is simply made out of WIN. Two rehearsals, a couple hundred people, just because.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I can haz concerto?

Concerto for Cat in A Minor.


How many hard drives does it take to stop a .50 BMG round?


Actually, since this round was incendiary, it likely would take more to stop a .50 BMG Armor Piercing round. Maybe the Box o' Truth knows ...

Also, the top 10 ways to destroy a hard drive. I have an Angle Grinder ...

About Those Reactive Targets ...

They're fun, but this is perhaps a bit much ...

Why is the Obamacare bill so terrible?

In theory, you could have a thoughtful, well-crafted bill that might actually improve things. Not likely, but possible. Instead, we have a 1,017 page monstrosity. Why? The Czar of Muscovy has finished reading the bill (all the way from stem to stern), and he has some thoughts:
But the Czar realizes that this bill is very much like President Obama himself. Rushed through without proper review, and containing an unfocused blend of various liberal and radical ideas, the bill promises extensive reform, but ultimately cannot provide specifics beyond trivial process and procedure. The contents are pro-lawyer but anti-doctor, misinformed on how business works beyond the abuse of buzzwords, but is fully incorporative of labor union interests. The bill, like the President, raises a specter of of increasing fundamental central control coupled with an élitist dismissal for consequences; in the end, its scattered attempt to be a panacea to the nth degree produces a framework that is merely a framework: it is a blank slate, onto which the supporter pins his own hopes and goals, without anything within justifying that faith.
It's awfully early to be writing pithy historical summaries of the Obama Administration, but so far it looks like this: He wasn't nearly as smart as he thought he was.

How is Socialized Medicine going to work?

Hint: We've seen this before:

It’s worth pausing to note that the reason that so many credit card companies are raising interest rates and implementing annual fees these days is in response to federal “consumer protection” laws that make it illegal to charge customers who are bad credit risks proportionately, and therefore credit card companies have to spread the pain over all of the good customers as well.

This is exactly how Massachusetts auto insurance works (the result is that safe drivers here have the highest rates in the nation) and it’s exactly how socialized medical care is supposed to work.

And TJIC waxes pensive ab0ut the Democrat's motives. I'd vote for "venal". Of course, the Republicans are venal, too, just not in a way that will kill some people and bankrupt more.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Radney Foster - Just Call Me Lonesome

We live in the age of Marketing, and Country music is no exception. Markets are segmented (Country vs. Rock) and then segmented again (Outlaw vs. Country Pop), and then yet again. Sometimes it makes you wistful for a simpler time.

Radney Foster captured the flavor of a simpler musical time his mix of 1950s Rock (think Buddy Holly) with old school country. It may not be High Art (whatever that is), but it sure is fun.

Just Call Me Lonesome is from his 1992 album, Del Rio, TX 1959. He's mostly written rather recorded since then, but anyone who can get Mary Chapin Carpenter singing backup vocals has something going right.

Just Call Me Lonely (Songwriters: Radney Foster, George Ducas)
Just call me lonesome, heart-broke and then some.
Cause I ain't got no one, since you've been gone.
You called me baby, now I've got a new name.
Don't need my old one, call me lonesome from now on.

You used to call me, your one and only.
But now you only call me someone you once knew.
You were my angel, before some stranger
Stole your heart and stole my world when he stole you.

Just call me lonesome, heart-broke and then some.
Cause I ain't got no one, since you've been gone.
You called me baby, now I've got a new name.
Don't need my old one, call me lonesome from now on.

I see you with him, and fall apart again.
Remembering when I was the only man you needed.
We said forever, we'd be together,
He came between us and now forever lies in pieces.

Just call me lonesome, heart-broke and then some.
Cause I ain't got no one, since you've been gone.
You called me baby, now I've got a new name.
Don't need my old one, call me lonesome from now on.

I don't need my old one, call me lonesome from now on.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Well, Universities are filled with the partially educated

Scottish "Government" are idiots

The Scottish "Government" (it's a fake government, like the EU government) has released from prison the guy who blew up Pan Am flight 103. He killed hundreds of people, and was sentenced to "life" in prison.

Funny, he doesn't look dead.

People are predictably in an tizzy over this, and can't understand how the Scottish "government" could do this. Actually, that's pretty easy. All you need is perspective.

Scotland is like Alabama, only colder and not as friendly. Population and GDP are very similar, at around 5 million and $170B/year each. The weather's nicer in Alabama, but other than that, they're both mid-sized industrialized societies. I can personally attest to the fact that both are nice places. Edinburgh has great ancient architecture, but Montgomery is totally charming in a Mayberry-RFD-sort-of-way.

So how come you never see the Alabama government do things of such epic idiocy? Simple: the Alabama government hasn't puffed itself up to think it's a national "Government". Alabama has Georgia (not to mention every Ivy League graduate) to point out their every mistake. So who tells the Scottish "government" that they're idiots?

Besides us, of course.

And so, as a public service to the Scottish "Government", here is where they can get advise on how not to be idiots:

Office of the Governor of Alabama
+1 (334) 242-7150

No need to thank me, it's all part of being a Full Service blog. Just think of it as my little contribution to "Smart Diplomacy".


Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

All families are a work in progress, by definition. We each occupy a place and time, with a hazy view of what's past, and no idea at all about what lies around the bend. If we're lucky, we have some times when we can see more than just the immediate - where we catch a glimpse of the grand sweep of history that we occupy.

If we're lucky, a family reunion is one of those times. Today, I'm lucky. Mom and Dad are coming into town.

Blogging will be somewhat sporadic.

But here is a glimpse of the point in time that Mom and Dad occupied, so many years ago.

The world's worst ad placement fail

There are 22 even worse than this. Epic marketing fail, bleeding turkeys hung up for your enjoyment. Go ahead and click through - you know you want to.

No need to thank me, it's all part of the service.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Was Ameriprise Financial's web site pwned?

We don't know, and they don't either:

For the past five months, a website for investment services giant Ameriprise Financial contained bugs that allowed even low-level criminals to inject malicious content into official company webpages and steal user's cookies, according to a web security expert.

The XSS, or cross-site scripting, flaws made it possible for phishers to send Ameriprise customers bona fide links to the Ameriprise website that opened pages that intermingled counterfeit content with legitimate text and graphics. The holes could also allow criminals to steal browser cookies used to authenticate online accounts.

The chief PR flack there clearly has not read the A-B-Cs of responding to a pwnage situation:

Indeed, Benjamin Pratt, Ameriprise's vice president of public communications, played down the severity of the bugs brought to his attention, saying they affected only one portion of the company's site.

"It's an important point to note that none of client data can be exposed by this," he said shortly after being alerted to the bug. "There's no one at risk here. Like any other vulnerability, we're aware of it and we're moving as quickly as we can to repair it."

As a helpful tip to Mr. Pratt, let me give him the Cliff's Notes version of the A-B-Cs of responding to pwnage: It doesn't help your company if the A-B-C of security means "Anyone But Customers". The Bad Guys are said to be using your web site to feed up malware that pwned your customers when they went to your website.

So what are their plans? Bueller? Bueller?
He said Ameriprise officials have no way of verifying that the bugs were reported as long ago as March, but in any event he said that there are no plans to review any of the mechanisms the company may have in place to receive notifications from the public about website vulnerabilities.
Security Fail. Customer Service Fail. PR Fail.

Sigh. It's times like this that make me think that I'm going about security wrong. I've approached this from the strategy of improving the world's security by making better security products.

Maybe I should go to Law School, and sue these idiots within an inch of their lives. There's a Billion dollar class action case just waiting in this sort of thing. It's a target rich environment, too, so once you roll the first couple, the others roll over, too. The idiots at companies like Ameriprise will simply look at this as a cost of doing business, but it would actually change their calculus:

Right now, it's cheaper to ignore security. A couple hundred million dollars later, it'll be cheaper to build security in at the beginning.

Build a better security mousetrap, and the world won't beat a path to your door. Get some legal Darth Vadar types to put a financial force choke on a couple of corporate VPs, and you'll drive them to Do The Right Thing, yea with wailing and gnashing of teeth.

So if a partner at Vader LLC runs across this, call me. I know all the embarassing questions that they won't want to answer, up on that witness chair ...

You can observe a lot, just by looking

The touching - nay, sweet - faith placed in the Fed.Gov by those on the left is nearly impervious to logic. Nearly.

The Czar of Muscovy has a strong stomach, reading all the healthcare bill. The Czar brings facts:
By now, proponents of the bill will be wagging their fingers at the Czar’s post from yesterday. “We’re not looking to take away responsibility for nursing homes away from state governments. Where does it say that?” May the Czar point out §1422(a)(1). The Secretary [and Inspector General of the Department of HHS shall] implement use of an independent monitor to oversee interstate and large intrastate chains of skilled nursing and nursing facilities.” Perhaps there is where the Czar found it.
There's way more. This whole series is a must read. You'll have the ammunition to destroy a leftie's faith in both the Fed.Gov and his own superior intellect. Or he'll just hate you for a thousand lifetimes. Hey, you're a winner either way!

Ooh rah!

Dedicated to nephew Dan and to ASM826.

Hat tip: Brian Gallimore.

Do you want to date my avatar?

Perceptive readers will recognize Felicia Day, from (among other things) the very funny Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog.

Hat Tip: 13 Crows.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Diagraming sentences

There's a reason they teach it in English. It prevents things like this:

Weep for the Republic.

Riddle me this

So now the "Death Councils" have been stripped from the Healthcare bill before Congress.  It makes me wonder:

Who put this in the bill in the first place?

Where is the Press on this? Actually, I don't wonder. I have a perfectly workable model of how the Mastodon Main Stream Media works, and anything that will embarrass the Contemptible Democratic Party will be suppressed. This model may not actually be correct, but in this case it seems highly likely that we will not see an investigative reports digging out names.

And while we're on the subject of MSM non-reportage, we have an example that is very interesting indeed. Via Insty, Big Hollywood reports that the BBC has nailed Greenpeace in a minor faux pas:
The outgoing leader of Greenpeace has admitted his organization’s recent claim that the Arctic Ice will disappear by 2030 was “a mistake.” Greenpeace made the claim in a July 15 press release entitled “Urgent Action Needed As Arctic Ice Melts,” which said there will be an ice-free Arctic by 2030 because of global warming.
Under close questioning by BBC reporter Stephen Sackur on the “Hardtalk” program, Gerd Leipold, the retiring leader of Greenpeace, said the claim was wrong.
So well done to the BBC for nailing a two-faced, lying hustler. But as I said, that's the minor faux pas. The major one went unremarked.
Leipold said later in the BBC interview that there is an urgent need for the suppression of economic growth in the United States and around the world. He said annual growth rates of 3 percent to 8 percent cannot continue without serious consequences for the climate.
“We will definitely have to move to a different concept of growth. … The lifestyle of the rich in the world is not a sustainable model,” Leipold said. “If you take the lifestyle, its cost on the environment, and you multiply it with the billions of people and an increasing world population, you come up with numbers which are truly scary.”
Well, well, well. The mask slips. The world's poor must be kept poor, in the interest of protecting Mother Gaia. Not a surprise, other than the head of Greenpeace admits this on TV.

So riddle me this: what question was not asked?

So, Herr Leipold, if the lifestyle of the rich cannot be sustained, how much money did you make last year? And what is your plan to reduce that to World-sustainable levels this year?

OK, that was two questions, but work with me here.

Whenever a Stupid Republican Party pol gets caught in an affair, the MSM plasters it all over the front pages. This is in great contrast to what happens when it's a Democrat (see how the New York Times let the National Enquirer scoop them on the John Edwards affair). When challenged about this seeming bias, the press argues that it's not the sex, it's the hypocracy, or something.

So here we have a big-shot executive from the world's largest environmental organization saying that the poor must be kept impoverished, and that it is a moral imperative that the West be similarly immiserated. So what's his lifestyle? Is this not a case of massive hypocrisy?

Sigh. The questions are all rhetorical.

This is just wrong

How Many 90 Year Olds Could You Take in a Fight?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

[Larry the Cable Guy]

Lord, I apologize.

[/Larry the Cable Guy]

Hat tip, TJIC.

Scientist: Come the Zombiepocalypse, you must quickly and mercilessly kill all the Zombies

Or else mankind is doomed. He has math and everything to prove it:
Human-zombie coexistence is impossible... Since all eigenvalues of the doomsday equilibrium are negative, it is asymptotically stable. It follows that, in a short outbreak, zombies will likely infect everyone.
Gosh, Dr. Science, how come?

According to Smith, a major factor restraining normal plagues from utterly devastating humanity is that they tend to kill their victims, after which the sufferers can no longer move about and infect others. This is one reason the frightful Ebola virus has never spread, for instance: it knocks people down and then kills them so fast that they have only a limited chance to pass it on.

Not so with zombification. Once someone has died of Z-plague, they remain a mobile carrier. The factors which have prevented humanity being rendered extinct by the Black Death, smallpox, cholera etc don't apply.
So there you have it. Scientifically proved.

So learn and survive, people. Sure, it's all a truckload of yucks now, but when all those Canadian Zombies come pouring south across the border, you'll be trying to sort out which end of an 870 is which.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Press Releases of the Damned

The Top Ten worst Tech pressers of all time - things that were massively hyped, and went really, really, really wrong. And they didn't even include OS/2 on the list.

My favorite: eBay buying Skype for Billion$ and then writing off Billion$ to spin it off:
The moment that eBay announced it was buying VoIP pioneer Skype, pundits began questioning the wisdom of the move. eBay confidently talked up all the amazing synergies that would result from the merger; very few of them ever came to be. Now eBay is investing additional money and time to try to get back to what it was before it issued this press release: an e-commerce company that doesn’t own Skype. The Skype founders’ claim that eBay’s billions didn’t buy it the core Skype technology and resulting lawsuit add a fittingly bizarre coda to the whole sad story.
eBay, of course, has a bit of a problem with public relations.

Can you hear me now?

How about now? Now? NOW!!?

A Queens man needed a doctor after a house call from a surly Verizon repairman who pummeled him -- and never fixed the problem, according to a lawsuit.

Robert Benjamin pounded Aubrey Isakson, 37, after the suspicious customer -- told earlier that the repair wouldn't require access to his Sunnyside apartment -- demanded ID and wouldn't let him inside, the suit filed in Queens Supreme Court charges.

Good thing he was backed by The Network, or who knows what would have happened. And the funniest bit? After all the excitement with the Police and everything, Verizon was able to fix his problem remotely.

Hat tip, Slashdot, where a commenter points out that the guy was beaten up by an IT geek. Oh, the shame - to have sand kicked into your face by a 98 pound weakling. +5 Funny, right there.

Police cyber-bust gets busted

Under cover h4X0R cred? Check.

Dummy "Honeypot" bait systems set up? Check.

Secure password on database for sting operation? Oops:
Australian Federal police have been humbled after boasting of taking over an underground cybercrime forum - only for hackers to break into a federal police computer system, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.


Unfortunately the wheels fell off the scheme, because the officers involved failed to set a password on the database behind the honeypot site, allowing hackers to seize control with the minimum of effort.
I'm sympathetic to the problem that law enforcement faces trying to fight cyber crime. I just think that if you're going to showboat for the cameras, a little preparation on the back end might be called for. Just sayin'.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The MiniTruth is displeased with me

I have received communication from the Ministry of Truth that my Photoshop The Gimp attempts are nekulturniy and off-message. MiniTruth instructs me to try harder, and to not let the Glorious People's Revolution down again.

Or else.

So here you go, MiniTruth.

A real American hero knows what to do ...

And this rumor-mongering has got to stop!

Clinton picture stolen from The Canadian Sentinal (caption by Borepatch).

Happy birthday, Davy Crockett

"You can all go to hell. I'm going to Texas."

Not bad advice for most situations, actually.

"I did it for Al ..."

January 17, 1998:

August 17, 1998:
Never mind.
Of course, there's the untold story:

I'll take "Crazy Lego Construction Projects" for $500, Alex

You can make anything with Lego. Specifically, if you have 200,000 Lego blocks, and empty room, and 6 years with nothing to do, you can make a 1:40 scale model of the Imperial Battleship Yamato.

Don't try this at home. Unless you have 200,000 bricks, an empty room, and 6 years on your hand.

Dear, I think I've found something fishy ...

Right here, actually.

This is my little contribution to the debate. Any suggestions for an improved caption? Maybe:

Comrades! Report counter-revolutionary Thought Crime!

Y'all are invited to expose yourselves as Enemies of the State, in the comments

Sunday, August 16, 2009

To the barricades, Comrades! You know what to do.

I'm late to the, err, Party here, but this is simply perfect. They have literally dozens more.

Anthropogenic Continental Drift threatens end of the planet!

A new menace to the planet has been discovered and validated by a consensus of politically reliable scientists: Anthropogenic Continental Drift (ACD) will result in catastrophic damage and untold suffering, unless immediate indemnity payments from the United Sates, Europe, and Australia be made to the governments of non-industrial nations, to counteract this man-made threat to the world's habitats.

And for all of you darn Deniers out there, the Science is settled! Settled I say!
This widening of the Atlantic is taking place at an astounding rate, according to indisputable IPCD scientific data. Today it costs almost a third again as much to fly an Air France jet from New York to Paris than it did in 1997, a clear indicator that the ocean has indeed increased in size in the past decade.
So sit down, shut up, and fall in line.

Hey you Deniers! Get the heck off my lawn!

Hat tip: Maggie's Farm.

Quote of the day

I don't know for sure but I'll bet on average very few days go by without the lefty media bemoaning the dreadfulness of America and Americans somehow. Strokes beard, "well of course the place is quite awful." (Cuba is heaven on Earth, mind you.)

Some Americans notice some downsides within Britain however, woah! The nerve!
Lots of wisdom about the views of the european elites, boiled down into five sentences. From Blognor Regis, which is IMHO the greatest blog name ever.

It doesn't have to make sense. It's the law.

If you're not following the Czar of Muscovy over at The Gormogons, You must now want to understand the healthcare bill. Here's his analysis of pages 301-400:
The Czar believes that the ordinary American supporting this initiative has not read the proposals. If he or she did, that ordinary American would say “There is no way I am entrusting my healthcare to this group. I can’t even understand what the hell they’re saying.” When you applied for healthcare coverage with your employer, do you remember how many pages the information was? Two? Three? Four? And a lot easier to understand than this stuff.

Evidently, the people who wrote it do not understand what they have written in its entirety, but worse, they think they do. But they don’t understand it anymore than the admin assistant understands the legal contracts he or she photocopies for an attorney waiting in another conference room.

Be afraid, folks. Because the only people who really do understand this stuff will be the first ones to twist it to their financial advantage.
What's astonishing is that people who think they're smarter than everyone else don't have any trouble forgetting Bismark's dictum that people who like sausage and respect the law shouldn't watch either being made.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I hope that Obamacare covers this ...

We have two cases of this, here Chez Borepatch. #1 Son and #2 Son both have a bad case.

Hat tip: Brian Carnell.

Word of the day


Heh. The Gormogons are simply on fire lately.

What I don't understand about the Healthcare bill

... is what on earth the Tax Reform Act of 1986 has to do with healthcare?
Democrats are using HR 3200 to, they hope, make sweeping changes to the TRA of 1986. There are an ungodly amount of references listing corrected, amended, revised, and deleted sections to the TRA, not all of which are easily deciphered to see if they even apply to healthcare reform.
And what else that's not healthcare related is in this healthcare bill? Well a lot of organizational structure for the Organs of the Healthcare State:
This is an operations manual, in effect, for a new insurance company called America, Incorporated. And like new companies, the business model is not solid yet: so instead of specifics about how the company will make money, re-invest capital, or lower costs, it’s filled with SWOT analyses (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), and detailed descriptions of jobs, roles, and tasks such as bill collection, arbitration, information technology, and so on.

Of course, this really isn’t a start-up company. It’s the federal government, so it will become a health benefits provider in exactly the same way the United States Armed Forces is a security service, the USPS is a private courier, or the FBI is a speed-trap cop.
And how the mysterious Health Insurance Exchange (HIE) will lower (some) costs:
It’s basically a stock exchange; but instead of stock, it’s insurance plans that are bought and sold. Insurance companies can throw their basic, advanced, and premium insurance plans into a market exchange. The government then picks the cheapest and best plans to incorporate into America, Inc.’s new offerings. Is your plan too expensive? If so, America, Inc. doesn’t take it. If yours lower than your competitors’? We’ll take a look at it.

This is the first real concept of how, theoretically, costs could go down,because it means that America, Inc., only selects the cheapest plans of all those submitted into the marketplace. Of course, an exchange only works to lower some cost because other costs go up. The implication here is that the government would always take the lowest costing offerings, meaning private insurers get stuck with more expensive ones. Ergo: private insurer premiums will go up in the HIE.
The Czar has a much stronger stomach than I, and he's reading through the whole mess. If you liked the "stimulus" bill, you'll love the healthcare bill. Go read it, right now.

Kenny Chesney - Who You'd Be Today

Loss is perhaps the greatest emotion we can deal with. Sometimes loss comes as tragedy, unexpected. Sometimes it comes as atrocity, planned.

Country music has a long history of songs about loss. Sometimes raucous and irreverent, sometimes howl-at-the-moon sad, sometimes reflective, it covers the most basic of emotions.

This week say the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who devoted her life to the mentally handicapped, and founded the Special Olympics. This week, I couldn't stop thinking about what Joe Kennedy did to her sister Rosemary. And thinking about what Rose might have been like if atrocity had not caught her.

Kenny Chesney
has been here before on Saturday Redneck. His song Who You'd Be Today perfectly captures this sense of loss.

Sunny days seem to hurt the most
I wear the pain like a heavy coat
I feel you everywhere I go
I see your smile, I see your face
I hear you laughing in the rain
I still can't believe you're gone

It's not fair you died too young
Like the story that had just begun
But death tore the pages all away
God knows how I miss you
All the hell that I've been through
Just knowing no one could take your place
An' sometimes I wonder
Who'd you be today?

Would you see the world? Would you chase your dreams?
Settle down with a family?
I wonder what would you name your babies?
Some days the sky's so blue
I feel like I can talk to you
An' I know it might sound crazy

It's not fair you died too young
Like the story that had just begun
But death tore the pages all away
God knows how I miss you
All the hell that I've been through
Just knowing no one could take your place
An' sometimes I wonder
Who you'd be today?

Today, today, today.
Today, today, today.

Sunny days seem to hurt the most
I wear the pain like a heavy coat
The only thing that gives me hope
Is I know I'll see you again some day

Some day, some day, some day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Why we won World War II

Paladin has it.

Wow. Just wow. If you don't read him - especially on fridays - then you're missing out.

Elvis is still The King

Thank you. Thankyouverymuch.

(Hey, blame Pistolero for reminding me of Mojo Nixon!)