Thursday, December 31, 2009

To our Men and Women in Uniform this New Years Eve

We haven't forgotten you.

Come home safe, and soon, and victorious. Thank you for keeping us safe, and thank you for the sacrifice that your families make.

Opening a bottle of Champagne with a knife

As a security guy, I have to counsel that you DO NOT sip from the bottle after doing this.

A quite good, professionally-produced video of this is here (embedding is disabled, and annoying commercial warning). Captain Rupert Campbell-Jones of Her Magesty's Highlanders demonstrates, with instructions.

Quote of the year decade

From the CRU email archive, discussing the reliability of temperature reconstructions from more than 100 years ago ("7gt;100 year"):
Without trying to prejudice this work, but also because of what I almost think I know to be the case, the results of this study will show that we can probably say a fair bit about <100 year extra-tropical NH temperature variability (at least as far as we believe the proxy estimates), but honestly know f**k-all about what the >100 year variability was like with any certainty (i.e. we know with certainty that we know f**k-all).
[highlighting mine, as well as editing to make it more family-friendly]

Remember this the next time someone tells you that "1998 was the warmest year in a millennium".

And the coolest dude of 2009 is ...


... that guy up in Canada who mooned the Google streetview camera car.

Dude - you pwned Google.

Steve Balmer has the Microsoft elite recon team closing in on him. They want his secrets for Bing.

Via Tosh.0.

Dressed to kill

Gentlemen, remember that your Lady Friend will appreciate you putting on your best Sunday-Go-To-Meeting duds tonight. What better way to, err, blend into the background at the New Years Eve party than a matched camo tie and cummerbund for your Tux?And both my readers who were visiting last New Years Eve will remember the perfect matching jewelry pour homme:
As I pointed out then:
Shotgun shell cufflinks. Didn't see any shotgun shell studs, though. I suppose that a gentleman must have standards.
Have a safe and stylish New Year's Eve!

Tonight we're going to party like it's 1999 1912

Apologies to the artist formerly known as "Prince" ...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Scanning - and fixing - photos with XSANE

Regular readers know that I've been scanning photos on an HP flatbed printer-scanner-fax. Since I run Linux, I use XSANE, the standard scanning front end software on Linux.

This do a great job of letting me capture photos at whatever resolution I like (typically 150 dpi, but more on that later) and turn them into PNG photos to torture you, dear reader. But it also lets me do all sorts of correction, to turn bad or spoiled shots into good ones.

For example, here's a picture of #2 Son. The exposure barfed when the picture was taken, so the bottom of the photo was terribly over exposed. That's too bad, because he has quite a whimsical expression - which kept me from tossing the pic, but it never made it into the photo albums, either.

XSANE to the rescue! It has a preview pane, where you can select which part of the photo you want scanned. Here you see me grabbing the middle of the picture, turning it from portrait layout to landscape, and cropping the top and bottom of the shot.

Since I'm throwing away around half the picture, I bumped the scanning resolution up a bit (to 200 dpi in this case). This expands the picture, and lets me fill the screen with his whimsical expression.

The finished pic. Yay XSANE!

This is pretty basic stuff, but you can take it to the extreme. Consider a terrible photo of #1 Son, in Brussels:

I blame Brussels (well, the shot is not well composed). But #1 Son has a very interesting expression. Since nothing much else in the shot has any interest at all, let's zoom way, way in:

At 300 dpi it's starting to get grainy, but that's better. Brussels is a lot nicer when you stop looking at it!

One of the most useful things that I've found (and use on maybe 60% of the photos) is the "despeckle" feature, which removes the white spots from lint on the photo or scanner glass bed.

The downside is that it's time consuming, and all of you get subjected to more Borepatch photos. But it gives me a backup to all our photo albums, and I can get prints made by uploading the PNG file to one of the many photo printing services on the Internet.

Connect the dots

Let's see now, what picture emerges?

The British refuse to renew the suspect's student visa.

The suspect's dad said he's dangerous.

He bought his ticket with cash, and didn't have any luggage.

Sorry, I really don't see a picture emerging from all the data points. Do you? Oh, wait - maybe this:

Needs bacon, though

And where does the ammo go?

Via Doug Ross.

Security Smorgasbord, vol 1 no 10

The year is ending not with a security bang, but with a security whimper.

There's been no security updates of note to point out for a week, so other than the usual perimeter security, you can stand down for the end of year festivities.

About the only thing worth pointing out is that it looks like GSM security has been broken. GSM is cell phone stuff, and is essentially used in any modern mobile phone. When it was introduced 20 years ago, its security was highly touted. Now it looks like a combination of inherent weaknesses in the algorithms as well as Moore's Law have caught up:
At a hacker conference in Berlin that runs through Wednesday, the cryptographers said they've cracked the algorithm that determines the random channel hopping and have devised a practical means to capture entire calls using equipment that costs about $4,000. At the heart of the crack is open-source software for computer-controlled radios that makes the frequency changes at precisely the same time, and in the same order, that the cellphone and base station do.

"We now know this is possible," said Karsten Nohl, a 28-year-old cryptographer and one of the members of an open-source project out to prove that GSM, the technical standard used by about 80 percent of the mobile market, can't be counted on to keep calls private. The attack "is practical, and there are real vulnerabilities that people are exploiting."
This means that you should realize that your cell phone is essentially a fancy two-way radio. If someone really wants to listen in, they can. Most readers already know this, probably.

20 years ago, Oracle's Larry Ellison caught quite a lot of flak for his comment "You got no privacy; get over it." Time is showing him to be more right than not.

Not much of a smorgasbord. But remember that when it comes to security, no news is good news.

Quote of the day

On the makeup of the anti-anti-gun-control (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) movement:
The pro-RKBA movement is a profoundly unnatural alliance. It’s as if Bible-thumpers, free-market pornographers, and atheistic Marxists needed to march shoulder-to-shoulder in support of freedom of the press against an opposition that wanted to outlaw literacy.

From an interesting recent comment to an interesting post by Eric Raymond, from quite some time back.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Store window, Munich, December 1996. Taken with Pentax K1000.

It's not like I was in love with that camera, but it was ultra reliable, and would take the pictures if you knew how to work it. I took it everywhere, and it always delivered. Sure wish I could get a digital body for it.

#2 Son recommends ...

That you watch this, for an excess of cuteness and chuckles.

Yeah, I know there've been 18 million views. If you need cuteness and chuckles, this is the place to start. I mean, #2 Son wouldn't steer you wrong.

Blogroll updates

New Years Resolution: I will do better in keeping up with my blogroll.

Coordinated Illumination is a term I'd never heard before. The blog by that name breaks it down for me:
Illumination fires are often coordinated with HE fires to both expose the enemy and to kill or suppress him.
Sounds rather useful, that. Plus his caption of George Washington crossing the Delaware made me laugh out loud: AMERICA. We will kill you in your sleep on Christmas.

Sabra from Trailer Park Paradise is well known to many readers. Her recent rant on Women's Magazines had me hicoughing with laughter:
Note the primary headline, the one paired with the big picture: WALK OFF 20 LBS BY CHRISTMAS! Note, also, the somewhat smaller head: Cupcake fun!
Mr. B. at In the Middle of the Right is another shooter, and describes himself as "striving towards mediocrity". The older I get, the more I can relate. Sing it, brother ...

Welcome to the Borepatch Blogroll, everyone!

And to anyone out there who has be on their blogroll: if I haven't added you, send me an email and I'll add you here.

Well known to the local Constabulary

#2 Son. Started running with a tough crowd early.

Referrer Madness

It's odd what leads some folks to this little corner of Al Gore's Intarwebz.

Mac Fanboys vs Windows Fanboys vs Linux Fanboys

Cage match! I'm betting on the Linux fanboys, because they're used to fighting sneaky. Mac Fanboys are too emo, and the Windows dudes got no security.

i hacked neighbor's wifi. now what do i do?

It's customary to bring it back with a full tank. If you want to add a personal gesture of appreciation, you might get it washed, too.

damnyankee 2 words?

Like they say in Maine, ayuh.

Quote of the day

Some arguments should not be met with politeness.
The problem I have with this whole discussion is that it grants what is a monstrous totalitarian perspective a polite hearing rather than the sort of response it truly deserves. It strikes me to just dignify the proposition "the state should spay women and castrate men" with "wouldn't it be better if we just find a way to reduce the fuel we burn?" is to in effect tolerate the intolerable. A far better response, and dare I say a more ethical one, would be "your policy will indeed reduce the world's population because people like me will put a 10mm hole between the eyes of totalitarian scum like you."
I'm partial to .30-.30, myself.

I do wonder what sort of dinner parties Perry de Havilland finds himself at, though.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What does a Nobel Scientist say about the Greenhouse Effect?

Now you might think that a chemist wouldn't know anything about the science of global warming. You might think that the science of global warming is all complicated.

But Kary Mullis does know about the scientific method - experimental tests to provide evidence for or against a particular hypothesis. He also knows how research grant funding works, and how that effects the scientific method. And he said all of this seven years ago.

That's a powerful "consensus" right there.

Hat tip: The Dog Ate My Data.

The Infrastructure of the 21st Century is built from Moonbeams and Spun Sugar

That's a quote stolen from my old friend Ken Hardwick. Marcus Ranum explains why.

If you want to understand why Internet Security is so broken, this Ted Talk is a good introduction.

Beware the Jabberwock Wikipedia, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.
I've been meaning to post about this for a bit. The ClimateGate emails have exposed Wikipedia as being entirely unreliable regarding climate change. Entirely. Anthony Watts has been all over this for a while, but the situation is essentially a politically motivated editor at Wikipedia rewrote history via thousands of Wikipedia articles. The Wikipedia "system" broke down, as corrections to these articles were blocked, and the people correcting them were banned from Wikipedia.

Computer Security folks look at "Resource Poisoning" attacks as some of the most interesting - if you can convince a critical mass of users that something is untrustworthy, it will collapse.

Wikipedia has suffered a massive and public failure of transparency. The only question is which other bits of Wikipedia are as untrustworthy?

Via TJIC, who offers some insight into how the system is gamed to produce a certain result.

La Gabelle

The reason that history repeats itself is that nobody listens the first time.

It's surprising just how, well, un- educated today's intellectuals are. It's a failure of imagination, really - a failure to recognize that previous generations were just as clever, or beautiful, as ours.

Miss Martha Dana was a hottie. The future Mrs. William R. Mercer was painted by Anders Zorn in 1899, when she was 27. Understandably attached to the painting, she bequeathed it to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where I snapped it's picture with my iPhone.


People don't think about this, that previous generations weren't different from us at all. Sure, we have Quantum Theory and iPhones, but is it safe to assume - as most of today's intellectuals routinely do - that we think differently? That we see the world in deeper shades of color than they did?

More importantly, is it safe to assume that we're making new mistakes, rather than old mistakes?

La Gabelle was the most hated tax in France - indeed, it was so hated that it was one of the reasons that King Louis was not just shuffled aside into a Constitutional Monarchy role, but had some Quality Time with Madame Guillotine. You could call the tax a mistake.

So what was it about la Gabelle that made it so despised? After all, it was just a tax (in this case, a tax on salt). You don't like the tax, don't buy so much salt. Ah, there's the rub.

You had to buy the salt. By law, everyone ten years old or older had to buy salt, at a price set by the Crown. More infuriating, different parts of the realm paid different tax - favored regions got a break. Naturally, this led to a thriving smuggling trade, with increasingly draconian penalties as time went on. In the end, the cash was too important to the financially-strapped Ancien Regime to allow for reform, and the whole system collapsed.

Today's intellectuals (on the left side of the aisle) either don't know this, or have forgotten this. Most likely, they would think it's irrelevant, since they're Ever So Much More Clever Than Previous Generations.

And so the Senate just passed a Gabelle.

Soon, you will be forced by law to buy something (health insurance). Because people will naturally want to buy less of it, you'll have to buy as much as the government says, at a price set by them. Not everyone will have to pay the same - favorites of the Regime (the unions, in this case, but expect this list to be ever expanding) will get special deals. Regional differences will exist, but won't effect the price due to government prohibitions (ban on interstate insurance sales). As the New Deal and Great Society programs hit the budget in full fiscal force, the cash will be too important to the government to allow for needed reforms.

The analogy is (as all analogies are) imprecise, but what is fascinating is just how similar Obamacare is to la Gabelle. The Intellectuals don't get this.

They also don't get just how unpopular this will be. They're patting themselves on the back, and congratulating themselves on being on The Right Side Of History. That lack of intellectual awareness is also fascinating.

Things are fixin' to get, err, hot around here, toute suite.

Pygmalion didn't have to deal with this

When animations go bad.

It wasn't an "Intelligence" or "Security" failure

All weekend long, there's been a ton of stuff in print, on TV, and all through the Blogosphere about the terror attack on the Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. In many of these, it's being labeled an "Intelligence failure", or a "Failure of airline security". All this misses the point.

Which is Intelligence and airline security are bound to fail. Intelligence is - and will always be - imperfect in collection, and subject to poisoning by the adversary. Air travel is a porous target - repeated "penetration tests" show a 100% success rate in compromising the system. Look, any system that has to move several hundred million passengers a year is by necessity going to have all sorts of failure points.

Could the international Intel agencies have done better? Sure. Could TSA improve security and lessen hassles? Sure. Can either move the failure rate down significantly? I don't think so.

As long as you play defense, you're going to lose. If your adversary is clever, and patient, and well funded, he'll get you. He can study your defenses, pick a vulnerable target, and plan an attack to bypass your counter measures. In the long run, he'll win.

It will be a long, long time before the Intel archives of the last decade are declassified. In the cold light of day, it will be clear that a lot of the "thwarted" terror attacks were nothing of the sort. What will be clear is that Bush's decision to go on the attack - to take the battle to the Arab heartland where Al Qaeda had to respond, or lose relevancy to its intended supporters - was the decisive moment. Bush didn't "take his eye off the ball" by going to Iraq, he forced Al Qaeda to fight our battle, rather than them forcing us to fight theirs. Their resources went to operations other than attacking airliners.

It remains to be seen whether the Democrat's desire to withdraw from Bush's aggressive overseas engagements will put us on the defensive; certainly they want us on the defensive. I fear that Al Qaeda has been hurt, but not fatally.

Defense always loses in the long run. If we play defense, it's not a question of "if" - only "when" and "how".

UPDATE 28 December 2009 11:07: Unbeknownst to most people, there exists a set of immutable Laws of Security. Marcus Ranum described the first - and greatest - of these. Sometimes it's easier to not do something stupid than it is to do something smart. The TSA is fixin' to destroy that village air travel market in order to save it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Don't let the cat out of the bag

The bag is barely holding all the cuteness as it is.

Boris and Natasha, 1989.

Munich Airport

Hasn't looked this good since December, 1996.

The bottle you see in the foreground was #2 Son's. I'm getting good results scanning photos at 120 dpi. Enough resolution to get decent pictures, but not so much that every bit of lint on the scanner bed is obvious.

You can't get there from here

Well, you can, but it's complicated.

The Cotswolds, autumn 1996. Photo taken with Pentax K1000.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Two thirds of USA gets a White Christmas

First ever blizzard in west Texas.

Europe hammered by snow; many dead.

Stranded London rail passengers rescued by Steam Train. The electric trains couldn't get through, since the blizzard took out the power lines.

Yes, yes. This is weather, not climate. You do know the difference, don't you?

Weather - a localized condition, unrelated to global climate change.

Climate - anything that proves Global Warming.

Via Watts Up With That. Picture via Theo Spark.

Bumper cars at the Mall

I love the bumper sticker.

Via Grouchy Old Cripple.

Tim McGraw - Live Like You Were Dying

Dad's cancer is back.

I'm afraid that I've been willful, and lived my life filled with anger. I went for years without speaking with him, for foolish, prideful reasons. There's a Country song for that, but it's a bitter sort of solace.

Dad beat it the first time, ten years ago. He beat it a second time, nine months ago. I hope he'll do it again. Tenacity saw him through then, and I hope that well hasn't run dry.

I'm also glad that my Christmas present is to fly out and visit him.

The words of Stephen Levine keep returning to me, a beacon marking the channel safe from the shoals of Foolish Pride:
If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?

And why are you waiting?
Words for all of us. I'm glad that I buried my foolish, foolish pride, and made that call. It won't erase the past, but it give us the present. An opportunity.

Live like you were dying, like every day were a gift. What would you do with it?

Live Like You Were Dying (Songwriter: Tim Nichols, Craig Wiseman)
He said: "I was in my early forties,
"With a lot of life before me,
"An' a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
"I spent most of the next days,
"Looking at the x-rays,
"An' talking 'bout the options an' talkin’ ‘bout sweet time."
I asked him when it sank in,
That this might really be the real end?
How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?
Man whatcha do?

An' he said: "I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

He said "I was finally the husband,
"That most the time I wasn’t.
"An' I became a friend a friend would like to have.
"And all of a sudden goin' fishin’,
"Wasn’t such an imposition,
"And I went three times that year I lost my Dad.
"Well, I finally read the Good Book,
"And I took a good long hard look,
"At what I'd do if I could do it all again,
"And then:

"I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

Like tomorrow was a gift,
And you got eternity,
To think about what you’d do with it.
An' what did you do with it?
An' what can I do with it?
An' what would I do with it?

"Sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I watched Blue Eagle as it was flyin'."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

"To live like you were dyin'."
"To live like you were dyin'."
"To live like you were dyin'."
"To live like you were dyin'."
Why are you waiting?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Howling at the moon

It's what comes out with the moon that's the problem.
January's always bitter
But Lord this one beats all
The wind ain't quit for weeks now
And the drifts are ten feet tall
I been all night drivin' heifers
Closer in to lower ground
Then I spent the mornin' thinkin'
'Bout the ones the wolves pulled down

Charlie Barton and his family
Stopped today to say goodbye
He said the bank was takin' over
The last few years were just too dry
And I promised that I'd visit
When they found a place in town
Then I spent a long time thinkin'
'Bout the ones the wolves pull down

Lord please shine a light of hope
On those of us who fall behind
And when we stumble in the snow
Could you help us up while there's still time

Well I don't mean to be complainin' Lord
You've always seen me through
And I know you got your reasons
For each and every thing you do
But tonight outside my window
There's a lonesome mournful sound
And I just can't keep from thinkin'
'Bout the ones the wolves pull down

Oh Lord keep me from bein'
The one the wolves pull down
Garth Brooks, Wolves.

All this decade, life has been speaking in its Outdoors Voice. It can stop anytime.

Forget the Christmas cookies

Home made cinnamon rolls are better.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A dream is a wish that your heart makes ...

To all Borepatch readers, a very merry Christmas.

And a double merry Christmas to Stan, from whom this is shamelessly stolen.

To our deployed troops: Merry Christmas, and God Bless

We may not have a Bob Hope, but we appreciate what you do for us.

Thank you for the sacrifices you make for us. Thank you for the sacrifices that your families make for us, particularly at this time of year. Come home safe, and soon, and victorious.

Hat tip: The Fat Guy.

Hey FAA, how about a nice big cup of chill out?

This man is my hero:

ARDMORE, OK -- The pilot who landed his homemade blimp near Interstate 35 Wednesday evening could be grounded by the FAA after it was discovered he hasn't fulfilled some vital requirements to take off. Austin Wright has more.

Marvin Polzien says he does not have a current pilot's license, nor does he have a valid medical certificate. While representatives with the FAA wouldn't speak on camera today, they did tell us both of those things are required to fly.

On Wednesday evening hundreds watched as a blimp piloted by a local man flip flopped across the sky over Ardmore.

Its pilot, 79-year-old Marvin Polzien, says he brought the blimp down near the freeway last night because a motor that helps steer the blimp failed.

How can you tell that a government agency is over staffed? Because they're staffed enough to send two agents chasing after a 79 year old inventor. Note to FAA: this man is not selling his blimp, so could you please point to the section of the Constitution that gives you jurisdiction?

No? Then kindly sit down and shut the heck up.

There's video ot the link.

I'm glad we're not traveling this Holiday season

Oh good grief:
I'd call them "morons", but that wouldn't be charitable. To actual morons.

I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

You want to watch it, don't you? Admit it ...

Via Tosh.0, one of the better finds of #1 Son.

The IT Helpdesk Strikes Back

I have to say, I laughed at this. Yes, I'm a nerd.

From the Fake Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The view out the plane window

Some places - like Cape Canaveral - are more, err, dynamic.

The commentary is not so impressive, but the gentleman was no doubt taken by surprise at the event. If it had been me, y'all would have had to listen to a dissertation on Aluminum Oxide as a rocket propellant ...

Need a reason to support Gun Ownership?

How about six?

Here in New England, we take that part about the British pretty seriously. And you just know that those Zombies won't shoot themselves.

Nat King Cole - the Christmas Song

Guess who's making Big Money on Climate Change?

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These are the UN guys who are the authorities on Climate Change, the Hockey Stick, and all that.

And just how much is Dr. Pachauri making? A quarter million bucks. That we know of:

No one in the world exercised more influence on the events leading up to the Copenhagen conference on global warming than Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and mastermind of its latest report in 2007.

Although Dr Pachauri is often presented as a scientist (he was even once described by the BBC as “the world’s top climate scientist”), as a former railway engineer with a PhD in economics he has no qualifications in climate science at all.

What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.

These outfits include banks, oil and energy companies and investment funds heavily involved in ‘carbon trading’ and ‘sustainable technologies’, which together make up the fastest-growing commodity market in the world, estimated soon to be worth trillions of dollars a year.

Today, in addition to his role as chairman of the IPCC, Dr Pachauri occupies more than a score of such posts, acting as director or adviser to many of the bodies which play a leading role in what has become known as the international ‘climate industry’
Big bucks to an unqualifed, well connected bureaucrat for "access". This is me, looking shocked.

Dr. Pachauri has issued a press release saying that the charges are baseless and that he may sue the Telegraph for libel. People in the climate science community are unimpressed at his response:
The release provides details on more than $250,000 in payments to TERI over the past three and a half years in exchange for Dr. Pachauri's services from companies with a direct financial stake in climate policy. I do not see how this information in any way clears up the issue. In fact, it raises more difficult questions for the IPCC and Dr. Pachauri, who based on this information is unambiguously in violation of conflict of interest policies of the WMO and UN, the parent bodies of the IPCC. This level of remuneration from parties interested in specific climate policy outcomes would clearly violate conflict of interest guidelines at most federal agencies with respect to service on science advisory panels (e.g., FDA has a threshold of $50,000 per year). The fact that the money goes to an organization that Dr. Pachauri directs rather than directly into his pocket is not relevant (to the FDA, WMO or UN).
If the Intellectual Left had any honesty left, they would string this guy up from a lamppost themselves. The world could use an honest Intellectual Left.

So much for "protecting the UK's national interest"

Remember how the UK Meterological Office turned down a Freedom of Information Act request for theCRU's climate data? Because they said that it would damage the UK's international relations?


The UK Met Office has released a large tranche of station data, together with code.

Only last summer, the Met Office had turned down my FOI request for station data, saying that the provision of station data to me would threaten the course of UK international relations. Apparently, these excuses have somehow ceased to apply.

What's absolutely hilarious is that these cadres of the Intellectual Left are so firmly convinced that they're smarter than the Average Bear. It's simply astonishing the number of times you hear an explanation from one of these self-described Elite and think: That's it? That's the best they can do?

Seems it is.

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth

No? Well how about a filling to replace the one that just fell out?

I note that the Senate hasn't even passed the Obamacare™ bill, and the dentist is already getting me right in! Thanks, Senate! Boy, this is just like the Nobel Peace Prize - you don't even have to do anything, and the rainbows shine down on the Unicorns!

UPDATE 23 December 2009 12:22: Seems I need a crown. Must be a king or something.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The victims of Climate Change (Legislation)

Because people might die from the effects of climate change in the future, Governments are ensuring that people die today. Australian farmer Peter Spencer has entered his 30th day of a hunger strike against the Oz.Gov. Why? Their laws - enacted to comply with the Kyoto Treaty - prevent him from making a living on his own land.

The Australian government pledged to cut the amount of Carbon Dioxide produced in their country. Rather than take the politically unpopular approach of reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned by the energy and transport sectors (by far the biggest producers of CO2), they've chosen to encourage "carbon sequestration" (the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere) by promoting the growth of forest.

By "promoting the growth of forest", I mean "prohibit landowners from cutting down any trees or brush". As a result, vast portions of Australia are returning to scrub, and farmers who once made their living by, well, farming are now destitute. You see, the Oz.Gov refuses to compensate them for the fact that their land is now worthless, because you can't farm it.

Mr. Spencer decided enough is enough. Ignored by the Oz.Gov and the courts, he's making a statement with his life and health. The Personal is Political, indeed. So far, the Oz.Gov is watching him die:
A spokesman for Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has warned hunger striking Monaro district grazier, Peter Spencer, will not succeed in changing government policy over compensation of farmers for land clearing restrictions.

The response means Mr Spencer (pictured), of “Saarahnlee”, who entered the 30th day of a hunger strike on a wind monitoring tower on his property on Tuesday, could become a self-elected martyr to his cause.

He has repeatedly vowed not to end the hunger strike until Mr Rudd agrees to pay himself and other farmers billions of dollars in compensation over land clearing restrictions and the role the restrictions have played in ensuring Australia met Kyoto Protocol carbon emission targets.

But Mr Rudd’s spokesman said: “The Government sets policy in the national interest.


But supporter of Mr Spencer and Cobar district grazier, Alastair McRobert, said the national interest would be “if the Commonwealth upheld the people’s constitution and paid farmers for the benefits (from the carbon) that have been stolen from them”.

Constitution, schmonstitution. The Ozzie PM is trying to pose for the Cameras in Copenhagen.

The Environmental Movement was once about cleaning up filthy rivers, and preventing people from dieing from smog attacks like the Great Smog of London. When they did so, they found great success in persuading the people to support their agenda. No more. As we've cleaned up the most egregious waste, the Environmental Movement has set their sights on bigger game. If some people now believe that the goal is depopulating the land, and reducing overall populations and standard of living, the professional environmentalists have nobody to blame but themselves. Their literature is filled with this sort of thing:
You shouldn't have a dog because of its carbon footprint.

A little malnutrition is good for the children. OK, it's not, but it's good for Mother Gaia.

Better no jobs than non-Green jobs.
For a movement founded in the innocence of youthful enthusiasm, the cycle is now complete. The once downy-cheeked crusaders are now The Man. Thirty years from now, we'll look back on Kevin Rudd much like we look back on Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister of England in 1914: out of his depth, but too wedded to his world view to save a generation from destruction.

Via Joanne Nova.

$99 Netbook

You really can't get much cheaper than this. As the company says, it's "Small, Slow, Sufficient":
The 7" Cherrypal was designed with developing countries in mind. The Africa is powered with an 400 MHz processor, 256 MB DDR / 2 GB NAND-flash and runs Linux (GMo) or Windows CE. Here are some more basics: Screen: 7 inch high-resolution TFT .(800 x 480 pixels) LAN:10/100M Ethernet Access WIFI: IEEE 802.11 b/g Ethernet RJ-45 Keyboard: QWERTY 86 keys Mouse&Touch pad:build-in touch panel, set two shortcut key,and support usb port mouse USB Port: USB 2.0 x 1 (aid external memory) USB 1.1 x 2 (aid keyboard & mouse only) External Memory : SD card , U-Disk , USB-HDD Card port: SD / MMC card slot (8GB) Battery: 7.4 V 1800Mha built in Lithium battery 1800MAH Last time:4 HRS Sound effect:build-in realtek sound effect chipset, Built in 2 x 0.5W Built in speaker 1 x microphone Weight:1.2kg Size: 213.5 x 141.8 x 30.8 mm
I'd hate WindowsCE (but you knew that). Linux would run just fine on this, though. If you wanted very inexpensive, portable browsing and light duty applications, this would do the trick. I'd think of this as an alternative to a pocket computer like an iPhone.

Via Slashdot.

"Green" tech breakthrough?

There are two major problems with "Green" electric generation technologies. They are more expensive (sometimes much more expensive) than alternatives, and they often don't work all the time.

The second one is the true deal killer. While higher cost is an efficiency issue, there are some places where these technologies would be extremely useful - mobile applications, for example, or off-the-grid locations where the current (polluting) alternatives are simply not a solution.

But if your electricity comes from solar, you can only turn your light on when the sun shines. Today you have to basically sell your electricity back to the power company (feed the Grid) during the day, so you can draw power at night. The power company hates this because it's terribly inefficient - a Potemkin Environmental Village, as it were.

Some boffins at the University of Illinois have come up with something that - if it works - would be a true game changer: a solid-state battery with ten times the energy density of Lithium-ion.
That battery incorporates a vast number of microscopic capacitors build from electrodes 10nm apart, separated by an insulator. According to Hubler, quantum effects, present because of nanometre scale of the capacitor, prevent the charge on one electrode jumping to the other when the electric field between the electrodes reaches a critical point.
This is probably a tipping point, if it's true. It would allow things like laptop computers that would run for a week between charges, or cell phones that would run for a month, or solar powered houses that don't connect to the Grid. It attacks the core problem with Green power technologies, which has never been generation, but rather storage.

Also keep a healthy dose of skepticism here. I remember hearing about solid state batteries as an Electrical Engineering student, a couple centuries ago back at State U. However, we might know pretty soon:
If all this is beginning to sound like the proverbial free lunch, it gets better. Hubler believes the manufacturing techniques used by the likes of Intel and AMD to make chips could be used to build these nanocapacitor arrays. A prototype could be built in a year, apparently, provided someone coughs up some cash to fund the research.
It's the 21st Century, and I still want my flying car. However, a week-long battery for my netbook would be pretty cool, too.

I did it all for you

Every day in the lead up to Christmas, I've been posting a song. Today I have a terrific modern day Carol from Kristyn Osborn of SheDAISY (with Marcus Hummon). It sadly does not have a video, but you can listen to it on iTunes. You can get all the lyrics here:
Shedaisy: I sold your Rolex
To buy that gold Versace dress
Rascal Flatts: I set free your whiny French poodle
So you could get your beauty rest

And I did it all for you
I did it all (I did it all) for you
This Christmas (This Christmas)
All your dreams (All your dreams)
Will come true

Rascal Flatts: I put your mother on a greyhound (Shedaisy: you did what?)
You always hoped she'd have the chance to see the world-now she can
Shedaisy: I torched your Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues (Rascal Flatts: No, no, no,no)
So I could be your only girl-and now I am
Heartwarming. I like the verse about selling his bass boat.

Here's wishing you a merry and conflict-free holiday season.

Nobody's life, liberty, or property is safe when the Legislature is in session.

Even in New Hampshire:
They tried and were unsuccessful in early 2008 to enact this gun ban through lawful legislative channels. So, now, in the spirit of open and transparent government (aka: Hopenchange) they've decided to pack a committee full of freedom-hating statists and ram it through when no one was paying attention, and with no public notice or legislative hearings.
Let me offer the following advice to the New Hampshire Legislature:

Once she empties her magazine into that guy, she'll sic her dog on him. Don't be that guy.

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

Make Big Money on Climate Change!

Now if y'all will excuse me, I'm off to light a fire in the fireplace. It's cold out.

Hat tip: Samizdata.

Welcome to the Sino-American Century

Europeans have for some time devoutly wished for a multi-polar world, one in which the unpredictable American behemoth is constrained. Perhaps the best discussion of this is Robert Kagan's Of Paradise and Power (highly recommended).

This desire for the United States for be humbled, to be knocked from its perch at the pinnacle of a uni-polar world was the driving force behind the wave of Obamamania that swept Europe in the summer and fall of 2008. Unlike the unilateralist cowboy Bush, Obama would consult with our indispensable European allies. He was, after all, the head of Harvard Law Review, and a committed transnationalist. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Welcome to a new Revolution:

Approaching the summit, it appeared that pretty much all the countries wanted a new global climate deal under the UNFCCC umbrella. Politicians from many countries invested significant diplomatic effort to make it happen - apparently.

The concluding sequence of this much-hyped summit has left many observers and national delegations stunned.

Ministers and officials and scientists and campaigners and lobbyists who have dedicated huge swathes of the last year to making a tough deal happen watched aghast as Chinese and US leaders and their entourages flew in, took over the agenda and emerged with what was basically their own private deal, with leaders announcing it live on television before others realised it had happened.

I pride myself on running a full service blog, so let me spell it out for the Euros: China wasn't about to hobble their economy for some Green pie-in-the-sky, either now or in the future. Obama needs the Chinese checkbook wide open as he brings Trillion dollar euro-style "Third Way" socialism to the USA, so he wasn't going to push them. You've spent the last two decades making yourselves irrelevant, at an accelerating pace, so what you think is important is - well, irrelevant.

You thought that when Big China made the world multi-polar, you'd come out on top. Like the Red Chinese were going to take marching orders from Brussels, or even share your philosophy.

You thought that the future was going to be all Truffaut and Fellini. You thought wrong.

"We spend it on things that cost a lot and end up doing very little good for the climate. That's stupid."

Fox has a great show on Climate change up. The part that I think is most significant is the bit with Bjorn Lomborg:

The other five parts are linked by Youtube - watch (or skip) to the end.

Long time readers will know my attitude about Global Warming: it's been happening for a long time, mankind's contribution to the process is negligible at best, and that proposals to deal with the problem are very likely a huge grab for power and money by the political class.

But Lomborg's point needs to be highlighted in bold and underlined in red. Assume that man-made warming is real, and it's serious. If you were going to spend a Trillion dollars helping mankind, would you spend it on reducing carbon emissions?

He elaborates at length on this in his TED talk.


Jimmy Buffett did this, of course, but Dean Martin's version is the one appreciated by connoisseurs.

Good dog

Referrer Madness

It's been a long time since I've done one of these, but I've got a good group of referral strings.

merry christmas

Merry Christmas to you, too. I have to confess that I was a little shocked to see this from Google - 35 Million results, and little old me on the first page. It would be heart warming, except the link points to this.


copenhagen irrelevant

Interesting question. Copenhagen has a population of around 1.2M people. That makes it comparable to San Diego or Dallas. So the city seems decently relevant, although I'd think there are more places to go shooting in Dallas.

The recent UN Copenhagen "Accords"? Yeah - irrelevant.

nsa backdoor

There are many doors at Ft. Meade - just ask the armed guards. As to whether they have a backdoor into your computer, you're likely so full of spyware that they wouldn't need to backdoor your software.

That said, "the NSA has a backdoor to try to ensnare me" is a variant of the sort of thing that Vietnam War era hippies used to say to try to get chicks into the sack. Sorry to break the news to you, but the NSA really doesn't care much about you, Scooter. Srlsy.

how to deworm a computer

Call the NSA.

Latest blogosphere posts tagged “REDNECK”

This one came in from Technorati, not Google. Huh? Someone is still looking at them? I mean, they've given me almost as much "authority" (606) as FireDogLake (712).

what does a bore look like?

It's a bit of a large group of subjects, but how about this?

I dunno - does this slide make my ass look big?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A public Service Announcement

#1 Son has his driver's license.

No, he's not a beer fan, and it's not 1996 any more. I have to say that's he's a particularly careful driver. It's a no-brainer that he's a better driver than 90% of the folks in the Boston area. Not that that says much - #2 Son is a better shot than 95% of the kids in his Middle School.

It will be interesting to be able to send #1 Son out to the store for milk, rather than having to get my shoes on and go out in the cold.

Man, I feel old.

A bad day fishing beats a good day at the office

If you're lucky, you can combine these into a single, glorious experience.

Rumor has it that this is an archival photo of commenter and shooting buddy Burt, from his days drilling to repel boarders.

Happy Birthday, #2 Son!

All grown up and shooting .30-.30 ...

Unexpected moments

Sometimes you find that cool water in the barren desert. Sometimes, despite everything, the world falls into place - at least for a moment. Stephany had one of those moments:
standing at the window next to our little table, the view became part of an extraordinary event. "look, there she is!", i exclaimed. my daughter's face lit up brilliantly, as she exclaimed, "yes!, yes!", and was leaning toward the window watching her sister wave from the parking lot at the hospital yesterday.
I hope this flower blooms more often for you, Stephany.

Photo taken in Munich, December 1996.

Merry Christmas to all, now you're all gonna die!

Via #2 Son who points out that there aren't many songs that have a rhyme for "Luger." Heh.

Blogroll Additions

Divemedic is a name familiar to many readers. He blogs over at Confessions Of A Street Pharmacist, and has been kind enough to add me to his blogroll. Thanks, Divemedic - much appreciated.

Sometimes commenter
I have been down the road Psychiatry calls a fix; and I found it futile, harmful, not to mention a complete and utter lie. He has a huge amount of information about the pharmaceutical industry and anti psychotics in particular. If you have a loved one or friend who struggles with this, he needs to be on your reading list.

Welcome to the Borepatch blogroll, everyone! And if anyone esle has me on their blogroll, please drop me a line and I'll reciprocate.


Gee, ya think?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Get off my lawn

Srlsy. Just get off it.


The perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for couple

We used to subscribe to Garden & Gun. Too much Garden, not enough Gun. This looks like it would be closer:

Shamelessly stolen from Every Day, No Days Off. He has a ton more.

3 months???

Can it really be three months since I've been to the range?

Now that's how you blog

If you blog, and want to get better, you pay attention to the craftsmanship on display by some of the Bloggers of Great Talent.

Random Acts of Patriotism has an outstanding display of blog craftsmanship. A title, two pictures, the obligatory (for him) closing quote. That's all. I'd snip some of it for y'all, but there's nothing to snip.

It's the Picasso post. If Universities had Blog schools, like they had Art schools, generations of students would study this post.

Well played, sir. So very, very well played.

Red Hill Kudzu brings The Smart

From Cicero:
The budget should be balanced,
the Treasury should be refilled,
public debt should be reduced,
the arrogance of officialdom
should be tempered and controlled,
Read. The. Whole. Damn. Thing.

It's been said that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy; the second as farce. The reason it repeats itself is that nobody listens the first time.

Willie Nelson - Pancho and Lefty

Everybody sings with Willie.

You see, Willie doesn't do "market segmentation." He doesn't build walls between different types of music.

He busts them down.

In his long career, he's sung with a lot of folks. You can lose hours on Youtube watching Willie and someoneorother: Willie and Norah Jones, Willie and Ray Charles, Willie and Julio Inglesias, Willie and Sinead O'Connor, ZZ Top, or Snoop Dogg.

Record executives love to segment the market. It makes it easier to plan, you see. Instead of Rock 'n Roll, we'll have Hard Rock, and Classic Rock, and Oldies. But then we can break down Hard Rock to Heavy Metal, and then Thrash/Screamo/whatever-the-young-folk-listen-to-today.

Willie didn't have any use for that sort of market manipulation, or for the record execs who do it. Of course, he is Country. There are the country legends he sang with. He formed The Highwaymen with Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings. He (with Waylon Jennings) created Outlaw Country - named not for being one step ahead of The Law, but one step ahead of the Nashville establishment. After all, he wrote Patsy Cline's "Crazy".

But lack of segmentation never hurt him. Ten Grammys. Eighteen Platinum albums (and who knows how many others). All in between trouble with the IRS - no, not because of Weed, but because he had a lousy accountant. Last I heard, he sued 'em (the accountant, not the IRS), and he won. Then landed film roles in Wag The Dog and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and 29 other film or TV roles. Oh, behave.

But he won't. He's busy busting down walls. Here's Willie with another wall buster, Bob Dylan.

Pancho and Lefty (Songwriter: Townes Van Zandt)
Living on the road my friend
Was gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath's as hard as kerosene
You weren't your mama's only boy
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye
And sank into your dreams

Pancho was a bandit boys
His horse was fast as polished steel
Wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel
Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dying words
That's the way it goes

All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him hang around
Out of kindness I suppose

Lefty he can't sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty's mouth
The day they laid poor Pancho low
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go
There ain't nobody knows

All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness I suppose

The poets tell how Pancho fell
Lefty's livin' in a cheap hotel
The desert's quiet and Cleveland's cold
So the story ends we're told
Pancho needs your prayers it's true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He just did what he had to do
Now he's growing old

A few gray federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him go so wrong
Out of kindness I suppose
And here's the original music video with Merle Haggard, from their duet album of the same name.

Friday, December 18, 2009

You think Global Warming is bad?

You haven't thought it through.
Helpful note to prospective Citrus farmers: it's pronounced "peer", not "pierre". No need to thank me.

Teaching about climate change

You can help.

I've spent the last several days creating a PowerPoint slide presentation about Anthropogenic Global Warming, and the (scientific) case for being a skeptic. I originally thought that I'd make this into a Youtube video; I may still do that, but Youtube is limited to 10 minutes. Even with some major surgery, this presentation is still longer than that.

The presentation is an expanded version of this post. There's no audio, so this will be the next step.

If anyone is a teach and wants to use this, you can download the slides from SlideShare (each slide has speaker's notes). If anyone is in the Boston area and wants me to present this to your group, I'm available for the low, low fee of free.

This is a draft, and the OpenOffice spell checker seems to be broken, so I expect that it's filled with misspellings. Any feedback would be very much appreciated, either leave a comment or send me an email: borepatch {at} gmail {dot} com.

Also, please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested. Bloggers, any links to this (or embed the slides yourself) would be a huge help in getting this information out to teh Intarwebs. Long time readers know that this subject is near and dear to my heart. This is intended for a mass audience, because the mass audience needs it.

Oh, and can I just say that SlideShare is teh outrageously cool, filled with win and covered in awesomesauce.

It's nice that he wants to be "just like Daddy", but there are limits

Looks like someone's starting things early down in Chattanooga:
April Wright is 21 years old and is going through a divorce with her husband who is in jail. She says she is not sure how her 4-year-old managed to get out of the house, open a beer, and steal the neighbors presents from under their tree. Now she's just glad he's okay and says she won't let it happen again.
Dad needs to sit that boy down and 'splain things. Maybe during visiting hours:

Once out, Wright says her four year old followed his father's footsteps and was found on Blue Spruce Road, drinking.

"He runs away trying to find his father," she said. "He wants to get in trouble so he can go to jail because that's where his daddy is."

I think there's a country song in this somewhere.

Best wishes for the New Year to Ms. Wright and Hayden, who are obviously not in a Good Place right now.

Security Smorgasbord, vol 1 no 9

Another week, another Day Zero vulnerability from Adobe:

Adobe has confirmed a critical vulnerability in Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.2 and earlier versions that could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system. There are reports that this vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild. Adobe recommends customers follow the mitigation guidance below until a patch is available.

Adobe plans to make available an update to Adobe Reader and Acrobat by January 12, 2010 to resolve the issue.

This means that someone can create a PDF that takes over your computer when you view it. It's being actively exploited in the wild, which is why Adobe made the announcement even though there's no fix available. Yuk.

If you run Linux or Mac, you're in better shape. The PDF will cause the Reader application to crash, which is when the malicious code will run. You're unlikely to be running with elevated privilege with either Mac or Linux.

If you open a PDF (say, from an email) and your browser crashes, and then you get prompted to enter your password because a program needs to run, just say no. This is a 100% sure sign that the exploit code is trying to take over your computer. This is where (and when) you stop it.

If you run Vista or Windows 7, the same thing applies to you. Microsoft's security improvements really help you here.

Windows XP users, you're kind of screwed. There's pretty much no way you can protect yourself. About the best you can do is minimize your exposure by not opening any PDF files you get from anyone that you don't know. Or that came from someone you do know, but where the email looks fishy, like a "lol look at this" which could be from an email virus. When in doubt, email back to your friend and ask him if he actually sent it to you.

Adobe has promised a fix in January, so let's be careful out there.


You know, sometimes I think I can just automatically add a "oh yeah - make sure you go get your latest Adobe fixes" to each week's Smorgasbord post ...


Big set of fixes from Mozilla, for a bunch (7) of problems. This isn't just Firefox, but is Thunderbird and Seamonkey as well. When these apps say there are security updates available and ask if you want them, make sure to say yes.

And let me just say for the 400th time that Mozilla has an outstanding security update process. Mostly transparent and painless, which means people use it. Internet Explorer 8 needs to adopt this.


Did you know that the Mozilla team has a security blog?


SCOTUS to hear texting privacy case:
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review a federal appeals court ruling involving the privacy of personal text messages sent and received by a member of the Ontario, Calif., police department on his official pager.

Last June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Ontario police Sgt. Jeff Quon had a reasonable expectation of privacy in personal text messages transmitted on his SWAT pager in the absence of an official policy regarding pager use.

Sun's Scott McNeally said it, ten years ago. You got no privacy. Get over it.

You should assume no privacy until proven otherwise. Of course, I would say that, having been trained to be paranoid by the Finest Minds in the Free World.

I would say, though, that the Police in particular should assume no privacy when using taxpayer funded equipment.


Online Banking pretty much unsecurable:
Trojan-based, man-in-the-browser attacks are circumventing strong two-factor authentication and proving that any authentication method that relies on browser communications can be defeated. This includes chip cards and biometric technologies.
One of the classic sayings in computer security is that "SSL encryption [authentication in this case] is like using an armored car to deliver money from a park bench to a cardboard box under the overpass." There's big, big money in online financial fraud, which means that the Bad Guys are better funded than the Good Guys.

There's a very good report on this (short, not too techy, on-point) from Finjan.

Quite frankly, I simply don't see online banking as being securable, at least from a Windows computer (or a mobile phone).

Hat tip: SANS. You can sign up for their weekly email summaries.