Wednesday, March 31, 2010
In the mean time, thanks to all for your patience. A bunch of you left very thoughtful comments on my "Why I'm not a conservative" post - comments that really deserve an equally thoughtful response. Some of you left comments asking quite good questions about Ubuntu; those also deserve a thoughtful response.
But this week is getting in the way. My "thoughtful" circuits are working overtime, and are pretty tapped out. The travel is just the cherry on top.
So thanks to everyone who's left a comment recently. I'll get to it, but it may take a few days. I have some posts queued for tomorrow, but the real thinking might take until the weekend.
The upside is that there are a couple books I've been meaning to finish and post about, and this will let me, well, finish them.
The Mac OS X v10.6.3 update, which is considered “critical,” covers flaws that could lead to remote code execution, information disclosure and denial-of-service attacks.
In some scenarios, a malicious hacker could take complete control of a Mac-powered machine if a user simply views a malicious image or movie file.
Microsoft has also been busy, with an out-of-cycle patch for Internet Explorer that fixes a hole being exploited by malware in the wild:
Here’s the full list of the patched vulnerabilities.
The Security Update 2010-002 / Mac OS X v10.6.3 may be obtained from the Software Update pane in System Preferences, or Apple’s Software Downloads web page.
If you run Internet Explorer - and you shouldn't if you have any choice - get the patch. Out of Cycle patches are because there's bad juju.
Microsoft released an emergency IE patch on Tuesday after deciding that a upswing in hacking attacks targeting a zero-day vulnerability in IE 6 and 7 couldn't wait for the next scheduled edition of Patch Tuesday, due on 13 April.
The cumulative IE update (MS10-018) released on Tuesday also fixes nine other security bugs in Microsoft's browser software. All versions of IE from 5.01 to 8.0, on client and servers, are vulnerable to varying degrees and need patching. Other than the blockbuster bug - which involves the iepeers.dll library and creates a handy mechanism to drop malware onto vulnerable systems - other flaws fixed by the release focus on memory corruption vulnerabilities, as explained in a post by the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Centre here.
Also, there's malware that disguises itself as an Adobe updater program:
Legitimate updates ALWAYS come from the vendor's web site (e.g. security.microsoft.com). You should treat ANY email saying there's an update as malware spam.
Nguyen Minh Duc, director of Bkis Security, writes that the recently detected Fakeupver trojan establishes a backdoor on compromised systems while camouflaging its presence by posing as an Adobe update utility. The malware camouflages itself by using the same icons and version number as the official package.
Variants of the malware also pose as updaters for Java and other software applications.
Busy security week, and the week's not half over.
All in all, about what you'd expect.
Scientists at a leading British climate research centre had a culture of withholding information from global warming sceptics but did not deliberately manipulate data to support their case, politicians said today.
In the first official report into the theft of emails from the unit last year, a British parliamentary committee said the messages did not contradict the mainstream scientific view that man-made emissions have contributed to rising temperatures.
Thousands of emails exchanged between scientists were published on the Internet days before world leaders met in Copenhagen for climate change talks last December.
The government has acknowledged that the ensuing row dented public confidence in the evidence underpinning man's role in raising global temperatures.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A student performance of an excerpt from Corpus Christi, a play positing Jesus Christ as a gay man, was canceled this past Friday at Tarleton State University (TSU) in Texas amid controversy and calls for censorship.And why would The Lord not speak to the Gay Community? And if this particular play is Leftist Propaganda™ what specifically is the propaganda?
The performance of the excerpt, which was to be directed by TSU student John Otte, was scheduled to be held on Saturday morning as fulfillment of an assignment for an advanced directing class. Instead, Corpus Christi and three other student-directed plays, also scheduled for Saturday, were canceled by the class’s professor late Friday evening[, citing] ... “safety and security concerns for the students as well as the need to maintain an orderly academic environment.” ...
In this Holy Week, I do believe that the Lord moves in mysterious ways, that His ways are unknowable to man, and that we must trust in His ways.
When I lived in the Washington, D.C. suburbs in Maryland and went to a church on Capitol Hill, there were a number of Gay couples in the congregation. From a theological perspective, are their souls of less worth than, say, the souls of the adulterers in the congregation? Did He not die for them as He died for us?
The original piece bafflingly buries the sexed-up lede in the sixth paragraph, beneath some fairly ho-hum reporting about Michael Steele “once . . . rais[ing] the possibility of using party money to buy a private jet for his travel.” So to the DC editors, the story is not that the chairman of the Republican party expensed a lesbian sex show, it is that he thought about doing something else that might be seen as wasteful and abusive of his office.Ignoring the pros or cons of a lesbian show as a team building event (err, that would be some team*), is this the first salvos of the battle to de-fenestrate Michael Steele? If so, who's the replacement? Sarah Palin?
* I thought you said we'd ignore that. (Come on, this is Journalism. isn't it?)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I mean, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Foxtrot Foxtrotting Foxtrot?
On the Iraqi elections:
It's also the most critical moment in the history of Iraqi democracy. Can there be a peaceful transfer of power? Maliki has been speaking — threatening about using the army or calling out the mobs in order to stop Allawi. If he does, this will be a very difficult day for us and a huge setback for any chance of democracy in Iraq.
Is there nobody in this Administration who can explain to Maliki just what thousands of American dead mean? I mean, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Foxtrot Foxtrotting Foxtrot?
Or is the State Department occupied 24/7 with putting the Wood to Israel? I hope not: one of my nephews works there. Or is The Corner and Krauthammer full of Bravo Sierra?
By simultaneously buying every trinket of liberal conventional wisdom, while sucking up to both Remnick and Obama, he proves that it is in fact possible to have your head up three asses at the same time.The answer to the Intellectual Class' fetishization with the State is Mockery.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Have you seen this yet?Heh. I think that ASM826 is on to him ...
lachlan-markay/2010/03/24/ james-cameron-shoot-climate- deniers-glenn-beck-f-hole-0
I think ol' James wants you to meet him on Main Street at High Noon. If you want I'll act as your second and ASM826 can take up an overwatch position cause you just know Cameron will cheat.
And speaking of lefties and duels, who can forget Zell Miller calling Chris Matthews out?
Interesting choice of words there. Not "the first time the scanners have been misused", but the first time someone's been disciplined for doing so.
The police have issued a warning for harassment against an airport worker after he allegedly took a photo of a female colleague as she went through a full-body scanner at Heathrow airport.
The incident, which occurred at terminal 5 on 10 March, is believed to be the first time an airport worker has been formally disciplined for misusing the scanners.
Of course, that sort of thing would only happen to lesser breeds in heathen climes, like in England. Never happen here.
What's funny about Bob is that it was introduced back in the day when most of the technical press still treated Microsoft's announcements with some level of respect.
Of course, some of us who lived in a world of elm, vi, and rn looked on this with a mixture of horror and contempt even then. Watch, and you'll feel precisely what we felt back then.
UPDATE 29 March 2010 14:56: Another blast from the same past:
"Bill Gates Rain Man", heh.
It was another grim day for internet security at the annual Pwn2Own hacker contest Wednesday, with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox and Apple's Safari and iPhone succumbing to exploits that allowed them to be remotely commandeered.Those are the big targets, and they're all full of holes - including Firefox, which I've been telling people to use the whole time I've been blogging.
Time for something different. Let's look at browsers and Operating Systems based on what I think are the key criteria. Of course, your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, do not remove tag under penalty of law.
Criteria #1: A Security Focus by the development team. If the software developers don't particularly care about security, and aren't bothered by security problems, then you're starting from FAIL. Some teams care a lot, and these are the products you want to seek out.
Criteria #2: A Rapid Update Model. Everything has bugs, and some of the bugs are security bugs. The faster the development team can get you a fix, the better off you are.
Criteria #3: Make yourself as small a target as possible. In the real world, we use our heads: avoid bad neighborhoods, don't fumble for your keys in a dark parking garage, etc. It's the same on the Internet. While using a much less popular software package is absolutely no guarantee of safety, it does avoid known bad neighborhoods, so to speak. If we assume that the Bad Guys are rationally motivated to make money, then they are more likely to spend their time cracking popular applications, rather than obscure ones.
I should say right now that Criteria #3 is controversial in the security geek community, but I recommend it anyway. The most that you can say against it is that it might not help. We know what's going on with the more popular apps.
So, how do the browsers stack up? If we give one point for each criteria, the browsers rank like this:
Opera: 3 points. The trifecta. I've always recommended this for online banking, although now I have to recognize using an Ubuntu LiveCD for online banking. But for regular browsing, this is your best bet. It wasn't in the pwn2own contest, because Criteria #3 made it more or less a waste of time for the attackers. You can use that to your advantage.
Firefox: 2 points. The development team has a long track record of taking security seriously, and they have a great update model. They're also a bug, big target, as the pwn2own contest shows. Consider moving to Opera if you use Firefox and you're on Mac or Linux; absolutely move to Opera if you use Firefox on Windows. (Boy, it hurt to say that)
Internet Explorer 8: 1 point. The IE development team has really got the security religion, and it shows. IE used to be a joke in the security community, but this version is establishing some real credibility. Unfortunately, updates come on Patch Tuesday, which means you have to wait a month for security updates. FAIL. Fail fail fail fail. Plus, it's a huge target, just like Firefox. It may be that all the security effort is too little, too late.
Internet Explorer 6 and 7: 0 Points. Not many people are still on IE6, which is very good. A lot are still on IE 7, and their companies won't let them move off it. So be it - their companies will have to deal with the malware. For home use, get off it if you're still on it - security has always been a joke for these.
Safari. 0 Points. From a security perspective, this is a sucking chest wound of FAIL. Apple simply doesn't take security seriously, the update is "whatever, whenever", and the pwn2own contest shows that it's "interesting". With 10-15% market share, that's for dang sure. No link to the download site, because you want to get off this turkey. iPhone users will need to be patient, but Opera has submitted an iPhone version to Apple for addition to the iPhone store. I'll let you know how that goes. Intentionally placed lower on the list than IE 6 and 7, because Apple should know better.
OK, how about Operating Systems? It's much harder to switch here than with browsers, but in the interest of completeness, here's the list:
Ubuntu Linux: 3 points. There are many flavors of Linux, but Ubuntu is the one that most people would consider for the desktop. You give up iTunes and PC games, however. Linux is a big target for Bad Guys, but on the servers. While it's possible that the Bad Guys could target the desktop in a big way, with 2% market share this seems very unlikely.
Macintosh OS/X: 1 and a half Points. Built from BSD Unix, it has a solid and proven security model. Updates are not great, so only half a point, and it's gaining market share, so no points there - it's a plausible target now, meaning it's likely a Bad Guy can make a living writing malware for it. But it's better than Windows.
Windows: I wish I could say something better here, because Vista and Windows 7 have added some much needed security features. But we all know what the story is here.
Let me close once more with a disclaimer: this analysis framework is by no means universally accepted in the security community. I believe that it's practical and understandable - after all, you need to know what to do and why, so there's considerable virtue in that.
At least, if you bank at CNL Bank in Orlando:
Recognizing that most consumers don't want to buy a separate computer for online banking, CNL is seriously considering making available free Ubuntu Linux bootable "live CD" discs in its branches and by mail. The discs would boot up Linux, run Firefox and be configured to go directly to CNL Bank's Web site. "Everything you need to do will be sandboxed within that CD," he says. That should protect customers from increasingly common drive-by downloads and other vectors for malicious code that may infect and lurk on PCs, waiting to steal the user account names, passwords and challenge questions normally required to access online banking.This is so full of awesome that it could almost collapse into a Black Hole of awesomeness. Here's why:
- The big money in online crime is in attacking online banking. That's where transactions are authorized, so it's where the smart Bad Guy wants to be. CNL is focused on the right threat scenario.
- The Bad Guys are quite rational, and so attack the Operating System that the bulk of their customers run at home. That's Windows. CNL is focused on the right vulnerability scenario.
- There's a lot of inertia in moving to Linux, and so most people simply won't. By creating the bootable CDs and offering them to their customers, CNL is reducing the friction their customers would encounter.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Schoolchildren were left in tears after seeing one of their teachers shot down by a crazed gunman in the playground in a role-playing stunt organised by staff.The Headmaster goes on to explain that the idea was "original" (err, no argument there, Einstein) and might have "gone a bit too far" (no argument there, either). And the UK has the nerve to call us dumb rednecks?
The youngsters, aged between 10 and 13, thought they were taking part in a fire drill when an alarm bell rang and they were ushered out into the playground.
Head teacher Terry Holland said: "The role play was part of a science lesson where a selection of students and teachers acted out this scenario."
I'd call them idiots, but that would be an insult to actual, you know, idiots.
Hat tip: Every Day, No Days Off.
I’ve seen a guy with a bolt rifle drain four rounds out of it, just running the bolt never pressing the trigger, not understanding why the springbok didn’t fall over.Heh. You're supposed to become one with the rifle, not, err, zero with the rifle.
JayG posted about him a couple days ago, so most of you have already seen about his place. Take a look for shooty goodness.
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
There but for the grace of God go we all ...
In honor of Mother Gaia, we're doing the following during Earth Hour:
The WWF sponsored Earth Hour has already come and gone in the Korean time zone, and the North Korean proletariat has claimed a stunning victory over its evil capitalist neighbor, South Korea.
Seems it is always that way.
- Eating yummy farm-raised meat*.
- Running 4 computers** and a game console**.
- Turning on lights in all the rooms facing the road, PLUS both front porch lights, because the street lights have been out.
- I'm considering taking a long, hot, soaking bath, because it will take 50+ gallons to fill up the danged tub, and I have a good book to read.***
Or they can just keep doing media stunts, and dialing for dollars. Quite frankly, I suspect that they wouldn't care if everyone lived like North Koreans, as long as their donations keep them in plush K Street digs.
You ask me for a contribution, but you know we're doing all we can ...
* Pork tenderloin, brined over night, seared, and then slow roasted to 165°. And some other stuff, but who cares about that?
** Yes we have more than this, because of course you need more computers and game consoles than you have people in the house. Duh. But running them just to run them is, like, wasteful. Duh.
*** Stones To Schools. By someone who, unlike WWF, is actually trying to make a difference in the world, not just pimp for eco-dollars. And yes, I got my copy direct from the author, which means that my money is going directly to what they're doing. Force multiplier, baby, that's what I am.
One of the great things about Country Music is that if you don't like a song, someone else is likely to cover it, and do it a really different way. I didn't care much for the song (although Johnny Cash's version on The Muppet Show was pretty funny). But everyone has done this song (really - including Bing Crosby), so I just had to keep looking until I found a version I liked.
The Outlaws are a Southern Rock band out of Tampa. Playing clubs and Honky Tonks, they were found by Lynyrd Skynyrd front man Ronnie Van Zant, who got Lynyrd Skynyrd's manager working with them. Rocking this song up, and adding some screaming guitar was just the ticket, taking it to #31 on the Billboard chart in 1980. The old, made new again.
I particularly like the opening classical guitar, and the distortion on the electric guitar throughout the song, which gives this version much more of a ghostly edge. And if the guitar solo at the end isn't in Guitar Hero, it's a crime. Southern Rock, baby!
Ghost Riders In The Sky (Songwriter: Stan Jones)
An old cowboy went riding out one dark and windy daySadly, The Outlaws' frontman Hughie Thomasson died of a heart attack in 2007. May he be making this sort of music with the Choir Invisible.
Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way
When all at once a mighty herd of red eyed cows he saw
A-plowing through the ragged sky and up the cloudy draw
Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel
Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel
A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered through the sky
For he saw the Riders coming hard and he heard their mournful cry
Yippie yi Ohhhhh
Yippie yi yaaaaay
Ghost Riders in the sky
Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat
He's riding hard to catch that herd, but he ain't caught 'em yet
'Cause they've got to ride forever on that range up in the sky
On horses snorting fire
As they ride on hear their cry
As the riders loped on by him he heard one call his name
If you want to save your soul from Hell a-riding on our range
Then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride
Trying to catch the Devil's herd, across these endless skies
Yippie yi Ohhhhh
Yippie yi Yaaaaay
Ghost Riders in the sky
Ghost Riders in the sky
Ghost Riders in the sky
UPDATE 27 March 2010 20:01: A worthy alternative cover here.
Wow - 44 votes seems like a lot. And it's a good thing, too: I showed #1 Son the results as of early last evening, when Lavernius only had one vote. His comment: "It must have been your other reader." The snark is strong, in that one.
Alas, this was all for naught. While I do quite like the name Crash, and while I was able to veto Lavernius, the Vox Populi has spoken.
We're calling him Ghost.
The kids want a name from one of the Call Of Duty characters, or something. I can live with Ghost. He gives serious head-butts, at least.
The Order Of The Day for Ivan the Terrier and Little One Eyed Dog is to get used to the idea of Cats and Dogs, living together.
UPDATE 27 March 2010 10:35: Today's Saturday Redneck is inspired by Ghost. While he's laid back, and seemingly not at all rocked up, he does bring the whole Old Made New thing to live.
Friday, March 26, 2010
I'm told that I like the idea of a rescue cat. He seems pretty cool (a cool cat, you hepsters might say), and unlike Little One-Eyed Dog, he didn't bite me when we first met. His name at the shelter is "Crash", which I quite like. #1 Son wants to name him "Lavernius". He tells me that I like it.
Err, nazzo fast. So what do you think?
Nice truck, too.
Geneseo, IL - (AmmoLand.com)- Here’s a new one. Mark Westrom just came into the office and said we’re having a truckload sale.
He says if anyone buys a truckload of ArmaLite firearms and products, you get to keep the truck.
If the press scribbler gets the vapors from a 10/22, a Winchester, and an old Milsurp 1903 Springfield ("ZOMG - he had several rifles and a thousand rounds of ammo!!!1!!one!!"), just imagine when he sees old Cletus back this baby up. Sorry, I can't stop grinning.
Via Marcus, who has a good eye for irony.
In all of these cases, the computers had up-to-date antivirus.
It's time to declare FAIL. There is so much money in computer crime - a $Trillion in 2008, we're told; the TJX hacker was just sentenced to 20 years in Club Fed for his role in a $200+ M breaking - there's so much money that the attackers are increasingly able to get past the defenders. I mean, you can discount a trillion dollars a lot and still beat the Computer Security industry by a factor of ten.
So what do you do? Note that I'm talking to home users now. Corporate attacks (the dangerous ones, anyway) are different, with different motivations, goals, techniques, and defenses.
Home users need to chose one of the following:
1. Move from Windows to Macintosh or Ubuntu Linux. People with little appetite for computer stuff should bite the bullet and pay the Apple Tax; people with a high tolerance for mucking around should move to Linux. Note that Ubuntu is designed to be easy.
It's not that these Operating Systems are more secure than Windows - they are, but Microsoft is actually closing the gap pretty fast. It's that they're a much, much smaller target for the Bad Guys. If you run on these OSs, there are many fewer people writing code to attack you. "Many fewer" means "probably 90% fewer, possibly more than 90%, possibly a lot more".
2. Make your Windows system easy to recover. Corporate IT departments long ago shifted to a strategy of "nuke it from orbit and reinstall" for infected computers. The moved this way because it was too hard to keep from being infected in the first place. The dirty little secret of the security industry is that antivirus products have maybe - maybe - a 50% chance of detecting new malware. The smart money is that the chance is more like 20%.
Think about that - a four out of 5 chance of missing the new attacks. No wonder everyone's getting infected.
Keep all your data in your "My Documents" folder (the computer will want to do this naturally, so this isn't too hard). Every day or two - at at a minimum, every week - back up your "My Documents" folder to an external location. I like these, although you should read the comments to that post.
Make sure you keep your "Restore CD" around. When you think that your computer may be infected, don't bother trying to fix it. The Restore CD will give your computer that "new computer smell", and then you can copy your files back from the backup location. Don't forget to run Windows Update, which will automagically get you the latest security fixes.
Yup, your strategy on Windows is "Nuke it from orbit and reinstall". Just like the corporate guys do.
And whatever you do, do not run Internet Explorer 6 or 7. Ever ever ever. IE 8 is OK, Firefox is better, and Opera is probably best of all. I'd steer clear of Safari if you're on Windows because they don't have a very good security update mechanism.
It's a bit humbling as a security guy to have to say that it's Game Over. But it is, we need to recognize the world for what it is, and be prepared to deal with it.
The Main Stream Media couldn't possibly be more biased if they worked for the (Soviet era*) Pravda. In ten years, they'll all be out of work, and wondering what happened.
* Actually, today's Pravda is a lot less biased than, say, the New York Times. Compare and contrast: low trust environments, high trust environments; then and now.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
And I guess some sort of veg. I guess I have to set an example for the teenage boys ...
UPDATE 25 March 2010 19:34: Yum. The wooden spoon is to make a crease in the rolls. The rolls are much thinner than they should be, because the dough stuck to the plastic wrap on the final rise. Next time, I'll grease the wrap. Sure tasted good, though.
The sausage were Trader Joe's Sweet Apple sausage, and are particularly good.
One of the most powerful Battleships in the world when it was launched in 1914, the H.M.S. Barham served in the Battle of Jutland. It also was sent to keep the peace at the Mersey Docks during the 1926 strike. In World War II, it deployed to the Mediterranean where it took three torpedoes from the U-331 amidships, sinking with a loss of more than 800 officers and men.
What's different about this ship was that the attack was filmed, and her final death throes released as a news real.
This post seems apropos of nothing, just what a bit of flotsam that washed up on the shores of the 'Net. It's easy to forget that these were men with hopes and dreams just like ours.
Rest in peace, Ordinary Seaman Andrew Fraser Davidson, and your mates.
A new Harvard University study (Analysis of Policies to Reduce Oil Consumption and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from the U.S. Transportation Sector) offers a sobering assessment of what it will take to meet the emission reduction targets proposed by President Obama and the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.Not that the Democrats shy away from socking it to the Little Guy with massively regressive taxes. Taxes that raised gas to $9/gal would hit the typical family with $5000 - $10,000 in added tax burden. No wonder Congress doesn't show much interest in getting serious about Cap And Trade.
The Harvard study makes even more obvious what should no longer be controversial. Congress has not yet adopted tough controls on GHG emissions not because a “well-funded denial machine” is “confusing the public,” but because Members of Congress seek above all else to get re-elected, and inflicting pain on voters is not a smart way to win their support!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Regular readers know how little patience I have with "the better class" putting on airs - particularly when it's Europeans talking down to us colonials. Man, that right there's gonna leave a mark.
I even like your shows, and I think that there's a lot more where that came from. Now go away, or we shall taunt you a
Wealthy women of social prominence are bring murdered. The New Orleans Police can't seem to get a handle on the crimes until it is discovered that all of the victims were, or had been, sexually involved with cops.I don't read much fiction, and haven't read this; but if you like this sort of thing, this seems (err) like what you'll like.
GameCrush is being touted as the first social site for adult gamers with the women online able to set their gaming mood to either "flirty" or "dirty", IGN reports.
The men online are known as Players and the women as PlayDates and Players pay to play while PlayDates get paid to play.
Once the Player finds a PlayDate he fancies he sends and invite and if she accepts he gets six to ten minutes of one-on-one gaming time.
PlayDates have the ability to block any Player they want for any reason.
For $US8.25 ($8.99) Players get 500 credits, which is enough for one game (400 credits) and a 100 credit tip at the end.
GameCrush says it modelled its pricing structure after the cost of buying a girl a drink at a bar.
I always was told that Church was a good place to meet girls. The bar scene always seemed, well, kinda scuzzy, except for a group at Happy Hour. Trolling the bars? Brrrrr ....
Yes, I'm a Dinosaur. We well-married Dinosaur, and thank the Lord for that ...
Via Slashdot, where (as expected) the comments deliver. Especially this one:
Dude, you haven't been paying attention. I don't want a human female. I want an orc female. Or a klingon one. Mmmm. Betazoid is borderline ok too, thoughI don't think that there were Orc females, but point taken.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
And congratulations to Lissa, whose odometer seems to have rolled over to 100,000 visits. With Shoothouse Barbie trying out her new (to her) Garand. If she's not a daily read, then you're, well, not reading the Good Stuff.
But I don't think so. The money just isn't there, and never has been. The reason that "30 million will now have health care" is that the Fed.Gov is fixin' to make them buy insurance. They don't buy it now, because it's too expensive. Frankly, the reason that the left is so mad about this bill is because it won't lower the cost, but people will have to buy it or the IRS will fine them:
A middle class family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.Right now, folks are thinking they're going to wake up and it'll be Christmas morning. Actually, it's going to be April 15. Buy a gun, people. And vote.
Thanks to Gator for making me think this one through.
New Zealand’s per capita income in the period prior to the late 1950s was right around number three in the world, behind the United States and Canada. But by 1984, its per capita income had sunk to 27th in the world, alongside Portugal and Turkey. Not only that, but our unemployment rate was 11.6 percent, we’d had 23 successive years of deficits (sometimes ranging as high as 40 percent of GDP), our debt had grown to 65 percent of GDP, and our credit ratings were continually being downgraded. Government spending was a full 44 percent of GDP, investment capital was exiting in huge quantities, and government controls and micromanagement were pervasive at every level of the economy. We had foreign exchange controls that meant I couldn’t buy a subscription to The Economist magazine without the permission of the Minister of Finance. I couldn’t buy shares in a foreign company without surrendering my citizenship. There were price controls on all goods and services, on all shops and on all service industries. There were wage controls and wage freezes. I couldn’t pay my employees more—or pay them bonuses—if I wanted to. There were import controls on the goods that I could bring into the country. There were massive levels of subsidies on industries in order to keep them viable. Young people were leaving in droves.RTWT about how they turned around everything. If anyone from the
Twice as hard, baby. Twice as hard.
That's one impressive young lady.
You know how I got my $40 rate? I asked how much it would be after the initial get-you-in-the-system costs. I got a deer-in-headlights look, a hurried huddle between a few office assistants, and an offer of “$40, okay?”
My doctor’s office has the freedom to choose whether to offer me a price for care, and I have the choice whether to accept it. Considering that I’ve been to offices where $95 was considered inexpensive, you bet your ass I accepted a $40 fee.
Will we be able to do that when the government is trying to enact a “One Plan to Rule Them All” policy on healthcare?
Don’t bet on it.
Health care is not a right. It’s a privilege. Once you start treating it as a right, you start getting people trying to “protect” the right by forcing everyone to comply.
Here’s a hint: Anything that has to be forced upon people is not a right. It is a compulsory regulation, i.e. a “rule.”
Things that you do, anyway? Like speak your mind? Gather in groups of like-minded people? Choose who to let stay in your house, and for what reason? Defend your life and that of others when you’re attacked? Not “telling on” yourself? THOSE are rights.
What - you still here? Get over there, now. Don't you make me change my tone.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Only two of the seven ring bearers voluntarily gave up the ring:
Sauron (amputated finger)Tolkien received a letter in March 1956 from a Mr. Sam Gamgee of Brixton Rd, London, asking how he came up with the name for the character. Tolkien sent him a letter that began and ended:
Sméagol/Gollum (robbed by Bilbo, fell into fires of Mt. Doom)
Bilbo (gave ring to Frodo)
Frodo (robbed by Sméagol/Gollum)
Sam Gamgee (took ring when Frodo was poisoned by Shelob, gave ring back to him)
Dear Mr. Gamgee,It turned out that Mr. Gamgee had not read the books, and so Tolkien sent him a signed set of volumes. I wonder how much they'd sell for at auction.
It was very kind of you to write. You can imagine my astonishment when I saw your signature! I can only say, for your comfort I hope, that the 'Sam Gamgee' of my story is a most heroic character, now widely beloved by many readers, even though his origins are rustic.
I do not suppose you could be bothered to read so long and fantastic a work, especially if you do not care for stories about a mythical world, but if you could be bothered, I know that the work (which has been astonishingly successful) is in most public libraries. It is alas! very expensive to buy - £3/3/0. But if you or any of your family try it, and find it interesting enough, I can only say that I shall be happy and proud to send you a signed copy of all 3 volumes, as a tribute from the author to the distinguished family of Gamgee.Yrs sincerely
Samwise Gamgee was my favorite character in the books. Astonishing is one of my favorite adjectives.
The Lord Of The Rings is the second highest selling work of fiction in history (150 million units sold), behind Charles Dickens' A Tale Of Two Cities (200 million sold). Astonishing, indeed.
In 1965, Tolkien received a letter from a certain Zillah Sherring, who had bought a copy of The Fifth Book of Thucydides in a second hand bookstore in Salisbury (Wiltshire). In it, she found an inscription in a strange script that someone had written there. The book also had Tolkien's name, and so she wrote to him, sending a transcript of the characters and asking him if he knew what it said. He replied that that had in fact been his book during the first decade of the century, and that the writing was ancient Gothic. He had made some translation mistakes in the transcription, which he kindly corrected for her.
I wonder how much that book would be worth at auction?
Tolkien was famous for speaking very rapidly. Here he is in an interview with the BBC in the late 1960s.
My least favorite part of the books was the songs, which I skipped over. Tolkien, of course, loved the songs, and placed great emphasis on them. Unlike me, he could recite them, and his rapid-fire way of speaking shifted into a proper dramatic style when he did:
The stories of the letters are from (of course), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (p 244 and 356, respectively). Why yes, I am a geek.
Heh. This narrowly beat out the post right before it, Scientists Intensify Search for Life on Mars "Because Someone Else Is Going to Have to Bail Out the U.S. After Budget-Busting ObamaCare Passes"
The Bad News: sorry, we just spent it all.
The Good News: That guy you wanted to become president so he'd make us more like Europe? Mission Accomplished. You must be so happy.
So let's think about what the Fed.Gov will have to do. If it can't raise revenue, it will have to cut costs - indeed, all the talk about "Death Panels" (if you're on the right) or "bending the curve" (if you're on the left) amount to the same thing: costs will be cut, probably in a crisis atmosphere, because there won't be any alternatives.
As a thought experiment, pretend that you're a CEO at a troubled company. Your balance sheet is an exciting shade of crimson, and the Board of Directors and shareholders are insisting that you turn things around. Looking at the annual budgets of your six departments, you see this. Which departments get the most of your attention?
Departments A, B, and C make up almost 85% of your cost. Any turnaround has to begin (and maybe end) there. As Willie Sutton answered when asked why he robbed banks, that's where the money is.
Do the new Department of Health will have a massive - maybe $200B a year - fiscal hole, and it will have to fix it. Bending the curve won't just be a good idea, it will be unavoidable. They'll start with the areas where there's the biggest expense and the smallest number of people served. And that area is Mental Health.
The total cost per patient was estimated at € 5,500 (95%CI € 5,000—6,100) over six months in 2005 prices. Direct costs were estimated at € 1,900 (€ 1,700–2,200), 35% of total costs, and indirect costs at € 3,600 (€ 3,100–4,100), 65% of total costs. The cost for antidepressants represented only 4% of the total costs. [emphasis mine]You can't blame Prozac - it's just not a big part of the cost, which is almost $15,000/year per patient (conversion rate €1 = $1.30). Or Schizophrenia:
After 2 years, the rate of patients treated successfully is 82,7% for LA risperidone, 74,8% for olanzapine and 57,3% for haloperidol depot. The 2 year-cost per patient treated by LA risperidone is 14,055 Euro. [emphasis mine]That article is interesting, because there were several other treatments in the study, some of which were twice as expensive. That's a lot of money. And so it will be cut, because it will have to be cut. What happens then?
David over at Fighting For Liberty had a post regarding mental health in his town:
David, that's not a creature. That's someone's son: [See Update at end]
This morning, I received this news:
Teenager’s killer released from psychiatric hospital
The parents of a 14-year old girl who was shot and killed want to know why their daughter’s killer is free to walk the streets.
…But just 5-years after he killed the steele’s daughter Jasmine, and seriously wounded a woman, James Mann was released to a halfway house not far from where the Steele’s live.
He’s now somewhere in my quaint little hometown.
Understand, this town isn’t big. Most everyone lives within two square miles or so. This … creature … is now my neighbor.
I've seen real demons, in someone's eyes, the window to their soul. Something is strange, and then there's a realization that something's there. Literally, the hair stood up on the back of my neck, and time slowed down as adrenaline flooded my system. My dog growled, and then fled. I don't blame him; I would have fled myself if I could have.
Today, we have ... what can only be described as wonder drugs. I remember ancient times, back around 1970. A man described how Lithium changed his life. But Lithium was delivered as a salt, because that was the only way the body could absorb it. I wonder how his life went, with the Lithium salts slowly poisoning his system. Now that I've seen a demon myself, I guess it beat the alternative. The drugs are a lot better now, but nobody quite seems to really understand what goes on with brain chemistry.
I remember how people talked about the "weird kid". It's better now, but not a lot.
All that's fixin' to end, because it's going to have to end. There just won't be the money to pay for all this. Sure, there will be money for the meds (some of them, anyway - remember, Prosac was only 4% of the cost). There won't be money for the doctors to monitor the patients and make sure that the patients take their meds. And so a ticking time bomb will be sent out to live with society. Some parts of society - like David - will think about the "Old Yeller" cure:
He should have fried in the chair. And I don’t want to hear this righteousness about no capital punishment for mentally unstable. This creature murdered a 14-year-old girl. You don’t give murderers a bottle of pills and let ‘em roam free.David's a friend, and what he writes isn't wrong. But there's another side to the story. I've witnessed the "switch going off". I've seen for myself how the new meds keep the switch from going off - I'm not joking that these are Wonder Drugs, because they help balance the brain chemistry, and keep the Demon at bay. But it's not cheap, or easy, to keep that Demon chained:
Medical innovation will go out the window, which means no new Wonder Drugs. Listen to the talk about "savings" from eliminating "me-too" drugs. Well one of those "me-too" drugs had different side effects from the first one, side effects that didn't cause convulsions. It costs more, though, so there will be less of it, because there will have to be less of it.
Harry, three, and his sister Elise Donnison, two, were found [dead] in holdalls [carseats] in the car in Heathfield on Wednesday.
Their father Paul Donnison said: "Their lives have been taken away in the most cruel way. I am unable to understand."
Their mother Fiona Donnison, 43, of Lightwater, Surrey, was arrested on suspicion of murder. She remains in hospital [after an apparent suicide attempt] and is yet to be questioned.
Stephany writes about the many failings of the current mental health care system. To read her archives is to see just how vulnerable these people are - to themselves, to others, and to the government. Soon there will be many more of these people. What happens to them?
I'm told that despair is one of the deadly sins, but it's moments like this that bring it bubbling right up to just beneath the surface. I do think that many - maybe even most - of the people who have passed this bill have good intentions, but they've parked their car on a steep hill, with the wheels straight and without the parking brake set. They think that they can run to stop the car if it slips out of gear. I don't think that they can.
I also hear that taking the Lord's name in vain is a sin, and so I will not say more about those who have just paved a super highway to Hell with their good intentions.
UPDATE 22 March 2010 10:36: It's important to point out that David's a friend, and a good man. It's unlikely in the extreme that he's the only one in his town worried for his family. He's probably rational to be worried.
Thre's been a great advance in the public's perception of mental health over the last 30 years, for which I'm profoundly grateful. This sort of situation jeopardizes that advance, and is likely to become all too common in the years ahead. The "Old Yeller" solution is particularly horrifying to me, because there is no retribution associated with it; it's purely a safety measure. It's depressing beyond words to think that this sort of thing may become popular, because it's the only option left to the people.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
And a view of the Groom's face tells you what the country thinks of this:
Seen at Wally World. And an appropriate song for the new couple's Rest Of Their Lives is by The Georgia Satellites (you have to watch all the way to the end for the punchline):
Keep Your hands To Yourself - Georgia Satellites
Debbie | MySpace Video
Cooder Graw's "Shotgun Wedding" would be a better choice, but I can't find a video for it.
First up is Patrick, who emailed to tell me that he'd linked me from his new blog, Where Angels Fear To Tread. He's another libertarian-ish, gun-toting computer geek. Don't know what he'd find interesting here ...
Silicon Graybeard describes his blog as Mental wanderings from an older engineer, leaning toward liberty, firearms, radio, home machine shops and other techno-geeeky activities. Huh - don't see what he'd find interesting here, either. But giving him his due, he's more evil than I am.
The Forgotten Man has the suggestion for the TSA Airport Scanner. All I can say is HAHAHAHA.
Somehow, I've come to the attention of Mark Philip Alger over at Baby Troll Blog. He's been kind enough to add me to his blogroll, right in the middle of a bunch of (ahem) distinguished company:
While I realize that it's all an accident of alphabetical order, I shall endeavor to up my game.
Last but by no means least, Gunbloggers linked. I'd expect that no introduction is necessary to most of you, but if you haven't run across it before, it's a great feed collection site from all the major gun bloggers. And occasionally, it seems, from me.
Welcome to be Borepatch blogroll everyone!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I didn't think it would happen this fast, but the people are in the streets, and half of the states are considering legislation to reject the Fed.Gov's overstepping of their authority. I had thought that "A Bridge Too Far" was the appropriate analogy. But this isn't Market Garden, it's the Battle Of The Bulge: an out of touch, megalomaniac leader who doesn't realize that the tide of history is rolling against him thinks that one final push can break through to Brussels*. Instead, he gets hung up at a crossroads while his army gets cut to pieces in the counter attack. Nancy Pelosi must feel like Joachim Peiper, out of gas but within sight of the river Meuse, having to abandon his equipment on the field of battle.
Can it possibly be true that the
* Yes, I know the objective was Antwerp. But Obama's objective is to make Washington into Brussels. Work with me.
How is Vermeer like Flaubert? They might have been the best ever, if they had produced more. Stendahl could go in that category, too.Not sure I'd agree, but it made me stop and think. I'd agree more with the bit about Vermeer.
Some are almost certainly correct:
The most under-rated man in modern history was U.S. Grant.But this one - please dear God let it not be true:
Much as Bob Dylan was the most authentic spokesman for his generation, Taylor Swift is the most authentic spokesman for hers.Now look, I like young Miss Swift OK. But I recognize her for what she is: a young talented songwriter. She writes about what she knows, which is the secret of good writing. But she's only 20 or 21, for crying out loud. Her friend Kellie Pickler would also be in this category, except that she already has, with this astonishing song:
Or if you want the emotion unfiltered, there's her performance at the 2008 CMA Awards which drew a standing ovation.
Kellie Pickler I Wonder CMA 2007
Uploaded by mjsbigblog. - Watch more music videos, in HD!
Now as I said, I like Taylor Swift OK. But that's a song worthy of being novelized by a Flaubert. We shall see if Miss Swift can write as moving a howl at the moon as this.
On the eve of the possible passage of a health care bill, Arizona has provided a glimpse of our possible future by shutting down its SCHIP program and booting a bunch of people out of Medicaid:A couple weeks ago, I wrote on the collapsing legitimacy of the government:The Arizona budget is a vivid reflection of how the fiscal crisis afflicting state governments is cutting deeply into health care. The state also will roll back Medicaid coverage for childless adults in a move that is expected to eventually drop 310,000 people from the rolls.The reason this is so troubling, of course, is that the new proposed health care plan gets about half of its coverage expansion through adding people to Medicaid. The state side of this expense doesn't show up on the books as a government expenditure (neatly enabling the bill to get a lower CBO score), but someone in America has to be taxed to pay for it, and there is a big problem when tax revenues fall short of the required expenditure.
Now think about the entitlements in general, and the health care bill in particular; "unfunded mandate" is the key term here. The states are having enough budget problems without taking on more. The Commerce Clause is an awfully weak pole to hold up this tent. All it will take is a couple of Governors telling the Fed.Gov to stick it where the sun don't shine.I have to say that I didn't expect to see things accelerate this fast - that's certainly not a good sign for the Democrats. We can (ahem) deem their day to be passing ...
And here's the beauty of it all: the people won't have to contest the bill with powder and lead, all they'll have to do is support their Governor's passive resistance to the bill. This is very likely to be wildly popular in lots of places, and might very well snowball to a majority of the states. The actual Constitutional Crisis will be when the Fed.Gov tries to use the courts to enforce this, via the Commerce Clause.
I think that this is how it will play out, with the governors of Texas, Utah, and Montana playing the role of Andrew Jackson. The Supreme Court has has made its decision; now let it enforce it.
This stuff is Black Magic.I can prove that, by telling you about wave guides. Basically this is a metallic tube that the radio waves propagate through. Depending on the design, it can be more efficient than coaxial cable, or it can entirely block the wave. The NSA built some Way Cool buildings in the 1980s, where the entire building was shielded so that electromagnetic waves couldn't escape (and be picked up by the KGB E-M scanner vans). Awesome - only what happens when someone opens the door?
Easy: the doors (well, entry lobbies) are wave guides. They choke off the exiting waves.
But here's the black magic bit. The wave guide has to be tuned to maximize efficiency. It gets tuned with one of these:Someone hits the waveguide, and puts a dent in it. If the dent is at precisely the right place, you tune it the way you want; otherwise, you tune it a way you don't want. Black magic.
There's an old joke about the likelihood of fixing a broken watch with a hammer. Megan McArdle says that we're about to do exactly that with the health care bill:
If we pass this thing, no American politician, left or right, is going to cut any of these programs, or raise the broad-based taxes necessary to pay for them, without any compensating goodies to offer the public . . . until the crisis is almost upon us. I can think of no situation, other than impending crisis, in which such a thing has been done--and usually, as with Social Security, they have done just little enough to kick the problem down the road. The idea that you pass a program of dubious sustainability because you can always make it sustainable later, seems borderline insane. I can't think of a single major entitlement that has become more sustainable over time. Why is this one supposed to be different?And then the moonbats come crawling into her comments section, saying that the watch is stopped anyway:
This is why it's hard to take you seriously as a thinker sometimes, McArdle. There IS already an impending crisis that IS almost upon us. This reform effort is largely about avoiding that crisis. Obama and the Dems may not get it right, but they're at least making an attempt. The folks on your side either refuse to do anything or offer up solutions so politically impossible that only a massive crisis could make them happenAnd besides, this time the hammer will work:
the idea that a reduction in procedures will necessarily reduce health care quality is simply erroneous. You may recall the recent press coverage about PSA screening for the general population of men over 50 -- that was the whole point of the study. This screening didn't show any mortality benefit. In other words, reducing the procedures (screening) didn't affect health care quality in one way or the other. There are similar examples of this "low-hanging" cost-control fruit -- back surgery, yearly physicals for younger adults, perhaps stents for the vast majority of coronary patients, perhaps mammograms for the general population of younger women. Once again, the fact that you seem oblivious to this really renders any other opinion highly suspect.It goes on for quite a bit like that, so if you click over, bring a lunch. What nobody talks about is Megan's original point. It's not plausible to say that we'll fix it later when there aren't any examples of entitlements being fixed later.
But back to waveguides. How much fixing is going to be needed? Ignore the blatant payoffs like the Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback; ignore the "Deem and Pass" sleight of hand; ignore the 2000 pages of impenetrable gibberish in the law.
This bill taxes people for ten years, and gives them benefits for six. What happens in 2021? FAIL.
But now let's talk about all the shenanigans being used to pass the bill. Nancy Pelosi is whaling on that watch with a sledge hammer, and won't stop until it's the shape that fits through the Capitol Hill keyhole. Will it work once it's through? Of course not - everyone knows that, including McArdle's commenters.
So how much will it take to fix? How come nobody's talking about that? It's the part that terrifies me, more than EE160 did.
People know how that turns out. Meet the new Boss Man, same as the old Boss Man.
You know, there's a country music song for that.
The Kentucky Headhunters are a great old band from back in the day that we still used to talk about "Southern Rock". They've been playing since the early 1980s, but had a break-out moment at the end of that decade. They scraped up $4,500 to make a demo tape, which they sold at concerts. This attracted the studio's attention, although the record execs thought that the sound was "too regional". The band knew their listeners better than the marketing guys, though:
They thought it was too regional, and that no one outside the area would get it, but what they didn't see, was the reaction we got to it every night that we played it in front of a crowd, and it didn't matter where we were playing either.The album, Pickin' on Nashville had four singles hit the country charts, won a Grammy, won them the Best New Vocal Group award from the Academy of Country Music (ACM), and Vocal Group of the Year and Album of the Year from the Country Music Association (CMA).
People know what they like, and know what they don't like, and don't need some MBA in a suit to tell them.
Big Boss Man was made famous by Elvis, rocked up by the Kentucky Headhunters on the album of the same name, and perfectly captures the mood of the nation. Sometimes a line is changed; instead of I'm gonna get me a woman/one who will treat me right, it's performed I'm gonna get me a boss man/one who will treat me right.
Big Boss Man (Songwriters: Al Smith, Luther Dixon)
Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call?
Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call?
Can't you hear me when I call?
Well you ain't so big, you know you're just tall that's all.
Well you got me workin' boss man
Workin' round the clock
I wanna little drink of water
But you won't let big Al stop
Big boss man now can't you hear me when I call?
I said you ain't so big, you know you're just tall that's all
Big boss man, why can't you hear me when I call?
You know you ain't so big, I said you're just tall that's all.
I'm gonna get me a boss man
One who's gonna treat me right
I work hard in the day time
Rest easy at night
Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call?
Can't you hear me when I call?
I said you ain't so big, you're just tall that's all
I'm gonna get me a boss man
One that's gonna treat me right
I work hard in the evenin'
Rest easy at night
Big boss man, big boss man, can't you hear me when I call?
I said you ain't so big, you're just tall that's all
All right, big boss man
It's all right
I'm gonna get me a boss man/One that's gonna treat me right
See you in November, Congress.