Friday, July 31, 2015

What socialism does to you

It makes people very unsympathetic to a Greek bailout by the EU:
Half a continent away from Athens, Milda is unimpressed. Watching reports of the Greek predicament on the news, the Latvian pensioner has little sympathy for her counterparts 1,800 miles to the south.

“Can’t they get by on €120 a week?” she asks, referring to the latest cash limits on pensioners introduced in Greece. “Life’s less expensive down there. It’s warmer, they don’t have to pay for heating or winter boots, and fruit and vegetables must be cheaper.


From central European minnows such as Slovakia to Baltic eurozone republics such as Latvia and Lithuania, hard-pressed pensioners and workers earning barely €500 a month are at a loss as to why Greece should qualify for more largesse.

Milda’s monthly pension is €293 a month , well under half the current level in Greece. When Latvia went through a similar debt crisis in 2009, it imposed swingeing budget cuts and tax increases worth about 15% of GDP over three years. Output fell by a quarter and unemployment soared to more than 20%. The population fell as people left in droves.

These measures were hugely controversial at the time, and many people thought they would lead to catastrophe. The US economist Paul Krugman predicted at the end of 2008: “Latvia is the new Argentina.”

By the second half of 2010, however, the economy had started to grow again, and from 2011 to 2013 Latvia was among the fastest growing countries in the EU. Despite the fact that the currency was not devalued, exports are now at record highs, some 60% above where they were before the crisis.
I remember being in Poland in 1996.  The Poles thought that their long term prospects were better than those of the former East Germany.  I asked why, and they told me "Because we know that we have to do this for ourselves.  Nobody is going to help us out."

A couple days ago, ASM826 posted about the implosion of K-Mart.  It's so bad that they're starting to look like Venezuelan supermarkets:

Basic needs of the people are not being met in the South American country where socialism is in full effect. There have been shortages of toilet paper and diapers, people have to wait in line to pay over $700 for a condom, and most recently the government is asking for a share of produce from shopkeepers following a food crisis.
There was an old saying in Africa, back during the Cold War.  If the ruling elites wanted their kids to grow up to be socialists, they would send them to university in Paris.  If they wanted them to grow up to be capitalist, they would send them to university in Moscow.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

More lies from the NSA?

NSA claimed that they were not allowed to listen in on a call from San Diego to Osama bin Laden in the run up to 9/11, and therefore needed the PATRIOT Act and the massive domestic surveillance program to prevent this from happening again.  Former NSA insiders are disputing this, saying that this was an internal NSA screw-up on multiple levels:
In an agency filled with secrets, the NSA’s failure to detect the 9/11 plot or help other agencies do so is probably its deepest and darkest. For years, rather than reveal the true nature of the blunder, the agency has instead propagated the fable that it missed that San Diego call in 2000 for technical reasons. Consequently, the Bush and Obama administrations conducted what amounted to ironclad surveillance of Americans’ phone activity for more than a decade.

The dragnet metadata operation, finally declared illegal by a federal appeals court this year, was likely the largest and most secretive domestic surveillance program ever undertaken. Yet the public only became aware thanks to the information leaked by Edward Snowden. Today, other NSA whistleblowers are claiming that the program was based on a lie. They’re also demanding answers to tough questions: How were certain key phone numbers missed in surveillance—or were they at all? And why did the NSA refuse to share with the CIA and FBI the full details of what it collected from bin Laden’s operations center in Yemen?

Fourteen years after the 9/11 attacks, it seems time for the NSA and the White House to reveal what really happened—and to replace, once and for all, fiction and lies with facts and the truth.
This is Jim Bamford, so you might take this with a grain of salt.  However, he has sources on record here; also, General Clapper is still not behind bars for perjury before Congress.

Told ya

Tam gets her security blogging on:
While the nerd community on social media is absolutely freaking out over the possibility of "hacking sniper rifles", I can't help but think that being able to hack a Tracking Point rifle is like knowing how to hot-wire a Ferrari Enzo: Fascinating at parties, but not a skill you'll get much chance to ever use.
Your humble host on the subject, a couple years ago:
When I saw this I said to myself, "Self, what do you bet that there's no security in that wireless server?"  My Self is pretty nasty and suspicious, and thinks that if he reached into the bag of 'sploits you'd pwn that rifle before you could say "Hey Verne, hold mah beer."  Like I said, he's nasty and suspicious.

But the chances that the code is wide open is high.  What would you do if you took over Sund00d's high tech scope?  Change the aim point so that it shoots wide by 10 MOA?  This scenario is filled to overflowing with LULZ.
Not that it took any deep insight or genius to make that particular call, but I did told ya ...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A lesson on discrimination for the USA from Europe

Why a lesson for us?  Because Europe seems to be 20 years ahead of us in the Progressive March, and because we're always told that we "need to be more like Europe" by our Betters™ here.  So what's coming?

George X. Doležal: ČEZ has discriminated against the Romani [Gypsies]. It didn't let them steal power.

The European Court of Justice has made a groundbreaking verdict against our ČEZ. To steal electricity is, as the judges implicitly state, a democratic right. The provider of power isn't allowed to place any technical hurdles that would prevent the consumer from stealing electricity. If the provider does so, it is discrimination.
Get ready, here it comes.  It may be part of Donald Trump's appeal that he's the only one who would actively denounce this sort of thing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Here's your chance to drunk dial Stephen Hawking

Reddit has an Ask Me Anything for the most famous physicist of our day.  Go ahead and ask him - pork or beef for BBQ?

And the title refers to this, of course:

So much security fail

Maybe it's just me, but if I were to design a safe, I wouldn't make it electronic.  Safes have been around for years and years, and any software you might add almost certainly would make it less safe.  Case in point:
"One of the main vulnerabilities we are focusing on comes by way of a USB port that is on the exterior of the safe," Salazar told eWEEK. "We have created a little tool that we can just plug into the safe, wait 60 seconds for the tool to do its work, and then the safe doors will open and you can take all the cash out."
Other than that, it's totally safe.  Right?  Oh, wait:
It might raise eyebrows that the operating system that powers CompuSafe Galileo is Windows XP, which Microsoft no longer supports.
[blink] [blink]

This is why we can't have nice things - they all have software.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The most expensive computer security bug ever?

Chrysler has issued a recall of 1.4 million vehicles that are vulnerable to remote hacking via the Intermet. Basically everything they've built in the 2013 through 2015 model years are effected, including RAM pickup trucks and Viper sports cars. Basically the whole product line.

Owners don't need to take their cars back to the dealer; rather, Chrysler will send them a software update on a USB stick. That got me thinking about what this cost.

Short answer, maybe $20M.

This is based on an estimate of $15 per car to cover the cost of the USB device, loading the software on it, and mailing it to the owner. Sure, customers can download it from Chrysler's website to their own USB. That should cover a couple thousand out of the $1.4M ...

Man, you could have gotten a lot of security design work for $20M.

And the punch line? Good chance the "fix" won't fix everything and so they'll have to do it again. And that we'll hear this from other vendors too.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Should you shoot "Gangsta style"?

Only if you're Jerry Miculek ....

Of course, it's never a bad idea to pattern your shooting off of what Jerry Miculek does. If you can pull it off, that is ...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Who is the Hammer of the Progressives?

Some ideas survive election cycles.  This one is from the last election cycle.  You know - the one where the GOP dude would have given us more gun control?  But what I said back then about Newt is perennially green:
There are many things that I do not like about Newt, but one advantage that he has over the entire GOP crowd is that he knows how to deflate the Democrat's ideology, to show not that it is mistaken, but that it is immoral.  Four years of that hammer will leave the political discussion in this country profoundly different.  The Republic needs that, and someone who will not flinch from repeatedly telling the opposition that they hate the poor:

It's the same conflict of visions.  Today's UK is profoundly different than it was in 1979, because the Iron Lady refused to back down in the face of a left - unions, the media, the universities - that held her in withering contempt.  By returning that contempt with equal fervor and backing it up with unarguable facts, she wrenched the Realm off of the track to ruin, to the point that "Red" Ken Livingston is a curiosity, and not the head of the Labour Party.
So who will fight this fight this today?  Which GOP candidate will attack their world view?  Who is the Hammer of the Progressives?

Sadly, to ask the question is to answer it.  What's been on offer has not inspired us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

You gotta watch out for the Old Guy

This is funnier than heck, and I had tears running down my face.  Well played, sir.  So very well played.

May not be entirely safe for work, at least if you have the speakers too loud.  Only a little naughty, but we live in the End Times ...

If you own a late model Jeep Cherokee, you're pwned

And by that, I mean pwned:
The result of their work was a hacking technique—what the security industry calls a zero-day exploit—that can target Jeep Cherokees and give the attacker wireless control, via the Internet, to any of thousands of vehicles. Their code is an automaker’s nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country.
How bad is it?  This bad:
Miller and Valasek’s full arsenal includes functions that at lower speeds fully kill the engine, abruptly engage the brakes, or disable them altogether. The most disturbing maneuver came when they cut the Jeep’s brakes, leaving me frantically pumping the pedal as the 2-ton SUV slid uncontrollably into a ditch. The researchers say they’re working on perfecting their steering control—for now they can only hijack the wheel when the Jeep is in reverse. Their hack enables surveillance too: They can track a targeted Jeep’s GPS coordinates, measure its speed, and even drop pins on a map to trace its route.
I've been talking about this for years and years.  Here's an example from four years ago:
The rush to computerize your car is basically over, which means the rush to pwn it has begun in earnest.  Fortunately (for the Bad Guys), security was never part of the design - for example, all of the non-critical components (like cell phones, music players, and GPS nav units) are on the same network as the critical ones (brakes, throttle, transmission control).

I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

It looks like the automakers are fixin' to learn what software companies learned decades ago:
  • If a software developer finds a security bug right after he wrote the code, it costs a few bucks to fix.
  • If QA finds the security bug a couple months after the developer wrote it, it costs hundreds of dollars to fix.
  • If the customer finds the security bug years after the developer wrote it, it costs thousands of dollars to fix.
Oh, and the rest of you who don't have Jeep Cherokees?  You're probably pwned too.  That's another reason to ride a Harley.  Or one of these:

Remotely hackable cars are a PR nightmare, but I expect there will be a bunch of these stories over the next few years.  The rush to market with lousy security designs will cost the automakers millions of dollars.  All I can say is that stupid is expensive.

Best wishes to Greybeard

Recovering from heart trouble.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pluto: can't we just be friends?


Thoughts about Donald Trump

Boy, the establishment hates his guts.  And he's polling so well that he's the front runner.  These two issues are joined at the hip, as the bulk of the American people despise the establishment.  Trump's candor and forthrightness (well, so far at least) cut through the clutter and resonates with regular people.

This analysis isn't anything new - you've heard it already.  You've also heard that people like him because he fights - he doesn't back down, issue phony "sorry if anyone was offended" apologies.  He's the 2015 version of Newt Gengrich.

Newt did the same thing - see how he instantly rejects the premise of the question?  Notice that the audience cheers this rejection even before he has elaborated on his single word answer?  Notice how when pressed, be unleashes a smackdown on his hapless questioner?  See how the audience cheers, to the point that you have trouble hearing the moderator try to segue to a commercial break?

Trump does that.  The other Republican candidates should be nervous about the first debate with Trump, because The Donald will basically ignore them and simply trash the establishment media moderators.  The audience will love it.

Just like Newt did.

And just like Newt, he will have a metric ton of contradictory past statements that will leave everyone wondering if they can trust him.  Me, I don't trust him - not at all.

But you know what?  I'm getting a bunch of emails from smart people saying they like what they hear from him.  And unlike Newt, Trump can fund his own campaign.  He doesn't care that the panicked GOP establishment just dropped $120 Million into Jeb's coffers.

This is getting interesting.  In a very end-of-the-Roman-Republic sort of way.  Me, I'm getting some popcorn, because this is fixin' to get good.  The circus is entertaining, and the bread is free.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The end of the Lee-Enfield era?

Aaron finds that the Canadian Rangers are fixin' to replace their Enfields.  It seems that this will be the end of that venerable rifle's use by combat units.

That's been a long, long run - it was the Rifle of Empire, serving in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries.  Over 19 million were manufactured.  This is unsurprising, since it it not just supremely accurate but a pleasure to shoot as well.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Music for the bonfire

As the Republic lurches towards the Abyss in this Cold Civil War, what is a playlist for the End Of Days as the flames lick at the foundations of the Common Weal?  Here's one suggestion; I hope that the Bonfire will be as lighthearted.  Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

Remember, the Agents of the Surveillance State are predictable.  Hey Federale, where you going to run to?

A parable on taxation

You only get the green stuff that you can actually reach.

It's amazing how many Smart™ people in politics simply don't get this concept.

In re: the Confederate Flag, and other matters

Under the guidance of her Christian pastors, [France] entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards.

- Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

- Voltaire
So we see that the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia is now DoublePlusUngood Crimethink™, as is an off-hand joke by a Nobel Prize winning cancer scientist, as is the opinion of the CEO of the Mozilla Foundation and some poor rocket scientist who wore his lucky shirt to the comet landing of his space rover.

As are the travails of many others who find themselves on the wrong side of RightThink™ in this current Cold Civil War.  They can all console themselves that they will merely lose their jobs, their houses, and their families.  The Chevalier de la Barre did far worse than them, Back In The Day.

But the crime was the same.

Jean-Francois de la Barre was a punk.  He and his aristocratic buddies were cut-ups and petty hoodlums in late eighteenth century France.  But he went too far, showing disrespect to a religious procession.  It was said that he failed to doff his hat to the Cross as it went by.

For this, he was convicted in a court of law.  The Parlement of Paris upheld the sentence of death, and added (no doubt as an after thought) that he should be tortured first.  And so it was written, so it was done on this very day in the year of our Lord 1766.  He was an example to All Men about what not to do to cast disrespect on the Ancien Regime.  To make sure that nobody didn't get the point, his corpse was beheaded and burned with a copy of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary nailed to it.

Today's Old Regime is more merciful: you will not be killed, but will merely lose your job, your living, your flag, your history.  All is for the best, Citizen, in the Best of All Possible Worlds.

And how do we know that the Left is truly ignorant of history (likely willfully so)?  They know nothing of Voltaire.   But it's OK.  They're ever so much smarter (and nicer - remember the "no more beheading" thing?) than you or I.  And rejoice, Citizen!  The chocolate ration has been increased from 3 ounces to 2½ ounces!  The People's Revolution is glorious, is it not?