Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

I have no mouth but must eat candy ...

Willie Nelson - Gravedigger

Halloween is supposed to be fun.  Fun for the kids.  Fun for the kids playing with death.  OK, then.

Gravedigger (Songwriter: Dave Matthews):
Cyrus Jones 1810 to 1913
Made his great grandchildren believe
he could live to a 103
A hundred and three is forever when youre just a little kid
So, Cyrus Jones lived forever
When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
Muriel Stonewall 1903 to 1954
She lost both of her babies in the second great war
Now, you should never have to watch your only children lowered in the ground
that means you should never have to bury your own babies
When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
Ring around the rosey
Pocket full o'posey
Ashes to ashes
We all fall down
When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
Oh Gravedigger
Little Mikey Carson '67 to '75
He rode his bike like the devil until the day he died
When he grows up he wants to be Mr. Vertigo on the flying trapeze
Oh, 1940 to 1992--
When you dig my grave
could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
Grave digger
When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
I can feel the rain
I can feel the rain

When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
Grave digger

Friday, October 30, 2015

Now that is marketing


Congress finally investigating adjustments to climate data

About damn time:
Junk Science: Worried about climate fraud, Congress is investigating a federal agency for allegedly manipulating weather data to show recent global warming when there is none. So why is the agency refusing to cooperate?

First, a little background: Satellite temperature readings clearly show no warming trend for the last 18 years, 8 months and counting. None.


Earlier this year, for instance, it was revealed that nearly half of all supposed global warming in recent NASA data came from the agency's own highly suspicious statistical changes, not from actual temperature readings.

Enter Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Science Committee. Curious, he subpoenaed NOAA for research documents related to the study. NOAA refused to hand them over. Smith's committee wants to know why.
Government is politics.  It politicizes everything it does.  Government schools are politicized schools.  Government healthcare is politicized healthcare. Government science is politicized science.

Last original NASA member of Voyager team retires

NASA now looking to hire programmers who know obsolete computer languages:
The last original member of the Voyager team has retired. Larry Zottarelli, aged 80, left NASA's employ this week after 55 years on the job. Zottarelli helped to develop Voyager's on-board computers and has worked on the mission since 1975. CNN reports that he was sent on his way with a handshake from actress Nichelle Nicholls, Star Trek's Lt. Uhura. NASA is reportedly seeking a replacement fluent in FORTRAN, Algol and assembly language for the Voyagers' 250 Khz General Electric 18-bit TTL CPUs, complete with single register accumulator and bit-serial access to 2096-word plated-wire RAM.
Wow.  Built to last - both the spacecraft and the programmers.  There were Giants in those days ...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

That's one incompetent Human Resourcesdepartment

This post brought to you by Grammar Nazi.

If only we had nuanced people running US foreign policy

Europe would respect us, unlike in the bad old cowboy days.  Oh, wait:
The European Parliament has voted to grant Edward Snowden protection from prosecution – a move the NSA super-leaker hailed as a "game changer."

In an unexpected vote, MEPs narrowly approved a measure that calls on EU member states to "drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection, and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender."

The 285-281 vote came amid a long response from Parliamentarians irritated with the European Commission for not having done enough to respond to the revelations of US mass surveillance first revealed by Snowden back in 2013.
Guess what, Progs - the Euros don't respect you, even with a (D) after your name.

Department of Energy has too big a budget

Rick emails to point out this howler: Pumpkins cause climate change:
How scary are your jack-o’-lanterns? Scarier than you think, according to the Energy Department, which claims the holiday squash is responsible for unleashing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
This is the sort of thing that best illustrates how "Climate Change" (i.e. ZOMG GLOBAL WARMENINZ!!!1!) has jumped the shark.  It is nothing but media whoring by governmental officials in search of bigger budgets.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On the importance of good spelling

But thank you so much for your application ...

Donald Trump's likeability

Based on movie screenwriting standards:
In my first post on what makes a character likable, I laid out Eric Edson’s criteria from The Story Solution:
  1. Courage
  2. Unfair Injury
  3. Skill
  4. Funny
  5. Just Plain Nice
  6. In Danger
  7. Loved By Friends And Family
  8. Hard Working
  9. Obsessed
To be likable, a character only needs a majority – 5 out of 9 traits.
Trump scores surprisingly well, as does Ben Carson.  Hillary Clinton and Jeb Busg, not so much.

So riddle me this - why should I ever vote for the GOP?

Worst.  Cyber. Security. Bill. Ever.

There's no security in the Cyber Security bill.  There is a whole lot of goodies for the Donor Class.  Because the Donor Class expects to get what the Donor Class expects.  And they expect to get it from us.

Next, you'll tell me that the National Computer Security Center has been spying on us and weakening the encryption we use to protect our bank accounts.  Oh, wait ...

And please don't leave comments on how the Democrats are worse.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Did the World Series video feed just drop mid-game?

Uncle Jay must be in Hell right now.

If only we had the reliability of the Russian power grid in Sochi ...

Maybe it needs a high octane Prozak

Finally something useful out of the EU?

This seems like a positive step:
The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) responsible for researching computing threats to the continent has widened its remit to include checking out car and smart building hacking. 
ENISA has decided on its 2016 work schedule and, as well as its continuing job looking for security holes and best practice in mainstream IT, the group has identified smart cars, smart airports, hospitals, health technology, and the security of the Internet of Things as areas for concern.
I'm not a big fan of regulation by faceless bureaucracy.  I'm much more open to the idea of "better security through public humiliation" - although I'd be surprised if large, politically connected companies weren't able to get this sort of thing squelched.

Still, I've been saying this about the Internet Of Things, hackable cars, and terrible medical device security for quite some time.  It's nice to see that the EU Organs are only 4 or 5 years behind on that.  Go, EU faceless bureaucrats!

The GOP's real problem

Even birds can learn which of the flock is a cheater:
Ravens have shown complex cooperative abilities previously only seen in a handful of mammalian (and one fish) species. However, collaborations only happen when two ravens trust each other. Birds that have misbehaved by taking more than their fair share are subsequently shunned, an even rarer show of animal intelligence. 
Related: Mitt Romney, 2012: "I'm fiercely conservative."  Mitt Romney, 2015: "There are some in our party who think the best approach is throwing bombs."

Hey Mitt - maybe those people are fiercely conservative.  Or maybe they're as smart as a raven, able to identify cheaters and liars.  Unlike the Stupid Party Establishment.

U.S. Army computer systems have more security holes than Swiss Cheese

A "do nothing" culture:
The US Army has gaping holes in its information security infrastructure and operates an environment of vulnerability reporting fear, according to current and former members of the department's cyber wing. 
Captain Michael Weigand and Captain Rock Stevens make the comments in an academic piece on the Cyber Defense Review, a joint project between the Army Cyber Institute and the US Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command. 
In it they say most of the Army's systems are underpinned by information technology but are exposed by an absence of centralised patch management and full bug remediation oversight, along with a "ban" on penetration testing. 
So where does this all come from, you might ask?  It seems from the top:
The US Army men say internal staff who find vulnerabilities have no incentive to report bugs they find and face no repercussions for keeping silent, which amounts to a "do nothing" culture. 
Moreover Defence vulnerability researchers work in an atmosphere "fraught with danger and much trepidation" where disclosure is weighed against risk of "reprisal". 
Those risks could include revocation of security clearances, loss of access to IT systems, and "punitive action" under the Uniform Code of Military Justice which they describe as "viable outcomes" for those who "casually stumble" on bugs.
Heads should roll.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Some questions have no answer

One thing we do know is that you couldn't replace the battery, because Steve didn't want you to.

They can have my bacon when thy pry it from my cold, dead fingers

Now they're saying that bacon can kill:
As predicted last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified processed meat as "carcinogenic to humans".

The decision is based on the findings of 22 experts from 10 countries working with WHO's cancer tentacle the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Having reviewed the "accumulated scientific literature", they concluded there was "sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer", as the press release (PDF) puts it.
The WHO can kiss my butt.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween dry run

The Queen Of The World and I went to a Halloween party last night.

We came in second place in the costume competition, losing to Little Red Riding Dude and the Big Bad She Wolf.  I brought my best "Internet Liberation Front" but alas it wasn't enough.

But the Queen looked great and at least nobody had to look at my face.  Winning!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Illusion vs. reality

But computer controlled airliners using fly-by-wire sensors are no problem.

John Prine - Illegal Smile

Kris Kristofferson once said that Prine was such a good songwriter that he'd have to break his thumbs.  I guess that's OK, because Kristofferson helped Prine record his first record which included this song.

Friday, October 23, 2015

It can't happen too soon

Get offa my lawn, punk.


Camp Borepatch is officially on the market now.  I sort of ache a lot, but have to say that the place really shines.  It's been a good refuge from the World these last few years.

But #1 Son has ridden off on his motorcycle, and #2 Son moves out at the end of the month.  It's too much house for me, and I need to move to the DC area anyway.

It's odd how you take everyday things for granted: I couldn't muster enough of a damn to make this place sparkle, a couple years back.  With the pressure of getting it listed to sell, I put in the  4 1/2 month effort to do it.  Now it's done and I find that I quite like it when it shines.

There's no doubt a moral in that somewhere ...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Check Engine

Maybe I'm still a bit smug after fixing the motorcycle with #1 Son.

Heated grips

It's been below average temperatures here in the ATL, but my bike has been crying itself to sleep in the garage because I haven't been taking it out.  So I bundled up - sweatshirt, chaps, two layers of gloves - and have been riding.

Damn, I like these heated grips.

New Senate bill to encourage "voluntary" data sharing with Fed.Gov

Voluntary for now:
The bill, proposed by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would allow internet giants and other companies to share people's personal information with the US government so it can be analyzed for signs of lawbreaking – be it computer related or not.

In return, the companies would get legal immunity from angry customers, although legal action is unlikely because the businesses and the government don't have to reveal what they have shared, even with a freedom of information request.
So why do I think the  voluntary bit has an expiration date?  Because the bill's sponsors say what they expect "good" corporate behavior to be:
Feinstein said organizations won't be forced to reveal citizens' private lives to Uncle Sam: it won't be mandatory for businesses to hand over people's private records, she claimed.

"If you don't like the bill, you don't have to do it," Feinstein said.
"So it's hard for me to understand why we have companies like Apple and Google and Microsoft and others saying they can't support the bill at this time. You have no reason, because you don't have to do anything, but there are companies by the hundreds if not thousands that want to participate in this."

Her colleague Burr said on the floor that he couldn't understand the opposition to CISA. Businesses against the new law will put their users at risk, he said, because by not sharing people's personal information, they will not be given intelligence and heads up on attacks from the Feds.

"When the companies who are against this get hacked, they are going to be begging to cooperate with the federal government," he opined.
So be a good businessman and join the Electronic Stasi.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A century ago, a whole generation was butchered and damned

The last post reminded me that we're in the centennial anniversary of the meat grinder that was The Great War.  Grandpa was called up for that but was lucky enough to not ship out until the armistice canceled his date with Eternity.  Older Brother has the flag that covered his coffin, from back in 1964.

But millions weren't so lucky; lions were led by donkeys in those days.  The remembrances are their due, and our duty.

This is Jeff Beck's cover, done for the British Legion's annual veteran's charity appeal in 2014.  The photographs are of the glass poppies displayed at the Tower of London.  More than 800,000 poppies each represent one of the Willie McBrides who never came home.

And a note to our readers, "The Last Post" is the song that we colonials call "Taps".
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Et lux perpetua luceat eis. Amen.

In World War I it was illegal to buy someone a drink in a pub in England

Great round up of 100 year old news, much of which I'd heard but much more I hadn't.

Damn. I knew things were bad, but not this bad

Forecast: shortage of Lego for Christmas:
According to London's Evening Standard, Lego has warned "it is once again facing difficulty supplying the demand for its products in Europe as the festive season looms".

A spokesman told the paper: "There will be a lot of Lego products out there but you cannot guarantee that people will be able to find a specific product."
Oh, the humanity!  I blame George W. Bush.  And Global Warming.

I blame Global Warming

Rick emails to point out another example of why God hates yankees:
If you felt like it was freezing in Boston [Monday] morning, you were right.
Temperatures dipped to 31 degrees, marking the first time Boston has seen a freeze this early in 36 years, according to the National Weather Service.
Remember, Boston had its snowiest winter in history last winter, but hey, this is no biggie.
It was the earliest freeze in Boston since Oct. 10, 1979, when Boston saw a low of 30 degrees, said Bill Simpson, a spokesperson for the National Weather Service in Boston.
“On average, it’s seven to 10 days earlier than normal,” Simpson said.
Yes, I know that this is weather, not climate.  One swallow does not a spring make, and all that.  But the stupid, based media would scream ZOMG THERMAGEDDONZ!!!! if these were hot and drought instead of freezing and snow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Remember to practice safe sex

Or this might happen to you.

The halloween costume that all the Twitter twits are wearing

It has all the robust security of moonbeams and cotton candy

Some administrator thought it would be a good idea to have the store public address system available by dialing a particular extension.  From anywhere.  Hilarity ensues:
Explicit audio from a pornographic film was blasted out for all to hear. And it kept playing. And playing. For 15 minutes.

Young, who was shopping with her three-year-old twin boys, uploaded the clip to Facebook. (Obvious warning: it has rude audio.)
This is why we can't have nice things ...

Monday, October 19, 2015

The 5 minute University

Sadly, this may not be far off.

Koalas are only endangered because they make such terrible puns.  Just sayin'.


Full sized, working Little Tykes Kozy Koupe.

Don't know if I want it $60,000 worth, though.


#1 Son and I fixed the motorcycle together

He had decided that he wanted to ride it again, but it hadn't been started for a year.  And so I invited him to join me for the following:

1. Take the battery cover off (hello, philips head screwdriver!) and charge up the battery.

2. Siphon the gas out of the gas tank.

3. Fill the tank with new gas with carburettor cleaning additive.  Explain how a carburettor works.  Show the parts, where it enters the cylinders, etc.

4. Replace the spark plugs.  Explain gapping and fouling.

5. Work the choke to start it right up.  Explain what a choke does.  Explain why a choke does what it does.

And it started right up, the first time.  Joke about how, come the nuclear (pronounced NUK-ular) apocalypse all that will still be there are cockroaches and Honda engines.

But it was really nice spinning wrenches with him, and nice seeing him look at me with That Expression when the engine turned over - an expression not unlike  one he had when he was little, before he'd learned that his Dad was, well, mortal.  Pretty nice, that.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mikhail Glynka - Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla

Mikhail Glynka was the first Russian composer to gain widespread fame in his own country.  The aristocracy still took their lead from French (and German) influences, and so composers from those lands were favored.  Glynka was a groundbreaker, writing classical music that combined both French and Russian influences, most notably Russian themes.  His opera Ruslan and Ludmilla was based on a poem by Alexandr Pushkin - you don't get much more Russian than that.

The great Russian composers known as "The Five" (most famous of which was Modest Mussorgsky) owed their opportunity to the foundation laid by Glynka.

This is without doubt his most famous piece, and some of you will recognize it.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

LOL, Dawg

It's funny because it's true

Hat tip: Chris Lynch.  You do read him every day, right?  Thought so.

Trace Adkins - Arlington

I was in the Washington D.C. area last week and had a couple of hours at the end of yesterday before I had to be at Reagan airport.  Well, the George Washington Parkway runs right past Arlington National Cemetery, and I'd never been.  And so I went.

This is hallowed ground, and feels like it.  Everywhere you look there's a sense of being surrounded by something much bigger than yourself.  And it's not a museum:

A chill ran up my spine when I saw everyone move out of the street and stand silently as this passed.  It's quiet - there was no hubbub from the crowd, and so can hear a 21 gun salute.  This is a place with a mission.  A hallowed mission.
And every time I hear, twenty-one guns,
I know they brought another hero home, to us.
This is worth a visit.  The heroes tell us much about them, and us.

With seven of his men struck down during the furious action and he, himself, wounded in the head by a bursting grenade, he made his way to his company's position and, organizing a small group of volunteers, returned with them to evacuate the wounded and dying from the frozen hillside, staunchly refusing medical attention himself. Immediately redeploying the remainder of his troops, Staff Sergeant WINDRICH placed them on the left flank of the defensive sector before the enemy again attacked in force. Wounded in the leg during the bitter fight that followed, he bravely fought on with his men, shouting words of encouragement and directing their fire until the attack was repelled. Refusing evacuation although unable to stand, he still continued to direct his platoon in setting up defensive positions until, weakened by the bitter cold, excessive loss of blood and severe pain, he lapsed into unconsciousness and died.

Arlington (Songwriters: Jeremy Spillman, Dave Turnbull)
I never thought that this is where I'd settle down,
I thought I'd die an old man back in my hometown,
They gave me this plot of land, me and some other men,
for a job well done.

There's a big white house sits on a hill just up the road,
The man inside he cried the day they brought me home,
They folded up a flag, and told my mom and dad, 'We're proud of your son'.

And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property,
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company,
I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done,
I can rest in peace, I'm one of the chosen ones,
I made it to Arlington.

I remember daddy brought me here when I was eight,
We searched all day to find out where my granddad lay,
And when we finally found that cross,
He said, 'Son this is what it cost, to keep us free'.
Now here I am a thousand stones away from him,
He recognized me on the first day I came in,
And it gave me a chill, when he clicked his heels, and saluted me.

And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property,
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company,
And I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done,
I can rest in peace, I'm one of the chosen ones,
I made it to Arlington.

And every time I hear, twenty-one guns,
I know they brought another hero home, to us.

We're thankful for those thankful for the things we've done,
We can rest in peace, 'cause we were the chosen ones,
We made it to Arlington, yea, dust to dust
Don't cry for us, we made it to Arlington.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What can make a politician oppose wiretapping?

When they find out that they can be wiretapped just like everyone else.

Seems they don't much like that.

So why is the NSA recording all Internet traffic?

Speculation is that they can break all encryption, at least that used commercially:
Thus by performing the decryption in bulk at the wiretaps, complete with hardware acceleration to keep up with the number of encrypted streams, this architecture directly implies that the NSA can break a massive amount of IPsec traffic, a degree of success which implies a cryptanalysis breakthrough.

That last paragraph is Weaver explaining how this attack matches the NSA rhetoric about capabilities in some of their secret documents.

On the Democrat debate

Bernie Sanders has the summing up.  Or something.

Bernie Sanders.  Hillary Clinton.  Jeb Bush.  Chris Christie, ...

It's hard to tell the players without  a program.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The greatest Southern Belle halloween costume of all time

Courtesy of Carol Burnett in this hilarious Gone With The Wind spoof.

I didn't know that Home Depot sold ammunition

I mean wow.  Just wow.

I mean, I can't even.

NASA Scientist: we're not allowed to publish scientific papers that go against "mainstream climate science"

Instapundit links to a post at Judith Curry's blog, about how scientists fool themselves.  It's a typically thoughtful post, and you should read it all.  However, while you're there make sure to read her post about Conflict Of Interest in Science, which contains this bombshell:
As an example of the serious pressures in play, also last week I received this email from a NASA scientist:
About 7 years ago, I was at a small meeting of NASA-affiliated scientists and was told by our top manager that he was told by his NASA boss that we should not try to publish papers contrary to the current global warming claims, because he (the NASA boss) would then have a headache countering the “undesirable” publicity.  I inferred from this that the real problem was the large amount of funds NASA obtains from claims of dire climate change, and that suggestions to the contrary threatened those.
I witnessed similar reluctance for scientists at other organizations to publicly criticize modeling they deemed sloppy because even if they themselves were not at the forefront, they also benefited from the great amount of funds made available.  So, it is not just those funded by environmentalists or dirty energy companies who have conflicts, but indeed all receiving government funds based on the great societal consequences of dire warming.  It is still dangerous for me to say such things since I am still funded entirely through NASA.
In a follow up email, he identified the two NASA administrators – both people whom I know and like.
This is not a "Bad Actor" problem, one that we can solve by "getting rid of the bad guys".  This is an institutional problem: since government is politics, science funded by government is by definition politicized.

It's exactly what I laid out about a scientific error cascade all those years ago in The Canals of Mars the Climate Research Unit:
Strong evidence opposing it "can't be right" and weak evidence supporting it "must be right", and as a result, AGW is an astonishingly weak theory. In the last twenty years its proponents have made many predictions, most of which have been falsified. Michael Mann said that the Medieval Warm Period wasn't warm, contradicting recorded evidence from the period like the Domesday Book that showed wine vinyards in England in the eleventh century. AGW computer models predicted a warm layer in the middle Troposphere in the tropics; MIT's Jim Lindzen and others looked and looked - no warm zone. NOAA's Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) is the most comprehensive store of historical climate data; people are finding that the data has been frequently, consistently, and mysteriously adjusted so that older temperatures are lowered below what the thermometer readings showed, and recent temperatures are raised above what the thermometer readings showed.

It's an error cascade of epic proportions. The situation is almost like an astronomer in 1965 continuing to insist that the Mariner 5 pictures are irrelevant, because there is a mountain of peer-reviewed literature supporting Ptarth hydrological engineering. Phil Jones of the CRU admits that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today, and that the climate is not getting warmer lately - despite the theory predictions, and that his data is a mess (which is why he refused to release it, even after a Freedom Of Information Act request).

And yet the Climate Scientists still see canals.
Of course the NASA scientists requested anonymity - this would end their careers.

In other breaking climate science news, the "hiatus" - the time period where there has been no global warming at all - has now reached 18 years and 8 months (per the RSS satellite data).

And Rick emails to point out Physicist extraordinaire* and registered Democrat Freeman Dyson has said that Obama is wrong on climate science and the Republicans are right.  But this is the part of the interview that I find most damning to climate science:
Are climate models getting better? You wrote how they have the most awful fudges, and they only really impress people who don't know about them. 
I would say the opposite. What has happened in the past 10 years is that the discrepancies between what's observed and what's predicted have become much stronger. It's clear now the models are wrong, but it wasn't so clear 10 years ago. I can't say if they'll always be wrong, but the observations are improving and so the models are becoming more verifiable.
And yet NASA won't discuss the satellite data (!).  Dr. Curry's anonymous emailer explains why.  As did the late Hal Lewis in his spectacular resignation letter from the American Physical Society:
Professor Lewis is pointed in calling out filthy lucre as the heart of the corruption, even accusing the APS president himself:
I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.
At this point, everyone who ever said the words "Republican war on science" can sit down in the back of the room and shut right up.  Grownups are talking.

Government science is by definition politicized science.

* Dyson has been in the thick of Physics since he worked with Einstein at Princeton.

The NSA has shot American Tech companies in the foot

Ah, the ripple of the European court ruling prohibiting data sharing with the USA continues:
The data protection authority at the German federal state of Schleswig Holstein has declared that any and all data protection workarounds for the transfer of data to the US after the European Court of Justice's Schrems v Facebook judgment are going to be illegal.

In its first declaration on the post-Schrems legal landscape, the influential DPA says in a written opinion (in German) that only a change in US law can make US companies compliant with European legislation and has advised companies to adjust their business relationships accordingly.

It has warned businesses and governmental bodies that they may be fined up to €300,000 for the transfer of personal data to the US "without a legal basis".
This is a huge mess, and will continue to get messier.  Keep your eye on this one - Europe is playing chicken with the NSA and American tech companies are thinking that maybe they shouldn't have come along on this joy ride.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Videogame music is saving orchestra companies

Attendance at the Symphony has been declining for years and years, but some orchestras are figuring out a way to reverse that, getting more (and younger) butts in the seats:
Once considered a gimmick, performances featuring videogame music are now a regular part of pops orchestra programming. “You can no longer just sit there and play Beethoven,” said Andrew Litton, music director of the Colorado Symphony and the New York City Ballet Orchestra. 
Videogame performances offer a full orchestra—trumpets, harps and other classical instruments—plus choirs and jumbo video screens that synchronize gameplay footage to the music. Costumed attendees—dressed as dragons, wizards, princesses, fairies, knights and sorcerers—often engage in mock battles. Marriage proposals mid-show aren’t unusual; some end with fireworks.
In Philadelphia, the 80-year-old Mann Center has held videogame concerts since 2012. Representatives say the shows attract as many as many as 6,500 attendees, roughly double the average attendance at classical concerts.
Of course, this is no surprise to long time readers here:
In a comment to last week's Prokofiev post, reader Dave H pointed out the really excellent classic music being composed for games these days.  He's quite right.  Video games have passed Hollywood in sales; the Call Of Duty franchise of games has a much higher gross than the Star Wars franchise of motion pictures.  These are big budget products, with serious actors for the voice parts (Skyrim has Christopher Plummer) and music budgets to attract serious classical talent.

And since we're happy lacking in a landed aristocracy that would commission the talent of the day to produce music to glory their name, we at least have a market that supports quite interesting - if commercial - new classical music.  In fact, the commercial appeal is what makes the music accessible: since it's not funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, it has to appeal to a public much broader than the SWPL types who sit on NEA Grant Committees.

And so you get a barbarian overture hinting of Gorecki or Carl Orff, with a strong flavor of a rougher Wagner or Mahler.  Is this great music?  Beats me - I'm no music critic, nor am I a music historian (although I play one on my blog).  But this is listened to my literally hundreds of thousands of people who otherwise might be putting some rap on their iPod.
That last link has the music, and it's pretty interesting.  As someone who likes the odd symphony every now and then, this is a good turn of events.

Jamming WiFi is pretty easy, it seems

Inexpensive, too:
A security researcher has demonstrated that jamming WiFi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee networks is not difficult to perform but, most importantly, also not as costly as one might think. 

According to Mathy Vanhoef, a PhD student at KU Leuven (Belgium), it can easily be done by using a Wi-Fi $15 dongle bought off Amazon, a Raspberry Pi board, and an amplifier that will broaden the range of the attack to some 120 meters.

The attack would hit all devices within range that operate in the 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands.
In my security nerd heart of hearts, I want frequency hopping WiFi.  But you'd need a wider band of frequency than the FCC would give up.

Damn Fed.Gov, bogarting all the frequencies ...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Opus 10,000

This is post number 10,000 here.  Seems I'm a bit of a Chatty Cathy.  Glad ASM826 is here to inject a bit of gravitas ...

And in the spirit of not-gravitas-at-all, a photo from the parking lot.  Got to love Georgia.

Thanks to all y'all who keep stopping by.

Why you should never use your fingerprint to unlock your devices

OPM breach included fingerprint data:
The Office of Personnel Management's press secretary, Sam Schumach, announced this morning that the breach of OPM background investigation data included approximately 5.6 million sets of fingerprints from federal employees, contractors, and other subjects of federal background checks. The new number, tied to the discovery of additional archived data that was stolen over the period of the breach, more than quintuples the amount of individuals whose fingerprint data was stolen. OPM's previous estimate stood at 1.1 million. However, the new findings do not increase the overall number of people affected in the background investigation data breach from 21.5 million, Schumach said in an official statement.
Those fingerprints were collected as part of the OPM's background investigations at all levels of sensitivity—ranging from the "National Agency Check with Written Inquiries" (NACI) inquiries for federal employees with "moderate, low risk and non-sensitive positions" to the full field investigations required for more sensitive positions. Based on leaked statements from the Obama administration, the fingerprint data is now, at a minimum, in the hands of the foreign intelligence services of China. Just how that fingerprint data could be used, however, is not clear.
"Is not clear"?  Orilly?  OPM has a decidedly limited imagination.

But if your password gets stolen, you can change it.  If your fingerprint gets stolen, you can't.  And the OPM hack shows that eventually large enough databases of personal information get stolen.

So don't use your fingerprint to unlock your devices.

I'm back, too

Finding that the crews I left behind at Camp Borepatch did not complete their assigned tasks, so I'm not (quite) on the market.  Bah.

Oh, well - mustn't grumble.  And I was here over the weekend.

It's a very neat town park in Sidney, Ohio.  Amazingly good town park - maybe the best I've ever seen.  Click to embiggen.

Friday, October 9, 2015


The Queen Of The World and I are heading out for the weekend to see family.  I've always liked long distance driving, but it's extra nice with a co-pilot.

Austin blogshoot alert

Lawrence emails to point to tomorrow's Austin blogshoot:
Dwight Brown of Whipped Cream Difficulties and I are putting on a gunny/VRWC blog shooting meetup/Tweetup at the Eagle Peak Gun Range in Leander on Saturday, October 10, at 5 PM, to be followed by a group dinner at the Oasis at 7 PM. Bring ear and eye protection as well as any weapon you’d like to shoot (no full metal jacket ammo, as per range rules). You can come to the shoot and skip dinner, or vice versa.
If you’re interested in attending, drop me a line (lawrenceperson at gmail dot com) so I know how many people to expect at the range and for dinner).
Dwight and Lawrence are old buddies from my Austin days, and this sounds like a ton of fun in the area.  Plus you get to eat at Oasis and speculate on just how long it will take for Lake Travis to entirely evaporate.

Anyone in the Austin area should check this out.

The War on Terror bears bitter fruit for US Tech Companies

This is enormously, indescribably bad for Silicon Valley:
In a decision with widespread implications for the international transfer and processing of data - and the companies that provide these services - the European Court of Justice has ruled the EU-US Safe Harbour pact invalid. Experts are warning of massive disruption to international business.
What, you may be wondering, is the Safe Harbour pact?
The agreement was reached in 2000, following the introduction of the European Union Directive on the Protection of Personal Data which became effective October 1998. The Directive prohibits the transfer of data outside the EU to third party nations that don't meet the EU test of “adequacy” with regard to privacy protections. The Safe Harbour Decision enabled US organisations to “self certify” that their data protection systems met the EU adequacy test so they could lawfully transfer personal data from the EU to the US for the purposes of storage and processing.
OK, so who peed in the corn flakes?
Today's decision striking down Safe Harbour came about after an Austrian law student, Maximillian Schrems, a Facebook user since 2008, lodged a complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner that his personal data was being unlawfully processed by Facebook in the US. His claims were based on revelations by Edward Snowden regarding cooperation between the US National Security Administration (NSA) and companies such as Facebook to access the personal data of social media users.
Well, well, well.  How's that whole Eye Of Sauron thing working out for you, Fed.Gov?  The implications of this are wide ranging:
Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said: “In the wake of the Snowden disclosures, European citizens and policymakers are understandably concerned about privacy safeguards in U.S. law. But abruptly revoking the Safe Harbor agreement was the wrong way to address those concerns. It will disrupt not just the thousands of U.S. and European companies that currently depend on the Safe Harbor to do business across the Atlantic, but also the broader digital economy. Aside from taking an ax to the undersea fiber optic cables connecting Europe to the United States, it is hard to imagine a more disruptive action to transatlantic digital commerce. Policymakers in the United States and EU should work together swiftly to implement an interim agreement so that we do not shut down transatlantic digital commerce overnight.” [Emphasis by me - Borepatch]

Someone just figured out how to change things.  Remember, when they say the issue is one of principle, it's all about the money.  This will be massively expensive for US companies to address - basically they will have to replicate their entire infrastructure in the EU and put up firewalls between their EU and US operations.  That will show up in the bottom line, and that will make their stock prices nosedive.

And that will hit Silicon Valley where it hurts.

Keep your eye on this - this is perhaps the biggest (i.e. most expensive) security news in history, and the ripples will be felt for a long, long time.  Maybe even all the way to Ft. Meade.

Well played

Thursday, October 8, 2015

James Burton - Working Man Blues

I think I'm done getting Camp Borepatch ready for inspection to put on the market.  May or may not give the front door another coat of pain; got to drop another load of stuff off at Salvation Army.

But oof.  May take a soaky bath in the soaker tub.  Only done that two or three times (like when I added the pond).  Not used to working for a living, and at my age I need an ibuprofen cocktail.

So rock me out, Jimmy ...

Climate models run provably hot

Burt emails to point out this:
A MATHEMATICAL discovery by Perth-based electrical engineer Dr David Evans may change everything about the climate debate, on the eve of the UN climate change conference in Paris next month.
A former climate modeller for the Government’s Australian Greenhouse Office, with six degrees in applied mathematics, Dr Evans has unpacked the architecture of the basic climate model which underpins all climate science.
He has found that, while the underlying physics of the model is correct, it had been applied incorrectly.
He has fixed two errors and the new corrected model finds the climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide (CO2) is much lower than was thought.
People have been saying this for years and years.  What's different is that Dr. Evans has demonstrated this mathematically.
“Yes, CO2 has an effect, but it’s about a fifth or tenth of what the IPCC says it is. CO2 is not driving the climate; it caused less than 20 per cent of the global warming in the last few decades”.
And this actually sounds reasonable.  This means that the projected warming of up to 4°C in the 21st Century would actually be up to 0.4°C which maps pretty well to what we saw in the 20th Century.

Of course, Dr. Evans will never get another research grant, because he's fixin' to upset all the sweet, sweet government funding.  And he won't get tenure because he won't get any grants.  But well done on doing some actual, you know, science.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Air Force Jet

Already looking to upgrade the F-35:
THE PENTAGON — The Pentagon released a report today requesting Congressional authorization for 500 gold-plated F-35 fighter planes.


The new variant, dubbed the F-35G, is proposed as an upgrade over existing F-35 models. In addition to 24K gold plating encasing its exterior, its cockpit is trimmed with wood grain paneling harvested from the endangered African blackwood tree and leather upholstery from the hide of the northern white rhinoceros. Its GAU-12/A 25mm rotary cannon is able to fire solid platinum rounds at a rate of 3300 per minute. Each round is handcrafted by a Swiss jeweler.
What's funny is that the story is plausible, given the F-35's chequered history.  And this bit is pretty funny:
It also remains to be seen if the F-35G’s combat performance will be able to deliver on the program’s promises. At present, the added weight from the gold plating has prevented the F-35G from achieving flight. Its first test was a disaster, as the prototype F-35G rolled straight through the end of the test runway and careened into oncoming traffic on a nearby highway, resulting in 12 fatalities.
 The Duffel Blog delivers.

Quote Of The Day #2: Gun Control screws poor people

The Czar of Muscovy looks at the disaster that is Chicago and observes that disaster is not evenly distributed.  Not only is crime concentrated in poor (mostly Black) neighborhoods, the onerous cost of firearms licensing there is prohibitively expensive for those same (poor, Black) people:
So if you’re an impoverished Chicagoan who wants to take back the neighborhood for decent folks in the fastest way possible—an armed and defensively ready neighborhood—be ready for a few neighbors to shell out about $2,000 each. That might be a monster-sized chunk of your annual income in those neighborhoods, but you can do it, right? After all, the super-trendy neighborhoods in Chicago all did it. Maybe you could stop blowing your cash on stupid stuff like kale, arugula pesto, and tawny ports, Greshamites. Maybe you Englewood residents could have your kids not attend Minecraft camp for one summer, like the folks in the upscale Beverly community did?
Seems Democrats are hypocrites.  Who'da thunk?

Quote of the Day: Europe's view of America's gun laws

This hits center mass:
Meanwhile, while I read all this self-congratulatory bollocks about how much more violent Americans are than the peaceful gun-loathing British, I am sitting somewhere in Tower Hamlets, one of the world centres of ISIS recruitment. One of Britain's most important exports right now is young men who are performing beheadings and crucifixions, for fuck's sake, in the cause of committing actual genocide. They are killing and torturing and enslaving innocent people by the tens of thousands.

But yeah, nine people dead, and it's America that has the big violence problem.
This is from a Brit, looking at his countrymen with a (rightly) jaundiced eye.  What was most memorable from my year living in Blighty was the uniiversal, casual assumption by the Brits that they were smarter than we Colonials.  And the assumption that they all had better taste.  Buried in Squander Two's excellent post was this line that made me smile:
In short, it should occur to you that American laws might to some extent be based on American votes, and that Americans might know just a teeeensy bit more about living in America than some wanker from Haringey who once spent a week in Orlando but doesn't want to go back because he found it crass.
I spent a weekend in Weston-super-Mare once, and found it a bit tacky.  Ya know, if you go to tacky touristy spots, you might find a tacky touristy spot.

RTWT.  It's a refreshingly sane view from the far side of the Pond.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Finally, an honest debate about gun control

Obama has triggered what is looking to be a debate about gun control where people actually tell the truth for a change:
President Obama is clearly fed up. His speeches after mass shootings — speeches that have become a bit of a morbid ritual, given how regularly the shootings occur — have grown angrier, more emotional, and more disgusted at America's gun violence problem and Congress's unwillingness to do literally anything to stop it. "This is a political choice that we make," Obama declared Thursday night, after the 294th mass shooting of 2015, "to allow this to happen every few months in America."

But let's be clear about precisely what kind of choice this is. Congress's decision not to pass background checks is not what's keeping the US from European gun violence levels. The expiration of the assault weapons ban is not behind the gap. What's behind the gap, plenty of research indicates, is that Americans have more guns. The statistics are mind-blowing: America has 4.4 percent of the world's population but almost half of its civilian-owned guns.
Realistically, a gun control plan that has any hope of getting us down to European levels of violence is going to mean taking a huge number of guns away from a huge number of gun owners.

Other countries have done exactly that. Australia enacted a mandatory gun buyback that achieved that goal, and saw firearm suicides fall as a result. But the reforms those countries enacted are far more dramatic than anything US politicians are calling for — and even they wouldn't get us to where many other developed countries are.
That's Vox, a reliably leftie new media site.  It doesn't shrink from calling for confiscation:
The US doesn't just have a gun violence problem because of its lax gun regulation. It has a problem because it has a culture that encourages large-scale gun possession, and other countries do not. That, combined with Australia's experience, makes large-scale confiscation look like easily the most promising approach for bringing US gun homicides down to European rates.
But what's interesting is Vox's conclusion:
Large-scale confiscation is not going to happen. That's no reason to stop advocating it.
So finally we have an honest debate.  This is about confiscation.  Even the Left doesn't think that's going to happen.  But at least we can reject the grotesque lies that have been put up as a smoke screen ("common sense gun control").  Truth is a Very Good Thing Indeed.

A year ago

I was riding along the beach in Florida, never expecting what would happen the next day.  It just takes a moment to go from this:

to a hospital bed.  It's been an interesting year, and the rest of 2015 looks like it's fixin' to continue interesting.  But it feels like it's turned a corner, and there's good reason to believe that the interesting bits, while bittersweet, will have a lot more sweet than bitter.

That's a nice feeling.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Quote of the day: idiot leftists edition

Smartest guys in the room:
The idea that taxes cut into existing productive activity, and that as a cost, will be passed on to consumers (such as the financial transaction tax passing on costs to bank clients, shareholders, etc) doesn’t occur [to leftists]. No, taxes are part of that wonderful magic money tree. Why stop at a pathetic 50 per cent? Why not tax the lot? Give it all to the State, so those clever people can spray it around and make us richer, except of course the money has that odd way of disappearing from our paychecks……..Sorry, excuse me, time for my pills.

You do have to wonder what a century or more of compulsory education has wrought.
Actually, no you don't.

Seen inside the Camp Borepatch perimeter

Danaus plexippus.  Click to embiggen.

"I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn"

It seems that this caption works for every cartoon published in The New Yorker.  For example:

There are lot more.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chet Baker & Paul Desmond - Autumn Leaves

I've been busy.  Life's been loud, but for once in a good way.  In the meantime, the leaves are falling at Camp Borepatch, so here's some autumn jazz for the occasion.

Friday, October 2, 2015


It's funny because it's sort of true.

Your thought for the day on gun control

The Usual Suspects™, led by our Divider-In-Chief are dancing in the blood of the victims again.  They don't know what the problem was, but they're convinced that the answer is more gun control.

Remember, sometimes it's easier not to do something stupid than it is to do something smart.  

The gun grabbers forget this every single time.  Every. Single. Time.

I'm not opposed to gun control, just to stupid and counterproductive gun control.  Like prohibitions on campus concealed carry, which prevented all of the victims from defending themselves.  Every gun control proposal should be immediately challenged - the proposer should have to explain why it's not stupid or counterproductive.

Hack the Po-Po

Well, the cruiser, anyway:
A state trooper responding to a call starts his vehicle, but is unable to shift the gear from park to drive. The engine RPMs suddenly spike and the engine accelerates, no foot on the pedal. Then the engine cuts off on its own.
The unmarked 2012 Chevrolet Impala from the Virginia State Police's (VSP) fleet has been hacked -- but luckily, by good hackers.

This is what police officers could someday face in the age of car hacking. It's just one in a series of cyberattacks waged on the VSP's Impala and on one of its 2013 Ford Taurus marked patrol cars as part of an experiment by a public-private partnership to test how state trooper vehicles could be sabotaged via cyberattacks. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in May first announced the initiative, which was aimed at protecting the state's public safety agencies and citizens from vehicle-hacking.
Actually this is a very good thing.  I've had "White Hat" hackers do this sort of analysis in the past, and you always learn a lot that improves the security of the system.  More of this, please.

It's not often I say "Well done" to the government's security program, but well done indeed.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


The house is almost all done - a quick tidy of the detritus that settled during the last room clean ups and vacuuming and dusting.

Err, and #2 Son tidying his room up ...

But the house across the street just sold.  In 4 hours.  Confidence is high that Camp Borepatch will have new owners in the next little while.

But man I'm worn out.