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
Gravedigger
When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
Gravedigger
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
Gravedigger
When you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain
Gravedigger
Ring around the rosey
Pocket full o'posey
Ashes to ashes
We all fall down
Gravedigger
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--
Gravedigger
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

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

Gun Shows

Tam has a link to a breathless CNN article about WHAT REALLY GOES ON AT A GUN SHOW!

Heh. I don't know about the gun shows in your area, but ours are pretty disappointing. Here's the inside story. I usually end up going, although I wonder why:

First, before you get to the door you have to disarm. Either leave your piece in the truck or unload it so it can be zip-tied at the door. So you and everyone else following the rules is unarmed, always a good start.

Once inside, there are a dozens of tables displaying firearms, new, old, long guns, handguns, shotguns, military, and so on. Most of these are either under glass or cabled together so that they can't really be handled. A few of the smaller tables have them out so you can talk to the vendor and at least shoulder or sight the merchandise.

Prices are tending toward the high end. Local gun shops usually end up looking competitive. Gone are the days of finding a deal on an old military rifle or a gently used handgun. I walk by some tables wondering if the guns are for sale or just displayed in an odd museum with price tags.

Some ammo sales, a little bit of reloading supplies. Powder has been scarce and very spendy. I did buy a bulk pack of factory 9mm last time. It was new manufactured mil-spec, and with things winding down overseas, the manufacturer was at the show looking to test the civilian market. It wasn't really a great deal, but it was fair, and it was good ammo at the range.

Then there's everything else.

Flashlights, tables and tables of flashlights, most of them designed to light up the field for night baseball.

Electric stun guns. These are easy to find. The continuous test firing makes a angry crackle from the far corner of the room. The same guy is selling pepper spray, batons, and cheap copies of Japanese katanas.

Knives. Some quality, lots of cheap. The nice ones cost more than the guns.

Survival food. Jerky. Nitrogen packed meals in buckets. Old MREs. Camo clothes, old military stuff, the kind of things I used to see in the Army-Navy store for $2.99 now priced to sell for $27.50!
T-shirts and patches. Military, patriotic, pro-2A, and vendor advertising. Sometimes all on the same shirt. The last several times there's been a booth manned by a couple of pretty young women selling stickers and t-shirts with a slogan that most us would support but wouldn't wear.

You walk around, see some friends, look at the stuff, and head out in a couple of hours. 
If anything about this seems exciting, I apologize for not being more descriptive. No one is breaking any laws. Crates of automatic weapons are not changing hands. There is no "gun show loophole", every vendor has to fill out the same forms as the guy at the gun shop, calls have to made, there is nothing shady happening.

Yes, if you have the money and you are willing to part with it and can pass a background check, you can buy a gun at a gun show. I'm unsure how this qualifies as news.



Now that is marketing


(via)

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.

Pictures from a Recent Hike

Finished editing my pictures from the hike earlier in the month. Here's a sample. These were taken in Vermont, first week in October, between Manchester Center and Wallingsford.

Click to biggify.










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

50 Years Ago Today

October 28th, 1965 was the date that construction was completed on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Here is Wiki's entry on the planning, construction, and history of the Arch.


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 ...

Major League Baseball and the World Series

I used to watch the game of the week. For decades, when the fall came, I followed the pennant races and the World Series. But by the time the World Series started, I had a feel for the teams, some of the key players. Even if it wasn't my favorite teams, I'd find someone to root for.

Now MLB has sold their birthright to the cable channels. I haven't seen a game all season. I don't know a single player. Only knew the Mets were in it because they swept the Cubs. All the games so far were on channels I don't get. Now the last seven are on Fox. I have the television on, but really, without the pennant races and the build-up, how can MLB expect me to be interested?

They need to get this sport back in front of all the fans throughout the season.

I'm going to go cruise the menu on Netflix.

Maybe it needs a high octane Prozak


The Scranton Lace Factory

Founded in 1897, it was the largest Nottingham Lace factory in the world. It shut down in 2002. It looks like they just shut down the equipment and walked away. Here's one image and a link to many more along with the photographer's comments.


It is a piece of old America, a self contained factory with employee recreation rooms, a bowling alley, infirmary, and kitchen.

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

Maureen O'Hara

Maureen O'Hara passed away today. She was 95. Other than Miracle on 34th Street, I mostly remember her from her roles in movies with John Wayne.

Here's a clip I'm sure she be thrilled to be memorialized by. Not just spanked, spanked in front of a crowd with a coal shovel after being dumped in a horse trough. Classic acting by all involved.

They're Saying Hillary Looks and Acts Presidential

And I think they are right.

I think she looks and acts positively Nixonian.


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.

*Groan*

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

Brittni Paiva

Give this a minute or two to get rolling. I have never seen anything like this on a ukulele.

A Poster and a Question

Here's the poster:


Here's the question: Where's Luke?

Han's there. So is Leia. Chewbacca. R2-D2. C-3PO.

In the trailers, too, no Luke.

My prediction, which I have been sharing for a while, is that Luke is the Sith. The bad guy in upper left corner of the poster.

I posted it here so if it turns out I was right, I can date it. The final piece for me was in the new trailer, where the Sith is talking to Darth Vader's burnt helmet, "I will finish what you started." The very sort of thing a son would promise his father.


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.

It's Official, Hillary is the Candidate

Joe bows out.


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

I Feel A Disturbance

Finally, maybe, I feel a little hope. Not a Gungan in sight.

The 5 minute University

Sadly, this may not be far off.


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


Why Does My Heart Hurt?

It's not just Detroit, it's America. Buffalo, New York looks much the same in the old industrial areas.


Want

Full sized, working Little Tykes Kozy Koupe.


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

(via)

#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

Wait, Huh? What's That?

World is on brink of 50 year ice age.
 

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.

And This Is Why I Practice Other Arts

If you're being attacked by someone within arm's reach, you don't have a gun, y'all have a gun. It's probably best if it stays in the holster until you've bought enough space to make it just your gun again."
--Tam

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.
Hmmmm.

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

Gun Control

From elevenbravotwenty:


Giving all the power to the state always ends badly. It begs the question of why the current politicians want so badly to disarm us.

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.

Media Bias

We already know that the media is unashamedly biased in it's reporting. The progressives got a taste of it last night and this morning. The narrative is that Hillary is back on track, slammed homers out the park last night, is once again the presumptive heir to the throne.

Nothing will be allowed to get in the way. Not the polling that showed Bernie winning by 70-80%, not the outraged comments from good liberals who aren't used to seeing their words disappear from the new websites, not the Facebook storm of butthurt Bernie supporters who see, just for a moment, how it feels to be on the on the wrong side of corporate liberalism.

They will forget. It will be too much cognative dissonance to remember for long. Because if they are doing this, what else might not be reported honestly?

Here's a couple of screen captures. The Fox poll is still up, the CNN poll was pulled. What remains is now the triumphant headline "Hillary Clinton's big night on the debate stage."







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

2,428.4 Miles

I left home on October 1st and put 2,428.4 miles on the truck before I pulled back in the driveway Sunday evening. I spent 4 nights with friends and family members, 2 nights in motels, and 4 nights under canvas on the Appalachian Trail.

This is a big country. Even the east coast, where things are more densely populated, driving from N.C. to upstate New York is not a small undertaking.

Out of all of it, it is the trail I miss. I am going to make some gear changes and get back out next month, even if it's just for a couple of days.



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

Gains and Losses

I like my digital camera, I can take 1000 pictures at no added cost, but I miss Kodachrome 64 slide film and the effort necessary to get a superior result.

I like the smartphone and the mapping software that keeps me oriented on the road. I had maps for backup and never opened one. I know they are tracking me. They're tracking everyone. It's still great technology, even if the monitoring the government is doing is a gross violation of our rights.

I like the cellphone, call from almost anywhere. I really don't miss payphones, and they are just about extinct.

And in today's news. another icon falls to the digital age. If you want to look at ladies, of any age, in any shape, doing anything in the nude, it's a click away. It finally has killed Playboy magazine, at least in the form we all knew it. Playboy has announced that it is doing away with nude photos of the models. It just doesn't sell anymore. Now if you buy the magazine, it really will be for the articles.

We had a fort out in the woods when I was a boy. There was a stack of magazines acquired from older brothers or filched from Dad. I went and googled Playboy cover art and I remember this one. Can't say I remember anything about Groucho Marx in his eighties, though.


I haven't bought a men's magazine in 30 years, but somehow this seems like a loss.

Also, so much for gravitas.

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.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Now I'm Back

Just starting to go through the pictures.

Friday, October 9, 2015

I Have Been Away

And I am not really back. Just had access to a computer tonight. I will return in a couple of days to regular posting.

In the meantime, I offer you this.

Remember, barbeque is not a verb.

Rolling

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.