Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Obit watch

Jane Fawcett, World War II Bletchley Park analyst:
Jane Fawcett, a British code-breaker during World War II who deciphered a key German message that led to the sinking of the battleship Bismarck — one of Britain’s greatest naval victories during the war — died May 21 at her home in Oxford, England. She was 95.
She kept her war activities secret, even from her husband.

Mapping the Dark Internet

Those of you who deal in Internet Security* will know all about this but for the rest, this is a pretty interesting overview of how the corners of the Internet can be discovered.

* I'm surprised at how many of you there are.

Applied Statistics


I spent the weekend unpacking boxes and organizing the garage.  Lots of boxes, many of them books.  It's surprising how many old books were no longer useful except for propping the door open.

And I say that as a book lover.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A General apologizes to the dead on Memorial Day 1945

Wow:
Mauldin's account of Gen. Truscott's speech at Nettuno is the best record we have of that day.  He recalled the general taking the stand and then turning his back on the audience in order to address the buried corpses arrayed behind him. "It was the most moving gesture I ever saw," Mauldin said.

In his heavy rasp, Truscott told the dead men that he was sorry for what he had done. He said that leaders all tell themselves that deaths in war aren't their fault, that such carnage is inevitable. Deep down, though, if they're honest with themselves, he said, commanders and politicians know it's not true. Truscott admitted he had made mistakes, perhaps many.

Then he asked the dead to forgive him. He was requesting the  impossible, he knew, but he needed to ask anyway. - See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/38888#sthash.ubzJyXdH.dpuf
I had never heard of General Lucien Truscott before.  He seems like he was quite a man.

So I missed the Rolling Thunder ride

The Queen Of The World and I were going to go to Rolling Thunder yesterday.  Instead, I cleared out the garage, unpacked a bazillion boxes, took loads to storage and Good Will, and got shelves hung on the wall.  It was 90° and a couple days of that sort of labor sort of took it out of me.  I didn't think I was up to the ride, and so we didn't go.

Instead, I unpacked more boxes.  Oh, well, at least the place is starting to come together.

Next year, for sure.

The bugle calls

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day

I had a friend give me a small container full of very coarse black sand today. There's a lot of that sand on a small island in the Pacific, but I knew what it was and where it came from when he handed it to me. It's one of the places every Marine can name.

There's an endless number of places they have died, though, and no way to even begin a comprehensive list.

Being a bomber crewman making runs over Germany. The 2nd deadliest day in the history of the Marines was at a victory in a place called Belleau Wood in WWI. You could have been a cook or a black shoe boilerman on the USS Bunker Hill, just working away below decks when the kamikazi plane struck. It could have been some unnamed skirmish in France. A training accident at Pensacola. And on and on.



I like the little poster I put here, but it's not all of the price.

I remember Memorial Day parades when I was a boy. There would be several convertibles filled with Gold Star Mothers in the procession, either just before or after the men of the VFW marched past. And there were other families that only got a "Missing in Action" telegram and no closure at all. How long did they wait before hope finally faded?

That's a hard price, too.

Remember.

Sgt. Charles Stuart MacKenzie - Lay me down in the cold, cold ground

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of the fallen.  There's quite a selection of music appropriate for this mood.  Some is obscure, rescued from oblivion by Hollywood.  Sgt. Charles Stuart MacKenzie fought in the War To End All Wars.  Seriously wounded on the front lines, he was sent back to his native Scotland to recuperate.  The doctor wanted to amputate his arm; MacKenzie refused.  He said that would prevent him from returning to his unit.

And so the convalescence continued, slow but true.  MacKenzie was sent back to his unit as he wished.  He was killed in combat; his great grandson wrote this song which was used in the film We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young.



This day of Remembrance, take a moment from your gathering with friends and family to welcome the summer season, and remember them.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Jo Dee Messina - Heaven Was Needing A Hero

Memorial Day is the traditional start of summer.  Beach, swimming pools, and backyard barbecue is the agenda for most.  But that's not what the day is about.  I posted this four years ago and it still captures the spirit of this weekend.  Christian Golczynski is not seventeen.

--------------------------------------------------------------


Memorial Day isn't about barbecues for Christian Golczynski.  He was eight years old when LTC Ric Thompson handed him the flag that had draped his father's coffin.  That was five years ago.

This weekend will be the fifth Memorial Day where he won't be thinking about barbecues.  Next month will be the fifth Father's Day with an empty chair at the dinner table.

That is what Memorial Day is about.

I've posted this song a number of times over the last year or two, as it captures in music the sound of a heart breaking.  The song alternates between memories of the loved and lost, and the stumbling emptiness as the singer tries - and fails - to make sense of the loss.  It's not your typical sentimental Country music song, it's pure, 100 proof grief.

For some, that is what Memorial Day is about.

There is no official music video for this song; Messina is no longer the chart topping singer that she was in the 1990s.  But people have taken this music and found photographs that amplify the music and make it personal.  The second picture is one that I found particularly moving - nearly as much as the one of young Master Golczynski shown here.

This is what Memorial Day is about. 



Heaven Was Needing A Hero (songwriter: Jo Dee Messina)
I came by today to see you
Though I had to let you know
If I knew the last time that I held you was the last time,
I'd have held you and never let go
Oh it's kept me awake night wonderin'
Lie in the dark, just asking "why?"
I've always been told you won't be called home until it's your time

I guess Heaven was needing a hero
Somebody just like you
Brave enough to stand up for what you believe and follow it though
When I try to make it make sense in my mind
The only conclusion I come to
Is that Heaven was needing a hero like you

I remember the last time I saw you
Oh you held your head up proud
I laughed inside when I saw how you were, standing out in the crowd
You're such a part of who I am
Now that part will just be void
No matter how much I need you now
Heaven needed you more

'Cause Heaven was needing a hero
Somebody just like you
Brave enough to stand up for what you believe and follow it though
When I try to make it make sense in my mind
The only conclusion I come to
Is that Heaven was needing a hero like you

Yes, Heaven was needing a hero...that's you.

Abraham Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby is justly famous:
Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln
Christian Golczynski also laid a sacrifice on that same altar of our freedom, a sacrifice costly beyond our reckoning.  I hope that the fullness of time will ease his anguish as well.  I fear that it will not.

That is what Memorial Day is about.  Not a barbecue in sight, just pure, 100 proof grief.  This weekend as you go about your normal business of life, remember SSgt Marcus Golczynski.  And Christian.  And what that sacrifice means.  May this Republic be worthy of them.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Security?

Security should be built into the core of the operating system. That's why Borepatch gets on his soapbox ringing the bell and hollering, "LINUX!, LINUX, LINUX!" every time we talk about this. Perhaps so, but it's still a Windows world and I venture that most of you are running some version of it to read this. So anti-virus and security are an afterthought, bolted onto the system like an 8-Trak player in a '69 Chevelle.

Knowing that, what do you use? I use my common sense. I make regular data backups. I stay out the back alley websites. I don't use torrent software. I don't expect anything to be free. I know I am not the millionth viSiToR! and therefore I don't click the banner ad. I don't load helper apps and toolbars in my browser. I don't open attachments in email, even from people I know, unless I am expecting them.

And for software, at home I run Avast anti-virus, MalwareBytes, and CCleaner. There are free and paid versions. I bought a router with some firewall type protections and run my computers behind that.I have explored Windows settings and shut off certain ports. I keep important stuff in encrypted folders that I have to open with a password when I use them.

None of this protects me. Don't count on software to protect your computer any more than you count on the safety on your pistol. You may use them both, and I recommend it, but you should never expect that they won't both fail.

Facebook app listens to you

Man, this is creepy:
The site, itself, admits in an online statement, “We use your microphone to identify the things you’re listening to or watching, based on the music and TV matches we’re able to identify.” But, experts contend that the site is going a step further. In what some users are calling an alarming trend, described as “Big Brother,”
Facebook also listens for certain buzz words. Once identified, those words trigger an interesting response.  Items are then carefully placed in your Facebook feed, specifically crafted with your interests front and center. Wait!  What?
We tested the theory with Kelli, and even we were surprised by what we found and saw.
Kelli enabled the microphone feature and talked about her desire to go on safari, right down to her mode of transportation.  “I’m really interested in going on an African safari. I think it’d be wonderful to ride in one of those jeeps,” she said aloud, phone in hand.
Less than 60 seconds later, the first post on her Facebook feed was a safari story that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Turns out, it was a story that had been posted three hours earlier. And, after mentioning a jeep, a car ad also appeared on her page.
I don't use Facebook (it's been years since I last logged in to it), so their app seems pretty useless to me.  If you use the app, you might want to turn the "listen to me" thing off.

Hillary gets schlonged

If the Obama administration wanted to delay the State Department's Inspector General report they could have.  They didn't, which means that not only do they not care what damage this will do to their party's front runner, they are actively complicit in that damage.

And it's a lot of damage:

  • This report was released during the middle of the week.  The administration is famous for releasing bad news on Friday, where nobody will pay much attention because of the weekend and after that it's "old news".  This is the talk of, well, pretty much everyone.
  • The California primaries are next week.  Sanders was neck and neck with Clinton and those polls were before this report came out.  It's quite possible that Bernie wins California which would mean that Hillary would go to the convention looking like a loser even if she gets the nomination.
  • The FBI will not be under pressure to ask for an indictment.  This won't be able to be delayed until the election, so either she gets a perp walk or she looks like a political fix was in.  She loses either way.

She's toast.  I simply can't see how she beats Trump in November with this.  Of course, I haven't thought she could beat him anyway - she's simply an apallingly bad candidate - but "Crooked Hillary" will stick.

So the question is: what's the Administration's motivation?  Obama can't stand Hillary, but that's not enough reason to drop this bomb.  Bernie would almost certainly need Obama's support, so there would be leverage for Obama in a Sanders administration.  Of the administration of a white knight:

Or not.

I must confess that I don't understand the motivations, and that sort of bothers me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nobody said that education would be comfortable


Where Does Data Go?

I work in tech support. No matter that my degree is in networking, a lot of what I do is direct desktop support dealing with users in a university setting.

I am going to say to all of you exactly what I would like to say to my users. No one cares about your data except you. No one. Because I am a professional, I will murmur comforting thoughts when all your data is gone and keep the thought that you have acted like a moron to myself, but really, I don't care. It's not my job to care, I am not responsible for your data, I am responsible for the system and the software.

Back up your data. Then back it up again. Automate the process.

Before it is lost, however, I am a willing tech support guy, happy that you are trying to be a responsible adult and open to providing options, software solutions, advice, etc. The university provides server based storage for all faculty and staff and just doubled the size of everyone's share with an easy way to get more space if you have large data sets.

That server based storage is:
1. backed up daily, then weekly, then monthly, back through a year. 
2. accessible from off campus through a secure method.
3. considered secure, meaning that if it got compromised it is not the user's responsibility.

For personal use, I recommend a set of portable hard drives and automated backup software. Swap out the drives every month. Store the second drive in a different location than the computer. That will mean you don't lose more than a month if the entire system is destroyed. The daily automated backup ensures whatever you designated to back up is secure from a single hard drive or computer failure and you don't lose more than a day.

If that seems onerous, just use an attached hard drive backup for the daily backups and pay an on-line service to provide you with the offsite long term storage.

What you should not do:
1. Ignore the advice to set up a backup solution.
2. Pretend that data you didn't back up is important.
3. Pretend that data you didn't back up is important, really, the proof that it was not important is that you didn't back it up.
 Here is a list of some of the things that can happen. I chose these because they are all things that have happened to users I support.
1. Total, sudden, catastrophic hard drive failure.
2. Pouring a water tumbler full of gin and tonic on a laptop.
3. Having a cat pee on a laptop (leading to hard drive failure).
4. Pouring coffee on a laptop.
5. Dropping a laptop (leading to hard drive failure).
6. Having a computer stolen (the drive might be fine, the data is gone)
7. Having a virus (many many times, sometimes leading to data loss).
8. Having the Ransomware virus (once, data gone).
Sometimes I have been able to recover their data from the damaged system and I will if I can. Once we sent a drive out to a recovery service. That data was considered important enough to justify the $2200.00 charge.

My job is to repair or replace the computer, operating system, and software. I will do that, set you back up and restore your network access, configure your email and connect you to the network printer.

If you had five years of research data, the great American novel, all the pictures of your family since you first bought a digital camera in 2003, fifteen years of email archives, or anything else that suddenly became important after the screen went blank, ask yourself this question; "Where does data go when the only copy of it is destroyed?"

Next time I'll talk about anti-virus and personal computer security.

Back your shit up.

Not nice, Microsoft

Not nice:

Microsoft boxImage copyrightMICROSOFT

Microsoft has faced criticism for changing the pop-up box encouraging Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10. 
Clicking the cross in the top-right hand corner of the pop-up box now agrees to a scheduled upgrade rather than rejecting it.
Personally, I recommend Linux Mint.

UPDATE 26 May 2016 16:12: Well, well, well:
Microsoft has u-turned over changes it made to a pop-up encouraging users to upgrade to Windows 10.
Users were angry that clicking the cross to dismiss the box meant that they had agreed to the upgrade.
Based on "customer feedback", Microsoft said that it had added another notification that provided customers with "an additional opportunity for cancelling the upgrade".
They really stepped in it with this.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I think that Hillary must be their sales rep


Couldn't sell ice water in the desert, it seems.

Ransomware

On Twitter, Ltc Dan asks about the CryptXXX ransomware and whether it's a problem.  It is.

First, Ransomware.  This is a form of malware that looks for data files (Office documents, pictures, that sort of thing) and encrypts them.  It then tells you that it will decrypt them for you if you pay them the low, low price of $59.99 (or whatever).

Nice pictures of the kids you have there.  Be a shame if anything happened to it.

Like I said, nasty.  Enough people pay the ransom that there's an active development in these tools:
Upgrades made to CryptXXX ransomware over the past couple of weeks have rendered a previously available decryption tool useless.
First detected by Proofpoint's security researchers back in mid-April, CryptXXX is one of the newest ransomware variants to prey upon unsuspecting users.
The crypto-malware is currently being shipped as a Dynamic-Link Library (DLL) that is dropped by Bedep malware and the Angler exploit kit.
Once the infection cycle is complete, CryptXXX encrypts a number of different file types and appends the .CRYPT extension to each encrypted file. It then displays a ransom message that demands US $500 and warns the ransom fee will double in value if payment has not been received within a few days.
So what do you do to protect yourself?  You should have an antivirus installed on your Windows (and increasingly Macintosh) computer, but most antivirus is pretty bad at picking up newly released malware.  Basically, you're hoping that someone else will get hit before you do, and the antivirus will get updated to detect the new nasty before it discovers your PC.

More importantly, you should be backing up your data.  This way, if the ransomware hits you, you at least still have copies of the kid's pictures.  USB hard drives are cheap, so there's no reason not to do this every day (or at least every week).  Here's a 1 TB drive that retails for $59.  At that price, you can get two - as with concealed carry pistols, the rule for backups is "Two is one and one is none".

ASM826 does this sort of thing for a living - he may chime in here with his thoughts.  Or not.  ;-)

Monday, May 23, 2016

But who will protect those who protect the whistleblowers?

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear:
But there is another man whose story has never been told before, who is speaking out publicly for the first time here. His name is John Crane, and he was a senior official in the Department of Defense who fought to provide fair treatment for whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake – until Crane himself was forced out of his job and became a whistleblower as well.
His testimony reveals a crucial new chapter in the Snowden story – and Crane’s failed battle to protect earlier whistleblowers should now make it very clear that Snowden had good reasons to go public with his revelations.
During dozens of hours of interviews, Crane told me how senior Defense Department officials repeatedly broke the law to persecute Drake. First, he alleged, they revealed Drake’s identity to the Justice Department; then they withheld (and perhaps destroyed) evidence after Drake was indicted; finally, they lied about all this to a federal judge.
In other news from the Surveillance State, General Clapper is still not in prison for committing perjury before congress.

Friday, May 20, 2016

You can't judge a book by its cover

Oh, wait ...


Hospital update

Subtitle: riding the emotional roller coaster.

Father-In-Law's stroke was deep in the brain - in the mid-brain. The good news is that this might very well have no impact on his higher cognitive functions. The bad news is that his body functions have been depressed.

There seemed to be improvement yesterday as they gave him medication to stimulate his brain. While he couldn't open his eyes or move much, he was able to nod "yes" to questions. We left the hospital last night somewhat optimistic.

This morning we come back to find he has pneumonia, so the tube won't come out any time soon. He's also not very responsive.

Not sure how this is playng out, but I'm glad I didn't let the Queen Of The World come here by herself.

Say What Needs To Be Said

Don't think there will always be time.

When We Were Knights.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Light posting

We are visiting my Father-In-Law at the hospital in Dayton. Posting will likely be sporadic.

Man, when it's my time, I want to go quick.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Grammar nazi approves


An uberpost series on the science of global warming

I use the term "global warming" for two reasons: it bothers the Right Sort of people, and it accurately describes the debate - after all, nobody is talking about declining temperatures.  It's a more honest label.

Coyote Blog finishes up his great series of posts on the science of global warming.  I've been meaning to update my Should You Be A Global Warming Skeptic? post for a couple years now, but this series is more complete.

Highly recommended if you actually want to know the state of the science.

America Has Forgotten How To Win

This is from Lt. General (Ret.) Michael T. Flynn, former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Here's the link to the whole article. Go and read the whole thing.
Put simply, we are still at war with radical Islamic groups and an ideological movement that can’t be ignored nor wished away. We have to face the fact that ISIS and its army of like-minded jihadists are determined to win that war, and believe they are on the path to victory. They may well be right.                                                                              
That raises two blunt and vital questions that almost never get asked in Washington, D.C. Do we even know how to win wars anymore? Does America still have what it takes? Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that the answers to both those questions are that we probably don’t.
Somewhere along our national journey our political leaders lost the clarity of vision, our military commanders the habits of strategic thought, and our public the determined will to achieve victory. There are times when it almost seems as if the idea of truly winning-- stealing the willingness to continue fighting away from the enemy, and creating a real sense of a victor and a vanquished – has become too politically incorrect. I believe our inability to achieve victory stems mainly from having lost sight as a nation of what it means to win, and of the vital importance of doing so in our own interests.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The end of Big Oil

And Russia, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia:
“Fracking” plays (Oil Speak Note: Play = producing oil well) are normally for four years, with most of the oil in the first two years. They cost $10 to $15 million. They are profitable at $50 a barrel for a new play and already fracked wells cover their costs at half that price. The “new revolution” technique the oil service firm mentioned doubles those times to four years of high flow with a further four years of declining flow. Depending on whatever drilling costs are involved, this effectively earns them profit at a price as low as 1/2 of the per barrel cost of previously fracked wells over the new well’s longer productive lifetime.
A Big Oil drilling play in the deep ocean, arctic, or politically unstable/corrupt 3rd World nation (This now includes Putin’s Russia) runs between $1 and $5 billion because of all the infrastructure Big Oil has to build to extract and move the large quantities of oil from howling wilderness at the edge of civilization. They run 7 to 15 years.
The disinvestment that this Saudi-caused oil price crash is bringing on will see declines by corruption of existing big-oil-type production in various national oil companies, followed by a massive market share shift to fracking when the reduced-by-disinvestment Big Oil production curves start bumping reduced oil supply into increased oil demand.
CONFIRMING FRACKING IMPRESSIONS
These facts left me with several impressions that I later confirmed.
First, this new extended frack technology is what is driving the “Fracking to Frack-log” drilling decline by the mid-to-large oil industry players in the last 9 to 12 months. Effectively, mid-to-large fracking firms have stopping current style fracking to get a piece of the new technique for the next oil price rise, AKA when the Saudis have burned through their foreign investments and sovereign-debt credit rating.
Second, cheap fracking-type drilling also moves all future oil extraction to places that have certain legal and regulatory regimes for quick market moves. Places like private lands in Texas and other traditional American oil states that have existing transportation infrastructure, laws and regulations for land use plus a stable & (relatively) honest political culture adapted to running them.
And also, the Big Green environmental movement:
Big Green has a March-of-Dimes-after-the-Salk-Polio-vaccine problem. 
The environmental movement arose in part due to real and imaginary environmental abuses of Big Oil, notably its huge infrastructure requirements generating “Not in my back yard” (NIMBY) resistance in many American states. The size and scope of these infrastructure programs required multiple levels of local, state and federal regulatory approval which allowed protracted opposing environmental lobbying and media campaigns. Those campaigns required huge standing organizations, raising and spending money on political lobbying and public education/awareness. This in turn created huge INCOME STREAMS with a familiar pattern of fund-raising consultants getting a percentage of the take, plus ditto for related lobbyist and publicity staff, all of whose livelihoods and identities are wrapped up in environmentalist political action. Big Green is merely one of, albeit now the largest, of many such self-licking ice cream cone institutions in America.
If most of the new production is on private land and transported/refined in existing infrastructure, then this is a big, big problem for all the Green mouthes that are used to eating high off the hog today.

Left unstated is whether a successful effort by Big Green to stifle a Texas-only economic development might spur talk of secession.

This is a very interesting article.

America's transition to the Soviet Union is complete

Hidden microphones record conversations in public places:
Hidden microphones that are part of a clandestine government surveillance program that has been operating around the Bay Area has been exposed.
Imagine standing at a bus stop, talking to your friend and having your conversation recorded without you knowing.  It happens all the time, and the FBI doesn’t even need a warrant to do it.
Federal agents are planting microphones to secretly record conversations.
Jeff Harp, a KPIX 5 security analyst and former FBI special agent said, “They put microphones under rocks, they put microphones in trees, they plant microphones in equipment. I mean, there’s microphones that are planted in places that people don’t think about, because that’s the intent!”
I remember when this sort of thing was what totalitarian states did.  Oh, wait ...

Monday, May 16, 2016

What do you call the Windows 10 Start Menu?

Adware.

What a sucking chest wound of fail.

Spotting Scope?

Shot a Garand Match in bright sunlight on Saturday. My old scope was unusable. Had someone call a few shots at the beginning, and then I just sent the rounds without looking. That being said, I did okay. Shot a 276/300. Managed to get an 86/100 in the off-hand(standing) stage.

I am going to have to get a new spotting scope. Price matters. I know what I would buy if I had $1500. I do not. Let's say $200 to $350 is my price range. What say the Borepatch readership?

I am thinking about a Konuspot 20-60x100.

Nasty Flash security bug being exploited in the wild

Flash is what makes video work on the 'net.  There's active exploitation going on right now, so you should go upgrade your Flash player route suite.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Damn

My Father-In-Law had a stroke today. Things are pretty touch and go. If you're the praying type, The Queen Of The World and I would sure appreciate it.

Claudio Monteverdi - L'Orfeo

Claudio Monteverdi was essentially the first modern composer.  His was a sharp dividing line between renaissance style music - really only heard these days as a curiosity - and what we still hear regularly as "normal" (albeit "highbrow") music.

His music was revolutionary, in that it gave birth to new and long lasting forms.  This piece is the oldest surviving opera that is still performed.  The face that it survived while a few older did not tells us what people at the time thought of its value.  That it's still performed today tells us what contemporaries think of its value.

It was also the birth of the Baroque stye - a twofer of musical genius, if you will.



Claudio Monteverdi was born on this day in 1567.  Opera was born a few years later in in 1607 when he wrote this piece.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The New Party

Everybody Sucks 2016


Waylon Jennings - The Eagle

Sad news comes our way:
We have lost yet another of our greatest generation. The family of LTC Thomas Kennedy (USA Ret) has requested that the Patriot Guard stand in silent honor of his service to our country. LTC Kennedy passed away on 12 May 2016 in Columbus, GA. He was 95 years old.  
LTC Kennedy was a member of the famed 506th Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. LTC Kennedy parachuted behind enemy lines on D-Day, the 6th of June, 1944. Shortly thereafter LTC was severely wounded by a landmine. Among his many decorations, were the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge and Master Parachutist Badge. 
But LTC Kennedy's life is a meditation on our own, and on our society.  You bet there's a country music song for that.



The Eagle (Songwriter: )
Lord knows I am peaceful when I'm left alone
I've always been an Eagle, been awhile since I have flown
My claws are sharp as ever, so's my Eagle eye
Something's gonna go tonight, when the eagle flies

Lately I've heard rumors that the eagle may be lame
Just because I've been idle, don't mean that I'm tame
You've jeopardized my freedom, my natural place to roost
I can fly when I have to, if they turn the eagle loose

So lay all your doubts aside when you go to bed tonight
My feathers are all ruffled now, I'm ready for a fight
Just because I took awhile to fly that don't mean I don't care
When you feel the shadow crossing, the eagle's in the air

So lay all your doubts aside when you go to bed tonight
My feathers are all ruffled now, I'm ready for a fight
Just because I took awhile to fly that don't mean I don't care
When you feel the shadow crossing, the eagle's in the air
When you feel the shadow crossing, the eagle's in the air
God Speed, LTC Kennedy.  Thank you for what you have given this Republic.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sure, you can trust the government

Trustworthy, trustworthy, trustworthy:
An SUV tucked away in the shadows of the Philadelphia Convention Center’s tunnel bears the ubiquitous logo for Google Maps, and mounted on top of the vehicle are two high-powered license plate reader cameras. To the average passerby, it might appear to be a Google street view vehicle. 
Others, such as Matt Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania computer and information science professor, saw it for what it truly was: a crudely disguised tool for surveillance. Blaze tweeted a photo of the vehicle with the appropriate opening: “WTF?” 
... 
So why this subterfuge? Two spokespersons with the Philadelphia Police Department were not immediately available for comment. 
“We can confirm that this is not a Google Maps car, and that we are currently looking into the matter,” Google spokesperson Susan Cadrecha wrote. When pressed, Cadrecha would not elaborate as to whether the company was concerned or angered that a local agency would be using a vehicle with powerful—and controversial—surveillance technology while masquerading as a street mapping car.
Remember, Citizen: if you haven't done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about. All is for the best, in the best of the Brave New Worlds.

In other news, New York City's police have been ticketing legally parked cars:
I then selected 30 random spots that had received 5 or more tickets over the time period, and based on Google Maps found that all of them appeared to be legal parking spots!  (Randomly selecting spots with a single ticket in the database showed some illegal spots as well, so I chose 5 as a conservative cutoff.) 
How many spots received 5 or more of these pedestrian ramp tickets in the last 2.5 years?  We are talking 1,966 spots that are generating about 1.7 million dollars a year in tickets at parking spots that are mostly legal.

Err, relax Citizen: if you haven't done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about. Unless we want money from you, in which case it's know your place, Peasant. Because Shut Up.  And respect my authoritah.

Tagged "police state" because, well, you know.

Another of the Greatest Generation passes

Sad, but what a life:
Major Robert Allen Swanson 12/1916 – 4/2016 
It is my sad duty to inform you that America has lost another member of the Greatest Generation. The family of Major Robert Allen Swanson has requested the Patriot Guard Riders stand and honor their hero and family member. It will be our honor to do so. 
Major Robert Allan Swanson learned to fly on a grass airstrip in Chicago which is now O’Hare International airport. He flew in WWII from 1942-1946. In 1946 he flew a P-51 named “Second Fiddle” in the Cleveland Air Races. This plane is still on display at the Crawford Aviation Museum in Cleveland. He was Manager of Flight Safety International from 1959 until 1980 in Miami. He also flew cargo out of Miami for Equatoriana and Tan Airlines during this time. He was transferred to the Atlanta area in 1980. He trained pilots on the Jetstar out of Flight Safety’s Marietta office until he was 90 years old. Bob and his wife Margret Jane started a van/bus service from Rome Ga. to the Atlanta airport called Shuttletran. It is still in service today. 
He was married to his wife Margret Jane for 74 Years. They had Five children Nine grandchildren and five great grands as well as extended family and friends throughout the world. 
He was able to live at home until his death at the age of 99.
God speed.

A broken window iss not a good thing when you're on a space station


NASA is confident that the integrity of the window is sound.  They think the ding was made by a paint chip  from some old rocket booster.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

You know, there might be something to that ...


Who's up for the Rolling Thunder ride?

They're expecting a half million bikes to ride to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. on Sunday, May 29.  If anyone in the area is interested in joining the Queen Of The World and me for the ride, leave a comment.

Hilary Clinton is in big trouble

It seems that Republican turnout in the primaries is way up, and Democratic turnout is way down:

In 2008 21.9 million Republicans voted in the primary and 58.1 million voted in the general election (265% increase).   In 2012 19.2 million primary -vs- 59.2 million in the general (308% increase).
Barack Obama won in ’08 with 66.5 million / McCain 58.1.
Barack Obama won in ’12 with 62.3 million / Romney 59.2
If the 2016 increases are even remotely maintained given the scope of the current increase in Republican Primary participation, the general election vote would be through the roof.
I'm not very interested in the polls right now, because their weakness is in how they estimate turnout. There are still a bunch of big primaries left to go (California and New Jersey, to name only two) and we can plausibly estimate the number of votes for Donald Trump in November at 80 Million.  Hillary plausibly tracks to 55 Million.

Think about those numbers.

And it gets worse for her.  The excitement on the GOP side is all Trump, all the time.  The excitement on the Democratic side is feel the Berne.  No love for Hillary there, although someone more heartless than I might say that's the story of her life.  So I won't say that.

Add in the seeming crossover appeal that Trump has - pulling in bunch of Democratic voters in West Virginia, for example - and the 17 Million people who tuned into the debate to watch The Donald, and things look really, really bleak for Hillary.

Like I've been saying, I have no idea whether Donald Trump would make a good President or not.  But we're fixing' to find out.

Hat tip: American Digest.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Why is our kids so dumb?


Sigh.  Maybe the teachers are too busy protesting Hedge Funds to actually, you know, teach.

That car is so fast ...

... it gets you the express lane to jail:
Spanish police have traced and cuffed a driver who live streamed a Madrid ring road burn-up during which he hit 195km/h (121mph) and narrowly avoided taking out several other vehicles. 
The unnamed speed merchant used Periscope to transmit his night-time high-speed exploits, then ill-advisedly shared the footage on his Twitter account, along with other video of himself consuming narcotics.
Periscope is an app that live streams video from your phone.  Our hero live streamed the evidence that will be used against him in a Court of Law, it seems.

Security is actually improving

So says Robert Graham, who created one of the early intrusion detection systems:
Critical software is written to day in a vastly more secure manner than it was in the 1980s, 1990s, or even the 2000s. Windows, for example, is vastly more secure. Sure, others are still lagging (car makers, medical device makers), but they are quickly learning the lessons and catching up. Finding a vuln in an iPhone is hard -- so hard that hackers will earn $1 million doing it from the NSA rather than stealing your credit card info. 15 years ago, the opposite was true. The NSA didn't pay for Windows vulns because they fell out of trees, and hackers made more money from hacking your computer.
What we're seeing is a shift in the attack target: Point of Sale systems, ATMs, embedded devices.  Or a shift in the attack channel: Target got hacked via a contractor who was hacked.

As the defense improves, the offense shifts to an different approach.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Dilbert on voting machines


It doesn't matter who casts the votes.  It matters a lot who counts them.

Anyone can quit smoking

But it takes a Real Man to fight cancer ...


Why everyone hates security, vol MCDXXIII

Critical medical devices crashes during heart surgery because the antivirus scanner started up:
A critical medical equipment crashed during a heart procedure due to a timely scan triggered by the antivirus software installed on the PC to which the said device was sending data for logging and monitoring. 
The device in question is Merge Hemo, a complex medical equipment used to supervise heart catheterization procedures, during which doctors insert a catheter inside veins and arteries in order to diagnose various types of heart diseases.
Whoops.

The number of things to be filed under "Bad Idea" in this situation are legion: why the logging computer ran an OS that requires an antivirus scanner (why not run Linux?), why the scanner was configured to block (as opposed to report) identified issues, why the security team was allowed to force a "fail closed"* architecture on potentially life-or-death equipment, why the Operating Room devices are connected to the Internet (if they are isolated, why would you need antivirus?).

Probably a lot more.  Stalin would have had them all shot.

* "Fail closed" is a security model where if an operation cannot be completed (say, an even cannot be logged because the log partition is full), the system shuts down.  This is opposed to "Fail open", where the system continues operating normally.  Very high security designs will require fail closed, but mission critical systems should always be fail open.

For all you Trump Haters

There's an excellent comment over at Scott Adam's blog that brings some good points:
Reminds me of what Ted Nugent wrote about Trump:
At this time I do not endorse Donald Trump anymore than I endorse Ted
Cruz as I admire both gentlemen. But these points are SO damn special!
Obama is against Trump
The Media is against Trump
The establishment Democrats are against Trump
The establishment Republicans are against Trump
The Pope is against Trump
The UN is against Trump
The EU is against Trump
China is against Trump
Mexico is against Trump
Soros is against Trump
Black Lives Matter is against Trump
MoveOn.Org is against Trump
Koch Bro’s are against Trump
Hateful, racist, violent Liberals are against Trump
Bonus points
Cher says she will leave the country
Mylie Cyrus says she will leave the country
Whoopi says she will leave the country
Rosie says she will leave the country
Al Sharpton says he will leave the country
Gov. Brown says California will build a wall
Sounds like the kinda president the US needs!
I don't either like or dislike Trump.  If I had to vote for someone running today, it would probably be John McAfee for the Libertarian Party "Hookers and cocaine" ticket.  Still, there's quite a rogue's gallery of people opposed to The Donald.

Trump may not do what he's promised, but the others (Hillary and Sanders)  will do some of what they've promised.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, 1st movement

It's Mother's Day, so it's time to roll out the A-List composers.  This is fun to watch as well as great to listen to.



Happy Mother's Day to all Moms, and to everyone who has a Mom.

An excerpt from the Book of Cooper



And the heavens opened and a Voice was heard and these four commandments where added to the ten which Moses brought. Follow them with rigor, least wailing and lamentations become thy lot. Then carry these commandments to every and all. Teach them to thy children and thy children's children


All of the things that go bang, verily, the pistols and the rifles and the guns of shot are, each and every time, unto a certainty, filled with powder and shot.

It is the opening where the charge of lead exits that is of great risk. Point it not at that which thee would not destroy.

The levers and devices that cause the shot are of grave importance. Touch them not until ready for the discharge.

Know, as thee knows the palm of thy hand, the object of your shot. Know also, that which lies beyond thy shot.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The day Donald Trump apologized to the Queen Of The World

As ASM826 would say, this is no s***.

Back In The Day, the Queen Of The World attended the Kentucky Derby pretty regularly. One year by the paddock, Trump (with a leggy blonde in tow) trod on her foot. He pulled up short, looked at her, and apologized.

It's not every man who's married to someone who had a (future) President apologize to her. Gentlemen, you may envy me ...

Lady Antebellum - Need You Nowsa

I came to this group slowly, taking a while to warm up to their "New Nashville" vibe.  But the Queen Of The World likes them a lot and so it gets some play here at Castle Borepatch.  And this song did stay at #1 on the charts for five weeks in 2009.

Friday, May 6, 2016

So the cops need high tech tools to catch terrorists, right?

Police use Stingray cell phone tracker to try to catch dude that stole $50 of chicken wings.

Color me unimpressed with the pleadings for more intrusive searches to stop bin Laden.

Trump v. Hillary

Bob sums it up.  Don't be drinking any coffee when you click that link.

Wow to prevent your computer from upgrading to Windows 10

From a thread at Slashdot:
Import this into your registry.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Gwx]
"DisableGwx"=dword:00000001
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate]
"DisableOSUpgrade"=dword:00000001
I've done this on 4 or 5 machines at work that we have to keep on 7 and any sign of Windows 10 has completely vanished.
I haven't done this because I run Linux but there you go.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hitler was wrong about Donald Trump

Rise of the Caesars

It will be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to take the office of the President of the United States next January. I don't know who Donald will pick as a running mate, but if Hillary makes the strategic choice, she'll ask Bernie to run with her. And then after the convention formalities, they will turn on each other.

Both sides will say that the opponent is an egomanical power hungry narcissist. Both sides will point to the opponent as proof of the demise of reason in American politics. Both sides think the other candidate is a criminal. Both sides have already invoked Godwin's Law.

Both sides are right.

What both sides are wrong about is the idea that the outcome of the election matters.



20 Trillion dollars in debt, unable to win a war in 70 years, a decaying infrastructure, a collapsed manufacturing base, and threatened by multiple enemies abroad, no candidates talk about the issues. There are no serious discussion about the debt, social spending, defense, and the expense of running the federal government.

I'm going to vote for Gary Johnson.

Politicians


Be careful when you sign up for an online shopping account

The user agreement may say that they're going to charge you every month to "join" their club:
A first-time visitor to Adore Me’s website can peruse bras, undies, and pajamas, just like any other online retailer, and no subscription is required to make a purchase. But the startup says nearly all of its sales come through its VIP Membership. These subscribers get access to discounted underwear—and they are billed at least $39.95 every month for store credit, even if no purchase is made. Want to avoid the charge? You must act during the first five days of the month.  
The specifics of the membership model were unclear to Taylor when she opted for what appeared to be a fabulous introductory discount on her first purchase. “‘Free’ was blasted everywhere on their website,” she says. “I felt really misled.” (Adore Me has made adjustments to its membership model and says customer complaints have been falling.) 
Once freed from the hold music, Taylor got the bad news: Adore Me would refund her the current monthly membership charge and provide store credit for two past months; the rest of the billings, totaling nearly $240, would be lost forever under a use-it-or-lose-it policy that has since been rescinded. No, she couldn’t speak to a manager.
The End User License Agreement (EULA) - you know, that thing that you click "I agree" without reading - is a mystical, magical place.  There be dragons.

You should read it.  Srlsy.

Oh, blast it all

It looks like I wasn't the first to say Trumpy McTrumpyface.

OK, then. How about President Trumpy McTrumpyface?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Murphy's Law, Babylonian edition


Everything you know about Ty Cobb is wrong

It seems that he was a nice guy.  Man, did he get bad press.  The article explains why.

Hat tip: Chris Lynch.

Back to Ordinary Time

I've been off the grid for the last week or so. Mrs. ASM, two of our surviving sons, and I took Mike's ashes up to where he used to live for a send-off. His friends held a campfire, told some of the stories, and then the next morning we met at the Green River in Tuxedo, N.C.

A song, a poem, a beer poured in the river, each one of us lost in our own thoughts. We each put a handful of ashes in the water, and then I gave the bulk of them to his friends. They are in the yellow dry bag in this picture.

His friends took them on one last paddle and let them go in the rapids and waterfalls he loved.


Now we are home and it is back to ordinary time.

Be careful using an ATM

"Skimming" devices can steal your account information and PIN:
In a series of recent alerts, the FICO Card Alert Service warned of large and sudden spikes in ATM skimming attacks. On April 8, FICO noted that its fraud-tracking service recorded a 546 percent increase in ATM skimming attacks from 2014 to 2015.
“The number of ATM compromises in 2015 was the highest ever recorded by the FICO Card Alert Service, which monitors hundreds of thousands of ATMs in the US,” the company said. “Criminal activity was highest at non-bank ATMs, such as those in convenience stores, where 10 times as many machines were compromised as in 2014.”
A skimmer is a tiny device that thieves insert into the card reader.  It captures the information off of your ATM card before passing it to the actually ATM hardware.  A hidden video camera records your PIN.  The thieves then make a new card and empty your bank account.

The biggest risk is at non-bank ATM machines:
Some financial institutions are taking dramatic steps to head off skimming activity. Trailhead Credit Union in Portland, Ore., for example, has posted a notice to customers atop its Web site, stating:
“ALERT: Until further notice, we have turned off ATM capabilities at all 7-11 ATMs due to recent fraudulent activity. Please use our ATM locator for other locations. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”
My recommendation is to get your cash at your bank's ATM.  If you want to be extra secure, use the ATM in their lobby - it is very difficult for someone to install a skimmer there because of the surveillance.

Boy, Hillary sure hates free speech, doesn't she?

At least if someone says something she doesn't like.

Say what you will about The Donald, he doesn't care what you say about him.  Or can stick up for himself, which may be saying the same thing.

Shamelessly stolen from Chris Lynch, who you do read every day.  Right?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Who knew that dieting was so easy?

Remember, you can do it!


"Climate Change" is boring

Word:
I find the climate debate increasingly boring.  I don't think the arguments going on today are really much different than those that were going on five years ago.
Some of all y'all still email me the latest stupidity du jour on the whole debate, but I just haven't been feeling it for two or three years.  It's all been said, and said again, and again.  Nobody (on the left) is actually listening, and nobody actually cares about the actual, you know, science.

And so I don't post much about it.  I've kind of said what I want to say.

But Coyote has been doing a great series on the actual science.  What looks to be the last of the post (with links to the others) is here.  If you want to be in the know, bookmark that link.

Trumpy McTrumpyface

Someone had to say it ...

I'm also just following along at home for amusement: the whole thing looks like the optimates vs. the populares, not the Founding Fathers.  I will likely vote because the Queen Of The World is more filled with civic spirit than I, but it may be another vote for Gary ("Who?") Johnson.  It would be kind of cool if John McAfee became the Libertarian Party candidate - we could use a platform of hookers and cocaine.

But looking at the yelling about The Donald, I'm struck by his support from the working class.  The best I can figure is that while he's a rich guy, he's the only one who's pushing Poor People's Leftism.  That link is worth a read.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Note to self

Be more careful when introducing different food to Wolfgang.  Explosive diarrhea every 2 hours for a day makes for an exciting day (and night).

Dear self: don't do that again.

Off to the vet.