Thursday, October 19, 2017

People to See, Deliveries to Make - A Brigid Guest Post

I'm taking Dad's holiday gifts out to him in person and will hang out with him for a while during which time Partner in Grime finishes up some construction on our house.  I'll be back in a week or so as Dad has no internet and I have a flip phone (stubbornly clinging to my luddite status).

Until then, I leave you with Abby Normal the Lab anxiously awaiting trick or treating. Cheers! - Brigid

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

There's a reason that so much science is crap

Peter calls out attention to tens of thousands of scientific papers that are possibly (likely? who knows?) invalid.  This is not a surprise to anyone who is paying attention.  It comes from two very simple principles:

1. Success in a scientific career is determined by how frequently the scientist publishes papers in scientific journals.

2. Scientific journals are interested in novelty - new results that have not been published before.  It's pretty rare to see a paper published confirming the results of a prior paper.

In short, there's absolutely no need for results confirming other papers - these will never get published anyway.  Since there's no need for confirmation, a scientist can focus all his efforts on novelty.  Because novel results sometimes must skirt the edge of what is seemly, we can expect spillover into the unseemly.

So how much spillover do we get?  We don't know.  And quite frankly, neither does anyone who is engaged in "Science".  We've known for a long time that something is very wrong in the state of Science™, with the rate of major advances slowing noticeably.  It could very well be that the reason is that there is so much bogus science being done, that distracts young scientists from other more significant areas of study.  It may be that with no need to get reproducibility, it's just easier to put out novel garbage than it is to do more significant work.  And when you think about which of those two patch will be better for a young scientist's career, it's no surprise that we swim is a sea of scientific crap.

None of this has to be deliberate, or fraudulent.  It's just the way that the scientific game is played.

Science that is repeatable is called "Engineering" anyway.  Strange how you don't seem to hear about lots of retractions from engineering journals.  Science is like the stereotypical aging starlet still trying to get drinks in bars off of her old good looks and fame.

Veteran's Day weekend NFL protest

I'm all in on this:
MARK YOUR CALENDARS – National boycott of the NFL forSunday November 12th, Veterans Day Weekend. Boycott all football telecast, all fans, all ticket holders, stay away from attending any games, let them play to empty stadiums. Pass this post along to all your friends and family. Honor our military, some of whom come home with the American Flag draped over their coffin.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stand firm, ye boys of Maine

Not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities for freedom and justice ...


Three roofers in Waterville, Maine stand at attention when the National Anthem is played at a neighboring football field.

The quote, of course, is from Joshua Lawrence Chamberson to the boys of the 20th Maine on Little Round Top at the battle of Gettysburg.  He knew that the battle was to be fought - and won or lost - there on that day.  The stubbornness of those boys has been preserved, at least in Waterville.

Hat tip: Rick, via email.

The most important security action you can take today

WiFi security is in the news (including here), but remember that an attacker has to be physically close to you to attack you with this new technique.  So keep calm and focus on a real security risk where someone can attack you from afar.

Flash is the first major internet video technology.  It is also a sewer of security vulnerabilities, and the single biggest attach vector used by the Bad Guys.  These days, Flash has been replaced by other more secure technologies, so you really don't want it on your computer.

Here are instructions on how to uninstall Flash.  This is without doubt the single most important security step you can take.

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's not just the roots of Gun Control are racist

Well, they are, but that's not my point.

The real problem is not the roots, but the vine:
A.J. Burgess, a 2-year-old boy born without functional kidneys, is in desperate need of a transplant. His father, Anthony Dickerson, a perfect match, was prepared to undergo transplant surgery until he was arrested for violating his parole.
Dickerson was "in possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies," according to WGCL-TV. He's been released from prison, but the hospital won't perform surgery until his parole officer gives the okay.
That could take three to four months—the hospital wants to revisit the issue in January. Of course, there's no guarantee Burgess will live that long. He has to undergo dialysis every day. His body is failing. He has to have bladder surgery. He needs a kidney now, and a highly motivated donor—his father—is willing to give him one.
But a little black kid needs to maybe die, sacrificed on the altar of gun control laws:
Not to put too fine a point on this, because there's plenty else going on—it sounds like Dickerson was involved in criminal activity, independent of his illegal gun possession—but I suspect liberals like to imagine stricter gun control means a peaceful and voluntary gradual disarmament of a gun-weary citizenry.
Maybe that's gun control in theory. In practice, stricter gun control means giving the government more reasons to interfere in the lives of black and brown people who are already wary of the police.
This is actually a great situation for a Black Lives Matter movement.  I won't hold my breath.

Different mindsets


Spotted by The Queen Of The World.

Oh great. WiFi security is pretty broken

This seems pretty bad:
This is my interpretation of the KRACK attacks paper that describes a way of decrypting encrypted WiFi traffic with an active attack.

tl;dr: Wow. Everyone needs to be afraid. It means in practice, attackers can decrypt a lot of wifi traffic, with varying levels of difficulty depending on your precise network setup. My post last July about the DEF CON network being safe was in error.

Details

This is not a crypto bug but a protocol bug (a pretty obvious and trivial protocol bug).

When a client connects to the network, the access-point will at some point send a random key to use for encryption. Because this packet may be lost in transmission, it can be repeated many times.

What the hacker does is just repeatedly sends this packet, potentially hours later. Each time it does so, it resets the "keystream" back to the starting conditions. The obvious patch that device vendors will make is to only accept the first such packet it receives, ignore all the duplicates.
This effects everything that has WiFi, which these days means just about everything.  There is a tool in circulation to exploit this.

The punchline is that I haven't heard of any patches being available for this.  I will let y'all know when they start coming out.

UPDATE 16 October 2017: 09:58: There's a great deal of practical information here:
  • www.krackattacks.com is now up!
  • Attacks against Android Phones are very easy! Oh dear 🙁 Best to turn off wifi on these devices until fixes are applied.
  • Windows and Mac OS users are much safer. Updates for other OSes will come quite quickly, the big problem is embedded devices for whom updates are slow / never coming
  • For the very technical, the CVE list is at the bottom of this post.
  • The main attack is against clients, not access points. So, updating your router may or may not be necessary: updating your client devices absolutely is! Keep your laptops patched, and particularly get your Android phone updated
Android phones get patched more slowly than iPhones do.  You should probably turn off WiFi on your Android phone until you get a patch.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Priced by what the market will bear?


I'll take the Dutch pillow, thanks.

The classical influence on rock and roll: The Beatles - Penny Lane

I expect that all our readers will be familiar with the trumpet solo in "Penny Lane":



It turns out that it was inspired by Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #2:



This is a particularly interesting version of the concerto performed by the Freiburg Barockorchester using period (early 18th century) instruments.  You don't often see a recorder used in chamber music these days, although it was quite common in earlier days (English King Henry VIII composed a number of pieces for Recorder).  More to the point of the subject of the post, the trumpet isn't really a trumpet.  Rather, it looks like an antique variant of a coronet (I confess to being a little hazy on the type here despite being an old trumpet player back in school).  It has a higher pitch than today's trumpet, and in fact sounds very like the pitch of the Piccolo Trumpet used in Penny Lane.

The story is that Paul McCartney was watching a BBC show where the Brandenburg Concerto #2 was performed.  McCartney was transfixed by the trumpet performance by David Mason.  The music inspired McCartney to add a pseudo-baroque trumpet solo, and the rest is history.  McCartney asked Mason to record the solo on Penny Lane, which he did on January 17, 1967.

And thus we see that even The Beatles knew the truth of the old saying: if it's not Baroque, don't fix it.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

On Timing - A Brigid Guest Post

Doc Holliday:  What did you ever want?
Wyatt Earp:   Just to live a normal life.
Doc Holliday: There's no normal life, Wyatt, it's just life. Get on with it.
Wyatt Earp: Don't know how.
Doc Holliday: Sure you do. Say goodbye to me. Go grab that spirited actress and make her your own. Take that beauty from it, don't look back.  Live every second. Live right on to the end. Live Wyatt. Live for me.   Wyatt, if you were ever my friend -  if ya ever had even the slightest of feelin' for me,
leave now. Leave now... Please.

Timing is everything they say.

In ballistics certainly so. In the outcome of a day even more so.  I missed out on a flight  in a smallish plane some years ago, because I was suddenly sick to my stomach. All aboard died.  My stomach bug was not the flu but a not yet known and unplanned pregnancy.

How many of us, unknowingly, missed a vehicular accident, a violent crime or a whack from mother nature, simply because we forgot our phone and ran back into the house, decided to linger over that nice little .380 in the case, or simply had too much, or too little caffeine.
Timing.

Timing can be good.  It can also be lousy. Missed trains, missed job opportunities.  Missed dreams.  I've heard from more than one guy friend that he was bummed the "girl of his dreams" had found someone. Yet, he never asked her out, couldn't express the feelings until it was too late, sometimes remaining silent for months or even years, growing only older of bone and pride.

Timing.

When we were kids, we ran around with time simply carried in our pocket, as dense and round as a coin, many coins, that jingle as we ran. We are told by some grownups that we soon will have to grow up and leave childish dreams behind, but we don't listen, because we have nothing in our experience to gauge their caution by, to give the portent of a structured future any range and meaning.  Besides we are too busy, just doing things that kids do, even if that was just sitting and waiting for hours for a fish to bite a tiny hook.

Then, seemingly overnight, we fell into that grown up, carefully measured and timed world, picking up our watch in the process. The dreams of childhood passed behind as we jumped on board a fast moving train, losing our innocence before we even fully realized we possessed it.
As adults we are governed by time, watches, and cell phones and alarm clocks and schedules.  Mechanical clocks and biological ones. We rush headlong into actions without considerations, as if the sheer and simple arranged succession of days was not fast enough, constituted without capacity enough, so that weeks and months and years of living had to be condensed down into one moment, and it is today, now.  We as a society, and as individuals, do not seem to be able to closely watch and wait for that which is worth waiting for.  We feverishly work for things we do not need and we vote without thought for those that promise us prosperity without effort.

Everything is based on now. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. What do you mean you haven't got a date, got a spouse, a house, a baby, and we need to talk to you about those 25 pounds.  Everything is on a time schedule and it's not necessarily ours. Meals are microwaved, we speed date, express wash, Kwik-e-Mart, and you know what? We find that in rushing towards what we're supposed to want, we missed the things that can truly change our lives.

Reset your clock.

Just once, turn off your computer turn off your cell phone, turn off Twitter, and Facebook and clear your calender for a few hours.

Pick up that old firearm that may have been your Dad's, or your Grandfathers and head out into the country.  If you don't hunt, then pick up a camera, a drawing pad and a pencil.  But take some tool that will open up the wilderness to you and go.
Go out into that rapid and fading back country that is retreating as the tide is, walk out into that land that was ours, is ours, field and forest, bayou and orchard, grain and dust, harbor and thicket. Go on out and decide what is important and what is not, among all the flotsam and jetsam in your life, where it is going and how much control you're going to give to others over it.

Go out into that land that still carries the tracks of those that crossed this nation to build, to grow; men, and women and children, bringing with them their tools and trades, goods and gear, by steamer, by wagon wheel by train, by big slow rivers that sometimes revealed no current and sometimes ran backwards, running not to hide, but to dream, all the way to the ocean. It was a land on which a man ate only by the sweat of his brow, the ability to plow a straight furrow or chop down a limb without removing one of his own.  It was a land of milk and honey, steelhead and gold, which offered itself up on rare occasion from the earth as compensation for torn lives and broken bones, payment which neither man nor his government proffered for the weak or the foolish.

Find a spot out in this expanse of history and sit and take it in.

There is so much that might have been, could have been, wrong place, wrong time, so boundless in capacity is man's imagination to burn and scatter away the refuse of probability, leaving only yearning and dreams. No time or space or distance can keep you from that what matters, even if to the world, your dreams of your life is and what kind of world you wish to live in, are little more than transparent scratchings on depthless glass.
I do not regret the days I sat by my brothers bedside as the chemicals went into his body that might or might not kill the cancer that was consuming him with fire that bears no warmth. There was the steady whoosh from machinery in the room, the movement of unsleeping blood, the intake of air. There were so many places I needed to be, so many things I needed to do, but in those hours, those days, being with him was the only thing on my calander.  The room was simple, but its corners and edges held the quiet, complex lives of two very secret people, who long ago escaped from a place that held only pain, there in that season between thunder and any thought of rain, finding their own shelter as we bonded not just as children, but for life.  There in those last days, we had no season, the hospital room alternating day and night in a vacuum in which light was only a hope.

In retrospect, I would not remembere those other things I should have been doing during that time, but I can recall like it was yesterday the sound of his voice there in that room, the feel of his hand holding mine as we said a prayer for more time.

As you sit out there in that countryside, think of these words. Stop and look and breathe. Pick up a discarded piece of wood. Think of what you have, what means the world to you, and what and who you will fight for, as an individual, as part of a family and as a citizen.
Then carve your name on that little piece of wood, carve the name of the one you fight for, or simply carve "Freedom", the letters bearing one clear unfettered voice that sounds out, through the delicate attenuation of your actions, through the ringing bells of your worth, through the tone that is the weight of silent guns - I WAS here, I AM here, there IS still time.

Then go back home to your home and your memories.  A heart shaped locket with a young woman and a man in an airman's uniform, months before war separated them for years. A shirt that could fit a thousand others but which only one wore so long that you will forever know its wearer by the simple feel of the fabric underneath your fingertips, the echo of sandalwood that clings to blue cotton. Go back to your present; a photo on the wall of those who still live to tell you their stories, to hold firm your past, memories that are borne on the air that you still breathe, invisible, yet essential as air itself. Go back to your future. A flag on a wall, one for which your loved ones gave up much of their life for, or even, life itself.

Go back and claim what is there, while there is still time.
 - Brigid

Kentucky Jelly

As an official Kentucky Colonel, Ambassador of Good Will, I feel obligated to highlight products from the Great State of KY.



The Queen Of The World remembers Earl Pitts, Uhmerikun on the radio.  She could always tell who was listening to the show during rush hour because people would be laughing their heads off in the traffic jam.

Hank Williams Jr - All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight

Well, one of my rowdy friends came over last night.  Co-blogger and brother-from-another-mother ASM826 was in town last night and stopped by Castle Borepatch.  The Queen Of The World decreed a Royal Feast (and put out a delicious spread) and ASM826 and I stayed up late.  Deep Thoughts were exchanged (cue Jack Handey).  It was a reminder of the pleasure you get from good friends.

You know there's a Country song about that.  Sadly, neither ASM826 not I are as rowdy as we once were, but it was sure a fun evening.



All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight (Songwriter: Hank Williams, Jr.)
I got ketchup on my blue jeans, I just burnt my hand 
Lord, it's hard to be a bachelor man
I got girls that can cook, I got girls that can clean
I got girls that can do anything in between
I got to get ready, make everything right
Cause all my rowdy friends are comin over tonight 

Do you want a drink, hey, do you want to party
Hey, honey, this is ole Hank, ready to get the thing started
We cooked the pig in the ground, got some beer on ice
And all my rowdy friends are comin over tonight 

Now, my party pad is out in the woods 
It's a long, long way from here to Hollywood
But I got some natural queens out on the floor
And ole Miss Mississippi just walked through the door
Got a little wirlpool just made for ten
And you can jump out and you can jump in
You can do anything that you wanna do
But, uh-uhh, don't you step on my cowboy boots 

Do you want to drink, hey do you want to party
Hey, this is ole Hank, ready to get this summer started
I cooked a pig in the ground, we got some beer on ice
And all my rowdy friends are comin over tonight 

Do you want to drink, hey, do you want to party
Hey, hey, this is rockin, Randall Hank
Ready to get the summer time started
We cooked the pig in the ground
We got some beer on ice
All my rowdy friends are comin over tonight
That's right, come on in
Bootnote: This video is a riot, mostly because of all the people who appeared in it.  George Jones drives his riding mower to the party.  Cheech shows up in a smoke-filled car.  Waylon, Willie, Kris Kristofferson, and George Thorogood all put in appearances.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Joe Bonamassa - I'll Play The Blues For You

Not many play it better, and that says a lot.

No thanks, I think I'll drive


Electronic Voting Machines - unsafe at any speed

The Geek With Guns recounts the recent DEFCON security conference where they had a voting machine hack-a-thon.  The carnage was brutal:
Anonymous ballots are notoriously difficult to secure but it’s obvious that the current crop of electronic voting machines were developed by companies that have no interest whatsoever in even attempting to address that problem. Many of the issues mentioned in the report are what I would call amateur hour mistakes. There is no reason why these machines should have any unprotected ports on them. Moreover, there is no reason why the software running on these machines isn’t up to date. And the machines should certainly be able to verify the code they’re running. If the electronic voting machine developers don’t understand how code signing works, they should contact Apple since the signature of every piece of code that runs on iOS is verified. 
And therein lies the insult to injury. The types of security exploits used to compromise the sample voting machines weren’t new or novel. They were exploits that have been known about and addressed for years. A cynical person might believe that the companies making these voting machines are just trying to make a quick buck off of a government contract and not interested in delivering a quality product. A cynical man might even feel the need to point out that this type of behavior is common because the government seldom holds itself or contractors accountable.
In non-technical language, it''s like they built a house without external security lights or locks on the doors and windows, and had absolutely no idea what they had for furniture so anyone who wanted could come in and take or rearrange things as they like.  Other than that, it's totes secure.


And The Geek With Guns sarcastically predicts the next big "fix" the clueless government guys are likely to propose:
Just put those voting machines in the cloud! Everything is magically fixed when it’s put in the cloud!
Because everyone is hip to the cloud, right?  All the Cool Kids are doing it, so it must be even toteser secure!  Even Hitler knows that!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Kaitlyn & Mady Dever - Caster, Caster

The Queen Of The World and I love the show "Last Man Standing" (insert rant on the ABC rat bastards who canceled it when it was their #2 comedy show).  Kaitlyn Dever plays one of Tim Allen's daughters on the show.  As it turns out, she is a musician and a composer.  Here is one of the songs she did with her (in real life) sister Mady.  It reminds me of maybe a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Natalie Merchant.



The Queen and I shall watch young Miss Dever's career with great interest.

Scouting 2017

Boy Scouting is going to let girls join. This is not the end of civilization as we know it. I suspect it has been in the planning stages for some time. Girls can already join Venture Scouts (AKA Exploring). Scouting is responding to pressure and mostly it's a yawn.

The Girl Scout Organization is the one with the most lose in this. Girls that want the outside camping and high adventure programs that Scouting offers are going to make the jump. Some others will be looking for the lifelong honor bestowed by the rank of Eagle. And for teens, hey it's co-ed camping!

Not surprisingly, the president of Girl Scouts of the USA called the Boy Scouts’ “covert campaign” to recruit girls “reckless” and “unsettling”. It might be reckless, but it's only unsettling to the Girl Scouts at this point and it will be anything but covert. Scouting is going to be recruiting hard, trying to build it's numbers back up, and recreate itself as still a meaningful organization for young people in this century.

Scouting is a corporation. It makes money, pays salaries to it's professionals, owns a great deal of property. Scouting sells the patches and uniforms, owns the Council summer camps, provides the training materials, etc. This provides a framework for thousands of volunteer leaders to dedicate millions of hours every year to run Troops.

I'm not saying this is bad or good, that's just how it worked out. When I was a Scouter, I ignored as much of that as I could and focused on running a great Troop, developing the Scouts as leaders, running an active camping program, and giving the every Scout the opportunity to advance up the ranks. If I was still Scouting, I would do the same thing again.

Girls won't hurt the program, but they will make the logistics of running the Troop more complicated. You will need female leaders willing to participate in all activities. Summer camps will need new shower houses and bathroom facilities. Guidelines will have be established on how patrols set up campsites. That list will go on and on. It will take a decade or more for the change to be fully implemented and then we can all assess how it worked out.


The NFL has screwed itself

Of course they hate the Vikings and Bears in Wisconsin.  But to see hate for the Packers, too?  That's brutal.

Quote of the Day: Crypto Wars edition

Great in-depth analysis on yesterday's story about how some government flunky (once again) is demanding encryption backdoors to catch terrorists and child pornographers:
We activists oppose crypto backdoors not because we lack honor, or because we are criminals, or because we support terrorists and child molesters. It's because we value privacy and government officials who get corrupted by power. It's not that we fear Trump becoming a dictator, it's that we fear bureaucrats at Rosenstein's level becoming drunk on authority -- which Rosenstein demonstrably has. His speech is a long train of corrupt ideas pursuing the same object of despotism -- a despotism we oppose.
Robert Graham (an Internet Security big wig) takes the flunky's speech apart piece by piece and shows it for the dishonest propaganda that it really is.  Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Self Driving Cars? How About Self Signaling Cars?

We're in an awkward period. Humans are still operating vehicles without oversight. Drunk, distracted, eating, sleepy, texting humans attempting to control motor vehicles that they could barely manage if they were paying attention.

Somewhere out there is the HAL9000 of car computers, ready to keep drunk, distracted Dave from driving and killing himself or whoever he mows down, but we're not there yet.

So I am willing to settle for a baby step. I want all cars, starting with the 2019 models, to be equipped with a turning sensor. If the human driver fails to active the turn signal when at a stop, the car will pause, blow the horn and active the turn signal for 2 seconds before allowing the turn to be completed. Just at a stop, so that it doesn't cause a problem in an emergency turning situation where you are trying to swerve out of the way of some other vehicle doing something else completely unexpectedly stupid.

It would take one day to Pavlov the human operators into using the damn turn signals at intersections.

I could have caught that Roadrunner

One of my favorite "WTF" engineering moments is the Atlantropa Project, a proposed draining of the Mediterranean Sea.  A series of dams at Gibraltar and the Dardanelles (and other places) would cut the flow of water into the Mediterranean, and evaporation would do the rest draining the seabed.  It was initially proposed in the 1920s and was discussed into the 1950s before it was abandoned.

The goal was to provide lebensraum for European populations without all of that killing of the ubermensch nastiness that we saw in der tausandjarische Reich.  New land would have been settled and planted, and roads and railroads would connect the new areas with Europe and Africa.  A new era of pan-European pacifism would bind a continent shattered by the War To End All Wars.

The likelihood of the Sahara desert colonizing the new land seems not to have been considered, not the chance of loss of rainfall in the lands bordering the receding sea.  It is a breathlessly reckless example of engineering hubris, best captured in this classic XKCD cartoon:


Simpler times. Today there is a global project to "save the planet" from the horrors of carbon dioxide.  Much more sophisticated than Herr Sörgel and company.  So much more.  And so much less naive on the healing power of pacifism and Big pan-Governmental projects.  I mean, we can see his hubris, can't we?

iPhone iOS 11 - how to turn WiFi and Bluetooth positively, absolutely, and most sincerely off

iPhone users, here's something that Apple is trying to slip by you in iOS 11: turning off Wifi and Bluetooth off doesn't really turn them off:
Apple in iOS 11 decided that when you tap the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth buttons in Control Center, the system now will disconnect you from any devices or networks you are currently on but no longer truly switches Wi-Fi or Bluetooth off. 
This means that even though you thought you switched them off, they remain active for things like AirDrop, AirPlay, Continuity, Hotspot, Location services and devices such as the Apple Watch and Pencil. 
An Apple tech support note says this is so you can continue to use those “important features.”
"Important".  Oooooh kaaaay.  Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain selling location-based advertising.

But fear not, there is a way to turn them most sincerely off, even though the iPhone GUI won't tell you how.  The article goes into this in detail, but it boils down to three options:

1. Ask Siri to turn Wifi off.  This one sounds creepy to me, but you know how nasty and suspicious I am about Siri and Alexa.

2. Set the phone in Airplane mode.  Of course, then it won't work as, you know, a phone.  Nice design decision for your phone, Apple.

3. Go to Settings and turn off WiFi and Bluetooth manually.  This is a real pain, especially something that is supposed to have an "insanely great" user experience.  I guess your convenience must be sacrificed to the Apple bottom line.

Phooey.

Observe your Masters in action

How the left can possibly want to give more power to these folks is beyond me:
Continuing the US government's menacing of strong end-to-end encryption, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told an audience at the US Naval Academy that encryption isn't protected by the American Constitution. 
In short, software writers and other nerds: the math behind modern cryptography is trumped by the Fourth Amendment, and in any case, there has never been an absolute right to privacy. This message came at the end of this wide-ranging speech on Tuesday, which repeated fixations heard in previous speeches.
So the Founding Fathers believed that nobody could keep secrets from the government?  Really?

And the Constitution almost didn't get ratified because of the argument between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, on whether all of the People's rights had to be explicitly enumerated in order to secure them from the Government.  This is actually what the 10th Amendment is for.

But Mr. Big Shot continues:
He called for backdoors in April, and doubled down last week, then saying: “Our society has never had a system where evidence of criminal wrongdoing was totally impervious to detection.”
Because the Government is so good at keeping secrets, right?  Edward Snowden could not be reached for comment.  Neither could Chelsea Manning or the latest Moonbat who stole them blind.  So what's the over/under on how long a government-mandated crypto backdoor would stay secret from Russian Hackers?  10 milliseconds?  And then what do they do - forge incriminating messages from politicians, break into bank accounts, read government email?

Of course, our government would never consider doing anything like that to its own citizens, would it now?  /sarc

Great idea, Skippy.  Let's reduce the public's trust in our institutions even more.  But yeah, it might make Law Enforcement's job a little easier for 6 months.  Good tradeoff.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

I liked it. Went with friends and we all liked it. A good story, with complexity, enough depth to provoke discussion. But as someone else once said about a different movie, "It's a great two hour movie shoehorned into three hours."


The Ascent of Man



Seen on Gab.ai.  And post title is deliberately transgressive, to annoy the (smugly but ignorantly) comfortable.

Big changes in password security recommendations

NIST is the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and publish reams of security standards.  They have a new one out (NIST SP800-63-3 for you NISTaholics) that changes what people have been told about password security:
  1. Stop it with the annoying password complexity rules. They make passwords harder to remember. They increase errors because artificially complex passwords are harder to type in. And they don't help that much. It's better to allow people to use pass phrases.
  2. Stop it with password expiration. That was an old idea for an old way we used computers. Today, don't make people change their passwords unless there's indication of compromise.
  3. Let people use password managers. This is how we deal with all the passwords we need.
This is excellent advice, and is what I've been recommending for years and years.  For years the assumption has been based on how Grandpa managed his 8-character passwords.  For years, the assumption has been that users are idiots - an understandable (if generally wrong) view that came out of the IT we hate our users mindset.  And so we had all the stupid rules about how complicated your password has to be* which confused users and increased the antagonism between IT and the user community.  And then the passwords had to change ever 90 days.

Because of the NIST recommendations.

This is a big first step.  Sadly, it is likely to take years before this new guidance sinks in and everyone lets you pick one really good password that you remember and which you never have to change.  But all journeys start with a single step.

(via)

* My favorite password complexity rule is "Password must be a palindrome".  Sneak.

Monday, October 9, 2017

So it's hunting season

This says a lot, actually.


White knuckle Airbus 380 Crosswind landing

This sort of thing is Peter's gig, but he's off at Blogorado so I'll post it.  An Airbus 380 jumbo jet got hit with a massive cross gust just after touchdown at Dusseldorf airport.  The pilot's skill is very impressive.  I wouldn't have liked being on board that aircraft.



Holy cow.

(via)

A politically incorrect Columbus Day post

This is a Columbus Day post I wrote in 2008, but which seems evergreen.

Obligatory Imperialist Post

Because it's Columbus Power-Mad Dead White Dude Day.  Insty posted about Admiral of the Ocean Sea (great book) which gives you a great Columbus overview, but entirely misses the Power-Mad Dead White Dude thing.

As a public service, here's something that you should read if you really want to make a liberal's head explode like the fembots in Austin Powers. Or understand why the world's economy is the way it is.  The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, by David Landes. The title is intentionally taken from Adam Smith, but Landes focuses less on describing economics per se, and more on the constraints that a society puts on their economy.

It traces the history of economic development over the last 1000 years, and asks some very politically incorrect questions:
  • Why did China, the world's richest and most powerful country in 1000 AD not only lose her lead, but lose it so badly that it was dismembered by the European (and later resurgent Japanese) powers?
  • Why did India, fabulously wealthy and populous, not conquor the west, rather than vice-versa?
  • Why did England, an undeveloped backwater as late as 1500 AD, ultimately lead the Industrial Revolution and become the world's most powerful country?
  • What explains the vast differences in economic development between the USA and Canada, and other New World countries? After all, in 1700, Mexico's GDP per capita was $450, not far short of the colonies' $490 (1985 dollars). In 1989, Mexico's GDP per capita was $3,500, vs. $18,300 for the USA.
No, it wasn't "western imperialism" by dead white dudes. Landes' politically incorrect thesis is that society counts, and some societies foster faster economic growth than others. He uses many, many examples.

The quote for this [2008] election season, if we're smart enough to listen, is about the post-Cold War economies:
Among the heaviest losers in this period of record-breaking economic growth and technological advance were the countries of the Communist Socialist bloc: the Soviet Union at the bottom of the barrel, Romania and North Korea almost as bad, and a range of satellite victims and emulators struggling to rise above the mess. Best off were probably Czechoslovkia and Hungary, with East Germany (the DDR) and Poland trailing behind. The striking feature of these command economies was the contradiction between system and pretensions on the one hand, performance on the other. The logic was impeccable: experts would plan, zealots would compete in zeal, technology would tame nature, labor would make free, the benefits would accrue to all. From each according to their ability; to each according to his deserts; and eventually, to each according to his needs.

The dream appealed to the victims and critics of capitalism, admittedly a most imperfect system - but as it turned out, far better than the alternatives. Hence the Marxist economies long enjoyed a willful credulous favor among radicals, liberals, and progressives in the advanced industrial nations;
You'll hate this if you think that economics a la John Kerry and Barack Obama is the shizzle flippity floppity floop.

Contradiction between pretension and performance: nice phrase, that. For an example, see Patrick, Deval. For extra credit, compare and contrast Obama, Barack.

Dang, I think I must have just got my Hate Speech on, right there.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The day I fell for her

Three years ago today, The Queen Of The World and I were on a motorcycle trip to the beach. We'd only been dating a few weeks, and she was fun (and pretty as a picture), so off we went.

It ended in an accident. The bike went down fast, and hard. I broke a lot of bones and was in the ICU for days. Fortunately the fall didn't hurt her badly.

But I was the lucky one, because over the next few days I saw what an extraordinary woman she was. She arranged a rental car and trailer, got the bike loaded, and got the (very drugged up on pain killers) Borepatch home. And then took care of me for the weeks it took me to heal.

She could have run from a suddenly high maintenance (and often grumpy and rarely much fun) Borepatch. She didn't.

It was an unusual experience for me to be wrapped up in unconditional love and care. A nice experience. REALLY nice.

Unconditional, even when I was stubborn and dumb, like trying to get back in the saddle before I was capable, like trying to drive the manual shift Jeep with my arm in a sling. To this day I've never seen her as angry. She knew I would hurt myself, which I did. In her mind I was under her care, and I was messing myself up because of hard headedness. She hated to see me hurt myself.

And so I realized that I hadn't fallen three feet that day, I'd fallen hopelessly in love with an extraordinary woman. Sure she was fun (and pretty as a picture), but she also was fiercely loyal and had a spine of tempered steel. I didn't stand a chance, and quite frankly would have had to have been the biggest fool on earth to let her get away.

Three years later we're coming up on our second wedding anniversary. That was sure a lucky fall, one that opened my eyes to the amazing woman who was right in front of me.

The Power of Words - A Brigid Guest Post


"TELL ME, WHAT IS HAPPINESS?" - Iain M. Banks Use of Weapons (prologue)

On the road or with a long weekend, I usually stop in a bookstore if there is one around. So many books. The bargain books are usually entertaining in and of themselves, leaving you wondering what prompted some people to pen such thoughts to paper. I could think of a few titles for books that would instantly be in the bargain bin (and you can probably add a few titles of your own).

Living Life Bacon Free!
Harry Potter Meets the Groovy Ghoulies
My Little Ponies - Financial Freedom through Track Bets
The Kardashian Guide to Quantum Mechanics
Bouncing Betty and the Bucket of Moonshine - A Nancy Drew Mystery
Get Off My Leg!! - A Beginners Guide to Dog Training


But good books, have been part of my life since early childhood. For my long time readers, I've written before of my love for books and why. I was lucky to have two parents who exposed us to books and music and the outdoors. Learning and discovery were elemental to them and reading and words became a quiet necessity of my life. Charlotte's Web, The Wind in the Willows, A Child's Garden of Verse, and my all time favorite, Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Books were my portal to comfort, during those inevitable awkward moments of growing up, a way of immersing myself in the world of an author. As a child, books helped me grow, stretching my mind even further. And through books and written words came friendships. I'd talk about what I read with my classmates, telling snippets of stories and passing around dog eared copies of Asimov and Heinlein and Niven and Herbert. We'd gather over our lunches, laughing about a recent share, Philip Dicks -Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. We'd sit until a teacher made us go back to class, voices raised in excitement for the vast reaches out there, limitless possibilities that, on the cusp of adulthood, we believe existed.


With that, the world opened up to me. I started recording it, in small notebooks of paper, ink drawings, loose photos, added onto their pages, a scrapbook of my life, recorded for eternity with nothing more than an old Mont Blanc pen and a camera.

I remember my first visit as an author to a large Chicago book club where I was asked to join as a guest speaker.  I walked into a room of ladies and gentlemen that acted like I was a celebrity apparently, their library had all of my books.  I felt like a kid playing grown up. I'm not famous, I'm just someone that loves words.

Words dazzle and deceive because they are mimed by the face. But black words on a white page are the soul laid bare. Guy de Maupassant

"Soul laid bare." The sense of vulnerability in those three words is beyond reach. From these recorded pages have come my own story, tales of the possibilities of life, my soul laid out for many of you to read. Opening up something within me that made some of you take your own pen and craft your own story. I believe in the magic hidden in people and things, and these notebooks, these words bring them out into the light.

But writing, as in reading, for me is not just intellectual but embracive. I love the way the spine of a book or notebook feels in the crook of my fingers. The book an aesthetic charm of endless possibilities. The smooth, hard end boards snug on either side of the pages sewn together, their edges flush and perfect. The smell of ink, the texture of a page as my fingers gently turns it. Between 1850 and the late 1980s, books were printed on acidic paper. Conservators can't keep up with the costly restoration. Soon, millions of books in thousands of libraries the world over will be lost when their pages disintegrate into dust. Already I mourn for the loss of something that we have no control over, that of the written word.
I love blank notebooks. To me, it's hard to think of anything that represents the clean slate of opportunities more than a pristine, empty notebook. Smythson’s of Bond Street has bound ones with thin, blue, delicate paper that looks like the air mail paper my parents wrote to one another on during the War. The paper is so thin, the ink bleeds through, yet with the ink comes pleasure. The smell of the ink as well as the as the scent of paper itself, is need as defined as the capturing of a personal experience. Experiences in danger of being lost in an errant click of a mouse. In today's evolution of the tools of our expression, we've lost the very things we can hold on to. Things that can still gather dust and be passed on, to a child, to a lover, to history. So I particularly like the Smythson's ones, the way my handwriting looks on the thin paper, words scrolled from a fountain pen, dense with weight, meaning something, to me anyway, even if two hundred years from now, the paper, and the one I wrote the words for, are only dust and starlight.

Tonight I sit alone and quiet, my husband working late, the dog asleep on the couch. I have a book, Iain M. Banks Use of Weapons. Once again, Banks takes us to The Culture, his galaxy-spanning civilization of humans, computer Minds, asteroid-sized Ships (some of the names he picks for his ships are worth the read in and of themselves) and annihilating weapons. Ah yes, weapons. Written in interwoven chapters, it is made up of two alternating narrative streams - one indicated by Arabic numerals and the other by Roman ones.

The stories are one of The Culture and one of a world not yet contacted by The Culture. The pre-contact world is the home of four children, a brother, two sisters and another boy, hidden from others. Of the two stories, one moves forward chronologically, while the other moves in the opposite direction; yet both are about the central, tragic character, Cheradinine Zakalwe. Zakalwe is a rogue, a military genius, an assassin, a sad case and an utterly sympathetic character all at the same time. A mercenary shaped by his experiences as the perfect soldier, he's taken, refined and utilised by the supposedly benign and pacific Culture for their nastier dirty tricks operations. The moral ambiguity and ethical contradictions of this are not lost on Zakalwe himself or on his Culture handler, the "Special Circumstances" operative Diziet Sma.

Gloriously grotesque, sharply observed, bleakly satirical and written with a revelation so perfect that you will only ask yourself how you didn't see it sooner. Anything, Banks is telling us, anything at all can be a weapon, and the failure of restraint in the use of weapons dooms us all. It's not the easiest book to get your mind around, some minds will find the interwoven stories confusing (but if you are reading this blog, you are not likely to be one of those). I can promise you this, after reading it you will never look at a small chair, especially a small chair painted white, in quite the same way.

I don't read a lot of "popular" fiction. I would rather be nibbled to death by ducks than read one of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. I tend to read a lot of non fiction, of history. I like reading about long ago. I know more about my own life when I know more about the past. It's a sense of perspective; of days full of people that killed, tortured, struggled and suffered, agonizing for things that were of the utmost importance to them; working and living for reasons that may be well the same as ours. Now they've been gone some 500 years and all that is left to us is the essence and quintessence of their lives. To me history is more than a story, more than a book, it's the life, the heart and soul of ages long ago. It's the ultimate myth and inevitably ambiguous, but I do believe, like Lord Bolingbroke said, "History is philosophy teaching by example and also by warning." History not read is like ammo not used, someone once said, and without reading, for myself at least, the past is silence and the future is haze.
So for these many reasons, I hate being stuck somewhere with no book, no notebook or a laptop in which to record my thoughts Let the weather play God with my itinerary, let them send me to Elbonia. I've been stuck in places where my luggage did not arrive at the same time I did, and the only written word I could find in English was a ferry schedule for the River Styx. I don't care where I am, I simply need something to read and something to write in. Words in reserve, a buttress against the whims and dubiety of travel, of growing up, of life itself.

I intended to read more tonight but there is a new little notebook on the side table, I removed the film cover, the crackling sound awakened something in me. I stroked the oilskin cover for the first time, my future turning before me as I snapped open the elastic band to flip through the pristine pages, dreams waiting to burst out onto them. The pages were too perfect, it's almost hard to make the first mark upon the clean, fresh landscape. But then, with the thought of a face, of a hand at the small of my back, I began; splaying the words on lasting paper before they are lost in the ether. Words that are bequeathed to the page before they were forgotten, words that though not spoken, will take a corporeal shape in my heart whenever I close my eyes, even as they themselves, slumber between the closed cover that is their hiding place. - Brigid

Congratulations to ASM826 and Mrs. ASM826

On the birth of their first grandchild!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Down the Rabbit Hole

Was the Vegas shooter radicalized as the Sheriff suggested? Is there a tape he made that confirms it? Is the .gov covering up a clear motive?

And when did I stop believing anything, from any source, on events that might be terror?

I just assume they are lying, whoever "they" are.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I'm sure there's a story about this


"Common Sense Gun Control" is Heffalumps

Really?  It's nonsense, and really quite shockingly low caliber nonsense.  When you hear someone say these words and (quite reasonably) ask what the proposed restriction is and what it will accomplish, all you hear is nonsense.

There's quite a simple reason for this, and I wrote about it 9 years ago.  I'd only been blogging a week or two, but I'm digging it out because the topic is evergreen.

Common Sense Gun Controls are Heffalumps

This started out as Quote of the Day, from Bruce (with my original comment):
From the Progressive Dictionary:
Common-sense (adj.): a term used to describe laws that allow rich, white people to enjoy the exercise of their Constitutional rights, while systematically denying the same to low-income people of color.
They think that they can talk people out of it.

Socialism a failure?  Gun control a failure?  Schools failing?  Do it againharder.  We'll talk the rubesout of it.  After allwe're nicer and smarterright?  What could possibly go wrong?

That was the original post. I thought it would be quick and fun, just toss a few corroborating links and get your snark on. After going way overboard on links, I found the fun evaporated. As I read the links, I could feel my mellow (did I mention that I'm on vacation? thanks for asking!) being harshed. It became a link rant.

Of course the "progressives" are going to keep trying the same thing a different way. We have a clash of world views here. Heller is part of it, but so is Iraq, the relationship of the citizen to the government, the whole thing. When you disagree on basic premises, it's really hard to find common ground. You're messing with their faith.

So Heller's only a start. Heller isn't the beginning of the end for gun control, at best it's the end of the beginning.

Bah. My mellow was so harshed, that I had to turn to the Relevant Literature for help in dealing with liberal "Common Sense" arguments. Ta da! Instantly, all became clear, my mood lightened, a spring returned to my step, and a gleam to my eye. The problem is that we try to argue with facts (I'm looking AT YOU, Kevin).  They argue with Heffalumps.
One day, when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet were all talking together, Christopher Robin finished the mouthful he was eating and said carelessly:

"I saw a Heffalump today, Piglet."

"What was it doing?" asked Piglet.

"Just lumping along," said Christopher Robin.

"I don't think it saw me."

"I saw one once," said Piglet. "At least, I think I did," he said. "Only perhaps it wasn't."

"So did I," said Pooh, wondering what a Heffalump was like.

"You don't often see them," said Christopher Robin carelessly.

"Not now," said Piglet.

"Not at this time of year," said Pooh.

Then they all talked about something else, until it was time for Pooh and Piglet to go home together.
Think I'm joking? The Heller dissents can only be classified as Heffalumps. Do Heffalumps self-refute?

--------- End of original post -------

So remember, "Common Sense Gun Control" is drivel. People who talk about it are talking about Heffalumps.   I'd like a higher caliber drivel, please.