Lucien's back up, everyone. I'm scheduling time for maintenance now.
Last night was something of an adventure (but isn't it always?)
As tasty as Lyssa's chicken soup is, we've been eating it for three days straight now and needed a break from it. I had to pick Lyssa up from work last night because the shuttle-bus to the Metro station wasn't coming, so we decided to drive around the area of the IBM industrial park (deliberately fudged out of consideration for their security folks, who kept looking at me funny) for dinner, and eventually settled on a Japanese restaurant called Sakura (12950 Fair Lakes Shopping Center, Fairfax, Virginia, 22033). The Sakura is a Japanese hibachi, which means that a) it's on the pricy side, but b) you're paying for good food, lots of it, and a show on top of all of that. Lyssa and I, of course, made friends with the sushi chef on duty and took him for all of the barbecued eel he had on the premises (it's addictive, I tell you!) and ordered the hibachi.
The hibachi: A chef's hands moving like lightning, juggling razor sharp steel knives, spatulae, and serving fork while turning piles of vegetables, rice, meat and seafood so fresh that the steak's still bleeding and shrimp into tasty dishes right before your eyes. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Go to a Japanese hibachi restaurant at least once, just to watch the show. Our chef last night was one of the funnier I've had, entertaining the kids and even tossing morsels into their mouths, though only with a so-so hit rate. I give the Sakura one flare gun; if any of my readers journey to the DC metropolitan area, give me a call and we'll go there for dinner.
Before stopping off for dinner, however, we stopped in at a hair products supply shop to get shampoo (which we were running out of) and dye for Kash's hair. Kash asked Lyssa to dye his hair a few weeks ago, and we've just now found the dye that he was looking for (finding things compatible with his odd biochemistry can be a challenge sometimes). Unfortunately, I got turned around while trying to get back to the beltway and we got home around 2100 EDT last night.
I'll cut to the chase and say that the dye didn't do what we expected it to do in Kash's hair. The front, dyed blue, wound up a nice shade of sea green with some silver thrown in. The rest of his hair, which was liberally soused with purple dye, turned out almost black, brown in some lights, and with a faint purple highlight under other kinds of light.
It doesn't look bad, far from it. It just didn't do what we thought it would. I've got a few pictures that I'll put up soon.
Kash seems satisfied with it.
Late last night, however, Lyssa recieved an e-mail that Beth Fitch, her friend and mentor all through undergrad, student teaching, and grad school had died in the hospital during emergency surgery. She was pregnant with her second child and something had gone wrong in the eighth month of gestation. Both mother and child went beyond some time yesterday. I don't have any more details than that.
We're going back to Pittsburgh on Friday for the memorial service. I can't say when we'll be back because we simply don't know. I'll write more as I figure out what's going on. There is some information regarding what happened but it's a few layers removed from the source, so its veracity is regrettably questionable at this time (ever played Telephone as a child?)
Users of the Snort IDS are no doubt familiar with how difficult it can be to sort through alerts to see what's going on in your network environment. At long last BASE - the Basic Analysis and Security Engine (forked from another Snort-related project, called ACID (which hasn't been maintained in ages)) has gone to the v1.2 release (available on their download page). While the project's website isn't updated very often, if you go to the Sourceforge page for the project you will find a lot of updates regarding releases, .rpm files for easy installation on Redhat-like distros, and all the other nifty stuff that Sourceforge makes available to the opensource community. I've been meaning to set up a Snort box to mess around with lately but haven't had the time. I've heard good noises about BASE, though it's a bit trickier to set up than ACID was (in my limited experience working with it). The biggest fix in the v1.2 release had to do with making it usable under PHP v5.
David Freeman, who founded the ACP Superstore, is auctioning off thirty years worth of computer hardware, software, documentation, and magazines on eBay because he can no longer maintain the collection. Among the gems in the lot on eBay are an ACI-90, an Acorn BBC Master, an Altair MITS 8800 with a full set of S-100 boards in excellent condition, an Apple Bell and Howell II+ (the very rare coal black Apple II+), a Lisa, a Bektop, an Amiga 4000, a Heathkit H89, a few Osbornes, a couple of Apple Newtons, and a Wang PC350/33C. Approximate weight of the whole shebang: 6000 pounds. As of 1059 EDT today, there have been 18 bids, with a current high bid of $3049.00us.
20 congressfolk that the MPAA and the RIAA have in their pockets are fighting to get Broadcast Flag legislation passed, even going so far as to send an open letter to one Fred Upton, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet to say that if the Broadcast Flag isn't passed into law, free broadcast of TV will cease entirely within the US. At the end of this article is a link to send your congresscritters a letter...
You know, I'm really amazed that they're fighting so hard to get a television law passed. Fucking television, which is supposed to be recreation, escape, and occasionally a source of news for the people. The very same medium that so many millions of people will spend watching six or more hours every day rather than playing with their kids, going out and doing stuff, reading a book, or having a conversation with their neighbors. They're throwing everything they've got into 'protecting' one of the things that paralyses the people in the US with mindless, hypnotic pabulum. Maybe if, even for a moment, every television in the US lost its ability to show sitcoms, Fox News, so-called reality television shows, and MTV, the people in this country would look out of their windows at what the hell's been going on in the past decade and decide that things have to change... and that change would have to start with a handful of people, jacking out, going outside, and starting to fix the problems around them.
Don't like litter? Get a garbage bag and pick it up once a week. Crime? Neighborhood watch, cellphones, and not being afraid to sit outside at night. The war in Iraq? For pity's sake, sit down with a pad and paper and write a letter to your congresscritter, representative.. hell, George W. Bush if you think that it'll even make it past his mail screeners (he's gone on record that he has someone pitch all of the mail going to email@example.com). But unplug and do something.
No links because they won't be safe for work (I didn't know that there were news feeds for adult site proprietors...): Is anyone else concerned that sites that are even vaguely adult in nature are being taken down left and right because the FBI is raiding them? Suicide Girls took down a few photo sets; some pages of adult fiction have gone offline because their servers were confiscated by the FBI.. what's next? Vanilla sites that someone with more delicate sensibilities than good sense to hit the back button on a web browser decide are obscene and calls the cops? What about fiction sites like fanfic.net or intellectual discourse about tantra and other practises? Hell, maybe stuff like this might make somebody angry and call for a police raid. Hit Google and search for stuff like 'adult site raid' when you get home to see what's going on.
Is it no longer safe to be an adult and think that maybe, just maybe, a MOTAS (member of the appropriate sex) might be attractive and that you might want to hook up?
Here's a neat article on building prototype robots.
Apparently, there is a patron saint of the Internet, computer technicians, computer users, and students: Saint Isidore of Seville.
Wow. Lyssa says it all.
| You scored as Jean Grey. Jean Grey is likely the most powerful X-Man. She loves Cyclops very much but she has a soft spot for Wolverine. She's psychic so she can sense how others are feeling and tries to help them. She also has to control her amazing powers or the malevolent Phoenix entity could take control of her and wreak havok. Powers: Telekinetic, Telepathic|
Most Comprehensive X-Men Personality Quiz 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com
For Network users who are having problems picking up their e-mail, Lucien is currently offline for unknown reasons. I'll be trucking out to the hosting facility as soon as possible this week to either swap out hardware as required or install a replacement machine. My apologies for the problems we're experiencing. I'll fix everything as soon as I can.
I'm glad that I didn't go to Crossing the Thresholds this weekend. Not only was it cold and raining the whole time, but the county of Pennsylvania that it was held in was under a flood warning (not watch, warning) the whole time. That doesn't sound terribly fun to me. I just got over being sick, too.
For the first time in the history of the DARPA Grand Challenge, which is a competition of autonomously-piloted vehicles, there has been a winner. The computer-piloted vehicle entered by Stanford University finished the 132 mile desert course in six hours and fifty-four minutes. That sounds like a long time, but this is also the first time ever that a vehicle piloted by a computer has made it any distance. The Stanford team won a prize of $2mus for their efforts. Predictably, this is being hailed as a breakthrough for the automotive industry. DARPA is overjoyed that someone's finally figured out how to make it work because the whole purpose of this competition is to spur the development of technologies that can be used by the military in the field. Of all of the compeditors, one broke down at the starting line and another seventeen entrants conked out at various points along the course, presumably because the AI software running them came across a situation that they couldn't handle.
Some weeks ago I posted a link to an article about two webloggers in Singapore brought up on charges of sedition. Just a few days ago they were sentenced to jail on charges of sedition. Benjamin Koh Seng Huat, age 28, was sentenced to one month in jail; Nicholas Lim Yew, age 25, was sentenced to one day in jail and a fine of $5kus. While I can't condone the nature of their comments, I have to worry about the fact that webloggers anywhere could be brought up on charges. Sedition is a touchy thing because it can be defined as just about anything that the current regieme of $COUNTRY doesn't like.
Fiction, but frightening.
As if it weren't enough that record labels are trying to suck money out of everything having to do with their employees, Warner is trying to squeeze revenue out of web searches, in particular by targetting Google Video. If you search for a particular video clip (say, the music video for Pump Up the Volume by MARRS (which, if you find it, please send me a copy!)), you will no doubt see adds served up by the search engine in question. Warner Brothers wants a cut of the revenue generated by the ads you see, even though they have nothing to do with that video search! They also are after remuneration for watching that video, if you happen to find it (which, I have to admit, makes sense). Neither Google nor Warner are talking about this matter, at least not openly.
Rather than treating parents like mature adults and expecting them to police what their kids spend their spare time with (and treating nutcases with a few bad registers on their CPUs like nutcases), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California passed a bill that makes it illegal to sell violent and/or explicit games to minors. The bill makes it illegal to sell or rent games that are violent ("depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.") to kids under 18, with a maximum fine of $1kus.
Governor Schwarzenegger said not a word of the movies he's been in or images of Guantanamo Bay penal facility interrogations that have been making their rounds.
Lyssa and I are in one of the pictures from the chiarOscuro anniversary party!
It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, if they think you're a threat it's open season on your ass. Who's next?
Remember the bill introduced into the Indiana legislature that regulates who may and may not conceive children with external assistance? It turns out that Senator Patrica Miller of the state of Indiana has withdrawn the bill with the not-apology that "The issue has become more complex than anticipated". She has not said, however, that she would not re-introduce the bill in January of 2006.
What a weekend. I say that a lot, don't I?
Lyssa's brother and sister were in town and we spent the weekend hanging out with them to catch up. Friday night we took the Metro into downtown DC for dinner at an Indian restaurant called the Taj Mahal (1327 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, zipcode DC 20036-1844). Food there was reasonably priced, but they charge you for rice if you ask for it, and the price of alcohol is considerable ($11us for a beer?!), so be prepared to expense your meal. The quality of food there is excellent and the service is very attentive and very helpful if you're not sure what you'd like. The appetizer platter there is big enough for three people at most, so if you're with a larger group plan accordingly. The vegetable vindaloo is very tasty and not painfully hot. I'd recommend it if you like spicy food but not if you're new to spice food or Indian cuisine. The rice pudding dessert is very good and the flavours work well together. I give the Taj Mahal half a flaregun. Go if you're in the metropolitan DC area.
Afterward we hiked through the pouring rain to Biddy Mulligans (1500 New Hampshire Ave. Northwest) for a cold one or two after dinner. We wound up hanging out there for a good four hours shouting at one another (Biddy Mulligan's a popular place, and gets noisy on the weekends) and drinking beer (Guinness: Where's your mustache?). The price of beer there is pretty good, on the order of $6us per pint or so. That's good for the Dupont Circle area, let me tell you...
By the end of the night Lyssa and I were coughing hard from all the cigarette smoke and the cold air hadn't done much for us, either, so we hopped the Metro home (running for it a couple of times) back home before the time on the parking meter ran out.
Saturday was spent running around and getting ready for dinner that night; we'd offered to have Grant and Jill over for dinner and then go out for the night to have a good time. Lyssa made her famous chicken soup (from Grandma's recipe, the only way to make it) but we needed to find ingredients. As it turns out, yesterday's rain, wind, and cold gave everyone else the idea to make chicken soup, also, so we had a hard time finding a few things, and so we had to hit four separate stores to get what we needed. A far cry from the cool yet comfortable weather of earlier that day, shorts and t-shirts were a poor choice of clothing yesterday afternoon... running around was just that, in an effort to stay warm. Eventually, though, we got everything together and set to work. Lyssa took over the kitchen while I cleaned up the living and dining rooms, and worked the furniture over. Grant and Jill, thankfully, were late in coming, so wehad just enough time.
Dinner was a success - everything from the freshly-baked bread to the soup went over very well, though we never quite made it to dessert. Lyssa and I changed rapidly so that we could head to chiarOscuro.
Of course, we got lost. Badly lost. Left at 2200 EDT, got there around 0000 EDT. Lovely.
It isn't that I can't find my way around because I don't like to go anywhere, quite the opposite. I don't like going anywhere because I can't find my way around. I don't make mental maps of the world very well.
Once we finally got there we settled in nicely. Grant isn't much of a dancer, though he did spent some time talking to one of the club's usuals, whom he'd taken a shining to. Jill had a few drinks and joined Lyssa and I on the dancefloor for the remainder of the night. The mix was fast and electic, from 70's disco tunes to 80's U2 to relatively old-school EBM and new-school goth. I think I spent a grand total of ten minutes resting last night and the rest of the night dancing. We finally called it quits around 0200 EDT this morning, trooped back to the TARDIS, and headed home by way of College Park, Maryland and Plato's for an early breakfast and water to rehydrate. Getting home was far easier at 0400 EDT with no one else on the beltway and familiar territory. Jill had sobered up enough to drive Grant home before she caught her flight back home.
Grant and Jill had a great time last night, and asked to come with us the next time we go.
I wound up sleeping until 1500 EDT or so out of sheer exhaustion, and after getting dressed hit the store to get groceries for the week to come while Lyssa cleaned up after the dinner party. We've spent the evening not doing much of anything and having a bit of dinner.
Weird! Russian technical footage of early resuscitation experiments!
A brain implant that replaces the hippocampus.
Back to more self-enforced net.disconnection due to carpal tunnel syndrome.
In response to the forthcoming BBC documentary I posted about yesterday in which George W. Bush admitted to taking orders direct from $DEITY itself, the White House has gone into damage control mode, taxing their spin management resources even further. One Scott McClellan, spokesman for Bush, called the claims absurd. Nabil Shaath, former Palestinian foreign minister, is sticking to his guns, saying that he was there when it happened. McClellan admitted that he wasn't there and is just doing his job.
While I'm posting updates to current events, the disease that killed sixteen people in Toronto was probably Legionnaire's Disease, an unusual variety of pneumonia named after its first outbreak, an American Legion in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania back in 1976. David Miller, mayor of Toronto, stated that the disease is environmental and thus not contagious between people, and so is not a threat to Toronto as a whole.
Holy shit... now this deck is used up.
I think I saw quite a few of these fashions in some of these books.
I hope this precedent sticks: The Supreme Court of the state of Delaware has decided that an ISP doesn't have to rat out an anonymous blog poster who criticised an elected official. Patrick Cahill, councilman of the town of Smyrna, Delaware, was told that he needed to build a stronger case that he and his wife had been defamed before filing a lawsuit against Comcast to release the identities of the posters. The anonymous posters, unfortunately, didn't act like intelligent beings but posted obscenities and speculations as to the sex lives of Cahill and his wife. I'm all for this precedent, but it feels wasted because of the lack of maturity and intelligence on the part of the anonymous posters.
BitTorrent users should take note that HBO is actively poisoning running torrents of Rome, one of their shows to mess with people. The folks behind PeerGuardian have noted the IP addresses that are causing the trouble and added them to the blacklist of their software. The news article also has a list of all of the IP addresses, in case you'd like to block them yourself.
Now, in case you're not familiar with BitTorrent, it's a peer-to-peer filesharing application that distributes the load for a given file across a large number of IP addresses who all have some percentage of the file. What you do is you go to a BitTorrent tracker and browse through their lists of shared files for something that looks good to you, and then you either download the .torrent file (like I do) or plug the URL to a .torrent into your BitTorrent client and it goes out and gets a list of the IP addresses of everyone who has some part of the file you're looking for and starts downloading it by downloading a piece from everyone else and reassembling it. At the same time, your client shares the parts that you've already downloaded so that others can do the same thing. The way the files are broken up, each chunk has an integrity check associated with it, so that if it's corrupted it can be re-downloaded (perhaps from another peer in that torrent). The latest version of BitTorrent doesn't even require a tracker website; as long as you can get a .torrent file somehow newer revisions of the client can figure out who has what parts by itself, without an intermediary, and run independent of a hub site. BitTorrent's really taken off since its creation: On a given tracker you can find just about anything you might be looking for. Distributors of various open-source operating systems are using it to distribute CD-ROM and DVD-ROM images; bands and indie movie producers are using it to make their work know.
And yes, you can get pirated stuff using BitTorrent, from crappy bootlegs of movies to albums to television shows. It's the only way to get some stuff that is long out of print, too - if, for example, Fox would release the television show Parker Lewis Can't Lose on DVD, I'd snap up the boxed sets in a heartbeat, but because they haven't it's the only way to get episodes of it. I don't have time right now to record my videotapes of the show to DVD (my equipment being forty miles away at all times also puts the kibosh on this), so one does what one can to preserve VHS tape. BitTorrent is the way that shows like the BBC's reboot of Doctor Who and the fansubs of Fullmetal Alchemist became so popular so fast with so many people.
On the fifth of October, the US Senate voted 90 to 9 to establish hard and fast rules for interrogation of detainees by the military. Senator John McCain of Arizona drafted the bill, which cut across party lines. Because he spent a few years in the Hanoi Hilton during his tour in Vietnam, the other senators tend to defer to him on matters like this. An amendment to this bill is supposed to clarify the exact legal status of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. Bush is talking already about vetoing this bill.. the first veto during his entire tenure as President. More to come on that as I get around to searching.
Some time ago (I don't remember how long) Microsoft tried to file a few patents on the FAT file system, which would require payment of licensing fees if you wanted to develop anything that could read your average floppy disk or USB storage key. The US Patent Office turned it down in September but just got around to mentioning it because there was prior art (i.e., someone implemented the FAT file system before Microsoft started using it). This lets a lot of manufacturers of solid-state storage media off the hook, as well as just about every opensource implementation of it out there. Shortly after that release was made public, Nick McGrath, head of platform strategy of Microsoft announced at the Linuxworld Conference that Microsoft still has no plans to port Office to Linux.
It's more direct to just flag off the audience than to mention that again.
Opensource vulnerability scanner Nessus won't be opensource anymore when Tenable releases v3 due to the number of people who never contributed anything and the number of companies who sold Nessus appliances.
A little change in Florida law for you - this one allows private people to use deadly force against intruders under certain cirucmstances.
I try to learn something new every day, and have an feeling of amazement that I'd like to share. Your word of the day is Pelagianism.
I didn't the first test of the new Supreme Court nominee would happen so soon. The matter in question is this: Should it be legal for doctors in the state of Oregon to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients if they're asked to? The Supreme Court is split on this matter; Roberts is hanging back and not saying anything to anyone. Twice, the people of Oregon have voted to approve the Death With Dignity Act, which allows two different doctors to decide that a patient has six months or less to live and grant to that patient their request to die. The Act was passed in 1997; by the end of 2004 208 people have taken advantage of it. A bigger debate here (if there can be one bigger than life and death) is that by allowing a state government to decide if this is permissible, does it in fact diminish the authority of federal law?
I really hope that they keep the Die With Dignity Act in place. It sets a hopeful legal precedent for the rest of the country.
Just a day after the symptoms of my cold abate, this winds up in the news. At the Seven Oaks Home for the Aged in Toronto, Canada, a mysterious respiratory infection has claimed sixteen lives and left thirty-eight other people hospitalised. Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, says that it isn't SARS, Legionnaire's Disease, or the Avian flu but something else. Everyone who's died thus far have been venerable in age or physically frail. There is some evidence that the outbreak is running its course.
If you'd like to fax a few Congresscritters about the MPAA trying to sneak the Broadcast Flag into law by hiding it in another bill, check out this page to find their contact info.
I think I'd like to go to this...
Huh. Remember that "single play DVD" story I linked to yesterday? It's a hoax, and a lot of different news sources bought into it. Oops.
Now I'm very disturbed.
The BBC is running a series soon about the war in Iraq, and I'm definitely going to get my hands on it?
Because I'd like to see if this quote is from a transcript someplace or from actual video footage: "I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq " And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"
The idea of George W. Bush hearing the voice of God inside his head, as clearly as you would hear the voice of the person next to you, scares me. That sounds a little too much like schizophrenic auditory hallucinations for comfort, especially because the man with the power to command an army and authorise the launch of nuclear weapons is involved.
I honestly hope that this is jetwash.
They have it! They have it!
At 1400 EDT today in Missouri it became illegal to get a medical abortion. I wonder if the Missouri state government is going to start offering coat hangers to do things right.
Welcome back to the 60's, without all the hippies and good pot.
For the privacy concerned out there, there's a patch for tsocks that eliminates DNS leaks entirely and lets you access .onion darknet addresses without fancy hacking.
Still waiting to get my vehicle property tax sticker from the county.. I'm thinking of calling the county office to find out what they're doing with it. I don't feel like paying fines for not having one.
...just checked. I had to have my paperwork in by today (which it was; I actually sent it out somewhen around the first weekend of September), I don't have to have the sticker itself on my car until 15 November 2005. I've got some time.
Another thing that pisses me off about living around here: They threaten you with fines for unspecified amounts out the wazoo (no one I've spoken to at the DMV or in the municipal government around here seems to know how much these fines are) but they sure take their sweet old time sending you the forms you request or processing your vehicle registration. I didn't have this much trouble with anything back in Pittsburgh.
It's only taken the FDA five years to get around to this: They've decided that it might be a good idea to withhold cattle brains and spinal cords from animal feed to reduce the risk of transmission of the BSE prions, after being familiar with the transmission vector of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("Mad Cow Disease") for a number of years. Moreover, the same nervous system tissue from cattle that weren't certified for human consumption can't be used in animal feed, either. The cattle in question must be at least thirty months of age, in accord with a study performed at Harvard University. Critics are still complaining because the new directives allow other forms of infectious tissue into cattle feed, which can then infect healthy cattle with the BSE prions.
How about three words of the day for you? Church, cult, and sect.
Didn't someone already try this? And didn't it bomb shortly after its release?
I really have to wonder what the hell they're thinking in the state of Indiana. Effective 1 July 2006, some new laws about sex will come into effect. I found that document linked off of this news article. (note: I'm reading the bill itself and writing this entry.) The new law starts off by defining 'assisted reproduction' and then defines what a child would be considered legally, including children born out of wedlock, adopted kids, and unborn children (though not the age at which a fetus is considered a child). The bill then, interestingly, defines what it means to "Conduct a criminal history check."
If you're like me, the hackles on the back of your neck just went up.
The term 'donor', insofar as assisted conception is defined, along with some fiddly legal stuff like 'gestational agreement'... Section 8, IC 31-9-2-63.2 states that 'intended parents' do not include anyone who is unmarried; by the legal definition of this, this includes same-sex couples. Legal parentage must be established through a procedure outlined in the document; I thought that becoming a parent was a pretty straightforward process, but Indiana will require some hoop-jumping. Then the really interesting stuff jumps out, down in section 12, IC 31-20-2, chapter 2, section 11, part b: "A physician may not commence an assisted reproduction technology procedure that may result in a child being born until the intended parents of the child have recieved a certificate of satisfactorycompletion of the assessment required inder section 12 of this chapter." In case you lost track, that includes the background check and filing a metric buttload of paperwork. The assessment in section 12 includes a list of interesting facts, such as "values", "relationships", and "personality description". Don't have a bad day when you're being evaluated for fitness to have kids, ladies and gentlemen.
So, you'll not only have to be a saint to have a kid in Indiana next year, but you have to be legally married, too, otherwise you'll be committing "unauthorised reproduction", which will be a class B misdemeanor.
Now, if you're one of my regular readers, you've probably heard me mention from time to time that I don't plan on having any kids, so why should I care about whether or not anyone else has kids?
The answer's not that simple. I'm a CoE member, which means that, up until I decide to reproduce and tender my resignation to the Church of Euthanasia, there won't be any little Time Lords running around Washington, DC. That does not mean that I think that everyone should not reproduce. I fully understand that what's right for me might not be right for everyone else, but I set an example (please, no jokes about being the bad example). If it's your W/will to bring another life into this world, fine. If it's not, that's fine too. I won't get in anyone's way, because I personally dislike when someone else pushes their values down my throat because they find my values objectionable. But I do have a big, big problem when someone else, be it a person or a controlling structure, like a state government, takes it upon itself to decide who is and is not fit to have a child. Now, I'm almost inclined to agree with their dictates that you can't be granted parentage if you've killed a few people and were thrown in prison for it, but it's the provisions for personality, family structure, and the other stuff that bother me. Classic example: Same-sex couple. Another example: Working mother who, let's say, didn't agree with the way the law generally treats people defending themselves (you break a mugger's jaw and the muggee gets thrown in jail). This stinks like a fried motherboard. Thankfully, one of the articles has contact information for a number of Indiana state officials, so it might be wise to call a few of them and make your opinions known.
The reptilian battle of the tough guys...
Wow.. the Catholic Church is now saying that some parts of the Bible should not be taken literally. I don't know if they're afraid of what's going on over here or not, but they're refuting the Book of Revelations now.
Still on the sick side of life; the hacking cough's set in, much to Lyssa's consternation. We made a quick trip out to Kinko's last night to fax some documents out (her employers still haven't gotten them for some obscure reason) and just to be safe we Fed-Ex'd the originals to make sure that they arrive. We also made a side trip to a most interesting store just down the block from Kinko's, where the staff was nice enough to hang out well after closing with us talking shop. That's the first time anything like that's happened around here. I would have gotten more rest last night if it weren't for my pager going off every few minutes...
The restructuring of the Supreme Court of the United States continues, and this time both extremes of the political spectrum are wondering what the hell George W. Bush is thinking with the nomination of Harriet Miers as the replacement for Sandra Day O'connor. Miers isn't actually a judge, she's a lawyer - she was, until recently, the personal lawyer of George W. Bush, in fact. While she was active in private practise until recently, and encouraged lawyers in Texas to do pro bono work to help the public (she herself did incredible amounts of pro bono work in Texas). She does not, however, have a background in Constitutional law, which would set her at odds to the rest of the Supreme Court because the Supreme Court has to make a lot of judgement calls in this sphere of law. She also doesn't have many articles to her credit (only two), something else that sets her apart from the other Supreme Court justices.
Tom DeLay's in pretty hot water now, because he's been brought up on new charges by the Texas grand jury, namely, money laundering. The charges were filed just hours after DeLay's lawyers filed a motion to drop the charges of ethics violations levelled against him last week. It should be noted that these new charges were filed by an entirely different jury in Texas. The specifics are that he conspired to launder $190kus contributed by corporations through a subsidiary organisation of the Republical National Committee to fund the election campaigns of various candiddates in Texas, which goes against Texas law. These charges prevent DeLay's reinstatement as majority leader, also.
It remains to be seen exactly why this has drawn the attention of the US government after all this time about electronic voting problems, but it seems that they've convened a panel called the United States' Election Assistance Commission which is charged with finding ways to tighten electronic voting security.. seems a little too late, to me, since the source code to the Diebold voting machines was leaked years ago (with security holes that you could drive a truck through). They've already stated that e-voting was not designed with security in mind (duh) and that the voting process is no longer transparent to the voter for open review. They recommend that the testing process be opened to the public for analysis and review, along with the systems themselves. Companies developing e-voting hardware and software have been complaining that opening their systems up threatens their intellectual property; security pundits are arguing that this is a security-through-obscurity ploy. No date of release for the commission's report has yet been published.
Disney's online Virtual Magic Kingdom has some pretty broken autocensoring routines, it appears.
Denizens of Prince Williams county, Virginia take note: The police down there are stocking up on unmarked cars for traffic control purposes. An associate of mine has spotted a number of Camaros (!) that have been retrofitted with the LED flasher lights used by Virginia police down here on the side mirror housings, bumpers, rear ends, and inside the grilles. I've not yet been able to confirm this, but the license plates all begin with the string 'ZX'. I've heard rumours that some of the police officers in these cars have coerced clueless high school kids into drag-racing with them only to nail them a short time later for speeding and reckless driving (which seem to go hand-in-hand down here) but I've not seen it first hand yet. As always, remember that radar detectors are illegal down here, as are police scanners under certain circumstances - more on this here.
I'd also take care on the beltway heading north, around exit 45 - there's a maintenance road there with parked construction vehicles and resurfacing raw materials that marked police cars hide out in around peak traffic times (between 1600 and 2000 EST/EDT). Please, folks.. don't drive like assholes on the beltway. Traffic's bad enough due to the sheer volume of vehicular traffic.
Is it really possible to hide from Google? It is, but it's not easy these days...
I'm going to have to post a review of my favourite privacy-protection tricks one of these days.
The MPAA is still lobbying Congress with all its might to reinstante the broadcast flag. Declan McCullagh has done a little homework and dug up the names of the representatives who are acting as liaisons for private interests (I didn't think that they could do that) and put them at the end of this article. I'd suggest reading through that list to see if your congresscritter's in there, and maybe make a phone call or write a letter if they are. I know that Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania is in that list, and he'll be getting a call from me sometime today.
I still feel sick, even after a breakfast high in vitamin-C and some Claritin, but on the bright side of things I don't feel utterly wasted like I did yesterday. My sinuses don't hurt anymore and my throat feels a lot better, though I still have a little trouble hearing and tasting things. Lyssa and I crashed around quarter of midnight last night and slept straight through until morning. Well, she did, anyway. I woke up a few times to scan around the bedroom for a bit but thankfully went promptly back to sleep. I'm not sure if it was my body wanting to wake up because I slept so much this weekend or what, but it definitely wasn't due to my internal defenses going off. I woke up feeling loads better than the night before - relaxed and ready to face the day. I've still got a dry cough from my throat being irritated and my sinuses are draining, but I can't complain too much because I'm up and around.
This article has a lot of fluff in it, but if you dig a bit you'll get to the interesting bits - Johnson & Johnson is going to start marketing duct tape bandages to the DIY set. Talk about field repairs...
And to think that people joke about Pennsic first aid, which consists of a roll of duct tape and zip-lock baggies or credit cards to patch sucking chest wounds.
Even though George W. Bush has mentioned wanting to alter the Posse Comitatus Act of 1978 to give the US military the power to act on American soil, the idea of such restrictions being removed bothers a lot of people - even the White House itself. I'm all for defending the US, but the armed forces aren't trained or designed for police duty, they're trained for combat. The skills and strategies used by police are different in many ways, and the risk of applying them in an urban environment is to great to life and limb. That's actually what SWAT teams are meant for.
If you spend any time on the net at all, you've probably heard about the RIAA suing people left and right for copyright infringement. Their MO is to file a batch of "John Doe" lawsuits to force ISPs to track down users via IP addresses, and then retract the John Doe suit so that they can file a directly targetted lawsuit. One Tanya Anderson, age 41, of Oregon is countersuing the RIAA for a list of charges that goes on for pages and pages. Among the things that she accuses the RIAA of in court is racketeering, filing harassing lawsuits that waste the court's time and resources, using a private company to extort money from people who don't even know that they're being sued (the John Doe information-discovery lawsuits), violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 USC 1030) by cracking her computer, rifling her personal information, and making unauthorised copies of it... <deep breath> harassment.. the list goes on and on. The lawsuit she filed comprises the majority of the article I've linked to but it doesn't have much in the way of legal jargon in it. I strongly suggest sitting down and reading it, because it has to do with the RIAA filing a lawsuit against someone who probably didn't do anything (a 41 year old single mother listens to gangsta rap?)... because your ISP might give them a name just to get the RIAA's dogs off their leg, you might be next.
|The Keys to Your Heart|
In love, you feel the most alive when everything is uncertain, one moment heaven... the next moment hell.
You'd like to your lover to think you are stylish and alluring.
You would be forced to break up with someone who was ruthless, cold-blooded, and sarcastic.
Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets.
Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.
You think of marriage as something precious. You'll treasure marriage and treat it as sacred.
In this moment, you think of love as something you thirst for. You'll do anything for love, but you won't fall for it easily.
I'm not sure where I stand on this, but I find it interesting just the same - androgyny as pop culture. I find it very interesting that genderqueer folk are starting to become more prominent in society today. It might signal a change in direction, away from the dualistic paradigm that most everyone in the west is indoctrinated wit from childhood onward. I also like how the sense of playfulness was brought up; a lot of the genderqueer folks I hang out with tend to not take themselves so seriously, which is a breath of fresh air these days.
It appears that the Hagane no Reinkinjutsushi/Fullmetal Alchemist fandom has begun to celebrate the third of October, the date that Edward and Alphonse Elric burned their family home to the ground. It'll be interesting to see what they do with this...
I feel like I need a vacation from my weekend.
Friday was, to be blunt, an utter clusterfuck. A routine procedure at work blew up like an armed hand grenade dropped into the HVAC system of an office building, which necessitated being jacked in until well after 2000 EDT Friday night, talking to tech support and trying to coordinate with everyone else on duty at that time.
Suffice it to say that it wasn't a very good day. In fact, I rather wish that Friday had simply never happened at all, and if I could go back and delete it from my timeline, I would gladly do so.
It was enough of a crisis that I was scarcely able to get word back home that I didn't know what time I'd get back. By the time I left the office I was just about dead on my feet, running purely on programmed responses. To my great surprise, I was greeted at the front door by not only Lyssa, but Kash and Hasufin, also. Lyssa and Kash had put together an incredible dinner for me to come home to, and Hasufin found, in the back of the fridge, a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale, which I'd all but forgotten about. Unfortunately I wasn't quite able to leave work at work that night, as Hasufin and I spent a while talking about everything that had gone on, but eventually I'd relaxed enough to enjoy not having to worry for a while.
Dinner, in the form of a salad, corn fritters, parmesan and pepper bread, and chili, was the perfect way to cap off a week that'd been running me ragged. We wound up not going to the premiere of Mirrormask that night, much to my relief. I'm not sure that I would have been able to safely make it to downtown DC. As it was, I couldn't even stay awake to watch Carnivale with Lyssa and Kash because I fell asleep on the floor of the office. Lyssa put me to bed sometime before midight, and I slept staight on until ten the next day.
On Saturday, Lyssa and I drove Hasufin to the airport to catch his flight, because our employer is sending him on a business trip overseas for a couple of weeks. The drive out to Dulles was simple: Follow the road signs and you can't miss the airport. The drive home, however, was a bit more complex, in that route-7 takes on no fewer than three different names between Dulles International and Vienna. If you are simply trying to backtrack your path, this will cause you no end of consternation. Moreover, this is the most common navigation problem in the Washington DC metropolitan area.
Hell, let's call it a sprawl. That's what it is, after all - a number of large cities that have all run together into a single metroplex.
Once we found our way back to Vienna, we stopped off at Tiffany's - yes, the super-upscale jewelry store where you have to be properly dressed just to get notice from the staff and not security. Seeing as how Lyssa and I were nicely done up (of course, in a nonstandard manner as they reckon it, which pretty much means leather, lace, and silver jewelry - photographs to come) we made it in the front door without too much trouble to check out engagement rings and wedding bands. While trying my best to look like I could actually afford stuff there without having to resort to kidnapping random people off the street to sell their internal organs for spare parts overseas, I was able to observe a number of things that gave me pause. A woman holding a gold and diamond bracelet with a slip of paper (which I wasn't able to sneak a peek at) was arguing with a member of the staff because she wanted to know whom had purchased it for her and, interestingly enough, she wanted to get hold of the credit card information used to acquire the card.
The staff member politely rebuffed her, stating that they could state who had purchased the bracelet but could not provide the credit card information.
The woman, angry, tore the notes out of the clerk's hand and demanded to meet the manager to straighten things out.
I was also surprised by the number of people for whom management of the Tiffany's store bolted from their offices to greet them personally. As far as I could tell, I had no idea who these folks were.. they looked like your average Jane or Joe off the street: Middle aged, maybe with a spare tire, maybe losing their hair or going silver, maybe a little on this side of deaf, with whom the managers of Tiffany's were on a first-name basis and talking about grandkids and how things had been going in the past five or six years.
My mind was blown, watching this. Will I ever get that rich, or become that important? I simply don't know. I can't fathom it.
We stopped off to gas up the TARDIS and investigate the "MAINT REQ'D" light that had winked to life on the console scant minutes before (note: the manual states that this means that I need to go in for a 5000 mile oil change) and then set course for Maryland to prowl around the mall down there for some clothes for Lyssa. Once again, we drove around seeking a parking space, and eventually got lucky on the northernmost edge of the mall parking lot, and then headed inside. The mall we wound up going to is only a bit smaller than the Tyson's Corner Mall just down the road from us but just as twisty to navigate, even when you have a map of the complex.
Have you ever played Quake III or Descent II and gotten so horribly lost that it's easier to start the level over and re-do your map from scratch? That's what it was like.
We eventually found the stores we were looking for (all in a row, no less) and spent the afternoon looking at clothing. Not worth clothes, for we have quite enough of those, but clothes that we can bum around the house in and relax on the weekends. The folks there were very helpful and suggested a few things that Lyssa would like, and after much trying things on and sorting we settled on a few pieces of clothing. Our next stop was the Waldenbooks next door, which was running a five for the price of four sale on sci-fi and fantasy novels. Unfortunately, their selection isn't very good so we did not partake of this particular sale. Lyssa found the latest volume of Model while I chanced across a copy of Mage: The Awakening (White Wolf's re-do of the Mage game), which I'd been searching for since the release date in August. I've heard some good things about it, and some bad things, and decided that I'd have to read it myself to decide. If worse comes to worst, I'll re-sell it on Amazon to get rid of it.
Afterward we headed back to Virginia. I contacted my boss at work to see if we were still going to do maintenance at our usual time, what with the massive fuck-up on Friday, but as it turns out it was still a 'go', which meant an all nighter last night. We hit up Trader Joe's for groceries and managed to fill our cart and make it out of there without attracting the attention of the scarier folks who work there.
Dinner was left-overs from Friday night (of which there were many) with a few hacks to change the flavour and stretch things a bit. Kash, who'd gotten lost in downtown DC after spending the day at the Maryland renfaire, made it back safe and sound for dinner. It was around this time that I noticed that not only was I developing a sinus headache, but dinner had taken on a decidedly flat and bland taste... uh-oh.
Maintenance began at 0000 EDT and went on through the night. One by one, everyone went to bed as I worked... thankfully, the night had no surprises and no problems. At least, from a technical perspective.
By the time 0500 EDT rolled around, when my shift was over, I'd realised that I'd come down with a cold, the first of year (which is usually the worst). I guess all the stress of the past few days coupled with the change in temerature had crashed my body's immune system. I'm now going through tissues like they're going out of style, I slept until noon and still feel worn out, my stomach is upset, and my sinuses feel like someone stuffed a test-tube brush up my nose sometime during the night and rubbed them raw.
I'm definitely not looking forward to work tomorrow.
Travel safely, Hasufin.
Yesterday was a day of wholly unnecessary excitement. The problems around the apartment had gotten to the point where we couldn't cope with them anymore, and we'd been fighting with the maintenance office to get them repaired. After two letters and innumerable phone calls I finally got through to someone at the office of our apartment complex and laid it out for them.. again, they assured me that they'd send someone out to fix things today.
The bathroom drains are clear. The faucets in the tub were replaced. They supposedly cleaned up the clusterfuck in the kitchen, though they'd left such a mess after the fix that we had to throw away everything that was sitting out. When we'd stopped by the rental office after work yesterday (about quarter until 1800 EDT - this is important), we made to sure lay everything out, in person, in detail, for Mark, who handles rental agreements. He, too, reassured us that everything woudl be taken care of. We returned home to check things out... and discovered that maintenance had jammed the front door. No way in.
Call the front office - that was around 1800 EDT. No answer. Drove back to the office in a hell of a big hurry.. the rental office was closed and dark. Everyone leaves at 1800 sharp, no exceptions.
After some jiggery-pokery with their voicemail system, I figured out how to get to the emergency line and explained the situation to the operator. She paged maintenance, who then came out and forced the front door open.
I have no idea what the hell happened there.. I do know that the front plate of the lock is damaged around the keyway and none of our keys would fit into it the way they were supposed to.
Due to the mess in the kitchen, we wound up calling Hasufin and going out for dinner again, this time for Thai food in the next town over. After a rather tasty dinner, we parted ways. Hasufin is working on a project that he hopes to complete before his business trip in a couple of days and Lyssa and I needed to restock the kitchen.
I really need to stop eating out.
Thinking about eating out, this article gave me pause, then made me snort in annoyance. "Bay Area foodies cope with U.S. ban of Beluga caviar"... my hearts bleed for those folks. No, really, they do. They'll pay twice as much for petrol over there to fill up their SUVs as I pay in a month for electricity and gas without blinking, and yet you bitch about caviar...
This makes me smile: Urchin is developing A Commodore-64 emulator for the Playstation Portable.
This should give you as much faith in the TSA as it did me: They can't search their passenger records to get any useful information!
Wow... I'm not the only heretic who jacks out from time to time. I might be a technomage, but even I need a break now and then.
I don't know if this is an actual mistake on someone's part or not, but it's pretty damning, nonetheless. The FCC has released a policy document that states that consumers can run whatever software they want on their systems, subject to the needs of law enforcement. The last seven words are a direct quote from the document, on the third page of the FCC document linked off of that post (I'll put up a mirror of it if anyone asks for it), part four, point two. I don't like the sound of that... if the FCC or someone petitioning it asks that PGP, for example, not be permitted under right of use, which I think it utter bullshit because the purchaser of a system can do whatever they please with it, they could conceivably ban it. Not that they could enforce it all that easily, mind you. Unless you raid each and every home in the country to examine each and every box, there's no way that you could stamp out any kind of software. Declan McCullagh makes a good point that this directive was published the same day that their extensions to CALEA were published.
What is it about autumn down here that makes people forget how to drive?
I live less than five miles from work.. why is it that traffic on the highway that runs past my building has been so clogged every evening this week that a simple five mile drive takes nearly two hours to complete? I left work around 1700 EDT yesterday, and was very surprised to find that traffic was at a virtual standstill for nearly two hours. I sat in traffic, immobile, long enough to finish roughly a third of the Perl Cookbook before going anyplace. I eventually made it to a side road, turned off, and started finding a back way home. Traffic wasn't nearly as bad on the back roads, surprisingly, but I still made it back around 1845 EDT last night.
Nearly two hours to go five miles...
Checking the news shows no car accidents, drug raids, flat tires, or anything else that seems to bring traffic to a screeching halt in the DC metropolitan area. I've no bloody clue what's causing it, but I think I'm going to be taking the back way home tonight, just in case.
Lyssa and I met up with Hasufin and Butterfly shortly after I returned home and rather than brave traffic to get groceries (I've yet to make it to the grocery store this week, and we really need to stock up) we drove to the Silver Diner down the block for dinner. I wound up blowing off steam about everything that's been going on at work lately and generally tried to unwind after what has been a bear of a week. We hit the road for Rialian's around 2000 EDT, and made it in good time, surprisingly.
In other news, House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who is famous for playing fast and loose with ethics and money was indicted yesterday, along with two colleagues; this has forced him to resign as Majority leader. The Republican Party took a swift kick between wind and water when this bombshell dropped, and questions are coming fast and furious. The Texas Grand Jury has charged him with conspiracy to circumvent campaign finance laws, which is only one of several laws that he's broken in the past few years. If convicted he's facing up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10kus. A letter writing campaign calling for DeLay to resign from the House also began this morning.
As if that weren't enough to make you sit up and take notice, John Roberts, Junior will be confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, even though he's managed to dodge just about every question posed to him, on topics ranging from personal privacy to women's rights. His confirmation could be pushed through as early as next Monday so he can begin working on stuff like assisted suicide and abortion. He's mentioned a number of times that the Supreme Court can overturn precedent-setting rulings, such as Roe v. Wade. Roberts was quoted as saying that "If the Constitution says that the little guy should win, then the little guy's going to win in the court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well then the big guy's going to win because my obligation is to the Constitution."
This doesn't give me a whole lot of confidence in him, given how the current regeime has been consistently ruling in favour of the big guys. Too bad this didn't get much press when it was first published.
This strikes me as being just a little paranoid...
Still more word on using human stem cells to repair peripheal neural damage has come out of Korea. A woman who has been paralysed for 19 years was treated using umbilical stem cells and has regained mobility and sensation below the point of spinal cord damage. She can now move her hips and feet and has some degree of sensory capability. Motor activity was confirmed seven days after implantation; she could stand thirteen days later; she was able to move her legs without assistance fifteen days later. As if that's not enough, 41 days after the procedure was performed, neural tissue regeneration was confirmed. In case you're interested, I've found a good description of the lumbar laminectory procedure that the woman had undergone. If you download this .pdf file (confirmed work-safe) and click to page 30, you'll see a picture of the woman who underwent this procedure standing with a walker. Perhaps after 19 years of atrophy, her leg muscles aren't yet capable of supporting her weight.
Why is it that all the intersting research on this technology is coming from overseas... think about that.
This is nifty.. what could be the first legally recognised polyamorous marriage on the planet took place in the Netherlands between Victor de Brujin and his two partners, Bianca and Mirjam.
Fall has definitely come to the DC metropolitan area. The air is crisp and cool more often than not these mornings, with just a hint of humidity. The sun is also not rising as far as it once did, and the flatness of the light makes it hard to see most of the time. My favourite time of the year is here, at least for a while. I'm probably going to start wearing longer sleeves and jackets outside these days, because it's taking longer and longer for my hands to warm up enough so that I can use them for anything.
I dearly love this time of year.. everything's winding down. The plants are dropping off and settling in for a few months of sleep. The birds will begin migrating south soon. The air is nice and cool. Night-time grows longer; daytime grows sharper and more flat, more harsh. The sky tends to grow a bit more grey, a little darker, a little more overcase.. I can't say why I love it the way I do, only that I've always had special places in my hearts for autumn.
Gotta have some of that tentacle love.. since Victorian times, the giant squid, sometimes referred to as the Kraken, has been the subject of much speculation and occasionally inspiration (viz, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Vernse). An elusive denizen of the deep, mankind has only come to know them by their remains - bony beaks in the stomachs of sperm whales and battle scars on the hides of the same the size of dinner plates and dead specimins up to sixty feet in length caught in fishing nets or washed up on shore. Not too long ago, however, Japanese researchers managed to photograph a live giant squid feeding. The photographs are awesome, to say the least.. they baited a nasty looking deep sea fishing hook with bags of mashed shrimp, attached an automatic camera to the line, and let it drift on a buoy for some period of time, placing the bait some 2950 feet below the surface. At some point, a live specimen estimated at 25 feet in length attacked, tangling and consuming the bait packs in its tentacles and even snagging itself on the hook. Over 500 images were taken before the specimin of architeuthis escaped, tearing off the trailing portion of one of its feeding tentacles to do so. The tentacle segment was recovered by the scientists, who were surprised to find that the tentacle was still alive and trying to move around, which is common in cephalopods due to the highly distributed nature of their nervous systems. While giant squid are deep water creatures, at night they are known to rise to a depth of between 1300 and 1600 feet to feed (converted from the metric for consistency).
Self-replicating code is always a dicey thing.. it can quickly get out of hand and render its environment unusable. Virus authors have known this for years. Patches to distributed systems that involve self-replicating code also fall into this category, as fans of The Sims 2 found out a few years ago and World of Warcraft found out a few days ago. One of the quests involved kililng an enemy called Hakkar, who cursed characters with a plague called Corrupted Blood. This plague, once released into the game environment, spread from character to character like wildfire. Death in WoW is temporary, but it's still a hassle to deal with. Some of the more malicious players of the game have found ways of transporting this plague into highly populous sectors of the game environment, which left several cities all but uninhabitable. There is also no actual cure for this plague.. Blizzard technicians have been trying to eradicate caches of infectious code from the game world and have even gone so far as to reboot entire sectors but their countermeasures have been ineffective thus far.
Celebrate Banned Books Week, 24 September through 1 October 2005.
If it's not the MPAA it's the FCC playing games, this time expanding CALEA to include ISPs and voice-over-IP companies. CALEA (Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act) requires telecommunication companies to make it possible for law enforcement agencies to wiretap calls in a manner completely transparent to the people talking on a given link. The FCC is trying to require ISPs to make it possible to trace and monitor the usage of any of their customers at any time, as well as requiring voice-over-IP companies to make it possible to tap any and all communications made using their service. The EFF is planning to challenge this in court. The deadline for implementation of CALEA compliance is May of 2007. Part of the problem is that because there are so many services offered by every connectivity provider, which providers are beholden to comply? Are individual ISPs required to do so, because their users might be using VoIP? The big VoIP providers, like Skype, certainly are. The document, interestingly, says that any service that can provide 200kpbs upload or download are covered, which is part of the problem because Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those at Starbucks, fit the bill.
The original CALEA specifically states that online information services are NOT covered by this law. The confusion isn't helping any.
Didn't I read something about this in Pattern Recognition by William Gibson?
Oh, here is more on the addenda that the MPAA is trying to sneak through Congress.
Maddox on the Hot Coffee mod for GTA: San Andreas.
Genetic analysis provides the strongest evidence for evolutionary science yet: Once genomes (say, chimpanzees and humans) are sequenced, it's possible to diff them to see how different they really are. In the example just given, there is only about 4% difference between chimps and humans. Most of the genes are exactly the same.. this also makes mathematical modelling possible to figure out the number of mutations possible when you compare one genome to another, because the underlying principles of genetics are the same regardless of the species. The numbers match the hypotheses created using the principles put forth in evolutionary theory.
The battle rages on....
The Motion Picture Association of America is still at it. After several defeats in Congress of their demands to severely restrict what may and may not be digitally recorded, they're trying again sneak it through. This time, they have written a few amendments to a reconciliation bill that'll be going before Congress late in October. This bill actually has something to do with digital television, so it is highly unlikely that it can be halted at the last minute by the Byrd Rule, which allows clauses to be removed from reconciliation bills if they don't actually have anything to do with government cuts. This bill will contain a few clauses that will require another bill to complete.. the broadcast flag bill, once again. Read this article: It comes off as being hypothetical (and needlessly so, I think) but it's a good heads-up of what the MPAA is trying to pull off. They're getting sneakier and sneakier.
With everything going on these days, and all hell breaking loose, this is very sound advice.
What a weekend, but a good one.
Saturday was spent running around for the most part, first going out for lunch, then going to the mall to wander around a bit. Lyssa was given money for her birthday by her family, so she decided to treat herself to a trip to the hair salon and some new work clothes. While she was at the salon, I wandered around some more, learning how the mall is laid out, and stopped in to pick up a copy of the 'documentary' on dragons that the Discovery Channel made earlier this year. Lyssa loved it when it was on TV, and I thought I'd surprise her. After meeting back up (which involved my winding up on the wrong floor of the mall, which I've concluded was modelled after a Quake 3 level) we headed home by way of the Italian Oven for her birthday dinner. That night, I have her one of her gifts early, a skirt that she'd been eyeing for weeks. I left the other two hidden for yesterday.
The general gameplan was that we were going to put a crew together on Saturday night to go clubbing (no lightswitch techno jokes, please). While getting dressed, we recieved two phone calls, one from Hasufin, who was bowing out because he had to get up early the next day, and one from Rhianna, who was stuck on the beltway with a flat tire and no way to change it. I called Hasufin back up, changed my clothes, swung past Hasufin's apartment to pick up both Hasufin and Mika, and then hit the beltway. We found Rhianna's car by the side of the highway and the three of us changed the tire in less than ten minutes, easily. Mika rode shotgun with Rhianna on the way home (because her spare is rated for at most 50 miles at 50 miles per hour; for reference, speeds in excess of 65 miles per hour are normal on the beltway) while Hasufin and I followed her with my car's four way flashers going (standard procedure for driving a car going slower than the extant speed). At one point, we saw something go sailing from Rhianna's car and explode into a shower of sparks on the tarmac, but found out after a phone call that Mika had pitched a not-quite-done cigarette from the window, which resulted in the fireball.
Once back home, I dropped off Mika and Hasufin, then changed back into club gear (consisting of leather jeans and jacket, and mesh t-shirt; this will be important to note later). The grease and metal particles on my hands, even after scrubbing them off, made me loath to wear contact lenses that night (but this is incidental).
The trip to southeast Washington, DC was once again an adventure. A missed exit left us circling around the entire city on route 66, which actually deposited us one mile from home... yes, it took over an hour to actually reach downtown DC, but twenty minutes to get back to our neighborhood via a back highway. I plan on mapping and exploiting this anomaly in the layout of the road system in the future. By doubling back, however, we got back on track in not much more time, and presently found chiarOscuro.
En route, we happened to drive past the location of the protests this weekend, and were surprised by what we saw. The cars parked along the sides of the road in the tunnels was unusual: They were parked along a blind curve in the tunnel (which runs under a building - I don't remember which it was, but it was a US government agency (not one of the TLAs, though)). There also seemed to be more police cars parked along the sides of the streets than other cars. We counted one police car (manned) in every other parking space. More police were stationed at each corner, and most interestingly, there were US Army MPs (military police) stationed along the sidewalks.
Lost as we were, we felt no particular need to stop and ask them for directions. A car full of odd looking folks dressed all in black driving around seemingly aimlessly in a secured area would be suspicious to anyone. We also had no idea of how stressed out these folks were, and as such didn't want to annoy them any more than we had to. I'm wishing that I'd brought at least one of my RF scanners with me to listening to what was going on that night.
Another minor bit of excitement was getting lost in the outskirts of the Pentagon parking lot (which were under surveillance but not secured as the closer reaches were, as demarcated by concrete barriers, orange cones, and warning tape) as we picked our way toward route 66. Thankfully, nothing came of this.
Unfortunately, we missed Arcane Matt's set that night, because he'd been given an earlier time for chiarOscuro's second anniversary celebration. We did manage to run into both Arcane Matt and Adam Rixey, another Pittsburgh escapee. Introductions were made and we spent some time hanging out and catching up on old times.
Lyssa noticed something last night: Even if I know someone, I'm not very likely to go up to them and say 'hi'. Part of this is because there are degrees of knowing someone, and unless I spend a lot of time with them anyway, I'm skittish around most people. Even though I know Matt and Adam from back in Pittsburgh, I don't really know them all that well, certainly not well enough to call them up and invite them to go out for a cup of coffee. I'm also not very inclined to ask someone that I've just met (for example, DJ Skunque at chiarOscuro) because, well... I've just met them. I don't read people very well, especially someone's comfort level with other folks. In a nutshell, I don't want to be "that guy" that everyone finds unnerving somehow...
Okay. Enough digression.
Mental note: I should probably stop putting weird requests in to the DJ booth. I seem to be the only person who's ever heard some of the dance remixes of Cassandra Complex songs (for example), so it's probably pointless to ask for them. I was, however, impressed with the dance remix of Mother Dawn by Billy Idol that was played shortly before we left. Call me crazy, I loved Idol's last album and thought that it was one of the more interesting songs that he ever did.
The mix at chiarOscuro was excellent, as always, and we spent a lot of time on the dance floor enjoying the music. I found out that dancing with large amounts of leather on isn't really a good idea, and even after taking my coat off I still had to stop pretty frequently from dizziness. Not only am I out of shape, but I was probably edging toward heat stroke, on top of that. Aside from the odd wobble because my body's leg muscles weren't working quite right, I was all right the next day.
Somehow, we made it home in relatively good time, and after inflating the Air Mattress of Unusual Comfort, everyone crashed for the night.
Rhianna, you still have one of my t-shirts, by the way.
To thank us for helping the night before, Rhianna took Lyssa and I to breakfast on Sunday afternoon (I say afternoon because we all slept in quite late). Kash arrived earlier that afternoon, and after his arrival we dropped Rhianna's car off at a local garage and headed to the Silver Diner. The afternoon turned into one of those "lunch and talking shop" afternoons, where we talked about most anything under the sun, from 9/11 to Katrina, from mysticism to unknowability. When the.Silicon.Dragon arrived, we started to discuss the protests this weekend, and it took off from there...
We finally left the Diner around 1530 EDT. I dropped Rhianna off at the garage to get her car and then joined Lyssa, Kash, and Lauren (who'd met them earlier) at the garden shop to nose around the houseplants. Lyssa picked up stuff to transplant a few plants while I found a small grafted cactus which I'm going to keep in my office.
Interesting factoid for the day: It's possible to graft pieces of dissimiliar species of cactus to one another, which produces a Frankenstein-like hybrid. For example, you can cut the brightly-coloured top off of one cactus and the top of a rather plain cactus off, and switch the two (using candle wax and cotton gauze to secure them), and with a little luck and a little care, you'll have transplanted chunks of a cactus. I've not done it myself but I read a book on it when I was quite small, and remembered the basics of the procedure for some odd reason. I wasn't able to pass by one of these oddballs in the store. I've decided to name it Mandelbrot, after the fractal, because the top of the cactus resembles, in some ways, a Mandelbrot fractal. I'll take a picture or two later and post it.
Lyssa repotted the spider and purple passion plants on the balcony with the supplies we'd picked up earlier. Following that, we got dressed to drive to the Borders at Bailey's Crossroads for the Neil Gaiman book signing. Neil Gaiman, if you're not familiar with him, was the mastermind behind such comic series as Sandman and Books of Magic, as well as a number of novels, like Neverwhere and American Gods. He's doing a book signing tour right now for his latest novel, Anansi Boys, and the tour happened to take him through Virginia. Lyssa and I quickly put the word out and plans to attend were made. Line order tickets went up for distribution at 1730 EDT yesterday, and the reading/Q&A session started at 1900 EDT. Only Lyssa, Kash, and I were able to attend,' unfortunately, but we were part of a standing room only crowd that had invaded Borders. Folks of all ages, from freshmen in high school to folks my parent's age were in attendence. The goth contingent was well represnted, as were folks who'd been to the renfaire earlier that day and even a few cosplayers. We ran into a Delerium, a Destiny, and Door from Neverwhere, and later in the night a Gothic Lolita interpretation of Death. Neil was greeted by thunderous applause as he walked into the cafe' (which was closed for the book reading) and immediately took command of the crowd with his trademark wit, launching into a recount of some of the events of his book tour and a visit to CBGB's in New York state. He read a short portion of Anansi Boys and then began to take questions. He admitted to writing a biographical book of the band Duran Duran back in the 80's (the one published by the long-defunct Proteus Books with the nifty cover) and related the origins of one of the short stories that he'd written a while back that had to do with Hollywood. All told, he was up there for about 45 minutes before retreating to the top floor for the signing.
Ordinarily, people are called upstairs in blocks of 50 or so to meet authors in attendence. This time, he asked that women with small children and pregnant women be allowed to go up first to make things easier on them. That's the first time that I've ever heard of an author asking for such a thing. That impressed me.
Lyssa, Kash, and I wound up killing time on the bottom floor by talking comics, cryptozoology, and giant movie monsters with the Borders staff on duty at the bottom of the staircase and sundry other folks standing around. It was a good time which only got better when we were called upstairs. The line was around the perimeter of the top floor though very orderly and quiet. Again, we wound up in a fan discussion with some grad students from Philadelphia and generally waited calmly until our turn came. Lyssa went first, overjoyed at getting to meet Neil Gaiman for the first time. She brought one of Neil's more scholarly texts and books of poetry to be autographed, as well as her copy of Anansi Boys and the portrait of Dream and Titania. Her hands were shaking as they spoke; he signed one of her books as a birthday greeting as one of the Borders folks took a photograph of them. When my turn came, I presented my own copy of Anansi Boys along with The Dream Hunters and American Gods. We spoke briefly, informally, quietly.. for lack of anything else to say (what does one say?) I asked him how the tour was going, how he enjoyed DC and Virginia, how he was doing... Neil is a very warm, very personable individual. He has this quality about him that puts you at ease. It is said by Gaiman fans that he's a nice guy and very down to earth, but it's another to actually talk to him and experience it for yourself. I'm not sure of how else to describe it.
Unfortunately, my digital camera's batteries were drained, leaving me with my camera phone only. The pictures taken wtih it aren't very clear, regrettably, but I'll get them up as soon as I can. There are two pictures of me with Neil, and another two or three that I took from the crowd.
Regrettably, Hasufin and Mika were not able to join us last night.
After the three of us stopped off at home to drop off our autographs, we headed out to Amphora for a late dinner to unwind and then returned home around 0100 EDT today. I went to bed because I have work today; Lyssa's off today, pending her first day at IBM tomorrow. Kash left somewhen around 0500 EDT to get back to Maryland in time for class.
If this is true, it surprises me little.
Even though this site pushes the backup utility called Veracity, there are still words of wisdom here.
Great Britain is planning to pull out of Iraq, tentatively scheduled for May of 2006. And what were those British guys doing in Iraq, anyway?
Does it bother anyone else that George W. Bush is talking about putting the military in charge of disaster relief across the country?
Attention, BitTorrent users: Avoid these trackers!
John C. Lilly is probably not pleased with this, wherever he is. Hurricane Rita allowed a number of dolphins trained by the US Navy to escape. These dolphins might be armed with dartguns - they were part of an experiment to train dolphins to serve as antipersonnel weapons.
A bill will be going before the House of Representatives soon that will require everyone detained by federal authorities to provide an archival DNA sample. This is beyond what the law allows now, which is that only people who are convicted of a crime must provide such a sample. The bill, as it is written right now, does not provide for samples from acquitted people to be destroyed afterward.
Two things bother me about what these folks did. One, it seems very patronising. Two, nailing the name of someone to a crucifix could be construed as a symbolic execution or sacrifice (given what the crucifix was used for).
Maybe it's just me.
Don Adams, famous for his role as Agent 86 in the television series Get Smart, dead of a lung infection at age 82.
Cindy Sheehan was arrested this weekend for demonstrating without a permit. I was under the impression that having over one hundred thousand protestors in one place at one time demanded having a permit.. time to social engineer city hall and see if I can get some answers.
|You Are a Visionary Soul|
Folks who live in the DC metropolitan area: The military folks you might see running around are not your imagination, they are part of something called the Granite Shadow drill. Granite Shadow is a dry run for the military to better prepare them for operations within the borders of the United States in the event that weapons of mass destruction are detected in deployment. While the name itself isn't classified, the nature of the operation is still classified (Top Secret SPECAT, actually). Operation Granite Shadow is being run out of NORAD, the military installation in Colorado made famous in the movie Wargames. George W. Bush has already headed to NORAD for this operation.
While we're talking about the US military, their chaplains are exorcising buildings in NOLA now. I guess all the voudoun mojo down there keeps them up at night. Way to help refugees, folks....
One thing about spirits and the like - they're very literal minded. The chaplain's quoted command "In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you Satan to leave the dark areas of this building" would probably only tell entities answering to that name to leave. I somehow doubt that the Loa, for example, would listen, unless the priest worked up one hell of a lot of mojo to do the job right, which I also doubt.
My ten cents, adjusted for inflation. I work with constructs more than I do with mostly-autonomous entities.
A fourteen year old girl was expelled from school because her parents are lesbians.
Busted... on nothing at all. It's not just the US.
Last night, Grant (Lyssa's brother) and I took Lyssa out to dinner for her birthday. A while ago, Lyssa had gone to a Brasilian bar-be-cue restaurant called the Malibu Grill Steak House, which she'd grown fond of. After finding another one in Virginia, she asked to go there.
The particular Malibu Steak House we went to is located at 4615 Fair Knoll Drive, Fairfax, Virginia, 22033, 703-222-5555. This is important to know, for reasons which I am about to divulge.
The restaurant sucks. The food was bad.. no two ways about it. The hot bar/salad bar's fare is mediocre at best. The french fries are tasty with large amounts of salt or Old Bay Spice, but best serve as filler for your stomach if you plan on having a beer. The various meat cuts at the hot bar are similiarly bad. I nearly broke a tooth on what I thought was a piece of steak, but turned out to be a bone with a thin covering of crisped gristle(!) that happened to look like steak. The salad fare blew hamsters. The service was good and friendly, but really the only thing good from them was the grilled sausage. The lamb was overcooked and tough to cut, the chicken was more gristle than meat, and the steak cuts were dry and tasteless. The only good thing I got there was a glass of Dos Equis beer on tap.
It was far from worth the $62us (!!) we paid for the three of us.
I give the Malibu Grill Steak House in Fairfax, Virginia four flare guns, and that's only because the service was good. Do NOT go here under any circumstances!
The three of us decided to make up for a waste of money by going to a small French cafe' a block away for dessert, whereupon we had a small chocolate tart, a piece of cheesecake, and a piece of chocolate cake with coffee and hot chocolate au mint (total, mind you). The prices were excellent (I think we paid a total of $20us for gourmet food, and damn fine food at that), and well worth the wait. After that we headed to Borders to wander around a bit and see how things were getting set up for the Neil Gaiman book signing on Sunday. I picked up a trade paperback copy of American Gods, because I haven't read it yet, and I'll be getting a copy of his new novel, Anansi Boys the day of the signing (because there's a raffle for a very rare Sandman statue if you buy a copy of the book on the day of the signing), probably earlier that day if I can manage it.
After returning home, the three of us spent some timet trying to figure out what was wrong with Alphonse, who's been acting up for about a day or so, ever since we opened his chassis up to blow an incredible amount of cruft out with compressed air. As it turns out, the enter key of the numeric keypad on his console was stuck, so the constant stream of carriage returns was triggering anything and everything under the sun. After prying the key up, the problems ceased. Next stop: New keyboard.
Remember the two British operatives who were rescued a few days ago? More news has come out... the 'military vehicle' they were in was a car with a cache of disguises, machine guns, anti-tank weapons, and a medical kit.. standard SAS (British special forces) gear for a field op. Interestingly, though they were arested by Iraqi police, they were handed over to the Iraqi military. They were also caught at ground zero of the ruckus minutes before, where Iraqi police officers had been shot at from the crowd. Those guys were in a hell of a big hurry to get out of there not long after the gunshots stopped... most interesting. The news article has a good photograph of what the SAS officers were wearing when they were arrested: Wigs, turbans, and clothing consistent with what Joe Sixpack in that area would wear. Most curious.
Regular readers of mine know that this is something I actively track in the media, the deployment of sonic weapons by local police departments. This article is interesting because it states that they're already in deployment in Iraq and in NOLA (by the US) and something similiar is in use in Jerusalem to break up protests. Here is a photograph of one of the portable units in NOLA (the white hexagonal device next to the soldier on top of the Humvee). Here is a photo set of the portable and non-portable versions of these sonic weapons from the demo at Edwards Air Force Base a few weeks ago. The reason I'm mentioning this is because some of my friends and associates on the Eastern Seaboard are coming to Washington, DC to the Operation Ceasfire protest, starting on 24 September 2005 (that's tomorrow), and word has been out for a while that such devices are being planned for use in the US to break up protests. If anyone attends the protests this weekend and you happen to see these devices set up around the area, please take photographs or video recordings for me so I can put them out there.
The other thing that gets me is this memo from a friend in downtown DC about the IMF/World Bank 2005 meeting soon. Reliable sources have reported Secret Service agents already making preparations for the meeting and planned protests, and the security teams of various office buildings are also preparing at this time. The Secret Service is expecting between 65k and 110k anti-war protestors, with associated overloads of both the metro system and the (already messed up) roads. The US Park Police has warned that "Anarchist bands are expected to perform at the anti-war concert". Something called the MPD (Metropolitan Police Department?) SOD will be deploying every Civil Disturbance Unit Officer they've got. It is also stated that there will be roughly 1.5k protestors staging a civil disorder protest (whatever that means - could they mean the Black Bloc?) and having staged arrests (they'll be trying to get themselves arrested? they are the designated arrestees?). The memo goes on to describe which streets will be closed down and where. The memo even lists many of the organised groups that will be attending, including the Mobilisation for Global Justice, United For Peace, Code Pink, CAGE, and the DCRMC.
Watch your backs, people.
Hurricane Rita's getting closer to Texas and people are already evacuating. The Texas Department of Transportation was dragging its feet on opening up highway I-45 north yesterday, but they eventually converted it into eight lanes heading northward out of the city of Houston. Chaobell (of /usr/bin/w00t fame) is on her way northward at this time and covering it as she goes.
Good luck, Chaobell.
Hurricane Rita has the Red Cross on the ropes. They are at this time pulling out the resources they can from NOLA and moving them to Texas in preparation.
The levee protecting the ninth ward in Louisiana broke this morning. Dozens of blocks that were pumped out are now back under water.
Acer has been manufacturing laptops that are secured with smart cards for a while now. The reasoning behind it is that you can't access the laptop unless you have your smart card jacked into a reader in the side (nevermind the fact that if someone actually nicks your laptop, these security measures are for nothing because you can just pull the hard drive, plug it into another system, and pull the data off of it, anyway). A company called 360 Degree manufactured this system.. but it's been broken already. All you have to do is coax Windows to give you access to the desktop for but a moment, and any windows you spawn in that tiny period of time are accessible to the user even if the smart card isn't plugged in. Two techniques for getting around the smart card protection system are provided here, one for the Acer TravelMate C300 laptop, and one for the Acer TravelMate 8100 (both running Windows XP).
Now the vulnerabilities in the MD5 algorithm are no longer academic, someone's made them practical and published the source code to do it reliably. Microsoft is at this time forbidding the use of the DES, MD4, MD5, and SHA1 (under certain circumstances) algorithms in their software.. which leaves them with what, exactly? SHA-0 (which has its own vulnerabilities, let's not forget). The article has a full brain dump on what it is and how to exploit it.
Hee hee hee... Duck Hunt and Doom - together at last.
Boing Boing has an article up that collects near-realtime Hurricane Rita updates. Check them out - they'll be useful soon.
Guess what? It's now illegal to swear at a TSA employee in the airport, or you can be arrested and fined for interfering with their work. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the First Amendment does not apply to communicating with TSA employees. An irate traveller went off on a screener, claiming that the screener should live in a bubble because the traveller lived in a free country, so the screener shut down his line and called his supervisor.
Download your copy of the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents. I've mirrored it here.
Remember that scene cut from the movie Aliens where Hicks sets up those robotic miniguns to fend off a wave of xenomorphs charging the Colonial Marines at the base? Well, probably not, because it was cut after all, but it's in the novel and the special edition DVD release of the movie, but I digress... someone built one using a pellet gun, a webcam, a few servomotors purchased on the open market, and a single-board servocontroller. Images from the aiming software's point of view are included on this page. Now this is what I call that a good hack.
Electronic warfare is taken to the next level with the development of anti-satellite jamming technologies. The US probably isn't the only country that's deployed this technology to date, but they're not saying which other countries have done so.
Last night I got home from work later than expected because I stayed late to print out documents that Lyssa needed to start work at IBM next week. They had to be in by the end of business today, and we didn't have time to drive back to downtown DC to get them, so the next best thing to do was download them from the company's website, print them out, fill them out, and fax them in. This actually didn't take very long, but getting stuck in traffic was inevitable. Following dinner and a few loads of laundry Lyssa went to take a nap while Hasufin and I drove to the mall to help him pick out a new suit to wear on the business trip he'll be leaving for in a few days. Hecht's is running its summer line blowout right now, so he found two sports coats for a song, one a conventional greyish-green with a pattern, the other a white cotton suit coat straight off the set of Miami Vice.
The latter was the one he'd worn to show Lyssa when we got back. Her reaction was priceless.
Filling out the documents didn't actually take very long. Faxing them did because none of us are sure if Hasufin's fax machine requires documents to be face up or face down... the stack made two trips through the machine, one each way, just to be safe.
While Lyssa was filling out paperwork last night I spent some time balancing my chequebook, and discovered an anomaly - about two months ago my finances went to hell in a handbasket because I'd lost money somewhere. Reconciling the past few statements with my written records (transcribed from the stacks of receipts that I compulsively archive in case I get audited again) shows that everything is present and accounted for.
Chaobell put it best in /usr/bin/w00t: "...the hell?!"
I don't know. Everything seems to balance out these days. I'm even ahead of the game for the first time since I got down here, which I'm very relieved to discover.
Hurricane Rita, successor to Katrina, is headed straight for Texas and it is now considered a category 5 hurricane, the third strongest in the history of the United States. Winds have been clocked at 175 miles per hour, and even the windstorms at the periphery are easily tropical storm-strength. The projected area of landfall is Galveston, Texas late Friday or early Saturday. Over one million Texans have been urged to head inland. The largest energy company in the US, Valero energy, is mothballing its oil derricks to weather the storm. George W. Bush, either learning from the massive fuck ups with Katrina (that, or his advisors have) has pre-emptively declared a state of emergency in Texas and Louisiana. FEMA is reported to have gotten off of its collective ass and put supplies and personnel in ready mode in Florida and Texas.
It figures that the states the Bush family has the most power in would get ready in such a big hurry.
This squicks me in how jaded we've become. An airliner run by johnny-come-lately JetBlue circled Los Angeles, California for three hours last night, unable to land because the landing gear in the nose of the plane was so damaged that the wheel was at a ninety degree angle. KCBS-TV of Los Angeles covered the event as it unfoled... and the passengers aboard the airliner watched the coverage from the television sets embedded in the backs of the seats in front of them.
I suppose if there's nothing that you can do but wait, you may as well try to find out more about what's going on, but still... this disturbs me.
Never, ever use an insecure public terminal!
It looks as if Dell wants to give the iPod Shuffle a run for its money with the DJ Ditty.
Sick and tired of trying to fight your way through an IVR (telephone customer management) system to get to a human? Look up the company you're dealing with in the Find-A-Human database. Folks who have already done so have left instructions to get you there faster.
Criticism can piss off people in a position to put you in a world of hurt - always remember that. In Canada, newspaper columnist Kerry Diotte was stalked by the Edmonton, Canada police force because they took offense at his articles which harshly criticised their photo/radar systems, stating that they did little to actually stop traffic law violations. On 18 November 2004, acting on information that they'd gotten from confidential police databases of automobile drivers, they staked out a bar called the Overtime. Their plan was that by using the information they'd colleted on Diotte (descriptions of his vehicle and home), they'd watch out specifically for his car during a sobriety checkpoint sweep by adding him to a list of "the top 100 aggressive drivers", which is a nice way of saying that they'd find a reason to arrest him, be it driving under the influence or otherwise. They even had an informant inside the bar contact the police to move in and arrest the journalist after his arrival at the Overtime Bar that night.
Perhaps twigged by someone at the bar, perhaps simply being cautious, perhaps this was his usual MO, he called a cab to take him home.
Sergeant William Newton, who ordered the op, faces disciplinary action for abusing his authority.
It looks like VR as a technology isn't quite dead yet.. the VirtuSphere is a hollow metal mesh sphere that allows a user to wander around in VR freely by letting them stand upright and walk around as the sphere rotates around the user, giving the kinesthetic illusion of movement. Nifty.
After we got home tonight, Lyssa and I made pork fried rice for dinner. I finally got to show off my rice steamer, and used chicken broth and some of the (huge) supply of rice that I'd brought with me from Pittsburgh. While I got the rice cooker going Lyssa carved up and stir-fried the pork chops that have been defrosting in the fridge for the past day or so (and lately in the sink, in a bath of warm water). It turned out very well; I'd forgotten how good pork was when made properly.
After dinner I decided to relax on the balcony with a rare treat: A cigar. Earlier this week, Lyssa picked one up for me, and I'd been saving it for an opportunity to sit and think for a while. I'd forgotten how rough cigar smoke can be on soft tissues, in particular those of the mouth. While I love the taste of a good cigar, they're still pretty harsh. Also, the toxins in tobacco smoke are much more pronounced in cigars than in cigarettes, so if you want to preserve a small measure of your sense of taste for any length of time, you have to keep spitting to get them out of your mouth, which is disgusting in and of itself. This is another reason I smoke them only rarely. Third, if I smoke one for too long I start getting sick to my stomach, as I am right now. I don't know if it was some of the tobacco juice that I swallowed without thinking or the higher levels of $TOXIC_COMPOUND in my body or what, but my body feels pretty queasy right now.
Further agenda for tonight: A third tooth-brushing and another bottle of Listerine.
Friday, 23 September 2005 is National Bisexuality Day.
Lyssa's birth certificate arrived today via Federal Express. Next stop: The Virginia DMV.
If you're trying to get out of Houston, Texas to evacuate but you don't want to get stuck in the I-45 traffic jam, here's a back way out of the area. Thanks to Pace for spreading this one around.
Long night, last night.
Because Lyssa had the day off yesterday I didn't have to pick her up after work, so I did a little running around last night. I found a good surplus store not too far away from work and checked out their stocks of verious things. They've got lots of good stuff, and a good selection of books, on top of that. I'm definitely going to pay them a visit in the near future. I also found Big Planet Comics and poked around in there a little. They've got good collections of trade paperbacks, including Grant Morrison's The Invisibles (including Disinfo's concordnance to the series). Later last night, Lyssa and I did some basic maintenance on Alphonse, whose cooling fans were thoroughly snarled with sticky black dirt, the same stuff that the exhaust vents are known to spew from time to time.
Yes, we're breathing that crap. I quit smoking for this?
Another set of nasty letters have been sent to building maintenance to not only fix the faucets in the bathroom, but switch the air conditioning system's filters (which I could do if I broke into the locked rooms myself).
Just when you thought it was safe because North Korea had re-signed a nuclear arms agreement they go off the deep end again, this time by saying that the agreement is part of a plot to disarm them so that they can safely be nuked by everyone else.
Okay. Now the alarms inside my head are going off like a pack of locusts trying to sing like Tori Amos. The news about this whole situation is schizophrenic: On one hand, negotiations are going well, the signatures are on the documents where they're supposed to go, all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed.. and then stuff like this pops up in the newswires (rarely in the US newsfeeds, interestingly enough) and all of a sudden things are (seemingly) back to square one.
A few things could be happening here: The negotiations and agreement process really are that shaky, and setbacks occur just as rapidly as progress is made. Possible, but I doubt the likelihood. Progress is being made but this could just be propaganda, jetwash released by the North Korean government in an attempt to not look like they've just backed down. Again, possible, but it would stand to reason that it would be for the North Korean people only to maintain trust in their government. It is possible that no progress at all was made, and this isn't the jetwash (but the hopeful press releases and articles were bologna). This seems more likely to me, but it's still pretty extreme; that said, I take that hypothesis with a heaping teaspoon of salt. Or maybe things are unfolding just this way, with the North Korean government having flipped its wig and threatening everyone just after signing a peacable agreement.
Not enough information. I wish I could get my hands on transcripts of the proceedings (or better yet, footage) to see for myself.
This just isn't adding up.
Hurricane Rita has the oil companies running for cover. So much for being able to afford gas lately...
A new worm is making its rounds on the Net, and it's one of the most insidious I've seen yet - it alters the system in such a way that it spoofs Google. Specifically, it alters the hosts file buried inside the c:\Windows\System32 directory hierarchy and hardcodes an IP address for many variants of the familiar http://www.google.com/ URL that all go back to a site that looks a lot like Google (and probably uses the Google APIs to pass search requests to the real Google) but has different sponsored links at the tops of the search results returned. This effectively skews web searches in the direction the worm's author(s) wish. The fake Google page is one of the most sophisticated ever seen - it even supports all 17 languages that the real Google does. The worm propagates across peer-to-peer networks, especially Shareaza and Imesh, pretending to be a copy of the game Knights of the Old Republic 2.
Hamster death matches! (probably safe for work, can't say the same about comments because those tend to drift)
And I shall call him.. Mini-MSFT.
Whoever maintains this weblog is walking the razor's edge.. I'm impressed.
I just noticed - not only do I have an office, I have an official Sunrocket nameplate for my office. That is definitely a first.
In other Sunrocket news, Rhianna just started working here this morning.
The RIAA is trying to railroad the FCC to require copy protection on digital radio broadcasts. You can sign the petition against this here.
Well, after better than ten years, it's finally happened. My batman factor inremented yesterday afternoon as I was given my emergency pager. Somehow I've managed to dodge the bullet this long, but my time's come. I scrounged around for a battery for it last night and now it's residing on my belt, next to my Leatherman holster and cellphone.
In an uncharacteristic show of openness about this whole mess, the United Kingdom has admitted to sending a black ops team in to Basara to rescue two undercover agents. Said agents were disguised as Iraqis and were on an undisclosed assignment when they were arrested in a sweep after two British military vehicles were disabled and burned yesterday in the middle of a riot. The operatives weren't found in the jail itself, but the black ops team did find out their location (in a nearby safe house) during the raid, which was then successfully hit.
Al Jazeera has thoughtfully provided pictures of the two agents, which now makes them useless for undercover work.
Research into spinal cord regeneration techniques is advancing nicely. The National Academy of Sciences has reported that mice whose spinal cords were surgically damaged and then implanted with neural-differentiated stem cells from adult humans regained mobility just nine days after the cell implantation procedure. Research is on-going at the University of California at Irvine. The stem cells further differentiated into oligodendrocytes (which produce myelin, the fatty insulation covering of neurons) and new spinal neurons which successfully constructed synaptic connections with existing spinal neurons. The experimental mice are able to not only move their rear halves (presumably; the research would require mice that can still move somewhat, and the back half of the body is an idea place to cut the cord, so to speak) but move their hind paws in a coordinated manner and even walk around. The regenerated neurons were working for four months before they were killed (to provide evidence one way or the other that the implanted cells had a positive effect - remove the patch and see if it crashes again). This is extremely heartening.
Quantum Link: Reloaded made Slashdot today. Their bandwidth is in for one hell of a hit...Lyssa's just had her first run-in with the Virginia DMV today. They turned her away because her birth certificate was written by a hospital and not the state of Pennsylvania. Damn.
I'm really not sure of what to make of the GPX2 yet. It's a hand-held unit, about the size of a Playstation Portable, with a joyknob on the left and a couple of control buttons on the right. It's based on a dual-CPU system. It runs Linux, so they say. Poking around the specs shows that it was designed to play games, music, movies, and act as an e-book reader. It's also supposed to be very energy efficient (two AA batteries are supposed to last between eight and ten hours, which isn't anything to sneeze at). It uses SD cards for mass data transfer, or you can jack it into your network. There's a USB port in the unit, but it's not clear if that's for plugging USB devices into the GPX2 or for connecting to another system. Users can even download a devel kit for Windows or Linux which even includes the now open source Quake engine. It doesn't say what the CPUs are, so I don't know if you can just download third party packages for this unit to run, like you can with the Sharp Zaurus (and just about any Linux distribution out there).
It's supposed to be the successor to the GP32, which was another Linux-based handheld sold in Europe that did really well. Hacky stuff like that, though, doesn't seem to do well across the pond. Even as far back as my BBS days, you didn't see as much "hacking for the sake of hacking" here as you did in Europe. Look at the folks who sat in their basements making ethernet cards and SCSI controllers for the Amigas. Look at all the Commodore, Amiga, and PC demos that came out of Europe (and still do - the 8-bit demo scene is very much alive and well there, but nearly dead in the US). Back in the 1980's, even PC enthusiasts were building peripherals on stock ISA cards to mess around with. Not so much here.
Here's a pretty major strike against it - it's fully DRM (digital rights management) compatible and certified. That really limits what you can watch, listen to, read, code, and run on it. People with more time on their hands than I are looking into this; I'll post about it as I can.
Wow - an 8GB USB memory unit the size of a credit card.
Submitted for your approval: An infra-red digital camera jammer, suitable for disabling securicams and cameraphones.
Los Angeles, California's Indymedia node has an interesting article speculating on what George W. Bush has on under his suits that make him look so bulky. The bulges under his suit coats and shirts fir the spatial parameters of a LifeVest wearable defibrillator, interestingly enough. The shapes don't fit body armour or the ubiquitous radio teleprompters in US television. It also mentions the time when Bush fainted back in 2002, and speculates on the possible medical causes.
Mark this in the history books: At 1429 EDT today I recieved my first page. Thankfully I was already in the office, so I could take care of things.
David Safraviam, George W. Bush's top procurement official barely had time to resign before his arrest yesterday on charges of obstructing justice and perjury in the case against one Jack Abramoff, who was busted peddling influence to the highest bidder. It should be noted that this is the gentleman who was in charge of acquiring supplies and equipment for the NOLA relief efforts, which have made a laughingstock of FEMA.
Read the article. There's a lot of stuff in there that'll make your blood boil. And if it doesn't, ask yourself why it doesn't.
Aid from Great Britain to NOLA, in the form of food will be incinerated instead of distributed because only now is the US afraid of CJD/Mad Cow disease in humans.
Yeah, the same US government that made it illegal to test for the presence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy prions in beef produced in the US.
Perhaps rumblings from Eastern Asia will quiet down a bit now that North Korea has decided to give up its nuclear weapons programme. Whether or not they'll actually do so is another matter, but what can you say? Representatives of North Korea have stated their intent to return to the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Part of the agreement requires periodic inspections of nuclear plants by the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that everything's on the up-and-up. Interestingly, word's gotten out that North Korea is approaching a food shortage at this time, and if they don't (overtly, at least) re-sign the treaty, they would probably be denied aid if things progressed too far.
Thoughts on Nintendo's new game controller: I've seen this before, or something very similiar to it in one of the later episodes of Serial Experiments Lain (I'll have to dig out my collection of screencaps and post the ones in question).
Life continue to imitate (shaky, this time) science fiction as Doctor Maria Siemionow of the Cleveland Clinic in the state of Ohio will interview twelve people as candidates for a complete facial structure transplant. Dr. Siemionow has been working on the principles of the procedure for an undisclosed period of time to give people who have been disfigured a second chance because current plastic surgery techniques, unfortunately, don't do a very good job. The risks of the procedure, however, would leave patients worse off than they had been before. Dr. Siemionow has been experimenting on animals to test the feasibility of the procedure (why does this remind me of an old episode of Barry's World?) and has recieved approval to try it on humans, but she isn't (I find it interesting to note) trying to become the first surgeon to perform the procedure on a human.
A problem in Japan right now that's making bookstore owners angry is the tendency of folks to take photographs of magazines and newspapers with their cellphone cameras to read later. The company NEC and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, however, have developed OCR software for phonecams that eliminates storing .jpg files on the phones in lieu of actual text, so you can pack more text onto a cellphone to read during the morning and evening commutes. Of course, the publishers have turned the word 'napster' into a verb and are screaming that their profit margins will be shot to hell because people will start swapping magazine articles on the Net. As if they haven't just given everyone the idea to do so.... as a result, NEC and NAIST will not release their software for three years. But that isn't much of a deterrent.
Various copy-protection techniques are being applied to music CDs that one can purchase from the local store to prevent people from ripping the tracks into .mp3 or .wma files for listening elsewhere, from the silly to superficially tricky (though when you get right down to it it's all a bad idea, to say nothing of silly because copy protection schemes are often cracked within days of release, only making life harder for folks who want to follow the rules). Sony Music released a CD by the band Switchfoot which included copy protection measures. The band took offense at this and posted techniques to get around it on their official forum (so far the post hasn't been removed from the forum because Sony Music runs it, and can presumably edit content if they choose). Mac owners, it seems, are immune to the effects of the copy protection techniques used. Wintel users, on the other hand, have to defeat the autorun.sys file on the CD-ROM portion of the disk (which consists of holding down the shift key as you insert the CD into the drive) and run a utility called CDEX, which is an open source CD ripper and encoder for Windows (it even has an installer). Don't select the last two tracks on the CD, because they're not actual audio tracks. There are also instructions for using Windows Media Player to rip the audio and write it back out to another audio disk, which does not have any copy protection.
While you can't discount the actions of a few trolls, because it's their stock in trade to piss people off, this seems fishy to me. Whomever runs the Paris, France server of Indymedia has been served with demands to appear in court in October of 2005. The French court system incorrectly defines whomever it is as an administrator of Indymedia and as an editor-in-chief of Indymedia, and hence responsible for the content of said server. It should be noted that Indymedia has neither of these positions. The two cases he is accused of being a part of have to do with anti-Semitic spam comments being made on an article that was part of the Paris Indymedia site that were then re-transmitted via a number of net.media. Interestingly, the links sent were directly to the comments in question, and not so much the article itself. Because these remarks were made by someone who posted through an anonymous web proxy, the 'administrator' of Indymedia is responsible for them, and is facing one year in prison and a fine of 45keuro. The second case in question has to do with an article written about the murder of a taxi driver and two police officers back in 1994; specifically, a leaflet was reprinted. The police again demanded the logs of the Paris IMC webserver, but this time the Paris IMC group refused to do so and posted the legal order to the website.
Okay. I have to wonder how smart it was for Paris IMC to reprint a leaflet that celebrated the deaths of two policemen. Even though they didn't write it, it still looks as if they did because there is no real attribution. In the second case I think they set themselves up. In the first, case, however, I think the French court system needs to realise that comments made by a passing idiot are not the responsibility of the server admin or Indymedia. You own your words unless specifically stated otherwise, and it's impractical to delete every spam-post on a site as large as a city's Indymedia server. For example, Slashdot would have to employ a full time staff on duty 24/7/365, and then there would be at most ten comments for each article (not counting the duplicates).
Heh. I'm not the only one having problems with the Virginia DMV.
Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition (not yet released) isn't really a landmark release because it includes some opens source software, namely, the Message Passing Interface library which is used in its cluster functionality. If you go through the Windows documentation as far back as Windows for Workgroups v3.11 you'll find notices that some code used may have been released under the BSD License (like the MPI library is). The BSD License says that you can use the source code in commercial products as long as you include the BSD copyright notice somewhere in your product. It also says that you don't have to make any bugfixes or changes public, nor do you have to say that you've made any. This makes the predatory 'embrace and extend' strategy viable for Microsoft, because they didn't actually have to spend any time or money developing a hot new technology, but they can exploit it for all its worth.
Call me crazy, but this isn't new or different, it's media hype that tries to make MS look warm and fuzzy. It means about as much as the US Department of Justice rulings that found them guilty of monopolistic practises which to this day have not been enforced by the courts.
Remember Diebold? Remember the electronic voting systems that they found out were trivial to compromise, and hence alter votes? Someone who claims to be on the inside confirms it (as if the source code that leaked months before the election wasn't enough; too bad nobody noticed).
Everybody's looking for someone to blame...
I have to find some way of corroberating this - an ER doctor was ordered to stop treating patients by FEMA officials because he wasn't a FEMA doctor. Dr. Mark Perlmutter was attempting to resuscitate a woman and was told to cease and desist chest compressions because he wasn't on their roster, because he presented a legal liability, the Hippocratic Oath and Good Samaritan laws to the contrary. He and his colleagues were forced back to Baton Rogue, Louisiana and certified as part of the FEMA team. By then, several dozen had already died.
Bastards. Utter bastards.
A long weekend.
Friday night we found out about Lyssa's new job at IBM and decided that we were going to relax this weekend and celebrate. To that end, we hit the highway around 1900 EDT on Friday and drove in to Baltimore, Maryland to visit Solo and Duo, the Lost Boys to hang out and maybe have a snack. We ran smack into a traffic jam on the beltway around the route 270 spur, which added nearly two hours onto the travel time. Thankfully we got there just before the takeout places closed, and got our order in.
The Lost Boys have some pretty swanky digs, I must say. I'm impressed.
We wound up spending the whole night with Duo (Solo was out for the night, actually), Kash, and later on Rhianna, doing what we love the most, talking about everything we could think of under the sun, from synaesthesia to metaphysics. We got so caught up we eventually left shortly before 0200 EDT on Saturday morning. Because the highway's much less crowded at that time, we made good time back to DC, only to discover that Lyssa's purse had gone missing at some point. We made a few frantic phone calls while in the parking lot and eventually discovered that Duo had located said handbag, and made arrangements with Rhianna to return it on Saturday before going thrifting.
Saturday brought with it sleeping in, breakfast, and getting ready to go to the thrift store in Arlington to see what we could find. After getting ready on Saturday we gathered up three crates of stuff to get rid of as well as three bags of clothing that we didn't need anymore to donate to charity. Rhianna was several hours late in coming, due to a massive traffic jam down on the beltway near the 270 spur.. the same location as the traffic jam the night before, which was due to a car pulled over by the Virginia police and being towed. Again, the police had pulled someone over, which resulted in all four lanes grinding to a halt for some unknown reason.
Once we got the TARDIS loaded up and got underway, the trip was fairly short and to the point. We discovered something about going thrifting: The ones in the more affluent towns let you furnish your new digs very nicely for a good price. In other words, we went to the Goodwill in Arlington, Virginia, and made out like bandits. Among other things, Lyssa and I picked up a brand-new Thomasville bookcase, still in the package, for about $30 us. Original price: about three times that.
We wandered around the store checking out the nice clothes, fax machines, (old) computers, and whatnot, then loaded up the TARDIS with the bookcase and a few more book (ye gods!) to head to Amphora to meet Hasufin for dinner. After a quick dinner, we headed home to meet everyone for game night.
I've been writing up a Mage: The Ascension third edition game for a while now and put the word out that I was looking for players. Character generation was last night, and took much of the evening. There are four players so far, and possibly six, depending on how things go. I've got notes written up and an idea of how things are going to unfold, so we'll see how things turn out. I'm thinking of getting together once every two or three weeks, depending on how schedules go. We cracked into the bottle of Mystery Mead that Rialian gave to Lyssa and I for housewarming. It has a bit of a bite to it and a subtle flavour of pumpkin, and effervesces ever so slightly after a few minutes in the open air. We're pretty sure that it's some of the Howling Jack mead (made in a sealed and brew-locked hollowed out pumpkin) that Rialian made last year. I'm quite fond of it, I think.
Things ran until somewhen around 0145 EDT Sunday morning, at which time we called it a night and crashed until 1100 EDT or so this morning. Kash stayed over last night to take a break after the first week of classes and after getting cleaned up and dressed we headed out for a lunch of Thai food at Tara Thai in downtown Vienna. Afterward we drove to the supermarket to pick up groceries for the upcoming week.
Outside of the Giant was a table manned by two older women collecting supplies for NOLA relief efforts. Their baskets were almost empty this afternoon. Lyssa struck up a conversation with one of the women to see what they needed, and after finding out we picked up a few bags of stuff that will be necessary down there, like diapers and baby food, can openers, and feminine hygine products to donate. They were very appreciative of our donations as we walked out of the store.
I really hope that they'd gotten much more in the way of donations than that this weekend. I didn't see them there last week, their location was occupied by the football team of the local high school. We couldn't help but wonder out loud on our way back to the apartment if anyone in the area, who could obviously afford to keep their SUVs with full tanks of petrol and their kids in private school (as evidenced by the "My kid is an honour student at <private academy>" bumper stickers) had given anything to help. Sure, donating money is a tax write-off, but there's also giving assistance for the sakes of those who need it, and not just to keep a bit more money come April.
Maybe I'm being resentful and cynical. I don't know.
The three of us crashed hard after we got home for a nap. I don't know why, but we've been tired all day, wanting to lounge around and recuperate. We've been up for a bit but haven't done much of anything so far this evening.
A couple of days ago, Lyssa interviewed for a contract position close to metropolitan DC with IBM. They called back last night: They're checking her references at this time, but otherwise she's got the job. It's an eight month contract collecting and mining data for one of their long distance education projects for the military.
FEMA hasn't gotten much better. It's also not a very good idea to complain because they might just decide to skip over you.
This is nifty: Dr.J of the Internet Storm Centre has put together a Flash animation of the last five minutes' worth of events submitted to SANS for analysis.
The nuclear arms talks between North and South Korea, often reported to be going smoothly this week perhaps aren't. China is attempting to mediate between the two countries without much success. The tricky part is allowing nuclear power to be employed without the possibility of getting weapons technologies or uranium enrichment capabilities out of the deal (as if that's really going to happen). The US, of course, is babysitting the whole shindig, probably because they've now got competition.
Scary things are on the winds of the news this morning as word has leaked out that Microsoft is considering purchasing America On-Line to expand its already formidable web presence. Discussions of the merger are reportedly on-going between the two giants. This seems to resonate oddly with rumours that Google is eating Microsoft's lunch in certain places (namely, search engine technology) and by absorbing AOL, they will also be given free license to use Google's search engine (which they may not be able to compete with on a techncial front but they sure can throw money at the problem to get around it). Perhaps coincidence, perhaps not, but yesterday Google sold more stock to raise money to expand even more. A few pundits with more business savvy than I speculate that perhaps Google is going to buy AOL instead of Microsoft (maybe they're trying to raise money to make a better up-front deal.. who knows?)
I've no idea how this is going to turn out, or even if it's going to turn out, but I'm keeping my ears open down near the beltway (where I can look out my window and see an AOL building).
Remember when T-Mobile's network was compromised and someone downloaded the contents of Paris Hilton's cameraphone for the whole Net to see? The 17-year old who did it plead guilty to nine counts of juvenile delinquincy and has been sentenced to eleven months in juvenile detention. The unnamed high school kid (unnamed because he's a minor, and you can't name names when the perpetrator is underage) also will not be allowed to own any equipment that can access the Net for two years after he gets out. The kid also stole identifying information pertaining to an unnamed number of people and e-mailed bomb threats to a number of schools in Massachusetts and Florida (he got off lucky for at least one charge of 'making terroristic threats', which was a felony even before 9/11).
As my handle declares, I'm a fan of the television series Doctor Who. While I'm not active in the fandom per se, I do like listening to a few series-related podcasts, such as Podcast Who and podcasts from The Gallifreyan Embassy. The said, I propose the following drinking game:
IIS v7.0 is finally getting with the times.
WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, is up to its old tricks once again. Earlier this year they added a clause to the Broadcast Treaty which United Nations members would be considering that would give whomever transmitted content of any kind on the Net ownershp of the content. For example, if you set up a podcast or a weblog on someone else's service, whomever owned that service would have a 50 year copyright on your work, regardless of how you licensed it originally. This clause was removed from the treaty, which went back to the drawing board. WIPO put it back. They proposed this time (changing their words) adding a property right for 'webcasting' (which is still loosely defined) which is not defined by the license that the original creator placed it under but the ownership of the servers that transmitted the content.
Same dirty trick, slightly different terminology.
If you have any sort of web presence that is stored and made available on any systems that you don't own yourself, you'd best read this letter and start getting the word out.
EWWWWW! (note: work-safe)
Hummer makes more than just baby APCs (armoured personnel carriers) for the consumer market, they make laptops now, too. Their laptops have magnesium allow chassis, shock mounted hard drive and display, sealed keyboard, integrated wi-fi and GPS, and are tested to US military specification 810F for vibration and temperature resistance. Oh, and you can also drop one 30" (about the hight of a desk) without damage. That's just a synopsis of the hardware configuration because there are actually five models available at this time. Prices start at $2988us. This sounds very similiar to the Panasonic Toughbook, in fact.
Last night for dinner Lyssa broiled salmon steak, a dish that I've not had before for various reasons. All was well until a slight miscalculation of distance between the fishwrap and the stove burner that was steaming the cauliflower resulted in a bit of excitement and ashes flying all over the place. Thankfully we got the fire put out without hurting ourselves, wrecking the kitchen, or ruining dinner.
Here's a lovely way to start your day, especially when you're half asleep: The number of companies in the US offering health insurance benefits is declining. No wonder - it's so bloody expensive.. to get health insurance that'll be of any use to you, not only does your employer have to pay a pretty penny per employee, but they usually take a hefty bite out of your paycheque to to co-cover it, too. Premiums are climbing faster than most companies can adapt to the increased costs. The article laments that few have taken advantage of George W. Bush's endorsed option - high deductibles. No wonder - if most medical procedures cost less than your deductible, why bother getting health insurance at all?
These days, it all boils down to one thing: Don't get sick.
In the world of interesting medical procedures, researchers in Toronto, Canada have developed a way of freezing tissue to preserve it long enough to transplant. Early testing has been done with sheep, namely, removing, freezing, and later re-implanting ovaries (which are touchy tissues to begin with). The long-term goal of this technique is to freeze far more important tissues, such as hearts, lungs, and livers, until they can be transplanted (often a matter of hours). The transplanted ovaries were found to be fertile after transplantation. As if proving the long-term viability of organs that were cryopreserved, the tests took place in 2001, and the test animals are still healthy and still fertile. The process is based around controlling how fast ice crystals form in tissue and where they form (ideally outside of cells instead of inside them, which leads to cell destruction). The next milestone goal planned involves trying this procedure on human females with the goal of preserving fertility during radiation or chemotherapy (gametes tend to not do well during such toxic procedures). This will probably happen in a couple of years' time, though.
At first, using two-factor authentication (i.e., something you have, like a key, and something you know, like a passphrase) was used in high security environments to protect sensitive data. Industry pundits are saying, however, that it needs to be deployed in the private sector more because passwords alone aren't enough. A logical next step would be to require longer, more complex passwords of end users, but They say that this leads to writing them down someplace, which makes them easy to steal. This is true, but they aren't thinking hard enough about longer, more complex passwords.
A strong password doesn't have to look like a cat walked across your keyboard; a strong password is a password that is statistically likely to not be found in dictionaries or other texts that may be mined for possible passphrases, though if you can manage to remember one that complex, by all means, I advise you to make use of it. Good passphrases are just that: Phrases. Or ideally, complete sentences, I would hope not quoted directly from books, movies, poems, or television. They're not that difficult to remember, either. Fans of Babylon-5, can you quote from memory the introduction to at least one season of the series? Can some of you still remember a soliloquy from one of Shakespeare's plays that you had to memorise back in high school (no matter how old you are)? Then you can remember a sentence that's about seven words long. Such sentences aren't hard to concoct on your own. Bingo. Instant passphrase, and damned hard to boot.
Two-factor authentication is great, don't get me wrong. I do not, however, think that it's time to say that the sky is falling and to roll it out as fast as you can.
How about two words of the day, to make things interesting? Let's take Dominion and Stewardship (well, 'steward' anyway, you can figure out 'stewardship' from there.)
The Dutch government is moving ahead with a plan that requires the life histories of every man, woman, and child in the Netherlands to be stored in a single database, beginning on 1 January 2007. While no one user can access all components of one of these dossiers, it is said that it will be possible for one agency with access to a file to flag a particular person for further scrutiny in certain ways.
Oh, this makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.. mice infected with the bubonic plague went missing from a research lab in New Jersey about two weeks ago. That's right, the Black Plague's running around loose in Jersey. The mice, authorities say, may never be found and accounted for.
Time to get a cat.
Holy shit. A pistol that can shoot both (nonstandard) shotgun shells (judging by the loads on display) and .45 calibre rounds.
I don't envy this guy at all, but it's still fascinating: One Jesse Sullivan has what could be the most advanced prosthetic limbs in existence at this time. After being electrocuted while working on high-power lines in 2001, his arms were so badly damaged that they had to be amputated and replaced with prosthetics actuated by picking up the electrical activity of motor nerves that had originally lead to his arms that were surgically rerouted to his pectoral muscles. The basic principle is that the brain sends control messages to the nerves headed to the arms. Take those nerves and stick them to muscles that are still structually sound. Now attach electrode plugs to them. Now the prosthetics can be controlled by the original centres of the brain that used to control the organic arms without (much) retraining. No more spending weeks or months learning how to twitch muscles that used to move en masse, like the biceps to move a prosthetic.
I can't wait to see how this develops.
Now this made me chuckle.. yes, it really is part of Sun Microsystems' website.
Had an interesting time of things last night.. after dinner I went on a shopping expedition to pick a couple of things up. First I hit the local Best Buy to cash in my gift card and eventually found a copy of Constantine (not the special edition, unfortunately, but the widescreen edition with the alternate ending and extra footage). A quick spin around Borders didn't produce much, definitely not the final novels for the eighth Doctor in the BBC's Doctor Who series, though I did stumble across a reprint of Robert A. Wilson's The Illuminati Papers tucked away in the back of a bookshelf. A trip to the local mall, on the other hand, was a bit more fruitful. I picked up a couple of things that I'll need in the near future and found my way out of there in record time (slightly over an hour). It's easier to keep track of landmarks when I'm not multitasking.
Giant provided a few essential groceries for tonight, after which I headed home to relax and recuperate after bonking my head on the frame of a cubicle at work and knocking myself silly.
Some of the cubicles at work don't have walls, they're just open frameworks that can be used as shortcuts between sectors of the office. En route to the coffeepot yesterday morning I didn't duck soon enough and I clocked myself a good one. I've still got a knot on the top of my head from where I hit the underside of the frame.
That's the second time in a week. I'm not doing too well with this whole 'watch your head' thing.
Because I like to keep my ear to the ground about things inside and outside of this country, I monitor a great many mailing lists and other communications channels to keep up with what's going on. A certain mailing list that I listen in on passed a message with the following passage in it: "Did you know you're supporting the radical right? You are if you're a customer of Verizon, SBC, BellSouth or Qwest..." The e-mail goes on to explain that these communications companies fund political action committes (PACs) for the 'radical right'. First off, radical is a very loaded term, politically and otherwise. Second, it's a very subjective classification: One man's radical is another man's common sense. For example, the civil rights movement was considered radical in its time, and possibly the downfall of 'modern civilisation'. You might consider me a radical because I think that same-sex marriage should be legal in the US. I might consider you a radical because (for the sake of argument) you might work for a computer security firm and yet test your research after hours on other people's machines on the Net.
Second, the word 'radical' as it pertains to people often carries connotations of violence, viz, the Weather Underground of the early 1970's. It is possible for one to be a radical (that is, for one to hold radical views) yet have no plans for or tendencies toward violence, but that distinction is lost due to this linguistic baggage.
Third, and this is the point that I was originally driving toward, those companies own much, if not all, of the telecommunications network that crisscrosses this country, as well as many of the gateways to the commgrids of other countries. It's all well and good to switch to a little-known but privately sponsored long distance provider to deny these companies your dollars and sign onto a long distance service that facilitates 'supporting causes close to your heart' (I had to mangle my wording a bit to quote theirs properly), but there is just one thing: You're still giving money to those companies. You can set up a long distance company of your own with voice-over-IP hardware and software and print up shiny little cards with 800 numbers and hopefully unique access codes on them.. but you still have to use their commgrid. You will still have to set up in-dials for people to call; those in-dials use local phone lines provided by Verizon, Qwest, et al. You might be allowing people to make long distance calls more cheaply, but those calls still traverse trunk lines owned, operated, and leased by those companies. When setting up a long distance company, you'll have to cut deals with telecom providers all over the place, not only to give your customers a sweet deal, but just to route calls at all. Guess who you'll have to deal with, and pay money to so that your calls go through...
I like what they're trying to do, but you know what? It's not doing what they say it's doing (not sending money to those big telecom companies).I'm going to have to track this down. The animation itself is beautiful.
More on that Snort vulnerability, direct from the horse's mouth. Martin Roesch of Sourcefire, one of the main developers of Snort, cut loose on the Bugtraq mailing list to dispel rumours and a lot of speculation. The vulnerability in question lays within a routine that displays alerts; specifically, an unusual combination that isn't part of the default configuration (as if you could deploy an IDS without customising the configs). An IDS worth its salt doesn't log to flat ASCII files - they're too slow and tend to fill up file systems rapidly, especially if you don't pick-and-choose which detection rules you're going to run; almost always, they log what they find directly to database engines like MySQL or Oracle. He also gives a list of usage options that are immune to this vulnerability. He also goes off on some of the misinformation floating around about using Snort in general and this bug in particular.
Still, I'd suggest upgrading. Better safe than sorry.
Duh. How do you think computer forensics specialists practise their trade? By either going to Goodwill or eBay and buying old hard drives!
I've often wondered if something like this would be possible, and I guess it is - You can figure out what someone is typing from an audio recording of them typing, as demonstrated by the paper linked from this article. The basic principle is straightforward: Because the keys on a keyboard have different positions in two-space, and slightly different positions in three-space (moreso on ergonomic keyboards), they make different sounds. By figuring out where each sound in a recording would fall on a keyboard, you can figure out what it is that they were typing. The three researchers who wrote the paper (Li Zhuang, Feng Zhou, and Doug Tygar) have it down to an 85% accuracy rate. This is best done with neural network software, which is very well suited to picking out fiddly patterns like this.
It's pretty cool stuff.
Of course, this article gets posted after I move down here. Due to rising costs of essentials, such as housing and health care, the cost of living in the DC area is about $60kus every year. The Washington DC Fiscal Policy Institute has determined that affordable housing around here has become very rare, having declined by 12,000 possible places to live for Joe and Jane Average. Moreover, average rent has climbed nearly 10% in a year's time, in step with property values.
I'm definitely not having kids anytime soon.
The US Environmental Protection Agency, at face value, doesn't seem to care, if their new rules are any indication. They've just passed a new set of rules governing human testing and there's some stuff in there that should make anyone's blood boil. Their human testing rules have provisions written into them that make it possible to test chemicals on children classified as "abused" or "neglected" by the law. There are further loopholes designed into the regulations that allow for testing against the knowledge or wishes of children if there is a perceived benefit to society as a whole ("to protect public health", they say) or if there is a possible direct benefit to the child if the parents agree (not that kids have much say in this country, anyway). The hearings lit up with controversy after the new guidelines were published.
Following the crisis management day at work yesterday, which involved a twenty-hour day and two hours of sleep yesterday morning fueled by no less than four pots of coffee in twelve hours, I drove home after work, picked Lyssa up, and then crashed hard after dinner. Hours upon hours of troubleshooting and installing patches, flowing off of a spool of Time from 0000 EDT Monday morning had left me a zombie, and rather than do stuff after work or lounge around I called it a day and slept solidly through until 0100 this morning.. at which time my body's circadian rhythms put me awake and trying vainly to get more sleep for today.
I wound up getting up around 0130 EDT and messing around on the net until 0300 EDT, at which time I felt like sleeping a bit more would be possible. It was.
My body's getting old; I no longer have the stamina to stay awake for days on end to get everything done. I start losing track of everything after twenty four hours, give or take a few, and then I'm basically dead on my feet, animated only by stimulants and years of programmed responses. I can't function that way.
following firing of FEMA chief Michael Brown, his replacement has been named: R. David Paulson, Mr. "Duct Tape and Plastic Sheeting himself. Supposedly he's pretty sharp on disaster management and recovery, but following that one screwup the Bush regeime's kept him under wraps (no pun intended). Paulson's got his work cut out for him with Mississippi and northern Louisiana, no two ways about it.
Here's hoping he screws up less than his predecessor did.
IDS folks take note - a remote denial of service vulnerability has been found in the v2.x series of Snort. The bug invovles sending a specially crafted TCP/IP packet that causes instances of Snort running in verbose mode (the -v command line option) to fall over and die. A proof-of-concept exploit has been published. The obvious workaround is to not use the -v option when you start up Snort. This bug has been fixed in the upcoming v2.4.1 release as well as in the nightly CVS snapshots (which you can download from here).
In this day and age, I wish I didn't have to say this, but due dilligence in the world's messed up legal systems demands it: I don't agree with what these folks wrote. However, charging people with sedition for weblogging could set a precedent that should make everyone sit up and take notice. Two webloggers in Singapore made racist comments in their respective weblogs; the government of the country of Singapore, however, invoked the sedition act to have them arrested on charges of 'promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between races'. They were not permitted legal defense and are currently out on bail of $10kS (Singapore) each. Other webloggers are checking their words over to see if they have made any comments that could be construed as sedition, just in case. The two unnamed webloggers could be fined up to $5kS each, and could also face jail time of up to three years.
I haven't done this in a long while... your Word of the Day is sedition.
I now know something of the pain I and my friends used to cause the Storyteller at the CMU Mage LARP: Presenting L337sp34k Scrabble tiles.
Now this made me laugh long and loud. Worth1000.com recently had a Photoshop contest, the theme of which was "If Goths Rule the World."
As if there wasn't enough to keep a thinking human up at night, along comes this - revisted guidelines on the use of nuclear war, written by the Pentagon but net formally approved by Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense. Now military commanders can request a nuclear strike to preempt an attack by a nation (I wonder if they looked up the definition of the word first) or group. There are also provisions to permit the destruction of weapons stockpiles by a nuclear attack.
Let this be a lesson to everyone who has to dig up data for any reason: Double-check whatever you type. In Wichita, Kansas, Brian and Sarah Doom were rudely awakened by a police raid, specifically, a search and seizure run for child pornography. The police went to the wrong house because the Cox Communications technician typed in the wrong IP address, which reported the wrong physical address. They're suing Cox for this screwup (Cox screw up?? Never! Perish the thought...)
The Doom family is suing for damages, legal fees, and emotional distress.
Now, ordinarily, I take a dim view of lawsuits for 'emotional distress', because US culture has made a fine home for frivolous lawsuits by people too lazy to get a job but don't mind going through the court system to make a quick year's salary. However, when child pornography is part of the case, no matter whether you're actually involved or not, the cops put you through hell: Interrogations that last for hours which, if the rumours are true, of an intensity that doesn't even fall into the category of "Some day we'll look back on this, laugh nervously, and change the subject", they're more like the polygraph interrogations that certain federal agencies put their employees who hold security clearances through which often result in the subject breaking down bawling. Also, there are the rumours that inevitably leak out about the reasons for the raid; neighbors take the first thing they hear as gospel and even after you've been acquitted, they'll still talk about whether or not you actually did it behind closed doors. Along with the clauses in many employment contracts that state that you can be fired for any reason management determines (and being arrested often falls into this category)... let's face it, your name is Mud.
The Doom family did the right thing: They didn't blame the police, who were doing their job with bad information. They actually did everything according to the book. They blamed Cox Communications, which has a long history of being a bunch of screwups (assuming that you can actually contact the humans who work there who screwed up).
I saw a license plate this morning that read "YSAVEIT". I'm vaguely disturbed by this, though I'm not sure why.
Saw another one at Whole Paycheque on Saturday: 1011101. Heh.
What a night. What a weekend, too, but what a night.
Lyssa and I had our housewarming party this weekend. Dead tired from last week, we slept most of Friday night and kicked into overdrive on Saturday in an attempt to get everything done. Cleaning didn't take very long, not after we went to the local strip mall for bagels and cleaning supplies. Moving the heavy stuff, like the remaining packing crates, around, was more difficult. To have room for everything I pulled most everything out of the office closet and repacked everything in such a way that we could get a few more crates of stuff (camping supplies and more hardware, always more hardware) inside there, along with rarely-worn clothes from the bedroom closet.
My back was in pretty bad shape by the end of that.
While packing stuff into the linen closet I cracked my forehead pretty hard against either the door or the doorknob. Hard enough that I almost fell flat on my ass, and left a sizable knob on my forehead that receeded sometime early Sunday morning.
Eventually, Lyssa and I got most everything either put away or cleaned up. Mika and I ran out to get last-minute groceries, like things for Kash to eat (Kash is on a severely restricted diet), and then set about making the living room and library presentable.
Lyssa and I almost have the library complete. We just need a couch in there and we have to remove a few crates that we haven't figured out what to do with yet, but it'll serve our intended purposes nicely.
An experimental dish for dinner didn't turn out as expected, which required a last minute run for groceries. After I got back, though, folks began to arrive one or two at a time, and the night was on.
The library was full of people lounging around, browsing the bookshelves. The office was mostly empty, oddly enough, though the living room and balcony had the majority of guests. The kitchen was used sporadically as hang-out room.
All in all, we had a successful party. The apartment cleaned up nicely and wasn't a complete wreck by the end of the night, and everyone had a good time.
Sunday was spent mostly recuperating and getting ready for the week to come. We didn't actually get much recuperating done because I recieved an emergency page the previous afternoon from work - I had to install some patches on a server farm ASAP for testing, a process which took roughly two hours to perform. That wouldn't be quite so bad if it weren't for the lack of proper work facilities at the apartment. We still don't have desks or proper chairs; I do almost all of my work while sitting on the floor with Luel propped up on my briefcase (most often) or a stack of MCSE books (rarely). Laptop keyboards are not good for one's wrists in the long term, especially if you already have RST (repeditive stress trauma). Sitting hunched over on the floor is similiarly a bad idea, especially if you have a bad back.
By the time we were getting ready to go to bed Sunday night, my back was already knotted in pain, and my hands were starting to get sore. It was around 2330 EDT that my boss called back - the patches I'd installed were supposed to go into production systems ASAP, which mean the 0000-0800 EDT window early today.
Four hours later, the patches were installed and the servers were coming back on line as expected. My joints were complaining more stridently by that time.
I'd planned on going in late to work today because of the late shift I'd done. Still, I got up to drive Lyssa to the metro station so she could go to work, and it was on my way home that I recieved another call from my boss: Something had gone horribly wrong sometime after I'd gone to bed, and I was needed in the office as soon as I could possibly manage it.
So much for catching up on sleep.
Voice-over-IP company Skype has been bought out by eBay for $2.6bus in cash and possibly another $1.5bus in cash or stock in the near future. Skype is one of the newest and fastest-growing VoIP companies in the world, with 54 million users, which dwarfs other companies like Vonage. Skype is unique in that their client software is free, as are phone calls to other Skype users. If you want to call from your Skype setup to someone who doesn't use the service, however, you'll pay a small fee, much less than you'd pay if you were using POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service - no, it really is a telecom industry acronym!) to place your call.
A few days ago I was in a discussion with a friend over a laptop that will supposedly go on display at a trade show that has a spec sheet straight out of an RPG like Mage. Among the stats for this neigh-mythical laptop was a terabyte of solid-state storage, what amounts to a mother-huge Compact Flash module. "Bullshit," I'd said. However, I chanced across this article at ZDnet this morning: Samsung has developed a new solid state storage technology with roughly twice the density of logic gates as the current generation of Compact Flash storage. NAND logic gate-based storage technologies can theoretically store up to 32 gigabytes of data in a single memory module, which is about eight times the capacity of the largest Compact Flash modules available on the market today (a quick bout of research on the Net shows that 8 gigabyte modules are the biggest that you can find on the consumer and professional markets, but that was after some digging, and they are frighteningly expensive (on the order of $800us on up)).
The quantum-optical massively parallel CPU of said super-laptop aside (the other sign that whomever wrote that press release was mixing drain cleaner into their morning coffee), maybe I was hasty when I said that you couldn't put that much storage into a laptop computer.
No word yet on when these new-generation solid-state storage units will hit the market.
9/11 was yesterday; a date that you could only miss if you were under a rock (like I was). The US media has been broadcasting a tape from Al Quaida, threatening to attack Los Angeles, California and Melbourne, Australia. Something strikes me as fishy about this.. to date, all of the tapes, supposedly communiques from Al Quaida, have been in Arabic; moreover, the audio has never been aired in the US for fear that coded messages are hidden in the tapes; this doesn't seem to fly in the face of the known facts about Al Quaida's communication network (web message boards, e-mails, and face-to-face transmission of letters, all of which are being actively monitored by governments arond the world). Why the change now?
And why is it that polls showing the least confidence ever in the US government (36% approval rating) were released on Friday?
This doesn't feel right.
The other shoe's fallen on the so-called DDoS Mafia, which I've been keeping an eye on for a few months now. Twenty-year old Richard Roby, age 20, of Ohio admitted that he'd been the triggerman for a group of tame crackers who specialised in driving compeditors of their employer, Orbit Communications, out of business. The group was based out of the now-defunct hosting provider Foonet (renowned on the Net for being as shady as the Chatsubo, with more overt activity than Gibson had ever dreamed). Roby cut a deal with federal prosecutors after admitting that he had been behind a massive DDoS attack on a satellite TV retailer. The mastermind of the attack, and several like it, one Jay Echouafni (former owner of Orbit Communications) profited handsomely from the attack but went on the run after the feds swooped in. It's thought that he's hiding out in Morocco (which has a mutual legal assistance treaty with the US, that isn't really enforced). Another of the core members of the group, Paul Ashley, recruited three other crackers to do the actual dirty work. The fallout of the attack was such that it affected other networks, such as those of Amazon and the Department of Homeland Security's public information sites.
Behind the scenes at the Red Cross relief efforts. Ye flipping gods.
A name to keep an eye on: Blackwater.
1233 EDT: Finally awake and moving. Lyssa just showered; Kash is in there now. We're going out for breakfast soon.
One hell of a successful party last night. Thank you to everyone who came. I'll write it up later.
My apologies for not getting the Shoutcast server or webcam up and running. Unforseen circumstances kept me running around yesterday afternoon and unable to set them up.
Schwarzenegger's having waffles for breakfast again - he's stated that he will veto the same-sex marriage bill passed by the California Assembly earlier this week. Feh. California's homosexual residents, as well as six of the Assembly's legislators are disappointed by this turn of events. His approval rating has fallen to 36% as a result.
Yo, Arnie - queer folks just want the same rights to get married, et al as the straight folks do. Put two and two together.
The price of petrol is finally starting to decline again in the DC metropolitan area. In the past two or three days, the price of the cheapest petrol has fallen to around $3.06us/gallon, a major jump from $3.40us/gallon. Still pricy, but more affordable. I stand corrected.. I did not expect the price to come down as soon as it has. Whether or not it'll get cheaper is anyone's guess right now.
As if it'll quiet down the conspiracy theorists out there, Hunter S. Thompson's suicide note has been released to the media. Written four days before he killed himself, it was short, sweet, and to the point: He was 67 years old and tired of everything in life. "67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun for anybody."
I don't know what to say to that.. maybe he did do everything he'd wanted to do in life. Maybe he got sick of the pain after breaking his hip. Maybe he just couldn't handle getting old... suicide notes never answer all the questions, they only cause new ones to sprout. Somehow, Thompson didn't seem like the sort to fight against growing up or mellowing. He didn't seem like he'd fight to stay 20 all his life. Then again, I never met the man, so I really don't have any idea.
I don't know.
He had to have known that life wouldn't be a perpetual party, and you can't celebrate like the world's going to end tomorrow day in and day out without screwing your body, and possibly your mind, completely up. Thompson may have been a lot of things, but I don't think that he was stupid, let alone stereotypically fratboy stupid.
Here's to you, lad.
theBOBs, which is a yearly awards show for weblogs, has opened for 2005.
Holy cats - a half-terabyte of storage in a single hard drive!
A solid black, unmarked keyboard. Cool. But $80us for it? It's being pushed to help users type up to 100% faster because looking at the keyboard while you type doesn't give you an advantage. I thought that was called learning to touch-type while in school.
There are some folks in Houston, Texas who would like to set up a low-power FM radio stations to broadcast information to refugees. The powers-that-be (not the FCC, it should be noted) won't let them for a morass of reasons, most of them having no bearing in reality. Contact them and ask them to clarify.
Just in case, you'll be asking Harris County Fire Marshall Mike Montgomery (281-931-1085), though you'll probably get his administrative assistant, Marsha Lindsay. His mailing address is 480 North Sam Houston Parkway, Suite 105, Houston, Texas, 77060-3521. Rita Obey's cellphone number is 832-715-6008.
Speaking of cellphones, here's something that'll give a mathematician a geekbone: Cellphone ringtones generated with cellular automata.
From Interdictor: Police are all over Camp Street, and they're forcibly confiscating weapons.
Will Michael Crighton please pick up a white courtesy phone?
Now this is sixty-four thousand colours of nifty: A Stonehenge pocket watch. Instead of a watchface inside the cover, there is a tiny replica of Stonehenge acting as a sundial. Inside the lid is a miniature compass, so that you can align the watch's tiny model with north and tell what time it is.
I'd love to have one of these..
Oh, and there's a normal watchface set into the back of the watch, just because.
FEMA director Michael Brown has been recalled from duty. That's a nice way of saying down here that his ass was fired for a fuckup that makes Gomer Pyle look perfect. Maybe that's because he padded his resume' like a shipping crate full of bone china.
The homeowner's association in Ocala, Florida has banned anyone from puting up NOLA refugees. I guess folks in need of someplace to stay because a hurricane destroyed everything they owned drive property values down.. this makes me wish that I could find the contact info of the folks who brought this about, so that the next time a hurricane nails Florida I can throw it back in their faces.
Yes, I'm bitter. Yes, this makes me spitting-nails angry. People in need because something wholly out of their control has cost them everything that they've worked so hard for being spat on like this makes me want to nail the spitters to the walls by their earlobes and other tender, nerve-ending laden parts of their anatomies.
Now if only I had more time for my research...
There's something.. off.. about this guy.
Drivers in the DC are are of a finer quality of misanthrope than those of Pittsburgh, some of whom are merely ignorant. In Pittsburgh, for example, it is customary to slam on your car's horn within one second after the stoplight turns green, because the driver ahead of you probably does not possess the power of prescience, and did not accelerate within one tenth of a second after the lights began to change from red to green. In DC, it is not unusual for cars behind you to honk their horns between five and ten seconds after the stoplight turns red, because it will either coerce the light into going green once more, or it will hopefully coax the driver closest to the light to either make a u-turn (the presence or absence of traffic on the other side of the road makes no difference) or make a right-hand turn (if there is a right-hand turn to be made or not).
As another example, in Pittsburgh turning is entirely permissible as long as you have your turn signals active. If you need to make a left-hand turn you get into the leftmost lane, wait for your chance to turn, and turn as close as you can to the light turning red. In DC, though, I've noticed that it's normal for drivers in the leftmost lane to note your intent to change lanes and accelerate until their front end is even with the midline of your car to prevent you from changing lanes ahead of them. If you wish to go anywhere, you need to slam on your brakes and let the driver to your left who was stalking you in traffic go on ahead - no way in hell will he/she let you turn in front of them, no way, no how.
This morning's adventures in rush hour traffic have convinced me that these were not isolated incidents.
One final peculiarity on DC traffic, also related to turning lanes. Pittsburgh drivers are more than happy to let you make a left-hand turn; left-hand turns are really the only way to get anywhere in Pittsburgh, so it's expected. DC drivers will rail on you with horns and sound systems until you turn because you're holding up traffic (completely forgetting the fact that they, too are waiting to make a left). Not only that, but drivers on the other side of the road will rail on you. I was bitched out by a gentleman in an SUV in the mall parking lot Tuesday evening because I was waiting to make a left. In a delightful show of multiculturalism, I was called stupid, an idiot, and a fucking moron in both American English and Spanish by this gentleman, who also informed me that my car was too far in the opposite lane of the road.
Yes, I am quite certain that I was in the turning lane.
Yes, I am quite certain that my car was not blocking oncoming traffic.
Perhaps he was afraid that the light emanating from my turn signal would damage his shiny new SUV or something.
Strange times, indeed, gentle readers.
Perhaps Governor Schwarzenegger should switch to pancakes instead of waffles for breakfast - one of his aides stated that he'd veto any same-sex marriage bills that came his way, an obvious backpedal from his earlier public statements. He is, it is said, still all for non-discrimination laws, just not marriage, and will not pass the directive approved by the California Assembly (AB 849) on Wednesday.
Photo shoots have a way of screwing everything possible up around you. Often, this is a bad thing, especially when it takes place in the cancer ward of a hospital. George W. Bush's photo shoot at the navy Medical Center of San Diego, California prevented chemotherapy from being administered to hundreds of patients, as well as shut down the pharmacy of the hospital. Moreover, all civilians (read: significant others and possibly parents of patients) were excluded from base. As it turns out, Bush never even went through with the photo shoot.
The US military is al l over NOLA, and they're not letting the media get any lasting information. Not that this is really stopping the determined folks.. interestingly enough, they are preventing journalists from entering the very same places that they were preventing anyone from leaving last week.
FEMA is preventing photographs of the dead from being taken, also. On one hand, I can see not wanting to put the families fo the dead through a media circus; on the other, though, they're doing the same thing to the Iraq casualties being shipped home in boxes. The people need to know that there is a tangible effect to this disaster, and not just the numbers quoted by the talking heads on the evening news. More news on this at MSNBC.
We'll never see this guy again.
heh.. guerilla drive-in movie theatres.
Search engine and personal portal giant Yahoo has come under fire recently by human rights activists for helping China locate and imprison one Shi Tao, who forwarded to foreign websites information internal to the Chinese Communist Party. Shi Tao was sentenced to ten years in prison for this.
Lowmagnet tells Slashdot what time it is.
FEMA says don't bother showing up to help unless asked.
Fall's come to Washington, DC metropolitan area. The air is crisp and cool and barely smells of automobile exhaust, the windows in the morning are misted with dew, and the plants are winding down for a long winter's nap. We don't need to run the air conditioning inside now because it's almost the perfect temperature inside. It's nice right now - nice to drive, nice to walk, nice to just sit on the back porch and read a book.
Eris is doing much better. He's more active in his tank and his appetite is almost back to normal.
I can't help but think of Proteus playing poker in Rialian's yard with the coffee-drinking fae.
Lyssa's fish are doing just fine. They're healthy and happy and adjusting nicely to their fishbowls, for the time being on the dining room table.
I introduced Lyssa to the Covert Culture SourcebookCovert Culture Sourcebook this morning, a trade paperback book sized catalogue of things weird and wonderful, such as zines, some fringe tech, mailing lists, and some pretty nifty music. It's very dated though, with a publication date of 1993. It's old enough that Mondo 2000 is still listed as a 'zine and it refers the reader to a few e-mail lists that once existed on BITnet, if that dates it any.
I wonder how much of that stuff is still around...
It's not the article (it's work-safe, though), it's the t-shirt that Jim Wilson is wearing. <shudder>
It makes a lot of good points about your net.presence, though - if you run your own site, you can control what information is and is not available to the Net at large. If you don't control the information, for example, someone puts a picture of you up on their own site, all bets are off. You have to somehow get them to change their site or take it down. We all know how difficult that is.. the article has a few plausible-sounding strategies for manipulating how often you come up in Google and under what circumstances you'll come back in search results, but because Google does not publish the specifics of its page ranking algorithm, this information is probably lacking in a few ways.
Last night, the California Assembly voted 41-35 to approve same-sex marriages. Governor Schwarzenegger now has to decide if same-sex marriage will, in fact, be legally recognised. If he does nothing, the bill will become law anyway. Interestingly, the Assembly's approval runs counter to the wishes of everyone in California who voted against it. Now it remains to be seen if Schwarzenegger will stand by his public opinion made on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno in 2004, when he went on the record as saying that he had no problems with homosexual marriages.
The usual family organisations and conservatives are screaming that the sky is falling, as a result.
The Free Software Foundation announced yesterday that it would be updating the GPL soon to implement penalties against those people who file patents on software or use free/OSS software to implemented patented software products. Richard M. Stallman is writing a new revision (I don't know if it'll be v3.0 or v2.1 of the GPL) that will strip the reight to distribute a given free/OSS software package if they attempt to use software patents against free/OSS software. This could potentially hurt a lot of companies like Amazon, which base a lot of their back-end systems on open-source software like MySQL but have software patents (such as Amazon's 'one click puchasing' patent). There is speculation that the new version will also penalise DRM (digital rights management) implementations; it is known that the new GPL will also take into account the differences in legal codes in different countries. Stallman is hoping to have the new version of the GPL finished by December of 2005.
Has anyone else noticed that Gmail is inaccessible as of 1202 EDT?
Update from Interdictor: They were paid a visit by the 82nd Airborn around midnight today who were investigating a building that was still showing signs of activity, namely, their own. The 82nd had a US Marshal riding shotgun, interestingly enough. Thankfully nothing bad came of it, especially when they found out that Interdictor himself is ex-military. He did, however, have some choice words for them when it was noted that they'd broken into a building that Interdictor & crew had personally sealed off. It took the 82nd 45 minutes to compromise the site's physical security.
He had the 82nd sweep all 27 floors of the building for intruders, on the rationale that if they'd "found an open emergency exit," then someone else had compromised the building...
Oh, and did I mention that the building's elevators were deactivated...?
This guy's suggesting a national firewall to stop peer-to-peer filesharing in the wake of the Kazaa court ruling. Doesn't China have something like this?
Isn't China considered a totalitarian regeime by a lot of folks?
Announcing Tekkoshocon 1/2. Saturday, 1 October 2005. Just like Tekkoshocon, only for one day only from 1000 to 1700 EDT. Come hang out, watch anime, cosplay, play games, hang out.. and register for Tekkoshocon 2006 while you're at it.
Two Navy pilots who rescued people while in NOLA were reprimanded for doing so.
When I got up this morning, Eris was alive and kicking, er, swimming. He's looking a lot better now that I've put him back on his old diet of Betta Bio-Gold and dropped the freeze-dried bloodworms. He's a lot more active now, and doesn't need to be bothered to get him moving around.
Zack Widup of the Enigma 2000 Yahoogroup has posted a list of frequencies used by the Hurricane Katrina rescue workers for scanner afficionados to listen in on. I've fixed the permissions on the file, too - mea culpa.
There is also a radio communication wiki.
I would recommend donating to the Red Cross by going to Amazon.com and clicking on the "Hurricane Relief" splash on their front page. Please send whatever you can, they need it right now. I am keeping an eye open for blood drives in the DC area, and will post about them when I have more information.
How about this: givelife.org, sponsored by the Red Cross.
I've discovered something since moving down to the DC area - it's going to take a while for my body to adapt to the new environment. In the past two weeks or so I've discovered that I'm experiencing something that I've not had since high school, if not middle school: Hayfever.
Something's snarled my sinuses but good, and the going theory is that it's the new variety of plant life (in that there actually is plant life around here, even along the highways). There are still flowers blooming and the flowers that are drying up and blowing away are dumping their remaining pollen into the air like nobody's business.
I haven't sneezed so much since I caught a noseful of black pepper in high school.
And now, something completely different (because most of my brain is, simply put, overloaded from this weekend.)
The technology giant Philips has surprised the bleeding-edge market by developing a prototype rollup hand-held unit using their nacent electronic paper technology years ahead of expectations. Philips has been working lately on electronic paper, a thin sheet of flexible plastic with a dot-matrix display that can be used in place of conventional LCD units - basically a high-res display that you can roll up like a piece of paper and carry around with you. Philips is calling the prototype unit the Philips Concept Readius, and is an electronic book reader that fits into your pocket with a five-inch screen that rolls up into one half of the device on a spindle. The e-paper display is capable of four-shade greyscale at a resolution of 320x200 (old-school VGA), perfect for not only text but graphics and even electronic maps.
The device, aimed at business types, was unveiled at a bleeding-edge tech exposition in Berlin, Germany.
Electronic musicians take note - the Propellerheads announced the end of ReBirth RB-338, their software implementations of the Roland TB-303 bass machine and TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines on 1 September 2005 because they've replaced it with their next-generation software pattern machine, code-named 'Reason', now at v3.0. All registered users may download ReBirth RB-338 ReFill, an archive of the last revision of ReBirth, all of the samples they could find for it, and all of the modifications that the user community had made for it that they could lay their hands on. The archive is huge, around 97 megabytes in size. You need a username and password to download the archive, but if you keep your eye on your favourite BitTorrent tracker you'll probably find it soon enough. Just be sure to scan it for malware and other infectious agents before you install it.
The BBC is reporting that two-factor authentication isn't going to prevent identity theft because thieves will just steal the card as well as the PIN. Dr. Emily Finch, criminologist, has been studying identity theft and fraud and has found that if someone really wants to get into your accounts, they'll not only find a way to get your access code, they'll find a way to beg, borrow, or steal your smartcard issued by the bank (the hot new fad) as well. She's even gone so far as to trade cards with a colleague and purchase things in his name (yes, they were using cards for people of the opposite sex, and the clerks never even bothered to check to make sure that they belonged to the right body, let alone the right name!).
Undocumented neat stuff in MacOS X 10.4.
Some things never change.. As if this were actually considered a conflict of interests anymore, the US Department of Education was caught paying third parties to write op-ed pieces and articles in local papers all over the country that pimp the current US regeime's education policies without telling anyone that they were commissioned by the US government. This is what is called by the legal folks a 'conflict of interests', otherwise known as "you can't pay someone to pimp you when you're in command".
Remember LRADs? They're in deployment, now. 60 are in use in Iraq and at least one is en route to Mississippi at this time.
This must be some new form of disaster relief that I wasn't previously aquainted with.
Senator Rick Santorum proposes fining those who did not or could not evacuate.
More bad words about those dipsticks in Mississippi and Louisiana preventing medical care from being administered to those in desperate need, even when dysentary outbreaks are wiping people out left and right. The hell of it is, these medics aren't even from outside, they've been in place in facilities that were set up specifically for disasters in Louisiana. The feds in charge of cleaning everything up are fucking disaster recovery efforts six ways from Sunday in every orifice they can find. Hospitals are phoning in saying that they can take patients, but they're being bound snugly in red tape the likes of which has never been seen outside of bad public service jokes.
Come on you fucking morons... there are doctors trying to save lives. Shut the hell up and let them through!
CNN's reprinted a scathing commentary on federal response.
FEMA seems to have only one thing on its bureaucratic mind: Recovering corpses, not saving lives.
Whoops... shouldn't have access to this! (local copy saved, will post as a .zip file if there's enough call for it). Someone's been gunning down contractors in NOLA, and the cops are killing the gunmen.
Who in their right mind would shoot at their rescuers?!?
Another commentary on the Bush photoshoot yesterday. What a tool.
Maybe there are some real humans out there, and not just semi-domesticated primates.
In only slightly surprising news, The Pentagon's lead inspector has resigned due to allegations that he's been derailing investigations of senior cabinet members' activities. Joseph E. Schmitz, former Inspector General of the Defense Department will be leaving his post on 9 September 2005 to take a job with Blackwater USA, a defense contractor. Congress is investigating him after being presented with evidence that he's been actively blocking criminal investigations. Rather than either present evidence that he's not up to no good nor owning up to his actions he's resigning and decamping for the private sector where Congress can't touch him.
As if that weren't enough to make you lose trust in the US government after all of this, the chief of women's heath issues in the US Food and Drug Administration also resigned because he's admitted that political maneuvering and power plays were the sole reason that they've stalled on their decision on the morning after pill. Susan Wood has handed in her resignation, saying in the e-mail to her colleagues that "I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled."
That seques neatly into Sunday for Lyssa and I. The chain drugstore CVS, whom Lyssa gets her medication through, turned us away on Sunday afternoon becuase they screwed up their recordkeeping. As it turns out, her medication does not, in fact, have a refill remaining, so they won't fill it. Lyssa does not have health insurance, and I wasn't able to get her attached to mine, so she's going to have to run the gauntlet of going to a general practitioner (possibly), going to an OB/GYN, having labwork done, and paying full price for her medication.
That's not going to be cheap, especially without health insurance.
At Trader Joe's to get groceries today, we just barely dodged the scary kids who'd cornered us last weekend. We slipped out of there with an iron-clad see-me-not watching out backs. No sign of the scary metalhead, either.
Lyssa bought two bettas today, tentatively named Ghost (the white with bloody red spots) and Sidhe (the oddball black/blue/red/purple with white fintips). They're adapting well to their new homes. I bought fishbowls for Proteus and Eris while we were out and about. Proteus is back to his old stoner self, just hanging around looking at everything while Eris is moping around at the bottom of his tank, eating when fed, but mostly not wanting to move. I'm worried about the little guy - he did that just after I brought him home around Thanksgiving of 2004, but he's not done that since.
Update Labor Day's evening:
We lost Proteus this morning, much to the surprise of Lyssa and myself. He didn't eat when fed after I got up, and by the time mid-afternoon rolled around he was rolling lifeless at the bottom of his tank, not twenty-four hours after being transferred from a Nalgene bottle into a goldfish bowl. Proteus' scales were dull and his eyes had gone black. Eris is fighting his way back - he's eating and swimming around more often and trying to perk up. I hope he makes it.
I fished Proteus out of his bowl and wrapped him in a paper towel, and buried him tonight near the faerie caern at Rialian's. It didn't feel right to just flush one of my house guardians, who'd made it all the way from Pittsburgh without a scratch.
Lyssa and I spent the day with Rialian and Helen celebrating Labor Day. Rialian and I worked on Helen's new laptop to install Debian Linux and get everything up and running. Installing Debian took all of three hours, most of that consisting of running apt-get to download updates first, followed by the applications and supporting libraries. By the time we'd left her laptop was up and running and ready to use at work.
This morning, Lyssa woke up in a great deal of pain. Somehow she'd managed to pinch a nerve in her neck in her sleep and wasn't able to move her head or her left arm. Large quantities of analgesics made it possible for her to get out of bed and take a hot shower, but it took Rialian later today to get everything working properly. Lyssa's okay now, she's just a little stiff after having her muscles re-set. I think she'll be okay by tomorrow morning.
Later today Rialian gave me a reiki sample, which I've been experimenting with. It seems to be compatible with my (heavily modified) electrical infrastructure, and is very helpful to its host to boot. I'm going to be spending more time working with it to see if'll function well in the long term, and if everything works out I'll ask for an implant.
This will be interesting...
We didn't get to hang out with Laurelinde and co. today because they're too busy after their own move but we did see Kash for a bit after returning from New Jersey to spend time with his family. Lyssa and I headed out around 1930 EDT for home by way of Giant to pick up a few groceries for the week to come.
It's been a full weekend.
Fans of Fullmetal Alchemist take note: Someone's gotten their hands on the raw footage and subtitlers are hard at work on a fansub. We might get to see the movie before the end of this year.
So this is what Peter Weller's been up to - he has a masters' degree in Roman and Renaissance art and he's working on his Ph.D in the same field. Cool.
Neopagans of the world, stand up and be counted.
Gods damned spin control. Way to pass the blame on to the folks who deserve it the bloody least, Bush.
Who in their right mind would jam the radio nets of rescue workers??? The ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League), the US association of radio hams (many of whom help out during disasters when the usual communications nets are unusable), is trying to determine what is causing the radio interference and how best to get it the hell out of the rescue workers' radio frequencies.
What has been going on in Louisiana and Mississippi is nothing short of criminal. I can understand the occasional fuck up but what's been coming out of there is downright frightening, on the scale of something you'd see in a disaster movie. I will now reprint the article originally written by Dogemperor, who maintains a Livejournal. The original entry may be read here, because he is probably updating it quite often as new news comes in:
I'm not alering this post in any way.
(Posted as a public post--which people know I never *ever* do on my LJ.)
Originally posted by myself in response to this Livejournal entry:
Trust me when I say Nagin is right and ops there are a complete and utter clusterfuck.
I have been listening to streaming feeds of police/National Guard scanners and ham radio nets since the disaster (very often you get news there that isn't reported widely).
FEMA is not letting groups in that aren't on their preferred contractor list, even turning away a Florida group with *500 floatboats* that could have been used in rescue ops. They have turned away people with buses who are willing to drive them et al.
FEMA attempted to shut down the one ops center in the NOLA area where the state and local authorities were coordinating rescue efforts--a member of the National Guard got into an angry shouting match telling them that they would have to shut down rescue efforts *indefinitely* if that area was closed.
FEMA is also promoting blatantly dominionist groups (including Pat Robertson's own "Operation Blessing"--which has been used, among other things, to ferry blood diamonds out of Africa under the name of "charity shipment") over known, reputable charities like Americares and Mercy Corps.
Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice were actually shopping and attending PLAYS while it was being widely broadcasted that the levees had failed andNew Orleans was under eight feet of water.
Shrub McChimpy actually was goofing off and playing guitar badly during a press conference where people were asking about things, as if he wasn't taking this seriously at all (then again, a lot of dominionists have literally been praying that New Orleans would be smited for *years*).
Trent Lott, known dominionist, even claimed that FEMA was doing a "great job" even though his house was in one of the areas of Mississippi that got smited (yes, Mississippi got it WORSE than New Orleans did) and there are entire *counties* in Mississippi who have asked for assistance for the past six days from FEMA and heard *NOTHING* above the county level regarding mutual aid or assistance.
Ham radio operators are *still* the main method of communication between stricken areas (even more so than the National Guard nets).
We won't go into how conditions have been allowed to deteriorate in both the Superdome and Convention Center to the point mass deaths and rapes are occuring. In the Convention Center, which (according to local NOLA media) has damn near turned to Thunderdome, there was a member of Spain's Parliament who was trapped on the second floor for *five days* and the US government claimed they were unaware of this till *yesterday*.
People who were Bush supporters even through the clusterfuck of Eternal War are now wondering what sort of crack the government is smoking and wondering why they ever voted for the son of a bitch. :P
Anyways, it's rare that I actively pimp anything online. I'm going to pimp something here, namely, a list of good and bad charities to donate to for NOLA relief (sorted on "good guys" who pretty much give aid to anyone with no strings attached, and "bad guys" who actively support dominionism)
Here's the links:
I encourage you to mirror this widely and support the "good guys" on the list.
I also will be operating a new Livejournal community, hurricane_fema, and will mirror both this post and the Big List to that community.
As noted, some press is reporting on this:
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/orl-caneboats0205sep02,0,4766048.story (on the caneboaters blocked by FEMA bureaucracy)
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/orl-mcanejim0205sep02,0,6532046.story (on general chaos with rescue efforts)
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-katrina-hospitals-hk4,0,1849193.story (on general chaos with rescue efforts with hospitals)
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/college/chi-050902daley,0,7648200.story (on FEMA refusal of aid by the city of Chicago)
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/college/la-me-littlesaigon3sep03,0,6493095.story (on concern for Vietnamese relatives)
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.storm03sep03,0,215324.story (on other countries offering aid and generally being spurned)
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/college/chi-0509030218sep03,0,3308899.story (on race being a possible issue with delivery of aid)
Multiple threads on fark.com detail the scanner traffic and the confusion thereof:http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=1648778
A large number of scanner feeds and general info on scanner traffic is available at http://www.radioreference.com/wiki/index.php/Hurricane_Katrina
http://www.radioreference.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=914&mode=&order=0&thold=0 details the communication problems occuring. (As it is, we are rather lucky that New Orleans' main radio station went down or we'd be unable to hear them at all. New Orleans used an EDACS ProVoice trunked system, which is a closed, closed-source digital trunked system; most places that use digital trunking use an open standard called APCO-25 that generally *is* receivable on scanners (albeit expensive ones). The NPSPAC channels are open and conventional.)
http://www.livejournal.com/users/alobar/1280191.html actually has a report on how people are being held back from rescue. (Further news on Alobar on his LJ, http://www.livejournal.com/users/alobar/)
http://www.horsesass.org/ also details this (and this ties into the following, below).
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/2/34622/68348 tells about how FEMA's director literally ran an Arabian horse registry into the ground to the point its owners had to eventually merge it with another Arabian registry (after having fired Brown). Other links here:http://www.bridleandbit.com/story048.htm
(Did I mention they actually ended up *suing* Mike Brown thanks to his incompetence?)
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001054151 details the reaction from the conservative press (even known dominionist asskisser rags like the Washington Times are flaming Bush over this)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/01/AR2005090101482.html posts on the senator who stated New Orleans should be abandoned and not rebuilt.
http://news.bostonherald.com/national/view.bg?articleid=100937&format=text notes how people are dying thanks to the delay in getting aid and FEMA blocking aid.
http://news.bostonherald.com/national/view.bg?articleid=100931&format=text also details this info.
http://www.nola.com/newslogs/breakingtp/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_Times-Picayune/archives/2005_09.html also details some of the general clusterfuckage.
http://www.bayoubuzz.com/articles.aspx?aid=4900 notes how even the governor (whom, no offense, has also been less than helpful) is even now protesting the slowness of aid.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/08/30/katrina.lott/ notes how Lott's house got smited. http://www.livejournal.com/users/alobar/1281619.html#cutid1 shows the general reaction of the president to aforementioned smitagel
Further commentary here: http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/2005/09/we-told-you-so.html
The sick thing is there WAS an emergency plan (that apparently got blown to hell): http://www.ohsep.louisiana.gov/newsrelated/incaseofemrgencyexercise.htm
http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=2368706&PageNum=0 is news from Russia on how we've turned them down; according to Alobar's Livejournal (http://www.livejournal.com/users/alobar/1281401.html) the Canadians are sneaking over anyways.
http://euronews.net/create_html.php?page=detail_info&article=307287&lng=1&PHPSESSID=f0052ebd9afa331be41a7ba71e88416a details more on the mounting criticism over lack of help.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/01/opinion/01thu1.html flambes Shrub's general handling of the situation as does http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/03/national/nationalspecial/03assess.html and http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/03/opinion/03dowd.html
Other notes: http://www.pacificviews.org/weblog/archives/001454.html
Contrary to presidential spin, the pissing contest in Iraq *is* hurting emergency preparedness: http://rempost.blogspot.com/2005/09/background-articles-on-iraq-war-new.html
More on FEMA's territorial pissing (and preventing aid from coming in from anywhere but their preferred contractors): http://talkleft.com/new_archives/012104.html
Canadian press is reporting: http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=aa7eaee1-ddaf-4784-846e-ec814c6b3649 http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=97eeb058-920d-4d53-bf14-dc1d06e8ed65
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/31/AR2005083102257.html writes on concerns re preparedness.
More on the lack of response: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/columns/pressingissues_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001054581
Even CNN has reported on the general fuckups in disaster aid: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WEATHER/09/03/katrina.unusedgear/index.html
The quote where Trent Lott thinks things are going swimmingly: http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/09/trent-lott-thinks-bush-is-doing-dandy.html
International press has taken note: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article309938.ece
Apparently, despite the pissing match going on with FEMA doing the moral equivalent of waving its cock about, they STILL can't manage to keep enough security to keep from having FEMA uniforms stolen: http://www.wdsu.com/news/4932913/detail.html
And the criticism has started among the dominionist-friendly *themselves* (one wonders how much further this is going to get Frist on the shitlist of dominionists in general): http://www.wdsu.com/news/4933030/detail.html
As I noted, sadly, dominionists (aka "Avengelicals", aka the lovely asshats who want to turn the US into a theocracy) already are claiming New Orleans "deserved it": http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/9/22005b.asp (mirrored at http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/09/lead-religious-right-group-promotes.html should the original link be removed)
http://www.repentamerica.com/pr_hurricanekatrina.html (mirrored at http://www.michnews.com/artman/publish/article_9292.shtml in case the first link dies)
http://www.christianlifeandliberty.net/ (reported on at http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/index.html?blog=/politics/war_room/2005/08/30/hurricane/index.html (requires day pass) in case original link dies)
[NOTE: http://www.bugmenot.com/ can get you in without having to supply identifying information.]
http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=52375 (reported on at http://talk2action.blogspot.com/2005/09/antiabortion-militants-outraged.html should original link die)
(Oh, and yes, it's folks like that that not only are steering political policy but also directing policy in regards to Katrina relief in general: see http://www.livejournal.com/community/dark_christian/247009.html REMEMBER THIS IN 2006 AND 2008.)
Further links as follows:
Thanks much to all of you who have mirrored so far.
Oh, the clusterfuckage goes even deeper, as it turns out: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_09/007042.php
It turns out that the feeding station photo op that Shrub McChimpy did in Missouri and LA...was *STAGED*, and they *TORE THE EMERGENCY FEEDING STATION DOWN AFTER HE LEFT*.
Larry King confirms the refusal of aid by agencies: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0509/02/lkl.01.html
Further confirmation that blocking of aid is FEMA's doing: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/3/02454/07418 (Also reported on in http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/002485.html and presumably in the original German media as well)
It turns out they also faked attempts at levee repairs for the same photo op: http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/09/bush-faked-levee-repair-for-photo-op.html
More info on the general clusterfuckage: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/3/171718/0826
Contrary to FEMA and the government's claims, here's documentation Louisiana's government asked for help as early as *AUGUST 28th*: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/2/22509/76629
The president took his sweet fuckin' time giving the orders to give in as is: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/3/115611/4051 (http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x4605183 also reports on this)
Condi Rice goes shopping whilst New Orleans drowns: http://www.gawker.com/news/condoleezza-rice/index.php#breaking-condi-rice-spends-salary-on-shoes-123467
The article detailing how Shrub McChimpy was fucking around whilst New Orleans drowns: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/8/31/1442/53877
Info on how the government claimed it didn't know about the mess in the convention center (where a goodly number of people have *DIED* due to lack of water and food): http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0509/01/pzn.01.html
Per the Department of Homeland Insecurity's own website, yes, it IS their own fault: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/3/134955/1356
A federal investigation may begin on this lovely series of fuckups: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/2/192916/4102 (One hopes sincerely that the present administration doesn't do what it's tended to do--either ignore the people responsible, or outright sack the people responsible and replace them with dominionists)
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/ gives LOTS of info as to how Michael Brown was (to put it mildly) amazingly unqualified for the job of being director of the agency that is supposed to be managing emergency management functions (including in the event of terrorist attack or nuclear war) for the entire country...
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/03/katrina.chertoff/ asks how DHS could *not* have expected the levees to break in New Orleans (especially since quite literally *every* science magazine and television network has had a disaster special to the theme of "New Orleans Is Fucked Without Lube If It Gets Hit With Much More Than A Tropical Storm", and New Orleans' city government literally begged FEMA over a year ago for increased funding for levee shoreups; dear gods, my *mother in law* is not exactly a civil engineer, weather geek or emergency management geek and SHE still knew that New Orleans could flood if hit with a Cat4/Cat5 hurricane due to the levees failing)
http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/09/omg-theyve-locked-everyone-in.html discusses how it is being reported that people are being locked in the Convention Center of Death and not being allowed to leave (on literal pain of being shot). (There is also video in multiple formats of this at http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/09/02.html#a4763 for perusal. Folks not using MacOS or Windows should be able to play it using Video Lan Player (do a search on Google).) (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/3/25746/97675 also reports on this.)
This is getting pretty goddamn vomitous at this point :P
Found a pic (including commentary on how aforementioned photo op delayed rescue efforts for upwards of twelve hours--yes, folks, Shrub may have caused people to DIE for the cameras): http://mathewgross.com/community/node/331
Reportedly the photo op was played on WDSU-TV: http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2005/09/bush_caught_on.asp
More on what is actually going on (including photos at the airport where even Bill Frist admits "more than 8, 10" people are dying *daily*): http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,16488142-23109,00.html
Further pointing up that they are going through preferred contractors only, it seems that rescue ops were privatised in 2004: http://www.ieminc.com/Whats_New/Press_Releases/pressrelease052604_Manscen.htm (from one of the companies that got the contracts)
In Governor Landreau's statement, it's also revealed that the US Forest Service offered to put out fires in New Orleans but FEMA (again waving its dick about) said no: http://www.newschannel6.tv/news/default.asp?mode=shownews&id=8695
Oh, and no less than the "Army Times" quite literally sees NOLA's citizens as The Enemy: http://www.boingboing.net/2005/09/03/alcajun_army_times_c.html
The original German article has a link to both images and text re the faked food kitchen (in German, of course): http://www.heute.de/ZDFheute/inhalt/23/0,3672,2370967,00.html
http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.heute.de%2FZDFheute%2Finhalt%2F23%2F0%2C3672%2C2370967%2C00.html&langpair=de%7Cen&hl=en&safe=off&c2coff=1&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&prev=%2Flanguage_tools (Google-translated; those of you whom speak German, please feel free to comment here with full translation)
The Google-translated text of interest is as follows:
Clearing work only for Bush?
Where the US president visited the disaster area, auxiliary troops cleared up before properly - however only there. From Biloxi quoted Second Channel of German Television correspondent Claudia Rueggeberg desperate inhabitants, Bush is to bring auxiliary goods here in his sedans instead of loud Bodyguards and assistant dear.
Along its route clearing troops would have cleared before Bushs attendance debris and would have saved corpses. Then Bush left again "and with it", so Rueggeberg, "the whole auxiliary troops". At the situation in Biloxi otherwise nothing changed, it is missing at everything.
And again, more noises about possible Congressional investigation: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050903/ap_on_re_us/katrina_national_guard
Oh, as it turns out, the two women hugged in the photo op aren't from Biloxi at *all*: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x4600320
Transcript of the photo op: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0509/02/asb.01.html
It's finally happened in Virginia - the price of petrol's hit $3.40us/gallon. Photographs forthcoming.
Senator Mary Landrieu begs George W. Bush to help for a change.
Some choice words.
A hurricane Katrina timeline.
Washington refused to fund efforts to reinforce the levees.
Even the press around the world thinks that NOLA is one huge clusterfuck!
Utah's trying to send aid but is having a hard time getting through the blockades.
22 volunteer deputies based out of Virginia tried to convoy down to Louisiana to provide assistance but were told to turn back before they went too far because they'd never be permitted into Louisiana to provide assistance. The deputies, who were hauling relief goods for the people down there, were told that they'd have to go through miles of red tape to be permitted to provide assistance.
Thank you, FEMA, for privatising disaster relief efforts all around the United States of America.
Other agencies are being screwed just as hard. Even the US military is being butt-surfed by these morons.
Stockpiles of emergency gear in NOLA aren't even being touched!
Countries around the world (that the US hasn't managed to piss off yet) are queueing up to provide support in the form of money and supplies. No word yet on when they will be told to go to hell by the US government... German, Japan, Honduras, Venezuela, Jamaca, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries, are going out of their way to send aid to the US. Quatar has donated $100mus toward US relief efforts.
If you think you're being gouged on the price of petrol, report it. Thanks, Giza.
APO PANTOS KAKODAIMANOS.
Way to love thy brother as thyself, folks...
Something else never to try with your own microwave.
It's finally happened - the price of petrol has broken $3us/gallon. The hurricane that's decimated the southern United States has run its course, and the refineries and highways down there were hit hard. I've been hearing that this isn't uncommon all across the country, but I doubt that prices will fall back to the (still high) levels they were at before the disaster.
Time to see if I can find a good bike down here somewhere.
I can't say too much about the hurricane even if I'd wanted to - I've been too busy at home and at work lately to keep up with much of anything lately, and even working all-nighters doesn't leave much time for being a news junkie. Suffice it to say that a few of us have been kicking around ideas for driving down to Louisiana to help out with recovery efforts (at least one of us has medical training, and the rest of us are just good at lifting heavy stuff) but it isn't, unfortunately, feasible to do so at this time. This is otherwise known as "My rent is more than one paycheque - I can't do it."
Ever felt like someone's tied your hands behind your back and has hoisted you from the ground by said hands? That's what it's like.
I wish I could do something. I wish I could pick up and haul ass down there to help somehow.. all hell's broken loose, and the powers that be are no match for the mass of humanity that's lost its mind, looting and shooting at police and rescue workers who are trying to repair the levees and set up medical services. I've had an ear open to what's going on down there, and it's fucking sick: National Guard helicopters are being sniped at.. there's a hospital down there under seige - the folks who work there have sealed the building as best they can but this means that they can't do their jobs.. there's supposedly a building where a group of techies have holed up.. there is someone named Interdictor who's set up a blow-by-blow Livejournal of the situation down there which everyone should spend time reading. I'm pretty sure that Interdictor's the ex-military guy who's holed up with the techies from the terminology he uses and some of the stuff he's mentioned but I'm not certain yet. I've got some RF gear with me that I plan on turning on and listening to throughout the day but I doubt I'll get much more than local traffic with a stubby little 10-centimetre antenna.
I'm going to dig up links to places that you can donate time, money, or goods to and post them later off of the VA Network's front page.
In slightly brighter news, Lyssa's started her new job today as editor of the newsletter of the National Haemotological Society. Congratulations!
John C. Lilly, thou art avenged.. again!
"This isn't Hell, but you can see it from here." --The Crow
New Orleans news update: A chemical dump near the French Quarter exploded, spilling black smoke into the air early this morning. People who have taken refuge in the Superdome have been evacuated. Looters are running all over the place wreaking havoc and the National Guard's finally been called in with orders to shoot to kill ready to go out. People who have taken refuge at the New Orleans Convention Centre are trying to get out of there as fast as they can. Police officers are being shot at; more are turning in their badges and giving up. (!) Refugees are headed for Texas in droves. The dead are piling up or floating out to sea - the graveyards are churning their residents to the surface because the air trapped within the coffins is enough to draw the sealed caskets out of the mud toward the surface. Not all of them are remaining sealed, though...
A list of organisations accepting donations to help Katrina victims.
I can't get anything out of this link, but maybe you can later - someone has apparently hooked a police scanner into a Shoutcast server and is broadcasting radio traffic on the Net.
The New Orleans Indymedia node has loads of news for people keeping up with the situation. Look at everything, including the sidebar, for helpful information as well as pointers to services!
HurricaneHousing.org - A website where you can hunt for someplace to go to if you're on your way out of Louisiana or if you've got crash space for people within 500 miles of Louisiana. If you've got room down there, maybe you would consider offering some floor space and a hot shower to folks who are trying to get back on their feet.
Interesting frequency in the Fairfax, Virginia area: 159.0000 MHz appears to be part of the Fairfax County Police radio network.
Another interesting frequency in the same area: 143.7000 MHz appears to be part of a hospital radio network. I've been hearing references to odd jobs in the ER and the recovery room all morning. Every once in a while you'll hear a radioteletype signal.
A new zine called Obsidis, aimed at the information security community, will launch in October of 2005. They're put out a call for papers. Anyone interested should take a look at their web site to see what they're after.
Last night Lyssa and I spent the evening with her brother, who'd come over to visit us at the new apartment for the first time since we'd moved in. We spent much of the afternoon running around cleaning and picking up some last minute things for dinner (like icing and vanilla extract to finish a cake), but wound up ordering pizza from Ledo's (a local shoppe) and catching up on times, showing off the apartment and our library, and generally doing the whole close family thing.
The California state Senate is the first in the nation to pass a measure that legalises same-sex marriage. The queer community in California is rejoicing at this time, but it's a little soon to celebrate, because the measure must now pass the Assembly and get the signature of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to pass it into law. The rest of the article is the usual 'same sex marriage will cause the downfall of society' dreck that oozes out of the newsfeeds like wood rot in an old bathroom, unfortunately.
Old-school computer users no doubt remember the original online services, like Compuserve and QLink, which was an online service dedicated to the Commodore community.
Fun fact for the day: QLink eventually became America On-Line.
Some of the luminaries of the retrocomputing scene are trying to resurrect QLink by reverse engineering the protocol used by the QLink software package and writing software that implements a work-alike of the back-end. No, you don't have to dial into it, but if you have a copy of the Quantum Link software disk and a serial adaptor for your Commodore (or a disk image of the QLink software disk and an emulator that has a software-modem-to-TCP/IP function, like VICE) you can connect to the server over the Net by following the instructions on the website.
I might mess around with this tonight... I missed QLink by scant years.