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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

South Korea Censors Video of North's Executions

From yesterday's Monitor. Strange.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Lou Barlow and My Wallet

Lou Barlow's new album, the tragically titled "EMOH," is in cooler stores now. Of course it's just as good as I expected. I would recommend picking it up...now!

The "problem" with Barlow is his prolificacy (damn, I had to look that up to verify it was a real word!) and the fact that I have a finite amount of green to spend on his music. Producing some of the best music - notice I didn't qualify it with "Indie" - of the last 15 or 20 years is one thing. But to churn out large quantities of it is another.

Between Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Folk Implosion, Barlow has made or contributed to significant musical offerings that have made our lives better.

Have a Safe and Holy Purim

Remember: It's not Mitzvah to get loaded. Be safe and give thanks. Mazel Tov!

Jump into Spring and Disappointment

I won't dwell on this too much...however, if you are thinking of buying Crooked Fingers' new album, Dignity and Shame, don't. Buy anything from Archers of Loaf or previous Crooked Fingers albums.

The new album is about as boring and vanilla as it comes. Actually I shouldn't say it that way; I've got nothing against vanilla.

Institutional Sloppiness

If you are calling a meeting and people are still filtering in 15 minutes into your meeting, you have lost control. Not only have you lost control, I would argue, you never had it. Obviously nobody takes you seriously enough to come to your meeting in a timely manner or they take you seriously just not the subject matter about which you are discussing.

My problem is two-fold: I belong to an organization that 1) Schedules meetings without merit and 2) Expects, explicitly or implicitly, for those meetings to produce little.

If you require more than 2 to gather you should have a reason. If you have a reason it should be a good one. If you have a good reason to call a meeting you should demand timely attendance and fruitful discussion.

Allowing unproductive meetings to continue is one thing but consistently allowing unfettered tardiness is a true mark of institutional sloppiness.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Mmmmmm...

...hell.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What Else are You Going to do? Work?

The Saddest Caveman in the world.

You Know a Talking-Point when You Hear It

I'm not wasting my time and bandwidth posting on the Schiavo case. However, I have but one public observation.

In the past few days those favouring Mrs. Schiavo's parents' remedy have been fairly consistent; they keep comparing Schiavo to Ted Bundy. "All we want is what is given to convicted death row inmates" is the talking point in question.

How bizarre.

Motorsports Mania

With both NASCAR and Formula 1 seasons underway, fans of auto racing are reveling in what looks like a great season.

Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix results appear to be a harbinger of the new order in F1 - at least for this year. With Scudaria Ferrari sucking the hind tit they so deserve and Renault and Toyota leading the field, I'm giddy with anticipation of things to come in North America. Get your tickets now! Now that we know the McLaren Mercedes viking mobiles aren't going to explode and take out your whole family in the process, F1 attendance is a must!

If you missed Sunday's 500 miler in Atlanta you missed what may have been one of the better finishes you'll see. Carl Edwards' masterful control of the Roush 99 car was a thing of beauty! I'm not a huge NASCAR fan anymore but Sunday's race was as much fun as I can stand.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Andrew Napolitano Commentary

I'm fixin' to start Andrew Napolitano's new book so I thought I would provide a link to a recent interview with him over at Reason and also post his Op-Ed piece regarding the imprisonment of Lynne Stewart. Here's a snip from that piece:
In the good old days, only Congress could write federal criminal laws. After 9/11, however, the attorney general was allowed to do so. Where in the Constitution does it allow that?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Honeynet Project on Botnets

Make sure to check out the Honeynet Project's write-up on Botnets. Fascinating stuff although I'm only about half way through.

The Clock is Always Running

I've posted comments on both time-based security and survival times for systems. Now a quick word on how this factors into real life security administration.

Due to raging incompetence, one of our switches was misconfigured with a bogus IP address. Concurrently, our A record, and for that matter, all of our DNS information, had not been created for our domain - both DNS and Microsoft Active Directory. When it became available, we ran a trace on the DNS request and noticed an odd query: one for http://www.haunted-spiritz.fw.nu. That didn't seem like anything I'd configured.

Here's what happened - long story short. The time spend futzing around trying to get our server up was time that the w32.Spybot.Worm could seek us out; Spybot and a number of other nasties.

I'm not going to go into to many details but let's just say the OS image we made on Friday had vulnerabilities on Monday. That vulnerability would have been remediated had we been able to have adequate connectivity to the rest of our network. The clock was ticking the minute we put that device on the network. The clock was ticking and it expired on us. One server rebuild, 6 hours wasted, and a lesson learned for nobody because there is little accountability up in here.

What you need to know is this: Whenever you are connecting to your corporate intranet or The Big I, your systems have to be hardened and updated with the latest patches/fixes. If they aren't, you have about 10 to 20 minutes to fix them.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Yesterday's Times: Shit You Already Knew

If you didn't catch yesterday's New York Times article on the Bush administration's government propaganda, here's your chance to discuss with your co-workers while you should be doing work...like the guy that owes me an LDAP/DAP proxy look-up architecture.

Alternate Data Streams

I wanted to post this article over at Security Focus and then add a few of my comments. However, I'm just too busy these days.

So read up and enjoy this fine article on one of my favourite Windows vulnerabilities.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

There Ought to be a Law
I was paying my insurance yesterday and noticed the fine print: "A $5.00 service charge will be added." I thought that was fairly curious. It's almost like a credit card company: you pay the minimum and they charge you extra.

Let's get a few things straight here though. First, while Mrs. Ober and I don't use credit cards, I'm not sure, for the purposes of this rant that I care if you do. Second, I'm in no mood to have the "Is capitalism good?" conversation. But what my insurance company and companies all across the U.S. and beyond are doing is a bit sketchy....or in English: Slightly immoral. At what point does usury go awry, askew, or afoul...or all three? How much of a “service fee” is too much?

Here's what we know: 1) It is illegal to have a vehicle without insurance, 2) insurance typically costs a fair amount of money relative to the typical household's income, 3) The amount can fluctuate but, baring anything "eventful," is doesn't. So why charge interest? Doesn't this hurt the people who have the least amount of money the most? It isn't like this is a luxury either. This is something that you need is you drive a car - which is a prerequisite to living in any area of the U.S. with the possible exception of a few metro areas. Another thing that struck me was that this wasn't anywhere near a loan; there is no risk to them (of which I can think) in having this paid monthly or yearly. To me, this smacks of predatory lending. Do the math: Over 12 months my insurance company will have made an extra $60 per account for taking little or no risk and in lending no money. And again: the people that pay this are the people that can least afford it.

Mrs. Ober and I have been blessed to with a great life and common sense enough to keep our finances in order (hold the Jewish jokes please). When this or any other bill comes due, we simply pay it. If we don't have the money in our checking account, we simply loan ourselves the money from another account and pay ourselves back. But how many people have that luxury and to what class do they belong? At the end of the day, how ethical is usury when implemented like my insurance company? And we all know that $5.00 service charge is minor compared with other schemes.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Product Endorsements

I thought I would take a few minutes to shamelessly plug a few products that we've been enjoying 'round the ol' homestead.

First, if you like coffee and you like it like I like my women -black and strong - you should try Starbucks' Ethiopian Sidamo. I've been drinking French Roast for years now but think I've found a replacement.

Despite finding the sanitary scent and ultra-whitening power of Chlorine bleach second to none, I've stopped using it. Other than using bleach in small amounts to clean around the house, I've substituted it for Ecover's non-chlorine bleach. It seems to work well enough when used with regular ol' laundry detergent and it has the added benefit of being good for Mother Nature - Bonus. Purchase at your local Wild Oats.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Fix Your Browser

I'm posting this because some of you downloaded Firefox or Mozilla after reading my propaganda. Go patch your browsers!

Opinions and Assholes

...yes this in a play on "...everyone has one and they both stink."

I'm posting yesterday's opinion regarding Roper v Simmons because I've seen so few bloggers and "legitimate" news sources do so.

In the last 24 hours I've seen 3 people commenting on the New York Times' synopsis rather than the actual opinion itself. There's a lot of interesting stuff in this opinion - you just have to read it. Here's a taste of Scalia's dissent (guess who was riding shotgun - big surprise):
Allowing lower courts to reinterpret the Eighth Amendment whenever they decide enough time has passed for a new snapshot leaves this Court’s decisions without any force—especially since the “evolution” of our Eighth Amendment is no longer determined
by objective criteria. To allow lower courts to behave
as we do, “updating” the Eighth Amendment as needed, destroys stability and makes our case law an unreliable basis for the designing of laws by citizens and their representatives, and for action by public officials. The result will be to crown arbitrariness with chaos.

From Justice O'Conner's dissent:
Simmons’ actions unquestionably reflect “ ‘a consciousness materially more “depraved” than that of’ . . . the average murderer.” See Atkins, 536 U. S., at 319 (quoting Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U. S. 420, 433 (1980)). And Simmons’ prediction that he could murder with impunity because he had not yet turned 18—though inaccurate—suggests that he did take into account the perceived risk of punishment in deciding whether to commit
the crime.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

American Absurdity: Bread and Circuses

The ramifications of Lebanon's government taking their ball and going home could be far reaching and significant - perhaps they won't. But shouldn't we be discussing it?

But isn't a major shift in power in the Middle East more important than Michael Jackson? What about this "BTK" nonsense to which CNN devoted 20 minutes tonight?

Reason's Interview w/ Neal Stephenson

Reason has an interview with author Neal Stephenson. As frequent readers of this site will note, I'm currently reading one of this books, Cryptonomicon.

Reader away or bugger off.

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