Sunday, August 31, 2008
If you get any emails or text messages asking you to visit any of these sites to support relief efforts, stay away. You're better off self-navigating to the Red Cross site or any of the other religious or civic groups that are known to provide services during times of crisis.
Here's a partial list as of 8/31 from the SANS Internet Storm Center (isc.sans.org). If you're a network admin, consider adding these to your proxy or firewall blacklists.
Why would I read something like this? For starters, I like his blog, The DailyKos, even though I don't always agree with it. But it's more than that, something deeper, broader, rooted in what people do know about me.
I have two children that have grown to be fine adults, and an 8 year old son who will follow in their footsteps. In actuarial terms, I've peaked and am headed down the back slope of this life. I'm hoping to have a lot more years on this Earth, but if I'm average, I've got about 30 left.
I want a strong, fair country and a bright future for my children and grandchildren, and I'm tired of the status quo. I'm tired of leadership that fails to lead. I'm tired of the money=power equation. I'm tired of the lack of honesty, decency, caring, compassion, and courage in our institutions, be they corporate, educational, governmental, social, or philanthropic. And I'm tired of politicians pissing on my head while telling me it's raining.
Markos writes about the ongoing change in dynamic, brought on over the last five years or so primarily by the internet, which allows people with similar ideas and goals to connect, build, and effect real change outside of the normal corridors of power. And not just in politics.
Some examples: Peer to peer filing sharing and musicians distributing their product digitally online, via download or streaming audio, have made record companies a dying breed. Epic, Atlantic, Columbia, and the rest will tell you piracy is behind the drop in CD sales, but that's not the whole truth. More music is available than ever before. People just aren't buying CDs. The medium is dying, not the art. People want their music in a way that fits their lives, and paying for 13 bad songs on a DRM-restricted compact disc that limits their choices of where and how they can play it, just to get the one or two songs that they want, doesn't fly anymore, now that there are other options. Record companies are sticking to their outdated business model, and it's taking them down. Musicians don't really care - they almost never made a profit on CD or album sales anyway. The record companies made all the money. Musicians want their music to be heard, and it is being heard, in new and exciting ways. Music fanboys and fangirls sharing songs with their friends, driving online discourse and bringing attention to bands and tunes that would never hit the airwaves on today's corporate radio stations renders record company execs irrelevant - if you won't give music customers what we want, we'll simply bypass you and take our music dollars with us. Too bad, so sad for you.
Newspapers and magazines are in similar dire situations. Look at the depth and variety of information available online. There's no end to where I can go to find interesting things to read. You're reading my words now. What do you think the chances are that a daily or weekly would give me the freedom to write a column about anything I wanted? Look at the counter on the bottom of this page. This blog has been up for a couple of weeks, and we're close to getting 500 hits already. Every week new people are checking it out, and if they like it, they're passing it on to their friends. People have a hunger for information, for things that are interesting and different. You don't have to agree with everything I post, and you can tell me immediately when you don't, and I'll be happy to put your comments out there for the world to see. What a great two-way dynamic. When was the last time you wrote a letter to the editor, and had someone read it, approve it, and print it in the paper? I love newspapers, and I read one every morning as I eat my breakfast, but I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that I don't need fifty sheets of newsprint in my hands, giving me stories that the 24 hour news channels and websites have been covering for 12+ hours before the Columbus Dispatch plopped on my driveway at 6 AM. Why should I pay to run a classified ad when I can use Craigslist for free or buy/sell on Ebay? Can you name the last person you knew who got a job by answering a newspaper help wanted ad?
But I digress. Markos talks about how today, ordinary citizens can inform, connect, and create in ways that can change the world as never before. I don't need anyone's permission to do it. I don't need money, or power, to get started. Today, all of us have the ability to drive change, from the bottom up, instead of the way it's worked for ages, from the top down.
If you want the "gatekeepers", as Markos calls them, deciding what you should read, what you should watch, what you should think, while they give you a listing of what's right and what's wrong, then Taking on the System is probably not for you.
If you want your children and grandchildren to be safe, secure, and have options, choices, and possibilities, then read this book. All evidence I've found tells me that the people who have been in charge aren't going to give my offspring what I want them to have. It's up to me to do my part and advocate on their behalf. My legacy can be that I did what was right for them. That sounds a lot better than having them remember Dad/Grandpap by visiting a marble marker once a year.
I'll put it up in the morning. If you need one, try going to http://www.uaprogressiveaction.com/node/369
...the Palin pick reflects the most dangerous tendencies in McCain's foreign policy--the tendency to react, to overreact, to crises, without thinking it through. It also reflects a defiant, adolescent "screw you" attitude toward governance. I always thought McCain's best choice for vice president was Rob Portman--the former Congressman and Office of Management and Budget director from Ohio. Portman is smooth, attractive, extremely smart, reliably conservative, but he also knows how the federal government works. His experience as OMB director would have enabled McCain to say, "I've picked a guy who knows where all the bodies are buried, where all the waste is." The Ohio part of the program wouldn't have hurt McCain in locking down that crucial state, either. But the pick would have been seen as safe, unexciting--and John McCain doesn't like safe. Which is a real problem in a President.
Obama plans to activate volunteers and donations through his email list, without parachuting in for a photo op that hinders local operations. Guess which option McCain chose? Same as happened in Iowa -- and same as happened with their VP picks; Obama focuses on what he can do for the country, McCain focuses on what he can do to get elected.
So tell me, how did it feel, after you shot yourself in the face - and you came to - and realized you were not dead?
"Agony. The worst agony ever."
Read the whole thing, especially if you've been going through a tough time. You'll be glad you did.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Hey - that means I'm an expert in international relations to Canada, eh?
For those of us who want to know exactly how we're slowly killing ourselves with the things we're shoving down our pie holes, Calorie Lab is the perfect site. Not only does it allow us to view nutritional information from hundreds of restaurants, but it also gives us the same breakdown on everyday items that we bring back from the grocery store to self-inflict damage in the comfort of our own home.
There's even a "calories burned" section that lets you be like a nutritional Sisyphus, rolling that extra large bagel with cream cheese all the way up the hill, only to see it roll back down for all of eternity.
Friday, August 29, 2008
"In Alaska, Governor Palin challenged a corrupt system and passed a landmark ethics reform bill. She has actually used her veto and cut budgetary spending. She put a stop to the 'bridge to nowhere' that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars. As the head of Alaska's National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Governor Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops.
"Governor Palin has the record of reform and bipartisanship that others can only speak of. Her experience in shaking up the status quo is exactly what is needed in Washington today."
The Obama Campaign response: "Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies -- that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same," said Bill Burton, Obama Campaign Spokesman.
After the recent media coverage of the problems with the DNS protocol, people started to wonder how this sort of thing could happen. It's pretty simple. Back when these protocols were first designed, only a handful of computer geeks affiliated with specific universities, the military, and the US government used this newly-created network, and they all trusted each other. So, they constructed trust protocols to send their datagrams and packets over ARPANET, the fair-haired child that would someday grow up and become the Internet we know today.
What made sense (trust) back in the 60s and 70s doesn't make sense today, and trusted protocols (like DNS, BGP, and others) have outlived their usefulness. Make no mistake - the BGP hole is not new. It's been known for more than ten years. But development of a replacement protocol has been painfully slow.
Work on S-BGP (Secure BGP) is in proof of concept mode, and it looks promising, but it adds a lot of overhead to existing routers as they process, validate, and authenticate the additional digital certificates that are needed to ensure trust and security. This could cause bottlenecks and slow down Internet traffic significantly.
Cisco is experimenting with their own flavor, soBGP, and there are a couple of other solutions kicking around, but until the world can agree on a protocol, nothing can be fixed. Expect this hole to be around for awhile, or at least until there's a massive compromise that focuses everyone's attention on the problem at hand.
A German scientist believes that heated seats installed in some cars are killing off your little buddies. It's already an uphill swim for most of them, but increasing your scrotal temperature even slightly can damage the sperm production process.
As part of a study, temperature sensors were affixed to the scrotums of 30 healthy men, and then scientists sat back and watched the mercury rise, if you catch my drift. No word yet on where you go to find volunteers for this sort of thing.
So, all you guys out there take a moment to reflect on the fact that our twig and berries are on the outside for a reason. Just say no to toasty nards.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
John Goodman (no, not THAT John Goodman), who helped craft John McCain's health care policy, opined thusly:
Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort..."So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care. "So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."
This is stupid in so many ways, not the least of which is that emergency room visits are rapidly increasing while the number of available ERs is decreasing. Coupled with the fact that going to the ER is not a substitute for preventative care or dental care, and emergency room treatment is one of the most costly methods for patient care, and you begin to get an idea of how disassociated with reality these guys really are.
A British gentleman got into a harrumph with Lloyds bank in the UK when, after having some disagreements with the financial institution, he changed his telephone banking password to "Lloyds is Pants".
When told the password was inappropriate, he tried to change it to "Lloyds is rubbish", but that wouldn't do either, dreadfully sorry old chap. As a last resort, he suggested "Barclays is better", which was also shot down.
He was told that "censorship" was no good either, since Lloyds claimed passwords needed to be six characters or less.
Eventually, the man was permitted to chose whatever password he wanted, and Lloyds advised that the employee who had played password roulette "no longer works for Lloyds TSB".
Freaking highly unlikely, if you ask me. However, Air Canada's regional carrier, Jazz, has decided to remove those inflatable life vests as a way to cut weight and thereby save some gas. They posit that the seat cushions float, so stop your whining and learn how to tread water while your hair is aflame, sissy-pants.
In case you were wondering, the approximate weight savings per aircraft is about 5o pounds.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
With pinky extended, I chose an an extra pupy one and popped it in my mouth. The silkworm pupas didn't have a strong flavor. In fact, they had the somewhat familiar flavor of bad canned peas. With just a hint of mildew. Overall, not terrible.
But what caught me off guard was the crunchy cocoon. Silk my ass. This was like chewing on tiny bones. The good news is I was immediately distracted by the unexpected squirt of briny liquid that shot out into my mouth. A little heads up would have been nice. (Am I right, ladies?)
Read all about it here.
"Barack Obama will be our first hip-hop president. I can only imagine how the world will embrace the leader of the free world when he introduces other foreign leaders with, "give it up for my man Vladimir." Giving "props" for joining us in a treaty. Or the first lady Michelle talking about "my man" the "daddy of my babies" when referring to the president. That should go over well everywhere from 10 Downing Street right on down to the streets of the Middle East."
It wouldn't bother me if you tracked down Mr. Smith and let him know how you feel about his sad case of freeze-dried brain.
Now that half the world has an iPhone (and why don't you?), word comes that there's this teensy-weensy problem if you happen to password protect your phone. Password protection has never been much of a deterrent, but this is insane.
If you password your phone, try this: lock your phone, then slide to unlock it, tap the emergency call button, then double tap the home button. That's it. You're into your favorites, where you (and anyone who has stolen your phone) can access your confidential contact information. And your address book. And your keypad. And your voicemail.
Read all about it here. There is a workaround at the end of the article, which might be helpful until Apple provides yet another firmware update to close this massive hole.
I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
That's right, the ramen noodle has hit the half-century mark. I know what you're thinking - that dried up pasta cake tastes like it's 50 before you cook it. While certainly true, the moment you add boiling water to the mix, and stir in that mystery packet of herbs and spices, ramen is transformed from astronaut grub to asian delicacy.
Ah, the memories of frigid winter nights on the Korean peninsula, chasing puffy clouds of my own breath as I jogged from the main gate to the MP station at 3 AM, ready to kick back for a break, positively giddy upon opening the door and having my nostrils flare as they were accosted by the peppery scent of freshly made ramen. After downing a large bowl, I would jog back for another shift on the camp's perimeter, ramen-induced sniffles freezing solidly before I could make it the 25 yards to my destination.
Good times, good times.
It seems that there's some red hard plastic and clear rubber-like material inside the Hot Pockets. Some would consider the rubber an upgrade over the typical pepperoni nuggets usually found deep within the molten core of these mass-produced pastry treats, but I digress.
If you've never seen it before, also check out Jim Gaffigan's Hot Pockets stand-up routine.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Barack Obama's quest to announce his VP selection via text message was slightly thwarted when traditional media outlets broke the news before the text went out, but it was a good effort nonetheless.
In related news, John McCain spent the weekend trying to turn on his VCR by repeatedly pressing the button on his garage door opener.
We've often seen people leave a firm and take with them a wealth of knowledge. This approach allows a corporate "passing of the torch". I'm intrigued.
Sounds like a nice way to leave a legacy on your way out the door. It will be interesting to see if it gets beyond the pilot stage and moves into the rest of their business units.
Conservatives will blast [Biden's] record, just as surely as liberals will (or should) celebrate it. But one of the virtues of having Biden as the vice presidential nominee is that he won't take those kinds of attacks lightly. He'll fight back. He'll remind people, rightly, that being a liberal Democrat means raising the minimum wage, making sure everybody has affordable health care, providing strong public schools, and protecting human rights. Then, he'll ask why conservative Republicans don't want the same things. That's exactly the kind of political debate this country needs. By picking Biden as a running mate, Obama has signaled that he welcomes this argument--and intends, finally, to win it.
Hijacked by a relatively small few, the GOP of today bears no resemblance to Lincoln, Roosevelt or Eisenhower’s party, or many of the other Republican administrations that came after.
In my grandparents’ time, the thrust of the party was rooted in: a respect for the constitution; the defense of civil liberties; a commitment to fiscal responsibility; the pursuit and stewardship of America’s interests abroad; the use of multilateral international engagement and “soft power”; the advancement of civil rights; investment in infrastructure; environmental stewardship; the promotion of science and its discoveries; and a philosophical approach focused squarely on the future.
As an independent I will now feel comfortable supporting people of any political party who reflect those core values.
She's bright, she's funny, and she's professional. You know...the stuff television journalists used to be before it became all about people shouting at each other and parroting the same talking points over and over and over and over.....