My Archives: January 2004

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Cartoon Fix: Mike Luckovich on Bush's spending like a drunken sailor (apologies to drunken sailors everywhere) "Curbing Spending"; Ben Sargent's "White House Intelligence Model"; and, a large serving of the political cartoon styling of Kevin Tuma. Enjoy! [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:58 PM EST [Link]

Friday, January 30, 2004

This just in [at least it's new to me] from Bushflash! An excellent and serious flash animation on Saddam Hussein's CIA involvement/sponsorship with Frank Sinatra's "Thanks for the Memories" as a musical backdrop. [more]

Posted by mac @ 09:01 PM EST [Link]

Quote of the Day:

"A high-volume system like [Windows] that has been thoroughly tested will be by far the most secure."
-- Bill Gates, 26 Jan 04: less than 24 hours before the outbreak of the MyDoom virus; the same day that a "malicious folder" vulnerability in Windows XP was revealed; and two days before a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer was revealed.


Posted by brad @ 08:48 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Smile! If nothing else, it confuses *them* -- Clay Bennett's latest cartoon "National Debt," and Dana Summers' "Martian pest Control." Mark Fiore's two latest animations are also worth a gander: "State of the Union" and "The Rovers" [on Democratic candidates]. [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:31 PM EST [Link]

This is one nasty worm. It's beginning to look like MyDoom's denial-of-service attack against SCO (and now Microsoft) is just a cover for its real purpose. Analysis is still underway, but it appears that MyDoom is designed to serve as a spam relay, hijacking hundreds of thousands of PCs to forward spam messages. Even worse, it contains a backdoor which will allow its creators to install new software on the infected PCs. And there's suspicion that it includes a keystroke logger, which can capture passwords and credit card numbers. If you're running Windows, get this thing off your computer now. Free tools are available from Symantec, F-Secure, and McAfee. [more]

Posted by brad @ 07:33 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Cartoon Fix: Stuart Carlson US Eating Disorder; Russmo's Clamping Down on Terrorism; Clay Bennett's "Mission to Mars"; and, Chan Lowe's "Moon Vision Thing". Also for a chuckle, check out The Grannie Awards for best performances in the N.H. Primary. For example, The I Can Spin the World Award went to Joe Lieberman who called his fifth-place, single-digit New Hampshire finish a victory. Referred to it as a "split decision for third place." This guy is good. Or spooky. [more]

Posted by mac @ 02:24 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Now this is simply despicable. The latest fast-spreading worm, called Novarg.A or Mydoom, is designed to mount a denial-of-service attack on the SCO web server on February 1st. Much as I dislike SCO, I can't condone this sort of thing... and not just because we're already getting hammered with hundreds of virus emails. Please check your computer now (look for shimgapi.dll in the Windows System directory), and if you're infected, update your virus software and clean your system today. (See the links for more information.)


Posted by brad @ 08:01 AM EST [Link]

Monday, January 26, 2004

Quote of the Day:

"I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
-- Walden O'Dell, CEO of Diebold Inc., manufacturer of e-voting machines.

Scott M. sends an excellent link on the subject of e-voting. Dr. Rebecca Mercuri has been studying this issue for quite some time, and makes strong recommendations.

Don't say I didn't warn you. Microsoft is attempting to patent their XML document formats for Word. If granted, this will mean that competing word processors cannot legally read or write Word 2003 documents (or at least will have to pay a hefty license fee to Microsoft). This is contrary to the purpose of XML, an open standard that was intended to promote interoperability, but fully in keeping with Microsoft's strategy of customer lock-in. So don't believe Microsoft's propaganda about their use of XML. And if you were thinking of an upgrade to Office 2003, one word: don't.


Posted by brad @ 09:18 PM EST [Link]

Saturday, January 24, 2004

The article I cited yesterday summarizes many of the security problems with Internet voting. I've yet to read the full report, but even the summary mentions

Judging from the emails I receive every day, many Internet users still haven't learned not to open unsolicited attachments, still blindly follow links in email, and still believe that a deposed Nigerian dictator needs their personal help to move his millions of dollars.

Posted by brad @ 11:21 AM EST [Link]

Friday, January 23, 2004

It's too soon to score the latest round, but in the Mars vs. Earth Scorecard, Mars is still ahead by 20 to 16. (Thanks to Gordon P. for the link.)

A sign that it's time to dump your SCO stock: their CEO, Darl McBride, is now sending letters to Congress, whining that Open Source software is un-American, unconstitutional, and a threat to the U.S. computer industry, the economy, and National Security. No doubt it also causes acne, grows hair on one's palms, and contributes to global warming, too. This looks like a desperation gambit by a company that's faring badly in its spurious court cases. I think the best response came from the Open Source And Industry Alliance when they said "Software adopted by hundreds of the nation's largest tech and non-tech companies is a threat to no one except those who can't innovate and compete." [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:46 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, January 22, 2004

More commentary later...but, right now, I must share "Dancing Bush."

Posted by mac @ 11:15 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The World Wide Web knows, my estimation of the intelligence of politicians knows no lower bound. Or so I believed, until I heard of the new proposal to build a base on the Moon and visit Mars. Surely, I thought, even G. W. Bush cannot be so credulous or so moronic to believe that this can be done for a paltry $12 billion over five years ...and by the spendthrifts at NASA, who can't even operate a deteriorating shuttle fleet and a leaky space station for $5B a year, and who can't keep the Hubble telescope operational.

Why is Bush, the self-described "conservative," championing one of the most wasteful and bloated agencies ever to emerge from the capital of waste and bloat? Why is he not suggesting privatization, when there are private firms chomping at the bit to develop launch technologies and space enterprises? Why such a grandiose scheme and such an inadequate budget? One theory holds that the Mars project is a scheme to kill the Shuttle, kill the International Space Station, and divert their $5 billion a year to other uses -- but then why throw so many roadblocks in the way of private space efforts? [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:55 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, January 17, 2004

An interesting "insider" report from Iraq just crossed my desk -- interesting for at least two reasons: in its own right as a first-person account; and, as a window into its author, Bill Evers (Wiliamson Evers Jr.). Bill was an activist in the LP for 20 years, a member of the LP's Radical Caucus, co-ordinator of the David Bergland "For President" campaign in '84, a committed anarchist, a trusted confidante of Murray Rothbard before their schism short, a hard-line libertarian anarchist. Bill became one of two (to my knowledge) prominent and former LPers to accept positions in the Bush administration; he received an appointment to an Education Advisory Submcommittee. From July 20 through Dec. 17, 2003, he has been serving as a senior adviser for education to Ambassador Paul Bremer. Bill's account of his experience in Iraq appeared in the Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2004. As the WSJ is not generous in granting access to archives, I have reprinted the article in full.

[I must admit that it is jarring to hear a former Rothbardian intimate speaking with approval of the Coalition Provisional Authority, mentioning that "The White House had specifically told my colleagues and me," and recalling the wise admonishment of White House officials. Indeed, the entire tone of "what a great job we are doing in the reconstruction of another country with US tax dollars" is jarring.] [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:06 PM EST [Link]

Friday, January 16, 2004

Cartoon fix: David Horsey's "Reaching to the Moon"; two from Steve Sacks -- "Welcome to the Land of the Free" and (my favorite of the day) "3-D"; Matt Davies"'"Secure Zone"; and, Ben Sargent's wrenching "Lady Liberty Bolts". [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:31 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Cartoon fix: Clay Bennett's "The End"; Tom Toles' "Papers of Mass Destruction"; Ann Telnaes' "Going to Mars" - (did Ann peek at #1 in our Top Ten Reasons Bush is Going to the Moon?); and, Chuck Asay on government educators.

Please support this site by making a donation through which you will immediately receive an advanced copy of the anthology "National Identification Systems: Essays in Opposition," edited by Carl Watner with Wendy McElroy. For here. [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:44 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

After an absence due to deadline pressure and to illness (just a continuing cold/flu cycle), it feels good to be back at McBlog for which Brad has cared so well.

Good news! And, yes, this is both a promo and a sales pitch. The anthology "National Identification Systems: Essays in Opposition," edited by Carl Watner with Wendy McElroy is finally in my hands; it will not be officially offered for sale until April BUT it is available here and now from this site. The list price is $45 US and anyone who makes a $50 donation to McBlog at the PayPal button on the front page (or by writing to for other methods of donation) will receive an advanced copy inscribed by me with thanks. [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:05 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Could this be the "Coke Classic" move of software? Microsoft has said "oops" and has decided, after all, to continue support for Windows 98 and Windows ME. At least, for two more years, until 2006. I'm sure it's just coincidence that 2006 is when they're expected to release their next new operating system, code-named "Longhorn."

This seems an opportune moment for me to present a guide to Windows-to-Linux migration. [more]

Posted by brad @ 11:58 AM EST [Link]

Monday, January 12, 2004

Yet another "phishing" scam, this time purporting to be from Citibank and (naturally) sending you to a web page where you can give them your account info.

We got the first tip on this from our friends at Miller Microcomputer Services, who sent us what I consider to be a perfect case study of how to read suspicious the spirit of "teach a man to fish" rather than "give a man a fish." They've given us permission to post it here, duly credited. [more]

Posted by brad @ 07:37 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Top ten "suspicious annotations" to look for on a road map:

10. "Bomb here" with a large arrow
9. Skull & crossbones over New York City
8. Sketch of a swarthy face with a long beard
7. Halliburton installations circled in red ink
6. Anything written in Arabic
5. Powdered white sugar (from a donut) in creases of map
4. The phrase "Death to the infidel"
3. Doodles of mushroom clouds near major cities
2. Anything written in French
1. Vote for Dean sticker


Posted by brad @ 07:35 PM EST [Link]

Friday, January 9, 2004

I don't know what's funnier here: that Dell Computer asks export customers if they're going to use the product for WMD, or that a "yes" answer apparently doesn't stop the order from being processed. (I had to see this myself to believe it.)

Not to be outdone, the folks at Staples pushed the panic button when a mom tried to buy a copy of the Microsoft Flight Simulator game for her ten-year-old son. The staff was "obeying advice." One wonders what advice.

Perhaps the advice came from the FBI, who have been warning police to be on the lookout for individuals carrying almanacs or maps. Goodness knows there's no peaceful use for such things. Especially if "annotated in suspicious ways."

Welcome to the United States of Hysteria. As The Register observed, "At one time it was rare to find US citizens, in the safest and most prosperous country in the world, jumping at their own shadows. Now we only note how high."


Posted by brad @ 08:36 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, January 8, 2004

These guys never quit. The latest virus email claims to be from the FBI and accuses you of illegal downloading. Don't open the attachment.

I see that Microsoft's MSN will now -- among other services -- block pop-up ads for a mere $99 extra per year. Perhaps this is why Internet Explorer is the only major browser that doesn't have that feature built in. We've been blocking pop-ups, cookies, and most web advertising for a year, for free. Here's how. [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:24 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

I see that I've missed an anniversary: the GNU free-software project is now 20 years and 2 days old. Congratulations to Richard Stallman, who has seen his idealistic dream grow to become a driving force.

Security updates: Don't say I didn't warn you. Yesterday a new email scam was circulating. It turns out that it exploited the URL spoofing bug that I reported a few weeks ago. And now that vulnerability is being exploited by a phony "Microsoft" email. Aren't you glad you resolved this year not to click on links in email without verifying where they send you?

(This, incidentally, is one reason we send the Insider Update -- including links -- in plain text format.) [more]

Posted by brad @ 07:53 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

The following article is released under the attribution-with-credit, no-derivative-works Creative Commons license. I consider it important enough to reprint in full as well as to provide a link. Please circulate.

Your Bank Account, Your Liberties
By George Paine,
Friday, January 2, 2004 [more]

Posted by mac @ 09:24 AM EST [Link]

Monday, January 5, 2004

Your tax dollars at work: it seems that, as recently as 1995, the U.S. intelligence services used psychics. Well, tried to use psychics. From reading the article, it appears the quality of information was less than adequate. [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:57 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, January 4, 2004

A Groklaw reader has passed on the news that, starting in May 2004, employers in the UK will be required to remit payroll tax, and in May 2005 required to file returns, electronically, using "approved" software. (Smaller employers get a few years' extension.) The Penguinistas are upset that all the approved sofware requires Windows. I'd be more upset about this little wrinkle:

The Payroll Standard requires the payroll product to have the capability to exchange electronically end of year data on forms P14 and P35 ... and be capable of arranging for the payment of the amounts owing to the Collector of Taxes by electronic methods.
[Emphasis added.]

Posted by brad @ 08:00 AM EST [Link]

Friday, January 2, 2004

The techie comic strip User Friendly offers a Rorschach political comment for the new year (read into it what you will). And it's about nine days late, but here's The Night Before Christmas as a lawyer would write it.

Everyone is busy making predictions for 2004. The most speculative prediction I've read envisions Microsoft surviving as a Linux distributor. I'm amused to see the author explore the Edison/Tesla parallel -- first articulated by Wendy, almost four years ago today -- and carry it to the next step. [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:51 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, January 1, 2004

I see that the reflexive cretins who rule the U.S. have decided to ban ephedra...while leaving pseudoephedrine, a synthetic equivalent, completely legal. (Either they're amazingly stupid, or they're doing favors for the drug makers. Frankly, I'm not sure which, although "stupid" is usually my first hypothesis when politicians are concerned.) Believe it or not, this is related to my next item:

New Year's Resolutions! If you haven't finished your list yet, here are a few suggestions:
1. I will not open email attachments unless I'm expecting them.
2. I will not blindly click on links in email.
3. I will install antivirus software.
4. I will install a firewall.
5. I will back up my data regularly.

Now you must be asking, how are drugs like computers? [more]

Posted by brad @ 07:26 AM EST [Link]

[Archive Index] [Main Index]

Powered By Greymatter