My Archives: February 2006

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Two fun items on Cheney's hunting debacle:

1) Letterman's latest comments.

2) With a hat tip to Karen de Coster...Quail Hunting School.

Posted by mac @ 10:22 AM EST [Link]

I've seen several libertarians on favorite sites such as and come to the defense of the Dubai Ports deal, on commendable free-market principle. But I haven't seen any libertarian site ask the key question: cui bono?

The closest has been Justin Raimondo, who asks this question about the opposition to the deal: "In politics, one should always follow the money – and, as I've said before, on this occasion someone's financial interests seem to be intertwined with the effort to smear DPW."

Why stop there? What are the financial interests of those supporting this deal? Why did Dubya, who admitted not even knowing about the deal, immediately threaten to use his presidential veto to preserve the deal -- a veto he hasn't employed once in five years? Who told Dubya the deal is that important, and why is it that important? What are we not seeing, behind the scenes?

Follow the money, indeed.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 07:51 AM EST [Link]

Monday, February 27, 2006

Regarding my parents' new computer: I got a helpful note from a McBlog reader who says that Windows XP really needs 1.5 GB of RAM to run adequately. Which, I guess, makes my point about XP being a pig.

My laptop, which came with XP, has only 256 MB of RAM. I'm going to try installing the same security software on it as on my parents' PC, and see if the performance suffers. (I won't be able to test one theory, which is that the Norton ransomware is still running on their PC and consuming resources, despite my turning it off.)

When I started putting together a CD of useful downloads for my computer repair trip, it occured to me that I may need it for other PCs. So as I was downloading, I kept a text file of "system requirements" for each program, and this makes a handy list that I can include in the blog. [more]

Posted by brad @ 03:07 PM EST [Link]

An interesting thread has developed on my libertarian discussion BB, sparked by growing concern over the U.S.'s rapid devolution into a police state. Some people (like me) have come to the conclusion that it is time for Americans who value their freedom and that of their families to get out while the getting out is still comparatively easy. The question around which the thread has organized is "Where should I go?" You are cordially invited to browse the BB. If you wish to join the discussion, then just sign up.

Posted by mac @ 04:25 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Here we go again...maybe. F-Secure reports that the German DVD of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" uses "rootkit-like features" for copy protection. That's a DVD, not an audio CD. The Finnish edition does not have the rootkit; no word yet on the North American editions. You'd think these people would learn from the Sony BMG debacle.

And I see, according to the eWeek coverage, that another deployer of rootkitlets is Symantec, publishers of Norton security software. (More here.) My dislike for this outfit keeps increasing.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 04:30 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. writes, Just came across a phrase in a Wikipedia article that summarizes the ideological origins of the "Neoconservative Movement" better than any other single phrase I have ever come across: The original Neocons were basically "Socialists for Nixon."

Posted by mac @ 09:06 AM EST [Link]

I'd be interested in seeing this movie and/or hearing reactions from anyone who has seen it: Valley of the Wolves. (Comments that I've read on one movie site have ranged all over the map.) Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily reports: The raucous reception by some members of Germany's 2.5 million-strong Turkish community to "Valley of the Wolves," a movie depicting crazed U.S. troops in Iraq massacring a wedding party and a Jewish doctor removing organs from prisoners, has German politicians worried..,

A partial summary of the movie: A record breaker on Turkish TV for three seasons and now a phenomenon, "Valley of the Wolves" is now preparing to shake the world with the movie. The story begins with a true story: "The Hood Event" On 2003, the 4th of July, allied American forces come to the unofficial, half-secret Turkish headquarters consisting of eleven people. The Turkish soldiers suppose that this an ordinary visit from their allies. But this time it is different. In the changing conjuncture, America wants to be the only power "calling the shots". To them, there is no place for Turks in the region any more; That day, eleven soldiers are deported with hoods on their heads with no respect to their soldier ship dignity and in front of the region's people; It's all truth up to this point in the movie. [Click link for full plot summary.]

Posted by mac @ 08:21 AM EST [Link]

Thanks to Lee K. for bringing the following article to my attention: "Homeland Security Hassles Owner of Truck with Bumperstickers." I reprint the opening paragraphs, Dwight Scarbrough used to be in the Navy. He was a machinist on submarines, some of them nuclear, in the Pacific from 1975-1980. Now he heads up the Vets for Peace chapter in Boise, Idaho. And he’s not shy about expressing his opinion. At any given time, he may have as many as ten bumperstickers or peace signs on every conceivable spot of his truck. He usually doesn’t get hassled, he tells me. But then, on February 7, at his day job for a federal natural resource agency, Scarbrough got a call from, of all places, Homeland Security. An official told him to come out to the parking lot and said he was in violation of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Scarbrough had the foresight to tape the exchange that ensued; it can be read here or, in case the link disappears, I have reprinted it below. [more]

Posted by mac @ 07:44 AM EST [Link]

A tip of the hat to Kirsten at Crackers Central for this item. I'd heard that someone did a parody of Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun"; now I have a link to the lyrics and mp3 of "Cheney's Got a Gun."  —brad

Posted by brad @ 07:22 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Yes, I am back from the Visit To The Parents. Or more to the point, the Visit To Fix The Parents' Computer. Or as it turned out, the Visit To Replace The Parents' Computer. [more]

Posted by brad @ 10:37 AM EST [Link]

I salute Claire Wolfe for providing a detailed set of instructions for installing email encryption for Thunderbird under Windows. (My own more skimpy instructions for Linux -- really links to other people's instructions -- are available here.)  —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:15 AM EST [Link]

Friday, February 24, 2006

Thanks to Marc Angelucci for sending me the article below [click on more to view] [more]

Posted by mac @ 03:37 AM EST [Link]

I am at risk of overusing the word "chilling" as a description of news stories. Perhaps it is merely that I am up late at night, writing in a less-than-warm farmhouse. It is, aftrer all, winter and Canada. In between blogging and attending to other business, I am throwing wood into the airtight stove, which does a fine job of heating the house but which went out shorly after we retired early. What news story tempts me to drag out that overused adjective? Again it is from Consortium News: Labor Camps. So is this one of the ways the Bush Administration will deal with an acute recruitment shortage into the military; they'll use forced civilian labor on military grounds to free up the soldiers? The changes in the referenced law went into effect on February 14th. Happy Valentine's Day. [more]

Posted by mac @ 03:04 AM EST [Link]

A new audio version of the old and not-so-funny joke about ordering a pizza in the near future. It is called ACLU Pizza.

Posted by mac @ 02:33 AM EST [Link]

Thanks to David Theroux of the Independent Institute for bringing this chilling editorial to my attention. The editorial in Consortium News links two separate news items that are each frightening in their own right and exponentially so if they are connected, as the commentator suggests.


Posted by mac @ 02:04 AM EST [Link]

Monday, February 20, 2006

Kudos to Matt A. for establishing the Hurtt Prize! Matt writes, Harold Hurtt has suggested that surveillance cameras be placed "in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes", according to this story in the Seattle Post Intelligencer. In response, I hereby found The Hurtt Prize is a $1060 (and growing) reward for the first person who can provide definitive videotaped evidence of Houston police chief Harold Hurtt committing a crime, any crime. This evidence will posted here and forward to the Huston Police Department along with a demand that action be taken. Go Matt!!!

Posted by mac @ 06:33 PM EST [Link]

The Wonkette's Open Letter to David Mamet is hilarious.

Posted by mac @ 02:27 PM EST [Link]

Scott Adam (Dilbert) Free “God’s Debris” eBook Download. Get your free—no strings attached—e-book version of God’s Debris in pdf format. Enjoy it yourself or e-mail it to friends. The only restriction is that you enjoy it personally without any commercial use. (To download the pdf, right click and choose "save as.") [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:32 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. calls our attention to An inspiring statue called "The Self-Made Man" that has been adopted as a symbol of self-reliance and individual liberty. Here are two photos of the same statue from different angles. Here is the sculptress with the statue. Here is the artist's own website.

Posted by mac @ 11:55 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Jim Peron's site, the No God Zone, has some interesting new commentary about the Mohammed cartoons and the Cartoon riots.

--Fanatics want UN tyranny: Islamic nations want the UN to ban blasphemy.
--More Islamist Lies. The cartoon controversy was faked. A Islamist distributed 3 cartoons that were never published to rile up the radicals.
--So true, so true. A cartoon on the cartoons well worth seeing.
--Little Lies Islamists are Telling. Here are the cartoons that caused all the controversy. And we show they were published months ago in Egypt with hardly any notice. In addition we show that Mohammed has been depicted in Islamic art for centuries.

Posted by mac @ 08:52 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Interesting pre-coffee phone call this morning. James Hogan, the science fiction writer and an old friend, called bright and early from his home in Sligo, Ireland to ask some questions about the layout of Toronto where his next novel is set. That info dispensed, we chatted for about an hour and caught up with each other's lives. Last I'd heard he was splitting his time between a home in Florida and (a different) one in Ireland. He's moved his residence entirely across the Atlantic because he cannot stomach the US invasion of Iraq and the boola-boola, give-it-to-the-ragheads attitude that is so common down in the States, especially it seems in the Southern thereof. I sympathize. I do not sing the praises of Canada or any government but, at least, on this one issue -- that of war and war-mongering -- the atmosphere up here is much better than in the States.

Posted by mac @ 08:59 PM EST [Link]

Friday, February 17, 2006

Strange. I usually agree 110% with Claire Wolfe and Mary Lou Seymour but I find myself in disagreement with their shared take on the following news story. Jennifer Tomblin and Amal Graafstra have made the most modern declaration of their affection for each other, with implanted electronic chips that allow them unfettered access to each other's lives. It's called Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID. Both have had a small electronic chip embedded under their skin that grants access to each other's front doors and home computers. In essence, the couple have substituted a RFID chip for keys, access cards, etc. The chip in question doesn't monitor but merely serves as an ID. Claire states, "This is sick." Mary Lou, writing as MLS for Rational Review News, says, "Eeewwww ... oh brave new world."

It is not my cup of tea, I admit, and a RFID chip is not a way I would express love -- tho' it does express a high level trust. Nevertheless I was quite impressed by an interview the fellow in question gave on the Tucker Carlson show (MSNBC). He was cogent and convincing and tired to death of losing his keys. Moreover, since the chip could be extracted in less than a minute, it did not represent an ongoing commitment and, so, constitute a big mistake should either one of them terminate the relationship. The most interesting moment of the interview was when the fellow expressed concern about the biometric surveillance that is or may be conducted by government. Carlson snorted in derision and disbelief while the fellow explained that the implanting of the chip to replace keys, etc. was technology under his control, being used to make his life easier. Government surveillance was technology controlled by other people who wished to control him; it was technology used to impoverish his life. Bottomline: his particular private use may not appeal to me but I don't find it sick or Orwellian.

Posted by mac @ 06:55 PM EST [Link]

This from KTEN, a local Houston news channel: "Houston's police chief is suggesting putting surveillance cameras in apartment complexes, downtown streets and even private homes" as a requirement of some building permits." Hurtt floated the suggestion at a press conference at which he also stated, "I don't think anyone in this room believes we can afford to hire enough officers to put one on every corner, but we can have cameras to relay activity to the authorities." I like the Blogger News response, "No, Mr. Hurtt. But we might believe you could hire enough officers to put on every other (or third or fourth or whatever) corner. And then we might expect they would walk or ride a bike or use a patrol car to get around. No one imagines they'd stand around like hookers."

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

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Goddammit!! I am so glad Claire Wolfe is back and writing. Her latest Hardyville column is NOT to be missed: "Dealing with Debt, Hardyville Style (Part I)." And, you bet, I'll be posting a link to Part 2.

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

This article from the Arizona Republic: Bill would put flags in all classrooms by 2007. "The state House Committee on Universities, Community Colleges and Technology has approved a bill requiring public schools and universities around Arizona to hang an American flag in every classroom by July 1, 2007. The bill would also mandate that all public and charter schools as well as community colleges and universities buy American-made flags that are at least 2 by 3 feet. The sponsor of the bill, Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said this was being done in an effort to raise the level of patriotism that has been steadily declining over the years. 'We live in a time when we need to recognize our heritage,' he said Tuesday during the committee hearing. 'The flag is a symbol of freedom, and we need to protect that'."

Does no one else see the gut-wrenching irony of legally mandating a symbol of freedom? Or of punishing those who do not 'honor' that symbol of freedom in the legally required manner....that is, those who do not buy from an American company and or do not hang it according to government specifications (at least 2 by 3 feet and in every room)? Without intending to do so, the article got one thing right. The presence of the flag may raise the level of patriotism but it will do so at the cost of genuine freedom. That 'trade-off' is a predictable outcome of patriotism.

Posted by mac @ 10:03 AM EST [Link]

Thanks to Lee K for a heads-up on this UPI story. "A former NSA employee said Tuesday there is another ongoing top-secret surveillance program that might have violated millions of Americans' Constitutional rights." [Emphasis added above, full article below] [more]

Posted by mac @ 08:44 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

To continue Brad's theme of Cheney humor.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 09:38 PM EST [Link]

You know, I was joking yesterday when I said the "unitary executive" theory gave Cheney the right to shoot whoever he wants. But this is no joke: a Justice Department official has said that the president does have that right. We have to assume that he can delegate it to Cheney.  —brad

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

Take advantage of Free Comic Day. May 6, 2006, Canada and US Only. Click on “Store Locator” for a list of participating comic book stores.

Posted by mac @ 10:38 AM EST [Link]

A member of my libertarian discussion BB posted an interesting comment, which I pass along: So somehow things got messed-up and both of my parents have subscriptions to newsweek. When I brought them in I noticed something odd - they were noticebly different in bulk. So, being the curious little creature that I am I set them next to each other and started to page through them. They were almost identical, EXCEPT the advertisements were different - the ones in my dad's were more geared towards business, and the one in my mother's was more geared towards health. This may just be a coinsidence, it may just be that people pay for an ad to be placed in x-amount of magezines instead of all of them, etc. But it would make sense that people would target different genders, and so I waonder if that is what is happening. Does anyone know? Because I would certainly like to know... especially considering how liberal newsweek is supposed to be... if they are genderizing everything in ADDITION to all the sexist ideology they tote, well, I am going to be quite sad. Consider yourself invited to drop in, browse and join!

Posted by mac @ 10:36 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

From the Late Show with David Letterman, the top ten Dick Cheney excuses:

10. "Heart palpitation caused trigger finger to spasm"
9. "Wanted to get the Iraq mess off the front page"
8. "Not enough Jim Beam"
7. "Trying to stop the spread of bird flu"
6. "I love to shoot people"
5. "Guy was making cracks about my lesbian daughter"
4. "I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me"
3. "Excuse? I hit him, didn't I?"
2. "Until Democrats approve medicare reform, we have to make some tough choices for the elderly"
1. "Made a bet with Gretzky's wife"

Posted by brad @ 11:40 AM EST [Link]

I'm sure the Attorney General will soon point out that, under the "unitary executive" theory, Cheney has the right to shoot whoever he wants. Don't you know there's a war on?  —brad

Posted by brad @ 10:45 AM EST [Link]

I've been thinking about Cheney's hunting accident. You know, my dog can tell the difference between a bird and a human. (My dog does not, however, have friends in the oil industry.)

On the other hand, maybe there's a more charitable explanation. But I still think Cheney needs his vision checked. I don't think Harry Whittington looks anything like Cindy Sheehan.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 10:23 AM EST [Link]

OK, here's another reason not to use Google Desktop. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation,

...the new "Search Across Computers" feature will store copies of the user's Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and other text-based documents on Google's own servers...

Yes, those are the same servers that the Feds are currently trying to subpoena. Do you want them -- or Google -- Hoovering* through all your files?  —brad

* The former FBI director or the vacuum cleaner, take your pick.

Posted by brad @ 08:07 AM EST [Link]

Monday, February 13, 2006

Gordon picks up a post by Kirsten on my libertarian discussion group about the UN's call for an immediate shutdown of Gitmo. The news story: The UN has called for an immediate shutdown of Guantanamo Bay, the release of all the alleged "enemy combatants" being held at Gitmo w/out formal charges, and a formal "Violation of Human Rights" investigation into U.S. practices "equivalent to torture" (including force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners) to be carried out to "The highest level of the U.S. Gov't."

Gordon comments: It would seem to me that this basically throws down the gauntlet: The Bushneviks have little choice but to either modify policy, or formally withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. and effectively officially declare themselves to be heads of a "Rogue State" --- and either way, they _still_ risk a potential formal trial in the Hague (possibly in absenbtia)... No matter what happens, this may be the most stringent defining test-case of what remains of the concept of "National Sovereignty" since the formation of the U.N....

Posted by mac @ 08:21 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A tip of the hat to Lew Rockwell who makes the best comment yet on the following story. CNN reports, "Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets." Lew comments, "Cheney's luxurious hunting trips have long been used for off-the-record deals with the powerful, from supreme court justices to big businessmen. But I'd guess the value of an invitation has just dropped."

Posted by mac @ 05:51 PM EST [Link]

This is hilarious! And a true story to boot. A house erroneously valued at $400 million is being blamed for budget shortfalls and possible layoffs in municipalities and school districts in northwest Indiana. An outside user of Porter County's computer system may have triggered the mess by accidentally changing the value of the Valparaiso house, said Sharon Lippens, director of the county's information technologies and service department. The house had been valued at $121,900 before the glitch. County Treasurer Jim Murphy said the home usually carried about $1,500 in property taxes; this year, it was billed $8 million. The homeowner, Dennis Charnetzky, declined to comment about the situation. Most local officials did not learn about the mistake until Tuesday, when 18 government taxing units were asked to return a total of $3.1 million of tax money. As a result, the school system has a $200,000 budget shortfall, and the city loses $900,000. City leaders said the error could cause layoffs and cost-cutting measures."

Posted by mac @ 12:16 PM EST [Link]

An essay I wrote on Lysander Spooner for the Future of Freedom Foundation has been posted on the Lew Rockwell site. Enjoy!

Posted by mac @ 11:34 AM EST [Link]

Gordon P writes, The "security" on Dutch biometric passports has been cracked --- and moreover the data was read from a distance of 10 meters. And yet the Bushneviks still think biometric ID will be "safe" and "secure," and will end identity theft...

Posted by mac @ 11:10 AM EST [Link]

Thanks to Paul R. for sending me the following good laugh: Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn: [more]

Posted by mac @ 09:19 AM EST [Link]

Do you believe that in your dealings (however indirect) with Microsoft, they hold all the cards? I know three words which can restore the balance of power -- three words which strike fear into Microsoft's highest echelons -- and which, incidentally, can save you a lot of money.

"Just good enough."

More than anything else, Microsoft worries about customers deciding that their computers and their software are "good enough" for their purposes. Until they can successfully shift to a "rental" business model, Microsoft will depend on software sales for their earnings...and now that everyone who can afford a computer seemingly has one, that means upgrades. [more]

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

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Phoenix Business Journal reports, "A new state proposal asks voters to approve construction of a security wall along the Mexican border and pay for it via a new tax on wire transfers from Arizona to foreign countries." The reasoning behind the proposed tax: "Mexican immigrants and nationals working in the U.S. sent $20 billion back to Mexico in 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas. The proposed ballot question would assess a new 8 percent tax on international money transfers from Arizona. Those funds would be used [to] construct the wall and pay for other border security efforts." In short, the State wants to make the Mexicans pay for the wall meant to keep them out. Of course, not wanting to discriminate against one nationality or ethnic group (horrors!), the proposed tax would be levied on all foreign money transfers, with the happy consequence (for the State) of more revenue. At least, in the short term. In the long term, the tax would devastate foreign investment in Arizona. What foreigner in his or her right mind would invest money in a State that charges 8% in order to access it from their home country? As always, the rich will find a way around the problem. For example, the foreigner might transfer the money to a more friendly/sane state from whence it can be more easily retrieved. But, even if Arizona didn't take steps to close such loopholes and to impose draconian penalties for trying to evade the tax, each and every step in accessing money invested in Arizona would increase the expense and inconvenience of doing so. Moreover, most of the people the tax will punish are not rich enough or are too law-abiding to take evasive measures. Just one example: hundreds of thousands of Canadians are snowbirds. Every winter, they point their cars and caravan southward, usually toward Florida or Arizona where they spend the coldest of Canadian months. And I do mean "spend." To Arizona, these migrants are a tremendous economic boon. They bring check books and credit cards, they eat in restaurants and stock up on gifts for their grandchildren, they create rather than take jobs and just generally represent 'found' money. But who would buy a second home in Arizona when moving money from its sale a few years down the line would cost them or their heirs an extra 8%? Given that the U.S. economy (and the dollar itself) is being propped up by foreign investment without which it would collapse, it is lunacy for any State to post a sign on its border that basically reads, "We don't need your stinking foreign money! We will punish you for investing it here!" The proposed tax reportedly has the support of Republicans.

Posted by mac @ 02:05 AM EST [Link]

Curiousity got the better of me and I finally sought out the 12 cartoons of Mohammed that have 'caused' such turmoil and angst, especially for the Danes. The result. And, in case the cartoons disappear, as they have from some sites over the past week, here's a second source. BTW, The Sandmonkey, a self-described libertarian who posts from Cairo, is interesting on this whole issue. Warning: he's over the top and way biased in favor of the U.S....but I appreciate the insights nevertheless. Oh, and believe it or not, there is now a Wikipedia entry on the cartoon hysteria.

Posted by mac @ 12:30 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 9, 2006

The latest Nigerian scam is interesting.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:44 PM EST [Link]

Two websites caught my fancy and absorbed far too much of time I thought I'd spread the indolence around. Site #1: 250 newspaper from 55 countries. Original format, layout and pagination... PressDisplay™ delivers the world's leading newspapers to you before they appear on newsstands in their home countries. Cool. Site #2: an impressive collection of free downloadable Beatles songs and printed lyrics. Why should I be the only one not getting any work done?

Posted by mac @ 11:19 PM EST [Link]

For years now, I've been musing about a strange political demand that I frequently encounter. It is the demand that I feel hatred toward some person or group -- a demand that is almost immediately followed by a backlash of denunciation when the requisite hatred is not manifested. (The most common denunciation is that you are a hypocrite for not feeling hatred or that you are showing 'your true colors.' Presumably, the accusation means you actually agree with the person you've just meticulously debunked -- thus debunking yourself?) The latest cause for this line of musing is Tuesday's FOX News/ifeminist column "A Different Look at Betty Friedan's Legacy" in which I questioned various assumptions about Betty Friedan; for example, I presented Daniel Horowitz's excellent expose of her ideological (Marxist) background; he explodes the popular idea of Friedan being an apolitical housewife who just stumbled across a 'great truth' that became The Feminine Mystique. I ended my column by rejecting the possibility of providing a eulogy for Friedan....I don't believe she deserves one. Instead, I stated that all I could honestly say is "rest in peace." Because I did not say "burn in hell," or the equivalent, I've been receiving the predictable blasts of rage from those on the extreme edge of the men's rights movement who seem to have a lot of time on their hands. The response is nothing new and hardly worth mentioning except for the fact that I am prompted once more to wonder: why is it not enough to disagree with someone and vigorously rebut their arguments? Why do some of those who similarly disagree deem it necessary to feel and express personal hatred? [more]

Posted by mac @ 02:13 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

My last FOXNews/ifeminist article entitled Questions to Ask Scientific Authority elicited some interesting responses. I reprint one of them below. (The column was also reprinted by LewRockwell).... [more]

Posted by mac @ 07:40 PM EST [Link]

An interesting item from a reader of McBlog on what seems to be clear and egregious gender bias on the part of "Psychology Today". I haven't checked the claim out myself but here's the info should you wish to... [more]

Posted by mac @ 05:52 PM EST [Link]

Thanks to Lee K. for this heads up: "Bruce Schneier is lecturing at Rice Univ. tomorrow: It will be webcast (see page)." As background info: Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist and author. Described by The Economist as a "security guru," Schneier is best known as a refreshingly candid and lucid security critic and commentator. When people want to know how security really works, they turn to Schneier.

Posted by mac @ 03:03 PM EST [Link]

You are cordially invited to browse and/or join my libertarian BB. Tell 'em "Wendy sent me!"

Posted by mac @ 02:45 PM EST [Link]

Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller ("Bullshit") has been on my mind lately. It is not merely that his TV show is one of the rare programs I make a point of marking onto my schedule to watch every week. (Highly recommended!) Or that I just discovered he is a fellow-traveller,
a fellow anarchocapitalist. It is also due to the hostile response I've received over an article I ran on the front page this week entitled "How to Fight Back Against Pat-Downs by Airport Security Screeners" by Matthew Reed who specifically wished to have his position in the military known: Lance Corporal, Unites States Marine Corps 0351/ Training NCO 1st Marine Regiment. Gutsy fellow to stand by his beliefs in such a prominent manner. The gist of his article: Reed suggests much the same behavior that Penn Jillette enacted a few years ago while going through an airport patdown. That is, when airport security touches your genitals in an unwanted manner and despite your protest, call the police and register a sexual assault complaint. I applauded Penn's actions then and I equally applaud women now who file a police report of sexual assault in a similar situation. I have received howls of outrage from some extreme voices within the men's movement who seem to believe that I wrote the article, not Reed, despite his meticulous attribution and attached email. If I had written the article, I admit that I would have changed a few sentences as they do not accurately reflect my opinion. As a matter of site policy, however, I do not edit the content of contributors who, after all, I don't pay; I either run a piece or I don't. In general, however, I believe Reed wrote a solid article and that the pre-emptive sexual molestation of both men and women in the name of 'security' should not be legally tolerated. Some howling critics also maintain that such complaints are false accusations and that I am calling for women to falsely accuse men despite the many articles in which I called for the punishment and non-toleration of same.

Is legally objecting to the forced groping of your genitals a false accusation? I don't see how...unless, of course, you believe that putting on a uniform excuses the wearer from all personal responsibility of respecting the human rights of others. That is a popular view these days, I admit. Put on a police, military, or some otherwise governmental uniform and you are somehow given a "right" -- no, make that word "privilege" -- to break the laws of common decency and non-agression. So, in response to critics, I say...GO PENN! GO REED! Thanks for making my person a bit safer from the thugs and their attack-dog apologists who wish to grope the genitals of reluctant others in order to make the world a better place. How bright the future they envision must shine!!

Posted by mac @ 02:15 PM EST [Link]

Monday, February 6, 2006

Linux users: Novell is running a survey on what applications Linux users need. Presumably, if they get enough requests, they'll pass that on to the makers of those applications. So put your votes in now. (I've voted for Eudora email...and I've also sent my annual request for a Linux version directly to Qualcomm.)

Hat tip to LamLaw.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 01:02 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Wendy sent me this item about the data retention of recordable CDs. According to an IBM expert, cheap CD-Rs will hold data for about two years...good quality CD-Rs, five years. So while these might be ok for backup media, they'd be a poor choice for archival storage. This agrees with an article I read two years ago. I suggest you follow the do's and don'ts in this article, and develop a plan for preserving anything you write to CD-R or DVD-R. Periodically copying them to new media is one option...until one of them develops a glitch; then you've lost that file.

As for myself, I intend to use a hard drive for archival storage, backed up every year or two to CD-R or DVD-R. When the hard drive fails, I'll restore from the backups to a new hard drive.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 12:49 PM EST [Link]

Friday, February 3, 2006

It looks like enough people got the warning about Nyxem. After estimates of over 300,000 infected computers, the damage appears to be limited to about 5,000...mostly believed to be home computers. There's nothing like the threat of losing your data to prompt people to update their antivirus defenses. (Heck, I updated mine, and my Linux machine isn't even vulnerable to Nyxem.)  —brad

Posted by brad @ 06:31 PM EST [Link]

The Nyxem virus prompted me to revisit our defenses. I'm pleased to see two more antivirus packages for desktop Linux. Grisoft has released a Linux version of their popular AVG Free software. Unfortunately, only Mandrake 10.0 and higher, SuSE 9.1 and higher, and Fedora Core are supported "out of the box", so I won't be trying it soon. (It's possible that I could run it, but I'll have to check that I have all the prerequisite packages.)

And AntiVir has released their Classic (freeware) scanner for Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris. You need to know how to unpack a .tgz archive, and run an install script, but it installed without problems, and seems to work quite well on Xandros Linux. (This scanner is also available for Windows.)

Speaking of free software, IBM has released a "cut down" version of their DB2 database, called DB2 Express-C. This is a smart business decision: small businesses can use a free database system that can be expanded later to a major enterprise using the paid DB2 product. Unlike Microsoft's SQLServer Express, DB2 Express-C is available for Windows and this helps the open-source community, and helps Windows users anticipating future migration to Linux.

Which reminds me...going through some old bookmarks, I discovered that the table of Linux equivalents for Windows software has moved. It's a very useful resource; I salute those who compile and maintain it.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 08:52 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 2, 2006

A tip of the hat to Claire Wolfe for this item: the VeriChip RFID chip can be easily cloned.

My reaction: I'm glad I finally bought a logic analyzer. I expect that before long, logic analyzers, oscilloscopes, signal generators, and other tools of the electronics trade are going to be strictly licensed, just to prevent this kind of thing from happening...the typical thoughtless, pointless, ineffective, reflexive government response. A better idea would be to design a more secure RFID system, and limit its use to non-critical functions. A still better idea would be to give up on this RFID nonsense entirely.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 01:45 PM EST [Link]

Top ten marketing slogans for Windows Vista:

10. Windows XP stinks.
9. Let us do the thinking for you.
8. All the cool kids use Windows Vista.
7. Don't you want to buy all new hardware?
6. Security is like, um, kinda important.
5. Where do you want to get taken today?
4. Remember, nobody got fired for buying Windows.
3. [In a Bullwinkle voice] "This time for sure!"
2. What's the matter, can't you afford it?
1. Trust us. (Again.)


Posted by brad @ 08:06 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

From the Really Not Clear On The Concept department: a progressive web site has started a "No-Spy" list, modelled after the "Do-Not-Call" registry. I quote: "Complete the 'No-Spy List' sign-on below to ask for protection from unwanted domestic eavesdropping. We'll deliver the list to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during their upcoming hearings on President Bush’s domestic spying programs."

You're going to compile a list of people who don't want the government spying on them, and then send that list to the government? Words fail me.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 01:46 PM EST [Link]

Occasionally I am not merely wrong, but spectacularly wrong. Clearly my knowledge of iPods and Personal Music Players is deficient. Victor M. pointed out to me that just because you own an iPod, doesn't mean you have to subscribe to iTunes -- you can load up your iPod with DRM-free MP3 files.

And Keith P., while agreeing with my position on DRM, points out my gaffe with MP3s:

In fact I disagree so much on this issue that I won't buy a Personal Music Player (PMP) that only plays MP3s. MP3s are not a free/open format, and are encumbered by patents, which may be locked up at any time. I chose a player that will, also, play ogg vorbis files, which are free/open source, and not encumbered in any way (and, by the way, have much better sound qualities at equal compression rates to MP3s), and have less chance of license problems, etc.

I'll salvage a tiny part of my original argument by saying that I don't believe the MP3 format currently includes DRM features. Still, he's right about the patents and the possibility for the industry to lock up the format. If I buy a PMP, I'm going to take Keith's advice and buy one of the many which support the Ogg Vorbis audio format as well as MP3. (Keith uses the Cowon iAudio M5.)

Thank you, gentlemen, for my education.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 08:28 AM EST [Link]

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