My Archives: July 2005

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Update: the Electronic Frontier Foundation is looking into the privacy implications of color laser printers. If you have such a printer, you can help, by printing out test pages and sending them to the EFF. Note that this is for color laser printers (and color photocopiers), not color inkjet printers. Please help the EFF if you can!  —brad

Posted by brad @ 03:42 PM EST [Link]

Jim Peron has announced a liquidation sale that offers the entire stock of his book store in Auckland, New Zealand (Aristotle's Books) to the public at reduced rates. The news item on the liquidation to which I have linked emphasizes the gay/lesbian material he carries but Jim's shop also focused on libertarianism/classical liberalism. Indeed, Jim is the founder of the Institute for Liberal Values for which the bookstore functioned as an adjunct. The bookstore's edress is orders@aristotlesbooks.co.nz. Or you may be able to contact the bookstore through the Institute. Please do not query me re: prices etc. as I have passed along all I know.

Posted by mac @ 11:07 AM EST [Link]

Heads up, eBay users. A new eBay phishing scam uses a valid eBay web page address in order to hijack your login data. I'll say it again: do not click on links in emails. For any eBay transactions, go to www.ebay.com manually, and then log in and proceed from there.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:16 AM EST [Link]

My thanks to reader A.M. who sends this item from last year, about how color laser printers can be tracked. Basically, every one prints a nearly-invisible "watermark" of yellow dots that encodes the serial number of the printer. So pages printed on that machine can be traced back to it. (You were a good citizen and sent in your warranty registration, yes?) If you need to print untraceable documents, best to use black & white inkjet...and maybe run it through an old-fashioned photocopier (not a multifunction printer!) a few times.

Just one more example of my repeated observation: Orwell Was Right, He Was Just Twenty Years Early.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 08:35 AM EST [Link]

My essay on Henry David Thoreau seems to be attracting a great deal of attention.

Posted by mac @ 05:27 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Scott M. has just relayed the results of an independent security audit of Diebold's electronic voting machines. Remember the last Presidential election -- the one in which Diebold machines were widely accused of either rigging votes or being able to rig votes? The reported security vulnerabilities and design stupidities are even worse than previous reports had indicated. (For an overview of the results, click here; for a full report, click here.

Posted by mac @ 01:15 PM EST [Link]

Wow. Novell just "dropped the big one" in the SCO vs. Linux litigation. I can't do it justice; go to Groklaw for the scoop. If Novell gets even a fraction of what they're asking, SCO is dead and buried.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 11:01 AM EST [Link]

I love it! Hat tip to David K. for "Herding Cats." "Git along, little kitties! Ride 'em, catboy!" BUT, warning, long download.

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

Friday, July 29, 2005

Gordon P. offers today's overview of three sites that are likely to interest McBlog visitors: Claire Wolfe's blog, Lynne Kiesling's The Knowledge Problem, and the Environmental Economics Blog. Click on 'more' to continue.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:16 PM EST [Link]

Many thanks to Laird Wilcox (lairdwilcox42@yahoo.com) for making the following texts free for the effort of downloading them. Laird advises, "Please feel free to share this list. Add any of these files to your own web page or blog. My goal is to share this information as widely as possible." All have been compiled by Wilcox; all are in .pdf.

The Writer's Rights. Over 1,600 Selected Quotations on Freedom of Expression, Civil Liberties and Individual Rights
Propaganda, Persuasion & Deception. Over 1,125 Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic.
Rationality, Rhetoric, Skepticism & Logic. Over 835 Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic.
Fanaticism, Dogmatism & Ideological Thinking. Over 1,050 Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic
Political & Social Psychology & Behavior. Over 1,250 Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic.

Posted by mac @ 11:46 AM EST [Link]

My condolences to our friends in the U.K., who seem to be leading the charge toward a police state. The U.K. police are now demanding new powers to attack "terrorist" use of the Internet. Under these "anti-terrorist" proposals, "it would become an offence to fail to disclose encryption keys."

"Police added that the measure would help police stop the spread of child abuse images on the web." Excuse me? Wasn't this about terrorists?

There, in a nutshell, is what the U.K. and U.S. governments are trying to accomplish: underthe guise of the "war on terror," they want all kinds of new and expansive powers to be used against the entire citizenry.

When you hear the cry for more "anti-terror" measures, remember: you're being scammed.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 10:19 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Gordon P. reviews Spielberg's new movie "War of the Worlds"...[Click on 'more' for review.] [more]

Posted by mac @ 08:43 AM EST [Link]

When your watchdog barks, shoot it. That seems to be the attitude of Cisco Systems, maker of much of the Internet's infrastructure. When a researcher for Internet Security Systems, Michael Lynn, found a serious flaw in Cisco routers, and tried to present a paper on it at a computer security conference, Cisco literally ripped his talk out of the conference book, and threatened Lynn and the conference organizer -- and I suspect Lynn's employer as well -- with legal action. To his credit, Lynn quit his job and gave the paper anyway. [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:31 AM EST [Link]

An update on Chris Tame from Sean Gabb, "In the past day, I have had several thousand e-mails of sympathy and support, which I will pass to Chris when I see him later today. I am sure he will be comforted by the high regard in which he has always been held. And remember - the bleak prognosis is only based on probabilities. Some people go from cancer because they give in to it. Chris is a fighter. He has asked me to reinforce my promise that the work of the Libertarian Alliance will continue. Our London conference is booked for the National Liberal Club in November. I will send out full details in the next few days. Chis has every intention of being there." [See earlier blog entry on Chris' cancer.]

Posted by mac @ 08:05 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Gordon P. updates us about Downsize DC's campaign re: the Patriot Act and CAFTA , Sen. Bayh's office (D, IN) has blocked all e-mail and FAXes originating from the ISP used by the "Downsize DC" campaign --- who understandably are unhappy about this. The managers of "Downsize DC" have in retaliation asked all supporters from Indiana to bombard Sen Bayh's office with telephone complaints requesting that Bayh unblock "Downsize DC"'s ISP; the managers of Sen. Bayh's office are becoming quite unhappy about _that_. The "official" position issued by members of Sen. Bayh's office (as well as the contents of Sen. Bayh's website) appears to be changing literally by the hour, and consists mostly of lies, slander, libel, and disinformation about "Downsize DC." Apparently, the "Hon. Sen. from Indiana" greatly dislikes it when his constituents have the temerity to complain to him en masse about his policies... >:-I For the full update from Downsize DC, click on 'more'.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 02:21 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. writes, While fruitlessly searching for information to confirm or falsify a colleague's claim that the Supreme Court has ruled that the 4th Amendment does _not_ protect passengers on public transportation from search w/out Probable Cause (anyone heard similar claims?), I came across the following egregious arrogation of power: Click 'more' to continue... [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:05 PM EST [Link]

I just received the following message from Sean Gabb, "I regret to inform everyone that Dr Chris R. Tame, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, has been diagnosed with cancer of the bones. The prognosis is not good. We all have the strongest hope for his recovery, but accept that the condition may be too advanced for more than palliative care. Chris will be back on line within the next week. In the meantime, he has asked people not to send e-mails until he is able to read them. Whatever may happen over the next few months, the work of the Libertarian Aliance will continue. Though Chris has no religious convictions of his own, I will ask those of you who are believers to keep him in your prayers.

I also regret to say that Bill Bradford of Liberty Magazine continues to be quite ill.

Posted by mac @ 09:37 AM EST [Link]

Thanks to Justin Raimondo for performing a feat that has been shunned by most commentators on Iraq (including me)...he actually read the new Iraqi Constitution. Wow!! His article is jaw-dropping. For one thing, the Constitution permits old-fashioned slavery. Yeah!! The alleged values of liberty and democracy for which Americans soldiers have died and which American taxpayers are supporting. The body-bags and $ have been spent to create a totalitarian Islamic Republic.

Posted by mac @ 06:29 AM EST [Link]

I have lamented -- and often! -- the lack of protest that has greeted so many measures restricting civil liberties and stripping away the dignity of ordinary human beings going about their daily lives. Airport "security" has become the living symbol of those measures for me. As long as I am treated as a criminal rather than as a customer, I refuse to fly. I was both heartened and depressed by reading a news article that described Phyllis Dintenfass, a 62-year-old retired technical college teacher who did a 'tit for tat' -- that is, when a female TSA officer groped her breasts, she groped back and claimed self-defense. The heartening part: thank GOD someone is protesting the ludicrous and debasing procedures that pass for "security." You go girl!! The depressing part: she has been found guilty of assault by a federal court and will be sentenced on November 1st. She "could face up to one year in federal prison and a fine of $100,000." When the government swats a fly with a laser blast, then you know it is trying to enforce an unreasonable law or policy.

Posted by mac @ 05:59 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Iraqi people are now going to be guinea pigs for 15 new "non-lethal" weapons: the Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System, which blasts 95 GHz microwaves at people in order to heat their skin, thus inflicting pain. You'll note they don't say "non-destructive."

"[H]eating a layer of skin 0.3 mm thick to 50 C in just one second", as this system does, requires, by my estimate, 1.63 watts per square centimeter. Read on: "A study published last year in the journal Health Physics showed that exposure to 2 watts per square centimeter for three seconds could damage the corneas of rhesus monkeys." The design range of the weapon is 700 yards; victims at half that range will receive approximately four times the power. (Slightly less, because the radiator isn't a point source.)

I guess blinding someone -- quickly or slowly -- is "non-lethal."

brad

Posted by brad @ 03:27 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. writes of NASA, In a manner disturbingly reminiscent of the attitudes that led to the _Challenger_ Disaster, NASA officials plan to bend their own safety rules in order to launch _Discovery_ before the current launch-window closes --- in spite of the fact that NASA techs have not only _not_ been able to fix the malfunction that scrubbed the first attempt at a launch last month, but they haven't even been able to _locate_ the cause of the problem! (One NASA official was quoted as saying, "We have wiggled a lot of wiring and it is possible we have caused the problem, whatever it was, to go away..." Wow --- I'm sure the astronauts who will be riding _Discovery_ found that statement _very_ reassuring... >:-(

As Kirsten T. writes in her blog-entry on the subject, "...Clearly there have been no cultural changes at NASA, just as there weren't after the Challenger incident (I had a professor who used to say, `There are no accidents -- only incidents.'). It's only a matter of time before they kill another half-dozen or so astronauts..."

Posted by mac @ 01:13 PM EST [Link]

Cartoons: Stuart Carlson's "About to Crack"; Jeff Danziger's "Karl Rove Explains"; Drew Sheneman's "Parental Consent" and "Bush Then and Now"; David Horsey's "Talk Radio"; Glenn McCoy's "Confirmation Processs"; Ted Rall's "Moments of Silence". Enjoy!

Posted by mac @ 01:07 PM EST [Link]

The following is from the Institute for Health Freedom e-newsletter. (Hat tip to the Medical Privacy Coalition.) For the first time in our nation's history, a local health department has proposed compelling medical laboratories to report blood-sugar-test results. Click 'more' for further information... [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:53 PM EST [Link]

Monday, July 25, 2005

I want to remind visitors to this blog that they are most welcome to cruise and participate in the ifeminists.net BB, which is moderated for civility.

Posted by mac @ 07:09 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. reviews two movies: Whale Rider and Madagascar. Click on 'more' to continue. [more]

Posted by mac @ 06:04 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. writes, Just read your column from last week (like I said, I've been busy :-( I like it very much; it's good to see someone clearly explain why conclusions from "hard science" and "soft science" may not be equally valid! Thought you might be interested in another reason why "soft science" research is often so bad.... Click on 'more' to continue. [more]

Posted by mac @ 05:59 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, July 24, 2005

This is where Patriot-Act paranoia leads you: the man shot (in the back) and killed by panicky London police was an innocent electrician on his way to work. The police commissioner's statement that he was "directly linked to the ongoing and expanding antiterrorist operation" was just so much ass-covering bullshit. (Hat tip to The Watchful Investor for this news item.)  —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:17 AM EST [Link]

Friday, July 22, 2005

The big news yesterday was that China has changed the valuation of the yuan. For analysis, so far I've seen this and this from The Watchful Investor, and this from Peter Schiff (a tip of the hat to Karen de Coster for the latter item).  —brad

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

Monday, July 18, 2005

As if I needed another reason not to buy Intel, The Inquirer reports that Intel's new "digital media platform", a.k.a. East Fork, is going to be locked into Microsoft...and into Digital Rights Management.

"The transcoding will basically add DRM to anything that touches the box, preventing you from using any fair use rights, and preventing legal sharing."

Thank you, no. I'll buy AMD instead. And maybe it's time to invest in a stockpile of pre-DRM computer hardware, like I suggested buying VCRs before they disappear from store shelves. Fortunately, there may soon be a glut of used PCs. Apparently users are tossing their old PCs when infected with viruses and malware, and buying new ones, rather than try to disinfect them:

"In the face of a constant stream of pop-up ads, malfunctioning programs and performance slowed to a crawl or a crash -- the hallmarks of spyware and adware -- throwing out a computer 'is a rational response,' said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project..."

No, here's a rational response: why not install secure and stable software on your PC, rather than an overpriced, bug-ridden, cobbled operating system whose lifetime on the Internet is measured in minutes?

No wonder Dell will no longer sell you PCs with Linux installed. The repeat business is better with Windows.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 01:03 PM EST [Link]

Saturday, July 16, 2005

At last I will be able to judge for myself what all the hubbub within libertarianism is about Josh Whedon's short-lived TV series Firefly. Sci Fi will begin airing the series on Friday evenings, beginning next week.

Posted by mac @ 03:06 PM EST [Link]

Friday, July 15, 2005

I've been thinking more about this lame-brained child protection email registry, and I've realized that compliance is impossible. In two words: email forwarding. [more]

Posted by brad @ 04:40 PM EST [Link]

Quote of the week:

"Bomb London? Don't these people know that's been tried?"

— Paul Wells, writing in Macleans magazine.

Posted by brad @ 03:32 PM EST [Link]

I received an email copy of "The Laws of Unintended Consequences" -- an entry in the Bakel Blog. I presume the email was, in part, to inform me that my letter suspending publication of the ifeminists.net newsletter had been linked within the text. (For that letter see McBlog entry (07/13/05). BTW, i am currently receiving legal advice on this "case" and I will keep people informed if anything develops.

The full text of the Bakel Blog entry can be accessed by clicking on the first link in this entry or by clicking on "more". [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:51 AM EST [Link]

For those who are interested and who have access, I will be on the NRA radio show today at approximately 4:20 EST.

Posted by mac @ 10:48 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Quote of the Day: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience..." C.S. Lewis

Posted by mac @ 11:33 AM EST [Link]

Before another minute goes by, I must thank activist-extraordinaire Mary Lou Seymour for taking over the ifeminists.net newsfeed in my absence and for doing such a stellar job. But, then, Mary Lou is a veteran at newsfeeds. She's an editor at Rational Review News; she maintains two of her own news sites Liberty Action News Digest and the Second Amendment News Digest. What a woman!!

Posted by mac @ 09:48 AM EST [Link]

Humor: Mark Fiore's latest and rather heavy-handed animation "Rockstar"; a delightful 'tribute' to Charles Clarke and His ID Cards (UK) "The Very Model of a Modern Labour Minister" (Thanks Kirsten!); and, an opinion piece from The Onion "If The Heat Doesn't Kill the Elderly, I Will."

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Firefox users: multiple vulnerabilities discovered. "Highly critical." Upgrade to 1.0.5. 'Nuff said.  —brad   
[more]

Posted by brad @ 04:55 PM EST [Link]

I just sent the following notice to the thousands of subscribers to ifeminists.net's e-newsletter to announce its suspension (at least, in emailed form) and to explain the political reasons why that suspension is legally prudent. The notice follows... [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:46 PM EST [Link]

An interesting scandal/controversy has been bubbling and still is brewing within academia concerning the forthcoming book "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History" by Norman G. Finkelstein -- a professor of political science at DePaul University. It is basically a full-frontal attack upon the ethics and scholarship of Alan Dershowitz...an attack that Dershowitz tried to kill through political pull and legal bullying. (Didn't he used to be a civil rights lawyer? What...he still is? Oh well, I lost respect for the man when he came out in favor of torture in a post-9/11 world.) [more]

Posted by mac @ 05:21 AM EST [Link]

Cartoons: Stuart Carlson's "Score"; Tom Toles' "The Hand Off; Pat Oliphant's "Some Had No Comment"; and, Dana Summer's "Eminent Domain". Enjoy!

Posted by mac @ 05:09 AM EST [Link]

Lee Killough offers the flow and a synopsis of the following debate on the separation of church and state... [more]

Posted by mac @ 02:21 AM EST [Link]

Brad and I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to the States, during which I spoke at a gathering in New York City and at an IHS conference in Arlington, VA. For those who are interested in an account of the NYC talk, it was written up in the New York Sun. [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:15 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A correspondent advises, "Excellent analysis by Lynne Kiesling of the economic forces driving the current gasoline-price "spike". Also, some comments on the Fed's monetary mismanagement leading to the Great Depression. Lynne makes the interesting comment that there is a near-total disconnect between the "popular history" accounts of the causes of the Great Depression and the accounts given in most economic textbooks.

Posted by mac @ 12:13 PM EST [Link]

Cartoons: Steve Sack's "Crutches"; David Horsey's "And Lo..."; my favorite, Glenn McCoy's "Rabid Dog"; Chuck Asay's "Then and Now"; and, Ben Sargent's "Watchdog". Enjoy!

Posted by mac @ 11:39 AM EST [Link]

A new blog that I am following with interest: "out of step, Unfinished essays and spontaneous eruptions about politics and culture." The blogmeister is Wally Conger who was one of the Left Libertarian Inner Circle of the recently-deceased and much-missed Samuel Konkin III (SEK3). I know because I was also among those ranks.

Posted by mac @ 10:06 AM EST [Link]

Gordon P. offers a candid movie review, Just saw _I `Heart' Huckabees_. I did NOT `heart' it. =NO= aspect of this movie makes sense --- it is "theatre of the absurd." Basically, it is two hours of rather annoying people, none of whom are even remotely likable or empathy-evoking, being very cruel to each other, while uttering random babble cut and pasted from from "New Age," "postmodernist," and "Politically Correct" screeds. I conclude that it got such rave reviews because: 1.) None of the reviewers wanted to admit that this movie utterly baffled them; and 2.) They could not bear to give a "Politically Correct" film about "Existentialism" starring anyone is revered as Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Huppert, Lilly Tomlin, or a host of up-and-coming stars as lousy a review as this cut-and-paste really deserved... :-( I recommend that you give it a pass...

Posted by mac @ 08:30 AM EST [Link]

Gordon P. comments on patents, The number of "national security" gag-orders issued to patent applicants by the U.S. FedGov has been steadily increasing for the last 6 years, from 18/yr in 1999 to 61/yr in 2004. Also, the rate at which secrecy orders are cancelled after review has dropped drastically since 9/11. In 2000, just under 250 U.S. "National Security Secrecy Orders" were rescinded, because after review the technology in question was judged to "no longer be a threat to national security;" however, from 2001 onward, the rate at which National Security Secrecy Orders were being rescinded dropped _by more than a factor of 2_, to less than 100 Secrecy Orders rescinded per year.

Currently, 4885 U.S. National Security Secrecy Orders are in force, as opposed to 4741 in 2001. Some of these secrecy orders have been in force since the 1930s...

I must confess to mixed feelings about such orders. On the one hand, since I am opposed to IP, the fact that FedGov officials _refuse_ to grant someone a patent monopoly would seem to be a Good Thing --- but OTOH, it pisses me off no end to see documentary proof that FedGov "Men In Black" really _do_ exist, and are actively working to suppress technology... >:-( (Full article...sorry --- subscription required to access full text... :-(

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

Monday, July 4, 2005

A "heads up" for those running the phpBB forum software. A security bug has been found in version 2.0.15 (and previous), and according to SANS an exploit is already circulating. There's a one-line fix, which you should install ASAP, but you might want to upgrade to version 2.0.16 (which includes the fix) while you're at it.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 05:14 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, July 2, 2005

We've been puzzled for a while by the frequent media pronouncements of "low inflation." Wendy has written before about how we're seeing prices for almost everything going up, to an alarming degree. So I thank Daniel Andrade, writing in The Watchful Investor, for providing this link to an article about how the FedGov fiddles the inflation number. Andrade cites a report suggesting that the real inflation rate is about 2.7% higher than the "official" number, and goes on: "if the 6-8% number for inflation we see in other websites is true, we're currently in a negative real interest rate environment."  —brad

Posted by brad @ 03:02 PM EST [Link]

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