My Archives: December 2005

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Like many others, I've had grave doubts about turning control over the Internet to the U.N. Alas, it seems that ICANN -- the U.S. corporation that currently does the job -- is determined to be at least as totalitarian as the U.N. The U.S. is now interfering with the assignment of country-code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs, like .ca and .uk) to ensure that the "right" people have control...and the "right" views get expressed. According to The Register, this means

If a company running a country code top-level domain refuses to agree to hand over any information or data held by it to the government, either legally, illegally or extra-legally, secretly or not, the government can simply replace the company with a government-run agency. If it refuses to shut down a website, or to redirect it elsewhere, the government can simply replace it with a government-run agency.

Read the whole article: the analysis is insightful. (Hat tip to Ed P.)  —brad

Posted by brad @ 02:35 PM EST [Link]

Friday, December 30, 2005

Thanks very much to Ambyr both for writing the following piece of voice privacy and for passing it along to me. I admit -- it is not an issue to which I've given much thought. BTW, Ambyr calls the piece "copyleft-free". Disguising a Vocal Sample to Prevent Voiceprint Identification.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:03 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Windows users: if you're using (or thinking of using) Google Desktop, you may want to think again. If you have Google Desktop, the latest Windows exploit can infect your computer even if you simply store the WMF image on your hard drive. According to F-Secure,

Bottom line is that if an image file with the exploit ends up to your hard drive, Google Desktop will try to index it and will execute the exploit in the process. There are several ways such a file could end up to the local drive. And this indexing-will-execute problem might happen with other desktop search engines too.

Anything which automatically executes downloaded content without asking for confirmation is bad news for your computer's security.

I've stopped commenting on most Windows viruses, but this one is particularly much so that SANS has raised their Infocon to yellow. It affects all current versions of Windows, including XP SP2, and no fix is available (yet). Merely visiting the wrong web page is all it takes to infect your computer. F-Secure has more info.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 01:57 PM EST [Link]

My latest FOXNews/ column lambasted the ease with which temporary restraining orders can be obtained and how they are misused as harassment or as bargaining chips in e.g. divorce. I reprint some comments from readers.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:02 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What's being discussed on the newest libertarian BB in town?

Skepticism About the Libertarian Party

Student visited by feds after checking out Little Red Book

U.S. women want 2nd shot at virginity

Join and add your voice to rollicking ride! Tell 'em Wendy sent you.

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

The following is a book review I did of "Lady Franklin's Revenge: A True Story of Ambition, Obsession, and the Remaking of Arctic History" by Ken McGoogan. (Harper Collins), which was published in the Literary Review of Canada. [more]

Posted by mac @ 08:49 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Every level of government is constantly looking for more ways to grab money. Now the state of Tennessee is considering taxing the software you use in your business. Property tax, that is, so you pay yearly. Maybe a few business will do a Sterling Ball and switch to free (as in beer) software.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 06:18 PM EST [Link]

Monday, December 26, 2005

You might have noticed that we've been enjoying an extended holiday: beginning with Winter Solstice (Dec. 21), continuing through Gravmas (a.k.a. Newtonmas -- Sir Isaac Newton's birthday, Dec. 25) and on to Boxing Day (Dec. 26). No travel, just stay-at-home revelry.

Over the weekend I upgraded my computer. (Skip the rest if computer tech bores you.) [more]

Posted by brad @ 07:31 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Like the "unsinkable" Titanic, we have the "unhackable" Diebold voting machines. Which have now been spectacularly hacked, for the benefit of Florida electioneers, by Finnish security expert Harri Hursti.

The Hursti Hack requires a moderate level of inside access. It is, however, accomplished without being given any password and with the same level of access given thousands of poll workers across the USA. It is a particularly dangerous exploit, because it changes votes in a one-step process that will not be detected in any normal canvassing procedure, it requires only a single a credit-card sized memory card, any single individual with access to the memory cards can do it, and it requires only a small piece of equipment which can be purchased off the Internet for a few hundred dollars.

Diebold, you may recall, is the voting-machine company whose CEO promised to "deliver Ohio" to Bush in 2004. Said CEO has now resigned amidst rumors of securities fraud and mismanagement. The sad thing is, as the Finnish expert demonstrated, we can never know if Diebold machines were hacked in 2004.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 11:59 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Humor du jour: Doonesbury on Intelligent Design. (Hat tip to our friends the Millers).  —brad

Posted by brad @ 05:29 PM EST [Link]

Saturday, December 17, 2005

You'll want to grab a copy of this paper (PDF) before it gets yanked from the Internet. Some researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered that many wiretapping systems used by law enforcement are vulnerable to a variety of countermeasures and spoofing attacks. It's a bit technical but, to a techie, a fascinating read...and probably scary as hell to those who wish to monitor your every call. (HTML summary here.)  —brad

Posted by brad @ 04:00 PM EST [Link]

Friday, December 16, 2005

I was ready to relent, and give the New York Times an "attaboy" for breaking the story about the NSA's domestic spying. Then I read the punch line of the story: "The newspaper [The New York Times] said it held the story for a year at the administration's request."

Still lapdogs for the administration, I see. Was it outrage over the Patriot Act renewal that finally reminded them that they are -- ostensibly -- journalists?  —brad

Posted by brad @ 08:56 PM EST [Link]

Since posting the last item on Doug Bandow being 'on the take,' I have been surfing the Internet about the story with anger slowly rising up within me. [more]

Posted by mac @ 08:36 PM EST [Link]

Op-Eds for Sale: "A senior fellow at the Cato Institute resigned from the libertarian think tank on Dec. 15 after admitting that he had accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff for writing op-ed articles favorable to the positions of some of Abramoff's clients. Doug Bandow, who writes a syndicated column for Copley News Service, told BusinessWeek Online that he had accepted money from Abramoff for writing between 12 and 24 articles over a period of years, beginning in the mid '90s."

I am stunned and disappointed. I love Doug's work but, I must admit, I only read him on occasion and only when he addressed a topic of direct interest to me. His columns on Indian tribes, which seem to be the focus of the pay-for-play op-eds, would not have fallen into that category. If I did read any of the columns in question and thought anything was amiss, I'd have assumed that he was off his game that day.

Posted by mac @ 07:47 PM EST [Link]

Gdp writes, Cheney and Rumsfeld have made a disgraceful "end run" around the McCain Anti-Torture Bill: [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:54 PM EST [Link]

I thought the following email exchange between me and gdp might be of general interest. I was drawn this morning to a news story in the (UK) Independent which was entitled "South Korean human cloning pioneer 'admits to fake evidence'"

Gdp answered my queries to him as follows: There are a number of passages in this article that I find troublesome, and I'm not entirely clear on what being alleged in some paragraphs. First, the following: Professor Hwang has already admitted to the unethical practice of using eggs from his own female co-workers as a source of the stem cells, despite repeated denials when he had been challenged about it in the past. [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:37 PM EST [Link]

Today's headline: GM to stop paying into some workers’ 401(k)s: Auto giant tells white-collar workers it will suspend matching contributions. The article continues, "The company also said that white-collar severance packages will limit payments to one month’s base salary for each year of work up to 15 months." GM seems to be preparing the ground for massive and less expensive layoffs in the near future. Meanwhile, The Pension Reform Bill has been passed by the House and is wending its way toward enactment. Bush clearly wants to be seen as bolstering pension security for the approximately 44 million American workers and retirees who are hooked into that system. I've tried to read the Reform Bill and -- in its current incarnation -- it seems to be a combination of getting tough (with carmakers), cutting favors (with airlines), making taxpayers liable (with the PBGC, the fed's insurance fund, still picking up pensions upon bankruptcy). I can't work up enough enthusiasm to sift through the bill and its implications...for a few reasons. Key provisions are still under debate and may change. I don't think a law is going to change the coming pension collapse that will be led by the auto companies; economic factors, including world trade, will play out and that's that. Pensions have become such a scam; people without them are forced to pay for those who have them through the imposition of taxes and tariffs that make goods far more expensive than necessary. Thug-like unions still grip key industries which negotiated away their futures for short-term gains in the 60s and 70s; they entered labor and pension deals that are virtually impossible to honor. And even though I feel sorry for the little guy and gal caught up in the expanding pension bubble, I don't feel so sorry as to shift responsibility for their own economic wellbeing and choices onto the shoulders of a new generation...or anyone else actually.

Posted by mac @ 09:36 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Our good friend Claire Wolfe is holding an auction on eBay to raise funds for a friend who has cancer. The item being auctioned is a "brand-new autographed, leather-bound copy of The Black Arrow" by Vin Suprynowicz. I'm a little slow to discover this -- the auction ends December 19 -- but you still have three days to place a bid.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 01:54 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

WARNING! You may be in violation of a secret law!!
Kevin Drum, the Political Animal, blogs the following, which I reprint in full below with my commentary appended.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 09:59 AM EST [Link]

Monday, December 12, 2005

Microsoft is now offering a new service: "Locate Me", part of their new Windows Live Local. If you're using Wi-Fi and you install their software, the jig is up: they can identify your physical five decimal places, according to the Inquirer. Supposedly, even if you don't install their software, they can pin down your IP address with some accuracy. (I can't say for sure -- the service doesn't work for me, probably because I don't use Internet Explorer.)

Needless to say, those paragons of libertarian values are offering this information to any government agency that asks. That's bad enough, but they're also going to use this information freely to "protect and defend the rights or property of Microsoft." Couple this with their ever-more-invasive software "activation" spyware, and it's easy to imagine raids by Business Software Alliance goons, tipped to the geolocation of a single copy of MS Office installed on two home machines.

Are you sure you want to use their products?  —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:12 AM EST [Link]

A heads-up for you poor folks still running Windows: the Sober.Y virus is due to activate on January 5th. At this time it will try to download fresh malware from various servers. If you're an enterprise sysadmin, F-Secure has cracked the code and identified which servers to block at the firewall. If you're a lone user, update your antivirus software now and clean this worm off your PC.

Judging from the hundreds of Sober.Y messages I'm receiving each day, infection is widespread. No one knows what malware will be launched on January 5th, but it could hammer the Internet pretty hard -- I remember Nimda, which didn't infect our systems but nevertheless tied up nearly all of our Internet bandwidth with probes. Best to get your critical email out on the 4th.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 06:54 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, December 11, 2005

From the front page newsfeed (12/11/05):
Tapping Islam's feminist roots
Source: Seattle Times
"Several months ago, when a group of Spanish Muslims approached city officials here about sponsoring a conference on Islamic feminism, one responded, 'Isn't that an oxymoron?'" [Ed.: I wish I had enough knowledge of Islam to answer this question to my own satisfaction.] (12/10/05)

A reader comments, [more]

Posted by mac @ 03:35 PM EST [Link]

This is Bill Bradford's last article. Hurricane Katrina, Who's Really to Blame by R.W. Bradford, [Liberty magazine, November 2005. Volume 19, Number 11

If insanity is repeating a mistake and expecting different results, Americans' response to Katrina is insane. The most bizarre thing about Hurricane Katrina is the public's reaction. Look what happened. [more]

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

Thanks to Lee K. for this item: "Washington, D.C., December 9, 2005 - More than three years before the 9/11 attack on the United States, U.S. officials warned Saudi Arabia that Osama bin Laden "might take the course of least resistance and turn to a civilian [aircraft] target," according to a declassified cable released by the National Security Archive today."

Posted by mac @ 02:43 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Come join the fun and frolic at the newest Libertarian Discussion BB; moderated by Wendy McElroy.

Posted by mac @ 10:26 AM EST [Link]

The following article by Lila Rajiva from CounterPunch, Straighten Up and Fly Normal...Or Else: Shooting the Mentally Ill, is the clearest enunciation of my own evaluation of the shooting death of Alpizar by two air marshalls in the Miami International Airport. Rajiva raises several important questions:
The air marshals claim that Alpizar was acting aggressively even when he boarded. If so, why was he allowed to board and not just escorted away immediately?
They say he might have blown up the plane. If so, why did he run out of it?
They say he intended to blow up the terminal. I so, why did he board?
And why was he shot 4-6 times?
[Click 'more' to continue.] [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:24 AM EST [Link]

News of Bill Bradford's death on Thursday, December 8th is starting to circulate and, so, I feel able to post on the subject. Bill had wished to die with dignity, in the privacy of family and friends. The libertarian movement has lost an anchor; I've lost a friend who stood by me during one of the most difficult periods of my life. His death is terrible news. The announcement from Stephen Cox is reprinted in full as follows: Dear friends, I am grieved to tell you that R.W. Bradford, founder of "Liberty," died on Thursday, December 8, at his home in Port Townsend, Washington. He was 58 and had fought heroically against cancer for many months. Bill was surrounded by friends and family, and by the good wishes of his many friends throughout the world. An upcoming issue of "Liberty" will feature a commemoration of Bill's life. His work will continue. Stephen Cox For "Liberty"

Posted by mac @ 06:53 AM EST [Link]

Friday, December 9, 2005

Some humor today: Nate Beeler's take on "Plan for Victory"; Matt Davies on "Condi's Gap"; and Tom Tomorrow offers "America, a brief parable".  —brad

Posted by brad @ 01:26 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, December 8, 2005

WOW. That was fast! Jim Peron's book list has sold out with not so much as a book plate left.

Posted by mac @ 11:36 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

The Wonkette does this...sit and render impressions of breaking events and press here goes:

As I sit here, John Murtha is on TV giving a press conference regarding Bush's earlier and optimistic statements about progress in Iraq. He wisely opens by establishing his real-world knowledge of the ground-situation in Iraq by referring to his August tour of the country and military there. Upon returning, he informed Bush and others of the crying need of the military for basic equipment like body armor. He also takes the military spokesmen to task for painting "a rosy picture" for the American people which does not reflect the truth. He is being very effective. In contrast to Bush, he provides a great many specifics, direct quotes from personal conversations, and a hard line. His bottom line is that the war cannot be won militarily. BTW...his approach is also wise on another point; he is coming out on the side of the military guy in the field and patroling Iraqi streets. I do not believe this is a pose on his part; I believe this is how he feels and the sincerity comes across.

Murtha is now doing the one thing that Bush cannot or will not do -- a void for which Bush is being justly pilloried: he is defining progress and, perhaps, success in Iraq. He is defining them in concrete terms that are expressed in charts that even a fool of a White House can see. He is now pointing to a chart on oil production in Iraq which are below pre-war levels -- a chart that he has on hand to distribute to the journalists. Water production is also down, the water system being essential to winning the hearts and souls of the Iraqi people. (Damn! needed to let the dog out and missed what he said about electricity.) Incidents have increased 5-fold in the last year. These concrete and measureable factors are how he is assessing progress...

He lambasts the Bush administration's statement that "70% of Iraqis are satisfied." He quotes a British newspaper poll claiming 80% of Iraqis polled want the Americans out. On and on, he contradicts the 70% figure. He states outright that the Iraqis have turned against the American presence and individual troops stationed there. He recommends redeploying American troops to the periphery of the situation (e.g. Kuwait) because they are currently in the middle of a civil war that they cannot win.

Interesting distinction he draws: he distinguishes between terrorism and insurgency, claiming that the latter is the true problem facing the American military and that it is a problem creating largely by the very presence of the military.

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

Jim Peron is liquidating a large portion of his private library and offers you a unique opportunity to purchase rare libertarian works, sometimes one of a kind. The book list is here. Jim Peron writes [Click on 'more' to continue.] [more]

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

I thought I'd update you on Bear, the dog Brad & I rescued from our local animal shelter, as the story has a happy ending. I'll pick up the plot where I left it. Bear bit me -- suddenly and without provocation -- for a third time about 2 months ago; under our vet's supervision and coupled with behavior modification, we put him on an anti-anxiety drug anecdotally called "puppy prozac". [Click 'more' to continue.] [more]

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

Monday, December 5, 2005

Sony BMG's defense in a nutshell:

"We didn't do anything wrong. Our software was harmless and easily uninstalled. Okay, it wasn't, but what you don't know won't hurt you. No one complained before. But because we're swell guys, we'll stop using XCP...for a while. And we'll replace the 20 -- no, 45 -- no, 52 -- titles affected...if you ask. And we'll offer an uninstaller...someday. And this is all your fault for downloading music."


Posted by brad @ 10:43 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, December 4, 2005

I've been contemplating the effectiveness of my anti-spam strategy. So far it seems to be working. [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:01 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, December 3, 2005

According to an article in the BBC: "The number of men paying women for sex has nearly doubled in a decade, says research. Why? One in 10 of the 11,000 men asked in a survey in 2000 said he used prostitutes, compared with one in 20 in 1990."

It is not possible to judge accurately from the news coverage but this survey appears to be junk -- at least, as it is reported. For example, there are several alternative explanations for what is being referred to as a doubling of men's use of prostitutes: men may be becoming more candid in what they admit to sexually; the respective questions may have been worded somewhat differently with the latter encouraging reporting; 'prostitution' may have been defined more broadly to include e.g. phone sex; the 2000 survey may have been atypically low in the estimates of men who use prostitutes; the population surveyed may have atypical e.g. sailors on shore leave or very small.... Moreover, even if accurate, what the survey tells us is not clear without knowing many other factors such as 'was there a comparable increase in women's use of sex workers?' 'What do reports from years before 2000 indicate? (To its credit, the BBC cites a 1940s study...but aren't there ones more current than 60 years ago?) This sort of survey and subsequent media coverage is often merely sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism. Or, worse, sensationalism at the service of a political agenda.

One reason my guard is up on accepting such reports is the heavy and hard campaign being waged by agencies such as the UN against global prostitution. If it is seen to be an 'epidemic', then their campaign gains legitimacy and funding.

BTW, this is just one topic of discussion on the Libertarian Discussion BB. Come join us!!

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

"We're from the government, and we're here to screw up." According to Netcraft,

A phishing attack is exploiting an open redirect on a U.S. government web site to gain credibility for bogus e-mails promising an IRS tax refund. The scam e-mail offers an IRS refund of $571 to recipients if they click on a link to, a legitimate federal web site that has recently been promoted by President Bush as a tool to streamline relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

An open redirect on the web site allows phishers to craft a URL that uses the URL but instead sends users to a web server in Italy and a phishing site seeking to steal their bank login details and Social Security number.

Yep, the Feds are the guys I want to trust with computer security. Not!  —brad

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

Only in Canada. I just bought some backup media for our PCs: CD-Rs for 36 cents each, and DVD-Rs (that hold six times the data) for 26 cents each. What gives?

The answer is that in Canada, CD-Rs are subject to a "copyright levy" (paid to the music industry) of 21 cents per disc. DVD-Rs, not being "audio" media, don't pay any levy at all. In the absence of this levy, we'd presumably be paying 15 cents per CD-R. Put another way, the music industry gets more from each blank CD-R than the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer combined.

I currently use four CD-Rs a week for computer backups. That means I'm paying the music industry over $40 a year for the privilege of backing up my computer...on media that never see a note of music. Needless to say, in the new year I'm switching to DVD-Rs for backup.

There's a bright side. I just learned that the legislation which enabled this levy also makes it legal for me to duplicate friends' music CDs for my personal use. (I cannot, however, duplicate my CDs for my friends.)  —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:13 AM EST [Link]

Friday, December 2, 2005

According to Diana Hsieh's blog NoodleFood, which I enjoy, the long-standing Objectivist BB SOLO HQ is dead. She writes, As of tomorrow [December 1st], SoloHQ will cease to exist. (Based upon the announcement, Executive Director Joe Rowlands was pretty unhappy with the state of the site.)" When you proceed to the old Sense of Life Objectivists (SOLO) URL, there is a notice that states, "Not to fear, two new sites have been created."
Rebirth of Reason under Joe Rowlands.
Solo Passion under Lindsey Perigo

Posted by mac @ 11:51 AM EST [Link]

A reader -- who clearly has a better view of the Canadian Conservative leader Stephen Harper than I do -- takes me to task on my blog-comments about SH and the upcoming Canadian election. The reader presents a factual correction, for which I thank him: he claims that SH does speak French. I am willing to take the claim at face value and issue a correction herewith. (For those outside of Canada, the ability to speak French is a prerequisite to being taken serious in Quebec and elsewhere as a political candidate. I doubt if SH's bi-lingualism makes any difference to his unpopularity in Quebec. however.) My assumption of non-bilingualism may be forgiven in light SH's prominent statements against the policy. For example, he stated, “After all, enforced national bilingualism in this country isn’t mere policy. It has attained the status of a religion. It’s a dogma which o­ne is supposed to accept without question. … [M]ake no mistake. Canada is not a bilingual country. In fact it is less bilingual today than it has ever been...As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produced no unity, and cost Canadian taxpayers untold millions.” (Calgary Sun, May 6, 2001) I happen to agree with that statement but I did form undue assumptions on the basis of it.

The reader continues to defend SH on the grounds that the politician quotes Mises and has worked with/hired libertarians. I could up the ante by admitting that SH also throws the word "libertarian" around with gay abandon...only, given his stand on gays, that might be inappropirate. Let me explain why I disagree with a positive assessment of SH, why I would feel more secure in my future if the @#&^%$!!! liberals were re-elected with a milk-toast minority government that allows them to limp and drag one leg through power. [Click on 'more' to continue.] [more]

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

Gordon P. writes, Back in mid-September, I wrote about the skyrocketing post-Katrina price of gold, and wondered if there would be a corresponding plummet in the U.S. Dollar. At the time, with only two weeks of baseline, the decline wasn't obvious, but now, after a couple of months, the trend is quite clear: Gold has cracked US$ 500/oz up 11% since Katrina, while the dollar has sunk 6% relative to the Euro, the Pound, and the Swiss Franc, and 8% relative to the Japanese Yen. (By comparison, the exchange rate for the Canadian dollar appears to have stayed almost flat since late September, in contrast to a fairly steady rise prior to September; has the Canadian gov't been taking monetary steps to devalue its own currency in order to "stabilize" the CDN/US exchange rate out of fear of lost export revenues ???)

I don't see this trend turning around any time soon --- in spite of the recent precipitous drop in the price of gasoline, which is starting to look to me like a temporary "anti-blip," possibly generated by Bushnev's release of some of the strategic oil reserves at the tail end of the annual EPA-generated "Fall Spike"... :-(

I have to wonder where Bushnev's cheerleaders (who keep telling us how "great" the economy is doing) are getting their news from (Pollyannas R Us ??? ), because all the economic indicators _I'm_ seeing suck like a fist-sized meteor-puncture into hard vacuum and there's only so much air left in the crew compartment.

Posted by mac @ 09:46 AM EST [Link]

I salute Gary North for addressing the Iraq war in terms of the "doctrine of sunk costs." (In college I learned this as the "fallacy" of sunk costs.) This rule for investors and entrepreneurs says that one must always invest based on what is the best use of your money in the present circumstances, regardless of your past actions.

The war supporters want to have it both ways. One moment they're saying we must ignore the past, that the U.S. must stay in Iraq because of the consequences now if they leave. The next moment they're arguing that the U.S. must stay in Iraq to honor the sacrifice of those soldiers who have already died there -- the "sunk cost" in American lives.

Neither is true to the doctrine of sunk costs. That doctrine would say: given the circumstances now, would you invest? If, right now, the U.S. saw a Middle Eastern country on the brink of civil war among three religious groups, would the U.S. send 160,000 troops over to keep order, at the cost of thousands of U.S. dead and tens of thousands wounded?

If the answer is "no, we wouldn't send our troops into that," then the doctrine of sunk costs says get out now.

In the business world, the doctrine of sunk costs is often phrased as the slogan "don't throw good money after bad." In the context of war, it should be "don't throw live soldiers after dead."  —brad

Posted by brad @ 06:50 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, December 1, 2005

On November 28, the sharp-eyed Claire Wolfe blogged about the "in-your-face" totalitarianism planned by the Miami police; she excerpted a passage from a Breitbart article: "Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant. Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats."

On November 29 Claire wrote: "YESTERDAY I BLOGGED ABOUT MIAMI COPS planning random shows of force in public places, including ID checks of everyone entering certain banks, hotels, and other "public places." Now here's almost the same article, almost the same wording, but with an explicit statement saying there will be NO random ID checks. Guess that one went down the memory hole." The article she refers to in this entry is here.

Interesting difference. I wonder if adverse publicity made the Miami police change their tune. They would never back down outright, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if the "in-your-face" actions never actually occur...for one reason or another. The real reason: the police may have crossed a line they did not quite realize was there. Or am I being an optimist again about how much daily totalitarianism the American people are willing to tolerate?

Posted by mac @ 10:05 AM EST [Link]

This just keeps getting worse. We knew that Sony's "other" DRM, MediaMax, left software on your computer even if you decline the EULA. Now it turns out that this software can be activated even if you decline the EULA. You heard that right: say "no", and it installs and runs anyway.

The important security tip for Windows users: disable the autorun feature. Now. This is the feature that automatically runs the "install" program when you insert a CD-ROM. Disabling it means a minor inconvenience when you go to install software from CD-ROM, but is well worth it for the security of knowing that software is installed only when you request it. (Until this Sony flap, you might not have been aware that music CDs can also carry hidden software.)

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone magazine has picked up on the story. And despite all promises, Sony still hasn't provided a safe uninstaller for their malware.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 03:11 AM EST [Link]

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