Articles, Page 12 of 215

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20 Dec 13

Kim Jong Un is Batshit Crazy

It really didn’t take long for Kim Jong Un to get the North Korea power bug and allow it to escalate quickly. Right now, he’s using the latest technologies to threaten his southern neighbor, the fax machine. In response to South Korean protests as a mark on North Korea’s dignity, particularly on the 2nd anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, the new ruler has promised merciless death via a fax.

Anyway, Kim Jong Un has his censors hard at work erasing the fact that his uncle ever existed. This would, of course, be the uncle he recently executed, presumably in a power play to let his “elders” know where they stood in the hierarchy. If you thought that was crazy, a little over a year ago Kim Jong Un executed one of his generals in a much flashier way. After accusing him of partying during the 100 days of mourning for Kim Jong Il’s passing, the general was forced to stand on a zeroed mortar target whereupon he was obliterated.

20 Dec 13

Duck Dynasty Chewbacca Defense

So by now, whether you wanted to hear about it or not, you’ve most likely been ear raped by friends, family, or colleagues talking about the Duck Dynasty guy suspended by A&E for his anti-gay remarks. You’ve especially been over exposed to this crap if you have a FaceBook account. I’d like to take a different course on this one to expound on the Chewbacca Defense the conservative community is using in support of whoever this guy is – you know, the classic “but its in the Bible” argument.

18 Dec 13

Best Possible 2013 Investments

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Some analysts looked into what could possibly happen if a trader starting 2013 with $1000 was able to make the, now historical, best possible trades each day. They would enter 2014 sitting on roughly $264 billion in cash. The first million would have appeared in April followed by one hundred million in July. From there, it just gets super ridiculous at one billion in August and one hundred billion in November. Each of the trades and their respective effect is documented on the 2013 calendar within the original article. Ultimately, the article caveats that aside from the statistical improbability of such an event ever occurring, that sort of money moving around would simply destroy the market as well:

17 Dec 13

Americans Oppose Santa's Privacy Violations

Privacy advocates within the United States have jumped onto the bandwagon and lumped jolly old Saint Nick in with the National Security Agency for his egregious violations of privacy. Tea Party spokesmen decried his actions, “I mean, its one thing for the NSA to be listening to my phone calls … but its another entirely for Santa Claus to watching me while I sleep. How does he know when I’m good.” Atheists have scoffed at the conservative right, “What do you have to hide? Your adulterous ways? If you were living those values you keep thumping at us you’d have nothing to worry about. Hippocrites.” Even Snowden seemed upset, “I tried to find documents linking the NSA to Santa. I know they or the CIA must have him secured in a locked room somewhere, waterboarding him for information. He has it coming … the pervert is watching our children.” Santa quickly dismissed charges that he operates in league with the NSA to provide detailed information on global activities. “I’ll admit, I have a pretty amazing repository of information and the naughty list is fraught with terrorists. My network of elves covertly tap all available resources in order to properly identify bad children, miscreants and people that don’t believe in Jesus. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re reading all the Christmas lists … after all, you could probably correlate terrorists trying to get their hands on enriched uranium from me! Ho Ho Ho!

15 Dec 13


Justice served or denied?

A 16 year old in Texas recently killed four pedestrians while driving drunk (three times the legal limit). After stealing two cases of beer and then speeding in his Ford with friends, the driver plowed over a 52 year old, 43 year old, 24 year old and 21 year old. The case was tried and concluded with – probation. The judge agreed to the boy’s wealthy parents footing a half-million dollar rehab bill and 10 years of probation in lieu of a 20 year prison sentence. His defense is being called affluenza, purported to make him a victim of reckless parenting that fostered a belief that money would solve all problems – and in this case, it did. The judge claims that 10 years of probation keeps the youth under the legal system’s thumb longer since he’d likely be out of prison in a mere two years.

14 Dec 13

330 Million Guns Used Safely Today In America

There’s been plenty gun violence this past year. An estimated 33 thousand deaths can be attributed to firearms of which only a third used for homicide. However, with an estimated 330 million firearms in the United States, it’s safe to say that 330 million guns were used safely today, yesterday, the day before that and pretty much every day this past year. Yup, only a hundredth of a percent of America’s guns were used improperly last year and it would seem all the ones in the newest ban lists weren’t part of the violence anyway. I’ll bet 330 million guns continue to be used safely tomorrow and for the duration of 2014 as well.

06 Dec 13

Again With the BitCoins

BitCoins were last big in the news seven months ago when their price rocketed upwards to near $300 apiece. Soon thereafter, the price dropped significantly (though still far above its previous low and the digital currency resumed its somewhat quiet use in the background.

In the past month, BitCoins surged again to not only meet last May’s value but quadruple it with a peak touching over $1200 each. Despite that, governments and economists continue to have mixed opinions on the digital currency. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan questions their intrinsic value (ED, though the dollar isn’t backed by anything these days either):

05 Dec 13

Atheism As A Stage Of Religion

We hear often, usually from the Christian fundamentalists, that Atheism is a form of religion. I can’t buy that, because atheism embraces science which does not fall back on supernatural explanations: ever.

We don’t often hear from that other end of the religious spectrum, as far away as you can get from the literal fundamentalists: this is the end that has now moved so far from the anthropomorphic God that many people would not consider it to be a religion, either.

Interestingly this new wave is coming from the Catholics, considered by many in America to be at the more conservative end of the Christian spectrum.

30 Nov 13

Critical Thinking

Why do we believe what we believe?

Much too late in life, I have decided to reason out why I believe in anything. I wish someone had explained this to me during my education.

We are constantly bombarded with assertions. TV commercials, religion, politics, the media: all do it all the time.

An assertion is a proposition that the promoter believes to be TRUE. It may be TRUE or FALSE, and the receiver must decide whether or not to believe.

A critical thinker will have criteria governing his belief decision. I have two criteria: there may be more, but if either of mine is satisfied I may believe. My first criterion is a sound logical argument leading to a conclusion that the proposition is true. This logical case must avoid all of the many logical fallacies. This is quite difficult to do because they are broken consistently by most people, most of the time.

04 Nov 13

Airborne Stories

I came across an article today of two small planes colliding with each other where everyone (except one pilot) bailed out and parachuted safely to the ground. In case you’re wondering, the one pilot was able to land his crippled plane and was fine.

This made me think of the Army and its Airborne program. On my first jump, we were 30 seconds from jumping with out static lines hooked up and the first jumper ready to go when the C-141 caught fire. Our whole cabin filled with smoke. Did we jump out? No, we sat back down, rode the smokey bird back to the ground, exited via the tail and the guys in silver suits got on board and put out the fire. Then we got back on to jump.

31 Oct 13

New Cannonball Run Record Set

The Cannonball Run challenge has been around for decades and there are frequent unsuccessful attempts at breaking the record, but mostly unsuccessful attempts at even completing the run. The recent record was set in 2007 by Alex Roy in a BMW M5 at 31 hours and 4 minutes. It was just shattered by Dave Black, Ed Bolian and Dan Huang in a Mercedes CL55 AMG covering nearly 3000 miles from New York to California in a mere 28 hours and 50 minutes!

30 Oct 13

Army Struggles With Cyber

A recent article in FederalNewsRadio highlights the Army’s struggles with getting a grasp on performing cyber- effectively. It actually touched on a lot of the right issues for a change. One for instance was how to appropriately handle the National Guard and Reservists, a field where the appropriate soldier’s day jobs are typically in information technology, intelligence or even cyber itself. To date, these folks have largely been left out of the Army’s efforts despite usually being more qualified than the active duty component. The new ARCYBER commander, LTG Cardon commented on the notion of straight hiring these folks, perhaps in civilian capacity.

26 Oct 13

Backdoor in D-Link Products

Security is often such an after thought for people in that they have an implicit trust in their purchased products. Security researcher Craig Heffner of Tactical Network Solutions recently uncovered a backdoor in D-Link router products. How easy is it to gain full access? Simply set the browser string in your HTTP User Agent to xmlset_roodkcableoj28840ybtide and you can bypass the authentication mechanism. This one wasn’t even well hidden, just read the string backwards and its obviously “editby04882joelbackdoor”. There’s a short article on how this sort of thing was discovered on The gist of it involved decompressing the firmware image, extracting the embedded filesystem, looking at interesting strings (found “auth”), and then analyzed the disassembled code for the function. That revealed when a particular user agent was present, it automatically authenticated. Instant backdoor access to every device using that firmware.

26 Oct 13

New MegaMillions Configuration

The MegaMillions lottery just reconfigured their drawing scheme for the first time since 2005. While the game still follows the traditional five balls and bonus ball motif, the numbers have all changed around. The first five no longer span just 1-56 but now span 1-75 and the MegaBall switched to only span 1-15. Mathematically, this makes matching the MegaBall far easier creating a 1:15 chance to win at least a minimum prize. But the expanded pool of balls (increasing by almost 20) changed the jackpot odds from about 1:175 million to 1:259 million meaning the jackpots will rise to higher levels.

26 Oct 13

EU Upset Over Spying

In the past few weeks, various leaded documents have caused the European Union countries to call foul against the United States over allegations of American espionage activities. The French in particular called the American ambassador out on the carpet over the revelations, specifically about the interception of 70.3 million French phone calls in a month. Ironically, an investigative report by the European Union itself calls out their own spying activities (although the US and UK ranked highest) which included France as the fifth most capable espionage country in the world for collecting in cyberspace. Pot … meet kettle. Despite the “I’m Rubber You’re Glue” foreign policy exchanges between the United States and their European allies, President Obama has vowed to make changes. One US Homeland Security official commented about the recent complaints from Germany by referencing shared intelligence information back in 2007, “When she [Merkel] had a chance of take on some real communists for hacking into her computer, she swallowed her objections.”

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