VnutZ's Articles, Page 2 of 70
It would appear the Russians are about to annex the Crimean portion of the Ukraine back into their fold. This is, of course, after they occupied the region and basically took it by force. A CNN opinion article asks some interesting questions about the matter:
- What does this mean for the United State’s foreign policy credibility?
- Is this a sign that disarming and trust are truly mistakes?
- Where are all the peace protestors?
The 2014 Winter Olympics have officially kicked off in Sochi. Journalists were reporting particularly horrible conditions at the venue in the leading days that were indicative of Russia not being prepared. My particular favorite came after the stories of undrinkable water that if restored, patrons were advised, “do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous.” They’ve also reported on an abundance of stray animals walking throughout the city (and their rooms) which magically disappeared leading many to wonder about Russia’s methods. Despite these reports, the IOC has certainly been lavishing praise on Russia for the rest of their preparations.
You’ve certainly heard of ‘em … and probably thought it was too late several times before (and are kicking yourself now). But it is still possible to join the Bitcoin bandwagon – you just need to be smart about it. Maybe this time around you won’t have to kick yourself again. I put together a short little guide on navigating the post-GPU mining world (2012-2013) and how to get involved with Bitcoins these days – using mining pools, ASICs and cloud hashing. After all, you probably thought it was either too late or a fad in May and again in December but there are still people out there making decent money. And maybe it still is a fad, but its unlikely at this point that Bitcoins are going away.
As part of the budget deal that has passed the House and Senate, the military takes a direct shot to the face. The deal includes an exclusion of 1% cost of living raises for everyone less than 62 … with no grandfathering. This roughly equates to a 20% overall loss for service members that are currently retired or even about to retire. Considering the number of troops still overseas in combat, it’s an even uglier shaft to deliver. So much for “Support the Troops” right? The divide between those who know what it means to serve and those being served continues to widen.
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.
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.
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:
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!”
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.
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.
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):
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.
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!
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 devttys0.com. 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.