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Stacking Eggs

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 17:15 by John Sinteur in category: News


Stacking eggs can be fun, but please know when to stop!

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Union Outsources Picket Lines to the Homeless

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 17:03 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


About 30 people picket in front of a bank in downtown Washington, D.C., wearing big yellow signs that read: “Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters.”

They shuffle about in circles, many wearing hooded sweatshirts and jeans. Their coats are draped over parking meters; their belongings sit in plastic grocery bags on the sidewalk. I ask a protester named Mike Hodge why he’s there.

“We’re protesting, we’re protesting…” Then the energy leaves his voice and he concedes, “I don’t know.”

No wonder.

Hodge isn’t a carpenter; he’s a rent-a-picket.

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Meet our accidental terrorist

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 16:30 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, Security



Mr Chalk, 40, was then told to “move on” because of the book he was reading.

In an eerie parallel, the main character of The Unknown Terrorist is mistaken for a terrorist and subjected to a witch hunt of paranoia and false perceptions.


Mr Flanagan, a bestselling author who also wrote The Sound of One Hand Clapping, said he was appalled by the pub’s actions.

“When the paranoia in our society has reached this level of idiocy, when you can be thrown out of a bar because of a book cover,” he said.

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Travel terror security stepped up

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 16:16 by John Sinteur in category: Security


Security will be stepped up at railway stations, airports and ports as part of government attempts to tackle terrorism, Gordon Brown has announced.

There will be new security barriers, vehicle exclusion zones and blast resistant buildings, but air passengers will be allowed more luggage from 2008.

Rail travellers at large stations will also face having their bags screened.

You can safely continue to travel by train with your explosives, but it’s bad news for your shampoo.

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How many different versions did you say?

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 16:01 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


As Microsoft nears the final stages of Windows Server 2008 development and the Feb. 27, 2008, worldwide launch event, Kelly announced detailed packaging, pricing and licensing information for Windows Server 2008.

Here’s how many different versions there are:

Windows Server 2008 Standard
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
Windows Server 2008 Datacenter
Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems
Windows Web Server 2008

Microsoft will also offer a range of versions of Windows Server 2008 without Hyper-V:
Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V
Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V

All will be available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions, with the exception of Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems, which will only be available as a 64-bit version.

A quick count makes that 15 different versions. That’s more than the number of linux distributions I can name off the top of my head.

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  1. I like the choices you get with OSX…Leopard (oh, and of course Leopard Server). A much better (and simpler) choice.

  2. I wonder how it is that offering a great variety of choices sometimes applauded sometimes mocked.
    Let’s see what we have here. A commercial product which contains several moduls, each with it’s own price, offered in different packages.

    In Linux it does not make sense to segmentate it like this as the whole thing is free so offering different distros based on whether they include open office, samba, apache, tomcat, this free program, that free program.

    I don’t really like the 15 different versions, but if you make a list of the included “features” and put a price list on them, then you have two ways:
    – either making different packages, ending up with a lot of versions, each packed and sold off the shelf,
    – or you let each cutomer pick the things they want from the list of available features – well, that’s what Linux does, and the company which we work for.

    The latter works only if you give everything for free, or if you have a limited number of customers, so you can actually sit down and talk with them about their needs.

  3. Okay, here’s one reason I’m making fun of it. My business is hosting, as you may know. I have a few 32 bit and a few 64 bit enterprise applications that share a web front end, and I’m hosting them in a datacenter. I calculate that I need one CPU to handle the largest possible load on this. Which version do I buy? Could be any of them, I don’t know. And if somebody like me cannot figure it out, how should regular clients know?

  4. Conveniently, you want to use it as a web server, and they seem to have a Web Server Edition… 🙂

  5. But it is hosted in a data center, and they have a data center edition too! And it’s enterprise software, and they have an edition for that too! What to do, what to do?

  6. I think you’d better buy an Itanium based machine. There seems to be only one version for Itanium processors, so that would solve the issue.

  7. So I have to retire my perfectly working machine to buy an expensive new one? Did MS invest in itanium factories?

  8. Oh, and the itanium version appears to be 64 bit only – how do I run my remaining 32 bit apps?

  9. “I don’t really like the 15 different versions”
    I wrote that I don’t like it either :).

    Just wrote my opinion why they do it.
    And did not know you are in hosting 🙂

  10. By know I should know your opinion on microsoft, that’s true 🙂

  11. Working in software development helps me to not like software companies.
    At the same time, helps me understand a bit what reasons and why they motivate their decisions.

    Now, only if I could just reprogram our management’s mind… hmm….
    New project idea…….

BBC contrarian top 10

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 15:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


There is an interesting, if predictable, piece up on the BBC website devoted to investigating whether there is any ‘consensus’ among the various contrarians on why climate change isn’t happening (or if it is, it isn’t caused by human activity or if it is why it won’t be important, or if it is important, why nothing can be done etc.). Bottom line? The only thing they appear to agree about is that nothing should be done, but they have a multitude of conflicting reasons why. Hmm…

The journalist, Richard Black, put together a top 10 list of sceptic arguments he gathered from emailing the 61 signers of a Canadian letter. While these aren’t any different in substance to the ones routinely debunked here (and here and here), this list comes with the imprimatur of Fred Singer – the godfather to the sceptic movement, and recent convert from the view that it’s been cooling since 1940 to the idea that global warming is now unstoppable.


Pay attention to the entire post, but notice the bolded bit. It seems amazingly convenient how warming critics shift from outright denial, which serves the fossil fuel interests who fund their movement, to a state of overwhelmed apathy at the sheer magnitude of the problem, which serves the fossil fuel lobby just as well. It analogizes to the seamless transitioning from WMD hysteria to democracy promotion to an overfed sunk costs fallacy, or the kaleidoscope of bogus arguments that fuel creationism. In each case the silliness adds up to a series of disposable and often self-contradictory rationalizations that serve a fixed goal.

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And God Said No, Again

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 15:03 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


1. Georgia is in severe drought
2. Governor Perdue decides to pray for rain on Tuesday
3. Forecast called for rain Tuesday
4. Prayer service goes ahead as planned
5. Skies completely clear up immediately following prayer service
6. No rain

But don’t expect them to learn

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Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 14:59 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008



In the genteel world of bridge, disputes are usually handled quietly and rarely involve issues of national policy. But in a fight reminiscent of the brouhaha over an anti-Bush statement by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks in 2003, a team of women who represented the United States at the world bridge championships in Shanghai last month is facing sanctions, including a yearlong ban from competition, for a spur-of-the-moment protest.
At issue is a crudely lettered sign, scribbled on the back of a menu, that was held up at an awards dinner and read, “We did not vote for Bush.”

By e-mail, angry bridge players have accused the women of “treason” and “sedition.”

So, “not voting for Bush” is now treason? Wow. I guess the next election will make every American a traitor, then, since they Bush won’t be on the ballot.

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Court Clears Way for Egg Rights Showdown

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 14:24 by John Sinteur in category: What were they thinking?

Here’s a picture of eleven chickens:



The Colorado Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for an anti-abortion group to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would define a fertilized egg as a person.

The court approved the language of the proposal, rejecting a challenge from abortion-rights supporters who argued it was misleading and dealt with more than one subject in violation of the state constitution.

If approved by voters, the measure would give fertilized eggs the state constitutional protections of inalienable rights, justice and due process.

“Proponents of this initiative have publicly stated that the goal is to make all abortion illegal — but nothing in the language of the initiative or its title even mentions abortion,” Kathryn Wittneben of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado said in a statement. “If that’s not misleading, I don’t know what is.”

Wittneben and others said the measure would have would hamper in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research and would effectively ban birth control.

I don’t think it’s an attempt to outlaw abortion: it’s an attempt to outlaw contraception, which is far more devious.

They haven’t thought it through, as an anti-abortion law it fails to work. If the embryo is a person with rights, the state has no right to coerce another person to act charitably towards that fetus. For example, if somebody got miserably sick and would die unless you (the only compatible donor) give them a kidney, the state would be wrong to compel you to give up a kidney. If this person just needed to use your kidney for nine months until a replacement is found, the state couldn’t force you to do that. And if a person needed to gestate in your womb for nine months, the state cannot force you to use your womb for that purpose. The state needs your consent in all these cases, and has no right to coerce your generosity. So this law may give you the leverage to take action and withhold the use of your womb, and thus make abortion legal.

Another interesting point: if they grant personhood, but not citizenship, shouldn’t they deport all embryo’s and those harboring them? Or, if they do grand citizenship as well, can we expect Colorado to become a new favorite honeymoon location for Mexican couples? And if cloning a human egg is illegal, do they send all twins to jail?

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House passes $50B Iraq withdrawal bill

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 13:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


House Democrats pushed through a $50 billion bill for the Iraq war Wednesday night that would require President Bush to start bringing troops home in coming weeks with a goal of ending combat by December 2008.

The legislation, passed 218-203, was largely a symbolic jab at Bush, who already has begun reducing force levels but opposes a congressionally mandated timetable on the war. And while the measure was unlikely to pass in the Senate — let alone overcome a presidential veto — Democrats said they wanted voters to know they weren’t giving up.

“The fact is, we can no longer sustain the military deployment in Iraq,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “Staying there in the manner that we are there is no longer an option.”

The White House pledged to veto the bill, and Republicans said they would back the president.

“These votes, like the dozens of previous failed votes, put the interests of radical interest groups ahead of the needs of our military and their mission,” an administration statement said.

Apparently 68% of the American people now qualify as a radical interest group.

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Secrecy provision buried in appropriations bill

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 13:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


Buried in the just released House and Senate Conference report for the Transportation-HUD spending bill is a provision that has open government groups worried.

The provision would ban the public from having timely access to budget information for the Transportation Department, according to one open government analyst.


The conference report language, which was not included in either the House or Senate versions of the bill, prohibits the public release of that information until several months after appropriators have received it.

The result is that many spending bills may be marked up before the public ever has a chance to examine an agency’s detailed justifications and descriptions of its budget requests, according to one concerned open government advocate.

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Iran threat assessment won’t be released, intelligence chief says

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 12:36 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


The director of national intelligence said Tuesday he does not plan to make public any of the key findings of a soon-to-be-completed assessment on Iran’s nuclear program.


The National Intelligence Estimate is intended to lay out the entire intelligence community’s best estimate on the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. The Bush administration maintains Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, but the Iranians say the program is to meet the country’s energy needs.

The long-awaited NIE was supposed to be completed by last spring, but was delayed by new information that needed to be sorted out, according to McConnell. He said analysts are attempting to finish the NIE by the end of this month.


McConnell also said Tuesday he would resign if he determined administration officials were cherry-picking intelligence to support their positions. Some members of Congress and other critics of the war in Iraq have accused the Bush administration of selectively making public intelligence that supported its case for invading Iraq.

McConnell said the “first mission” of the intelligence community is to “speak truth to power.”

“If it were cherry-picked in an inappropriate way, then for me, that’s a professional obligation to object, and I would submit my resignation,” he said.

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RIAA should be blocked from obtaining any data from schools, argues student

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 12:35 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


An anonymous George Washington University student targeted by the RIAA for file-sharing is seeking to have the subpoena served on his school quashed and the complaint dismissed. In his motion, the unnamed student raises a couple of issues that could become significant roadblocks for the RIAA in its campaign against on-campus file-sharing.

Throughout its legal campaign against file-sharing, the RIAA has relied on the Cable Communications Policy Act to obtain subscriber data from cable ISPs and DSL providers. Under the CCPA, cable companies are required to cough up the data when ordered to do so by a court. It has worked in the tens of thousands of cases filed by the recording industry against broadband users, and the RIAA has cited the CCPA as the basis for the ex parte subpoenas directed at college students.

There’s one problem. Colleges aren’t cable providers. Doe number three helpfully points that out to the judge, noting that the CCPA defines a cable operator as an entity that either provides cable service or manages and operates a cable system. “GWU is neither,” argues Doe three.


The only alternative to the CCPA, argues Doe number three, is the DMCA. The DMCA is the favored tool of rights holders when it comes to copyright infringement; not only does it allow rights holders to fire off takedown notices when an infringing song or video is discovered, but it also empowers the copyright owner to obtain and serve a subpoena on the ISP which hosted the video.

Indeed, Judge Kelley ruled that the DMCA was the sole avenue available to the music industry. The problem for the RIAA is that, in order to obtain a subpoena, it must first issue a DMCA takedown notice. And in order to issue a notice, the ISP in question—George Washington University or William & Mary—must have hosted, cached, or transmitted the songs identified by the RIAA’s investigative arm, SafeNet. The schools did not. Any file sharing that occurred was from PC to PC; the songs traversed the universities’ networks without ever residing there.

That slams the door on the DMCA as well, argues Doe three. Citing case law holding that the DMCA doesn’t apply to ISPs that act as “a mere transmitter of data that is not cached, stored or located by the ISP,” Doe three says that RIAA has no authority to obtain the subpoenas.

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98 Percent Of All Domestically Eradicated Marijuana Is “Ditchweed,” DEA Admits

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 12:16 by John Sinteur in category: News


More than 98 percent of all of the marijuana plants seized by law enforcement in the United States is feral hemp not cultivated cannabis, according to newly released data by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program and the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.

According to the data, available online at: http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t4382005.pdf, of the estimated 223 million marijuana plants destroyed by law enforcement in 2005, approximately 219 million were classified as “ditchweed,” a term the agency uses to define “wild, scattered marijuana plants [with] no evidence of planting, fertilizing, or tending.” Unlike cultivated marijuana, feral hemp contains virtually no detectable levels of THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, and does not contribute to the black market marijuana trade.

Your tax dollars at work…

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Did NSA Put a Secret Backdoor in New Encryption Standard?

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 10:20 by John Sinteur in category: Security


Generating random numbers isn’t easy, and researchers have discovered lots of problems and attacks over the years. A recent paper found a flaw in the Windows 2000 random-number generator. Another paper found flaws in the Linux random-number generator. Back in 1996, an early version of SSL was broken because of flaws in its random-number generator. With John Kelsey and Niels Ferguson in 1999, I co-authored Yarrow, a random-number generator based on our own cryptanalysis work. I improved this design four years later — and renamed it Fortuna — in the book Practical Cryptography, which I co-authored with Ferguson.

The U.S. government released a new official standard for random-number generators this year, and it will likely be followed by software and hardware developers around the world. Called NIST Special Publication 800-90 (.pdf), the 130-page document contains four different approved techniques, called DRBGs, or “Deterministic Random Bit Generators.” All four are based on existing cryptographic primitives. One is based on hash functions, one on HMAC, one on block ciphers and one on elliptic curves. It’s smart cryptographic design to use only a few well-trusted cryptographic primitives, so building a random-number generator out of existing parts is a good thing.

But one of those generators — the one based on elliptic curves — is not like the others. Called Dual_EC_DRBG, not only is it a mouthful to say, it’s also three orders of magnitude slower than its peers. It’s in the standard only because it’s been championed by the NSA, which first proposed it years ago in a related standardization project at the American National Standards Institute.


But today there’s an even bigger stink brewing around Dual_EC_DRBG. In an informal presentation (.pdf) at the CRYPTO 2007 conference in August, Dan Shumow and Niels Ferguson showed that the algorithm contains a weakness that can only be described a backdoor.

This is how it works: There are a bunch of constants — fixed numbers — in the standard used to define the algorithm’s elliptic curve. These constants are listed in Appendix A of the NIST publication, but nowhere is it explained where they came from.

What Shumow and Ferguson showed is that these numbers have a relationship with a second, secret set of numbers that can act as a kind of skeleton key. If you know the secret numbers, you can predict the output of the random-number generator after collecting just 32 bytes of its output. To put that in real terms, you only need to monitor one TLS internet encryption connection in order to crack the security of that protocol. If you know the secret numbers, you can completely break any instantiation of Dual_EC_DRBG.

due to excessive blog spam attempts I had to close comments on this, sorry

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  1. *(!@&*(!&*^&*^!%@#^&!@#&^&^!*

Russia Casts A Selective Net in Piracy Crackdown

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 9:33 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


In the past 10 months, police in at least five Russian cities have raided the offices of media outlets, political parties and private advocacy groups and seized computers allegedly containing illegal software, paralyzing the work of the organizations. Often, authorities demand that employees submit to questioning and order them not to leave town until legal action is completed.

According to some estimates, the piracy rate for all kinds of intellectual property in Russia is as high as 80 percent. The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a U.S. coalition of rights holders, estimates that its members suffered piracy losses of $2 billion in Russia in 2006, according to a letter the coalition recently sent to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The organization said that progress in enforcing intellectual property rights in Russia has been “insufficient.”

Most of the Russian groups targeted by the authorities deny buying counterfeit software or say they used it only unwittingly. They charge that with authorities doing little to challenge the rampant piracy in Russia, including illicit production of disks in defense facilities and other agencies, the raids on their own offices amount to selective enforcement of the law.

“This is not a campaign against piracy, it’s a campaign against dissent,” said Vitaly Yaroshevsky, a deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta in Moscow, who is in charge of the newspaper’s regional editions. “The authorities want to destroy an opposition newspaper. It doesn’t matter if we send more computers to Samara. It doesn’t matter if we show we bought computers legally. It will change nothing.” The paper says it believes its software is legal.

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Hillary Clinton

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 9:07 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008


Judy Wallman, a professional genealogical researcher, discovered that Hillary Clinton’s great-great uncle, Remus Rodham, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription: “Remus Rodham; horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times, caught by Pinkerton Detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.

Judy e-mailed Hillary Clinton for comments. Hillary’s staff of Professional image adjusters sent back the following biographical sketch:

Remus Rodham was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.

And THAT is how it’s done when you’re a politician, folks!

(oh, and before you comment on this one, read this)

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Waterboarding In Mississippi

Posted on November 15th, 2007 at 7:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


A fascinating nugget from American history, unearthed by guest-blogger Shertaugh at the IsThatLegal? blog. Waterboarding was sometimes used in the Deep South to torture African-Americans and to extract false confessions to alleged crimes. And when it emerged in an appeal as long ago as 1926, even the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled it categorically "a specie of torture well known to the bench and bar of the country," and "barbarous." They over-turned a guilty verdict for murder by an African-American man against a white man because such methods invalidated any notion of a reliable confession:

In a case called Fisher v. State, 110 So. 361, 362 (Miss. 1926), Mississippi’s highest court ordered the retrial of a convicted murderer because his confession was secured by a local sheriff’s use of the water cure.

Here’s the court:

The state offered . . . testimony of confessions made by the appellant, Fisher. . . [who], after the state had rested, introduced the sheriff, who testified that, he was sent for one night to come and receive a confession of the appellant in the jail; that he went there for that purpose; that when he reached the jail he found a number of parties in the jail; that they had the appellant down upon the floor, tied, and were administering the water cure, a specie of torture well known to the bench and bar of the country.

Fisher relied on a case called White v. State, 182, 91 So. 903, 904 (Miss. 1922), in which the court took — as I understand history in those parts — the unusual step of reversing the murder conviction of a young African-American male, charged with killing a white man (it appears), because his confession was secured by the cure. The court said:

[T]he hands of appellant were tied behind him, he was laid upon the floor upon his back, and, while some of the men stood upon his feet, Gilbert, a very heavy man, stood with one foot entirely upon appellant’s breast, and the other foot entirely upon his neck. While in that position what is described as the “water cure” was administered to him in an effort to extort a confession as to where the money was hidden which was supposed to have been taken from the dead man. The “water cure” appears to have consisted of pouring water from a dipper into the nose of appellant, so as to strangle him, thus causing pain and horror, for the purpose of forcing a confession. Under these barbarous circumstances the appellant readily confessed…

In 2007, we have a US attorney-general who cannot say what a Mississippi high court was able to assume was common knowledge in 1926. That’s how far this president has dragged us down into barbarism. This is how cowardly today’s Congress is.

Hat-tip to M. Quoted in full for truth

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