September 2001 Archives

followup Thanks to reader Janet Kagan and bloggers Steve and Mike for writing in with followup to yesterday’s bit about the list of organizations and people who got funding cut off.

I blogged that bit before I read the paper (I read the Post in the dead tree flavor), which also had the list, and I knew I was going to get some feedback — but I didn’t expect this much. Thanks again!

Curiously, everybody who wrote in had a different link to suggest. I’m going to use Janet’s, because I think it’s the authoritative link (scroll down) from the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Treasury Department.

excuses, excuses I taught a class last night, so no surfing was done. No surfing means no update, sad to say — look for something later this evening.

opiate of the masses Ever since the day or so immediately following the attack, I’ve pretty much been avoiding TV news sources. They didn’t seem to have much actual information to share, and I was having trouble dealing with the information I had, so I pretty much switched over to newspaper and web-based sources, where it was easier for me to ignore what I already knew. But last night, I was watching some Tivo’d stuff while eating dinner and compiling kdelibs, and the Tivo’d stuff and food ran out before the compile finished. I knew it was only ten minutes or so to go, so I flipped over to live TV and found myself watching Dateline NBC.

Great Ghu, has it gotten this bad, already? Schwarmy broadcasters, really cheesy metaphors, and absolute tons of paralogical thinking. No critical evaluation of anything. A wide-sweeping under-current of “watch out for them Arabs”.

Like Lyn, I’m grumpy and angry…


crap to be pissed about, part I People in old guard print media doing dismissive pieces about the Internet’s response to the attacks without mentioning a single positive word about the way webloggers and other voices of the Independent Web pulled together to get real news out when major media sites couldn’t handle the load.

(Registration is required for that URL to work, but bunging ‘genehackreader’ and ‘password’ into the obvious spots might produce some results.)


crap to be pissed about, part II Larry Ellision, CEO of Oracle, wants you to have to carry a “national ID card”, which, oh yeah, could be driven by the software his company sells. Presumably the card would have a “Powered by Oracle” sticker on it, or something. No word on how this would have prevented the attacks, or prevent others in the future.

(Maybe because it wouldn’t have, and it can’t.)


crap to be pissed about, part III Yesterday, the Post had an article which described how the US military used disinformation during the Gulf War. It contains the following quote, which I reproduce here (emphasis is mine):

“This is the most information-intensive war you can imagine… . We’re going to lie about things,” said a military officer involved in the planning. “If it is an information war, certainly the bad guys will lie.”

(For those of you in the audience who retain some critical reading and thinking skills: I am almost positive that the above military officer did not mean to imply the syllogism: “We lie. Bad guys lie. Therefore we are bad guys.” But I might be lying.)

I realize the value of properly placed misinformation in ensuring operational security, but damn, is it to much to hope that they could just tell the media “no comment” rather than out and out lie?

Random observation #1: any statement by any government official now (well, ‘still’, really) has to be assigned some sort of reliability measurement before it can be used in any sort of planning.

Random observation #2: Webloggers, and other people who are swimming in the deep end of the media stream and who can consequently put together disparate pieces of info, are really in a better position than others to do the above sort of evaluation.

Those ideas combine in a very unpleasant way when considered in the light of the Rand “Infowar” document that was widely linked not too long ago (and which I can not find a link to this morning — props to anyone who can help out with that) — webloggers function as aggregating nodes, and are therefore prime targets for disruption and misinformation attacks. Imagine the effect if Scripting News had been DDOS’d on the 11th, or if Dave had been targeted (intentionally, I mean) with some misinformation-ladden mail.


crap to be pissed about, part IV
Why oh why have none of the many stories I’ve looked at about Bush’s order to freeze terrorist assets actually listed the organizations and individuals whose assets are being frozen?

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of “obvious follow-up questions that ain’t gettin’ asked”, how the hell come the promised evidentiary document is taking so long to put together? How can be we be making decisions to go forward if people aren’t informed? How can they be informed without seeing this document?


crap to be leery of, part I
Under the rather severe new “anti-hacking” law, basically any sort of computer intrusion related crime has the potential to put you in jail, “married to the guy with the most cigarettes” (to borrow a phrase from Stephenson). So, I wonder — does that include all that jackasses that have been pounding the network with nimda and CodeRed worms from their unsecured Windows boxen?


crap to be happy about, part I
Rep. Goodlatte of Virginia is saying all the right things about strong crypto. Let’s see if he can put his money where his mouth is, and how well he can convince his colleagues.


meta
I’m almost positive those last two categories should be larger, but I’ve got to go to work right now. If anybody out there wants to send some stuff in, that would be appreciated.

don’t make me use my drunken ostrich style!
Urgh. Sorry ‘bout that unscheduled break in updating there, but it became necessary to take a bit of a mental health day — which stretched a bit. Didn’t help that a friend sold me a laptop on Friday; I spent the weekend building a LFS system, which entailed lots of downloading, a fair bit of CD burning, and a whole ton of sitting on the couch, watching movies on TV and waiting for one compile to finish so that I could start another. Oh, and realizing that laptops make your lap sweat something fierce, which I’d never really thought about before. Anyway, the base system plus X is up and running; next step is KDE, and then the real fun starts. But oy vey, my wrists! Ay yi yi…

For you detail-oriented folk out there, this is a Toshiba 4000CDT (233 MHz PII), and it brings the genehack.org computer roster to three: mendel (Celeron desktop), morgan (PMac 7500), and mcclintock (the laptop). No points for guessing the naming scheme, although it is clearly going to have to expand beyond the “M”s in order to scale effectively.


i (heart) ethel
One of the nice things about going head-down for the weekend was that I could momentarily put the “recent events” into swap and just Not Deal with them. That lasted until I did the weblog roundup this morning. sigh Lots of stupid stuff coming down the pike; none of it is really going to make erstwhile terrorists lives any harder, but it will probably make your life suck. Leastways it will if your life is like my life to any extent.

I’m not going to get into most of it; I’m still getting caught up myself. If you don’t keep up with Ethel, that’s a good place to start fueling your outrage. Steve’s been on a righteous tear here of late…


a completely unrelated web app design mini-rant
I followed a link from More Like This to a Bruce Sterling post on the Viridian design list. After reading it, I thought, “hey, this seems like a cool list, and I can always use more email, especially if said email contains mega-tasty Sterling verbiage, of which I can not get enough”. Then I realized that there was no info about the list on the page, and that in order to subscribe I would either have to flail around on the site or drop back to Google and punt. And I formulated Genehack web app design mini-rant #734:

If you’re making a web interface to a mailing list archive, put a $DEITY-damned subscription form ON EVERY STINKIN’ PAGE that gets output by that interface!

Thank you.


out of time
Urp — time for me to get on the move and get my butt to work! I’ve got a ton more stuff to sift through; it’s going to be a busy time here at Chez Genehack for the next little bit. More later tonight, hopefully. Be careful out there.

put down the microsoft and back away slowly
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new big, bad worm running amok out on the ‘Net. If you’re running Outlook or Internet Explorer, you’re on a Windows platform, odds are you’re vulnerable. If you’re not running that particular combination of software, congratulations!, but life still pretty much sucks, because the worm is fairly effectively generating a DDoS on the whole damn net.

Here, for example, at the end of my tiny wittle wodem wink (what did you think WWW stood for?), I’ve had over 294 distinct hosts try to hit me with the Nimda exploit(s). I say “over” because there were only 294 that I could lookup a hostname for; I didn’t bother counting the IPs that I couldn’t lookup. Here are some samples; do with them as you wish (although if you’re running IE, visiting them would be a particularly bad idea):

  • bne-vod1.cisco.com
  • cancerq.org
  • car-covers.com
  • comselect.com
  • investorstitle.com
  • issint.com
  • julymorning.com
  • mail.speechaccess.com
  • sportbikehype.com
  • sydneyscatclub.com
  • teleglobe.net
  • web3.tracent.net
  • wildginger.com
  • www.humbledigital.com
  • www.ipoem.com
  • www.ntmail.net
  • www.pensiononline.com

If you’re an admin associated with one of the above, SHAME ON YOU! DO YOUR DAMN JOB!

If you’re a stock-holder in one of the above, consider contacting your neighborhood shyster and arranging to file a due diligence lawsuit against the company in question. When there are freely available alternatives that don’t have the extensive, problem-laden track record of IIS, you have to ask if people are mis-managing your investment by continuing to pay for it!

I’m normally not an advocate of this sort of nuisance lawsuit, but damned if I can see any other way to solve the problem. It would be one thing if it only affected the people who choose to use Microsoft product, but it’s starting to really fuck up the ‘net for the rest of us, too. Clearly, Microsoft is not interested in fixing their crap product; the only remaining alternative is to scare people off of using it. I have this faint, probably naive hope that lawsuits will work where crashes and cracks haven’t.

sepulnation

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grrrr
I really meant to be back with some more links last night, but somehow I managed to hose KDE, which meant I got to spend a lot of time re-compiling stuff. Whee. But I’m here now, so let’s see how much of this backlog we can work through, hmm?


how it looks from the outside
El Reg on the coming conflict:

Official Washington has been buzzing with the language of belligerence since this weekend. The President, who, incidentally, isn’t authorized to declare war, declared war. He also did something we’ve not seen since the Vietnam era - he promised victory.

When I first heard all the war talkin’, I was thinking along the lines of the Gulf War, or World War II — you know, “war”, with soldiers and battles and all that. More and more, however, it’s sounding like a “War on Drugs” war, with a poorly defined and impossible to achieve objective that will only cause the most harm to those that had the least to do with it being started in the first place.


biowar
Aside: I’ve been avoiding linking to the biowar stuff. Most of the coverage isn’t all that good (mostly because, once you get past the basic facts, there’s nothing really known). Plus, most people don’t want to have a conversation about biological warfare agents with their friendly neighborhood lapsed biologist, because it rapidly gets very, very scary.

That has a counter-danger: the media can be tempted to downplay the threat, because, hey, if there’s nothing we can actually do about it, why needlessly scare people, right? As evidence, I give you this CNN story entitled Biological attack threat real, but small. On the plus side, they’re one for two. On the minus side (and it’s a big minus), if you actually read the whole article instead of just the headline, you find that they present zero evidence that the threat is “small”. (Unless you count unsupported authorial assertions used as justification for wishful thinking, which I don’t. I know, I know, I’m such a harsh, critical bastard.)


another very real threat
Looks like the Congress critters are going to be going after crypto with everything they’ve got — despite the fact that any new laws will have basically zero impact on the ability of terrorists to communicate in secret. The Working Group on Privacy and Civil Rights has a lot of good information about how encryption technologies impact your life (and they do, even (or especially) if you don’t think they do).

While we’re on the topic of annoying legislation that needs to be stopped, I’ll mention the SSSCA and Don Marti’s open letter to Michael Eisner. You like being able to listen to the same CDs in your car, your house and using your computer at work? This bill is the first step towards the music industry making you buy a separate copy for each, or maybe just making you pay for each re-play.

Debian Planet had a very interesting piece of speculative fiction up the other day, projecting some of the current legislative trends into the future. It ends up being a very ugly picture.

There’s at least one anti-SSSCA petition out there, but it will probably be more effective if you call or write your Congressional representatives directly.


separated at birth?
I note in passing that DC’s own Ratbastard (seen on the right in this photo) and Wil “You mean the guy from Next Generation has a weblog?! WTF?!” Weaton, (the guy in this photo who isn’t Kevin Nealon) bear more than a passing resemblance to each other.

Conspiracy theorists will note that Wil’s blog started during Ratbastard’s recent hiatus.


i just like saying ‘voles’
Recent research into pair bonding in voles suggests that a neurotransmitter called vasopressin plays a critical role. It’s also ground-breaking in that this is the first time a “complex social behavior” was trans-genetically manipulated.

Personally, I thought the most interesting part was the observation that increased vasopressin receptors not only increased pair bonding, but general levels of anxiety as well… 8^)=


flyin’ the flag
Look, if you’re going to fly the flag in support of whatever aspect of last week’s tragedy you find most moving, take the five minutes to read the damn flag code and display it properly, okay? It doesn’t take any longer to do it the right way, and it prevents people like me from foaming at the mouth in public.

Oh, and one more thing: you can fly the flag on your car, or you can drive like a jackass. Pick one or the other, but don’t do both, okay? It’s disrespectful to whomever you’re trying to honor by flying the flag in the first place.

Thanks to Mike for the flag reg link.


some clarification
I’m still processing last week. I suspect most of us still are, and will be for a long time. There may be one or two other longer thought pieces bubbling up here soon, but for right now, I just wanted to clarify something from last week. When I said:

At the moment, my stance is reluctantly hawkish. Reason seems very unlikely to work with the perpetrators of yesterday’s attacks, so I fear that we will have to fall back on force; we will have to forcefully make the point that while it may be technically possible to do this sort of thing to Americans, on American soil, the final result is a terrible and awful retaliation.

I wasn’t attempting to advocate an “eye for eye” retaliation, or a “justice demands someone must pay” position. I was trying to communicate that we’re in a battle to the death with somebody, and our chances of talking them out of wanting to kill us, all of us, seem pretty slim. We don’t have to kill whoever it is that’s trying to kill us, but we do have to track them down, make them stop trying, and prevent them from trying in the future. Oh, and we’ve got to do all this in such a fashion that we minimize the generation of similar homicidal impulses in other people at the same time, which is going to be the really tricky part. I still don’t have any idea how to do this, and I haven’t heard any stunners from anybody else. sigh Just to be to duck at the appropriate times, ‘kay?

faire pictures
Some shots from the Faire (all photos are thumbnails linked to full-size images):

fencer fencers

ladies mime stiltwalker pagan



More links later in the day; I’m wandering aronud in a daze this morning, looking for my weekend. I left it right over there, but when I turned around, it was gone…

weekend

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okay, i lied about the friday thing
Meant to do some blogging yesterday, and just plum didn’t get to it. Might have something later today, if not, then Sunday. You’ll all deal, I imagine. Here in just a bit, we’re off to the Maryland Renaissance Festival. I think a big ass turkey leg, a flagon or two of ale and a calculated and purposeful avoidance of modern life for an afternoon is just about exactly what the doctor ordered.

Oh, one maybe not-so-minor thing: Based on the way things are trending in Congress, if you don’t already have a copy of the latest GPG source laying around, you might want to grab one now. You might not have the option here in a little bit, and IMHO, somebody telling you that you can’t have strong crypto is one of the better signs that you’re going to be wanting some before too much longer…

And now, off to the Faire! Photos on return, I hope…

 

I’ve still not fully come to terms with yesterday’s events. I keep surfing around, poking at CNN for more info, checking to see if any of the bloggers I’ve been following has any new information. Occasionally, I scroll down too far, and end up in a post from the 10th, describing some amusing link, some personal event of note, or no note, or a news item that would have provoked outrage a few days ago. Now, it just causes cognitive dissonance, a buzzing in my head as I try to piece together the “before” and “after” parts of my world as my jabbing finger hunts for the “Page Up” button. Periodically, I bounce over to read mail and Usenet, to read messages of hate and violence, messages of sorrow and support, calls for revenge, calls for support, and calls for somebody, anybody, to make sense of it all.

Despite my nominally being “at work”, I produced very little today. Part of my mind tells me that the best thing I can do under the circumstances, the right thing, is to carry on, to wait patiently for the investigators to determine responsibility and to assign blame, and to try to keep the additional disruptions in my life to a minimum, to prevent “them” from making any more of an impact. Most of me, however, keeps roaming the web, scanning Usenet, reading email, looking for new information, answers, resolution.

I saw a CBS news poll tonight report that 66% of the people polled would be willing to give up “some basic liberties” to prevent “this sort of attack” from happening again. Only 24% polled were “not willing”. (I guess 10% told them “fuck off, you media vultures”, or something.)

Sixty-six percent. Two thirds of us prefer safety to freedom. That’s frighteningly high, I think. My primary concern at this point isn’t catching the responsible parties, or punishing them, torturing them, sending them on the express route to hell, or even trying to understand why they’re such miserable nasty people. I’m sure that some or all of those things will happen in due course; if Americans are good at anything, it is at making sure the target of our righteous fury knows that it has been targeted.

No, my thoughts keep turning to the longer term effects that these attacks are going to have on our society, on the shape of our daily lives. I’m going to be laying awake at night worrying about the tradeoffs that we’re going to be forced to make, or bullied into choosing, or duped into believing in; tradeoffs that will reduce our personal freedoms for an illusionary and facile sense of security, a mutually agreed upon fantasy that our world isn’t really the type of place where somebody can look at a passenger airplane and think about how good of a weapon it would make and how much more frightening it would be if the plane was filled with people as well, and that as long as we carry our luggage inside the terminal instead of dropping it off at the curb, everything will be okay, and the boogeymen won’t be able to get us.

It begins, already. Today at work, at the NIH, I had to display an ID badge to get by a bored rent-a-cop before I could get on the elevator up to my floor, to my cube. According to the email that went around early this morning, the rent-a-cop was required to actually touch my badge, presumably to verify, to somehow divine that it wasn’t fake. This charade was dutifully carried out by the morning guard, but by the afternoon, a replacement guard waved me by with only a cursory glance in the general direction of my badge. My co-workers all had to run the same gauntlet, repeatedly, and I’m sure for those of Middle Eastern descent, or even those having the appearance of Middle Eastern descent, it was infinitely more uncomfortable that it was for me, a fairly typical looking white male. This will be continuing “until further notice”, which I fear is bureaucrat for “forever”.

That security guard had absolutely no effect on the probability of my building suffering a terrorist attack today. Had he been there yesterday, he would have had zero impact then as well. Tomorrow, when I again have to present my badge, it still won’t make a difference. The difference in badge check procedures between the morning and afternoon guards today? Meaningless. I think it’s a fairly safe assumption that the Pentagon, and Logan Airport, and the World Trade Center all had security guards on duty yesterday, and they weren’t able to prevent tragedy from striking. I can only infer that the sole function of that guard stationed outside the bank of elevators in my building was to make people feel better, to make them feel less worried, less like targets.

He didn’t make me feel better. He made me feel annoyed. Annoyed that I was being scrutinized, examined, because I went to my workplace. Annoyed and angry that I was being made to display a small piece of plastic with a bad picture of myself on it, in order to get access to a place that I’ve been walking into freely for over a year. Annoyed and angry and sad that because of the events of yesterday, my personal freedoms were reduced just that little bit more, another tiny sliver, whittled away. Annoyed and angry and sad and dejected, because this is a government building, a building erected by my government, the American government, which means that it was bought and paid for, and is maintained by, the taxes of the American people, and at the moment (and possibly, even probably, forever) the vast majority of those people, the owners of this building, aren’t allowed into it. Annoyed and angry and sad and dejected and bitter because the reduction in my freedom doesn’t, the reduction in your freedom doesn’t, the reduction in everybody’s freedom doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if somebody, anybody, the shadowy “they”, decide to attack us again.

After work today, walking to a pub to meet with friends from all over the globe to raise a glass to the fallen, I realized that, in retrospect, one thing I really wished I had had was an opportunity to vote for John McCain in a presidential election. The less said about that, the better, most likely.

What should we do? What is the appropriate response? I’m not sure. At the moment, my stance is reluctantly hawkish. Reason seems very unlikely to work with the perpetrators of yesterday’s attacks, so I fear that we will have to fall back on force; we will have to forcefully make the point that while it may be technically possible to do this sort of thing to Americans, on American soil, the final result is a terrible and awful retaliation. Of what sort, I do not know; how horrible must we show ourselves capable of being, to drive home the lesson that Americans are not good targets, not acceptable targets, not targets of any sort?

The part of my mind that tells me to go about my business, to strive to live my life in a normal fashion amidst the unthinkable, that part tells me that violence isn’t the answer here; that that path twists into a death spiral of increasing devastation until someone uses a weapon so terrible that our race, our planet, may be damaged beyond our ability to heal, beyond our ability to fix. I have no answers to these questions.

In the meantime, even as I revise these thoughts, life ratchets back into gear. There is fresh spam in my mailbox. There are people on the Linux lists asking about getting their video card to support hardware acceleration, about getting PPP to work, about printing. Over on the incidents list there are network admins girding themselves in preparation for DDOS attacks from one side or another. Blogs are beginning to link to items unrelated to the attacks, and it is possible to get major news sites to load without delay. People are reaching out, giving blood, giving money, starting “everybody check in” threads on smaller, more community-oriented lists, regrouping, assessing loss, reporting that they’re shaken, scared, but safe, and still here. Life will go on, is starting to go on. We’re still here, and maybe that’s the lesson — that despite the worst attack in our history, possibly in history, period, we’re still here.

picture from the Bergen County Record (www.bergen.com), via Scripting News.


I’m still here, and Genehack will resume normal operations on Friday.

state of shock

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talking about the unspeakable
I seem to have lapsed into an all-input, no-output mode — odd for a weblogger, I know. My thoughts are all over the place, and I’m sure this entry is going to be more than a bit disjointed. Apologies to all the people I should have linked below, but didn’t. Apparently I’ll be going to work tomorrow; that should be fun (not). Bush’s speech left a bit to be desired, I thought. We were watching on MSNBC, and they had their camera displaying for a few minutes before Bush was cued to start talking. He was just sitting there, not moving, totally blank affect, and then he got the high sign, turned on, and started talking. You could almost hear the ‘click’ of the switch on his back being flipped to the ON position.

Talked to my Mom, who spent most of the day locked in her office building (she works for the state of Kansas). On her way home from Topeka, she saw long lines as gas stations — with $4/gal prices. What do you suppose the odds are of profiteering in the petroleum industry being pushing appropriately?

This is far from over, kids. Hopefully in a few days I’ll be able to come up with a more reasoned and rational take on all of this. Mad props to Steve, Dave, and Cam for the wonderful coverage. Your work is very appreciated, gentlemen.

I leave you with these words from Hal:

Pray according to your fashion, give aid, and remain calm

damn.

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weblog updates…
Looks like the New York and DC bloggers that I follow are okay… Cam, Anil, Mike and Dineen, Lyn, SteveFred, give us an update, ya bastard…

we’re okay
Lor and I are okay; she’s at home, and I’m hanging out at a friend’s apartment (no point in trying to get home; traffic is awful). Dave is giving good updates; can’t get to most major sites. Updates as I can…

dear god, monday already?
I’m not ready for this. My weekend somehow vanished into a mess of furniture return, dinner with friends, hacking, WinModem/Linux madness (can’t we all just get along?), more dinner, ignored email, pure liquid CSS, unread newspapers, Band of Brothers, KDE via CVS, SSSCA paranoia, and two new domain names.

Plus some other stuff, of course. A more substantial update is forthcoming, probably tonight. In the mean time, if you haven’t heard about the new Security Systems Standards and Certification Act, you should stop what you’re doing and check it out now. Then write your Congresscritter. This one is bad, folks, real bad, like, move out of the country to someplace that hasn’t decided to totally fuck over the citizenry for the benefit of the entertainment industry bad.

bah

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gemini day of leisure
I’m taking the day off, from blogging at least. I’m grumpy, vaguely dissatisfied, and really, really ready for it to be the weekend — which is at least eight, and more likely ten, hours away. Go read NTK or something.

Back Monday.

discretion beats valor; film at 11
Sorry ‘bout that — I really did mean to post an update yesterday, but all of a sudden it was midnight, so I went to bed instead. Let’s see what built up in the queue yesterday…


but was there any of that 2/3/5 thing?
Something I’d never really thought about before: similarities between the television show Babylon 5 and Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings — apparently quite the hot topic in certain circles. Here’s one sample, and another.

Both miss one glaring similarity: geekish fanboys with space on the web and too much time on their hands… (Before you start flaming, I’m grinning when I say that. Plus, I’m a weblogger, so “geekish” and “too much time on my hands” can only be used in ironically self-referential ways. It’s in the union code.)


this is a test
Speaking of geeky fanboys (and fangirls too), give yourself 3 points if you recognize this URL: eruditorum.org. Ten points if you’ve already been there. Fifty if you checked whois before finishing the book, and were pissed off when you couldn’t get it.


burned, one man.
Wired has a pictorial up; I’m holding out for a shot or two of Dan’s costume…


tools to check out
BlogMax: Blogging in Emacs. drool
CryptoMail: open source end-to-end secure web mail. I don’t need web mail at the moment, but you never know…
Mars Simulation Project: simulation of human settlement of Mars. Not really a “tool”, per se, but it could be fun to play with.


getting chilly out there…
It really starting to look Cold War-ish out there, isn’t it? Economy (supposedly) headed into the crapper, a Bush in the White House, silly “defense” industry pork projects, and poorly supervised CIA agents playing with germs. Great.

Oh, and we’ve also got elected officials making psychic contact with the dead. Did I hear somebody at the back of the room mutter “Crazy Years”?


spin, baby, spin
The biometrics industry is trying to mount a counter-offensive against some of the bad press they’ve been getting lately. It’s telling that despite the (I assume) large amounts of money that they’re paying publicists, the best thing that they could come up with is:

“The knee-jerk reaction has always been the Big Brother angle, which is ridiculous because it’s not recognizing anyone but criminals,” said Joseph Atick, CEO of Visionics Corporation.

Or, in other words, if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you really believe that, there’s some people from the “defense” industry outside; they’ve got this thing that shoots missiles out of the sky, and they’d like to sell it to you.


damn the man, part II
A few days back, I linked to an item about an international day of action against surveilcams. World Subjectrights Day is similar, except instead of unspecified “action”, they just want people to find a local surveilcam and start taking pictures of it. This idea really appeals to my monkeywrench nature; now I just have to find a surveilcam. Given that I’m in DC, this shouldn’t be hard…


speaking of being in dc…
Sounds like Guido van Rossum might be speaking at the next Zope/Python Users Group meeting, on September 26th. Anybody local up for going?


miscellaneous is always the largest category
The O’Reilly-hosted bioinformatics mailing list has been blowin’ up lately. Lots of really good discussion over there; if you’re even mildly interested in the topic, you really ought to be lurking that list.

Thanks to the link the other day from Dave, I’m significantly more googular. I want some sort of googularity metric web page, which raises the issue of what units googularity should be measured in… The obvious answer: “Bogarts”, as in:
“I’m 482 Bogarts more googular than you!”
“Dude, that’s nearly half a kiloBogart! You r00l!”

Shout out to Hal: I’m not really a cleric, I just am willing to play one when two good friends ask me to. There is something ‘bout them Kansas boys with their book larnin’, though.

> perl -e 'print scalar localtime(1000000_000)'
Sat Sep 8 21:46:40 2001
Anybody havin’ a party? (That’s EDT, BTW.)

Currently on the top of the TODO list: renew genehack.org, which expires later this month. Two years, already, which makes three since I started doing this. W00t.

Okay, time to slurp down one more cuppa, and then off to work! Catch you tomorrow.

buck passing
I’ve got a good sized update written in my head, and I fully intended to have had it put up here for y’all’s enjoyment — but I’ve spent my pre-work morning time dealing with yet another outage at my hosting provider.

I’m now officially researching alternative hosting providers. I’m in the market for something very much like what Michal’s web hosting company offers as the “shell” plan — that is, SSH/FTP, full CGI, some sort of SQL-based RDBMS, *nix, plus all the normal trimmings. Right around that price point would be good too. Basically, I’m leaning towards sabren.com pretty firmly right now; so try to steer me away from that if you want to sell me on your favorite provider.

Real update coming later, after work…
sigh

buckle down

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my weekend
I’ll forever remember this Labor Day weekend as the one when I married two of my best friends to each other. It was pretty cool; keep watching Cozy, as I’m sure Lyn is going to tell you all about it. 8^)=

How was your weekend?


bleeding edge
The first versions of KDE 3 are hitting CVS (see this week’s KDE KC for more info), and I thought I’d try to pitch in and report some bugs, which means I’ve got to get the damn CVS sources to build. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the QT3 build, which is going okay aside from the totally screwed up include paths that I’m having to fix one-by-one, as they make the build fall over. Fun fun fun…


keep your powder^Wsoftware dry
Dave “Interesting People” Farber and Dan Gilmor gave an interview to an Australian IT rag about the relationship between freedom, privacy and software usage. Probably nothing new for my regular readers, but it might be useful if you need something to point your parents to, or something.


our american history
Without Sanctuary is a collection of post cards featuring photos of lynchings. These souvenirs were apparently quite common in in the late 1800s and early 1900s, perhaps unsurprisingly. Many, many powerful pictures here; be prepared to stay awhile and think.


when masks are outlawed…
September 7 has been designated An International Day of Action Against Video Surveillance. Damn the Man.


one for the work-related ‘to read’ pile
Via Morbus, an article on genetic algorithms and Perl. Cool.


and now off to bed…
Oh, still so very many things to do…but my pillow is calling my name. Catch up with y’all tomorrow; take it easy out there.