Archive for the 'Security' Category

High Risk. High Reward. Low Confidence?

By now I’m fairly confident you’ll have heard at least one account of the rather unexpected news that Usama bin Laden has been killed by American special forces deep within Pakistan. Odds are just about as good that you’ll have heard at least one pundit, analyst, or commentator wax eloquent on the significance of this story.

What few will discuss, I expect, is just how little faith in success the United States appears to have had in this effort succeeding.

What struck me most as I watched the President’s address live on television late last night is this:
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Published in: General, History, Security | on May 2nd, 2011 | 1 Comment »

The Sad Reality

It may sound cynical, even a little misanthropic, but the sad fact of the matter is that most strangers who show up at your door are probably not nice people. They may come bearing sob stories about how they need two or three or five or ten dollars to buy baby formula or bus or taxi fare or a shave and a haircut before their first job interview in two years, but they’re really just going to blow it on, yes, drugs or booze.

Thing is, a couple of bucks for a quick fix usually isn’t the only reason they’re at your door. No, most of them have slightly grander ambitions, I’m afraid.

They’d like to steal your stuff.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on April 15th, 2011 | Comments Off on The Sad Reality

Radiological Underpreparedness

Nope, this isn’t about what you think it’s about.

In the last week or so, a couple of stories have run in the news about radiation from Japan’s stricken reactors being detected in rainfall in various parts of the United States, as predicted by everyone with a basic understanding of how weather works.

Public Intelligence has a collection of some of these articles here.

This news is not, on the face of things, really exciting, or even all that interesting.

But there’s an interesting little tidbit in there which I think is not just interesting, but alarming – all the more so because some dumbass discussed it in public.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, Security | on March 29th, 2011 | Comments Off on Radiological Underpreparedness

Kwik Hits

Today, on a rainy Tuesday in Minnesota, Amazon announced the quarterfinalists of the 2011 Breakthrough Novel Awards. Despite lots of positive comments from the reviewers… Mendacities isn’t among them.

Ah, well.

I had hoped to make it this far, but had no illusions of proceeding any further, so I’m not particularly bothered. I’ve other irons in the fire, future epic failures as-yet unperpetrated on an unsuspecting public, et cetera. 🙂 I apparently got lucky, in that I was reviewed by intelligent, literate readers, so no hard feelings or anything on my part. Horror stories abound on the ABNA forums of worse-than-useless reviews left by people with highly questionable reading comprehension/writing/communication skills. Okay, Sturgeon’s Law says a lot of negative reviews are more than justified, but I’ve seen some purported reviews that attacked authors’ abilities to spell, while themselves being full of egregious typos…

That having been said, for anyone who might happen to care, Mendacities has recently become available for the Nook, directly from Barnes and Noble, as well as – supposedly – through Apple’s iBooks app.

In (possibly) more interesting news, I’m cynically amused by the division between domestic and international reporting on the airstrikes in Libya. Here, it seems the press has been very quick to minimize the US’ involvement in the actions, whereas overseas media seem to be endlessly describing the strikes as “US-led”. Go figure.

Last week, Bruce Schneier linked to some interesting research about “write-printing”, i.e. identifying the authors of anonymous written material through statistical analysis. I haven’t looked at this too closely, but I suspect it wouldn’t be too hard to defeat from either end – i.e. to write an e-mail that was not in your own “style”, or to write an e-mail in someone else’s style, given a few samples to work with. Aspects of this really kind of fascinate me, in part for professional reasons, but I’ve way too many things on my plate right now to poke around at it, alas.

Public Intelligence appears to be down because of a spike in traffic due to the “kill team” article published by Der Spiegel (or more correctly because their host, apparently EuroVPS, suspended them). Hopefully they’ll return with a better provider/server infrastructure soon. If you’re a real geek, you might be interested to check out the reverse-DNS for their IP address; I’d never seen a single IP address with more than one PTR record before…

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on March 22nd, 2011 | Comments Off on Kwik Hits

Kwik-ish Hits

Ugh, crazy week. Been hard at work writing a novel and some other stuff, working on a microcontroller project, fighting with some computer stuff, and what seems like a thousand other things as well. Plus I’m either getting a cold or the quasi-thaw we’re having this winter is making my allergies flare up…


Yesterday, Israel seized the MV Victory, which it alleges was carrying as many as 50 tonnes of weapons “to be used against Israeli citizens”, including six Chinese anti-ship missiles. As is typical in these cases – if a little surprising, in a country with, y’know, compulsory military service – the IDF has apparently released (mis-)captioned photos of the seized cargo, which mislabels 120mm mortar rounds as “rockets” and what appear to be French(?) M61 60mm mortar rounds as “grenades”. (Note that the 60mm mortars appear relatively different than those seized in 2009, though the packing lists are quite similar.)

As far as I can tell, no photos of the anti-ship missiles have been released…
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, Security | on March 16th, 2011 | Comments Off on Kwik-ish Hits