Sunday, August 29, 2004

Time wasters

Fleshbot's weekend round up includes the following:

Report on testicle waxing from Montreal.

The Sex or Something Else quiz during which you see a picture of a face and try to guess whether the person is having sex or doing something else...a short 16 photos.

An open directory of high quality desktop wallpapers featuring pin-up girl drawings.

Republican Defector

Shaula reports: "...that after attending four previous conventions, Philadelphia's Jesse Walters was chosen as a delegate to this year's GOP convention in New York only to resign the position, saying he could not support Bush and expressing concern with the rightward move of the Republican Party.Mr. Waters called the decision one of the hardest in his life and said he will be voting for Kerry--the first time he has ever voted for a Democratic president."

Iran Contra Part 2

Washington Monthly: "The administration's reluctance to disclose these details seems clear: the DoD-Ghorbanifar meetings suggest the possibility that a rogue faction at the Pentagon was trying to work outside normal US foreign policy channels to advance a "regime change" agenda not approved by the president's foreign policy principals or even the president himself."

Ghorbanifar, referred to above is Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar. He" a storied figure who played a key role in embroiling the Reagan administration in the Iran-Contra affair."

According to The American Street, Rumsfeld and Bush are already dodging questions on the issue.

Want to read more bloggers from the RNC? Here's a site that aggregates their reports.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Republican vs. Democrat

Albatross is a friend of mine who has his own blog. He often writes about such things as his family and personal experiences. The latest post, though, contains his musings on the 2 headed monster Americans refer to as our political "system". As you may note, I am sympathetic towards his views, though not all of his points.

Breast implants reports yet another reason for women to avoid silicone breast implants.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Spontaneous Poetry

This is not my best example, but someone on an egroup I belong to asked, "Richard, what are you listening to these days?" To be honest, I haven't been very attentive to this egroup lately and have been considering dropping off the map entirely on them. In some frustration a few month's ago, I myself and a friend wanted to expand membership in the group and met with resistance. The resulting discussion was a little heated. Problem is that the group has become a little too quaint, too self absorbed, and it needs new blood in order to keep it lively and interesting. Obviously, I still feel that way. Anyhow, to the above question sprung this reply:

The sound of the rain beating the pavement - some rhythmic trance music
that my rational mind finds too complex, but my hips groove to in
funky fashion
The sound of the wind flowing through the trees, wrapping around the
house like a present from nature
Hot oil from the frying pan, steam from the food canner, both lifting
the essence of the late summer bounty to my nose and teasing me with
the good flavors to come
The last sigh of my lover after orgasm, her heart still beating hard -
a sigh that breathily means content and 'I want more' all in the same
tone, confusing my heart and making my cock ache for more
Bands from France, Belgium, America, Canada, Japan, India, and a
variety of African nations filling my hips with joy and an
understanding of the true universal language that shares variety and
The sound of my voice breathing in/out while I meditate on
nothingness, bringing peace to the world, one soul (mine) at a time
The sound of beans snapping as I prepare a meal
The sounds of cats meowing, wanting attention or, at least, a little
nip - either will do
The sound of hiking boots squishing in mud, which, if the mud is thick
enough, sounds oddly reminscent of a heart being massaged on ER

Right now, though? The sound of keys tapping away as I reply to your
message as well as Tuxedomoon's new album, "Cabin in the Sky".

Another Keillor article

This time, an essay from In These Times:

"Our beloved land has been fogged with fear—fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich."

Go Garrison, go.

Bush's economic failures

On Heather Bushey, economist at the Center For Econominc and Policy Research, reports that while President Bush inherited an economy already in recession, he has actually hurt the economy further and made it worse.

One reason faith based initiatives corrupt government and religion

From the ACLU in Michigan:

"July 20, 2004 - Press ReleaseDETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan asked the Michigan Supreme Court today to hear a case of a Catholic man who was criminally punished for not completing a Pentacostal drug rehabilitation program. His request to be transferred to another program was denied and he was sentenced to six months in jail and boot camp."

The whole article goes on to explain how a judge sentenced this man to a drug program that was totally faith based. It offered no secular therapy and described the man's religion as "witchcraft". Faith based initiatives are a bit like the drug war: they corrupt both parties. In the instance of the drug war, users and dealers are made to be criminals while the state is corrupted as they carry out both illegal acts under the guise of catching criminals as well as bribes as criminals will use them to get their products into the country. Faith based initiatives corrupt the government (in this case, in the form of a judge) as well as the religion. Pat Robertson actually made the latter argument, pointing out that no money from government comes without strings attached and it would only be a matter of time before the government steps in and demands that religious organizations receiving such funds would be required to meet government work rules and secular laws.

Thanks to Archie, for bringing this to my attention.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Pin up girl resin kits

These sure beat model planes. Fleshbot reports on artist Michael James' latest venture. You know, if I had access to these, it sure would've won out over the visible man and woman kits I had as a kid. They's at least hold my attention longer, though probably would not have prevented me from stealing my father's Playboys.


While I'm at it, let me report on my experience of downloading and installing XP SP2. I got the download yesterday at around 3PM. It took about 20 minutes to download on my DSL line. Another 20 minutes later and the install was complete. After a reboot, I got to see the new Windows Security Center pop up on my screen and it informed me that it couldn't read all of the info from my antivirus software (Norton). A flash screen appeared from Symantec suggesting that I not share all of that info with other programs and I agreed to that. The security center showed the software loaded at that point, but not sharing all info - I've got no problem with that. The Security Center also showed that Zone Alarm was loaded and, much to my pleasure and surprise, did not turn on the Windows Internet Firewall.

I was happy about this last but as the Windows Internet Firewall is not as good as the Zone Alarm software. Zone Alarm, in preparation for SP2, sent out an update to their software a month ago. Symantec sent out their update last week and sent out another update on Tuesday. Both seemed to have worked well for me.

Honestly, I haven't seen any differences or encountered any problems. I use Firefox as my browser and continue to plan on that until, or if, Microsoft brings out a fixed and better version of IE. My main mail outlet is Outlook. I have used Outlook Express, but only for surfing newsgroups, so I haven't seen the updates in that function. Adobe PhotoShop Elements 2.0 worked just fine as well.

So far, so good. I'll be checking some registry settings and some of my spyware detection software later today and tomorrow and will report any problems I encounter.

16 fired in the UK

ZDNet reports that "More than 220 government workers have been disciplined--including 16 who were fired--for downloading pornography onto their computers at the United Kingdom's Department of Work and Pensions." It goes on to say, "The U.K.-based Sun newspaper asserts that more than 2 million pages of pornographic content were downloaded by staff within the department." By My calculation, that's an average of 9091 porn pages downloaded by each of the 220 workers, assuming that they downloaded an equal number of pages. Note in the report that, just as in the US government, when such an "outrage" (that's tongue in, um, cheek, folks) occurs, the person at the top is not fired a la Donald Rumsfeld and the Abu Ghraib scandal, which is really pornographic in the worst way.

I was taking the day off from posting as I'm busy canning green beans and making a basalmic reduction as well as trying to come up with some sort of Mexican themed dinner (as Shawn has requested) that uses up some of our produce on hand, but this was too good to pass up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Iraqi teens tortured

The Washington Post reports that teenagers were among those tortured at the Abu Ghraib prison complex. I don't find this surprising in the least, but it's pretty terrible. Not only were they torturing anyone, but they couldn't even ask themselves about torturing teens?

Ooops...Iraqi Soccor players speak out

President Bush this week tried to evoke the image of the Iraqi soccor players playing in the Olympics as a sign of success in the war in that country. Reporters here enjoyed the rhetoric without question. Then someone decided to ask the Iraqi soccor players on their thoughts on the President's remarks.

Neocons rise like the Phoenix

Despite the fact that the neocon's warnings about Iraq have been completely disproven, they have organized and revived an organization to lobby Congress to further implement their vision of the world. Laura Rozen, whose reports have appeared in The Nation, Tom, and The American Prospect, has a column on Alternet discussing the new organization. Joe Lieberman is co-chair. Is it any wonder liberals don't support him? His presence lends bipartisanship to the organization.


Here's a rather lengthy article on the genocide in the Sudan from The New Yorker. It goes into US policy from Clinton through Bush and discusses the failings of both administrations. For people who want to know why attention is being focused on this nation, it's a good primer.

Cheney reiterates his stance on gay marriage

In a surprising twist, VP Dick Cheney stated that his stance towards gay marriage made during the 2000 election has not changed. "At this point . . . my own preference is as I've stated," Mr Cheney said. "But the President makes basic policy for the Administration. And he's made it."

Like mother, like son

Well, perhaps that goes a bit too far, but the Aussie newspaper, The Age, reports today that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's son was arrested in connection with an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea. Rather than tell a government to run rough shod over a country, I suppose he just wanted to be closer to the action.

Misconceptions about sex

Dan Savage writes in his weekly column about the misconceptions adults remember they had when they were kids about sex. It's at times amusing, at times gross, and at times horrifying. What were your misconceptions? I don't recall any as when I was about 7 or 8 I went and rented a book from the school library. The librarian wouldn't let me check the book out because I was not old enough. She called my mother to tell of the transgression, but my mother chewed her out telling the librarian that she was certain that there was no book in the grade school library that would be too forward for her children. Perhaps my mother was just happy to be avoiding the topic, but it was a rather cool thing to do.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Wirless Spectrum auctions

Clay Shirky writes an interesting column on the economics of 2 countries, Sweden and England, opening up their wireless spectrums to companies for developing. The contrast reminds me of the U.S.'s own experiences in this area. In the original days of broadcasting, the radio companies paid a flat fee for the license to broadcast. Television is the same way. Neither medium has changed that method, though the license prices have gone up over the years. So, when cell phones and other wireless devices came along, why did our government start selling the spectrum to be developed? Does it cost us, the consumers, more in the long run? We pay in higher prices in order to pay off the initial investments plus we pay taxes to the government for our usage. What new services did we receive from the government for it's windfall of cash from the sale of the spectrum? Did such a sale put a vice on the creation of content, as Shirky suggests? (By the way, I just noticed that this is an older column...I wonder if a study has been done since this was written). This was passed on by the good gent at bubblegeneration.

Viritual Pet Deluxe model

Talk about your high maintenance! And in the end, you never get any sort of physical satisfaction, though it appears as if she drains your pocketbook. I don't get it. Then again, I never "got" the virtual pet either.

So, what about the virtual guy? Will these be marketed solely to straight people? Will the user be able to determine features? Attitude? Clothes? What will this teach potential young users about the nature of relationships?

Medical Dictation Outsourcing

The Daily Mail reports on hospitals in London which have outsourced their medical dictation services. The doctors speak into a recording device. The files are sent to a company for dictation which forwards the files to India for the final transcripts. The concept sounds all well and good, but the people in India need more training or the outsourcing needs to be reigned in. More alarming than the amusing anecdotes ("below the knee" transcribed as "baloney") are the ones that are generally being caught by the GPs where the amount of dosage a patient receives for a certain drug is mistyped. Let's hope that North American hospitals don't follow this path right away. Can you see the lawsuit coming?

P2P and secret Documents

So, you're running a P2P program to share files. Do you remember which directories you shared? Rick Wallace has started a blog site that features documents that he's found on P2P networks that, most likely, people would not want to share out. They include credit card statements, reports from the Seattle police department, military duty rosters, discussions of tactics within the Pentagon, and more. Lest you be worried, he's decent enough to blur out sensitive information in the postings.

Canada's drug prices

This article is so on the money. Politicians are debating these days over whether or not to allow citizens or states to import drugs from Canada and/or Europe, but such a debate skirts the real issue: Canada has price caps on prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical companies have successfully lobbied Congress to prevent such caps. In fact, such caps are anathema to conservative (small "c") principles of economics. To the conservative mind, Canada, Europe, Japan, and other parts of the world are the aberration to the free market. To the conservative mind, the US should remain a free market and encourage the rest of the world to join us while the US public gets screwed on the price.

Hey, I'm actually sympathetic to the concept of allowing people to buy their prescriptions from countries that have health standards at or near our own levels. Most people won't do it because it would take too long to get the prescriptions and their health plans probably wouldn't cover it.

Still, the real issue is the structure of our medical system. First of all, I argue that our medical system must be considered a matter of national defense. We should have some national standards. I'd save the drug companies money tomorrow by refusing to let them advertise on television and print media unless that prime demographic for that media was the same primary care physician why would prescribe the substance (in other words, professional journals). More of the money spent on establishing new drugs is spent on advertising it rather than R & D.

I'd also pass laws that would greatly punish drug companies from delaying the introduction of generics after the 7 years that they are allowed exclusivity to the drug under current law. In other words, making a slight modification to the claritin formula would not allow the company to prevent a generic firm to manufacture and market that drug. Not to let the generic firms off of the hook: they would be required to make the exact same dosage as the drug they are replacing (this is not always the case).

We also seriously need to take a look at Health Insurance. The industry cries about reforms to malpractice, but that is not the flaw in the system. No special amnesty should be provided that makes a group immune from our legal system. That's just not the democratic rule of law we aspire towards. Instead, there must be other ways to cut costs in the system and to train physicians better so that we're not faced with the suits in the first place. Is a National Health Care system the way to go? In my opinion, yes, but I know that there will be a great push back against that. Should we try to find a middle ground as a first step? Absolutely and I think that first middle step might look at pharmaceutical profits here rather than importing drugs from our friends to the north.

Windows XP SP2

*sigh* I've been answering a lot of questions about this update for friends and family. I've also see a lot of hubris on the internet about SP2. Let me start this by addressing the question about where or not to install it: If you are a home user, then install it ASAP. The problems you are likely to encounter will be minor compared to the safety SP2 will provide. It you are a business user of any size, then wait a month (turn off automatic updates or block it with the Microsoft tool that allows you to do this).

Now, having said that, there are some caveats to SP2. First of all, while IE has a new popup blocking feature and it does manage downloads better, it is still not a terribly secure browser platform. You are better off going with Firefox or Opera as they are safer browsing platforms. In fact, ZDNet and other organizations have already reported on a new browser flaw found in IE that works despite SP2.

Secondly, SP2 automatically turns on the Windows Internet Firewall. The WIF is enhanced and can be managed with the new Windows Security Center console. For those of us who already have firewalls, this is not going to be an issue. If you have Zone Alarm, McAffee, or any number of other products, you already have a better firewall that the Windows one (even better than the enhanced one) plus you are probably familiar with how to operate and control a firewall. For those of us that do not have a firewall, well, shame on you, but this will greatly improve your security. If you have troubles with a program after installing SP2, then this is the first place to look for a fix. I suggest you read this article and the associated links in the upper right hand of the page on how to adjust your firewall settings.

Third, XP SP2 updates Outlook Express to bring it's security settings up to par with Outlook 2003. In other words, anti-spam technology is added along with functionality that prevents the automatic downloading of images from a web server. By downloading images automatically from a web server, you open yourself up to potential security hazards as well as spam tracking. Finally, Outlook Express now blocks unsafe attachments from reaching your PC unless you tell it that you want that attachment. So, for people who automatically clicked on attachments that ended in, say, ".exe" without checking the source of the email and despite numerous warnings about doing such things (such as the person who was VP of my former company), this will prevent you from infecting yourself as well as others so easily.

Fourth, SP2 comes with an update of Windows Media Player Beta 10 (this was news to me, but a friend of mine got it). This is not a major update to the player right now, but there will be some cool things coming to it when the release becomes official.

Home users are at less of a risk for adding SP2 because they are less likely to encounter problems with program compatibility and such problems are less likely to be "mission critical" (in other words, they can take the time to track down any such problems).

Users of business applications that have been modified for their internal networks or are system criticial should test their networks and their applications before applying the service pack. The apocalyptic warnings given to business users regarding SP2 are ridiculous. IT people should test all service packs before installing them on critical systems and, in that regard, SP2 is no different than a patch to any other software in your organization.


A link from Shaula: A nice flash movie outlining the ties between Saddam Hussein, the CIA, and the Administrations of the US government.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Firefox timeline

There's a new roadmap for the release candidate for Firefox. It was to be released around mid September, but that has been pushed back to October. The reason? They need to time to address bugs in order to improve the customer experience. Makes sense to me. In the meantime, I'll continue to use my Firefox .93 release and feel safer than if I used IE.

Dinner party

The weekend was mostly uneventful in our house. On Saturday, we hung out quite a bit. Shawn went and studied cookbooks. I watched the Olympics on Canadian television, read a little (Orhan Pamuk's The New Life: A Novel, and played on the computer. Late that afternoon, Shawn came to me a little frustrated by the fact that she was looking for ways to use up our garden produce and I didn't seem concerned about it. In fact, I had been using it up all week through canning and cooking. To give her credit: despite my best efforts, I was slipping behind.

We had several pounds of beans in the fridge. There were purple, green, and yellow wax beans. I had made a green bean casserole (making my own thyme infused roux instead of using canned mushroom soup) and a Persian Pilaf with Lime and Green Beans by Madhur Jaffrey. Both turned out very well. Wax beans being so hard to come by in stores, I saved them out. Shawn put them to goo use on Saturday by making a 4 bean salad (one of my favorites for using these summer beans).

For my part, I put together a green bean pate that came from Renee Shephard's Kitchen Garden book. Along with left overs, we ate these dishes, watched Julia Child on videos Shawn brought back from the library, and I enjoyed some 1998 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon (not an ideal pairing, I realize, but one I enjoyed).

Sunday, I woke to find that Shawn was not in bed with me. I'm the morning person and it was only 4:30, so I was surprised. Shawn was up at the computer organizing photos she had taken a while back. She had not been able to sleep and had been up since 3 AM. It's probably needless to point this out, but she went back to bed later in the morning (about 6:30) and didn't rise again until 9:30. By this time I had watched a little bit of Washington Journal on CSPAN and BookTV on CSPAN2. When she got up I was watching the Olympics and had read most of the paper.

Shawn made a simple, but tasty breakfast. WHile she was doing that, I got the distinct impression that she wanted me to assist with using up more of the garden produce. She swears she didn't say, "Why don't you get off your ass and help out", but that is what I heard. *smile*I made some refrigerator ginger-cinamon-basil pickles from Renee Shepard's book. Another 4 cucumbers done! Only 15 more to go...*sigh*

We went to one of Shawn's classmate's house for an early afternoon dinner. Another classmate and his wife were there, too. The hostess doesn't cook and she confided that this was only the third time since she had moved to the house 2.5 years ago that she had invited people over for dinner. Her husband and her son were away for the day - probably expecting disaster. As it turned out, she made a very nice dinner. Basically, she served some tortilla chips and all of the fixings for taco salads. The diners just assembled what they wanted on their plates. It was quite tasty and light. There was a great deal of good conversation that flowed easily and it wasn't all about their grad school courses. After about 4.5 hours (and a heavy chocolate melt dessert), the party broke up. Carl and Kris (the hostess) enjoyed our gift samplings of our green bean pate and we also unloaded 5 of the lemon cucumbers on them! Only 11 more to more to pick this week...*sigh*

When we got home, Shawn had a phone message from a former co-worker who is moving to back to Wisconsin. As I checked my email, I heard Shawn volunteer me to assist her friend in moving a futon, it's frame, plus a regular mattress frame this morning. I smiled while listening to the convo. We took a walk after the call was over and Shawn filled me in on the details. When we came home, we finished off the evening by watching FoodTV's tribute to Julia Child.

Election year shenanigans

Florida is attempting to lower the number of African American voters in the state by using State Troopers to intimidate get out the vote campaigners, as well as those flawed felony lists from the last election.

Paul Krugman on Florida's flawed electronic voting machines.

Jim Hightower reports that the League of Women's Voters want a return to paper balloting.

The NY Times editorial board reports that some states are refusing to count provisional ballots (those cast when the person voting can't make it back to his/her assigned voting place).

An article in The Nation on insecure electronic voting systems and how they could be used to steal an election (long, but good).

Some might say, looking at the links above (most of which require you to register with the NY Times), that liberals are on message for once. Some might think that this is inevitable given the last election and how it was hashed out. I would argue that it's in the best interests of everyone in the country - Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, et al - to make certain that we get accurate vote counts and that everyone is encouraged to vote. After all, each election year brings politicians out who lament the lack of participation in the electoral process. Both parties have played a hand over the years in suppressing the vote. Simple changes like changing the day people vote or extending the days to an entire weekend, absentee balloting, making it easier to establish third parties and allow them into debates, open primaries, and such could easily be enacted and would expand the number of people who want to vote. In some cases the major parties have actually fought those concepts. In Washington, for instance, they have fought (and won) against our open primary system (a very popular system, I might add - I actually participated in every primary since moving here which I could not say the same for Michigan). When are people going to get angry enough to demand an end to this?

Interview with Keillor

Garrison Keillor has a new book out on politics and why he's a Democrat. I haven't read the book, but I've read and heard some interviews with the man about the book and his thoughts in them. Some Republicans are hopping mad about this, as if they owned Prairie Home Companion and all of the rights to it. After all, how could an elitist Democrat enjoy such a program, let alone write about it?


Those brilliant idiots at the DEA are wasting our tax dollars on busting doctors for legitimate pain killer prescriptions. Grrrrr.....

Oh, and now they have a follow up pamphlet. Idiots....

Ad-Aware SE now redux

I reported that Lavasoft had released Ad-Aware SE. Since that release, they've had a couple of minor updates and are now on version 1.03. One minor glitch occurred during these version releases. Lavasoft did not send emails out to users regarding the updates, but their update system did allow users to find out about the updates. For paying customers, though, the update path was the same as the original download path. Therefore, you had to save your original email with the link, user name, and password in order to obtain the new update. I'm anal about saving that sort of thing, so this was no big deal for me. Several people on the Lavasoft forums were unhappy and had to send a private message through the forums in order to get a new email, user name, and password. From my perspective: a minor hassle at worst and it's still a great product.

Healthy House

Another tip from BubbleGeneration: Toronto's Healthy House is completely self sufficient for water. It's something I've been interested in since I saw some ideas from PSE's Eco House. In that design, PSE used rain barrels connected to gutters to provide irrigation for the gardens. What a great idea! This design takes things a bit further.

Gmail Notifier

For those of you with Gmail accounts, here comes the Gmail Notifier. It's a little program that has an icon that sits in your system tray. When a new mail comes into your Gmail account, a little window rises letting you know that and what the mail says. Nice tool, but it's for Windows only at the moment. I've already downloaded the plugin for Firefox that does almost the same thing. I would hope that Gmail would open their API for other people to use it.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Hypocrisy, again

The National Catholic Reporter decided to do an expose on President Bush's main liason to the Catholic community, Deal Hudson. What they found was a man who was deeply conservative, a person whose views have been influential in the Church (lambasting Kerry for being pro-choice, for instance), and an individual who never ceases to press a rigid moral stance. What they also found was someone who has his own moral "issues". Due to the research involved in this report, Hudson has resigned his position on the Republican National Committee. There's a link here as well to the response he printed in the National Review to this report.

Julia Childs

Last week, Julia Child died at the age of 91. She was a great icon of American cooking, basically founding the cooking show medium. Through her PBS shows, she made French cuisine accessible to American audiences. Child came across on those early shows as your typical housewife. Her easy going manner and her lack of fear for making mistakes endeared her to millions of viewers. She also had a fascinating life before cooking, serving the U.S. during WWII in Asia, where she met her husband.

We watched a video on Julia Child's shows last night. It was a retrospective of her career. We're going to watch more over the weekend. Shawn rented the videos from the library. She's planning on a potluck dinner next week during which several people will share memories, food, and videos of Julia Child.

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook." - Julia Child

1996 Isoceles

I've always enjoyed Justin Wines. Last night I opened a 1996 of their Bordeaux blend, Isoceles. It is an exceptionally good wine. I could have easily saved it for another 4 or 5 years, but I have another bottle or two left.

While I'm on the subject, I also recommend WillaKenzie Estates and DeLille. The former makes some great Pinot Noirs in Oregon. The latter is one of Washington's best wineries and they focus of blends similar to those from Burgundy.

IE Flaw

ZDNet: "An independent researcher warned that an Internet Explorer vulnerability could turn drag-and-drop into drag-and-infect, even on computers updated with Microsoft's latest security patch.

The flaw affects the latest version of Internet Explorer running on Windows XP, even after the latest major update--known as Service Pack 2--is applied. An attacker using the flaw could install a program on a victim's computer after convincing the person to visit a malicious Web site and click on a graphic.

The attacker's program would be placed in the Windows startup folder and would run the next time the user restarted the computer. The security researcher who discovered the flaw, known by the online nickname "http-equiv," posted an example to show the power of the flaw.

"If you look at the Web page, all you see are two red lines and an image; drag the image across the two lines and drop it," he said. "What you have actually done is drop (a program) into your startup folder. Next time you switch the computer on it runs the program."

Security information company Secunia believes the program that takes advantage of the issue could be simplified to only require a single click from the user. Secunia rated the flaw as "highly critical," its second-highest rating of vulnerability threats.

Microsoft said the issue did not pose a serious risk to users because it requires an attacker to trick people into visiting a Web site and taking some action at the site.

"Given the significant amount of user action required to execute an attack, Microsoft does not consider this to be a high risk for customers," a company representative said, adding that the software giant's security experts are continuing to research the issue."

IE is broken - still. *sigh* Please switch to Firebird (my favorite) or Opera, for your own safety. IE is flawed beyond repair.

BOP til you drop

Bubble Generation is always an interesting read. In fact, it's one of my favorite blogs. Today is a link to an article on C.K. Prahalad. His new book is “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Eradicating Poverty Through Profits”. BOP comes from "Bottom of the Pyramid" and the book focuses on poverty and profits and how businesses and the poor can thrive together. Fascinating work. I'll be buying a copy, soon.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Homeland Security?

From the NY Times Travel Section on August 3rd, discussing training security people.

"You would not believe how many recreational handcuffs I have seen in property rooms at airports around the country. I don't want to single out J.F.K., but the ones I've seen there were lined in everything from suede to fake fur." —Mark Hatfield Jr., director of communications and public information, Transportation Security Administration

Ad-Aware SE now out

Lavasoft have just put out a new version of their Ad-Aware product. The SE edition features faster and more thorough scanning. If you do not yet have a tool to fight spyware/adware/malware/trojans on your PC, this is highly recommended. It's also free.

I'd also recommend Spybot Search and Destroy. It's also free. Running both tools will help keep you covered. They tend to compliment each other well with some overlaps.

Finally, I'd add Spyware Blaster to the mix as well. It locks down IE and Firefox (the latter is my preferred browser), so that you don't get spyware in the first place. Again, it's not 100%, but at least it helps out.

Race, Racism, Classism

Here's an interesting article in Slate by Debra Dickerson, called Racist Like Me - Why am I the only honest bigot? She discusses the notions of race and how she discovers moments of racism that she carries within herself.

From the article: "Yet if we are to evolve on the issue of race, the notion that you, or someone else, is racist ought to function as the beginning of the attainment of full humanity, not the proof that you've relinquished it. Realizing with each incident that I was operating from a no-longer-quite-subconscious script about race allowed me to recognize, and then confront, the hateful notions I have internalized about blacks. Worse, it allowed me to see that having experienced racism had helped turn me into one: It turns out that I have a problem with whites, too."


Krugman interview:

" is amazing, if you look at some of the ways they are willing to change policy, not in fundamental ways, but in ways that help them politically. If you read closely the reporting from Iraq, what’s pretty clear is that our army has been told to basically cede control of large swaths of the country to the insurgents in order to hold the casualty figures down until November."



This site really irks me: Play it Cyber Safe. It is set up by the Business Software Alliance to teach children, parents, and teachers how to surf the net safely and responsibly. "Responsibly" is the key to what they are doing. They want to teach kids how not to share software, music, video, and anything else covered by copyright laws.

Now, I tend to pay for my music, videos, and software. Artists and developers should be able to make a living off of the work they produce. Yes, I know the arguments about copyrights and how the mainstream music industry does not pay it's artists properly. What annoys me is twofold. First, the industries have been slow to recognize that with increasing access speeds on the internet, they need to change their business models and they have been unwilling to do so (recently there's been chatter about the music industry already plotting for higher prices on download tunes as well as attempting to make them scarce by exclusive rights contracts with suppliers). Secondly, it annoys me that businesses are attempting to indoctrinate children to obey the law with this cute game and website and that they do so by using the scare tactics of pornography when appealing to parents and teachers on the site.

Should parents and teachers take the time to teach their children how to surf the net safe from pornography? Probably. Should they install filters that assist in ensuring that? Probably. Should class time be wasted teaching kids to obey copyright laws? No.

First Post

A friend of mine suggested that I begin a blog. I'm not certain how much I'll post or when. On Saturday, my partner and I went to the eastern part of Washington (east of the Cascades, that is) and bought 2 cases of peaches, 1 case of nectarines, a bag of apricots and a bag of plums. I've canned the apricots as jam and have begun to can the nectarines in a light ginger syrup. I'll spend the rest of the day today canning the remaining nectarines and the peaches. If I have the time, then I'll try to decide on what to do with the plums.

Canning 6 quarts takes about an hour and a half from start to finish, so I don't know if I'll have the time to get to the plums. Plus, we're supposed to reach 85 today and that makes for a very hot kitchen! In fact, I should be attending to that rather than posting on the blog. Ah, procrastination, I know thee well.