Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oral History Of the Bush Administration- Including From The Administration Officals Themselves

I'm sorry, Mark, but it's pretty damning:

You can expect to see this dribble out over decades, just like LBJ's and Nixon's tapes.

Links 31 DEC 08,8599,1869068,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner,2933,472625,00.html,0,352937.story

For Hopeful Cynic 68:

More proof that TV is about to self destruct:

And you thought 2008 was bad for IT security:

Bank ripoffs to continue to 2010:

DeathBug adapts:

Weather for the Cousins From Texas:

The MSM notes a 4T, again:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Links 29 DEC 08,8599,1868863,00.html?iid=tsmodule,0,1775195.story

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Links 28 DEC 08

2 years old, and still true:,9171,1562974,00.html

One Trillion, Please:,8599,1868367,00.html

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Links 27 DEC 08,8599,1868829,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner

Hi, Justin:

And another TWO for Warm And Fuzzy Russia:

There Is No Depression:

Leap Second:,0,4523102.story

Friday, December 26, 2008

Late 26 DEC 08 Links

A Dark Year:

A negative exit interview (sorry, Mark):,2933,473068,00.html

26 DEC 08 Links

Death Of Scandal predicted by S&H:

The MSM notices a 4T:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Late 25 DEC 08 Links

"Cuspers" Deserves It's Own Post

The MSM *finally* noticed:

Links 25 DEC 08

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Links 24 DEC 08,8599,1868651,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Late 23 DEC 08 Links

Links 23 DEC 08

Monday, December 22, 2008

Links 22 DEC 08

"The '80s did for money what the '60s did for sex.":

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Links 21 DEC 08,31682,1861543_1861868,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner,27574,24831036-1248,00.html

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Links 20 DEC 08

Double down of Afghanistan:

Reason Number One is Rani:,31682,1861543_1865068_1865069,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner

Iraq says GTFO to the Coalition:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Links 19 DEC 08,8599,1867105,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner,8599,1866398,00.html,8599,1867907,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Late 18 DEC 08 Links

Links 18 DEC 08

Copy and paste into your Address Bar:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Late 17 DEC 08

Links 17 DEC 08,0,5635106.column>1=38001/

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

16 DEC 08 Observations

Wow. the temperature is up a whole 4 F, to 18 F.

One of the most insidious dangers of trying to get well is to go out, and overdo it, while still in recovery. As I write this, my car is still covered in snow. Doggie treats, and caffeine are running low.

And going out in 18 degrees F is a surefire way to put myself back in bed, with a relapse. Cleaning off the car would require, for my not so healthy body, the equivalent of a half-day's work. Hence, I took today off. Another night of bed rest (with cabin fever), and umpteen bowls of chicken soup is required before I sortie again.

Max is not happy being trapped inside.

My friend M. De Poisson has finally caught this bug as well. We shared a commiseration call tonight. I warned him that there would be no posthumous Medal Of Honor if he pushed it too far by going back in tomorrow. Like me, he's a workaholic, and waaay too honorable for his own good.

Back to the double bowl of chicken soup...

16 DEC 08 Links


Copy, and paste into your Address Bar

Monday, December 15, 2008

15 DEC 08 Links

Copy and paste these into your Address Bar.,8599,1866326,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner

A Long Lesson To Learn

I just closed out my account on my favorite internet politics forum. I asked the webmaster to close me out.

My posts remain, but I've had time to think while I've been ill. After two decades on various internet fora, I've made friends, but I haven't changed the minds of those who will not listen. And in the process of trying to teach the pigs to sing and fly, I've annoyed my friends more than I have instructed the pigs. (Teaching a pig to sing wastes your time, and annoys the pig)

And trying to do so, is incredibly addictive for me. Too addictive; I have no doubt there is a 12-step program for internet debate addicts. Somewhere. :)

I'm not going to bother you with my idiocies, or those of my opponents. Suffice it to say that someday, there will be a headstone marker for me at Jefferson Barracks, which may be there a century or so, but of all the strutting and fretting on the internet will not make a difference. What will make a difference for me, is how I spend the time I have left.

So, I have chosen to say what I wish to say, here, with no obligation to set the world to rights. Also, I have no time clock to punch (on the forum), to record everything of note so that everyone can be as well informed as I think they should be.

This also saves them the humiliation of being scooped by me continually. :)

My friends on that forum can find me here, or by email. They have my permission to reproduce this post on the forum, hopefully in it's entirety. My opponents can brand me as a Communist Lesbian, if they wish to do so. (No offense intended to the lesbian community) They read this blog, too. Love those Google Tools.

Now, a half-hour of posting links, and the occasional observation will be sufficient. No more clocking in to the Great Debate needed. It will go on without me.

It's time to start enjoying *my* life.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

AARP's Basic Web Lessons

The AARP Guide To Address Bars

Address Bar, With Pictures

Address Bars

The AARP Guide To Copying, Cutting, And Pasting

How To Copy And Paste 2

An animated tutorial.

How To Copy And Paste

A how-to for users, who are uncomfortable with copying and pasting.

Today's Links 14 DEC 08

Much easier to keep adding links to one post per day, than to publish a thousand links.,8599,1865730,00.html,9171,1865962,00.html

Not Content With Losing The Second Civil War...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday 13 Dec 2008 Observations

If your eyes haven't given out on you looking at my Collected Links post, you should know that is only a fraction of what I would have emailed in my earlier days. Mostly, it is a day-by-day collection of what's happening outside the Doghouse.

What's happening inside the Doghouse is that I've got another episode of DeathBug. Had to go in Friday, and get antibiotics for ten days. The wind is howling outside, the doggie is frustrated that he's not going out, or getting cheeseburgers, and I've been reviewing my internet participation, with regards to real life.

I ran a Traveller game on Monday. Andy managed to turn things to the group's advantage, as usual.

As a result, I've started to re-discover Traveller. T5 is coming out, and I would like to look at the new Mongoose canon. Andy and Paul, of course, track everything, but I've got the better part of a decades worth of reading up to do.

My assistant leaves for his new job 2 JAN 09. My boss leaves for his next deployment this spring. I'm running out of people to annoy... :)

I'm probably too sick to make my church meeting Sunday. Not a very moral thing to do, to make everyone else sick.

So, I'm stuck with the internet for the rest of the weekend. Time to hit all the Traveller sites.

Welcome to winter.

Collected Links

I've been dumping most of my links into another site- neglecting my own. Here is a collection of links I've accumulated.

There are lots of them.

I apologize for not inserting the correct HTML to make all of them hot-linkable. Also, some of the links, particularly the MSNBC ones have a habit of disappearing over time. Some of them may require registration, such as the New York Times.

All that is needed is to copy the URL/address, and paste it into your browser's address bar. Here we go:,25197,24781911-7583,00.html,0,1932728.column,8599,1865766,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner,8599,1865790,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner,0,108304.story,9171,1864421,00.html,8599,1862660,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner,8599,1862733,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner,8599,1861831,00.html,8599,1862307,00.html,28757,1643290,00.html,9171,1860919,00.html,8599,1858771,00.html,1518,589735,00.html,0,4539486.story

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Work Life Becoming Skinner Box

In hard times, fear can impair decision-making
By Gregory Berns
Published: December 7, 2008

WORK is feeling more and more like a Skinner box.

Technically, a Skinner box is an operant conditioning chamber — in other words, a cage that automatically trains a laboratory animal to associate flashing lights and levers with rewards and punishments. It was invented in the 1950s by B. F. Skinner, the experimental psychologist, to study learning.

A green light flashes, or the animal pushes the right lever, and it is rewarded with a morsel of food. But some operant conditioning chambers were built with electrified floors: a red light comes on, and zap!

It doesn't take long for a rat to figure out which light goes with the shock and which goes with the food pellet. All animals, including we primates, are good at making these associations. Pretty soon, we don't even need the light — the mere sight of the cage can send some of us into a state of apoplexy.

And while the workplace is not quite an electrified cage, I think I would prefer a brief jolt of electricity over the intermittent shocks of watching the blinking red arrow of the stock market or the jolts of cutback after cutback by businesses.

Everyone I know is scared. Workers' fear has generalized to their workplace and everything associated with work and money. We are caught in a spiral in which we are so scared of losing our jobs, or our savings, that fear overtakes our brains. And while fear is a deep-seated and adaptive evolutionary drive for self-preservation, it makes it impossible to concentrate on anything but saving our skin by getting out of the box intact.

Ultimately, no good can come from this type of decision-making. Fear prompts retreat. It is the antipode to progress. Just when we need new ideas most, everyone is seized up in fear, trying to prevent losing what we have left.

I am a neuroeconomist, which means that I use brain-scanning technologies like magnetic resonance imaging to decode the decision-making systems of the human mind. It is a messy business, but a few pearls of wisdom have emerged about the fear system of the human brain and how to keep it from short-circuiting sound decision-making.

My colleagues and I conducted a brain-imaging experiment with our version of a Skinner box. Instead of a box, our participants were inside an MRI scanner. Instead of using an electrified floor, we attached electrodes to the tops of their feet. Although not unbearably painful, the shocks were designed to be unpleasant enough that the individual would prefer to avoid them altogether.

The kicker was that they had to wait for the shocks. Every trial began with a statement of how big the shock would be and how long they would have to wait for it: a range of one to almost 30 seconds. For many people, the wait was worse than the shock. Given a choice, almost everyone preferred to expedite the shock rather than wait for it. Nearly a third feared waiting so much that, when given the chance, they preferred getting a bigger shock right away to waiting for a smaller shock later. It sounds illogical, but fear — whether of pain or of losing a job — does strange things to decision-making.

Some people showed strong fear conditioning, and their brains displayed it through early and strong deployment of neural resources to deal with the impending shock. Most of this activity appeared in the parts of the brain devoted to processing pain. That makes sense, but the activity rose well in advance of receiving the shock. All of this worrying took energy. It means that these extreme responders had less available neural processing power to deal with other tasks.

Why is this important? The reason has to do with the "endowment effect," the innate tendency to value things you own more highly than everyone else does. A recent brain imaging study showed that the same parts of the brain we observed in our experiment are also active when people must sell something they are attached to. The cause and effect have not been fully sorted out, but the implication is that when our brains sense pain, or anticipate loss, we tend to hold onto what we have. When everyone does this at once, the result is a downward economic spiral.

The most concrete thing that neuroscience tells us is that when the fear system of the brain is active, exploratory activity and risk-taking are turned off. The first order of business, then, is to neutralize that system.

This means not being a fearmonger. It means avoiding people who are overly pessimistic about the economy. It means tuning out media that fan emotional flames. Unless you are a day-trader, it means closing the Web page with the market ticker. It does mean being prepared, but not being a hypervigilant, everyone-in-the-bunker type.

I DON'T care what your business is, but if you think it will eventually come back to what it was — your brain is in the grips of the fear-based endowment effect. What I am doing is looking for new opportunities. This means applying neuroscience discovery to realms where it hasn't been used before.

I have teamed up with anthropologists to apply brain imaging to understand the biological roots of political conflict. I am starting another project to use brain imaging to predict which teenagers are likely to make fatally bad judgments and, hopefully, train them to make better decisions.

This strategy keeps the exploratory system of my brain active. And right now there are incredible opportunities to do something differently. Yes, they're risky, and some will fail. But while others wait for the storm to pass, I'm busy expanding into new areas. If I wait for money to start flowing again, the opportunities will have passed.

Gregory Berns, MD, Ph.D., directs the Center for Neuropolicy at Emory University.

Cops Vs Robbers, The Eternal Computer War.

Thieves Winning Online War, Maybe Even in Your Computer
Noah Berger for The New York Times

Phillip Porras, a computer security expert at SRI International, a science and technology research group.

Published: December 5, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — Internet security is broken, and nobody seems to know quite how to fix it.

Despite the efforts of the computer security industry and a half-decade struggle by Microsoft to protect its Windows operating system, malicious software is spreading faster than ever. The so-called malware surreptitiously takes over a PC and then uses that computer to spread more malware to other machines exponentially. Computer scientists and security researchers acknowledge they cannot get ahead of the onslaught.

As more business and social life has moved onto the Web, criminals thriving on an underground economy of credit card thefts, bank fraud and other scams rob computer users of an estimated $100 billion a year, according to a conservative estimate by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. A Russian company that sells fake antivirus software that actually takes over a computer pays its illicit distributors as much as $5 million a year.

With vast resources from stolen credit card and other financial information, the cyberattackers are handily winning a technology arms race.

“Right now the bad guys are improving more quickly than the good guys,” said Patrick Lincoln, director of the computer science laboratory at SRI International, a science and technology research group.

A well-financed computer underground has built an advantage by working in countries that have global Internet connections but authorities with little appetite for prosecuting offenders who are bringing in significant amounts of foreign currency. That was driven home in late October when RSA FraudAction Research Lab, a security consulting group based in Bedford, Mass., discovered a cache of half a million credit card numbers and bank account log-ins that had been stolen by a network of so-called zombie computers remotely controlled by an online gang.

In October, researchers at the Georgia Tech Information Security Center reported that the percentage of online computers worldwide infected by botnets — networks of programs connected via the Internet that send spam or disrupt Internet-based services — is likely to increase to 15 percent by the end of this year, from 10 percent in 2007. That suggests a staggering number of infected computers, as many as 10 million, being used to distribute spam and malware over the Internet each day, according to research compiled by PandaLabs.

Security researchers concede that their efforts are largely an exercise in a game of whack-a-mole because botnets that distribute malware like worms, the programs that can move from computer to computer, are still relatively invisible to commercial antivirus software. A research report last month by Stuart Staniford, chief scientist of FireEye, a Silicon Valley computer security firm, indicated that in tests of 36 commercial antivirus products, fewer than half of the newest malicious software programs were identified.

There have been some recent successes, but they are short-lived. On Nov. 11, the volume of spam, which transports the malware, dropped by half around the globe after an Internet service provider disconnected the McColo Corporation, an American firm with Russian ties, from the Internet. But the respite is not expected to last long as cybercriminals regain control of their spam-generating computers.

“Modern worms are stealthier and they are professionally written,” said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom. “The criminals have gone upmarket, and they’re organized and international because there is real money to be made.”

The gangs keep improving their malware, and now programs can be written to hunt for a specific type of information stored on a personal computer. For example, some malware uses the operating system to look for recent documents created by a user, on the assumption they will be more valuable. Some routinely watch for and then steal log-in and password information, specifically consumer financial information.

The sophistication of the programs has in the last two years begun to give them almost lifelike capabilities. For example, malware programs now infect computers and then routinely use their own antivirus capabilities to not only disable antivirus software but also remove competing malware programs. Recently, Microsoft antimalware researchers disassembled an infecting program and were stunned to discover that it was programmed to turn on the Windows Update feature after it took over the user’s computer. The infection was ensuring that it was protected from other criminal attackers.

And there is more of it. Microsoft has monitored a 43 percent jump in malware removed from Windows computers just in the last half year.

The biggest problem may be that people cannot tell if their computers are infected because the malware often masks its presence from antivirus software. For now, Apple’s Macintosh computers are more or less exempt from the attacks, but researchers expect Apple machines to become a larger target as their market share grows.

The severity of the situation was driven home not long ago for Ed Amaroso, AT&T’s chief security official. “I was at home with my mother’s computer recently and I showed her it was attacking China,” he said. “ ‘Can you just make it run a little faster?’ she asked, and I told her ‘Ma, we have to reimage your hard disk.’ ”

Beyond the billions of dollars lost in theft of money and data is another, deeper impact. Many Internet executives fear that basic trust in what has become the foundation of 21st century commerce is rapidly eroding. “There’s an increasing trend to depend on the Internet for a wide range of applications, many of them having to deal with financial institutions,” said Vinton G. Cerf, one of the original designers of the Internet, who is now Google’s “chief Internet evangelist.”

“The more we depend on these types of systems, the more vulnerable we become,” he said.

The United States government has begun to recognize the extent of the problem. In January, President Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive 54, establishing a national cybersecurity initiative. The plan, which may cost more than $30 billion over seven years, is directed at securing the federal government’s own computers as well as the systems that run the nation’s critical infrastructure, like oil and gas networks and electric power and water systems.

That will do little, however, to help protect businesses and consumers who use the hundreds of millions of Internet-connected personal computers and cellphones, the criminals’ newest target.

Despite new technologies that are holding some attackers at bay, several computer security experts said they were worried that the economic downturn will make computer security the first casualty of corporate spending cuts. Security gets hit because it is hard to measure its effectiveness, said Eugene Spafford, a computer scientist at Purdue University.

He is pessimistic. “In many respects, we are probably worse off than we were 20 years ago,” he said, “because all of the money has been devoted to patching the current problem rather than investing in the redesign of our infrastructure.”

The cyber-criminals appear to be at least as technically advanced as the most sophisticated software companies. And they are faster and more flexible. As software companies have tightened the security of the basic operating systems like Windows and Macintosh, attackers have moved on to Web browsers and Internet-connected programs like Adobe Flash and Apple QuickTime.

This has led to an era of so-called “drive-by infections,” where users are induced to click on Web links that are contained in e-mail messages. Cyber-criminals have raised the ability to fool unsuspecting computer users into clicking on intriguing messages to a high art.

Researchers note that the global cycle of distributing security patches inevitably plays to the advantage of the attacker, who can continually hunt for and exploit new backdoors and weaknesses in systems. This year, computer security firms have begun shifting from traditional anti-virus program designs, which are regularly updated on subscribers’ personal computers, to Web-based services, which can be updated even faster.

Security researchers at SRI International are now collecting over 10,000 unique samples of malware daily from around the global. “To me it feels like job security,” said Phillip Porras, an SRI program director and the computer security expert who led the design of the company’s Bothunter program, available free at

“This is always an arm race, as long as it gets into your machine faster than the update to detect it, the bad guys win,” said Mr. Schneier.