Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Is This Guy an Idiot, or Just Stupid?

Think Progress reports:
Yesterday, Missouri state Rep. Mike Leara (R) proposed legislation making it a felony for lawmakers to so much as propose many bills regulating guns. Leara’s bill provides that “[a]ny member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.”
For some reason, this reminds me of Turkey, where you can be prosecuted for calling the Turkish genocide of the Armenians a genocide.

Time To Do Something. But what?

The NY Times this morning publishes a longish article that links cyberattacks on some of America's critical infrastructure (power grid, pipelines) to a unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). I guess I'd call it a must-read. It's conclusion:
... [T]he most troubling attack to date, security experts say, was a successful invasion of the Canadian arm of Telvent. The company, now owned by Schneider Electric, designs software that gives oil and gas pipeline companies and power grid operators remote access to valves, switches and security systems.
Telvent keeps detailed blueprints on more than half of all the oil and gas pipelines in North and South America, and has access to their systems. In September, Telvent Canada told customers that attackers had broken into its systems and taken project files. That access was immediately cut, so that the intruders could not take command of the systems.
... [S]ecurity researchers who studied the malware used in the attack, including Mr. Stewart at Dell SecureWorks and Mr. Blasco at AlienVault, confirmed that the perpetrators were the Comment Crew [a Shanghai-based PLA unit].
“This is terrifying because — forget about the country — if someone hired me and told me they wanted to have the offensive capability to take out as many critical systems as possible, I would be going after the vendors and do things like what happened to Telvent,“ Mr. Peterson of Digital Bond said. “It’s the holy grail.”
Mr. Obama alluded to this concern in the State of the Union speech, without mentioning China or any other nation. “We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets,” he said. “Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air-traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing.”
Mr. Obama faces a vexing choice: In a sprawling, vital relationship with China, is it worth a major confrontation between the world’s largest and second largest economy over computer hacking?
A few years ago, administration officials say, the theft of intellectual property was an annoyance, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars of revenue. But clearly something has changed. The mounting evidence of state sponsorship, the increasing boldness of Unit 61398, and the growing threat to American infrastructure are leading officials to conclude that a far stronger response is necessary.
It does look like the Chinese government has hostile intent. We don't need to freak out about it, but prudence requires that we do something about it. How about, as a first step, bringing manufacture of American computers back to America's shores? It will be damn inconvenient, not to mention expensive, but it will be those things to the Chinese, too. But increasingly, it's looking like a serious national defense issue.

Meanwhile, the Republicans think the best use of their time is the sequester.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Has Google Maps Been Hacked?

Looking for directions to a local restaurant, I went to Google Maps. The first step I got was:

1. Head south on N Hamlin Ave toward Ulica imienia Grzegorza Brzęszczyszczykiewicza.

Easy for them to say!

I went to Google Translate, and learned that Ulica imienia in Polish is "street name." Grzegorza Brzęszczyszczykiewicza means "Gregory Brzęszczyszczykiewicza."

Haven't a clue where that street is, so I  googled it and the only link was a low-class social web site (is there any other kind?), where expressions of racism are acceptable. Interesting.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our Future

Feeling optimistic? Better read this.

I propose we call it the Inhofe Melt, after the leader of the "facts don't matter; what matters is what I want to believe" school of delusion. The same people who brought us weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I've said it before and I'll say it again: We're living in a Twilight Zone episode.

The Great White Hope – Marco Rubio!

Although I didn't watch the State of the Union Address, I did flip to it when DCI Banks was over to see what the talking heads were saying about it. I switched too early, though, and got Marco Rubio's "rebuttal" instead. The Republican Savior told me his party is for small government and low taxes. Didn't mention a thing about being anti-science, anti-gay, anti- any kind of gun control, anti-Medicare, anti-Social Security, and pro- forcing a "Christian" version of Sharia law on everybody.

Oh, bother.

Colbert had fun with it, though:


So did Stewart!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Still here

Sorry for the long hiatus. Unfortunately, there's no telling for sure whether it's really over. Didn't watch the State of the Union last night. The possibility of seeing Ted Nugent pop a blood vessel just wasn't attractive enough.

But Wormwood (or was it Wormwood?) was back in the news! Jon Stewart gave it full, appropriate coverage: