Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Nanny and Hand Outs 

Can't always have your cake, and eat it, too

I just read an article on how the Boy Scouts in the Atlanta area had lied about the numbers of blacks that were amongst their ranks. It seems as though they were including kids which had been members, but which were no longer eligible because of age. In another example, they included a troop that was affiliated with a church. A church which had burned down 3 years ago.

The reason for the lies? Money, of course. This got me thinking about freedom of choice, freedom of assembly and good old American pork. Pork as in government hand-outs.

I strongly believe that any private organization should be able to restrict it's membership in any way it sees fit. If the KKK wants a "whites only" club, they should be able to have it. If the NAACP wants to restrict membership to "people of color", more power to them. If the Boy Scouts wants to restrict membership to only non-gays, that should be their right. If Augusta National Golf Course doesn't want women as members, they should be able to keep their rolls "pure". The government should not be able to tell you with whom you can associate, in any way, shape or form.

Unless you want some government assistance.

Do you want some operating cash from Uncle Sam? Your membership guidelines (and practices) had better be colorblind, sexually unencumbered and religiously welcoming. Do you want to use the public library for meetings? The same applies. If you want private charity - such as from The United Way - you need to follow their rules, as well.

I think the government has the obligation to ensure equal access to any organization that wants any form of government assistance. Separate But Equal does not cut it. If you want the luxury to discriminate, you'd better be able to foot the bill on your own.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Extortion and RFID 

Two Technical Discussions

Online Extortion

Internet trojans and email virus' are getting more and more malicious. This latest one is a doozie.

It seems that, as a proof-of-concept run, a certain website was set up to infect the computers of visitors. Instead of doing the "normal" damage - erasing files, setting up a small email server and spreading spam email, etc. - this virus encrypted certain file types on the hard drive of the victim.

For those of you that don't understand encryption, basically it takes program files or readable text files and makes them unreadable. This is done with files that contain highly sensitive information - employee names and address, payroll information, etc. The encrypted files can then be sent via the Internet or stored without the risk of someone intercepting them and gaining access to the information. You "decrypt" the files using a password so that you can read the information once again.

Anyways, after the virus encrypted the files - making them unreadable to the owner - it left a little note telling the victim how to get in touch with the virus writer. The victim then received a message telling them to deposit $200 in an Internet bank account and they would be given the decryption password.

At least for now, this won't work for the virus writer. There are too many ways to trace banking payments. If the ransom were paid and the writer tried to withdraw the funds, they'd be busted in a heartbeat.

This assumes that the victim contacts the police. What if you're a multi-national bank, and your customer data has been rendered useless? What would you do?

With a strong enough encryption program, you could ensure those files were virtually useless without the decryption password. What if the writer said that if you contact the police you will never get the password? But, if you act within 8 hours and set up arrangements for $200,000 to be wired to an offshore bank, you'll have the password within an hour of the verification of the money transfer. They tell you they have someone on the inside, so they'll know if the police are called. Is that a bluff? You don't have enough time to check it out. Is it "cheaper" to pay the money rather than risk the loss of public trust? Tough call, to say the least.

Rumor has it that this virus (or something similar) has already been morphed into an email attachment. So it can now be spread easily, all over the world. Best way to cover your butt is to never open email attachments from people you don't know. If you get them from people you do know, verify with them first that they actually sent you an attachment.

Your hard drive will thank you.

California Gets RFID Right

I've written about how the Department of Homeland Security (Government Insecurity.... Again) and the Department of State (Passport Security System Hacked) both have their heads up their nether regions regarding the use of Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) chips. Both want to use these very insecure chips for very high-security applications. Both of their proposed applications are disasters waiting to happen.

I guess because California is the Land Of High Tech, our legislators actually consulted with someone who knows what they're talking about. The State Senate has passed the Identity Information Protection Act of 2005, SB 682 by an overwhelming margin.
[The Act] would prohibit state and local governments from issuing identification documents, driver's licenses, and ID cards containing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag
The legislator's primary concern was the ability to track the movements of an individual that had an RFID-enabled document on their person. This is reason enough for this law and has been my biggest bitch in regards to the US Passport proposal. Initial news reports did not talk at length about the increased risk of ID theft that is present with RFID devices, but this is another primary concern.

Hopefully, the State Assembly will vote likewise. It will be interesting to see how this butts heads with the new REAL ID law that the US Congress just passed. I have seen that REAL ID will require biometric information, but nothing about RFID. If it is required at some time, the fur is gonna fly....

Stay tuned. This is your privacy at stake.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Gonna Get Medieval 

We are on the brink of a royal ass reaming along the lines of the one Ving Rhames got in "Pulp Fiction". Republicans and Democrats alike need to be so incensed, we should also want to utter, "I'm gonna get medieval on your ass", as Ving's character said to his attacker in the movie.

What am I so apoplectic about? It seems as though the FBI doesn't feel our 4th Amendment has been trampled enough. To remind you all of this important addition to our Bill of Rights:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Forget that the USA PATRIOT Act has virtually dismantled our privacy. They now want to make it even more powerful.
The FBI on Tuesday asked the U.S. Congress for sweeping new powers to seize business or private records, ranging from medical information to book purchases, to investigate terrorism without first securing approval from a judge.
Listen up, Sheeple, this is huge. Our law enforcement agencies are drunk with power. They have seen that all they need to do is say that they need additional powers to protect us from terrorists, and their wish is granted.

Look at the "logic" that's used here.
Committee chairman, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, noted that other government agencies already had subpoena power to investigate matters such as child pornography, drug investigations and medical malpractice. He said it made little sense to deny those same powers to the FBI to investigate terrorism or keep track of foreign intelligence agents.
It's essentially, "We've already trampled the shit out of the Fourth, and HELL, no one even dies from those crimes. We're talkin' TERRORISM here, boy! Are you with me or agin' me?"
Roberts intends to hold a closed meeting on Thursday, above the objections of some Democrats, to move the legislation forward out of his committee.
Closed meetings?! WTF is that about? They want to trash our Bill of Rights, but don't want the discussions to be in public?

Republicans, you need to go nuclear over this. Bush backs this to the hilt. Your guy is trying to gut one of our most important rights - the right to privacy.

Democrats, you need to pull out all of the stops, and bring this to the forefront of every stripe of the media.

It's time to make a stand, folks.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Random Crap 

Bouncing 'Round In My Head

First: What is up with the double standard at this Catholic High School?

In a nutshell, a girl got pregnant by a boy in the school. She graduated (after finishing up via home schooling) but was barred from the graduation ceremony. The father was allowed to participate. The supposed reason was "safety concerns".


When you cut through all of the crap, it's because she had pre-marital sex. And that's fine. The school has every right to set standards. A Catholic school would be expected to set higher moral standards than a public school.

But they need to be applied across the board. If she can't attend graduation, neither can the father.

Second: WTF is Congress doing now with steroids?
House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis of Virginia said he's drafting legislation with California Representative Henry Waxman and Arizona Senator John McCain that "will have more teeth than other bills introduced."

They have absolutely no business getting involved in this issue. This is between pro sports, their players and their fans. This is not a national security issue, a wide-spread epidemic or reason to get our collective panties in a wad. It is a fucking photo op for Congress.
Waxman says their legislation will follow the Olympic model that calls for a two-year ban for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense.

PSSSST! Hey, Henry! The Olympics is a private organization, just like each of the pro sports leagues. Where do you come off telling a specific private business how they need to monitor and punish their workers? For your cause to be legitimate, you need to have these laws cover every business in America, not just these marquee businesses. Try getting that passed. Oh, and if you've got such a hard-on for this issue, why isn't "Pro" wrestling included in your list of leagues being regulated?

It's because your sorry ass would be laughed off of Capital Hill. This is Nanny State-ism at it's finest. The Republicans are trying to legislate our morality, and the Democrats just can't pass up an opportunity to run yet another aspect of our lives.

Last: Personal observation. This past weekend, my oldest son did his Catholic Confirmation. It's been a while since I've gone to church, but don't they have dress codes for attending anymore? I'm hardly a prude, and enjoy looking at a nice rack, tight butt or sweet pair of legs as much as the next guy. But I'm not used to doing it at church.

The very first girl who went up to do a reading looked just like the hookers I saw on my last trip to Vegas. Some Stevie Nicks wannabe thigh-length "ghost" dress with these shoes that had the laces that criss-cross up the calves. Total tramp, and she was one of the more conservative dressers. It's been a long time since I've seen that much tattooed titty. One kid must of had 3 lbs of studs and spikes coming out of his face. Couldn't he have just gone with a simple stud earring for this special occasion?

And it wasn't just the participants in the Confirmation, it was also people in the audience. I can't tell you how many women - mothers of the confirming daughters, I'm
assuming - that were dressed up for a, "What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" kind of occasion. Again, I would be sweet to see this if you were in a club or a bar,
but not at the Confirmation of your child.

I must be gettin' old....


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Prisoner Interrogation 

So what if the NewsWeek article was right?

I'm still scratching my head over this one. I really don't see why 15 people lost their lives over the supposed desecration of the Koran.

Here's what I'm confused about: We've arrested these guys we believe to be terrorists. We're interrogating them to get information. The job of the interrogator is to gather as much information as possible. Timely information is the most valuable, so using various means to expedite the process are used.

Some techniques are deems acceptable, others not.

We all know of some more heinous techniques that have been used in the past by others: Chinese Water Torture. Electric shock. The crushing of testicles in vices. Vicious beatings. Dismemberment. Partial drownings/asphyxiation. The rape of a child or wife in your presence.

Interrogators also use psychological means to extract information. Sleep deprivation. Relentless questioning. Forced public nudity or other sexual humiliation. The threat of violence against the prisoner's family. The threat of your execution. The desecration of things you hold dear.

What differentiates these psychological "devices" from physical abuse is one of control. If you're in someone's physical custody, they can bash your brains in, or snap off fingers, or rape your daughter and you have no control over that whatsoever.

But with the psychological methods, after you "crack" you are left whole. Your family is not dead. You have all of your limbs. Your testicles are still spherical.

I know, I know, psychological devices - I won't call them torture - can leave deep scars. I simply cannot equate them with physical torture.

Quite honestly, with our knowledge that most Muslims take such offense to Koran Flushing, it would almost be criminal not to use it as a technique. It works, and we know they will break quickly.

One last related item: Where was this world outrage when Muslims took over one of the most holy Christian churches, the Church of the Nativity, and used the torn Bible as toilet paper?

Non-Christian probably didn't care. But the Western Christian world, while deeply offended by the act, realize that the Bible is a physical thing. We know that God is in our hearts and minds, and a Bible can be replaced. We put it in perspective, and acted like civilized human beings instead of killing 15 of our own in protest.

Islam might want to take note of that.


Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek Reaction 

Where Are Their Priorities?

Standard No Nanny Disclaimer: I was, and am still against the war in Iraq. But we're there, so let's get the job done in the most efficient and expedient manner, and get our boys home.

This post isn't about the firestorm of protest in the Muslim world about the Newsweek story. For those of you living in a cave, Newsweek published a story - an unsubstantiated story - that US interrogators flushed a Koran down the toilet at Gitmo while questioning prisoners. This resulted in widespread rioting in Afghanistan that ended up with the deaths of 15 or so people.

Think about this: Fifteen people died due to the supposed destruction of an inanimate object. An object that is easily replaceable.

Where were the protests when their Brothers In The Religion Of Peace sawed the heads off of numerous hostages? Or for the innocent people killed and maimed by roadside bombs or suicide bombers? Where were the bloody riots when these unique, irreplaceable humans were destroyed?

The silence is deafening.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Real ID A Reality 

You Vill Show Me Zee Papers!

Well, it's happened. The Senate passed the REAL ID Act (HR 418) so all states will now be required to standardize the information contained on a drivers license. The cowards stuck the bill into the Iraq War funding bill because they knew no one would dare vote against it. They were right, the vote was unanimous. No debate. No discussion.

As Congressman Ron Paul (R) of Texas points out:
This REAL ID Act establishes a massive, centrally-coordinated database of highly personal information about American citizens: at a minimum their name, date of birth, place of residence, Social Security number, and physical characteristics. The legislation also grants open-ended authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to require biometric information on IDs in the future. This means your harmless looking driver’s license could contain a retina scan, fingerprints, DNA information, or radio frequency technology ... National ID cards will be used to track the law-abiding masses, not criminals.
I pointed out here how this is a risky proposition from a security/ID theft standpoint. Stop for a minute and think what they've done here: Placed ALL of your personal information, as well as biometric data for positive identification, in a single, easily accessible spot.

Here's a question: Where else in the federal government is this level of detailed information stored about citizens? Only one place: The federal penal system. We're now on the same level, have the same intrusion into our lives, as convicted felons. Gives ya the warm-and-fuzzies, don't it?

Whether you're a bible-thumping conservative or a tie-dyed liberal, the privacy aspects of this new law have got to be disturbing. This is the manifestation of Big Brother, like it or not. What is most scary, is most people just don't care.

They take police surveillance cameras in stride.

We don't even think about road-side checkpoints as an inconvenience, let alone a violation of probable cause laws.

If you are arrested (not yet convicted) of a number of drug-related charges, the government has the ability to seize, sell and profit from your property. If you are found innocent, the state is under no obligation to replace your property.

If a government agency wants to increase the tax rolls, it can seize your real property and sell it to a private developer.

We've just become a flock of docile sheep, obediently following the call of our Master. American's don't even understand the meaning of the phrase, "Land of the free". We want perceived safety and protection from "bad people", and we'll sell our soul to the devil to get it.



Friday, May 06, 2005


I just love this guy....

Congressman Ron Paul (R) Texas as got to get himself on TV more often to spread his views. He has the "R" by his name, but this guy is a Libertarian at heart.

He nails the USA PATRIOT Act right on the head.

It's easy for elected officials in Washington to tell the American people that government will do whatever it takes to defeat terrorism. Such assurances inevitably are followed by proposals either to restrict the constitutional liberties of the American people or spend vast sums from the federal treasury. We must understand that politicians and bureaucrats always seek to expand their power, without regard to the long-term consequences. If you believe in smaller government, ask yourself one simple question: Does the Patriot Act increase or decrease the power of the federal government over your life? The answer is obvious to those who understand that freedom cannot be exchanged for security.

Did I mention I love this guy? Uh, err, in a politically correct way, of course...


State Border Patrols 

There may be hope....

The same group that helped boot corrupt former governor Grey Davis from office has started a petition drive to establish a state-run border patrol in California.
They unveiled the measure, the California Border Police Act, as the Minutemen citizens' group that patrolled Arizona's border with Mexico in April prepares for a similar effort this summer south of San Diego along California's border with Mexico.
It boils my blood that we would have to do something like this. It's estimated that California spends $9-$10 billion on services and incarceration for illegal aliens. Ten Billion Dollars down the shitter because the federal government isn't doing it's job to secure our border with Mexico.
The new state police agency, allowed by 1996 federal law, would employ more than 2,000 officers at a cost of $300 million to $400 million annually, Gilliard said. "Because they gave the states the authority to do this, there is no reason California shouldn't do it on its own," he said.
They estimate that they will save the state in the neighborhood of $6 billion a year. Not bad: A 20 to 1 return on investment.

Personally, I would prefer that they used these funds to go after the businesses that hire the illegals. If there are no jobs, the illegals will have no reason to come here. But this is a step in the right direction, and shoves the illegal immigration issue right up the ass of the Bush Administration.

We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

National ID Card: A Bad Idea 

Call Bill Gates to the witness stand...

I was reading two articles today - one was about the theft of information on 600,000 current and former Time Warner employees. The other was about a mandate by Congress for states to adhere to certain requirements when issuing driver's licenses.

These may seem like unrelated topics, but they are actually very much joined at the hip.

Each article in and of itself is disturbing. The theft of the personal information of that many people is simply staggering. Name, address, SSN, salary, phone numbers, you name it. All in one neat package to be stolen. I have additional reason to be disturbed: We store a portion of our disaster recovery tapes with the same company that was charged with protecting the Time Warner information. In our case, though, no customer or employee data is included unless it is first encrypted.

The general public - and some companies - just don't seem to understand what a big, juicy target these data stores are for ID theft criminals. Why spend days and months digging through the garbage bins of restaurants getting scraps of credit card information on a few dozen people when you can hit one single site and get full-blown information on tens or hundreds of thousands of people?
Under the rules being considered, before granting a driver's license, a state would have to require proof of citizenship or legal presence, proof of an address and proof of a Social Security number. It would need to check the legal status of noncitizens against a national immigration database, to save copies of any documents shown and to store a digital image of the face of each applicant.
So, in one spot, the Fed is requiring the states to conveniently place all of the information needed to ..... produce fake ID's! How considerate.

Hitting big targets makes economic sense for the criminal: Risk getting caught once for a huge amount of data, or risk getting caught multiple times for a few bits of info. Which would you do if you were a criminal? Targeting a data storage facility is sheer brilliance. Steal a tape that is months or years old, and chances are no one will ever know the data is missing. Damned near a perfect crime.

How does this tie into a National ID card? The states want to link all of their individual state driver's license information together.
Many state licensing officials, however, have long seen a need for tighter standards and better linking of databases because many drivers whose licenses are revoked in one state quickly get a license in another.
Same data, same format. This is the equivalent of a National ID card, and presents One Big Juicy Target to criminals. Traversing this network would be child's play.

Now, I love a number of the provisions the Feds are trying to incorporate into the standards: Proof of citizenship or the right to be here, licenses expire at the same time as the person's visa, etc. These will help with homeland security AND benefit our problem with illegal aliens.

But our state and federal governments haven't learned a thing by the big target that is painted on the back of Microsoft. When you have widespread, homogeneous networks, you are much more likely to become the target for hackers and criminals. In this instance, while it may make it easier to catch cross-state license jumpers, it also makes it a less difficult - and more enticing - target to criminals.


Monday, May 02, 2005

Dammit, George 

Just when I thought I could respect ya...

I've never been a big fan of the President's. I am/was against the war in Iraq. His stance on illegal immigration "borders" on the absurd. His attempt to claim the title of "conservative" is laughable when he cuts taxes, but does nothing to cut spending. That's called, "passing the buck" to our younger generation. Conservative, indeed.

But, when he began discussing Social Security privatization, I signed on with the President. Wholeheartedly. I would much rather be in control of my measly government stipend than relying on the political whims of Congress.

And now this.

After his "60 Cities In 60 Days" tour, the President has returned with his tail firmly planted between his legs. Instead of trying to teach the American people how self-reliance, conservative spending and consistent savings is the way to prosper, he now wants to turn Social Security into a FUCKING WELFARE PROGRAM.

Out of the blue, this proposal shows up whereby the lowest wage earners will receive full benefits, and those that are considered more affluent will receive a lower percentage - up to 40% lower.

Instead of promoting a self-sufficient society, our "conservative" president now wants to punish those that have worked hard their entire lives, saved a nest egg and prepared for their future. He wants to reward those that have pissed away their savings, and not buckled down and educated themselves so that they could earn a better wage. He's doing his damnedest to build a socialist state. We know how well these have turned out in the past.

What kind of message is this nitwit sending to America? "Trust in Nanny, we'll take care of everything for you."

Uh, Thanks, but No Thanks.


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