Please note: the viewport design is copied from Steve Den Beste's excellent blog, USS Clueless. Used with permission.

Saturday, March 15, 2003  

via Defense Tech


Computer security experts gathered in Hannover, Germany to say what Defense Tech has been reporting for months: that the threat of "cyber-terror" is a load of hooey.

"If (terrorists) want to attack they will do it with bombs like they always have," said security guru Bruce Schneier.

In December, Jim Lewis, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called cyber-strikes "weapons of mass annoyance."

Schneier added, "Breaking pager networks and stopping e-mail is not an act of terror."

Nevertheless, such attacks have generated a seemingly endless stream of media and government warnings. Schneier blames the Bush Administration for this.

"The hype is coming from the U.S. government and I don't know why," he said.

Note: Original contains a number of links that I didn't copy -- click on the via line to go to the original for those.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:43 PM | link |

My house
My house, aerial view

So, where are you?

I've been fooling with GeoURL for a couple of days. Nothing seemed to work, so I finally sent mail to GeoURL and Joshua Schacter (one of the founders of GeoURL AND a founder of memepool!) wrote back and told me that underscores aren't legal in domain names ( and therefore the Perl library he's using in GeoURL was getting borked trying to find the site -- oops! So I went to blogger and tried looking up "domain name with _" and several variants, and got nothing found. So I wrote email to blogger (pyra) asking what I could do.

And, after a couple of Premier League soccer games and a couple of hours watching cars go round at Sebring, I figured out a solution. I added the location meta-tags to my homepage index.htm and told GeoURL to map that -- which worked. So I changed the GeoURL link over there to the right in the links list (under the store link) to reference my homepage (which doesn't have any underscores 0_0 and it works). Or you can click here to see my net neighbors: GeoURL

So, having done that, I started poking around the nearby sites to see what's there. These two guys seem worthwhile (I think I'll add 'em to my web-link list)Random Thoughts and Geek Ramblings. Not only that, but the nearest link is to the weather station, which has a nice radar map display and a note about how the map site they used to use no longer works, so their using the US Weather Service radar map. And they had a link to show a map of where they are. So I clicked that and went to MapQuest via the latitude and longitude (which is what must be used for GeoURL to find you). So I typed in my lat/long and got a map to my house. So I clicked on the Aerial Photo link and got the photo of my house shown on the left (my house is the one towards the top). Wow! An aerial photo of my house! (Apparently this was taken last summer, since you can see the square of garden area above the house!)

posted by Gary Williams at 10:22 PM | link |

How long does a worm live on the net?

from John Sage on

Donald, Ken et al:

On Sat, Mar 15, 2003 at 01:22:04PM -0700, Smith, Donald wrote:
> I was asked the other day how long before all the mssql worms
> were going to be cleaned and "off" the network.
> Ken, has captured a synscan1.6 from a RAMEN infected host!
> (synfin; fromport = toport; scanned ips range TO 255)
> That's vulnerability and worm is over 3 years old.
> Just thought some of us would get a laugh from it;-)

Just occured to me while reading this: consider the "obsolete" PC,
retired by one organization and finally donated to somewhere else
without thorough cleaning; reinstalled somewhere else; fired up at its
new home, and *poof* - a vector for viruses and trojans that may have
lain dormant for a long time.

Also consider that in cracker circles, the source for all sorts of
stuff is still out there, just waiting for some enterprising young
experimenter to put an ancient problem back into circulation :-/

I would really expect anything to ever go away...

- John
"You must define an operating system environment,
or the configuration file build will puke."

posted by Gary Williams at 9:52 PM | link |

Tiny Sherman tankvia

1/5 Scale Sherman Tank

Just imagine the looks on your neighbors faces when you rumble into the midst of their barbecue in a Panzer, and paste the beer cooler with your 37mm potato cannon. That'll teach 'em to drink imported beer on the 4th of July.

PDF plans are available, if you want to build your own 1/5th scale Sherman tank...

posted by Gary Williams at 5:21 PM | link |

via CBC News

Too few males driving antelope to extinction

Saiga Antelope
Male saiga antelope have
been hunted to the point of
disrupting their breeding
Courtesy: Pavel Sorokin
LONDON - Selective poaching of male saiga antelope has pushed the endangered species closer to extinction, scientists say.

Saiga antelope are one-metre tall, weigh about 35 kilograms, have skinny legs and large eyes and noses. The nomadic herds live in the semi-arid rangelands from central Asia to Russia.

Males have long, ringed horns prized for traditional Chinese medicine. Hunting of males for their horns has led to a gender bias, where females outnumber males by a ratio of 100 to 1.

posted by Gary Williams at 4:21 PM | link |

Intelligent gun inventor
Pretoria inventor Nic van Zyl
via IOL

Meet the 'gun with brains'

Say hello to the Intelligent Fire Arm, a unique and thoroughly South African device that could change the way we think about guns – and the people who wield them. Although still in prototype form, it will soon enter manufacture.

Inventor Nic van Zyl, 65, is an ardent believer in firearms with brains.

“Until now, firearms have been dumb. They lie in your safe at home, or in your holster, and tell no stories. Naturally, this opens the door for all sorts of abuse. The Intelligent Fire Arm, also known as the ‘smart gun’, changes all that.”

Van Zyl is managing director of Bansha Investments, the company that has produced the prototype of the IFA. Work began on the device in 1994, when the first of many patents was taken out. Now, eight years later, an international firearms company is poised to acquire the production rights to what may well be the world’s first foolproof firearm – at least in terms of criminal abuse.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:58 PM | link |

via : Ex-CIA Officers Questioning Iraq Data

Ex-CIA Officers Questioning Iraq Data

Former CIA Officers Appeal to Current Analysts to Make Public Any Anti-War Information on Iraq

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON March 14 — A small group composed mostly of retired CIA officers is appealing to colleagues still inside to go public with any evidence the Bush administration is slanting intelligence to support its case for war with Iraq.

Members of the group contend the Bush administration has released information on Iraq that meets only its ends while ignoring or withholding contrary reporting.

They also say the administration's public evidence about the immediacy of Iraq's threat to the United States and its alleged ties to al-Qaida is unconvincing, and accuse policy-makers of pushing out some information that does not meet an intelligence professional's standards of proof.

"It's been cooked to a recipe, and the recipe is high policy," said Ray McGovern, a 27-year CIA veteran who briefed top Reagan administration security officials before retiring in 1990. "That's why a lot of my former colleagues are holding their noses these days."

posted by Gary Williams at 2:01 PM | link |

via Social Science Resources: Security Services


  • Declassified Spy Satellite Imagery : From the friendly folks at the NRO.
  • The NRO Declassified -- NSA
  • SPOT Images main page : every 26 days the SPOT (Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre) satellite passes overhead and takes your picture.
  • Radarsat Images
  • CORONA Spy Satellite Images : spy satellite pictures from 1960 to 1972.
  • TerraScope : overhead pictures from Chairman Gates. Coverage photos from various sources; they sell the images in finished form. Cast your eyes skyword and say cheese to Bill.
  • BfV (Germany)Links Page
  • National Security Agency : The ears have walls, US version.
  • National Counterintelligence Center (USA)
  • National Infrastructure Protection Center (USA)
  • NSA Intrusion Detection Tools Inventory
  • The GCHQ : the British version.
  • UK Communications-Electronics Security Group : Note the papers on public key encryption available through "Non-Secret Encryption" bar.


Note: Each of the bullet lines begins with a link to the source. To see the page with the links, click the via line, or the [more] or click here.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:54 PM | link |

Practical Cryptographyvia Counterpane

Practical Cryptography

Niels Ferguson and Bruce Schneier

Publication date: April 2003.
Read the Preface and Table of contents online.
Order from Amazon: hardcover, paperback.
List of corrections and extensions (to appear).

This book is about cryptography as it is used in real-world systems, about cryptography as an engineering discipline rather than cryptography as a mathematical science.

Building real-world cryptographic systems is vastly different from the abstract world of most books on cryptography, which discuss a pure mathematical ideal that magically solves your security problems. Designers and implementors live in a very different world, where nothing is perfect and where experience shows that most cryptographic systems are broken due to problems that have nothing to do with mathematics. This book is about how to apply the cryptographic functions in a real-world setting in such a way that you actually get a secure system.

This is the book we wish we'd had more than a decade ago when we started our cryptographic careers. It collects our combined experiences on how to design cryptographic systems the right way. In some ways, this book is a sequel to Bruce's first book Applied Cryptography, but it focuses on very practical problems and on how to build a secure system rather than just design a cryptographic protocol.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:36 PM | link |

via abuddhas memes

I screwed up and lost the 11/3/3 entry...trying to recover! I used the beautify option on my arachnophilic program and instantly regretted the ugly result, which inexplicably is 20k larger than the original hand-wrought mess. With any luck and far too many hours things should be back to normal tomorrow. A cosmically oxymoronic moment...beautify...HA! (update: Dearest Mousemusings saved the day!, yay)

posted by Gary Williams at 2:10 AM | link |

via Living Code - Biology & information. Corante

Tommy, Can You See Me?

If ever there was a report to confuse you with regard to nature vs. nurture it is one: Genes Are Main Culprit In Development Of Myopia, Study Suggests. While genes appear to be the most important determinant (i.e. if both your parents are myopic, there is a 33% chance you will be), some of the other data is just weird. It begins to get difficult to tell what is cause and what is effect.

Myopic children tended to read and study 2 hours a week more than normally sighted children and participate in about 2 hours less physical activities. And they scored 10 percentile points higher on tests of reading and language skills. Even after the added time they spent studying was adjusted for.

This certainly fits the stereotype of the studious child with glasses but what does it really mean. Is there a link between intelligence (whatever that is) and short-sightedness? If it is not fully genetic (i.e. 67% of those with myopic parents have normal vision), what other factors are involved? Interesting data but we are a long way from knowing what it really means.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:44 AM | link |

Friday, March 14, 2003  

via Raging Platypus - Geeks drink it for breakfast

Think it's a parody of Raging Cow?

But the light of the stars disoriented him, and the Creator became confused. And out of the space between water and earth came a most unusual creature. For it did lay eggs like a hen but have fur like a dog. Its hind had the tail of a beaver, but its head had the bill of a duck. And the Creator flew into such a rage, cursed his creation, hid it under a rock, and hoped no one would notice.

And so was the Raging Platypus born.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:59 PM | link |

via William Gibson


The Department of Special Effects drops a 21,000-lb. bomb in Florida, New Orleans prepares to rename its most famous neighborhood the Freedom Quarter...and what doe it take to get me to comment on current affairs?

Don Johnson.

Word has only recently (Wednesday) emerged that the former MIAMI VICE star, crossing into Germany from Switzerland in November, was found by German customs authorities to be accompanied by a cool $8 billion USD in credit notes, etc., contained in a black leather suitcase. (I think that if it had been a Louis Vuitton suitcase, they would have told us. Too nice a detail to pass up.)

posted by Gary Williams at 11:39 PM | link |

via Amish Tech Support - At least one of my personalities is sane.

Arf! Arf! Arf!

Right about now, the neighbors start to come home and walk their dogs.

Nardo is usually out hunting lizards and crickets and mice around now, too.

It's only a matter of time before he comes crashing over the fence with his tail completely fluffed up.



posted by Gary Williams at 11:05 PM | link |

via Al Martin Raw

Bush, Propaganda Minister O'Reilly, The P-Word and the Weiner Nation, by Al Martin

The only one that looked alert was Ari Fleischer and the problem is that although they powdered up Bush something fierce, they didn’t do anything to Ari’s head. They should have put more powder on the top of his head because every time he moved his head around it created a flash and glare off the top of his head. It even seemed to annoy Bush a little bit. He’d give him this look like “why don’t you turn your head down 50 watts?”

posted by Gary Williams at 9:28 PM | link |

via NEWS of the WEIRD - Current News

Something Else to Worry About
Monkeys in Pants

In December, Robert John Cusack, 45, was sentenced to 57 days in jail for a June smuggling caper on a flight to Los Angeles. He had four endangered songbirds and 50 illegal orchids in his luggage, and when one bird flew off down an airport corridor during an inspection, the agent asked if Cusack had anything else. "Yes," he said. "I've got monkeys in my pants" (actually, two endangered pygmy monkeys from Thailand, which Cusack dug down for and handed over). [Los Angeles Times, 12-19-02]

posted by Gary Williams at 9:16 PM | link |

via The Word Spy

Top 10 words:

wife acceptance factor
leather spinster
post-mortem divorce
peeping-Tom TV
Adlai Stevenson moment
poo X
chewable liquor
Sprinkler City
jump-out squad

posted by Gary Williams at 8:22 PM | link |

Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters quote of the day:

All newspaper editorial writers ever do is come down from the hills after the battle is over and shoot the wounded.

posted by Gary Williams at 7:53 PM | link |

Comic Of The Day

Joy Of Tech

posted by Gary Williams at 2:34 PM | link |

via Pharma Watch

Life in the elementary school classroom for delinquent pharmaceutical companies

The habitual wrongdoing of drug companies makes me feel like a teacher in charge of a class of naughty kids. Glaxo! How many times have I told you to stop interfering with the science experiments? And Pfizer where did you get those patents!? OK, give them back. Astrazeneca have you been copying other people’s work? This drug is exactly the same as the one you handed in for homework yesterday. You’ve been sitting next to Bayer again haven’t you? Come on, down to the front, where I can keep an eye on you …

And Novartis, stop bullying that little company and let them get on with developing a drug for peanut allergy.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:32 AM | link |

John Gilmore: Sen. Wyden's CAPPS 2 amendment is bullshit

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

Here's my article that John is talking about:

Text of Sen. Wyden's amendment:



Subject: Sen. Wyden's CAPPS 2 amendment is bullshit
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2003 20:14:49 -0800
From: John Gilmore <>

I read your report on Sen. Wyden's anti-CAPPS-2 amendment. Thanks for pointing it out. Unfortunately it looks like a stalking horse, rather than a real reform.

First, the amendment doesn't stop CAPPS 2. It merely requires a report to two congressional committees on it. The public will never even get to see this report, unless the committees decide to release it, and CAPPS 2 will continue.

Second, the "Air Cargo Security Act" bill that this is attached to is yet another insane secret-law assume-everyone-is-a-criminal program. You can read it here:

This time they're going after cargo aircraft, creating a "Know Your Customer" program for people who ship cargo, demanding background checks for every person who works for any cargo shipping firm, "appropriate screening" (blacklisting) for all flight crews, and any
"additional measures deemed necessary and appropriate by the" head of TSA -- in his sole judgement.

The best part is at the bottom, hidden in the usual sort of "The second word in the fourth sentence of the Blather Bill of 1927 shall be struck out and replace by 'and'" style. It says:

(1) CIRCULATION OF PROPOSED PROGRAM- The Under Secretary shall--
(A) propose a program under subsection (a) within 90 days after
the date of enactment of this Act; and
(B) distribute the proposed program, on a confidential basis,
to those air carriers and other employers to which the program
will apply.
(4) SUSPENSION OF PROCEDURAL NORMS- Neither chapter 5 of title 5,
United States Code, nor the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5
U.S.C. App.) shall apply to the program required by this sectio n.

That last (4) clause eliminates the Freedom of Information Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, the Government in the Sunshine Act, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act from applying to this bill. That's every one of the "open government" laws we have. Pretty good for three lines of text.

These two legalese paragraphs say, in plain English:

  • TSA will invent the rules in secret.
  • The public will never get to see them. The cargo carriers who will
    be stuck with the rules won't be allowed to reveal the rules, though
    they will get to comment privately on them.
  • The public's legal rights to participate, in the creation and evolution
    of regulations that directly affect the public, will be superseded.

This kind of exemption from public oversight is EXACTLY how CAPPS 2
has gotten as far as it has.

This is a screw-the-public bill. It's a secret law bill. It creates a dictatorship, not a democracy. It says that between them, the TSA and the airlines can come up with whatever cozy rules are mutually beneficial -- and the public will get zero chance to even see what the rules are, let alone to have them changed. The passenger airlines have done this in requiring ID checks that prevent people from reselling their tickets, so the public can't avoid airline $100 change fees and use-it-or-lose-it ticket policies. The feds get more power and the airlines get more money; what are we complaining about?

Rather than exempting whole new sections of the law from public oversight, Congress should be opening up the sections of the law which are now unconstitutionally kept secret from the public.

John Gilmore
(suing TSA to overturn unpublished travel ID rules and CAPPS 2)

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
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To subscribe to Politech:
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posted by Gary Williams at 1:25 AM | link |

via Coffee Blog

GeoURL and our neighbors

Both Komputor and Mass Spectrometry Blog are both my neighbors. Who would have thought GeoURL would be so cool? I just thought it was kinda neat and maybe a way to meet people, but I've found so many great sites that way.

I read this yesterday. I've seen the same kind of thing at Mandarin Design, but yesterday I got interested and followed the GeoURL link and signed up. (I've put the tag they supplied over on the link list, below my store link.) Unfortunately, I haven't yet got it to work -- although the latitude and longitude finders look right to me, and it was easy to add the meta tags to my template. Oh, well, if it doesn't work soon, I'll poke at it tomorrow and make it work.

Anyways, Coffee Blog seems to combine cooking and science, both things I like to read about, so I've added it to my science and thinkers list. Now, if I can just get GeoURL to work...

posted by Gary Williams at 12:59 AM | link |

Three Laws Of Thermodynamics, As A Poker Game

I've been reading Uncertain Principles, where he's talking about sumarizing his class in mechanics in a 15-minute talk, and it reminded me of my days in physics. So here are the three laws of thermodynamics (I wasted a lot of my first year in college playing poker, so there's a certain dynamics...):

  1. You can't win.

  2. You can't break even.

  3. You can't get out of the game.

Simple, 'eh?

posted by Gary Williams at 12:11 AM | link |

Thursday, March 13, 2003  

via abuddhas memes

Huxley and the absurd

"Huxley had, in fact, a well-developed sense of the absurd...that the universe is radically weird. Comments to this effect turn up again and again in Huxley's writing: "the astonishingness of the most obvious things," "the unutterably odd facts of human experience," etc. He was much tickled to find, when typing one day, that his left hand had slipped from "c" to "v," giving him the phrase: "the human vomedy.""

My focus today is on warnings, code red, that we have ignored in the decades since their first iteration. The odds, which for the bookie in us all I'll peg at six million to one, of being in personal danger due to terrorism from "others" is many orders of magnitude less than that of being terrorized by the domestic milieu.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:41 PM | link |

Play 20 Questions

Cool game. Click on the headline and hope the server's not too busy...

posted by Gary Williams at 8:27 PM | link |

AP protests government seizure of package

From Declan McCullagh's Politech


Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2003 15:48:23 -0500
From: "Paul Levy" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: [IP] AP Protests Gov't Seizure of Package
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Disposition: inline

maybe when AP reporters threaten the government's ability to
propagandize the public for its position on issues relating to
terrorism, they are enemy combatants and lose the protection of the

Paul Alan Levy
Public Citizen Litigation Group
1600 - 20th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 588-1000

>>> Dave Farber <> 03/13/03 03:29PM >>>

------ Forwarded Message
From: Richard Forno <>
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2003 14:17:41 -0500
To: Dave Farber <>
Subject: AP Protests Gov't Seizure of Package

AP Protests Gov't Seizure of Package

The Associated Press
Thursday, March 13, 2003; 9:44 AM

Government agencies opened a package mailed between two Associated Press reporters last September and seized a copy of an eight-year-old unclassified FBI lab report without obtaining a warrant or notifying the news agency.

The Customs Service intercepted a package sent via Federal Express from the Associated Press bureau in Manila to the AP office in Washington, and turned the contents over to the FBI.

FBI spokesman Doug Garrison said the document contained sensitive information that should not be made public. However, an AP executive said the package contained an unclassified 1995 FBI report that had been discussed in open court in two legal cases.

"The government had no legal right to seize the package," said David Tomlin, assistant to the AP president.

The package was one of several communications between Jim Gomez in Manila and John Solomon in Washington, AP reporters who were working on terrorism investigative stories.

It was the second time that Solomon's reporting was the subject of a government seizure. In May 2001 the Justice Department subpoenaed his home phone records concerning stories he wrote about an investigation of then-Sen. Robert Torricelli.

< snip >

------ End of Forwarded Message
POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
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Declan McCullagh's photographs are at

posted by Gary Williams at 7:48 PM | link |

Congress mulls P2P porn restrictions

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

[Yes, let's require everyone around the globe to rate files shared via
Kazaa and other P2P networks. That'll work well! Great idea! --Declan]


Congress mulls new P2P porn restrictions
By Declan McCullagh
March 13, 2003, 10:37 AM PT

WASHINGTON--Members of Congress on Thursday said new laws aimed at
restricting pornography on peer-to-peer networks might be necessary,
as police vowed to step up enforcement efforts.

During a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee, politicians
complained of two problems: The allegedly widespread distribution of
illegal child pornography on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, and the ease
by which a youth could stumble across sexually explicit files that may
be legal for adults but inappropriate for minors.

"We have a rating system for videogames. We have a rating system for
music," said Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fl., who suggested a
government-mandated system would be appropriate for files on P2P
networks. Otherwise, Putnam warned, P2P users could "prey on spelling
errors of third graders looking for Pokemon."


POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
Like Politech? Make a donation here:
Declan McCullagh's photographs are at

posted by Gary Williams at 6:22 PM | link |

via CBS MarketWatch

Intel's new brand stirs up the message boards - FARK rejoices

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) - As much as Intel longs hope Centrino turns out to be more than meets the eye, it's not some new-fangled Transformer. And it's certainly not a teenage rebel from an alternate dimension a la the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Centrino is Intel's new wireless brand, freshly launched with a $300 million party tab -- and it drew the kind of mixed reception that you'd only find in cyberspace.

The ruckus began on where Bandman confused the issue with the low-riding Neutrinos of Dimension X at about the same time that MikeMir quipped: "What a coincidence, my coke dealer's name is Centrino."

Then there were others among the Web's irreverent peanut gallery, like TotallyFarkedDude, who went straight to the heart of the matter: "But can I download porn faster with it?"

Ah, but there's a serious side to those plucky little Fark'ers.

posted by Gary Williams at 6:11 PM | link |


Teat-seeking robot to help cows milk themselves

Soft-touch technology could increase yields while farmers lie in.
12 March 2003

Milking robot
Robot milker modeled
on an elephant's trunk
Dairy farmers of the future may sleep safe in the knowledge that an udder-friendly robot is doing the day's milking.

"The idea is to replace farmers' hands and allow cows to milk themselves whenever they fancy," says engineer Bruce Davies at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK.

Davies' company IceRobotics has just received a £98,000 (US$157,000) grant from Britain's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts to develop its rubbery manipulator - the 'continuum activator' - into a flexible, teat-seeking robotic arm.

Frequent milking yields more than conventional morning and evening trips to the dairy. And cows produce more when they choose their own milking schedule - often at the times when calves naturally like to feed, between 11 pm and 3 am.

posted by Gary Williams at 4:56 PM | link |

Radebaugh Exihibition Poster

posted by Gary Williams at 3:40 PM | link |

Jupiter's Great Red Spot
Jupiter's Great Red Spot
Jupiter's dark spot
Jupiter's Great Dark Spot
via NASA - Cassini UV observations

The Great Dark Spot

March 12, 2003: For more than a century astronomers thought that the Great Red Spot was the biggest thing on Jupiter. Not anymore. Images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have revealed something at least as large.

The Great Dark Spot.

"I was totally blown away when I saw it--a dark cloud twice as big as Earth swirling around Jupiter's north pole," says Bob West, a planetary scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:48 PM | link |

via The Register

Airstrike! The Pentagon simplifies media relations

By John Lettice
Posted: 13/03/2003 at 17:10 GMT

Should war in the Gulf commence, the Pentagon proposes to take radical new steps in media relations - 'unauthorised' journalists will be shot at. Speaking on The Sunday Show on Ireland's RTE1 last sunday veteran war reporter Kate Adie said she had been warned by a senior Pentagon official that uplinks, i.e. TV broadcasts or satellite phones, that are detected by US aircraft are likely to be fired on.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:51 PM | link |

via McGraw-Hill Construction | ENR - U.S. Agency Seeks Bids for Rebuilding Iraq

U.S. Agency Seeks Bids for Rebuilding Iraq

By Sherie Winston, with Mary B. Powers and Tom Ichniowski

The U.S. Agency for International Development says that that it has asked a select group of U.S. engineering firms to bid on a contract that could be worth $900 million to rebuild a postwar Iraq.

The firms were sent a request for proposals about three weeks ago, says a USAID official. Special procurement laws allow for the select bidding, and also prohibit the government from discussing details, including which firms were asked to respond, the agency official says. Click here to view map

But the official says that all the firms that were asked to send proposals "have the unique capability to work under these urgent circumstances." President Bush has said that humanitarian relief, including rebuilding, should begin as soon as hostilities, if any, are over.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:44 PM | link |

via DoD News: DoD Announces Number For Oil Well Fire Contractors


The Department of Defense announced last week that it has plans to prevent or mitigate destruction of Iraq's oil wells by Saddam Hussein's regime. Companies interested in providing specialized services related to firefighting or assessing damage to oil facilities in the event of military action in Iraq should call toll-free, 866-461-5171. A recorded message provides instructions on the information necessary for firms to be added to the bidders list.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:41 PM | link |

Paypal knocked for seizing more sites' money

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

Previous Politech message:

"Anti-abortion activist complains Paypal seized his account"

Alternatives? Politech has accepted donations through E-Gold or GoldMoney
for the last year or so ( I'll compile
and send along other suggestions.



From: Eric Cordian <>
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Paypal Strikes Again
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 13:28:18 -0800 (PST)


The folks on are reporting that Paypal has closed
their account, exercising its "sole discretion" according to the user
agreement to close their account and embargo their funds for six months.

Since is a link farm of news stories featuring a
variety of views on the impending War with Iraq, and Paypal just pulled
this same trick with an anti-abortion activist, it would appear that
Paypal is employing its user agreement selectively for political purposes.

While Paypal as a private company certainly has the right to choose with
whom it does business, tying up donations people have made to support a
political cause for half a year does seem a tad dishonest.

Eric Michael Cordian 0+
O:.T:.O:. Mathematical Munitions Division
"Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law"


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2003 11:13:54 -0800
From: "A.Lizard" <>
Subject: Paypal strikes again!

From anti-abortion to anti-war. What business does a money transfer agent
have deciding whether to pay funds or not based on the account holder's
politics? And what is PayPal likely to decide is "objectionable" next? On
what objective criteria?

If you know anyone using PayPal to raise funds for a political site
regardless of politics, better let them know about this.

Given that PayPal is apparently using political criteria to decide who its
OK to transfer money to, other than hearing a sucking sound on the Internet
as every political organization not aligned with the Bush Administration
using PayPal to accepts donations to pull all their money out and instruct
their banks not to accept demands for funds from PayPal, I'm expecting the
next response to be a demand for federal regulation of PayPal-like services.


>PayPal switches off indy news site account
>By Drew Cullen
>Posted: 12/03/2003 at 08:39 GMT

>A US independent news site which relies upon reader donations has had some
>of its air supply cut off by PayPal.
>In a email sent to
> yesterday, PayPal's Orwellian-sounding
>"Merchant Risk Department" wrote:
>As you know, the PayPal User Agreement states that PayPal, at its sole
>discretion, reserves the right to close an account at any time for any
>reason. We write to inform you that, after a review of your site, and in
>accordance with the User Agreement, your account has been closed. Your
>funds will be held for 180 days from the date of the last transaction on
>the account. After 180 days have expired, we will refund your funds by
>mailing a check to the address linked to your account.
. . .
rest at the URL


From: "Scoop Editor - Alastair Thompson" <>
To: Declan McCullagh <>
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2003 12:22:11 +1300
MIME-Version: 1.0

Dear Declan,

Looks like a case for the Politech community to ruminate on.
Paypal closed off this 911 advocacy websites account - and they
are fighting back. As they have a huge audience in the blogging
and independent media community this news is spreading like

Indymedia are now debating ending their association with Paypal
too.. and I suspect hundreds of other independent media sites
(including us) are considering the same thing.

The sad thing is they do provide a very easy to use and well
maintained and supported service... and they have massive market
share. Their conduct is difficult to understand in the circumstances.

One alternative service some indymedia are considering using is.

Which has some additional capabilities which are useful for online

It would be useful if members of the forum might be able to suggest
other alternatives. We have been advised by one person to open
our own Visa Merchant account but are very reluctant to do so. A
service like the one Paypal has been providing seems like it is in
huge demand.... but it does need to be secure and reliable... which
sadly Paypal appears not to be.

Alastair Thompson

Alastair Thompson
Scoop Editor
Scoop Media
021 70 70 44

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
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Declan McCullagh's photographs are at

posted by Gary Williams at 12:31 PM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

Scientists Find Extrasolar Planet With Atmosphere Much Like Jupiter


The Hubble Space Telescope has detected an extensive atmosphere of hydrogen enveloping and escaping from a newfound planet of a distant star, scientists reported yesterday.

The discovery comes as no surprise, astronomers say, but is important nonetheless as apparent confirmation that the extrasolar planets observed so far not only are much like the solar system's Jupiter in size but also are similarly huge gaseous bodies.

In an announcement by the European Space Agency and NASA, a French-led research team said three separate observations by the Hubble telescope in 2001 revealed a hot and puffed-up hydrogen atmosphere surrounding a planet orbiting the star HD 209458, in the constellation Pegasus 150 light-years from Earth. Details are described in today's issue of the journal Nature.

The most astonishing aspect, said the team leader, Dr. Alfred Vidal-Madjar of the Astrophysics Institute of Paris, is that the planet is so close to the searing heat of its parent star that the dense atmosphere reaches temperatures of about 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit and is boiling off and evaporating at a rate of perhaps 10,000 tons a second. The escaping hydrogen was detected extending across 125,000 miles, trailing the planet like a comet's tail.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:01 PM | link |

via Afghanistan Recovery
March 10, Kabul--Afghanistan today officially planted its flag in cyberspace, gaining legal and technical control of the "dot-af" domain for Afghan websites and e-mail addresses.

Today's formal activation of Afghanistan's new Top Level Domain (ccTLD), as Internet country codes are known, marks the culmination of a complex international application process, and the parallel development of new telecommunications links enabling Afghanistan to put the the new .af domain to immediate use. MORE

This is the United Nations development agency in Afghanistan. Someday soon, there will be more Afghani sites.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:06 AM | link |

from Johannes Ullrich via

Code Red returns

We are tracking a new variation of our old friend Code Red.
This version appears to use the same .ida overflow as the
original Code Red. However, reports indicate that it installs
a backdoor as well.

So far, we see approximately twice the number of sources as
we usually have this time of the month. Last month, we tracked
about 30,000 Code Red infected machines scanning from March 1st
to March 19th. So far, we see more than 50,000 systems scanning
port 80, in addition to our continuous background of 13,000 sources.

At this time, I am not planning on raising the infocon to yellow,
as this appears to be essentially a variation of an old threat and
it is unlikely that we will alert anybody new. I do not expect any
widespread effects on network performance.

Please verify that all IIS servers are patched and unnecessary
file type associations are removed. Filtering port 80 is recommended
if possible.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:26 AM | link |

via Living Code - Biology & Information

A Beautiful Friendship?

The fun part of being a generalist is that you get to have all these "Whoa" moments as you make connections. While looking up some material on Google for the earlier topic that had me talking to myself like Rick Blaine, I ran across some names that struck a big bell and led to some fun excursions.

A Beginning

It started with another report from the Biodefense meeting. Intranasal treatment of mice with interferon alpha and interferon gamma permitted 95% of the mice to survive a vaccinia infection that killed all of the control mice. This holds out significant hope that similar procedures activating innate immunity could be used in humans following a smallpox outbreak. Now, I went to Google to see if there was any more information on this at the company's site, Advanced Biosystems. That is when the "Whoa" moment hit.

A Middle

The company developing this treatment is run by Ken Alibek, one of the premier scientists, and possibly the main architect, from the Soviet Union's bioweapons program. He came to the US after the breakup of the Soviet Union and, after being debriefed by the CIA (a quicktime movie from NOVA), wrote a book called Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World--Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran It

An End?.

Could the man who devised bioweapons that were designed to kill millions be on the trail of a widely applicable therapy that could blunt the power of these very weapons? This makes a very interesting story, especially since the vice-president of this company is Charles Bailey, a colonel and former Commander at the U. S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. They first met as adversaries and are now colleagues. When will we see the movie? What should we call it?

posted by Gary Williams at 2:04 AM | link |

via Lagniappe

Vaxgen and Its Numbers

The March 7 issue of Science has a summary of Vaxgen's presentation of their HIV vaccine results, under the discouraging headline of "Vaccine Results Lose Significance Under Scrutiny." The contents of the article will hold few surprises for readers of the posts here from the last week of February. The pitfalls of subgroup analysis are discussed, sometimes in exactly the same terms as my contributors and I used:

Cornell University's John Moor, a longtime critic of the vaccine and an expert on HIV antibodies, finds this reasoning absurd. "Lumping Blacks and Asians together is biological rubbish," says Moore. "They might as well do a subgroup analysis based on signs of the zodiac."

An interesting wrinkle occurred during that week after the criticism started. Many pointed out that the P values (used as a measure of statistical significance) really should have been corrected for how many subgroups were split out. A conservative way to do this, the Bonferroni correction, is to just multiply the P values by the number of subgroups. That way you have to have much more significance in the underlying data before you decide that you're seeing something real.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:44 AM | link |

via medpundit

Getting vaccinated

Smallpox Update: Surgeon General Carmona, government bioterrorism consultant D.A. Henderson, and CDC head Julie Gerberding are getting vaccinated against smallpox to help persuade reluctant healthcare providers that this really is a necessary precaution. That's good. I've been worried about Dr. Gerberding since reading a statement in which she called obesity more of a threat than bioterrorism. Meanwhile, the anti-viral drug cidofovir is showing promise in mice for the treatment of cowpox, which could make it a useful tool in treating complications of the smallpox vaccine.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:22 AM | link |

Wednesday, March 12, 2003  

via BBB: Come for the bunny photographs. Stay for the Warmongery

America the bunny!

America is the original no-tribe state. While today there are others, let’s not lose sight or forget just how rare a thing like America really is:

"We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and values systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right." (In the Beginning...)

America is like the original self-replicating molecule that started life as we know it. As Richard Dawkins says: that such a thing would spring into existence is extremely unlikely, but it had to happen only once.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:15 PM | link |

via Bloggers and Blogs: Welcome!

Bloggers and Their Blogs

Fellow Bloggers! Thank you for considering participation in this survey! This survey will be used by the researcher to determine how we are using our blogs and how large our blogging community is. The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete and, of course, is voluntary. All responses are anonymous and cannot be traced to any individual participant. This survey is being conducted under the auspices of Georgetown University. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at

To take the survey, click here.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:54 PM | link |

lionvia STUFF: NATIONAL NEWS - STORY : New Zealand's leading news and information website

Kings meal a little too beastly

12 March 2003

A group of architects witnessed more than they bargained for in the lions' den at Auckland Zoo, on Thursday night. They saw whole horse heads thrown to the lions by their keepers, who did not realise members of the public were present.

The keepers did not know that Jasmax employees were enjoying a guided evening tour as part of a corporate function. The enthusiastic group got to the lions' den just in time to view the feed.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:29 PM | link |

via News - Halifax - network

Cabbie's taxi nabbed on Bangor trip

The Daily News

A Sackville cabbie wound up with a huge headache after a passenger he was driving all the way to Maine allegedly stole his Lincoln Continental when he stopped to buy her some Aspirin.

Brian Hill, 62, picked up Stephanie Williams near Harrietsfield on Sunday morning after a man he’d done business with before asked the taxi driver if he’d take the 18-year-old to Bangor for $880.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:14 PM | link |



I have been watching this recent spike in CodeRed activity and one thing I am noticing is the lack of TCP session establishment. I am seeing common get strings like this showing up at my firewalls without ever establishing a TCP three way handshake. I have seen several hundred packets with in the last two days similar to this at my firewalls.

47 45 54 20 2F 64 65 66 61 75 6C 74 2E 69 64 61 GET /default.ida
3F 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 ?XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I find it awfully strange that there is no handshake (not even a single SYN to try and establish a session) but these packets show up anyway. I also am not seeing an increase of port 80 scans in my firewall logs or with any of my IDS sensors. Is anybody else out there seeing the same things we are?



V.Jay LaRosa EMC Corporation
Information Security 4400 Computer Dr.
(508)898-7433 office Westboro, MA 01580
(508)353-1348 cell
888-799-9750 pager

posted by Gary Williams at 2:45 PM | link |

Why 91% > 91%

Why 91% > 91% (if you're US AIR)

Learn how percentages work if you're a bankrupt airline (also good for AMTRACK, apparently):

posted by Gary Williams at 2:31 PM | link |

Online Comics Directory

(via Online Comics at

posted by Gary Williams at 2:13 PM | link |

via Chico State

CSUC Underwater Basket Weaving Department

UBW 001: Introduction to Underwater Basket Weaving
UBW 101: Intermediate Underwater Basket Weaving
UBW 205: Advanced Underwater Basket Weaving
UBW 102: Current Trends in Underwater Basket Weaving
UBW 104: History of Underwater Basket Weaving
UBW 105: Extreme Weather Underwater Basket Weaving: Hurricanes
UBW 106: Extreme Weather Underwater Basket Weaving: Tsunami
UBW 201: Deap Sea Underwater Basket Weaving *prerequisite: scuba certification

posted by Gary Williams at 2:07 PM | link |

MSN Features IMACThe Register
Apple iMac - the PC you really want, says MSN
By John Lettice
Posted: 11/03/2003 at 13:41 GMT

Hats off to Apple Canada, which as far as we can make out appears to have pulled off a small but embarrassing heist at the expense of the local version of the Microsoft Network (MSN). The stunt would seem (naturally, we conjecture) to have taken advantage of the collision between MSN's thirst for ad revenue and what some might call the dubious presentation of advertising material undifferentiated from editorial.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:18 PM | link |

via The Register

By John Lettice
Posted: 12/03/2003 at 16:28 GMT

We considered sharing and with you last week, but took the view that you could live without information on puerile exercises in xenophobia that seemed to have the (perhaps not entirely) subsidiary goal of selling related merchandise. We thought we'd leave off writing about it until vengeful hackers downed it, and although when we looked the French version had had a lot more visitors than the German, our money was on the Germans.

Correct. Post strike, the temporary home at tells visitors: "If you came here directly from a, or link, it's because our main sites are down due to anti-US hackers in Germany." Presumably this is intended as a general-purpose announcement to be seen on whichever of the sites happen to be up at any given moment.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:17 PM | link |

NSA Publishes Router Safety Guide

If you're interested in what the National Security Agency thinks is the right thing to do for your Cisco (and other brand) routers, click here.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:10 PM | link |

World's most stupid security measure contest this week

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

[I have the honor of being a judge in this competition. Please send your
suggestions to --Declan]


Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 16:37:47 +0000
To: Declan McCullagh <>
From: Simon Davies <>

Hi Declan,

it would be terrific if you could get this out on Politech. Best wishes




Global competition will identify absurd and pointless security requirements

11th February 2003

Embargo: Immediate release
The human rights watchdog Privacy International has launched a competition
to discover the world's most pointless, intrusive, annoying and
self-serving security measures.

The "Stupid Security" award aims to highlight the absurdities of the
security industry. Privacy International's director, Simon Davies, said his
group had taken the initiative because of "innumerable" security
initiatives around the world that had absolutely no genuine security benefit.

"The situation has become ridiculous" said Mr Davies. "Security has become
the smokescreen for incompetent and robotic managers the world over".

"I have stood for ages in a security line at an inconsequential office
building and grilled relentlessly only to be given a security pass that a
high school student could have faked. And I resent being forced to take off
my shoes at an airport that can't even screen its luggage" he said.

Even before 9/11 a whole army of bumbling amateurs has taken it upon
themselves to figure out pointless, annoying, intrusive, illusory and just
plain stupid measures to "protect" our security.

It has become a global menace. From the nightclub in Berlin that demands
the home address of its patrons, to the phone company in Britain that won't
let anyone pay more than twenty pounds a month from a bank account, the
world has become infested with bumptious administrators competing to hinder
or harass us. And often for no good reason whatever.

Unworkable security laws and illusory security measures do nothing to help
issues of real public concern. They only hinder the public and intrude
unnecessary into our private lives.

Until March 15th 2003 Privacy International is calling for nominations to
name and shame the worst offenders. Nominations in the form of stories and
anecdotes are most welcome.

The competition will be judged by a panel of well-known security experts,
public policy specialists, privacy advocates and journalists.
The competition is open to anyone. Nominations can be sent to Winners will be announced at the 13th
Computers, Freedom & Privacy conference in New York on April 4th.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


- Privacy International (PI) is a human rights group formed in 1990 as a
watchdog on surveillance by governments and corporations. PI is based in
London, and has an office in Washington, D.C. Together with members in 40
countries, PI has conducted campaigns throughout the world on issues
ranging from wiretapping and national security activities, to ID cards,
video surveillance, data matching, police information systems, and medical
privacy, and works with a wide range of parliamentary and
inter-governmental organisations such as the European Parliament, the House
of Lords and UNESCO.

- PI's website is The award page can be found

- The competition will be judged by a panel of well-known security experts,
public policy specialists, privacy advocates and journalists. Details are
on the PI competition page above.

- Simon Davies can be reached at and in the UK on 07958
466 552

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
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posted by Gary Williams at 11:59 AM | link |

Code Red variants a tool for attackers?

From James Slora on the mailing list:

Isn't it odd that Code Red variants have been continuously circulating for a couple of years and have tapered off to next to nil, but a slightly modified new version has become so prevalent?

I see a really obvious pattern in my Code Red hits.

Systems that both respond to pings and have live web servers (whether IIS or not) have received a dozen or so hits each in the past two days, while systems that do not respond to pings or that do not have web servers have only received a max of four hits (counted by TCP 80 SYNs on non-web systems and by actual Code Red requests on web servers). Systems with web servers (whether IIS or not) also received more hits. No pings accompany the Code Red hits of course. This says to me that some Code Red attacks may be aimed at a hit list built from previous very cursory recon.

This same pattern has been true of Nimda attacks over the past few months. I get almost no Nimda hits on systems that ignore pings, while responding systems sometimes experience large volumes of Nimda hits. Again, systems with web servers (whether or not they are IIS) get far more TCP 80 SYNs.

My hypothesis is that the worms themselves are always not the point, and that they may be primarily used as an attack vehicle that will draw little specific attention to the attackers because we have all become so tired of the commonness of the worms and because the worms provide such easy explanations for system compromises.

Unaware admins of compromised systems run AV, detect and delete Code Red or Nimda, and allow the custom botnet tools to continue working because they were never noticed. I've encountered this attitude several times in response to abuse reports, even when the attacks being reported are clearly not Code Red or Nimda.

Of course there are still plenty of systems that can be compromised by the worms themselves, but this may be more of a bonus activity rather than the primary point.

Will we now see a resurgence of Nimda hits to take advantage of the root . exe files copied by Code Red? I'd bet yes.

Update: Kevin Timm replies on the same list:

Interesting hypothesis and I would have to say I agree with it somewhat. I've have seen mutations of Nimda and CR alike. Some of these mutations were the same exploit but the session was spilced with maybe the GET being one session and the rest others. I've seen mutations on several networks where a space was in the c+dir string and other small changes. If I was a hacker of malicious intent I would try to hide under the noise at least for setting up large controllable networks to be used for other purposes. I am actually surprised that more attacks do not involve installing trojans that could be connected to through brokered connections over http or https. FWIW I've seen a couple directed and co-ordinated attacks that were true tasteful connections (so spoofing was not done). The unusual thing was that these events were very geographically disperse and featured many different OS types (Windows, Mac, Linux ). The attacks themselves were juvenile and had the same attack signature. These attacks however do demonstrate the potential capability.


posted by Gary Williams at 11:07 AM | link |


Apparently the folks on the right have discovered the IndyMedia sites: this letter came to the Santa Cruz IndyMedia mailing list:

Return-Path: <>
Received: from ( [])
by (8.11.6/8.10.1) with ESMTP id h2C99Dv14300
for <>; Wed, 12 Mar 2003 04:09:13 -0500 (EST)
Received: from (localhost [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP
id 313523A24C0; Wed, 12 Mar 2003 04:09:12 -0500 (EST)
Received: from ( [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 059643A22F5
for <>; Wed, 12 Mar 2003 04:08:58 -0500 (EST)
Received: from oemcomputer ([]) by
(InterMail vM. 201-253-122-122-125-20020815) with SMTP
id <>
for <>; Wed, 12 Mar 2003 04:10:57 -0500
Message-ID: <049201c2e875$2b2ecbe0$cb601442@oemcomputer>
From: "JT Venda" <>
To: <>

----- Original Message -----
From: JT Venda
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 8:11 PM

----- Original Message -----
From: JT Venda
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 1:13 PM

----- Original Message -----
From: JT Venda
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 1:02 PM

Yes, you have the freedom of rights to express disapproval of the war but might I remind you of how you came about these beloved rights! It was the blood shed of our great country that fought in wars to give you this freedom to stand and speak out.

I know of no American people who love war but we have the knowledge and good old common sense to know when it is necessary. May I remind you that this is not Vietnam! The Vietnam war was not a threat to our National security, this one my friends is! There has been more than a threat, our country has already been attacked by evil men.

Sadam has been linked to the terrorist groups and some of you are too blind to see this. I remember the day the planes flew into our trade towers. I witness the 2nd plane as it was flying toward the 2nd building, feeling helpless to know there was nothing I could do but watch in horror. I still feel the stab of pain in my heart for the people in those buildings. I had no family or friends in those buildings. Why should I care? Because they are American citizens therefore they are my family. I care and it hurt to sit by and was able to do nothing! All of America could do nothing but watch in disbelief.

Well, my friends, TODAY WE CAN DO SOMETHING! We can make sure this never happens again. I am ashamed of the actions that some of our people have taken. It is one thing to express your freedom of speech, and another to explot yourself before all the world in bad mouthing our president for trying to fight this evil and keeping our country safe. You are either against evil or you stand for evil! Sorry, but past history shows it takes the act of war to bring about peace. When you are dealing with a madman, it takes force. Has everyone forgotten Hitler? I guess so, because most of you have forgotten Sept.11th. Are we suppose to wait for this latter day Hitler to follow in the foot steps of the former one? Sadam has slaughtered his own
people and the people of surrounding countries. Is presiden Bush suppose to wait until we see the slaughter of millions like Hitler did?

It has already been shown what happens when America does nothing! Our embassy in Africa was bombed..We did nothing! The USS Cole was attacked..We did nothing! The world trade towers were bombed in 1994..We did nothing! Finally, on Sept. the 11th, they acomplished what they set out to do the first time. They brought them down.

You try to cling to the fact that Sadam and Irag had nothing to do with the attack on America. Keep living in your fantasy world! I knew from the day of the attack that Irag was in behind this. They think of America as the great satan. Do you really believe that anthrax was made in a cave? Are you not aware that Sadam pays $25,000 to the suicide bombers family? Yes, he believes in giving rewards for the murder of innocent people!

The word of God says that money is the root of all evil! Well, the money and the clout is speaking out today and they are showing whose side they
are on...evil! You either go against this evil or you uphold the evil. To love God is to hate evil!

You shut your eyes and turn your head away from all the killings and hope that Sadam will only continue to kill his own. For now you might be sleeping
in a safe nation, but you are too blind to know if we DO NOTHING, we will be attacked again. Hitler started killing his own to take over Germany. Then he proceeded forward to the killing of millions of Jews. Who was next on his list? Christians! Who is the most Christian nation in the world? America!!

One final word to all you antiwar whiners..right now you might sleep in your warm safe bed in your safe nation..but what kind of world are
you leaving your children and your grandchildren and their children?

May God help open the blind eyes of the ignorant Hollywood bunch and their follower's!

Please pass this message on if you truly love your freedom in our great country called AMERICA!!


posted by Gary Williams at 10:37 AM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

I Vant to Be Alone

Just when you thought it couldn't get more Strangelovian, it does. The Bush bullies, having driven off all the other kids in the international schoolyard, are now resorting to imaginary friends.

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars here yesterday and reassured the group that America would have "a formidable coalition" to attack Iraq. "The number of countries involved will be in the substantial double digits," he boasted. Unfortunately, he could not actually name one of the supposed allies. "Some of them would prefer not to be named now," he said coyly, "but they will be known with pride in due time."

Perhaps the hawks' fixation on being the messiahs of the Middle East has unhinged them. I could just picture Wolfy sauntering down the road to Baghdad with our new ally Harvey, his very own pooka, a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit that the U.S. wants to put on the U.N. Security Council.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:24 AM | link |

via The New York Times

Glasnost on War's Looted Art


OSCOW, March 11 — For more than 50 years the Soviet Union hid them in museum basements and secret repositories, one reportedly in a monastery wall. Now, reflecting increased glasnost, Russia's Ministry of Culture is posting images and descriptions of them on a new Web site.

They are thousands of paintings, archives and rare books looted by Soviet forces in Germany and Eastern Europe during and after World War II and taken to Russia as so-called trophy art. (Now the preferred term in Russia is "displaced cultural treasures.") Hitler's forces had previously pillaged many of the works from Jewish owners and other Nazi victims.

The site is also being used to search for what the ministry estimates as two million works of art that disappeared from Russian museums during the Nazi occupation. An unknown number were destroyed in the war, but some have turned up in Russian antiques shops or at auctions abroad; a few have been returned by Germany.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:11 AM | link |

National Do-Not-Call List Is Law

From Declan McCullagh's Politech


Subject: National Do-Not-Call List is law]
From: Jason <>
Date: 11 Mar 2003 20:31:59 -0500


Apparently, it's become law.

"Telemarketers say the registry will devastate their business. The
Direct Marketing Association, an industry group, filed a lawsuit against
the FTC last month on grounds the registry unlawfully restricts free

Someone should remind the Direct Marketing Association that their right
to free speech ends at my front door in much the same way that one's
right to swing one's fist ends at another person's face. And if this
law will "devastate their business", I submit that perhaps they were in
the wrong business to begin with.


POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
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posted by Gary Williams at 9:53 AM | link |

via Lagniappe

I Claim Stuff That's Good For What Ails You

The U. of Rochester patent defeat that I wrote about on Friday has some pretty interesting implications for Ariad's attempt to sew up the NF-kB transcriptional pathway. Much as I'd like for Rochester to have lost on general principles, the general principle that you can patent medical methods of treatment (and entire biological pathways) remains intact. It'll probably take statute law to change that. The reason Rochester lost was, basically, "lack of enablement."

That, translated from patent-speak, means that they didn't show how to do what they were claiming, and showed no evidence that they'd done it (or even knew how to.) It's one thing to claim the COX-2 enzyme; it's quite another to claim any compound that works by inhibiting it. Rochester had the enzyme in hand, and they'd done the background work to show what it could be used for. But they didn't have anything to accomplish those uses. As the judge's opinion said, they basically were expressing a wish, or outlining a plan - not carrying it out.

And you have to do that, or at least show enough work that you can claim that you know how to. Just saying that you think it would be a good idea isn't enough. Of course, the Rochester patent had already been issued in this form, which just goes to show you what the patent office is like these days. Now, if they'd shown some examples of compounds that inhibited COX-2, they'd have had a much stronger case - and the more compounds, and the more data they had on their effects, the better.

The people most likely to have plenty of data like that are, well, drug companies. It's much harder to invalidate big pharma patents, because they're generally backed up with more enablement. Not impossible, not at all - just harder. So will Ariad's hold up? Based on this decision, I'd be worried if I were them. They have no compounds in their patent at all, at least none that I recall seeing. So how can they say that all their claims of medical treatment are enabled? The whole patent looked to me like a gigantic shopping list.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:24 AM | link |

via Loxoscles
} You got this far, now here's your prize: 

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posted by Gary Williams at 1:05 AM | link |

Tuesday, March 11, 2003  

via Seattle Post-Intellegence: P-I Focus: Bush's initiative still in 'high concept' stage

"Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable"

Will faith-based groups discover limits on the traditional religious task, once described by Reinhold Niebuhr as "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable?"

posted by Gary Williams at 11:49 PM | link |

via Yahoo! News

French Fries Get New Name in Congress

The French Embassy in Washington had no immediate comment, except to say that french fries actually come from Belgium.

"Freedom fries" is something they'd think is neat in North Carolina, but hey, the quote from the French embassy. Wil Weaton's blog lead me to this -- nobody's safe while the legislature is in session.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:19 PM | link |

via Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things

SETI@Home identifies 150 possible alien intelligences

The SETI@Home distcomp project has borne fruit: 150 signals that match SETI's criteria for probable alien intelligence have been identified, and the project is going back to the Arecibo radio-telescope-array to take a closer look at them.

"This is the culmination of more than three years of computing, the largest computation ever done," said UC Berkeley computer scientist David Anderson, director of SETI@home. "It's a milestone for the SETI@home project."

SETI@home users should find out the results of the re-observations - what The Planetary Society, the founding and principal sponsor of SETI@home, is billing as the "stellar countdown" - within two to three months.

Though excited at the opportunity to re-observe as many as 150 candidate signals, Anderson is cautious about raising people's expectations that they will discover a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:08 PM | link |

via William Gibson

Do you like your shape-shifting reptiles?

While I'm on the topic of mediated personae, something that came up during that CBC taping, last night (for me, anyway) was the idea that blogging (or even posting to fora) represents the democratization of the mediated persona. Literally anyone can have one, now, or several. I am an exception to this, because I have mine via the printed word, the oldest mass medium on the planet, and this website is maintained by a publishing company that belongs to an even larger corporation owned in turn by shapeshifting reptiles from Beta Reticuli, but the rest of you, today, are free to mass-mediate your own personae. Which was formerly, hugely, not the case. Choose a handle, post: you're mediating a persona.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:57 PM | link |

via The Register

The chickens of war cluck towards Baghdad

But are the chickens made of the right stuff? Early indications are not encouraging. "The US Army calls the strategy Operation Kuwaiti Field Chicken - or KFC - but the plan has been put on hold after 41 of the 43 chickens deployed to the Gulf died within a week of arrival."

posted by Gary Williams at 3:29 PM | link |

Leaving for war...

From Declan McCullagh's Politech


Subject: Into the fire
From: Ryan Marsh <>
Content-Type: text/plain
Message-Id: <047332653.22368.431.camel@princess-mononoke>
Mime-Version: 1.0
X-Mailer: Ximian Evolution 1.2.1
Date: 10 Mar 2003 15:44:13 -0600
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit


Tomorrow morning I leave for Army Basic Training. My MOS (Military
Occupation Specialty) will be Airborne Infantry. Up until now I've
always utilized my Right to Freedom of Speech, I've always been very
interested in, and constructively critical of, U.S. domestic and foreign
policy. I will no longer be in the position to excercise those rights
liberally as a dissenting citizen. I am now an instrument of war. My
duty to my country is now to "obey the orders of the President of the
United States and the orders of the Officers appointed over me according
to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

I am no longer in a position to question, that is why I want every
Politech reader to take very seriously the freedoms they hold, and the
control they exert over the political process.

If you send me to war, send me with decisive force. If you oppose the
war I am fighting, please do not oppose me. I might oppose the war too,
but I am willing to give my life that you might live in freedom.

I am joining up with a healthy realization of what is about to take
place in the Middle East (and possibly N. Korea), but I have great hope.
I heard an author on C-SPAN Book TV once say (and I'm paraphrasing):
A hundred years ago the state of relations between states in Europe was
war, fifty years ago the world was fighting a genocidal megalomanic,
twenty years ago there was still great question as to whether free
markets or planned economies would become the economic foundation of
Europe. Let's give them [the Middle East] some time.

Long before the idea gained popularity in the media, I was preaching the
positive impact that institutions of democracy and a western-friendly
gov't in Iraq could have on that entire region. The encouragement it
would provide to Iran, the de-throning of Saudi Arabia, the positive
impact on Syria, Jordan, and others. I have great hope that one day
humanity will look upon turmoil in the Middle East with the same
respectful nostalgia we have for WWII, and will finally turn it's
attention towards Africa.

I stopped reading Wired and now William Gibson and Cory Doctorow don't make
any sense.

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
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Declan McCullagh's photographs are at

posted by Gary Williams at 2:35 PM | link |

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