THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 394 December 26, 2005 - January 1, 2006
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December 26, 2005
The year is ending. CES starts next week, and the column is due in the middle of it, so I have to write much of the year-end column including the Orchids and Onions Parade this week before going to Las Vegas. I am also doing my year end game scene, the technology roundup, and other things I do for the first column after a year ends. This place will be a little sparse until I get to it.
I sent a Christmas message to all subscribers. If you subscribe and didn't get it, let me know. I need to know when and how you subscribed, under what name, and with what email address. Often addresses change but I don't get a notice. And there's only me keeping records, and I get harried at times.
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|This week:||Tuesday, December
I found two interesting articles today. First, on quantum mechanics: And next, on engineering and education in the US:
And next, on engineering and education in the US:
December 28, 2005
I continue to work on the year end column.
I remind you that nominations for the annual Orchid and Onions parade are in order right now.
It's a bit busy here, but there's a lot of good mail.
I received this today from Bob Thompson who sent this to his subscribers:
There's a new Windows vulnerability reported today, which is being actively exploited. All versions of Windows XP, including SP2, are vulnerable to this exploit. No patch is available.
If you use Internet Explorer, you can be infected simply by visiting a malicious web site. If you use Firefox, you can still be infected, but only if you explicitly download or run the infected image file.
For more information, see:
Robert Bruce Thompson
A new "0-day" exploit for Windows systems involving a malformed WMF (Windows MetaFile) graphic will install a 'bot' on your computer. Exploit is in the 'wild' as of late yesterday, there are several variations out there.
According to the Internet Storm Center ( http://isc.sans.org <http://isc.sans.org/> ): "The HTML file runs another WMF (Windows Meta File) which executes a trojan dropper on a fully patched Windows XP SP2 machine. The dropper will then download Winhound, a fake anti-spyware/virus program which asks user to purchase a registered version of software in order to remove the reported threats." The vuln will affect fully patched Windows XP systems.
Note that Firefox users may also have the problem. Good details about the vuln are on the F-Protect blog here http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/archive-122005.html#00000753 (F-Protect is usually very fast in getting out updates).
Other AV vendors will probably issue updates later today, but users are advised not to open WMF files from untrusted/unknown sources.
Regards, Rick Hellewell
Let me emphasize that it is well worth a trip to
I had not seen him for forty years, and we corresponded only a few times. He was one of my closest friends when I lived in Seattle, and I was company manger of his senior thesis play at the UW drama school. Afterwards he went his way and I mine. We did not meet again, but I never forgot him, and we had always planned to get together again some time. He was about my age. Good bye, old friend, and may God keep you.
December 29, 2005
Continuing with the year end column. Nominations for orchids and onions are open until end of the week. Thanks to all who sent some.
Subject: Noonan - Was and Might Be
Interesting retrospective/prospective column by Ms. Noonan today, Dr. Pournelle:
The quote I like best...
"...history moves quickly. His [George W. Bush's] people hit reset; he announced a refocus. The economy is an almost unnoticed triumph. Christmas spending is up 10%. Iraq votes yet again, amid pictures of purple fingers. Mr. Bush's numbers go up. He is dinged but not done. All will hinge on Iraq. History will say Bush was a dramatic and consequential president who broke through the wall of history and successfully reordered the most dangerous part of the world, or a dramatic and all-too-consequential president whose decisions yielded disaster. It's like looking at Woodrow Wilson in 1919 and wondering, How is this going to go?"
I have been a fan of Peggy Noonan for years.
December 30, 2005
Another day devoured by locusts. I am trying to get the column mostly done so that I won't have to worry about it at CES in Las Vegas next week. It goes reasonably well, but there's a lot to cover. Meanwhile, Winter has spared us the worst of the flu bouts that have become ubiquitous in Southern California, but that hasn't kept us from getting head colds, internal pains, and other impediments to getting any work done. I mustn't complain. It has mostly been warm and sunny here, and at least I am up and about.
December 31, 2005
Preparation for CES continues. Talin's comment on copyright, and my extended remarks in reply, are worth your time if the subject interests you.
I find there were a number of noteworthy events in 2005, and I am trying to cover as many as possible for my year end column, which will be filed from Las Vegas next week.
The end of the year finds us recovering from various minor illnesses. Roberta is out walking again, and while I consume more Sudafed than I would like, today's rains may help on that score. We still don't know if my breathing problems are due to allergies or some low grade permanent infection. In any case I have adjusted to them.
I continue to recommend the Health Solutions pump for clearing out sinuses. The banner link is below, but I find that the banner is blocked by many ad blocking programs; I can see it in Internet Explorer, but Firefox as I have configured it blocks the banner.
If you want a way to clear your sinuses see http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/aftrack.asp?afid=150424 and my apologies for repeating the link below the banner. I do recommend this as one of the best things that has happened to me in the past few years, responsible for better nights' sleep than almost anything else I have tried (and certainly better than the "freshest of snake biles" which I once tried in desperation). Truth in advertising: if you buy through that link I get a small sum. I did not arrange that, they did, after I recommended the product and they got some new sales as a result. I seldom endorse any product I don't personally use, and this is no exception to that.
I should write a years' end essay on Iraq, but I fear I have little to add to what I have already said. I would not have endorsed the original invasion, and I certainly would not have endorsed the extended occupation that followed. I do not believe that any kind of unitary Iraqi democracy (as opposed to a Confederacy on the Swiss model) is possible in Iraq, and I believe that allocation of the oil revenues precludes any unitary French-model state in Iraq. There is just too much money at stake.
The best government for Iraq would be, I think, what I advocated early on, build up local and regional governments, have relatively strong Provincial governments with near-sovereignty, and a weaker Confederacy for national defense; and retain the allocation of the oil revenues in the hands of the occupation authorities, doling out the money to places where it will do some good: which is to say, places that practice rule of law and have domestic tranquility. Reward virtue, not insurgency. The occupation can stay in enclaves located to maximize protection of the oil fields and production facilities. The American and European Left will instantly accuse us of every economic imperialist crime imaginable, but in fact we don't need the Iraqi oil revenue; they need it, but it must be allocated for building national unity, not to reward a majority which at the moment mostly seeks revenge on its former oppressors -- or independence, as do the Kurds, who want territories in which there is no Kurdish majority because there is oil there.
"Sire, you can do anything with a bayonet, except sit upon it," Talleyrand famously told Napoleon during a review of the Imperial army. Government, as Ortega tells us, is not a matter of the iron hand as much as the firm seat. I do not see how any national government in Iraq can have a firm seat. What might prevail is a Confederacy, with an outside entity -- US Occupation forces, The King of Jordan as Protector of Iraq, an American pro-consul -- allocating the oil revenue as reward for tranquility.
I don't see that any such rational plan will prevail, and realistically I see us continuing to muddle along in Iraq until we elect a government that just brings the troops home, leaving Iraq to fight a civil war that they could have fought and had done with if we'd simply toppled Saddam and come home when the President declared the mission accomplished: in other words if the invasion of Iraq had been an old fashioned gunboat diplomacy punitive expedition rather than a Jacobin-inspired attempt to export the blessings of liberty and democracy on the points of our bayonets (and the muzzles of our Abrams tanks).
And I fervently hope I am wrong. I do not want to see our troops pour out their blood in Mesopotamia for nothing. The treasure we throw into the rivers and sands is nothing; we can replace it easily.
And having said all that, I am sufficiently an American (as opposed to Southernor by birth and upbringing, Iowan and Washingtonian by education, and Californian by residence and profession) to say that our national institutions have made their decisions: the President and Congress have declared, the troops are in place, and we the people may speak our opposition, but we must never oppose sending treasure and our fervently felt best wishes to the troops we have committed. We sent them there, we keep them there; they are our soldiers carrying out our policies. Politics does end at the water's edge.
We owe them, and ourselves, a victory. It now remains to find a way credibly to declare victory and withdraw. The word credibly is the operative one.
But we need also to realize that energy independence, while expensive in absolute terms ($600 billion, perhaps) is cheap compared to the cost of intervention and occupation in the Middle East; and we need to embark on whatever it takes to achieve that.
And if we do, then our blood and treasure sunk into Iraq will be part of the price of our national education. We will have learned a hard lesson. So far the price has not been beyond our means.
To all my subscribers and readers, here and overseas, and especially troops on deployment,
God Bless you, and
HAPPY NEW YEAR
January 1, 2006
Happy New Year
I did a foolish thing, apparently. I installed Google Earth. Since that time I seem to have some Google interface instead of Firefox. All my old Firefox tabs are lost and don't open when I open it. When I close Firefox everything goes way. I hate Google. Why did they do this to me? I don't recall telling them to restructure my entire web browsing just so that I could see a satellite view of my house.
Apparently I have a Google toolbar, and that may have taken over. All I know is that all my saved tabs are gone, and I can't get them back. Google seems evil.
In regards to the WMF “zero-day” exploit against Windows (no matter which browser you use), the folks at the Internet Storm Center very strongly recommend that users install the unofficial patch detailed on their site. Here’s the link: http://isc.sans.org/diary.php?date=2006-01-01
I have a great deal of trust for the folks at ISC. If they say do it, I usually jump. It is very rare (probably never) that they are wrong.
Read their Sunday diary entry for details…several entries in there about this problem. Note that because the exploit is constantly changing, anti-virus protections may not be enough. There’s no easy way to block this attack with your firewall. The only apparent way to block this exploit, until Microsoft releases a fix, is to install the unofficial patch. The ISC folks have vetted the patch, and strongly recommend it.
If ISC says “do it” (as emphatically as they are saying it), I “do it”. I say this three times.
Regards, Rick Hellewell
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