Still in Recovery

View Holy Cross Hospital, Tuesday, January 6, 2015

To all old calendar readers, Merry Christmas


The therapists had me working very hard, so this will be short on originality.


Begin with this, which I suppose most of you know about, but some will not, and you all should be aware:

any other way to get rid of it besides paying the ransom? No — it appears to be technologically impossible for anyone to decr

Subject: How My Mom Got Hacked –

This was sent to (my boss) yesterday and I thought you might want to be aware of it. (Cybersecurity lead), is there something we can do to protect ourselves?

MY mother received the ransomnote on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It popped up on her computer screen soon after she’d discovered that all of her files had been locked. “Your files are encrypted,” it announced. “To get the key to decrypt files you have to pay 500 USD.” If my mother failed to pay within a week, the price would go up to $1,000. After that, her decryption key would be destroyed and any chance of accessing the 5,726 files on her PC — all of her data — would be lost forever.

Sincerely, CryptoWall.

CryptoWall 2.0 is the latest immunoresistant strain of a larger body of viruses known as ransomware. The virus is thought to infiltrate your computer when you click on a legitimate-looking attachment or through existing malware lurking on your hard drive, and once unleashed it instantly encrypts all your files, barring access to a single photo or tax receipt.

Everyone has the same questions when they first hear about CryptoWall:

Is there any other way to get rid of it besides paying the ransom? No — it appears to be technologically impossible for anyone to decrypt your files once CryptoWall 2.0 has locked them. (My mother had several I.T. professionals try.)

But should you really be handing money over to a bunch of criminals? According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the F.B.I. and the National White Collar Crime Center, this answer is also no. “Ransomware messages are an attempt to extort money,” one public service announcement helpfully explains. “If you have received a ransomware message do not follow payment instructions and file a complaint.” Right. But that won’t get you your files back. Which is why the Sheriff’s Office of Dickson County, Tenn., recently paid a CryptoWall ransom to unlock 72,000 autopsy reports, witness statements, crime scene photographs and other documents.

Finally, can law enforcement at least do something to stop these attacks in the future? Probably not.

The story is interesting. Have a look if you have not seen it. Then go buy a gigabit hard drive, disconnect your system from the Internet, and back up anything you would pay to recover if this happened to you. Disconnect the backup drive and put it in a safe place. Now you can reconnect to Internet. If your data – photos, manuscripts – are valuable, a bit later buy another drive and do it again a few weeks later. Now alternate doing backups with those drives…


Dr. Pournelle:

I came across the print version of this article at work, and it’s author was on NPR today.

I believe it is worth a read.

And the short answer to the question posed in the title is "the civilian leadership." (See,e.g., Vietnam)

We continue to pray for your quick and complete recovery.

God bless,






"The result is a class that educates their children in private schools or at home, and all the rest."

Across the country a class of people is attempting a third way. Generally economically disadvantaged, they yet understand that a real education – vs. credentialing – will enable their children to do economically better than they have. So they seek to put their children in schools that are publicly funded but not publicly operated – i.e., charter schools. This is being strenuously resisted by our political class, members of the same class that puts their children in private schools, as their ability to maintain their membership in the political class is in part dependent on satisfying the people who operate the public schools.

Ron Fox

Charter schools are an attempt to return at least some control of local schools to parents.  The current system is that pay and the professionals  run a terrible system in which most resources are dedicated to those who get the least from it, and the Republic suffers. The professionals prosper.  No one gets fired.  Few learn much,particularly smart kids.

The results are predictably awful.  And then the kids borrow money to go to college to learn what high schools used to teach.


Regarding Bitcoin and BitStamp,Peter Glaskowsky says


The Bitstamp situation is pretty mild by comparison with what happened at Mt. Gox. It does not break new ground or raise the threat level.

Even what happened at Mt. Gox has happened at real banks many times. Banks have adopted various controls to reduce their risks, which Bitcoin repositories should study and adopt as needed, but fundamentally a bank account full of electronic Bitcoin is no more vulnerable to theft that one full of electronic dollars.

I realized something about the "fiat money" discussion. Dollars are fiat because they are backed by nothing more than a sincere promise from a sovereign government to honor them in trade.

But no single entity makes that promise for Bitcoin. In effect we’re relying on a distributed promise made by all the people who own or trade in Bitcoin. That approach has certain advantages, but also some very serious disadvantages.

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‘The world doesn’t need another Steve Jobs. They just want Jeff Bezos, the way he used to be.’



Roland Dobbins




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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