Ramblings & ephemera

A wallet returned after 60+ years

From KOMU’s “Sarah’s Stories – Wallet Memories” (KOMU: 4 January 2007): MEXICO [Misouri] – A local resident enjoyed an early, unexpected Christmas present. Ray Heilwagen, an 83-year-old World War II veteran, has a story that stretches from France to his front lawn. … During war, a wallet can be a soldier’s most prized pocession, full […]

Shelby Foote on how the Civil War changed the gender of the teaching profession

From Carter Coleman, Donald Faulkner, & William Kennedy’s interview of Shelby Foote in “The Art of Fiction No. 158” (The Paris Review: Summer 1999, No. 151): About the time that war started I think roughly eighty-five or ninety percent of the teachers in this country were men. After the war was over something like eighty-five […]

James Dickey on why he wrote Deliverance

From Franklin Ashley’s interview of James Dickey in “The Art of Poetry No. 20” (The Paris Review: Spring 1976, No. 65): I wrote Deliverance as a story where under the conditions of extreme violence people find out things about themselves that they would have no other means of knowing. The late John Berryman, who was […]

How male water striders blackmail females into sex

From Ed Yong’s “Male water striders summon predators to blackmail females into having sex” (Discover: 10 August 2010): Water strider sex begins unceremoniously: the male mounts the female without any courtship rituals or foreplay. She may resist but if she does, he starts to actively strum the water surface with his legs. Each vibration risks […]

A summary of Galbraith’s The Affluent Society

From a summary of John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society (Abridge Me: 1 June 2010): The Concept of the Conventional Wisdom The paradigms on which society’s perception of reality are based are highly conservative. People invest heavily in these ideas, and so are heavily resistant to changing them. They are only finally overturned by new […]

David Foster Wallace on the impossibility of being informed & the seduction of dogma

From David Foster Wallace’s “Introduction” (The Best American Essays 2007): Here is an overt premise. There is just no way that 2004’s reelection could have taken place—not to mention extraordinary renditions, legalized torture, FISA-flouting, or the passage of the Military Commissions Act—if we had been paying attention and handling information in a competent grown-up way. […]

How security experts defended against Conficker

From Jim Giles’ “The inside story of the Conficker worm” (New Scientist: 12 June 2009): 23 October 2008 … The dry, technical language of Microsoft’s October update did not indicate anything particularly untoward. A security flaw in a port that Windows-based PCs use to send and receive network signals, it said, might be used to […]

Could Green Dam lead to the largest botnet in history?

From Rob Cottingham’s “From blocking to botnet: Censorship isn’t the only problem with China’s new Internet blocking software” (Social Signal: 10 June 2009): Any blocking software needs to update itself from time to time: at the very least to freshen its database of forbidden content, and more than likely to fix bugs, add features and […]

Al Qaeda’s use of social networking sites

From Brian Prince’s “How Terrorism Touches the ‘Cloud’ at RSA” (eWeek: 23 April 2009): When it comes to the war on terrorism, not all battles, intelligence gathering and recruitment happen in the street. Some of it occurs in the more elusive world of the Internet, where supporters of terrorist networks build social networking sites to recruit […]

4 sources of tension between science and religion

From Steven Weinberg’s “Without God” (The New York Review of Books: 25 September 2008): But if the direct conflict between scientific knowledge and specific religious beliefs has not been so important in itself, there are at least four sources of tension between science and religion that have been important. The first source of tension arises […]

Bush, rhetoric, & the exercise of power

From Mark Danner’s “Words in a Time of War: Taking the Measure of the First Rhetoric-Major President” (Tomgram: 10 May 2007): [Note: This commencement address was given to graduates of the Department of Rhetoric at Zellerbach Hall, University of California, Berkeley, on May 10, 2007] … I give you my favorite quotation from the Bush […]

The future of security

From Bruce Schneier’s “Security in Ten Years” (Crypto-Gram: 15 December 2007): Bruce Schneier: … The nature of the attacks will be different: the targets, tactics and results. Security is both a trade-off and an arms race, a balance between attacker and defender, and changes in technology upset that balance. Technology might make one particular tactic […]

A one-way ticket to crazyville

Image by rsgranne via Flickr Image by rsgranne via Flickr Image by rsgranne via Flickr From Dave Alan’s “Interview with Alex Christopher” (Leading Edge Research Group: 1 June 1996): Legend: DA [Dave Alan, Host] AC: [Alex Christopher] C: [Caller] … (Note: according to former British Intelligence agent Dr. John Coleman, the London-based Wicca Mason lodges […]

Protected: American courts and government and the f-word

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

The NSA and threats to privacy

From James Bamford’s “Big Brother Is Listening” (The Atlantic: April 2006): This legislation, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, established the FISA court—made up of eleven judges handpicked by the chief justice of the United States—as a secret part of the federal judiciary. The court’s job is to decide whether to grant warrants requested by […]

Presidential campaigns, campaign bios, & history

From Jill Lepore’s “Bound for Glory” (The New Yorker: 20 October 2008): The biography was published in 1817 as “The Life of Andrew Jackson.” The next year, Eaton was rewarded with an appointment to a vacant seat in the United States Senate. In 1823, Jackson was elected as the other senator from Tennessee, and followed […]

9 reasons the Storm botnet is different

From Bruce Schneier’s “Gathering ‘Storm’ Superworm Poses Grave Threat to PC Nets” (Wired: 4 October 2007): Storm represents the future of malware. Let’s look at its behavior: 1. Storm is patient. A worm that attacks all the time is much easier to detect; a worm that attacks and then shuts off for a while hides […]

The Chinese Internet threat

From Shane Harris’ “China’s Cyber-Militia” (National Journal: 31 May 2008): Computer hackers in China, including those working on behalf of the Chinese government and military, have penetrated deeply into the information systems of U.S. companies and government agencies, stolen proprietary information from American executives in advance of their business meetings in China, and, in a […]

Bush’s Manicheanism destroyed him

From Glenn Greenwald’s “A tragic legacy: How a good vs. evil mentality destroyed the Bush presidency” (Salon: 20 June 2007): One of the principal dangers of vesting power in a leader who is convinced of his own righteousness — who believes that, by virtue of his ascension to political power, he has been called to […]

How technologies have changed politics, & how Obama uses tech

From Marc Ambinder’s “HisSpace” (The Atlantic: June 2008): Improvements to the printing press helped Andrew Jackson form and organize the Democratic Party, and he courted newspaper editors and publishers, some of whom became members of his Cabinet, with a zeal then unknown among political leaders. But the postal service, which was coming into its own […]