Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Apocalypse Will Not Be Reported

Did you know that the world is currently under a fairly severe malware attack?

Okay, really, every day since like 2003 the world has been under a severe malware attack. The money from these attacks has gotten so profitable that it's less common for some kid with too much time on his hands to be simply building bot armies or other weapons of mass Internet destruction for simple mischief.

Currently, several college campuses in the U.S., including my own, are fighting a at least one worm malware infestation called Tidserv.g by Symantec (Norton) or DNSChanger by F-Secure of Germany. The intentional goal of the infestation is remarkably familiar - to drive your Internet searches or page browsing to unintended sites, which then infect you with more crap and earn them advertising hits and fees. The twist is that if you pick this thing up, it not only may do this to your computer, but also to other machines within your local network stack or home network.

While not nice, this isn't the worst problem. The malware is annoying on your home machines, but on a larger network configured differently, it can severely disrupt all Internet access. The programmer simply makes assumptions which are incorrect about the structure of many non-standard internal networks. And then everyone in the residence hall loses the Internet.

My university has denied network access to over 900 student-owned and faculty computers is demanding that they be impounded by the IT department until fixed. Problem is that the campus anti-virus provider isn't returning inquiries from us, nor has it published detection files or cleanup procedures. We literally are holding these computers without bail or access with no immediate end in sight. And finals are 3 weeks away.

That ain't the worst of it.

This idea isn't new, the exploit was first extensively reported and explained in December 2008.

It's been ranted about for years that legit software engineers are losing the war against malware authors. The afore-linked search brings up phrases extending clear back to 2000. As a large-scale infestation or outbreak occurs, more of these online complaints surface - the items here roughly correspond to past attacks of MSBlaster, or the I Love You Office macro.

But in combination with the current world economic situation, it remains to be seen if the quick and substantial profits malware pushers can make will still be obtainable in the long-term. The anti-virus publishers are certainly feeling the effects of the recession - how much are they cutting back on research and solution? And all companies are cutting back staff and infrastructure upkeep and investment. Never mind what people themselves are doing to lower their own expenses.

So the malware threats are becoming sophisticated, the anti-virus companies have historically had issues keeping up with the threats, a world-wide recession is threatening the bottom line for everyone except maybe the gray-black world of Internet profit. Sounds like a perfect storm to me.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Incompetent Seniors

I wish I had a reference about where I found this, but this is probably the most fascinating thing I've read in months.

The Dark Side of Dubai

Because what ever you think of when you hear Dubai, it's worse than that.

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We're awake, we're awake!

It's a sign of how asleep (or distracted) the GOP and the conservatives are when it's 3 days after the State Supreme Court ruling, and they're just now playing their 'straight up & down vote' bullshit for a constitutional amendment nullifying the ruling.

Again - it's interesting in how the House is getting the drama as it's the body with the weaker majority in both numbers and leadership this session. Calling in the Senate leadership for a joint rules conference just highlights how weak that chamber is.

And as I write this, the story has been completely re-edited and re-published, omitting a number of interesting things. Here's the original text from prior to noon CDT:And here is the rest of it.
People were yelling "Let us vote" from the Iowa House galleries just after 10 a.m., after a Republican attempt to call up the constitutional amendment against gay marriage was ruled out of order.

Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen had asked at 9:26 a.m. for a call of the House and sought to bring to the House floor the resolution to propose a constitutional amendment.

The call of the House required all representatives at the Capitol to report to their desk and they are not to leave the House chambers. Such moves are often made when controversial votes come before the legislature to help prevent lawmakers from leaving.

After a huddle involving leaders from the House and Senate, House Speaker Pat Murphy ruled Paulsen's motion out of order shortly after 10 a.m.. Shouts erupted from the galleries, which were packed with spectators, as lawmakers filed into closed-door meetings.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal spoke to the House leaders in the well about the attempt to suspend the joint rules to bring up the proposed marriage amendment resolution.

“One chamber can’t do that,” Gronstal said. “I was there to defend the joint rules.”

The only way to suspend the joint rules is for someone to introduce a resolution in rules and administration committee. If it starts in the House, then there’s a vote in House committee and in the full House. If it passes, it goes to Senate committee then a vote of the full House.

About 10 a.m. Murphy ruled out of order the effort to bring up House Joint Resolution 6, the marriage amendment. He also ruled out of order the call of the House. Loud shouts of protest erupted from the gallery as lawmakers moved into closed-door caucus meetings.

“We’re not going to let mob rule rule this state,” Murphy said as people exited the chambers, noting his frustration with the chanting.

Murphy is a long-time supporter of civil rights and believes same-sex couples should have the legal right to marry.

“If you take a look at history, the court’s job has always been to protect the minority. Whether it was women’s right to vote, whether it was an African American doesn’t have to be a slave. An African American has the right to marry a white person. That’s what this is about.”

Chuck Hurley, of the Iowa Family Policy Project, said his group would continue to work to ban gay marriage.

“I’m ashamed of my state’s leaders. I’m ashamed of the people not having the chance to vote,” Hurley said.

Hurley noted that his group is not telling people how to vote.

“The essence of what we do is love and love,” Hurley said. According to history and sacred writings, love always perseveres. It doesn’t give up. If you really love God and your neighbors, you don’t give up. That’s the message.”

Earlier today, roughly 400 opponents of same-sex marriage took part in a prayer at the Capitol.

They're asking lawmakers in the House to allow a bill that would launch a constitutional amendment to move forward.

Security was stepped up considerably at the Statehouse this morning. Troopers are standing guard outside the chamber doors, in the balconies and around the Iowa Capitol.

The prayer was led by members of the Iowa Family Policy Center, a conservative group that opposes same-sex marriage. They said they would work to vote elected officials who support gay marriage out of office.

“You can let them know today that this issue is different. This is not about taxes or spending and regulations. This is about morality and the word of God,” said Family Policy Center Board Chair Danny Carroll, a former Republican representative from Grinnell.

One Iowa, the state’s largest gay-rights advocacy group is also making an appearance. Members of the group were handing out stickers and gathering in support of gay marriage.

Even if the bill were to pass this year, it would also have to pass the Legislature in 2011 and couldn’t be on the ballot until 2012.

Murphy and Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, have publicly stated support for last week’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex couples to marry.

About 80 people, predominantly dressed in red shirts, gathered in the rotunda outside the House chambers. Doorkeepers said safety officials declared the House too full to let another person inside.

The Rev. Keith Ratliff arrived decked fully in red - a fire-engine red suit coat and red slacks.

Troopers watched the crowd carefully, but all remained peaceful as of 10 a.m.

Ratliff has led many protests against same-sex marriage. He contrasted the issue with those of civil rights related to race and ethnicity.

“I think this is a choice issue. As an African American, I was born this way. Based, at least the information that has been gathered this far, homosexuality is a choice. So I see that as two different situations.”

Brad Clark of One Iowa urged lawmakers to stay focused on issues of common concern to all Iowa families.

“The Supreme Court, the governor, the attorney general and legislative leadership have clearly articulated that all Iowans should be protected under the Iowa Constitution,” Clark said.

Meanwhile, the chambers of the Iowa Senate were calm and empty of anyone but
clerks and lawmakers.

“They have nothing available to them in the Senate,” Gronstal said. “No Republican introduced a marriage amendment in the Senate so there’s nothing for them to take up on our side."

Protesters said they were disappointed at the amendment didn’t take a step forward.

“We didn’t really think it would, but we were hopeful that it would,” said Dave Pierce of Grinnell. “I see it more of a spiritual matter than a political matter.”

Pierce said he e-mailed about a dozen representatives last night who he heard were “on the fence” about bringing up the amendment. And he telephoned his representative, Eric Palmer D-Oskaloosa.

His nephew, Ethan Pierce, 9, managed to get a seat in the House balcony to watch events unfold. Ethan lives in rural Grinnell, and his representative, Betty DeBoef, R-What Cheer, was firmly on the family’s side, they said.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009


People prepared for TEOTWAWKI... an acronym for "the end of the world as we know it."
"I refer to myself as a modern survivalist, which means I don’t do without," Spirko explained. "I have a nice TV; I have nice furniture. We are not living in the sticks, but I take all of these things very seriously."

Spirko, an Army veteran and self-described "stark-raving-mad Libertarian," is part of a growing movement of people who are preparing for a disaster natural, economic or man-made. Referred to as "modern survivalists" or "preppers," they are taking steps to protect and provide for their families should something bad happen.

Theirs is a different breed of survivalist, far from the right-wing militants or religious extremists who hole up in bunkers, live off the land and wait for the apocalypse.

Preppers are regular people with regular jobs who decided after 9/11, after Hurricane Katrina or when their 401(k)s tanked that they can’t rely on someone else to help them if something goes awry.
Justified in these tough economic times? Scared of the Socialist Black President? Watching too much FAUX News and Glenn Beck? Smart or fringe lunatics?

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

ClintonBall All Over Again

Along with the Clinton Media Rules back in effect, it seems that the 30%'ers are re-arming the militia and gettin' good 'n' crazy again.

It's all anecdotal of course until a researcher with small-bucks backing does the work to prove that Americans have reverted back to 1992 with paranoid nutjobs in the bushes worrying over Janet Reno's black helicopters. God knows we won't have investigative journalists doing the work on a newspaper payroll, unless they're freelancing out of desperation. Meanwhile, those bellicose right-wingers keeping working the shtick 'for ratings' while inciting some of the worst fears of America.

When is it going to become obvious to the rest of the country that the right-wing Wurlitzer is the disease?

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Bluff This, Senator

Radio Iowa & The Register have noted that the Iowa State Constitution provides for a Convention every 10 years if the voters so choose. That next vote comes in November 2010, with the next state election.

Why is this important? Because Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal basically told the Minority point-blank that a bill or state constitutional amendment will not be debated this year.

Henderson @ Radio Iowa:
It means gay marriage opponents may seek to use that avenue to amend the state's constitution, perhaps opening up a Pandora's Box of other issues as well. Will those who've been clamoring to give cities and counties authority over where large-scale hog lots are built unite with gay marriage opponents to push for a constitutional convention? Will groups -- like the coalition of road builders -- oppose a constitutional convention, fearing they might lose the constitutional protection for the "Road Use Tax Fund" into which all state gas tax dollars are placed and used exclusively for road construction and maintenance?
Over at MyDD, desmoinesdem has done some leg work; Iowans haven't voted for the convention since at least 1970, and the means and methods of how it would happen are vaguely defined now and are completely up to the Legeslature. DMD also notes that Democrats currently have a 56-44 thin majority in the Iowa House and a 32-18 majority in the Iowa Senate. Which explains the next graf.

The House, while also Democratically controlled, has the jitters over the judicial ruling. The Republican minority is rapidly drawing up an amendment and has already targeted the Democrats likely to break with the caucus, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. In the Register story, they place his anxiety and worries over re-election as the face of the 'divided Democrats'. (Like the U.S. Congress, the Speaker leads the House - the house Majority Leader is subordinate.)

Because of Iowa's tendency to re-elect incumbents Dems have a strong chance of keeping the Senate & a good chance at the Governor's chair in 2010 but the House is obviously where the Republicans have the strongest chance of picking up seats, if not control. If the election goes badly for the Democrats, organizing the convention could be a zoo especially if other single-issue groups wade into the fray.

The 2011 Session will also be the Lege that considers re-districting. While a non-partisn commission does the grunt work, the Lege has to approve or reject the plan in a straight vote without amendment. Iowa is expected to lose one U.S. House seat. The most likely outcome has the 3rd and 4th Districts merging in Central Iowa, pitting ancient Blue Dog Leonard Boswell against Republican Tom Latham. Boswell is likely to quit one of these days (he should have in 2006 after almost losing his life to diverticulitis, or in 2008 when he had a strong challenger in Ed Fallon) - 2012 seems likely, and Latham just turned 60. Expect a divided 2011 Lege more likely to approve splitting the Congressional delegation 2-2, instead of fighting for a better 3rd District that elects a better Democrat.

Its hard looking at that judicial ruling as anything but a GOP opportunity right now - it's no wonder a bunch of Republican-appointed justices gave it a unanimous approval.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

The Thick White Cumstain of Iowa

I've highlighted the RedState/Freeper nature of the comments at the Des Moines Register before.

In the wake of the recent marriage equality court ruling, the cesspool has been lit alight by the scores of thermite-laden heads exploding.

Even the article that proposes that Iowa could become the marriage vacation of Midwest is a festering third-degree burn.

Hell is a forum filled with other people.

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