Mad As A Hatter

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‘Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
‘No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: ‘what’s the answer?’
‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.

Who do you think of when you think of Cyber Security? Do you think of anyone? How much do you know about Cyber Security? It’s an important question, one worth exploring as our future becomes our present

When I think of that particular term I think of a number of people. Steve Gibson of Gibson Research, for one. John McAfee, not trustworthy and clearly not sane, but knowledgeable. But there aren’t a lot of people the average guy or gal on the street can name as being big in the industry. Most coding and cyber security work is done in the shadows. Kinda has to be.

When I want to read up on the subject, which admittedly is not all that often, I have turned to a number of sources, the latest of which is the f-secure blog (click here to go there) So all of my knowledge of the subject is second hand and thanks to writers who write about the subject and only really from Steve Gibson from an actual technical angle.

With all that I can only sit here in stunned amazement at who our fearless (aka mindless) leader has picked to be his Cyber Security advisor.

Rudy Giuliani.

Holy shit. Does he even know what Dos Shell is? Would he be able to tell the difference between Sql and Java if stuff in either of those languages crossed his computer screen? How much work has he done with Ruby On Rails?

And he knows about security how? Because he was mayor of New York City on 9/11? Because he prosecuted John Gotti? Because he talks on Fox news a lot? Because that is the extent of his knowledge of security. Seeing terrorism first hand?  I was there too, Do I get a shot at this gig? Nailing a few bad guys in court thirty some odd years ago?

Being On Tv?

Well… That’s how Trump got where he is. Maybe that’s it…

And you thought 2016 was the year of the dumpster fire.

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One cannot suppress a certain indignation when one sees men’s actions on the great world-stage and finds, beside the wisdom that appears here and there among individuals, everything in the large woven together from folly, childish vanity, even from childish malice and destructiveness. ~ Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View ,1784

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Let’s look at a few of President-Elect Oompah Loompah’s other picks

Ben Carson: head of HUD.  Now I will admit that while Ben may have come off as a kooky son of a bitch during the Primaries, he is a not unintelligent man. The man was after all an actual brain surgeon who did some pioneering work in the field, though not all the surgeries he did were successful. But Housing and urban development? For a brain surgeon? Not exactly his field of expertise, and if he wasn’t perfect with his chosen vocation, one wonders how well he’ll do in a completely unrelated field that he has never worked in. I wish him success, but I just don’t see this working out. Even the most intelligent man on earth would make mistakes in a field entirely new to him, and while smart, Ben is not quite that smart.

Jeff Sessions, Attorney General: A man who is purported to have said that he thought the KKK was alright until he found out they smoked pot and liked to throw around the word Ni**** casually, which has lead to accusations of racism to follow him throughout his political career.  He is also a climate change denier and has fought legal immigration including the guest worker programs and visa programs for foreign workers. Xenophobe seems to be the proper term for our future A.G.

Rick Perry, Energy Secretary: Yes a man who said he wanted to abolish the Department of Energy and two others, and the man who could not remember the name of this department when asked the names of the three departments he wanted to abolish in a debate in 2012 is now head of the Energy Department. I don’t know what to do with this, except to look at our collective future in gibbering fear.

Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator: Just a  thought here. The man who is going to run the EPA is, not was, IS, suing the EPA along with other state AG’S (He’s currently the A.G. of Oklahoma) to stop the EPA’s Clean Power plan.

And their Methane emissions regulations.

Oh and there is Mitch McConnell’s wife heading up the department of Transportation. She’s got experience at the job at least. But still… No wonder Mitch went to talk to him as soon as The Orange one was named winner.

The world has gone mad. Mad as a hatter.

Have a good night, America.

Why So Skeptical?

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Beginning of Spring, by Ivan Yendogurov, 1890. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

There is a great deal of skepticism about whether the Russians actually hacked anything to do with the election of our President-Elect Donald Trump, aside from the Clinton E-mails, which is insane, as that was the hacking, and the Russians did it.  Much of that skepticism is based not in reality but on commonly held biases that blind us to reality. People don’t want to believe, and seeing the seeds of doubt, decide to not believe… And there are alleged issues with the Joint Analysis Report. More on that later.

Before I do anything else though, I want to say this. I refuse to blame the Russians for Donald Trump winning the White House. That is thanks to the American people. Propaganda and hacking aside, it takes a conscious mind to vote for a person. The Russians did not, to my knowledge, hack election machines or fudge vote numbers in the Mr. Trump’s favor.

They fed Americans propaganda they wanted to hear, and twisted hearts and minds. And people ate it up.

What I do say is that Russia has a large and effective propaganda and hacking machine that uses several groups of hackers to steal information, and use it to the advantage of the Russian federation, under whose umbrella they work.

You ask for proof that hacking happened, that they’re really there and not just some twisted liberal conspiracy? Have you read the actual email that gave the hackers access to John Podesta’s email?

I have.

Podesta (and possibly his IT guy) missed the obvious phishing scheme. Anyone worth his or her salt will throw up a red flag if they see a short link attached to a support message about any potential site issues, like a hacked password. I only say an IT guy may have been involved is that the link was clicked twice. Who opens an attachment twice? No one I know, and I know some pretty damned computer illiterate people.

And ladies and gentlemen, that is how hacking happens. First they get in, find a back door, or convince you to open the front door, then they rob you blind.

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If we gather more and more data and establish more and more associations, however, we will not finally find that we know something. We will simply end up having more and more data and larger sets of correlations. ~ Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics, 1979

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Now, onto the Joint analysis report. It has been widely panned as off the mark. Why?Well, the report included both ‘general and unrelated malware family names’ as well as a ‘broad and non-descriptive classification of capabilities’ in a list they titled “Alternate names” On page four of the thirteen page report.

The title “alternate names” itself  is itself a bit of a giveaway as to what the government is trying to do here. It is simply a list of names to look out for when dealing with Russian hackers. The experts that are up in arms seem to have missed that rather general point. They weren’t breaking it down that precisely. If they had, they would have made the point of saying so.

The list has as a header List of Russian Military and Civilian Intelligence services.

Where in that name do you see anything about a specific breakdown into groupings of intelligence services, malware they used, or may have used in the past? I see none. The critique, while well intentioned, is misguided.

The rest of the report after that has nothing to do with Russian hackers. Nothing. The entirely of the remainder of the report is there to assist in what actions should be taken using the listed indicators including giving advice on how to better secure systems and threat mitigation strategies.

Oh and the first page of the report is a description of the report. Meaning the report itself, the pertinent information on hacking, is three pages long.

The report is not meant to be anything more than:1) a threat assessment of Russian hacking capabilities, 2)a short statement on known activities, 3) a list of names to look for, and 4) Basic steps to increase Cyber-Security.

The report has been called a technical exposé of Russian hacking.

It isn’t.

 This is an exposé of Russian hacking.

That government report is coming.

News here as it develops.

2017 Irrelevant Resolutions

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That’s 2016 on the left, and you on the right.

What can I say about 2016 that hasn’t been said by some vacuous feeble-minded jackass who needs a hug from his mommy? Not much, those bastards blabber on at a loose end and don’t know how to shut up.

Ladies and Gentlemen, are you surprised things went funny last year? I mean the CUBS won the world series! John the Apostle wrote about this shit in Revelations, kids. I believe he wrote about it just before the opening of the fourth seal and the granting of one quarter of the earth to Death, who rides a pale horse… Which explains all the dead stars lately. Oof.

Note: The fifth seal has vengeance written all over it and has stuff with people in ‘White Robes.’  Sound Republican enough for you? That occurs January 20th, In Washington D.C.

With all that said, I think the planet will at least last through the year, so therefore I think it makes sense to make some resolutions.

To improve myself.

Ya know, just in case things work out and the planet doesn’t burst into flames.

ON TO THE RESOLUTIONS!

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IN 2017, I HEREBY RESOLVE TO:

Enjoy Life Less: Because we tried enjoying it more last year, and what happened? Donald Fucking Trump.  ‘Nuf said.

Gain weight: There aren’t enough fat lazy fucks on planet earth, and it’s my job to set things aright.

Spend money foolishly: Who needs fiscal responsibility when there is so much shiny shit that goes beep for no readily apparent reason? There are superhero movies to watch and distract myself from the woes of the real world with, New phones and computers with games that go ping to distract me from the state of the world, and clothes with logos on them that cost insane amounts of money that help to enslave workers in third world countries! Why should I save money? Fuck that shit!

Start a Civil War in the United States: (Note to my friends in the NSA and the FBI and the CIA and the KGB: I’m kidding!  Love you guys! Don’t Shoot!)   Do you expect me to try and start one in Upper Mongolia? Those yaks are pretty happy over there. We’re the ones with the fat,pissy people who are enjoying life less and buying too much crap for their own good, so why not? I mean the KGB, the CIA, and the NSA are all pushing things in that direction anyway (We’ll end up with MORE power afterwards, so why not fuck everyone so hard they fight back and get rid of OUR enemies and make us stronger? is their view, I’m guessing.)

Plus the name of this blog is Casus Belli which is Latin for Cause of the War 

I kind of have to say that shit.

Increase the amount of stress in my life: With the impending knock on the door from the FBI thanks to that last resolution, I’m sure I just handled that one. I like to keep things easy, kids.

But then again, maybe I need to…

Relax: With all the off time I’m going to have this year, all 20 minutes of it, I’m going to need to learn to relax. Or maybe just keep running around like a maniac until I fall down. That sounds pleasant.

Put a Hex on every major team in every major sport on earth: If my team can’t win, then fuck all you people.

Teach an octopus to juggle: I mean c’mon. They’re smart and they have eight fucking arms. Tentacles, arms, six of one, half a dozen of the other. They should be naturals at this crap.

Teach myself to juggle: I mean c’mon. I’ve got six less arms less than an octopus, but I come from the species that came up with this stupid shit, and with that 20 minutes of free time scheduled sometime in July, why not?

Run for Political office: What’s my platform? Fuck you is my platform. Let me show you:

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My platform as it relates to lobbyists: Fuck you, Pay me.

Press: Do you plan to Cut Social Security?

Me: Fuck You.

Press: The Chinese are planning on sanctions on the U.S. What will our response be?

Me: Fuck you.

Press: Are you fucking with us?

Me: Fuck you.

That shit works. 

Walk into a spider web that no one can see, freak the fuck out, cause strangers to think I am insane and trying to beat up imaginary beasts that are attacking me out of nowhere, have it immortalized on the internet: Because doesn’t that sound like fun?

Hit every wall I come near with a hammer: Walls suck. Fuck walls. I might bring nails with me to make it worse. And plus it sounds like fun and fits the whole make it look like I’m nuts motif I started with that spider web bullshit.

Write quality fiction and sell it: After I teach myself to juggle during those 20 free minutes, I’ll take five of those minutes and write 200,000 words about an octopus who teaches himself to juggle. It can happen. If you’re really high and thinking about it. Badly.

Write something funny: That bullshit I just wrote was supposed to be funny. It wasn’t was it? No? Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.  Ich bin ein arschloch.

Write something coherent:  I would but that would simply set a dangerous precedent. Can’t have that.

Cut the shit: Seriously, just cut the shit, OK?

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Now that’s the right weapon to cut the shit with.

Drink coffee, walk in circles, mumble incoherently and cackle at my cats for no readily apparent reason: THAT’S more like it!

Impress the boss and my co-workers with my communication skills: Which would involve learning how to talk. Not my strong suit.  I type well. Talking is for politicians, supervisors and other self abusive lunatics. I write. It’s more leisurely and I’m more able to make precise points. And I can EDIT. The jokes don’t get any better, not without hiring a professional joke writer. There was more I wanted to communicate there but… oh fuck it.

Don’t Die: Do this one every year. So far, so good.

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Quote of the day:  Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that. The CIA doesn’t kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people, or they depopulate the area. The government doesn’t lie, it engages in disinformation. The Pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos, Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. Well, if crime fighters fight crime, and firefighters fight fires, what do freedom fighters fight? ~ George Carlin, Doin’ it Again / Explicit Lyrics, 1990

Things to Remember

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James Madison in party mode.

 

Things to remember as 2016 becomes 2017:

First off, everything is going to be alright.  Right up until the moment it isn’t, and since you obviously can’t control that, why concern yourself overly with it. Enjoy the good things. There are many of them.

Secondly realize that in this world we have this thing called entropy, which means that everything goes to hell in some way at some point, and usually in a way that we have not foreseen. Think about it. How much of the shitstorm that was 2016 did you foresee? How much of it was avoidable? And to be honest was it ALL that bad? Somehow I’m thinking there were good things too.

Thirdly, the very concept of shitstorm is invariably in the mind of the beholder. I am sure that there are a great many people who had a really good year in 2016. Just because your candidate didn’t win, there was a higher than normal amount of stress in your world and some of your cultural idols died does not mean it was the worst year ever.

Fourth, there are people out there who had a great year, some for reasons you would find 399px-Jabberwocky appalling. There are millions of people who like the Oompah Loompah for example. Millions. Which is fine. We have this thing called freedom in this country. Don’t denigrate them because of him, or because they think differently than you, or want different things in their lives than you. Find a way to incorporate their lives into yours. They are, by and large good people. Don’t treat them like shit because you think differently from them, that helps no one. They aren’t the problem, you are, especially if you feel the need to be angry at them simply because of their politics. There is more than politics in the lives of most people. And, here’s a hint; you won’t make things turn around for you politically by alienating people you will need to work with later. That isn’t how politics works, not in the real world, regardless of what you think of that. Make friends with your political enemies where possible, hope always exists in places where enemies can become friends.

You will have a very hard time convincing me that 2016 was in some way worse than say the years of WWII, or The years of the great depression or great recession or the civil war years.

Doesn’t mean President-elect Oompah Loompah isn’t an asshole. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t tragedy in 2016. There was. It’s hard to not have tragedy in a world with this many people in it. I’m just saying as 2016 goes the way of the Dodo, have some perspective. You are strong and resilient. This is still America. We are a strong people. Things have gone right in other places. Be thankful for that.

Anger

Bunnies are assholes sometimes.

I for one could say I had a great year. After years of first searching for a new career and then trying to get hired on full time in that career, I finally landed that full time job. Almost shed a tear when I found out I had made it, so long and arduous was the journey.  Let’s see what else. I’m still a runner. Which, for those of you that aren’t, is great for clearing the mind and strengthening the body, and in the long run makes the person who does it tireless. I highly recommend it. If a two hour run ain’t kicking my ass, no way a few extra hours of work will. On top of all that, I’m still married to the most awesome person ever. If you have a happy place to go to, it makes everything easier, and home is a happy place for me, she makes me happy. With that as my sword and shield, I can take on the world and win, without a shred of fear in my heart.

 

So do me a favor America. Don’t dwell on the negative.

I’ll take care of that as I skewer our soon to be asshole-in-chief.

You go find your happiness, I have mine.

I’ll fight the monster. I’m good at it, been doing it for ages, and I enjoy it.

If you want to help as we move ahead, thats great. But pick your fights with the right people. Fight bad policy and bad decision making, not good people who feel and think differently than you. We’re on the road to the future together, let’s travel it as friends.

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But there are some people, nevertheless—and I am one of them—who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. ~ G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905)

2016 Did Not Entirely Suck, Metal Version

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Ten seconds later, the kid put the Scythe through 2016’s head, to roaring applause.

It only partially sucked.

Death touches us all every year, and 2016 was no different. We lost great musicians this year. Nik Green from Blue Murder and Nick Menza from Megadeth, among a great many others. Feel free to offer a moment of silence for them now.

I’d prefer a moment of noise for them, but that’s just me.

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For every second rate, weak kneed radio friendly shit storm that Beyonce or Justin Beiber comes out with, there are awesome ones that come out to balance things out.  There was some pretty damned amazing music this year.

Some things went right in 2016. Like these three albums:

Deströyer 666 gave us the album Wildfire, their fifth, in February. It is, plain and simple, fucking incredible. Angry metal thunder from one end of the album to the other.  Check out the title track. Check out Hounds at ya back. Just check out the album. It’ll be more than worth it. Best cuts: Hounds at ya Back, Die You Fucking Pig

Gojira put out Magma in June of this year, a great album, perhaps their best since From Mars to Sirius.  Thunderous, complex and haunting with that twist that only the DuPlantier brothers can create, the album is full of some of the most compelling harmonies of the year.  Anthemic is the word I’d use to describe it. Best cuts:  Low Lands, Pray.

Metallica came out with Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, their best album since Master of Puppets, in early November. Thrash is back with a vengeance. While some of this double album is more hooky than old school metalheads would like it to be, that isn’t always a bad thing. Ignore the cynics, this is a great listen from front to back. Best cuts: Spit Out the Bone, When a Blind Man Cries(Deep Purple Cover),Dream No More.

Even if everything else that came out in 2016 was crap (and trust me on this, most of it was) These three albums saved the year, musically.

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And without music there can be no perfect knowledge, for there is nothing without it. For even the universe itself is said to have been put together with a certain harmony of sounds, and the very heavens revolve under the guidance of harmony. ~ Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636)

A bunch of crap with a nice picture attached to it. :)

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I must be getting old. Everything pisses me off these days. Donald Trump. People who like Donald Trump. People who hate him irrationally. People who talk about him like they know him. People who talk like they want to know him. People who don’t talk about him like they know him. Christopher Wool, that talentless fucking hack. The words fake news. Real news. Death. Life. The piece of chocolate I dropped on the floor that I can’t find.  Wednesdays. Donald Trump’s cabinet. Donald Trump’s toilet.

Everything.

No worries though. These feelings are a temporary thing. Life is good. I have a job. I have a wife that loves me. Two cats that are the awesomest cats of awesomeness ever. Enough money to pay the rent. The bills are paid.

I feel almost affluent right now, even through my anger I feel that.

I’m still going to resist Trump, and feeling like things are so alright I can walk away and not be a responsible adult and fight this man who is, and has been for as long as I have known of him, the very symbol of what is wrong with the world, what is wrong with America.  A rich man who flaunts his wealth while being a bad businessman. A ruthless bastard who does everything he can to screw the little guy while pretending to be something he isn’t; one of us.

He’ll never be a man of the people. He’ll never fight for what I need in the world, what the little guy needs. He’ll cut taxes without cutting government, dropping the bill on future generations. We’ll pay less, and that’ll feel nice, but it won’t last, and we’ll have to pay more later.

All his manic self-publicity won’t make the reality of his eminent failure any less real, won’t make our future any less bleak. Republicans can feel great about things now, but reality will bite them in the ass later.

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What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find. … When someone is seeking, it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal.  ~ Herman Hesse, Siddhartha, 1922

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That’s it from here. Real news or something that approximates it tomorrow.

Go to sleep, America.

Early Morning Idle Talk

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It’s 6:00 am, and despite the fact that I’m on vacation I’m awake, have been since earlier than I normally get up on most work days. My wife and I just came back from the In-laws, and the cats, who boarded with our vet, we’re clearly not in the mood to let us sleep. So I’ve decided to run interference, for lack of a better term. I stay awake for a bit and they hang out with me so she can sleep. Later on, she’ll do the same for me.

Although, admittedly, she seems to now be awake and unhappy that I am awake. Do you see how decisions sometimes go awry? Lack of communication, though in this instance I think I have a legitimate excuse. She was asleep, or making the attempt to sleep well enough where I thought she was.

Which is fine.

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I love reading the news.

There’s a ton of stories out about fights breaking out all over America as retailers all across America became mosh pits for unruly shoppers. Which to me doesn’t sound like a bad thing, I’ve been known to jump in the occasional mosh pit after all. But apparently it was bad enough where in a number of cases the malls in question closed and some of the brawls may have been orchestrated in some fashion on social media. Or better put, anti-social asshole media.

And plus, you know, Capitalism. Life in America is all about the fight for the dollar, and where better to stage that fight then at your local Piggly Wiggly or Dollar General or Bed Bath and Beyond? Isn’t thirty percent off (and a lack of manners and social grace usually Wolverineassociated with feral wolverines) a reason to beat the crap out of a total stranger?

No? And you people wonder why Donald Trump won the Presidency. This is the America that we live in. Stupid, violent and prone to excess. This is what we are. As a nation. These are our future leaders.

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Wazzup wit dat, bruh?

It doesn’t bother me one bit either. Why? It points to where we are as a culture, what we deem important enough to fight over. It isn’t good government. It isn’t the rights of our brothers and sisters, regardless of what we may think of that. It’s a love of violence that is endemic to our species, even if many individuals decry the truth of that statement. It’s saving a few bucks on things that we have grown attached to. Base desires for material objects that are deemed socially desirable because of it’s cost-benefit on a personal level, despite our national dislike of math and the lack of money that goes along with that shameful dislike.

I’d prefer to have us show our true faces, so we can at least get a grip on who we are going forward, than mask it with some high minded bullshit and lie to ourselves about who and what we are. After all, a society is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

And America is filled with weak links.

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It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak. ~ Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind

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It’s more than an hour later, and all the piss and vinegar seems to have left the cats, and they are now peacefully asleep, or perhaps not so peacefully awaiting  their next chance to strike and steal our ham and cheese. All I want to do is go back to sleep.

Thankfully my wife is blissfully asleep. Something is going right.

But I still have things to do. Clothes to wash, food to buy, things to get for my wife for her birthday.

I’ll give them what they want later. Not sure what’ll happen next, aside from a few more words…

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Twelve dead, forty others wounded in Chicago this weekend. Christmas weekend.

Much of this is being attributed to gang violence, and most of the dead were gang bangers.

Gangs police themselves apparently. And like the police, they miss and shoot people who didn’t have jack to do with anything they were doing.

Reminds me of the Henry Rollins lyric ” I see you say you hate Pigs so much, so why the hell you act like one? Because you’re civilized.”

It’s a short, sad, hard life, and these Darwin award winners were out to prove that this weekend.

Glad I don’t live in that shithole…Which may otherwise be a nice city but…c’mon, really? How nice can it be if that much shit happens there during Christmas?

Clean your shit up, Chicago.

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Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. ~ Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers, 1959