A Quiet Moment

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Wake up.

Get out of bed, stumble around.

The world swims for a moment. Take a step and with one foot still in the air, my second step of the day, I nearly lose my balance, catch myself and try not to step on gatito as I go through the daily ritual of figuring out how the hell to move around and not damage myself too extensively.

“Mew!”

Look down at the cat who is blissfully unaware of anything else but it’s need for food and attention.

“Gatito!”

He moves on and leaves the room, then turns and waits for me, sitting next to his sister, who was the cat who stood on my head and mewed at me until I made the decision to deal with it and get my fat lazy ass out of bed and feed them. The only decision she cared about at the time.

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I think all cats are wild. They only act tame if there’s a saucer of milk in it for them. ~ Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See (1991)

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I step out of the bedroom, scratch my ass, and notice the floor is again covered in small black dots. That’s what they look like to me without my glasses on. Those black dots are in fact little spots of cat fur.  The world swims again, and this time I lurch to the left and bump into the wall.

Think Gotta vacuum again…Goddamn stupid inner ear

Shake my head, laugh, head to the kitchen, cats leading the way. Hit the power button on my desktop computer as I walk by. An urge hits me, so I said “Alexa, play Rachmaninoff.” I’m not a particular fan of Sergei’s work, and I don’t normally listen to classical music, not as much as I used to anyway. I like it, but it’s not for every day consumption. The words came out of my head like someone else said them. The thought didn’t exist the moment before I uttered the words. I rationalized it by thinking it must be something to do with all the news about Russia recently.

Think Goddamn stupid Russians.

“Shuffling songs by Sergei Rachmaninoff.” The singsong voice from the small hockey puck sized device next to my wife’s chair came out quietly. I had turned the volume down. A few notes from a piano, high pitched, struggle to make themselves heard. I let them struggle and go to the kitchen.

I walk in and both cats are simultaneously mewing to me, the girl, Daisy, more vocal and closer. The duet is rare from them, so I look down to see no food at all in their dishes.

“Are you a hungry gatita?” She looks at me, her eyes widen slightly and she mews again in response.  I pick her up as her brother, a large furry ball of black fur, as he jumps on the table and turns to make eye contact with me. “Hungry gatos, Eh?” She in my hand, belly up, purring furiously, he looking intently at me, leaning in towards me slightly, as if eye contact were enough to explain hunger. Which it is.

Put her down, stoop to open the wood stained cabinet. Head doesn’t swim. Good. Grab two cans at semi-random and walk over the the small dirty counter near the window. Think Need to clean the counter, dammit and tap the two cans together to signal to the cats that it’s time to eat. Look at the coffee pot, upside down, think not a thing about it. Open the pop top cans. She jumps on the counter and the moment I pull the cover off of one can she begins to eat. Open the other can and let the other cat, Fozzy, eat straight from it. Shouldn’t but I do. He doesn’t mind, hunger trumps everything in his world at this particular moment.

Everything is right in the world.

 

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

Patada

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