Mad As A Hatter

786px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_25

‘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.

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)

Don’t Build The Wall

If you were conscious on any level and existed on planet earth for the last two years, you’ve likely heard the cry BUILD THE WALL! or something similar countless times. The call for a wall between the United States and Mexico. To keep drug dealers and murderers out of our fine land and to keep people from living here illegally, among a great many other reasons.

Now if that were all there were to it, yes. Build the wall. If it keeps America safe from external threats, yes, keep us safe.  But there are a great many other thoughts and considerations that go into such an endeavor.

The first one being what is already there.

What’s there is a mess that doesn’t look like it can be cleaned up with a wall. The answer sounds far too simple for such a complex subject.

The nearly two thousand mile long border has many types of terrain and exists in a  great many places.  There are currently hundreds of miles of wall that exists in many places along the border. In some of those places that works. But not in all. In some places the fencing that exists is insufficient, some of it low enough to be scaled by people who want to cross the border. But part of the problem is also that there are spots where surveillance is insufficient, and that is the real problem. Because not only do illegal aliens make it across in those spots, but people die crossing the border to get here. Sometimes Americans on this side of the border get killed, sometimes those crossing die.

It is a humanitarian crisis for everyone involved. Has been for years. We as a nation have tried to fix things by building fencing and walls, stringent sentencing for people caught without papers more than once. That has added to the misery without doing much of anything for those who live on either side of the fence. Drugs still get across, people still get across, and good and bad, people die. Want is the real issue.

A fence or a wall is something that can be gotten around, over under or through. There is something to be said for desire. People who want to get here will get here regardless of wall or fence or enforcement. The fact that people die at the rate they do crossing (numbers I have seen run as high as an average of 200-250 people die per year crossing the border) speaks to the tenacity of those who are crossing to get here. It is impossible to stop people from doing what they want if there is even a hair of a chance of success.

There are other things to consider as well.

Money, for one thing. Do you know how much it costs to build and maintain a wall, even a fence that large and long? Billions. Billions we don’t have. President-elect Trump has already promised to slash the tax base that gives us the money to pay for things we need, like a military, which already costs us over half a trillion dollars annually. Adding this wall, along with the money it will cost to maintain it, build it, and surveil the fence so that no one gets across, is something we simply do not have the money to do. The price tag is steep. As high as sixteen million dollars per mile for building and upkeep of the fence in places, with the cheapest estimate being somewhere around $6,000,000 per mile, with higher estimates sitting at over $10,000,000.

Per mile.

For the entire one thousand nine hundred fifty four mile stretch of border

Oh and a mass deportation bill that goes along with it will run well over a hundred billion dollars.

There is no way that this is a feasible plan. None. You would create a humanitarian crisis greater than the one that exists and bankrupt us to boot by building it.  No American in their right mind could possibly want that.

Not one who cares about America. Or humanity. There is a reason that people along the border by and large disagree with the idea of a wall.  They see the effect on people on both sides of the fence. They don’t want criminals coming into America, they don’t want to live in fear, but at the same time they don’t want a humanitarian crisis happening on their doorstep either. Building a wall won’t make the crisis go away, won’t keep people who want to get in out, and won’t make us safer as a nation.

Click the word Links at the top of the page, or here, for links to stories this piece is based upon.

And How do you Plan to Pay for That, Sir?

If you know anything about finances, there are a few basics that must be paid attention to. Among the most important is a very simple concept: Don’t spend more than you make.  Now when you have a bureaucracy as huge as the United States government, that is an amazingly difficult thing to do on the best of days.

When you spend more than you make, that is called deficit spending, it creates debt.  The Obama administration was somewhat successful in fighting the deficit. He inherited an economy that was hemorrhaging cash and jobs at a rate that was as alarming as it was dangerous.

It took some serious work, but he, along with the OMB, Ben Bernanke (Who also bears some responsibility FOR the Financial crisis of 2007-08) and legislation (Frank-Dodd and in particular the Volcker rule, among other pieces of legislation) that successfully regulated the shadow banking system (It’s not that shadowy, but the subject will get additional scrutiny in future) managed to stop the bleeding.

But with a price that will be paid for in future. The deficit will rise again later. It cannot be helped. It is a ripple effect of the amount of damage that the unregulated economy did back in 2007-08, and the trillions of dollars that bled out of the system. The Obama administration has done all they could to mitigate that, with some success.

The deficit, year on year has dropped every year he has been in office, and thanks to the efforts of everyone in and around the economy, the deficit over the next ten years will never go, if things stay on track, over 4%. Not great, but given the circumstances, not too shabby.

Enter Donald Trump.

His plan is to cut taxes, increase the size of the military, spend billions on infrastructure.

And build a wall.

Let me explain something here about this.  Cutting taxes feels good. No one likes paying taxes, especially if they don’t like government programs that pay for things people don’t like, like ANYTHING  they think of as being wasteful or going to people who don’t deserve it. Both laughable concepts, but people think these things and they must be taken into account. So yeah, lower taxes puts more money in your pocket today so you can do more today.

But it increases the bill for later. Decreasing the taxes the government needs to pay for things while increasing government services, like border security and a larger armed forces will do nothing more than make the next financial crisis, and there will be one, count on that, that much worse.

Check the Links section for the pertinent information.

I would love nothing more than to have something that approaches a secure financial future. That future was nearly terminated by unregulated excess and improper financial decisions both in the private and public sectors, in particular by  Hank Paulson, Christopher Cox, and George W. Bush. The Obama Administration did much to ameliorate the situation, but it seems that we are headed back to the same place we were at before the Democrats came in and saved the nations bacon.

Republican decision making nearly threw it, and us with it, into a fire,  and thanks to Donald Trump and out of control spending and thoughtless tax cuts seemingly will send the economy reeling back into that same economic death spiral. Trump and his plan are darkening a future that was, while not bright, clearly not as dark as it is with Republicans back in fiscal control of the nation.

Expect inflation, deficit spending, and the debt to skyrocket over the next two years. So much for a secure financial future.

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Quote of the day: I was aware that the loosening of mortgage credit terms for subprime borrowers increased financial risk. But I believed then, as now, that the benefits of broadened home ownership are worth the risk. ~Alan Greenspan, September 2007

No Different than Yesterday

445px-Initial_s_Paulus_Frank_1601eems like forever.

I haven’t written here in nearly a year.  Three hundred and forty eight days, if you include today.    I have not been idle in all that time. Some, not all.   I have been writing a great deal, some of my best work I think.  If you want to read it it’s over on writeisland.wordpress.com;  It’s fiction, sci-fi, horror, crime noir, paranoid fiction.  Lots of short stories, serialized.

If you enjoy that kinda thing by all means head on over.

I thought it was time to come back here and again write about the real world.  The real world is a nice place that has some insanely horrible things happen in it, often because of our own hubris, or stupidity, or insanity, or … something.  Things that the best fiction writers could not come up on their best days.

Let’s get started.

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My last post, almost a year ago, was written about the fun things that occur on the Korean peninsula.  So why not start where I left off, give you some level of continuity with news coverage.

It seems that Kim Jong-un is committing crimes against humanity.  He has between eighty and one hundred and twenty thousand political prisoners held in four locations.  He uses starvation as a form of punishment in these prison camps.  The system of resource allocation that the DPRK uses causes “avoidable” starvation among the population.

Some media outlets are using the word Nazi in reference to the treatment of the people of North Korea.  The head ofUN_building the UN commission has detailed all the crimes in a downloadable document you can get directly from the U.N. here, and I must tell you it is a compelling read about a place that exactly fits every negative aspect of the word orwellian.

The worst part about this?  We know, not just presume they are doing bad things to their people along with Japanese and South Koreans, but know they are doing it.  So what happens next?

Nothing.

Not a god damned thing.

Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry has called the report “Unreasonable criticism” and the reporting I have read, from the NYT  and the VOA, China will veto any action by the U.N. in this matter.  According to the NYT, She said “We believe that taking human rights violations to the International Criminal Court is not helpful in improving a country’s human rights situation.”

…Is not helpful…

If that isn’t helpful, if removing the problem by putting the people who are systematically raping and killing it’s own people and starving and torturing those they don’t do that to, what does work?  Asking nicely?  Saying “Pretty please, with sugar on top?”

Note that in nothing that I have quoted, or seen, they never say that North Korea is innocent.  They are saying that, “yes, they are guilty.”  But they are also saying “We don’t care what you think, we condone this behavior.”

They sound like criminals protecting other criminals.  Because they are.  By not helping bring the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice, they become guilty of aiding and abetting that criminal activity.

By protecting the North Koreans, the Chinese themselves are guilty of crimes against humanity.

And by being so weak as to not be able to do anything about it, the United Nations proves itself a useless body when it comes to the dispensation of justice on a global level against any real criminal activity.

Crying damn shame.  But at the same time I can say that I am happy that I live in a country where those kinda things don’t happen. Because of the eternal vigilance of it’s people.

At least not yet.  Today things are fine, but the road ahead is murky, as always.

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I don’t know if I’m back to doing this here every day, but I know I won’t be ignoring it for another 348 days.

I’ll write to you again soon, America.  Catch you later.

Talk of War Blowing through the Korean Peninsula Yet Again

In a move that surprises absolutely no one who watches Korean politics with even mild interest, the two again are at each others throats.

In a statement that is even less of a surprise than the two Koreas being at each others throats, The North Koreans claim they have nullified non-aggression agreements with the South Koreans.

In another statement equally as expected given the nature of the relationship between these two nations, A general from the North is claiming that it has nuclear ICBM’s ready to launch.

A counter claim by the South has made the very forseeable claim that if the North uses it’s nukes that Kim Jong-Un would be wiped from the face of the earth.

Now if we could only see how this thing will end.

There are always problems between these two nations, but with the new Kim on the throne in the north, there is a new unpredictability about this once very unsurprising dance these two nations dance with one another.

The experts say that the north doesn’t have the ICBM’s to do what they claim they can do. If they are right then this dance stays predictable, at least it’s ending.  Which is that the North and South, for all there bluff and bluster will really not do much of anything and will in the end maybe fight a small skirmish or two and be done with it.

They have threatened the U.S. before and have done it again, this time threatening to blast America and it’s followers into a “sea of fire.”

Nice way to start the weekend, don’t ya think?

Pointless Legislation

Just in case you weren’t sure, there is such a thing as pointless legislation.  Legislation that may make a point in some way shape or form, but does nothing substantive.  Such a piece of legislation passed through the House of Representatives with bi-partisan support.

The legislation itself is fairly simple. What it does is orders the President to put in the cost of the deficit, per taxpayer of each years spending.  Meaning that if the deficit for the year 2013 is one trillion dollars, and there are 145 million tax returns put in, which is the average, then the President would have to, by law, tell you, dear taxpayer that it costs you an average of around $6896.55

Which is nice, but what can you do with that information?  Look at the number and say “Dayum!  That’s a lot of money!” That is really about it.  It’s sole purpose is to be a reminder that “decisions have real world consequences” says the man who sponsored the legislation, rookie Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana.

It may look to him like it creates an aura of accountability, putting a real number in dollars that an individual can wrap their head around, but it does have an additional consequence.  It will show definitively the amount the annual deficit is actually dropping.  The annual deficit for this year is expected for the first time since 2007 to be under a trillion dollars.  It is supposed to drop to under half a trillion per year by 2015 before going back up due to the cost of all those baby boomers retiring.

The problem with legislation like this is pretty simple.  It does nothing.  This legislation won’t take away from the deficit, it won’t add jobs, it won’t make America a better place, and points to the way Republicans do things.

They like to draw attention to the things that are happening in the world, while not doing a single solitary thing about them.  Mr. Messer is not serving his constituents well here. They would be better served if they had a congressman who tried to get legislation through that does something about the deficit, or job creation, something substantive rather than this cutesy useless crap that does nothing for anyone.

It isn’t the law yet, but I can’t see any reason this silliness wouldn’t become law.  It has to get through the Senate, and being innocuous crap, it should not have any issue getting through the Senate and to the White House.  It will probably get through the Senate in much the same way it got through the House, by a fairly wide margin.