What “unbreakable crypto” means

Excellent summary, geared for the lay reader. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s true that essentially unbreakable cryptography exists that even the Feds can’t hack, here’s your answer: you bet your ass. That’s why they’ve been trying to restrict its use. Thank god they’ve failed so far.

Spot on.

Why Conservatives Can’t Govern” is in Washington Monthly. Read it. Key point: the party whose stated ideal is to drown government in a bathtub can hardly be expected to fulfill governmental obligations once in power. As Wolfe notes, it’s sort of like asking a vegan to fix you a steak.

What you’re not thinking about, but should be

Remember last year when we were all horrified by Katrina and Rita, and before that the tsunami and God-knows-what-else? Remember that feeling you got in the pit of your stomach when you realized you’ve done essentially nothing about being prepared should something like that happen in your city? Remember the object lessons we learned from the post-Katrina chaos in Mississippi and Alabama, and how it reached halfway to Memphis? Remember the disaster in itself that hysterial evacuation from Rita became? Remember how we all swore we’d create “go bags” and emergency kits and stockpile several days of water and food and keep fresh batteries and up to date first aid kits?

Yeah, we didn’t do it, either. It’s hurricane season again. Start worrying, but go shopping now. The Red Cross has a great reference for home disaster preparedness. It’s general, but a great place to start. Tweak to your own tastes and needs, but make one, and keep it handy.

For many disasters, evacuation is key. Speed this process by pre-packing go-bags with essentials. You can’t take multiple days of food and water, but you can have copies of crucial documents, some tools, first aid supplies, a flashlight, a change or two of clothes, toiletries, cash, and the like in a sturdy bag or backpack kept near the door. Getting out isn’t always indicated, but when it is, it’s best to be able to do it quickly.

Other bits of wisdom worth remembering:

  • Half full is half empty. Keep your car’s tank full.
  • If you’re storing water, you need about a gallon per person per day.
  • Grocery store gallon jugs won’t keep forever. Rotate your water.
  • Don’t omit pets in emergency planning.

Making Light has a couple good posts on the subject as well.

Our government, getting creepier

First, the DoJ is drafting legislation to mandate that eavesdropping back-doors be included in all networking hardware in order to make sure they can wiretap whenever they want. This is a terrible idea, prone to all sorts of evil, and needs to get strangled in its crib.

Second, the military is paying a law school to find ways around the Freedom of Information Act. This is yet another terrible idea; governmental transparency is paramount in a free society.

Obsessed with bags.

I have a bag fetish. Usually, I end up getting a new work bag pretty frequently — say, every year or so. I don’t go in for superpricey Tumi cases anymore, so it’s not a paralyzingly expensive thing, but I also must admit that I have 3 perfectly serviceable laptop bags in my closet that I don’t use anymore for whatever reason.

The oldest is my boom-era standard-issue Tumi briefcase/computer bag. It’s completely fucking bulletproof and has acres of space — but it’s also superheavy, and its capacity encourages carrying way. too. much. stuff. It has a file area plus a laptop compartment on one side, and a big open compartment on the other side. One exterior has a full-width zipper pocket, and the other has the familiar array of various-sized external zip pockets. It’s a great (and expensive) bag, but it’s even heavy when it’s empty. I bought it as a serious roadwarrior bag, but as I travel more, I find myself going for smaller and simpler. What finally put me out of it, though, was my migration to a 1999-era G3 Powerbook. In those days, Apple laptops were more squares than rectangles, and as a consequence the G3 wouldn’t fit properly in the Tumi.

So I bought a Spire. Spire bags are awesome. My first one had a manufacturing fault, and they had another one overnighted to me with a return label for the frayed one. That bag is still just fine despite being schlepped all over for 2 years before I became a work at home dude. I was still using it, in fact, when the G3 gave me a serious scare 3 years in, and I had to buy a new laptop. By that point, Apple’s machines were rectangles, and my new TiG4 wouldn’t fit in the Spire’s sleeve any better than the G3 had fit in the Tumi.

Fortunately, I still had the Tumi, and was traveling seldom, so I fell back to it for a while before picking up a regrettable Tragus backpack. Tragus are considered low rent in a world filled with Crumpler and Tom Bihn, et. al., and there’s a reason for that: while lugging a backpack in an airport should be easier than using a shoulder bag, this beast manages to have such terrible ergonomics as to completely overshadow any comfort gains on the concourse. It had a short life; it’s only my packrat nature that keeps me from throwing it out.

I went back to the Tumi for a while then, until I started bike commuting around 2 years ago when I joined my current firm. The Tumi is too bulky for that, and Spire had a backpack I rather wanted to try. I sent the link to my mother when she asked for Christmas (2004) hints, and received my second example of their excellent products.

I used it once. As it turns out, I’m entirely too broad-shouldered for Spire’s backpacks. The straps are too close together in back to comfortably accommodate my shoulders (thanks, grandpa). Spire was predictably wonderful about it, and quickly agreed to swap out for a messenger bag. They even sent me the check for the overage, since the backpack was more spendy — this was their idea, since they knew the backpack had been a gift.

It’s that Spire I’ve been using now since January 05. It’s a great bag, but its capacity, while distinctly sub-Tumi, allows (encourages!) me to carry far too much, and its essentially unstructured interior makes finding loose bits inside kind of tedious. I travel a lot more now, too, and that same cavernous main pocket makes the inevitable TSA searches even worse.

Several months ago, Roadwired surfaced on my radar — suddenly, they were reviewed everywhere (BoingBoing, Mac Addict, some gadget blog, etc.). They’ve got big bags, but the one everyone seems truly nuts for was the Skooba Satchel. It’s tiny, but terribly functional, and rife with compartments. It’s also got the now-obligatory integral strap that slides down the handle of my TravelPro. It probably won’t hold as much as my messenger, but right now I think that’s a good thing. I ordered one last week, and it’s on my desk today. When I finish work today, I’m going to pack up into it to try it on. When I’m not traveling, I work at home, so I’ve nowhere to go; its real test will be on Monday next when I fly to Chicago.

We still don’t think he’s very funny, but after this we admit we like him a tiny bit more

Adam Corrolla was set to have Ann Coulter on his radio show. Coulter called in an hour and a half late, and then complained of being short on time. Corolla told her to get lost.

ADAM CAROLLA: Ann Coulter, who was suppose to be on the show about an hour and a half ago, is now on the phone, as well. Ann?


CAROLLA: Hi Ann. You’re late, babydoll.

COULTER: Uh, somebody gave me the wrong number.

CAROLLA: Mmm… how did you get the right number? Just dialed randomly — eventually got to our show? (Laughter in background)

COULTER: Um, no. My publicist e-mailed it to me, I guess, after checking with you.

CAROLLA: Ahh, I see.

COULTER: But I am really tight on time right now because I already had a —

CAROLLA: Alright, well, get lost.

Best. Music. Quote. EVAR.

There’s a sizeable portion of the population that listens to the music they listen to because it’s there and they don’t know any better — a reality that actually predicates the existence of mainstream music. Here’s what I mean: nobody thinks long and hard about music and what it means to them and then ultimately decides to listen to Toby Keith. (Emph. added.)

More here.

Well, thank God for that, then.

Rec’d in our email today; it’s perhaps the best possible phishing/429 scam yet:

TEL: +44(0) 7031964507


We act as solicitors and our services were retained by late Sen. Strom Thurmond, here in after referred to as our client. On behalf of late Sen. Strom Thurmond, We write to notify you that my late client made you a Beneficiary to the bequest sum of Nine Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars in the codicil to his will and last testament.

He died at the age of 100. This bequest is to support your activities, humanitarian services, help to the less-privileged and research work. In accordance with our inheritance laws you are required to apply for claims through this law firm to NatWest Bank United Kingdom, where this fund was deposited.

We are perfecting arrangements to complete the transfer of this inheritance to you. You are required to forward the following details of yours; full names, address, occupation, age and phone numbers for verification and re-confirmation. Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter immediately.


Yours sincerely,
Ross Williams Esq.
Principal Attorney
Dynamic Law firm, London
Tel: +44(0) 7031942326

Where Fox Stands on the First Amendment

From one of their own anchors, no less:

ANDREW NAPOLITANO: [T]he Japanese did learn that we broke their code, and so they started using a new code.

BRIAN KILMEADE: And guess what? What would you rather have? The Japanese knowing that we broke their code or a decision saying that journalists are allowed to write anything they can or want to write because they think the public needs to know. See, I’m more into the ends justifying the means. And what they do is you can sunset this, Judge. The same way they have the Patriot Act sunsetted. You put up the Office of Censorship. You get a consensus to journalists to analyze and then you realize what FDR realized early. Winning is everything. Freedom is — you don’t have any freedom if the Nazis are the victors. You have no one to trade with if Western Europe falls. That’s the reality. You’re in love with the law, but I’m in love with survival.

NAPOLITANO: I’m in love with your freedom, and I want you and me all the people we work with —

KILMEADE: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have it both ways.

NAPOLITANO: Of course, we can. We have it both ways now. We can say whatever we want and the government can’t censor us and the government can still fight the war on terror. If we were to allow some office of the government to decide what journalists can say, that would be the same that the King of England imposed on newspapers in England and in the U.S. and that prompted the Revolution. It would be about the most un-American thing you can imagine. How can we fight a war to bring freedom to another country, to bring freedom of the press to another country when we’re crushing freedom of the press here at home?

KILMEADE: Not crushing — preserving our freedom by preserving our secrets because war is not a free thing. Intelligence is not something to be shared: It’s to be coveted and used to our advantage. Here’s what Roosevelt did. He appointed Byron Price, a respected journalist, to run the office. Price accepts the post on the condition that the media can voluntarily agree on a self-censorship. The Office employs 14,000, and they are civilians, to monitor cable, mail, and radio communications between the United States and other nations. The Office closes in 1945. Our nation still flies. The flag still soars.

NAPOLITANO: Scaring me to death, Brian, because I know they’d come after [Fox News host Bill] O’Reilly and me and you’d have to visit us in Gitmo.

KILMEADE: No, they wouldn’t. You’re not doing anything anti-American.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Republican Talking Points

The political right is deeply invested in insisting that global warming isn’t happening, or that if it’s happening it’s not our fault, and in either case we should do nothing about it. It’s an article of faith with them, in no small part because of the degree to which they’re beholden to Big Oil.

Ergo, it’s no surprise they’ve tried to come out with the long knives for Al Gore’s documentary. The first attacks were pretty funny: insisting it was a flop based on radically selective readings of box office receipts. Of course, now that it’s one of the most financially successful documentaries of all time, it’s awful hard to make that stick. Yes, “Cars” made more money. No, no one is surprised by that. No, this doesn’t make “An Inconvenient Truth” a flop.

Comes now boneheads like John Stossel, trotting out long-dismissed canards purporting to undercut the conclusions of the vast majority of climatologists. He doesn’t do well, as Media Matters can show, but at least he didn’t start with attacks on Gore himself, unlike most who oppose his film.