Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sure, sure - you can trust what you read in the media

Hmmm, let's see.  You have some sort of "Mysterious Space Debris".  Is there someone that you might call to get an expert opinion about Space?

It's a mystery, that's for sure.

David Allan Coe - The Perfect Country Song

The weather is perfect here at Castle Borepatch, and the Queen Of The World has fixed a Royal Breakfast (which makes things even perfecter).  That calls for the Perfect Country Song.

You're welcome.

(Actually, y'all need to thank the Queen Of The World - this song was her suggestion)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Get Off my Lawn - A Garand Brigid Guest Post

Yes, that's me, fun day at the conservation club.

More on the stupid "War on Drugs"

Yesterday I wrote about the many downsides of the idiotic War on Drugs.  One of these was the corruption of Law Enforcement.  I left out one example: the theft of 400 lbs of Heroin from the New York Police Department evidence room.  It's quite a story.

Wilderness survival tips

Bob has some good ones.  If you plan on going into the woods, you should read this.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The stupid "War on Drugs"

This is what losing looks like:
Coroner Kent Harshbarger estimates that ... the state [of Ohio] will see 10,000 overdoses by the end of 2017 — more than were recorded in the entire United States in 1990.
Peter has an excellent and in-depth post of the utter idiocy of the "War on Drugs"and you should RTWT.

This would normally trigger an epic Borepatchian uberpost.  Instead, I will merely summarize the costs of this idiotic program:

40 year cost of War on Drugs is $1 Trillion
Half of all Federal prison inmates are serving time for drug offenses (same link as above)
$100 B black market in drugs shows no sign of going away

Remember, after all of this treasure we are looking at an epidemic of overdose deaths.

Now add in the corruption of Law Enforcement:
The proliferation of SWAT teams
The proliferation of "No Knock" raids
The unaccountability of police (warning: autoplay video)
Billions of dollars taken via "Civil Asset Forfeiture" without charges, trial, or conviction

Now add in the corruption of the Intelligence Agencies:
DEA covers up program to collect information on all Americans

Now add in the corruption of the medical community:
A "Civil War" over pain medication is tearing the medical community apart
Patients can't get pain medication and so turn to heroin
How the War On Drugs fuels the Opioid epidemic

I could go on, but let me sum up: The war on drugs has made us less free, has fueled the growth of the Police/Surveillance State that targets us, has corrupted Law Enforcement and driven a wedge between them and the citizenry.  It has done this while drugs have become both more prevalent and more deadly, and while legitimate patients are forced to turn to illegal drugs because their doctors can't prescribe them the pharmaceuticals that would ease their chronic pain.

And let's return to what started this rant.  Consider the death toll: Ohio expects 10,000 overdose deaths this year, from a population of 11.6 M.  Normalizing this to a US population of 320M gives us an expected overdose death total of almost 300,000 a year nationwide.  That's more than the war dead we suffered in World War II.  And that entirely ignores the fact that most murders in this country are over drug turf battles.

Think about that: all the treasure, all the lost freedom, and we are suffering a World War II each year, every year, with no end in sight.

The War on Drugs is futile, stupid, and evil.  It should end immediately.  This is a stupid game, we're losing, and we shouldn't play.

So is it really "so hot that planes can't fly"?

Well, not really.  The Silicon Graybeard explains.

You won't get this sort of analysis from the (worthless) MSM.

Email Security

OldNFO catches someone trying to phish him.  This is a great case study in how to catch a scam in progress.  His techniques will work for you, too.

Barbecued Memories - A Brigid Guest Post

The daffodils have been up for a while so it was long past time to grill the first steaks of the season.  We don't just use our barbecue during power blackouts, it's out every week during the warmer weather.  The barbecue isn't fancy, but one has always been part of my home. My parents always had one, though I can't remember where or when the very first one showed up in our backyard. I do remember one huge one that Big Bro won in a contest at the local Credit Union when he was in grade school.  I've posted a picture of it here before, but it is one of those moments in my life, even as young as I was, that defies the shortness of memory and the expanse of time.

The picture was in the local newspaper.  They came to take a picture of him in his little chef hat, transferring a "baked potato" wrapped in foil with his official barbecue tongs to a little paper plate I was holding onto for dear life. In actuality, he wasn't old enough to grill by himself and it was spitting rain, the potato was raw, stone cold from the pantry. But the photo turned out great and I managed to look as happy and surprised as I think my brother truly was. What I remember most was his seriousness in holding those tongs, just like Dad, in his pride of wearing that hat. It radiated off of him, despite the cold, the wet, and the really lousy potato.
That old blue barbecue grill soon made its place at home and many a summer evening was spent around it. There was just something about cooking out. Whether it was perfect, burnt or dried out, it was just good, because it was made on the grill. It was made by Dad and we got to eat it outside if we wanted. I guess it was that "willing suspension of disbelief" that you have as a child, that no matter what happens, your Dad will somehow ensure the end result is just fine, that dinner will be saved from the flame, and all would be well in your world.

How well you remember those days, when the air is burning hot, the whiff of lighter fluid in the air, the dark nuggets of briquettes, overhead a badminton bird flying over, the only sign of motion in the still summer air. Laughter as your brothers and cousins play. Shadows on the grass as you ran and played under branches from which smoke drifted like a soft touch. Shadows that got to those trees before you did, then faltered, so you could stomp them into the grass under your bare feet. Summer has just one date when you're a kid and that's the first day after school lets out, when the barbecue is officially fired up by the man of the house.
But there was more than smoke in the air that first night of summer, something I was too young to understand, but I could sense. There was a war, and one of the boys in our extended family was going. A country I had never heard of. I didn't understand the details. I only sensed those urgent conversations in the kitchen among the adults as they prepared the food for the fire.

I knew my Dad had been to war and that he came home safe. Yet why were the women so worried? But I had watched enough reruns of Combat and old John Wayne movies to know more than I should. What I didn't know, I asked, though I did not get the answers I sought. Sometimes you have to work out your own answers, taking a small piece of puzzle and turning it and turning it, til you see where it fits.

Although it was 20 years before I learned the true scientific methods of investigation, I read, I gathered up every little newspaper clipping I saw, I watched the news surreptitiously out of my eye while playing with my toys. When a war movie was on TV, I'd watch the adults' faces out of the corner of my eye to see if something showed through, fear, worry, skepticism, waiting for a "that's not the way it was, it wasn't that dangerous, see, I came home!" But no one said anything. All that was in the room was the sound of gunfire and rockets on the TV, and a clock ticking in a long undiminished parade of time we pretended not to hear.
All we could do was continue on with our family traditions, our faith. The barbecue was there in rain, and cold and wind, on nights when we quietly gathered in the house around the table for meatloaf or pot roast. Nights when I'd politely ask to be excused as soon as I was done, so I could go back outside, to where I wanted to be, despite the rain, a mist that had dampened that nights attempt to cook out.

As the rain let up, I'd walk on down the back alleyway, to a neighbor's little pond.  There I'd stop to stare down into the water, it's surface as placid as a priests face,  hearing all my fears and sins, its surface still and nonjudgmental, a watery veil laid over the mystery of my distress. I looked down where I could see almost to the bottom, the last rays of sunlight playing like orange fire on the surface. There on the surface, a leaf. After a long time in water, the tissues of the leaf decay, leaving only the fiber, swirling in the surface like soft bones, light from the last of the days sunlight playing on them like flame.
Another summer passed, the badminton set forgotten for lawn darts, one less place at one family table. And with my growing, came understanding. I think we spent so many nights out at the picnic table thinking that if we were out back and someone in uniform we didn't know came to the front door, we would not have to answer it. For my Dad and my Uncles had all served in the Great War, and they knew too well that age and time do little to remedy the pain of knowing.

For that night we had the barbecue, a communion of family shared with bread and lighter fluid. I would sit in quiet, as we all would, in prayer, for the bacon wrapped salmon, for unintentionally extra crispy beef, for extra pickles, for another day of safety for those we loved. As we said Grace, I turned towards the coals, looking deep and hard so they wouldn't see a tear, watching the blackness turning to red and light and fire.
Then my Dad would look at me, put his hand under my chin and say "it's going to be OK, we have hamburgers that I didn't burn." I would nod, knowing what he was trying to say, as he watched his children realize that life wasn't all sunlight and playtime, that it also had another side, one of approaching darkness on which faint ashes of light would only appear at the perimeter. But his words made me feel better. My brother was my friend and playmate, but my Dad was my protector, and I found comfort in that.

There in that simple meal, in those rituals we could maintain, there was solace. We couldn't change the outcome of what was happening worlds away but we could hold on to each other, in prayer, in squabbles over the last cheese slice. We couldn't change fate, but we could fight with it, in the form of a cantankerous piece of controlled fire, with tools, and tongs and curses and sweat. We could at least conquer the grill and put dinner on the table. Dinner together as family.
My cousin came home from overseas safe and sound and summers went back to simple evenings of fireflies and lighter fluid.  But times they were a changing, as they say. Big Bro, growing like a weed, taking more responsibility for helping around the house, especially as Mom was fighting cancer again. The war was over, the one where hundreds of young men, with their hopes and dreams and aspirations, were released by that invisible hand of honor to come home to their loved ones.  But at our home, the war was still on, raging there behind the lines around my mother's eyes.

I wondered what happened to that old blue barbecue. I can't recall. But I do so well remember the night so many years ago that Dad handed my brother the lighter fluid, the big tongs and the meat patties, ready for grilling, all by himself. I can picture him there, as if it was today, under that dark sky with such bright stars, whose distant glitter lured one's gaze into the expanse of immense darkness. And yet the light from our table illuminated his boyish face, his countenance claiming the alliance with those things that I had only trusted my Father to possess, the child in him fading away, to reveal the growing man. Big Bro simply nodded and took his place, his smile just visible in the fading swirl of spinning fire, the glow that for a moment, drives the darkness away.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy Mid Summer's Day

Enjoy the daylight!

Unless, of course, you live in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case it's happy Mid Winter's Day.

Back It All Up: Part V

We've discussed a lot of aspects on how to make your data safe by backing it up.  Here's a quick recap:

How to pick out a storage device
What should you know about backup hardware
What software should you run

If you read these, you'll see a reference to "Part III" which is actually Part IV (software).  I can only plead Mr. Emerson's defense about consistency ...

But there's one more thing to talk about.  Fortunately, co-blogger ASM826 posted about this three years ago.  I'm posting it here as the final (and likely the most important) part of this series.

Where's Your Backup?

When it comes to firearms, there's an old saying, "Two is one and one is none."

If you're reading this, you have a computer. If you have a computer, you need to be doing regular backups. Doesn't matter how much of a pain it is, it's part of owning a computer, same as having the oil changed is part of owning a car. Because there two kinds of hard drives, the ones that have failed already and the ones that are going to fail.

My day job is computer and server support. I see it regularly. I preach it. I preach it to my users well enough that the last couple of major failures the users understood that they had failed to be responsible for their data and that it was gone. Let's consider the possibilities.

1. The hard drive just fails.
2. The laptop gets dropped and the hard drive fails.
3. The laptop has a cup of coffee/tea/water/vodka spilled on it and the hard drive fails.
4. The laptop or computer gets stolen.
5. The computer gets a ransomware virus and every data file gets encrypted.

That last one happened to a user this week and she lost everything.

So, here is some advice. Backup. Here's some detailed advice. Buy a external hard drive large enough to hold three times as much information as all your files. Don't worry about Windows or whatever operating system you are using or the programs. That's easily replaced. It's your files, pictures, and documents you want to save.

The drive you buy may come with backup software, if so and you like it, it may be fine. If not, there is a freeware program called Cobian. I use it. You can set it up to do backups on a schedule, pick what folders and files you want to backup, and pick a location to store them, in this case, your new external drive.

If you want the expanded detailed advice, here it is. Backup once a week, at least once a month, and accept that every day that goes by increases the amount of data you will lose.

If you really care about the data (think photos and video) buy two external drives. Rotate the backups to another location so that if the house burns down you aren't thinking about running in to grab the computer. So that if one of the external drives fails, you still have one backup.

If all of this seems like nonsensical gibberish, it's time to learn more about the technology we all use or pay someone to help you set it up. Because all hard drives fail.

There's an existential question I ask people when I am harping on this topic providing training on backups, "Where does data go when the only copy in the universe is destroyed?"

UPDATE [Borepatch] 31 October 2014 14:31: This is a really, really important post by ASM826. Computers are cheap and easily replaced; data is precious and literally irreplaceable.  He and I were talking on the phone when he brought this up, and I asked him to post about it.  If you do not have a backup plan in place (or heck, even if you do*) run, do not walk to get Cobian or something.  I've never met anyone whose data didn't have any value.  ASM826 does this for a living; I trust him on this.

* The comparison to firearms is apt: two is one, and one is none.  If you only have one backup method, you actually don't have any.

Explaining the Georgia election

Good analysis by Erick Erickson who lives there:
In 2016, Rodney Stooksbury got 38.3% of the vote in Georgia’s sixth congressional district after spending only around $1000.00. Less than a year later, Democrats spent $30million to get only ten percent more of the vote and still lose.
He has ten take-aways about the election that seem pretty sensible.  Since that was my old district before I moved to Castle Borepatch, I never thought that Ossoff had a chance.  This election tested the proposition that with enough thrust you can even make an aircraft carrier fly.  In politics, it seems that this may not be true.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The supermarket for lonely people

Back It All Up: Part IV

After remembering being reminded by Borepatch that I didn't follow up on the hardware section of our series on backing up I wanted to offer my thoughts on backup software.

There's one criteria. Do you trust it? Does it do what it says it's doing? Or is it running for 3 hours creating a ghost of a backup?

Here's what I want my backup software to do.

1. Run automatically.
2. Do not encrypt or use any proprietary file formatting.
3. Be highly configurable.**
4. Restore the files when I need them.

**I want to be able to pick a schedule, select incremental backups, delete old backups, pick the folders and files I want backed up, and have it run at two in the morning and leave a report when it finishes. I want the backups on one of the external devices we already discussed, a local external drive, and perhaps a network location off-site.

There's lots of choices. Here's CNet's review of free backup software.

I can't speak about most of them, they may all be fine, but the one I use is on that list. Cobain. It does it all as far I am concerned. Here's the review from

For all the bells and whistles you get with this backup program, we were shocked to find that it's free. Cobian Backup not only looks good, but it proved to be a very reliable and easy to use backup tool.
The user interface is straightforward, and the colorful command buttons are extremely intuitive. Creating a new backup task was easy, despite all of the configuration options. Basically, all we had to do was create a name, decide what files and folders to include, and create a schedule for the backup. We opted to save important files to our USB, which worked perfectly. We were impressed by the file compression and encryption options that aren't found in many paid programs. The Options menu comes with tons of settings for more advanced file compression, password-protecting the user interface, and even changing the interface's appearance. We were able perform random backups with the click of a button, and likewise, we were able to run multiple backup tasks all at once without any problems whatsoever.
Cobian Backup offers multiple help venues, including an index, a tutorial, and support forums. However, even the most novice users will be able to jump in with very little, if no, guidance. We highly recommend this program for all users.
That's it. One recommendation. Free. Been using it personally for years. It's the same software I would recommend to you if we sitting around a campfire sipping bourbon.

How did Snowden get away with all of that data?

It seems that NSA had pretty bad internal security:
Second-rate opsec remained pervasive at the United States' National Security Agency, according to an August 2016 review now released under Freedom of Information laws. 
It's almost surprising that the agency was able to cuff Reality Winner, let alone prevent a wholesale Snowden-style leak. The Department of Defense Inspector General report, first obtained by the New York Times, finds everything from unsecured servers to a lack of two-factor authentication.
The National Computer Security Center is part of NSA.  They certainly know how to secure a system.  Snowden seems to be a case of the shoemaker's children having no shoes.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Congratulations to the Feral Irishman

Getting 12 Million page views.

Hey Alexa - Who's wiretapping me?

Besides you, that is.

Travel warning: Orlando airport gas prices

The following came around the inbox:
Orlando airport,  rental car return.  The two closest gas stations that I have used in the past have raised their gas prices to $5.99 per gallon regular.  They are the closest to the rental car and used a lot.   They have not posted a sign on the street. It is only listed on the actual pump in small print.  

Both stations closest to Orlando Airport  ( Disney etc)  have these crazy prices. I drove 2 miles away and gas was  $1.99 per gallon.   
Just for reference rental car return gas price was $2.70. I filled up at $1.99.  
Seems pretty sneaky.  FYI.

Franz Kafka predicted the Surveillance State

Franz Kafka wrote a book (The Trial) in which the State refused to tell the accused man what crime he was accused of.  It seems that the book is uncomfortably close to home for our own day:
Back in 2014, the tech firm challenged an order issued under Section 702 of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, a law that allows the US government to request telecommunications data on non-US citizens. The wide-ranging powers in that act, due for renewal at the end of this year, have been highly controversial ever since the Edward Snowden archives brought them to public attention. 
The heavily redacted documents [PDF] were published this week, and come from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees Uncle Sam's spying efforts. They detail a request by the unnamed company for copies of previous decisions the judges had made on Section 702 hearings, so that it could prepare its case. 
Instead of allowing the firm to gather the evidence it needed, Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled that the government was perfectly within its rights to deny the company the information it requested.
So there is no right to see court rulings that effect your case.  And this part is the truly Kafkaesque bit:
Instead, the judge told the company to rely on the Department of Justice's accounts of previous Section 702 hearings, rather than seeing the legal cases for themselves.
Well, OK then.  When I grew up, we thought it was the Soviet Union that had secret courts.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Giacomo Puccini - O Mio Babbino Caro

Dad loved this song.  The title translates as "Oh my beloved Father", so this seems appropriate for Father's Day.

This is the first Father's Day that both my and the Queen Of The World's fathers aren't here.  That gives a bittersweet flavor to the day.

Happy Father's Day to all.