Monday, July 31, 2006

Tell me something I didn't know

Here's another essential news item that you won't be reading in the Old York Times anytime soon. The invaluable NewsBusters is reporting the results of a Pew Research Center study that demonstrates, "Rush Limbaugh Listeners Top Chart for 'High Knowledge'."


Which party controls the U.S. House? Who is the current Secretary of State? Who is the president of Russia?

If you know all three questions, you could be a Rush Limbaugh listener. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Rush Limbaugh listeners place second in the category of "high knowledge." This is above the pretentious New Yorker, the almost as pretentious NPR, news magazines like Time, the "News Hour with Jim Lehrer," and cable news outlets.

Doesn't "acting" smart count for something? It only does in New York socials and in "An Inconvenient Truth."

50% Weekly Standard/New Republic
48% Rush Limbaugh
44% New Yorker/Atlantic
42% O’Reilly Factor
41% News magazines
41% Online news (daily)
39% NPR
38% Daily Show
36% Sunday AM Talk
36% Talk Radio
33% Business Magazines
32% NewsHour

I can't help myself... Heh again.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Pravda's Manhattan Bureau Chief to print that. Maureen Dowd would sooner write a column praising "Rummy" than point out that most of her twelve Times Deselect™ readers are, uhm, challenged when it comes to history and world events.

When is a deleted file not deleted?

If this Ars Technica report is accurate, when Windows Vista uses its default setting of "System Protection." In this mode of operation, users' files and folders are automatically copied. These shadow copies are called Previous Versions; they will reportedly be available via a right-click properties menu option called "Restore Previous Versions."

This feature is rife for abuse. AT warns that corporate users will want to be especially cognizant of the feature, since it shadow-copies files on network drives. In addition, any user concerned with personal information security should be aware that Vista will make it possible to restore deleted files (in this case, the folder that originally held the file can be analyzed for "previous versions").

I'm not much of a fortune teller, but it's easy to envision some public relations nightmares as the logical outcome of this "feature." I think the authors of Vista may want to review the rules of data-sharing (the hard lessons learned vis a vis ADS, BHOs, and LSPs).

Ars Technica: Recycle Bin not enough, Microsoft adds "Previous Versions" support on the file system level

Sunday, July 30, 2006

OpenDocument Format Gains Fans in Government

The governments of Malaysia and Bristol have joined Belgium and Massachusetts in requiring the use of the OpenDocument file format (ODF). It appears that Denmark is also moving in this direction.

Among technology companies, Google also recently announced its intent to support ODF.

Hitchens slams the door shut on Wilson

Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate, has nailed the credibility coffin shut on the ridiculous Joe Wilson in, "Case Closed: The truth about the Iraqi-Niger "yellowcake" nexus. The eyewitness evidence is incontrovertible:

...In February 1999 one of Saddam Hussein's chief nuclear goons paid a visit to Niger, but his identity was not noticed by Joseph Wilson, nor emphasized in his "report" to the CIA, nor mentioned at all in his later memoir. British intelligence picked up the news of the Zahawie visit from French and Italian sources and passed it on to Washington...

...This means that both pillars of the biggest scandal-mongering effort yet mounted by the "anti-war" movement—the twin allegations of a false story exposed by Wilson and then of a state-run vendetta undertaken against him and the lady wife who dispatched him on the mission—are in irretrievable ruins. The truth is the exact polar opposite. The original Niger connection was both authentic and important, and Wilson's utter failure to grasp it or even examine it was not enough to make Karl Rove even turn over in bed. All the work of the supposed "outing" was inadvertently performed by Wilson's admirer Robert Novak. Of course, one defends the Bush administration at one's own peril...

...But the facts are still the facts, and it is high time that they received one-millionth of the attention that the "Plamegate" farce has garnered...

That Hitchens! What a dreamer!

It's fascinating to me that Wilson maintains a shred of credibility with the "reality-based community," when his stories are just a little less sturdy than cardboard left soaking in a tub for hours. If you look up "debunked" in the dictionary, odds are good you'll see Joe Wilson's mug staring back at you.

Of human shields, despots and missiles

The tragedy in Qana -- an inarguable anomaly in an Israeli campaign designed to avoid civilian casualties -- has resulted in the predictable outcry. The EU, Spain, France, and Iran issued various condemnations. The Lebanese prime minister reportedly requested a UN Security Council meeting that would demand a ceasefire.

Perhaps the Security Council could also take that opportunity to revisit its resolution 1559, which expresses:

“[Grave concern] at the continued presence of armed militias in Lebanon, which prevent the Lebanese government from exercising its full sovereignty over all Lebanese territory,

“Reaffirming the importance of the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory...

“3. Calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias;

“4. Supports the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory...

Perhaps any new UN resolutions will also take into account the failures of 1559.

Al Jazeera -- not exactly Israel's bosom buddy -- reports that Hezbollah's use of human shields may be to blame:

...An Israeli foreign ministry official, Gideon Meir, said: "We deeply regret the loss of any civilian life and especially when you talk about children who are innocent.

"One must understand the Hezbollah is using their own civilian population as human shields. The Israeli defence forces dropped leaflets and warned the civilian population to leave the place because the Hezbollah turned it into a war zone."

Further, Israeli officials -- including Olmert, Halutz, and Peretz -- have apologized for the deaths in Qana.

No word on Hezbollah apologies for the 90 rockets targeting civilians on Saturday with 100 more on Sunday. The latter attack reportedly utilized Syrian Fajr-5 missiles, each of which was packed with over 200 pounds of explosives, the first time this type of ordnance has appeared on the battlefield. These weapons, along with Katyusha rockets packed with ball-bearings, are intended solely to shred civilians. That is why -- in addition to hundreds of thousands of Lebanese refugees -- over half a million Israelis are living in bomb shelters or have fled south.

To their credit, Israel has been resolute:

"Hizbullah, like other Islamic terror movements, threatens the entire civilization. When we decided to respond, we knew that we would need to be strong in the face of difficult situations," said Olmert.

Olmert said that the area was a focal point for the firing of Katyusha rockets on Kiryat Shmona and Afula. He said that from the outset of the conflict, "hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Qana area."

Defense Minister Amir Peretz was also profoundly repentant for the fatal strike, saying, "this is a tragic incident that is a result of war. Hizbullah operates in the heart of populated centers with the full knowledge of endangering the lives of innocent civilians."

...IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz also expressed sorrow over the loss of innocent life. "We were operating in a place from where Katyushas are being fired and we distributed notices to residents... "We have been attacking in Qana for three days," the high-ranking IAF officer said. "They have fired dozens of rockets from there over the past week at Kiryat Shmona, Afula and Ma'alot."...

It is indeed a world turned upside down. A terrorist organization has defied UN resolutions. It has targeted US Marines as well as Israeli soldiers and civilians. It has encouraged Arab civilian deaths -- women and children especially -- by employing human shields. It has packed bombs with ball-bearings to ensure maximum collateral damage.

But it has used the mainstream media more effectively than the Israelis. And certain useful dupes are more than willing to oblige.

Update 10:53 ET: the IDF reportedly has video of Hezbollah firing rockets from the location in Qana that was hit.

Update 18:00 ET: Interesting news out of Israel as the IDF reports that the Qana building fell hours after strike:

...An IDF investigation has found that the building in Qana struck by the Air Force fell around eight hours after being hit by the IDF.

“The attack on the structure in the Qana village took place between midnight and one in the morning. The gap between the timing of the collapse of the building and the time of the strike on it is unclear,” ...the structure was not being attacked when it collapsed, at around 8:00 in the morning... ...The IDF believes that Hizbullah explosives in the building were behind the explosion that caused the collapse.

Another possibility is that the rickety building remained standing for a few hours, but eventually collapsed. “It could be that inside the building, things that could eventually cause an explosion were being housed, things that we could not blow up in the attack, and maybe remained there, Brigadier General Eshel said.

”I’m saying this very carefully, because at this time I don’t have a clue as to what the explanation could be for this gap," he added...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Leslie Gelb and the Culture of Repeated Mistakes

The op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal are routinely populated with analyses that pull no punches. Opinion pieces laced with barbs pillorying both parties for various failings. And a thoroughly clear-eyed view of national security.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to see Leslie Gelb receive a forum in these pages. Gelb is a former president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a self-described foreign policy think thank populated with the likes of Madeline Albright and Robert Rubin. Gelb also served as assistant secretary of state for the Carter administration.

Given that history -- a deep association with appeasers and failed negotiators -- one would think Gelb would have been mortified to submit the likes of his WSJ piece, "Time to Talk." Some of the lowlights:

Mr. Bush needs to use the present crisis to justify new and wide-ranging talks with Syria and Iran, and, if necessary, indirectly with Hamas and Hezbollah...

...negotiations are the most effective way to exercise American power, by arraying and making concrete the good things we could offer as well as deny them...

...Tehran supplies the money and rockets to Hezbollah, and will keep on doing so unless Washington gives them incentives to stop... ...Such an effort could also restore Mr. Bush's power and prestige for the tough decisions he will face in his last two White House years.

So Gelb's brilliant plan: appease despots and terrorists by sending... wait for it, wait... for... it... diplomats! And negotiating! Absolute genius.

No mention, though, of fellow CFR board-member Madeline Albright's disastrous negotiations with Kim Jong-Il, the result of which was a nuclear-equipped tyrant in North Korea. According to PBS, "...the CIA, working with evidence that it had been collecting since the middle of Clinton's second term, [found] that North Korea [was] secretly pursuing a uranium enrichment program". In other words, Gelb's colleagues -- Jimmy Carter and Albright -- engaged in just such a strategy of appeasement with an unspeakably evil despot.

In 2004, Amnesty International described the humanitarian impact of North Korea's regime in stark terms:

For more than a decade, the people of North Korea... have suffered from famine and acute food shortages. Hundreds of thousands of people have died and many millions more have suffered from chronic malnutrition. The actions of the North Korean government exacerbated the effects of the famine and the subsequent food crisis, denying the existence of the problem for many years, and imposing ever-tighter controls on the population to hide the true extent of the disaster...

The direct result of appeasing pure, unmitigated evil: a humanitarian disaster of unbelievable proportions and  a nuclear-equipped dictator.

Of course, Gelb fails to mention this intriguing slice of history, which can be laid directly at the feet of his CFR associates.

Further, Gelb has the gall to omit the central thesis behind Iran and Hezbollah: their stated goal of the destruction of Israel and the United States. Hezbollah's leader Sheikh Nasrallah has never been shy in espousing his desire to see the utter destruction of Israel :

"...There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel... Peace settlements will not change reality, which is that Israel is the enemy and that it will never be a neighbor or a nation..."

Gelb has yet to explain how one can negotiate a deal with another who simply wants you dead.

He also ignores Iran's venomous and existential threats against the United States, England and Israel:

We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization...

We are in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance [the West] and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years... Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? had best know that this... goal [is] attainable...

...We have established a department that will take care of England. England's demise is on our agenda...

Never mind that Gelb fails to mention the last significant effort at diplomacy in the Middle East. The Israelis withdrew from southern Lebanon to create peace. They withdrew from Gaza to create peace. But instead of building schools, businesses, and the other infrastructure that would benefit their populations, Gelb's prospective negotiating parties turned those areas into rocket bases.

Put simply, Gelb's impotent essay blithely ignores the central issue: negotiating with the irrational (or borderline insane) leads to even more death and destruction. Just as ignoring a festering wound leads to severe infection or death, so too are the inevitable results of appeasing evil. But the scourges of Communism and Nazism -- and recent experiences with North Korea -- apparently haven't penetrated Gelb's feeble cranium as representative outcomes.

Mark Steyn said it well in the Sun-Times last week:

...when bombs went off in Bali killing hundreds of tourists plus local waiters and barmen, ...a former Aussie diplomat... had no doubt where to put the blame... he told Australia's Nine Network: "The root cause of this issue has been America's backing of Israel on Palestine."

Suppose this were true -- that terrorists blew up Oz honeymooners and Scandinavian stoners in Balinese nightclubs because of "the Palestinian question." Doesn't this suggest that these people are, at a certain level, nuts? After all, there are plenty of IRA sympathizers around the world (try making the Ulster Unionist case in a Boston bar) and yet they never thought to protest British rule in Northern Ireland by blowing up, say, German tourists in Thailand...

Gelb's advocacy for negotiating with suicidal fanatics is as sensible as erecting a radio tower during a summer lightning storm. Odds are you'll receive a shocking lesson.

Based on Gelb's history and his most recent chicken-scratching, I'd say his efforts to advance American foreign relations are roughly equivalent to Gary Coleman's contributions to the cinema. He'd be better off finding a new line of work.

Expose the Left: Bolton slaps around Kerry
Hugh Hewitt: A history of mental illness
The Real Ugly American: Moral Equivalence, Disproportionality, and Stupidity

Comedic interlude: flashback to the Daily Show, 2004

From the Daily Show, the day after John Kerry was nominated as the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate. Host Jon Stewart flashed to reporter Steven Colbert, who was ostensibly standing in front of the White House:

Jon Stewart: Kerry could pose a serious threat.
Steven Colbert: [Talking like a biblical prophet, skies turning red behind him] Threat Jon? Threat? Tread carefully, newsman, lest your impudence embroil you in the coming battle tide. For the day is nigh when the armies of Rove shall come alive to claim their due. For lo! it has been foretold that the son of the forty-first king shall himself twice be crowned! The treasuries will be emptied! The ads unleashed! And the blue states will run red with the hundred million dollars of hellfire and retribution!

Friday, July 28, 2006

"They will figure it out on their own, the hard way"

It's interesting to contrast the wartime political process in Israel with that here in the U.S. When Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited northern Israel Wednesday -- amid swarms of rocket attacks -- his statements echoed George W. Bush on September 20, 2001.

In a visit of support to the north on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that "the IDF operation won't last for months and, even if it lasts for longer than we planned, we'll know how to match the solution to the citizens."

"I don't intend on announcing an end to the operation. They (Hizbullah) will figure it out on their own, the hard way..."

Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the leaders of the opposition party, backed Olmert's efforts:

...The government has set a goal to remove the threat from Israel's cities and its civilians, and specifically to remove the missile threat. I'm not going to second-guess them in the middle of the war. We are in the middle of a war...

...the presence of these missiles in Hezbollah's hands is an intolerable threat. If this is resolved, when that missile arsenal is intact, you know it's just a question of time when Hezbollah will fire them again, when it suits their Iranian and Syrian patron...

I'm trying to remember what it's like to have a loyal opposition party. One that puts national security above partisan demagoguery. One that provides a home to hawks and doves alike. One that provides a haven for centrists.

And I'm trying to recall a mainstream media that offered similar balance, as opposed to the "zero-percenters" that comprise thought-leadership for today's mediacrats.

I'm having trouble coming up with any examples of loyal opposition here in the U.S. At least since, oh, late 2001. And that's tragic.

So when Olmert says they'll figure it out on their own -- the hard way -- I hope that applies to the opposition party as well. I pray that it won't take another 3,000 dead on American soil to get them to recalibrate their loyalties.

The disproportionate fallacy

Krauthammer has penned a magnificent response to the appeasers and terrorist-backers who call Israeli counterattacks 'disproportionate':

What other country sustains 1,500 indiscriminate rocket attacks into its cities — every one designed to kill, maim and terrorize civilians — and is then vilified by the world when it tries to destroy the enemy’s infrastructure and strongholds with precision-guided munitions... ?

...When the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, it did not respond with a parallel “proportionate” attack on a Japanese naval base. It launched a four-year campaign that killed millions of Japanese, reduced Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to a cinder, and turned the Japanese home islands to rubble and ruin.

Disproportionate? No. When one is wantonly attacked by an aggressor, one has every right — legal and moral — to carry the fight until the aggressor is disarmed and so disabled that it cannot threaten one’s security again. That’s what it took with Japan.

Britain was never invaded by Germany in World War II. Did it respond to the blitz and V-1 and V-2 rockets with “proportionate” aerial bombardment of Germany? Of course not. Churchill orchestrated the greatest land invasion in history that flattened and utterly destroyed Germany...

...In perhaps the most blatant terror campaign from the air since the London blitz, Hezbollah is raining rockets on Israeli cities and villages. These rockets are packed with ball bearings that can penetrate automobiles and shred human flesh. They are meant to kill and maim. And they do...

Read every word.

Krauthammer: The double standard

Thursday, July 27, 2006

LA Times Happy Dance

The invaluable RadioBlogger has posted some fascinating graphs. They depict the catastrophic circulation woes of everyone's favorite whipping boy: the LA Dog Trainer. It's popular to term climatology graphs "hockey-sticks," but that's only because folks haven't seen this illustration of an editorial debacle of extraordinary proportions (hat tip: Hugh Hewitt).

Israel, Hezbollah, and the UN

The outcry from the deaths of UN observers in Lebanon has been predictable. Kofi Annan all but accused the Israelis of targeting the UN, calling the incident, "apparently deliberate." The China Daily said, "Israel has gone too far." And the New York Times' Maureen Dowd claimed Karl Rove had personally executed the observers. Well, I'm just guessing about that last part because I'm not among the dozen folks that have subscribed to Times Deselect.

What you're not hearing from the mainstream press is that Hezbollah -- true to form -- used the UN observers as human shields. According to the UN's own report, Hezbollah was firing from the observers' positions:

...Another UN position of the Ghanaian battalion in the area of Marwahin in the western sector was also directly hit by one mortar round from the Hezbollah side last night. The round did not explode, and there were no casualties or material damage. Another 5 incidents of firing close to UN positions from the Israeli side were reported yesterday. It was also reported that Hezbollah fired from the vicinity of four UN positions at Alma ash Shab, Tibnin, Brashit, and At Tiri...

It could be just me, but if I'm a UN observer and I notice Hezbollah lobbing mortar shells from a position just yards away, my digital watch will display the time, "Get to steppin'."

A Canadian General interviewed on radio independently confirmed that the UN Observer Post was used by Hezbollah:

Retired Canadian Major General Lewis Mackenzie was interviewed on CBC radio, and had some very interesting news about the UN observer post hit by Israeli shells; the Canadian peacekeeper killed there had previously emailed Mackenzie telling him that Hizballah was using their post as cover...

The General put it bluntly: "They use the UN as shields."

And what of Kofi Annan? CNS is reporting that he could have ordered peacekeepers to leave at any time:

The four United Nations peacekeepers killed in an Israeli attack on their outpost were required to stay at that post "until they were ordered by the [U.N.] secretary general to withdraw," said a member of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization on Wednesday.

But the peacekeepers apparently never received such an order, despite the fierce cross-border fighting that erupted in southern Lebanon two weeks ago...

While you won't be reading any of this in the New York Times -- barring someone dumping 55-gallon drums of truth serum in the Manhattan water supply -- rest assured that DowdCo will find a way to blame it all on Chimpy McHalliburton. Heaven knows, there are a couple of years of useful life remaining on her teleprompter's endless tape reel.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Net Neutrality: the Wireless Business is Berry, Berry Good

Over at NewsForge, James Glass offers a remarkable insight that is a powerful argument for net neutrality:

...It turns out that we have a privately owned and controlled network all around us, one that closely mirrors the technical functionality of the Internet, but where there has never been a requirement for net neutrality: the US cellular phone network.

Almost all cell phones sold in the developed world have the ability to send and receive SMS (short message service) text messages. SMS is gaining popularity in the US, but only as a way to send quick messages to friends. So why aren't there a wealth of amazing and interactive services available for mobile devices? Why is there no MySpace, Craigslist, Amazon, Flikr, or eBay accessible through this network? Why are cell phone payment systems and email systems nearly nonexistent? Why haven't charities raised money or awareness of their causes through this system?

It's simple. Because the cell phone carriers control what services are allowed to use their networks. There is no net neutrality on the cell phone network...

Preee-cisely. And that’s what the future holds for the American Internet should the cable/telco duopoly get its way. Heaven knows, they've certainly spent enough:

...According to Campaign Media Analysis Group, [the carriers] have spent up to $45 million to buy anti-Net Neutrality ads nationwide. A report by Bloomberg News, estimates an additional $50 million spent on telco and cable lobbyists. Add to this tally the millons in campaign contributions made by anti-Neutrality companies like AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth, Cisco, Comcast and Time Warner.

On the other hand, the many groups that constitute the SavetheInternet coalition have spent less than $200,000 in our grassroots campaign to support Net Neutrality... That means that for every $1 spent by the grassroots to defend Net Neutrality, the phone and cable companies have spent approximately $500 to drown it...

Remarkable! These blokes have spent nine figures and they still haven't gotten their way. Appears their oft-revised business plans have to get pitched into the fireplace again. This is fun. Let's continue to make 'em bleed their wallets dry.

You know, if their plans go any further off course, the telcos will be looking at leveraged buy-outs of the hub-cap industry soon. I almost feel sorry for them. That is, if I could muster sympathy for has-been monopolists who haven't demonstrated a scintilla of Internet innovation apart from inventing new forms of lobbying.

Mainstream Media Memewatch

Regarding Israel's "disproportionate response" meme:

...A senior Hezbollah official said Tuesday the guerrilla group did not expect Israel to react so strongly to its capture of two Israeli soldiers... "The truth is--let me say this clearly--we didn't even expect (this) response.... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us," said Komati...

The terrorist went on to complain that the Israelis' response was disproportionate. Later, the Hezbollah leader joined hands with Jacques Chirac to sing a chorus of "Kumbaya."

Meme: On the never-ending topic of WMDs in Iraq:

Jennifer Harper of the Washington Times reports on a Harris Poll that, among other things, shows that 50% of respondents--up from 36% last year--believe that "Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded."

And 63% of respondents were aware that mainstream media outlets had censored news that Saddam had scores of WMDs and Joe Wilson lied about Saddam's efforts to procure uranium.

Meme: It was all an Israeli plot:

Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah was defiant late Tuesday in televised comments, accusing Israel of preparing for months for the ongoing assault on Lebanon...

'The manoeuvres the Israeli army were carrying out in the past few months were aimed at preparing a war on Lebanon in September or October,' Nasrallah said in a televised speech aired on Hezbollah's al-Manar television channel... 'It was not because the capturing of the two soldiers.'

Never mind that Iran and Syria turned southern Lebanon into a single seamless missile base. And just ignore the fact that Hezbollah rained rockets into northern Israel for months on end. And don't bother noting that the terrorists attacked Israeli bases while killing and kidnapping soldiers. It's all Israel's fault... not to mention Karl Rove!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New York Times Dupe of the Week: Bob Herbert

First it was the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof. Next, pea-brained op-ed hack Bob Herbert joined the chorus. Their lyrics? That Israel's campaign to eradicate Hezbollah has gone too far... and (who else?) Bush & company are to blame.

A few weeks ago, I noted the observation that the three political columnists for the Times -- Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, and Bob Herbert -- had written a total of 156 columns on the Bush administration over the course of 18 months. Every single one -- all 156 -- were negative.

So it comes as no great surprise that Herbert finds a way to blame the administration for Hezbollah's rocket attacks and kidnappings, which precipitated Israel's counterattacks. Herbert's script is so predictable he could have authored it 18 months ago and simply waited for the predictable escalation of terror attacks to mail it in to his editor-in-name-only.

...It’s too late now... but Israel could have used a friend in the early stages of its war with Hezbollah — a friend who could have tugged at its sleeve and said: 'O.K. We understand. But enough.' That friend should have been the United States...

Herbert is not learned enough to acknowledge the obvious: that Hezbollah's war on Israel is simply a proxy effort orchestrated by Iran. Ahmadinejad, Iran's puppet president, has casually stated on multiple occasions that Israel should be wiped from the face of the Earth. So when Hezbollah fires Iranian missiles, utilizes Iranian troops, and otherwise leverages the fruits of Tehran's war-machine, it all flies right over poor Herbert's head.

Stunningly, Herbert isn't aware of any of this... even though it just appeared in the New York Times. Herbert can't be bothered to actually read the news... it might interfere with his Bush-bashing meme!

...But the unnecessary slaughter of innocents, whether by Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda, American forces in Iraq or the Israeli defense forces, is always wrong, and should never be tolerated. So civilized people cannot in good conscience stand by and silently watch as hundreds of innocents are killed and thousands more threatened by the spasm of destruction unleashed by Israel in Lebanon...

Herbert writes around the fact that Israel carefully tries to avoid civilian casualties. And he simply glosses over Hezbollah's use of human shields (Q: do you have rockets stored in one of the rooms of your house? A: if you answered yes, expect to get bombed in a counterattack).

And Herbert, of course, casually ignores the dozens of other conflagrations that have targeted civilians in the global war he dares not mention: Mumbai, London, Kashmir, Thailand, Beslan, the U.S., Uzbekistan, Darfur, Madrid, Bali, Somalia, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, et. al.

Let me see if I can make this clear to Herbert: Israel, the US, the UK and other allies in the war on terror studiously try to avoid civilian casualties. Hezbollah and its puppet-masters in Damascus and Tehran glory in civilian casualties. In fact, their use of human shields encourages both Muslim and Jewish deaths, all of which become public relations victories when marketed by useful dupes like Herbert.

But Herbert's brain, apparently addled from years of watching CNN, can't be bothered straining his quads to get off his derriere and do actual research  -- heavens, no -- that might entail having to read some history and truly understand the backdrop of these events. That's way too much work for a hack like Herbert.

...As a true friend of Israel, the task of the United States is to work as strenuously as possible to find real solutions to Israel’s security. The first step in that process, as far as the current crisis is concerned, would logically have been to try and broker a cease-fire.

But the compulsive muscle-flexers in the Bush crowd were contemptuous of that idea. Always hot for war, and astonishingly indifferent to its consequences, they egged Israel on. That was not the behavior of a friend...

The Israelis withdrew from southern Lebanon to create peace. They withdrew from Gaza to create peace. But instead of building schools, businesses, and the other infrastructure that would benefit their populations, Iran's proxies turned these regions into missile bases.

There are 10,000 to 15,000 rockets and missiles in the areas from which Israel withdrew. And now Israel is doing the entire world a favor by eradicating Hezbollah and its supply lines.

And only useful dupes like Herbert can ignore those facts. Put simply, he and his ilk are 0 for 156. If there's a Pulitzer Prize for moral equivalence, Herbert is a lock for the 2006 award with this paean to terrorism.

To call Herbert, Dowd and Rich laughingstocks is to overestimate their worth.

Jeff Jacoby: are you a 'Chicken Hawk'?

Straight out of Beantown, Jeff Jacoby weighs on on the Moonbats' favorite meme for villifying the likes of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove; he asks, "Are you a ‘chicken hawk?’" (hat tip: LGF):

“Chicken hawk“ isn’t an argument. It is a slur — a dishonest and incoherent slur... US foreign policy would be more hawkish, not less, if decisions about war and peace were left up to [only] members of the armed forces. Soldiers tend to be politically conservative, hard-nosed about national security, and confident that American arms make the world safer and freer...

The cry of “chicken hawk” is dishonest for another reason: It is never aimed at those who oppose military action. But there is no difference, in terms of the background and judgment required, between deciding to go to war and deciding not to. If only those who served in uniform during wartime have the moral standing and experience to back a war, then only they have the moral standing and experience to oppose a war. Those who mock the views of “chicken hawks“ ought to be just as dismissive of “chicken doves.”

...You don’t need medical training to express an opinion on healthcare. You don’t have to be on the police force to comment on matters of law and order. You don’t have to be a parent or a teacher or a graduate to be heard on the educational controversies of the day. You don’t have to be a journalist to comment on this or any other column.

And whether you have fought for your country or never had that honor, you have every right to weigh in on questions of war and peace. Those who cackle “Chicken hawk!” are not making an argument. They are merely trying to stifle one, and deserve to be ignored.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Windows features in the security headlines: LSP & ADS

Technology news sites are highlighting a couple of longstanding Windows features that are being leveraged by malware authors. The features are layered service providers (LSP) and alternate data streams (ADS), which provide methods for network monitoring and file-hiding, respectively.

A little background is in order. Microsoft products have been under heavy attack lately by hackers using "fuzzing tools" such as Metasploit. Most recently, the author of Metasploit promised to release a browser exploit each day during July. So far, he's made good on his promise. Most of the attacks have targeted Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Fuzzing tools perform brute-force alteration of file content such as web pages, Powerpoint files, etc. Their intent is to coax the native application to crash. Once a crash is detected, the malware author can attempt to inject executable code into the file. This would be a typical method for creating a trojan horse.

eWeek: Zero-Day PowerPoint attack uses LSP

A couple of days ago, eWeek noted an ominous zero-day attack against PowerPoint. Its intent appears to be corporate espionage. When the PowerPoint file is opened by a user, malware named Trojan.Riler.F installs itself as a layered service provider (LSP):

An LSP is a legitimate system driver linked deep into the networking services of Windows. It is used primarily to allow the operating system to connect to other computers, but virus writers have found a way to make malicious programs work as LSPs to hijack sensitive data during transmission.
Symantec, of Cupertino, Calif., said the Trojan also opens a back door on the compromised system and connects to the "" domain. The Trojan then listens and waits for commands from a remote attacker... [it] logs keyboard strokes, hijacks sensitive system data and transmit the information back to a remote server hosted in China...

Consider LSPs a lower-level form of Microsoft's browser helper objects (BHOs). BHOs are well-known in anti-virus circles as a primary means for infecting Internet Explorer with spyware- and adware-delivery systems. But BHOs focus primarily on users' web surfing. LSPs, on the other hand, are less well-known but far more powerful. They allow an attacker to inspect and/or hijack any  network traffic: instant messages, POP/SMTP email, etc.

Windows is the only operating system that supports LSPs and BHOs. It is unclear why Microsoft added support for low-level network monitoring features without also providing easy methods for reviewing and uninstalling packages that leverage them.

ZDNet: Rootkits hide using ADS

ZDNet reports that rootkits are getting better at hiding. The term 'rootkit' is a catch-all phrase that Wikipedia defines as, "...a set of software tools intended to conceal running processes, files or system data, thereby helping an intruder to maintain access to a system whilst avoiding detection." Whilst? Anyhow, ZDNet specifically describes the malware known as Rustock:

...To avoid detection, [it] runs no system processes, but runs its code inside a driver and kernel threads, Florio wrote. It also uses alternate data streams (Ed: emphasis mine) instead of hidden files and avoids using application programming interfaces (APIs). Today's detection tools look for system processes, hidden files and hooks into APIs, according to Florio's post...

What exactly are Alternate Data Streams (ADS)? ADS has been around since the advent of the NT file system (NTFS). Reportedly, they were added to NTFS in order to provide compatibility with HFS, the old Macintosh Hierarchical File System. HFS used multiple "forks" to manage its files: the data fork held the payload of the file while the resource fork held the file's metadata.

Is ADS a newly discovered threat? Actually, not at all. ADS has been recognized as a potential security threat for at least eight years:

...In July 1998, InfoWorld Security Watch columnists Stuart McClure and Joel Scambray wrote that NTFS alternate data streams present a threat to information security. McClure and Scambray maintain that malicious users can use alternate streams to hide infected code and that no existing antivirus product can detect or disinfect viruses within an alternate stream. Two years passed, and no one took steps to resolve the situation. In August 2000, two Czech hackers, under the pseudonyms Benny and Ratter, created the W2K.Stream virus. This virus, which cleverly uses alternate streams to carry infected files, is a harsh reminder of the NTFS feature's vulnerability...

That wasn't it. Windows IT Pro carried a similar warning in 2001. Ray Zadjmool, writing in Windows Security, rang the alarm claxons again in 2004. Yet he could accurately call the feature, "relatively unknown."

The following year (2005), Rick Cook could still call ADS 'little-known' despite the fact that SecurityFocus had explicitly called out the ADS threat:

...There has been a marked increase in the use of these streams by malicious hackers wanting to store their files once they have compromised a computer. Not only that, it has also been seen that viruses and other types of malware are being placed there as well...

...In the interest again of visually showing what these streams are and how they can appear once detected, a screenshot of before and after will be shown. The tools lads and lns were used to look for the streams on the Windows 2000 machine, both before and after the hack...

So, while ZDNet's article this week is noteworthy, ADS is hardly a new threat.

The real question: why does Microsoft continue to support ADS? Or, at the very least, why does it not provide a method for disabling its use?

Final Thoughts

If there are a few lessons we can draw from the experiences of LSP and ADS (and BHOs, for that matter), I'd propose the following:
  • Have an external security audit on software features that expose data to third-parties
  • Provide methods for completely disabling features that expose said data
  • Prompt the end-user whenever an application requests access to shared data
  • Provide a way for end users to review which applications are using data exposure tools
  • Offer end users an ability to opt out of sharing data with third-parties
  • Log everything 

In the mean time, beware the PowerPoint from parts unknown.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Frankston on net neutrality: our crowded sidewalks

The co-inventor of the spreadsheet -- Bob Frankston -- has weighed in on net neutrality. His analogy is excellent:

I stepped out to take my stroll and was immediately accosted (in the nicest way, of course) by a gaggle of TSP (Transportation Service Provider) agents vying to sell me the use of their sidewalks. Actually, they called it a Transportation Service -- I didn't have to worry about the details of the sidewalk itself. They realized that I was confused by the ability and the need to choose my sidewalk provider. They reacted as if they were speaking to a dunce and explained that competition was necessary in order to keep the prices down. If they had to share one sidewalk they couldn't guarantee the Quality of Stroll and QoS is very important. Imagine if I started to go to the grocery and had to slow down because someone was walking too slowly. I was about to ask why I couldn't just walk around them when I saw the big "do not walk on the Astroturf signs". I had to limit myself to the QoS provided by the TSPs. Sidewalks are scarce and they had to limit the quality in order to assure that everyone gets "fair" use of the scarce supply of sidewalks -- you can only run three or four sidewalks from the town center to each house -- any more and you'd lose the remaining 10% of the land...

In a separate article, Frankston also takes the FCC to task:

...the FCC was chartered in 1934 to assure that we had a viable telecommunications industry which would provide us with services like telephone calls and radio broadcasting. There was no need for giving us access to the transport itself...

The FCC is acting as if it is 1934 and is treating the Internet as just another service as if it were a TV station. It cannot come to terms with the idea that Internet connectivity is fundamental and that we can create services ourselves. It insists we must limit our choices to the carriers’ offerings...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

YouTube is blowing up

I mean that in a good way. Ad Age is reporting that YouTube -- the incredibly snappy and friendly video-sharing site -- is now the fastest growing web site:

The popularity of YouTube is growing at an astronomical rate, as web traffic to the video-sharing site grew 75% just in the week ending July 16, from 7.3 million to 12.8 million unique visitors, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Traffic to the site has grown nearly threefold -- 297% -- since January, making it the fastest-growing site online...

Keys to its success? Many of the obvious ones: media delivery via Macromedia Flash (an excellent and ubiquitous video-player), superb navigation, stunning previews, subscriptions, community-based ratings, etc.

But the real key is YouTube's tacit endorsement of viral links. If you like a video, you've got multiple ways to slap it onto your own website: a hyperlink and an embedded object are both provided on each and every video page. I don't know if anyone's bothered to count how many sites are now using these features, but I'd venture to guess it's over 10,000 (updated later: shows you how much I know - a Google Search tallies closer to 100,000!).

Only a year-and-a-half old (incredible!), the site was founded by Chad Hurley and Steve Chen who simply wanted an easy way to share videos with their friends. Certainly continues in the theme of net neutrality: successful sites that were built not by corporate behemoths, but by motivated individuals (think Digg, eBay, etc.).

Some personal favorites? Daily Show: Stephen Colbert on Bloggers, Cubicle Wars, and The Golf-Ball Prank.

Top five things Linux can learn from Microsoft

Thoroughly clear-eyed look at where Linux (and the open-source community in general) must play catch-up with Redmond. The quick list:

#2 Common interface (e.g., Gnome, KDE, ...)
#3 Common (file) format(s)
#4 Marketing
#5 OEM Support

Read it all: Top five things Linux can learn from Microsoft

Friday, July 21, 2006

Open source in the national interest

The DOD has released its official report (PDF) on open technology development. The roadmap offers a ringing endorsement of open-source software (OSS). Let's skip ahead to the conclusion:

To summarize: OSS and open source development methodologies are important to the National Security and National Interest of the U.S. for the following reasons:

* Enhances agility of IT industries to more rapidly adapt and change to user needed capabilities.

* Strengthens the industrial base by not protecting industry from competition. Makes industry more likely to compete on ideas and execution versus product lock-in.

* Adoption recognizes a change in our position with regard to balance of trade of IT.

* Enables DoD to secure the infrastructure and increase security by understanding what is actually in the source code of software installed in DoD networks.

* Rapidly respond to adversary actions as well as rapid changes in the technology industrial base.

Back in '04, Canada's Defense R&D offered a similar assessment.

The ultimate nutrition site

If you want to figure out just how healthy that Cap'n Crunch cereal is... or how much fat is in a Twix bar... the Nutrition Data site is without peer.

Its visualization tools for illustrating nutritional profiles are stunningly cool. Check it out.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Microsoft's guidelines for future Windows development

Eric Bangeman, writing at Ars Technica, has posted Microsoft's new Guidelines for future Windows development. From all appearances, Microsoft hopes to strike a delicate balance. It must walk the tightrope between encouraging competition but -- presumably -- not too much competition. The first of three principles ("Choice for Computer Manufacturers and Customers") reads:

Microsoft is committed to designing Windows and licensing it on contractual terms so as to make it easy to install non-Microsoft® programs and to configure Windows-based PCs to use non-Microsoft programs instead of or in addition to Windows features.

1. Installation of any software.

2. Easy access.

3. Defaults. Microsoft will design Windows so as to enable computer manufacturers and users to set non-Microsoft programs to operate by default in key categories.

4. Exclusive promotion of non-Microsoft programs.

5. Business terms. Microsoft will not retaliate against any computer manufacturer that supports non-Microsoft software.

Tenet 5 is particularly interesting, given accusations leveled against Microsoft.

On that note, let's dial up March 15, 1991 on the way-back machine, Mr. Sherman. And let me call your attention to a New York Times article from that very day entitled, "Microsoft's Tactics Questioned by Rivals":

...Until two years ago, Alpha Software was selling a program known as Alphaworks, a combined spreadsheet, word processor and data base, to personal computer companies, which packaged it with their machines.

But when Microsoft came out with a similar program called Microsoft Works, Alpha's biggest customer, Hyundai, shifted to Microsoft and Alpha lost a bid for another big contract. Realizing it could not compete, Alpha sold the program to the stronger Lotus, which has had some success with it...

If I recall correctly, AlphaWorks was a PC Magazine Editor's Choice (tied with Microsoft Works). The real story behind Hyundai's conversion from AlphaWorks is especially interesting, but I'll leave it to the principals at Alpha Software to tell that tale.

I commend Microsoft for clearly enunciating their commitment to ethical business practices. Better late than never.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Helen Thomas takes on the Arab Street

The invaluable Newsbusters site noted yesterday's White House press room incident, as Presidential Spokesperson Tony Snow upbraided Helen Thomas (...her skin looks so good for her age... I wonder what her secret is? Formaldehyde? Oops. Did I say that out loud? So much for stream-of-consciousness blogging...):

QUESTION: The United States is not that helpless. It could have stopped the bombardments of Lebanon. We have that much control with the Israelis.

SNOW: I don’t think so.

QUESTION: We have gone for collective punishment against all of Lebanon and Palestine. And what’s happening - and that’s the perception of the United States.

SNOW: Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view...

On the other hand, there's Ahmed Al-Jarallah, Editor-in-Chief of Kuwait's Arab Times, endorsing Israel's military operations in its self-defense:

A battle between supporters and opponents of these adventurers has begun, starting from Palestine to Tehran passing through Syria and Lebanon. This war was inevitable as the Lebanese government couldn't bring Hezbollah within its authority and make it work for the interests of Lebanon. Similarly leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has been unable to rein in the Hamas Movement.

Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of "these irregular phenomena" is what Israel is doing. The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community...

Lesson learned: I guess the Arab Street lies to the right of Helen Thomas and the Moonbattery.

Did Comcast censor an ABC News Broadcast?

Think net neutrality laws aren't warranted? Here's a taste of the future; a future in which the cable/teclo duopoly calls the shots in terms of content permitted to transit their pipes (oops, I meant tubes*).

Preston Gralla reports that Comcast may have censored a news broadcast critical of its service operation:

Comcast recently censored ABC's Nightline on its Comcast Broadband TV service by deleting the part of the broadcast that said a Comcast technician was sleeping on a customer's couch instead of installing residential broadband.

The Consumerist shows both the original broadcast and censored broadcast.

In the original, someone was interviewed who noted that a Comcast technician fell asleep on the couch because he had called Comcast technical support, and was put on hold for an hour...

Networking and Telecom Blog: Comcast censors ABC News

* Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," offered his take on why it took so long for Senator Stevens to receive his staff's email: "Maybe it's because you do not seem to know jack**** about computers or the Internet ... but hey, you're just the guy in charge of regulating it."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gingrich says it's World War III

Historian, author, and erstwhile 2008 Presidential candidate (dark horse is an understatement) Newt Gingrich says its time everyone recognized we are in the midst of World War III. This is obvious to most, except for outlets like the New York Times, who casually ignore the gaping hole a few blocks from their offices and instead concentrate on villifying the administration, the military, and Republicans (not necessarily in that order). One hopes for a day when the Times would spend 1% of their time on exposing enemy plots, rather than US national security secrets.

Gingrich said in the coming days he plans to speak out publicly, and to the Administration, about the need to recognize that America is in World War III... He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, this week's bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III. He said Bush needs to deliver a speech to Congress and "connect all the dots" for Americans... He said the reluctance to put those pieces together and see one global conflict is hurting America's interests...

These totalitarian regimes, whether operating alone or in tandem, pose an obvious and ominous threat to civilization. Gingrich is right to hope for increased emphasis on these conflicts as a single, unified war against extremists who pray for death, chaos, and the end of human rights.

Words of Wisdom from Mark Steyn

The eminently readable Mark Steyn appearing on the Hugh Hewitt show (hat tip: RadioBlogger, whose fingers must be bloody stumps from all the transcript-typing): 20 years time, they'll ask us what we were doing in the year 2006. Some of us were worried about radical [extremists], and some of us were worried about Al Gore's global warming, and the voting machines, and Dick Cheney. And one of us will be right, and the other will be wrong. And the reality of this situation is it's nothing to do with Bush and Cheney. It's happening in India. It's happening in Israel. It's happening in Bali. It's happening in Russia. It's a planetary-wide problem, and it's nothing to do with Bush and Cheney stealing chads, or any of this other rubbish they go on about...

This is exactly why I wrote the article entitled "The Stockdale Paradox."

London, Beslan, Mumbai, the World Trade Center, Islamabad, Haifa, Madrid, the Pentagon... the list goes on and on and on, growing every day.

But maybe the problem will simply go away if we ignore it. After all, that seems to be the obstruction opposition party's take.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Looking for a personal battle tank?

Then have I got a deal for you! Amazon is offering the JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank, which boasts a top speed of 40 mph, a 400-watt sound system, and can either be piloted from within the tank or from its topside hatch. A reviewer notes:

Finally, a tank you can trust

I'll admit it. Shopping for a personal tank can be a bit daunting. Many times in the past I've purchased overpriced, so-called "battle tanks", then driven them into battle only to be wrecked in ten minutes by the first blow off of some insurgents home-made morter.

But not this baby, no way.

This tank R-O-C-K-S! Literally- the 400-watt sound-system keeps me rockin like a crazy man as I'm dishing out justice commando style. Wow. I just can't say enough. And the kids love it, too- imagine the look of terror in the eyes of the enemy as I'm dropping off my kid's team to their soccer game. Shock and awe, my friends, SHOCK AND AWE!

I had NAO install the optional GPS-guided white phosphorus missile system, and talk about *SWEET*! Burn baby burn!!!

Oh, it also has plenty of room for groceries, and if you need to like move a loveseat or something it'll fit if you use a little bungee cord.

The only real negative with this tank is that it shows up on radar a little more than I like (although there is a polyresin graphite stealth model available). Also, the included spare isn't full size.

Overall, a great tank.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Open-Source and LAMP News Roundup

Interesting collection of news items -- some fresh, others a few weeks old -- assembled into a contextual whole sure to excite the entire family. The speakers at the last few LinuxWorlds were representative of the increasingly corporate face of LAMP: CitiGroup, e-Trade Financial, Cendant Travel (owner of Orbitz and many other sites), and Nationwide among them.

eWeek Grades the Stacks

Last week, eWeek compared a range of popular stacks including Windows JBoss, Windows Python, WAMP, Linux Python, LAMP, Linux JBoss, Linux J2EE and native .NET. Unfortunately, at least from my perspective, the stacks included portal software that clouded the results.

And the portal choices were crucial: SharePoint Portal Server 2003, XOOPS (for PHP), Plone (for Python), and LifeRay and JBoss Portal (for JSP). Certainly for LAMP and J2EE, many other choices were viable contendors.

The biggest surprise? The performance of the WAMP stack was exceptional: its transactions-per-second more than doubled native .NET. In average throughput-per-second, though, native .NET crushed the competition.

Regarding LAMP, eWeek wrote:

This stack's performance numbers suggest what many who have been using PHP for some time now (including some of the busiest blogs on the Web) know to be true—that a pure LAMP-based PHP system can easily handle enterprise-class traffic and loads.

As for WAMP, eWeek reports that it offered the most intriguing results:

The results we saw with the WAMP stacks were probably the biggest surprise in our entire test. Enterprise IT managers shouldn't hesitate to look into the option of deploying open-source stacks on a Windows Server platform.

Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols adds his two cents regarding the decision to include portal software in the testing:

...I know exactly why these benchmarks produced their results. Indeed, eWEEK Labs agrees with me and points these factors out. For example, all their tests were based on standard portal configuration setups. So, you're not really testing the stacks themselves, you're testing the portals... Given an expert performance tuner's hand on any of the tested configuration stacks, and you would have seen vastly better results from the Linux-based stacks, and better results from the Windows stacks...

In truth, SharePoint has a huge advantage in this sort of analysis: it is tightly integrated from the operating system level all the way through to the application serving framework (.NET). That's not the case with the plethora of OSS portals, which are completely independent projects. Nonetheless, performance results of untuned LAMP and WAMP stacks are exceptionally intriguing.

Enterprise LAMP usage noted by CNet

Last week's CNet article, "Open-Source LAMP a beacon to developers," points to the dramatic rise in enterprise LAMP development:

The so-called LAMP stack of open-source software--which includes the Linux operating system, Apache Web server, MySQL database and scripting languages PHP, Perl or Python--is pushing its way into mainstream corporate computing... Indeed, several companies are staking out businesses around the open-source software rather than aligning with Microsoft's .Net or with Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) server software and tools...

"What we've seen in the last two years is corporations saying, 'We don't need these big heavy J2EE application servers. Why don't we migrate to something easier to deploy and less costly?'" said Mark Brewer, CEO of Covalent...

"If you look at .Net or J2EE, they are top-controlled by single entities to make decisions--sometimes good decisions, sometimes bad," said Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL. "In the LAMP stack, the evolutionary powers make sure that only best-of components survive. It is a difference in philosophy."

Both Microsoft and Java vendors are clearly aware of the popularity of LAMP...

Real Meme on J2EE and Mono: Waning

Over at Real Meme, the assertion is that J2EE has topped out and is on the wane. Evidence includes a statistical/quant analysis of the newsgroups and related technology areas (report: Saving J2EE). As for Mono, Real Meme reports, "He's still dead, Jim."

An InternetNews analysis asks, "Is Java EE's Complexity Its Worst Enemy?":

Java Platform, Enterprise Edition is such an unwieldy beast that developers are moving away from it, cherry picking the few pieces they need or looking at open source alternatives. And if the trend continues, Java EE could die on the vine.

That's the conclusion of a report from The Burton Group, written by an analyst who has authored three books on Java 2 Enterprise Edition (its old brand name). "So it's not like I want this to be the case," joked Richard Monson-Haefel, senior analyst for Burton and author of the report...

That's been my experience. Whenever comparable web application projects were delivered in CPG, banking, and healthcare areas -- and one was in J2EE and the other in LAMP/WAMP -- each and every time the latter project beat it to market. And usually with far less FTE count. I'm not sure whether the key factors were complexity, learning curve, ramp-up time, or vagaries of the development/testing environment, but it always seemed the J2EE project lagged. Pfizer is another example of a company that has publicly reported similar results.

Open-source and Security

First came word that Antivirus vendor Trend Micro has definitively stated that open-source software is "more secure". Raimund Genes, Trend's CTO noted:

Open source is more secure. Period... More people control the code base; they can react immediately to vulnerabilities; and open source doesn't have so much of a problem with legacy code because of the number of distributions.

Other news hitting the mainstream media: word of widespread exploitation of a "feature" of the Windows File System (NTFS), which is used to create nearly invisible rootkits (self-hiding malware packages). Some commentators had warned for years that Alternate Data Streams (ADS) were rife for abuse. More recently, rootkit sites, WhiteHat tools, and even CIO Magazine have picked up the drumbeat. All point to a capability in the Windows OS that is extraordinarily difficult to police. Imagine a file -- created right from user-mode -- that is completely invisible to all but the most sophisticated tools. Effectively, that's the net-net of Windows' ADS.

OSS and Microsoft

There has been plenty of speculation about Microsoft's "co-opetition" with the world of OSS. Most recently, Sys-con editorializes MSFT's decision to provide interoperability between Office file formats and the Open Document Format (ODF):

Microsoft has up and made a 180-degree turn and is now saying it's going to half-heartedly support the Oasis-blessed OpenDocument Format (ODF) foist on it by Sun and the sovereign Commonwealth of Massachusetts, whose adoption of the anti-Microsoft format has threatened to start a wholesale defection from the Microsoft standard, particularly by government.

Not to be outdone, Google has joined the burgeoning ODF Alliance, which started with 36 members in March and is now at 240... Anyway, Microsoft says it's created what it calls an open source Open XML Translator program and that the stuff - described as "a technical bridge" between its own Open XML formats and ODF... This is Microsoft's first open source project, new and hostile territory for the company, but it's gone so far as to post a prototype for Word 2007 on Sourceforge.

And at ZDNet, Dana Blankenhorn asks, "What would a Microsoft fade mean for open-source?"

...Just as the cost of starting production rises exponentially as chips get more complex, so the cost of developing and maintaining software rises with complexity.

In hardware, this means the number of companies which can afford a fabrication plant or "fab" declines. In software it means that fewer-and-fewer companies can compete in important niches as software grows more complex... Open source may be software's way out of Moore's Second Law. And that law will continue to bite every remaining competitor in the proprietary realm, including Microsoft.

Self-Defense 101 for the New York Times

In an interview with Israeli Air Force Major General Eliezer Shkedy, one of his answers struck me as especially insightful:

This war [on terror] is so complex. [The terrorists] are always trying to figure out what we're doing; they adapt to it. I would love to be able to tell [all] we are doing... to protect them. They'd be proud to hear it. But the moment I make something public, the other side will adapt. So telling the public actually harms... efforts to protect the public.

Got that, editors of the New York Times? Is that clear enough for you?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Okay, this sent chills down my spine

The report that Israel has given Syria a 72-hour ultimatum (" stop Hizbullah’s activity along the Lebanon-Israel border and bring about the release the two kidnapped IDF soldiers or it would launch an offensive with disastrous consequences...") didn't do it. But a commenter's note did:

Isaiah speaks of Damascus ...when he says (17:1):

The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap... ...and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.

JOS Salary Survey

The JOS forum has an interesting thread (which made it to Digg's frontpage) regarding IT/Software Development salaries. Lots of data -- the accuracy could certainly be in question, though. Not exactly scientific methodology, but interesting nonetheless.

Joel on Software: Salary Survey

Friday, July 14, 2006

Iran's Proxies at War with Israel

It is worth remembering, especially at this juncture in the decades-long Middle East conflict, the reason Iran's Mullahs can roll the dice. While their proxies (Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas) launch attacks into Israel, they gamble on U.S. inaction due to political paralysis.

They read the New York and LA Times. They hear the likes of Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha, and Howard Dean on CNN. And they remember Jimmy Carter, whose lack of will led to the ascent of the theocracy in Tehran.

They bank on the purely partisan gamesmanship that has supplanted any coherent long-range plans on terrorism and terrorist states. Americans were once unified after 9/11, but the country has long since become fractured -- first by Howard Dean during the '04 primaries and then by the mainstream Democratic party -- for reasons of political expediency.

The party organ of the Left, the New York Times, routinely censors stories and pictures of the WTC jumpers, the heroes of flight 93, the 500 WMD found in Iraq since 2003, the accelerating reconstruction of Iraq, the horrific attack on Beslan, the aftermath of the Madrid subway bombings, and any other evidence of the widening global conflict promoted by religious extremists against civilization.

Instead, the Times chooses to wage war on America's national security initiatives and to provide a willing channel that funnels propaganda to the enemy. The litany of wartime programs the Times has chosen to expose include rendition, SWIFT, phone-number databases, international calling pattern analysis, and the like. Counter to the Times' claims of government's overreach, not one person has gone to jail nor has anyone even been indicted over these programs.

The Times pretends instead that we are not at war. They ignore the ever-escalating conflict, which was strengthened by the A.Q. Kahn nuclear parts network and the Loral/ICBM debacle under the not-so-watchful eyes of Clinton and Albright. That leads us to the current situation with North Korea and Iran.

Michael Ledeen comments:

Iran has been at war with us all along, because that’s what the world’s leading terror state does. The scariest thing about this moment is that the Iranians have convinced themselves that they are winning, and we are powerless to reverse the tide. As I reported here several months ago, Khamenei told his top people late last year that the Americans and Israelis are both politically paralyzed. Neither can take decisive action against Iran, neither can sustain prolonged conflict and significant casualties. Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader said, the terrorists are all working for Iran, and we will expand the terror war.

Don’t think for a moment that they worry about victims in Gaza or Lebanon. They are delighted to see Israel fighting on two fronts, because they will use the pictures from the battlefield to consolidate their hold over the fascist forces in the region. After a few days of fighting, I would not be surprised to see some new kind of terrorist attack against Israel, or against an American facility in the region. An escalation to chemical weapons, for example, or even the fulfillment of the longstanding Iranian promise to launch something nuclear at Israel. They meant it when they said it, don’t you know?

The only way we are going to win this war is to bring down those regimes in Tehran and Damascus, and they are not going to fall as a result of fighting between their terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon on the one hand, and Israel on the other. Only the United States can accomplish it.

If national security is the question, the party of weakness (and its media organ - the Times) will never be the answer.

National Review's Michael Ledeen: The Same War

David Twersky has more: War on Iran has begun

Plame Blame Game: Lame

The fun kicks into high gear with news that Vanity Fair pinups Valerie Plame and hubby Joe Wilson have sued various folks in the Administration. I can't wait until this one hits CourtTV:

For those who think that the Wilsons still have any credibility left, please see my omnibus post on the various efforts by Joe Wilson to obfuscate the truth until put under oath by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Undoubtedly, this lawsuit will founder on the same shoals -- and it will give us a splendid opportunity to ask Plame under threat of perjury [many] questions including: ...How did Joe Wilson get this assignment?

Let's put Plame on the stand and really get to the heart of what she hoped to accomplish by promoting her husband for this task. I'd bet the lawsuit gets dropped in a New York minute -- and if not, the record of Wilson's prevarications should easily sink it.

Captain's Quarters: Attention, Perjury Fans!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Boycott the New York Times

Long ago, the Times' public editor Daniel Okrent answered the question, "Is the New York Times a liberal newspaper?" His response was, "Of course it is."

In the most recent edition of Talking Points, Bill O'Reilly pointed out some additional metrics regarding the Times:

The publisher of The Times, Arthur Sulzberger, believes the Bush administration is a danger to the world. He's convinced the president is using the War on Terror to turn America into a totalitarian state bent on enriching the powerful and violating the rights of every day people.

Sulzberger's put together a staff of true believers like himself. And they are bent on undermining the Bush administration. Not watching it, undermining it.

Three political columnists for The Times -- Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert and Frank Rich -- wrote a total of 156 columns on the Bush administration in the past 18 months. Every one, all 156 were negative.

...[The Times] simply says it is exposing an incompetent president. But the truth is far more insidious. There is a far-left press jihad going on in this country. That's the truth. Their ideology prevents them from understanding true evil. Their theoretical outlook would make it impossible to win on the battlefield.

The title of O'Reilly's piece: "When Living in a Dangerous World, You Must Know Your Enemy." But: 156 anti-administration stories in a row? Maybe it's just a coincidence. And maybe penguin commandos will invade Canada and pillage Toronto.

O'Reilly has a point. Does any sane person doubt that extremists plot further attacks on New Yorkers? High-profile targets include Manhattan's subways, buses, tanker-trucks, neighboring refineries, tunnels, bridges, and high-rises -- to name but a few. But the Times can't be bothered to investigate or comment upon the enemy's plans.

Instead, it concentrates on disclosing a swath of classified Government programs, ranging from rendition to SWIFT. Furthermore, its news and analysis pieces have attempted to justify its behavior. Laughably, other articles even question the Government's rollup of terror attacks that are in the planning -- and not execution -- stages.

Furthermore, incidents that appear in the mainstream press (e.g., the 500 WMD found in Iraq since 2003) are censored and ignored by the Times in a self-righteous zeal to wage information warfare against Americans and New Yorkers specifically.

It is one thing to have opinions and spin the news. It is another thing altogether to censor the news, to damage national security, and -- in the end -- to ultimately harm the American people by withholding news and information in a manner reminiscent of Pravda circa 1960.

Boycott the New York Times. New Yorkers deserve better. Americans deserve better. We deserve the truth.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hugh Hewitt hammers another nail into the LA Times' coffin

It is certain the LA Times doesn't need another reminder that their business is going to hell in a hand-basket (heaven knows that Patterico has delivered enough to rival a pizza-driver's mileage). Nonetheless, they got one yesterday. Hugh Hewitt delivered a blistering (and maniacally dandy) weather report for the LA Dog Trainer.

It comes after a May 2006 report showing that the Times has lost more paid weekday circulation (5.4% year over year) than any other major daily.

Hewitt's prediction? Continued blight, followed by extended drought, followed by seven or more years of famine. Think of it as the second half of Joseph's dream interpretation for Pharoah and you're pretty much there.

...When the new circulation figures for the [LA Times] appear, it is a guarantee that... any losses will be explained away by reference not to the papers' atrocious editorial decisions, but to the challenge from online competitors.

To help the small brained dinosaurs... there's a useful new category cooked up by the Audit Bureau of Circulation that counts free papers left in hotel lobbies etc., "Verified Circulation."

You can perfume a corpse, but that doesn't make it less dead. Keep your eye on home delivery, paid circulation. The advertisers will. And my guess is that they won't be happy. Nor will the shareholders or Wall Street...

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew. That's a mighty tall glass of shut-up juice the Times just got served.

It's always fun to see Mr. Hewitt delivering bi-coastal smackdowns. That's why CNN only books him on CNN's Reliable Sources infrequently. Say, when there's an eclipse during the Summer Solstice... and when he's outnumbered 3-1 or greater by the moonbattery. I did notice that the last time he was on, they pulled the usual one conservative versus three liberals (including a certain "Eric Lichtblau", recently infamous for a shameful national security disclosure). Hewitt rendered it a brutal mismatch for the Right.

I could be mistaken, but Hewitt delivered enough punishment that by the end of the segment he was yelling, "Is that all you got? Bring on some more! Carville, Rafferty, whoever you got!"

I could've imagined that last part, but I'm pretty sure that's the way it went down.

It will get considerably uglier for the Times, whose infantile behavior defies both logic and any semblance of business sense. The only saving grace for those employed or otherwise captive to the Times: the inevitable, chaotic meltdown won't last long, so it will all be over quickly.