Sunday, August 10, 2014

There is No Oversight Without Root

On UNIX and Linux machines, which are the heavy hitters in the world of computer technology, the "administrator" account who can do anything is called "root."

I once had "root" account privileges on over 2000 machines, at Morgan Stanley, namely, all the machines involved in running equities trading, options trading, and market making. I wasn't so foolish to think that I could get away with criminal activity with my power. I assumed that lots of logging of any activities I performed as root occurred, and I'd need to hide all of it to do anything nefarious.

In fact, I behaved in the opposite manner, giving my all to keep Morgan Stanley operating during the worst strains on our system (one Chinese market swing of 9% in one day, the Amaranth hedge fund collapse, and the 3+ weeks when the markets went crazy, starting July, 2007, because of the sub-prime mortgage and other market bubble problems). I like to say I kept together the capitalist system, since I was the lead of the front lines of "monitoring" our systems for problems, a job I was allowed to handle as I saw fit. If we had failed, there is simply no way Goldman Sachs could have picked up the extra business we weren't handling, and the markets would have been frozen. Also, because of that monitoring, I got the best compliment I have ever received from a work activity. A peer later said "Monitoring went to shit after you left."

Guess who doesn't have root/administrator access on Defense Department computers? The President of the United States. When he reads reports from DoD, it's always whatever, and just, what they want to give him. It's an abomination, and perfectly suited to the current corrupt culture of military contracting that is just a part of the huge problem of Federal contracting.

The President should have/needs root access.

I want to be in Congress, too, by the way.

Seriously, @SenJohnMcCain, Shut the Fuck Up.

John McCain, on a Sunday Morning talk show, today:

ISIS “continues to make gains everywhere.”
Reality? Here is a sampling for ABC News.

Reinvigorated by American airstrikes, Kurdish forces retook two towns from Sunni militants Sunday, achieving one of their first victories after weeks of retreating, a senior Kurdish military official said.
Kurdish peshmerga fighters were able to push the militants of the Islamic State group out of the villages of Makhmour and al-Gweir, some 45 kilometers from Irbil, Brig. Gen. Shirko Fatih said. 
Do not click on link, quite annoying ad and then video.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Madeleine Albright Says It


    

    From "Is the World A Mess?" on VOA News.

She said two “huge game changers” have affected recent events.  One is the behavior of RussianPresident Vladimir Putin toward Ukraine.  The other is what has been happening in the Middle Eaststarting with the political unrest known as the Arab SpringShe also noted what she called “the artificiality of the borders that were established after World War I.”
(emphasis mine).

It's nice, for me, to hear people acknowledge that this is a problem. Mostly I hear only about the value of territorial integrity.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Celebrate Iraqi Partition


    

    This blog's interest in what might be called linguistic nationalism, the idea that state borders are stablest and best when the match the linguistic map of the people, would obviously result in the eventual breakdown of the borders drawn as a result of the "scramble for Africa"Sykes-Picot"the Great Game", etc.

    Today a couple articles were published, one in the NY Times, one in the Daily Beast, against just such an idea.

     The first was penned by a mendacious fool who attempts to equate border-changing with the evils of Marxist Communism by starting out:
 Over the past two weeks, the specter that has haunted Iraq since its founding 93 years ago appears to have become a reality: the de facto partition of the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish cantons.
     The emphasis is mine. As an unnecessary reminder, Marx and Engels began the Communist Manifesto with the sentence "A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism."

     The Daily Beast Op/Ed was written by a a person without a clue who could seriously pen these words:
[P]artition will not lead to self-rule and stability in Iraq, rather it will provide ISIS with a haven in which it can subjugate the local population and plan further conquests.
     Again, the emphasis is mine. The majority of local population under putative ISIS control, I've heard reported, would rather have ISIS than US or Republic of Iraq troops around them, for starters, and these low-tech guerilla-style fighters are never going to able to project military power in a way that threatens anything but sparsely populated desert areas with Sunni Arab populations, and even then, it isn't like the Saudi or Jordanian Air Force will be particularly merciful if they ever move against those regional powers.

     In any event, we all should have learned that ISIS was a bunch of loonies when they started talking about taking the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. Where ISIS is wanted, it can succeed, where it is not, it will fail.

My Recent Hospital Stay, Weight and Heart


    

    I had lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I was down to 121 pounds and I am 6'2" tall. I was admitted to the Mayo Clinic hospital in Jacksonville for malnutrition. One week later the same scale said I was 174.8 pounds. It's almost all swelling, and, since my blood albumin (protein) is low, likely anasarca.

     I have had scleroderma (SSc) since at least January, 2010. I have a bad, perhaps severe, case. It affects my skin, my entire GI tract, my lungs, some joints, and my kidneys. The only organ that SSc affects that hadn't hit me was my heart... or so we thought. I had an echocardiogram at the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday. My ejection fraction was measured at 37%, far below the norm of 65%. On Wednesday I had a cardiac catheterization to rule out blocked arteries being the cause. When it was over the doctor who did the test made sure to tell me my arteries were "great." Apparently the measurements were all zeroes. I felt a bit of pride at this. A lot of people go to the gym, but men tend to spend a lot more time with the weights, while I spent a lot of time on the elliptical and stair machines. I don't think I ever worked my heart too hard, and so would imagine that the net result was a really tip-top cardiovascular system.

     But what no one in the Cardiac team, led by Dr. Mohamad Yamani, mentioned was that some of all that swelling was around my heart, pressuring it, reducing my measured ejection fraction?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Eskimo Words For Snow


     That's nothing, we have more than a 1,000 words for the colors of the rainbow.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Coping: What I Think I Learned Going to the Hospital


     I am not a doctor. This is definitely not medically approved advice.  I was lucky to be born with a super-high IQ, but that lets me notice things, it doesn't make me right.  When I was a teenager, one TV show that really had me thinking was Connections.  The host asked if you know what it would look like if the Sun was spinning around the Earth, like people used to think?  It would look +exactly+ the same.  So, I am just saying I could have exactly the wrong answer, even if it all looks right to me.

     At the hospital yesterday I got two liters of IV fluids, drank three ice and contrast filled cups (for a CAT scan to rule out an obstruction), had some Protonix (a PPI) put in my line, and was, like it or not, fasting.  I was on an NPO (no food) order.

     Like a lot of people suffering from gastro-paresis, I've learned a bunch of tricks in the last 10 months to help my digestion along: lots of little meals, avoid cold liquids, a Coke can dissolve foods, avoid anything I can't chew to mush.  I even stopped my very large PPI prescription (scleroderma GERD is unstoppable), to encourage stomach acids so I could break down food.

     I had gone to the hospital because I had been throwing up pretty much everything for almost 5 days.  My stomach felt "sour."  It seemed like anything I put in it became sour, too.  And it hurt most of the time, of course, so much I couldn't sleep at all.

     What did I do in the hospital?  Instead of eating, I was fasting.  Instead of warm liquids, I was drinking them ice-cold.  Instead of foods with as much nutrition as I could handle, I was having flavored water.  Instead of avoiding a PPI, I was getting one.

     In my 10 bad months I had learned all the ways to make my stomach GO, and so always used them, even when I should have been telling my stomach to STOP.

     So, the next time my stomach goes "sour," and I can't seem to hold down anything, I'm going to try the same formula: fast for a while, have a PPI, drink nearly-frozen, no calorie drinks... and maybe it will sort of clear my stomach, reset it.

     Fingers crossed!  And, if you try it, I hope it works for you, too!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Just in case


     Somewhere in the Spirit of Laws Montesquieu writes about a society where the single guys who had made the biggest contribution to society would get their pick of the ladies.  That's obviously impossible to organize and completely sexist, but I felt like I wanted to deserve the best, I wanted to make the single biggest contribution to humankind of my generation.

     I think, in retrospect, working on hunger would have been better.  I was too political, so I thought of tackling war.  As I've written before, first I thought, after watching the PBS Frontline episode "The Jesus Factor," that it really was a religious thing to our leaders, as it certainly was to al-Qaeda.  Then, however, investigating terrorism, Google gave me other ideas.  I'd search for Basque, and I'd get the people and the language.  I'd google Chechen, Uyghur and Tamil and get the same thing.  I learned the Pashtun, Kurds, Somali and Ruanda-rundi speakers were all carved up by the Europeans.  I learned the Caucasus mountain range was filled with small, isolated branches of a smallish, isolated language family.

     So, my contribution is found at http://www.LanguageAndPeace.com.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Fuck former Secretary Gates, the idiot


     Joe Biden was wrong on every foreign policy issue of the 40 years, Mr. Gates?

     I suppose he is including being for SALT II, being against Reagan's misreading of SALT I, being for sanctions against apartheid South Africa while the Reagan administration wanted normal relations with them...

     Fuck the media for repeating and repeating this idiotic fucking claim of Robert Gates, while not even hinting at what Biden's errors might have been.

     Perhaps it was for meeting Slobodan Milosevic and calling him a "damn war criminal" to his face?

     Fucking idiot Robert Gates. <-- Do not click, link to Amazon's page for "Dookie," Robert Gates new book.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mexican Energy Market, 12/19/13


     Hosted by the Atlantic Council

     Why to be against current Mexican energy market reform.

     David Goldwyn, energy consultant and former State Department Coordinator for International Energy Affairs (Obama administration), gives away the secret, the new energy bill from Mexico is actually a fantastic deal for any oil companies with "basic enhanced oil recovery."

     I mean, a massive oil company, state run or not, should have such "basic" skills, so shouldn't be selling it all at a favorable price.

     These fields Goldwyn calls "bitten apples," fields where PEMEX already worked there and took off the high pressure oil.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Movie idea and background, Vampires


     The legend of vampires comes from aliens, and I say this for two reasons.

     One, as I fully know, human blood is an incredibly laxative.  If a human, or mutated human, drinks a human's worth, or even half, they will be stuck on the can for a day.

     Two, it is easy to imagine that an alien's eyes don't see the exact same spectrum as human eyes.  The reason why silver reflects is that we can't see the color of silver, it is outside our range.  If one had some other eyes, one could see the color of silver, and so that person couldn't see their reflection in a mirror. Not quit the same as not having a reflection, but pretty close.

     Of course, this would be a period piece, set in Eastern Europe, during the last, maximal, days of Ottoman control over that period.

     Such an alien could only plausibly be a tourist, or stopping by our planet for a meal.

     Being an alien could easily explain why direct sunlight was unpleasant, but not burning.  Either the eyes or the skin could be at fault.

     A good reason why a stake through the heart works could be that the alien has good self-healing, but such a large trauma to the heart, regardless of it being a wooden stake or not, is just too much.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Which side is behaving in a partisan fashion

[Rules Committee Member, Jim McGovern (D-MA)]: I think a lot of your members
who have expressed to me privately
their frustration over the fact that we're in this mess
would appreciate the government opening
while you negotiate something with the Senate.

[Rules Committee Chairman, Pete Sessions, (R-LA)] I appreciate this discussion
and I would say on behalf of the majority
what we think we are doing here today
is probably some straight line Republican viewpoints.
[...]
And I do understand
that because we are in the majority
we are going to use probably our best ideas first
the things which we wholeheartedly support
and I would just say
if we pass this bill
it'll arm our negotiators
our leadership with a chance
as they meet with the President today.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

L&P in the News - Fighting by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria


     The northern parts of Nigeria are in a totally different linguistic group, Afro-Asiatic->Chadic->Hausa than the heavily populated parts of Nigeria, which are a variety of Niger-Congo->Atlantic-Congo

     Naturally this makes effective communication between the regions difficult, and the efficacy of rules promulgated in Atlantic-Congo languages in Hausa lands doubtful.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Language and Peace: Some Research from Google


     . Includes some beautiful graphs.

     What do I see? That German seems to be a very central language (first graph) without a very strong bias (does not appear in graph which shows 50x overlinkage).  Hindi is clearly isolated, perhaps feeling set upon by its language conscious government.  Officially? Why not German as the global language?  It is a great language for philosophy.  The Nazi past is problematic, but they, above most others, seem to be dealing with it, and it isn't like English does not have its own, imperialist present.

Language and Peace in the News: Catalan


     Catalan, while a Romance language, is not Spanish.

     The NY Times reports a million Catalonians joined hands to press for secession.  It is unclear what percentage are Catalan-speakers, but clearly this secession event maps perfectly to the thesis of Language & PeaceSee the Catalonia page for more.