Monday, March 23, 2009

bang exploitable!

Very cool news about a fuzzer + ms debugger extension to not only do fuzz testing of software, but help weed out false positives.  Will be interested in trying this out and reading more about it.  Wonder if it works with  Or at least the unit-testable portions of code?

Kaminsky: MS security assessment tool is a 'game changer' • The Register

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The next creationist strategy?

Looks like at least one attempt at a new strategy for teaching shit as if it was science (creationism) is to get an education degree program accredited so that the Institute for Creation Research can churn out teachers that can infect the school system like viruses and eat children's brains from the inside out.  A Texas representative is trying a new tactic to get the degree program approved:  exempt the ICR from the rules created by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that rejected the last attempt by a unanimous 8-0 vote.
Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes said at the time that the institute's program, based on a literal interpretation of biblical creation, falls outside the realm of science and therefore could not be designated "science" or "science education."
This rep is making the tired old "fairness" argument, "Why are people who call themselves scientists afraid to hear two sides of a debate?" Berman asked Friday. 

Note to Berman:  Science is not a "debate".  It is based on facts and a rigorous methodology for evaluating those facts to approximate the truth as closely as is possible to make predictions about the natural world.  Creationism is not based on facts or a methodology at all. 

Little Green Footballs - Texas Lawmaker Backs Creationist 'Degree'

Sunday, March 15, 2009

12 Key Policy Decisions Led to Cataclysm

A new 231 page report outlines 12 key policy decisions that led to the current economic crisis.  Let's hope that some facts start to do a couple of things:

1. Stop the stupid right-wing chain emails that claim that this all rests on the Democrats and Fannie/Freddie.  There's plenty of blame to go around (Fannie and Freddie are # 10 on the blame list)
2. Stop the pundits that decry the "finger pointing" and hope to instead "move forward".  Excuse me, but I think that a report looking critically at pointing fingers at what got us in this mess is _kind of important_ to know how we get out of it.  Of course maybe those pundits just want us to "look busy" and "do some stuff" and hope it works.  I prefer evidence-based governing myself and the place to start is with the evidence for how we got in this mess.

Wall Street Watch
1. In 1999, Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, which had prohibited the merger of commercial banking and investment banking.
2. Regulatory rules permitted off-balance sheet accounting -- tricks that enabled banks to hide their liabilities.
3. The Clinton administration blocked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from regulating financial derivatives -- which became the basis for massive speculation.
4. Congress in 2000 prohibited regulation of financial derivatives when it passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.
5. The Securities and Exchange Commission in 2004 adopted a voluntary regulation scheme for investment banks that enabled them to incur much higher levels of debt.
6. Rules adopted by global regulators at the behest of the financial industry would enable commercial banks to determine their own capital reserve requirements, based on their internal "risk-assessment models."
7. Federal regulators refused to block widespread predatory lending practices earlier in this decade, failing to either issue appropriate regulations or even enforce existing ones.
8. Federal bank regulators claimed the power to supersede state consumer protection laws that could have diminished predatory lending and other abusive practices.
9. Federal rules prevent victims of abusive loans from suing firms that bought their loans from the banks that issued the original loan.
10. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac expanded beyond their traditional scope of business and entered the subprime market, ultimately costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
11. The abandonment of antitrust and related regulatory principles enabled the creation of too-big-to-fail megabanks, which engaged in much riskier practices than smaller banks.
12. Beset by conflicts of interest, private credit rating companies incorrectly assessed the quality of mortgage-backed securities; a 2006 law handcuffed the SEC from properly regulating the firms.

Open Letter chain email rebuttal: "Fw: WHY ARE WE BANKRUPT?"

Oh, got another stupid retread of a retread of a chain email that I had to debunk.  Posting to the inter-tubes for the benefit of others.  It seems that when you google shit like this the results tend to be topped with people reposting and rarely with posts intelligently analyzing the statements.

This one was particularly hilarious because if you actually read the sources cited, they tend to contain plenty of information that debunks their own claims!


From: Jason Axley <redacted -- die-spammers-die>
Sent: Monday, March 2, 2009 6:33:13 PM

"Why isn't this in the papers?"  Because it is chock full of lies and distortions (i.e. it's not true)!  Oh, there are so many things wrong with this that I will point out just a few things.

The first to point out is that you absolutely cannot rely on the claimed "fact-checking" of chain emails.  Unless this was written by your buddy bikemick (it wasn't), and he was the one who did the fact-checking (he didn't), then you are still passing along likely false information.  And much (if not all of this) is false, which implies that probably most of it is false -- no matter how much it agrees with your preconceived notions.  DO YOUR OWN FACT CHECKING or just delete these if you won't be able to vouch for the veracity of the claims.

Let's just start at the beginning.  1.  $11 - 22 billion is spent on welfare for illegal aliens each year.  And they cite a supposed source to back this claim up (which actually then cites another source which DOES NOT back up the data).  The latest data in the study cited is from 2001 and shows 8,274,240,000 (8 billion / year).  The fact that they gave a range of x - 2x should have been a red flag to start with (don't we know these things exactly?)  They wanted to make you think it was high when it isn't that high.  Especially when compared to native and legal immigrant use of welfare, which is respectively 21 times and about 4 times higher than that (or 174 billion and 30 billion respectively)

The bogus figure comes from "FAIR, which has faced bipartisan accusations of airing "racially inflammatory" anti-immigration ads with another group, the Coalition for the Future of the American Worker."

I also thought you would find it illuminating to consider placing blame on the companies and industries that _hire_ illegal immigrant laborers.  Supply and demand folks, and with a complicit government that looks the other way to support business, you get what you get.  Instead of villifying "illegals" who are just trying to feed their families, if you really want to get to the bottom of these problems, you should look at solving the market-driven problem with a market-driven solution.

From the very study that was (misquoted by the first citation below):
"If such businesses can only survive by paying poverty-level wages, creating huge costs for taxpayers in the form of welfare payments to their workers, then maintaining such an industry makes little sense. Welfare payments to low-wage workers represent a large subsidy to business. For example, if taxpayers provide health care in the form of Medicaid, then employers do not have to provide health care. Of course, employers find this a very desirable situation. Employers do not see the costs of Medicaid because they are diffuse, borne by all taxpayers, while employers have a very strong incentive to keep down their labor costs by keeping immigration high. By providing workers with welfare and other means-tested programs, taxpayers are in effect paying part of the salary for these workers. Like any business receiving subsidies, those who use unskilled labor will try very hard to retain them. The fact that some businesses wish to retain this subsidy cannot, however, justify the costs to taxpayers, or the reduction in wages for the poorest American workers. "

Additionally, the title of the CIS study cited below?  "The High Cost of Cheap Labor"  Right.  They are pointing out that this is an economic problem created by a market that is working the way markets work with little oversight from the government.
The most damning problem of the "facts" below is that they are split out individually, then added up again (double, and maybe even triple counted).  So the "total" is utter bunk.  The CIS study being cited actually contains a realistic figure for the TOTAL:  "Households headed by illegal aliens imposed more than $26.3 billion in costs on the federal government in 2002 and paid only $16 billion in taxes, creating a net fiscal deficit of almost $10.4 billion"  That's right -- a whopping net of 10.4 billion.  Not 338 billion.  Their data rightly subtracts the $16 billion paid in taxes by illegals.

This email has been on the Internet for years and is now making another round as some sorry person has decided to edit it to make it "current" with the economic crisis at hand.  More debunking here:


----- Forwarded Message ----
Sent: Sunday, March 1, 2009 9:27:04 PM

This is astounding and infuriating.  Why isn't this in the papers? Please read and pass it on. 

You  think  the war in Iraq is costing us too  much?    Read this:
Boy,  was I confused.  I have  been hammered with the propaganda that it is the Iraq war and the war on terror that is bankrupting us. I now find that to be  RIDICULOUS.
I & nbsp;hope the following 14 reasons are forwarded over and over again until they are read so many times that the reader gets sick of reading them.  I  also have included the URL's for verification  of  all the following facts.
1. $11  Billion to $22 billion is spent on welfare to illegal aliens each year by state  governments.    
Verify  at:
2.    $2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on  food  assistance programs such as food stamps,  WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens.
Verify  at:
3. $2.5  Billion dollars a year is spent on Medicaid for illegal aliens.
Verify  at:
4. $12  Billion dollars a year is spent on primary and  secondary school education for children here illegally and they cannot speak a word of  English!
Verify  at:
5. $17  Billion dollars a year is spent for education for the  American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor  babies.
Verify at
6.   $3 Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal  aliens.
Verify at:
7.   30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens.
Verify  at:
 8.   $90 Billion Dollars a year is spent on illegal aliens for Welfare & social services by the A merican taxpayers.
Verify  at:
9.   $200 Billion dollars a year in suppressed American  wages are caused by the illegal  aliens.
Verify  at:
10.   The illegal aliens in the United States have a  crime rate that's two and a half times that of white  non-illegal aliens.  In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime  problem in the US  
Verify at:
11.  During the year of 2005 there were 4 to 10  MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our Southern  Border also,  as many as 19,500 illegal aliens  from Terrorist Countries.  Millions of pounds of  drugs, cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana, crossed into  the U. S from  the Southern border.
Verify at: Homeland Security  Report:   12.   The National  policy Institute, estimated that  the total cost of mass deportation would be between  $206 and  $230 billion or an average cost of  between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five  year period.'
Verify  at:
13.   In 2006 illegal aliens sent home $45 BILLION in remittances to their countries  of origin.
Verify  at:>
14.   'The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One  million sex crimes Committed by Illegal  Immigrants In The United  States  .' Verify  at: http: // <http://ww> 


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Do you know your different precipitations?

I think that right now it is sleeting in Seattle.
  • Freezing Rain:  supercooled raindrops that freeze instantly when they hit the ground or other objects
  • Hail:  snow and rain in the upper atmosphere mix due to updrafts and accumulate into large pellets that fall to earth when the updraft can't support their weight
  • Sleet:  Partially-melted snow that freezes again on the way down and falls as visible pellets.

Precipitation: hail, rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow