Tuesday, August 22, 2006

80% Fiend, 20% Glee today

Originally published 8/2/06 on the old blog.
Armchair pundit
 
I can't decide if I am just older and more crotchety, or if there are a larger number of kuh-razies in international politics than there used to be. Also, I wonder if I might have thought of Gorbachev as a kuh-razy if I'd been 30 whence came the Glasnost and the Perestroika, instead of 16. Anyway.
 
Fidel Castro, invulnerable to oppressive regimes and CIA-trained sacrificial monkeys, is laying quite low following surgery to correct abdominal bleeding. It's possible he's laying very, very low, considering the fact that he's only been quoted in the days since his Sunday proclamation in which he temporarily transferred various duties to his brother, Raul Castro, and to other senior members of his cabinet. I suspect it is likely Castro walks a fine line between reassuring the people and showing his weakness, though. If he is in a very weakened state - on a respirator, confined to a hospital bed, etc. - it may be considered dangerous for the public to see those images. On the other hand, it's fodder for those speculating he's already in far worse shape than has been acknowledged.
 
I find it interesting when mainstream news articles suggest the people in Cuba were shocked in the early years of the 21st century to "realize" Castro is mortal. A friend who traveled to Havana in 2001 commented that the English speakers he met and talked to were frank about the fact that they were "waiting for Castro to die." That's a downright morbid approach, and certainly not one that suggests any confusion about the mortality of the man currently running the country. It seems the North American media bias against Cuba is at least as strong as the Cuban media bias against North America. I'd link to specific examples, but I haven't been able to get to the Prensa Latina English site all day.
 
The fact of the matter is that Castro is looking practically normal these days, thanks to the antics of his peanut gallery of aspiring successors.
 
Evo Morales, newly-landslide-elected president of Bolivia, had starry-eyed hopes to completely rewrite the Bolivian constitution. It seems he has given up on a plan to eliminate the Catholic religion from schools now that the Catholic Church has a higher approval rating than he does.
 
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez stoked the zomgtheUSisgoingtoinvadeus paranoia fires by declaring, apropos of nothing, that he would cut off oil supplies to the US if the Bush administration took an aggressive stance toward Venezuela. Okie dokey, Mr. Chavez. You sell the 50+% of your oil that you usually sell to the US to somebody else so that another oil-producing country has to offload their oil, and then the US will make up for the 12% drop in its oil imports you create by buying that.
 
Mind you, Chavez is worrisome. He's wiggling in Russia's lap like a drunk freshman girl at her first frat party, which in and of itself is fine, but he's also proclaiming his solidarity and brotherhood with Syria and Iran and attempting to drag other Latin American countries into anti-US blocs with him. Again, that might be well and good if he weren't practically foaming at the mouth with his desire to "fight back" against the Bush administration. I'm waiting for him to take the UN resolution that Iran just rejected and wave it around as an excuse to do something patently stupid.
 
Tree-hugger
 
Last weekend I went up to the High Point Trailhead with my parents and the boy.
 
Vintner's wakingJaws of life
Lousy parking jobAnd bolts.
 
 
Geek
 
This week in Las Vegas is BlackHat, the "professional" lead-up to the weekend of unprofessional nerdy debauchery that is DefCon. As a former DefCon attendee, I have a certain nostalgic fondness for the principle of the thing, but I don't think I would ever go back.
 
At any rate, the AP has picked up word of a demonstration coming up at Black Hat in which computers with wireless devices that are turned on - whether or not the computers are connected to the Internet - may be vulnerable to rootkit drops.
"Maynor said he and Ellch were not identifying the makers or models of wireless devices that are vulnerable, so that manufacturers have a leg up on criminals who might exploit the vulnerabilities."
They're demonstrating this flaw on a Macbook, although they claim the vulnerability is the same on Windows or Linux machines. It's testament of a sort to BlackHat that the demonstration will take place in a controlled and somewhat concealed environment. At DefCon, it would be a presentation in which unsuspecting audience members discovered their systems rooted while they were busy taking notes.
 
This could change the face of Capture the Flag for the forseeable future. Particularly if you happen to be one of the people who knows how this demonstration is done.

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