Archive for the ‘Clippings’ Category

Random notes, philosophical asides, bookmarks, endorsements, and other things.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Some things I think are interesting, some I want to bookmark, some I want to plug, something for everyone, a comedy tonight! I am going to try to put these in some kind of rough topic order…

“Introduction to GPU Password Cracking: Owning the LinkedIn Password Dump”.

I Sea, “a mobile app that claimed to help users locate refugees adrift at sea”, appears to be a complete fraud.

The developers swapped information, including screen shots of a static image and a weather tool that one person claimed was used to mislead users into thinking they were looking at live images of the sea. Others noted that the app had been coded to tell users that their login credentials were invalid.

Bonus: the NYT mentions my third favorite security blogger, @SwiftOnSecurity. (Sorry, SecuriTay, but I’ve had my photo taken with the Krebster, and I know Borepatch. Third is still good enough for a medal, if this was the Olympics.)

And it isn’t just that the coding is screwy: PopSci makes a pretty strong argument that what I Sea claims to do is physically and logistically impossible.

To provide images of 1 percent of the total area of the Mediterranean would run over $1 million. And that’s just for one set of still photos. If the app were to provide up-to-date imaging, as it claims, the images would need to be refreshed regularly, at $1 million each time. And that cost is for unprocessed data, Romeijn says. Processing will cost more, as will the licensing fees required to make those images available to the public.

And those satellites make one pass a day, so you’re not getting “real-time” imaging, no way, no how.

The Oakland PD mess, summarized. Yes, I’m linking to an anonymous person on Facebook, but much of the information in this summary has already been reported in the media: this is more of a handy round-up if you haven’t been following this mess from the start. (Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.)

And speaking of Popehat: the guys get shirts! Women, too. I just ordered mine: not only is $23 very reasonable for a shirt these days, and not only do I like Popehat, but I think Cotton Bureau does good stuff. (You may remember them from the BatLabels “Henchman” shirts, which are back in print! Hoorah!)

Flaming hyena #32: Democratic congressman Chaka Fattah.

In addition to racketeering conspiracy, Fattah was found guilty of bribery, bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution, and falsification of records.

A bunch of other folks took the fall with him, including Herbert Vederman:

Through cash payments to the congressman’s children, college tuition payments for his au pair and $18,000 given to help purchase a vacation home in the Poconos, prosecutors said, Vederman bought Fattah’s support in seeking appointment by the Obama White House to an ambassadorship.

(Hattip on this one to Mike the Musicologist.)

Prominent (well, in Chicago, anyway) Chicago journalist Neil Steinberg decides to pull the old “look how easy it is to buy an assault rifle” trick. So he goes to a gun store…

…and they deny his purchase because he’s a drunken wife-beater. (I have seen other versions of this story that state BATF first issued a “delay”, then a “deny” (BATF doesn’t have to give a reason for “deny”), Steinberg threatened to write that they were “denying” his purchase because he was a journalist, and the gun shop then decided to point out that he was a drunken wife-beater. However, this version seems to me to be to be the best sourced, and it doesn’t mention any BATF verdict.)

But at least he had the good taste to go with a Smith and Wesson M&P 15.

Random notes: June 13, 2016.

Monday, June 13th, 2016

I was busy all day yesterday, and I have nothing profound or interesting to say about Orlando. Go look at the smarter people on my blogroll if you’re looking for that: I’d suggest Tam and Lawrence as good starting points.

In other news: there’s now an official lawsuit pending to remove Williamson Count District Attorney Jana Duty from office. And I’m thinking I need a WCDA tag.

I missed this until Lawrence sent me a link to a Daily Mail story: Sean Whent, the police chief in Oakland, resigned on Thursday.

Chief Anthony Batts quit in 2011 after receiving a scathing report from Robert Warshaw, the court monitor assigned to ensure that the Police Department was implementing reforms ordered by a federal judge. Batts’ successor, Howard Jordan, left suddenly in 2013 amid a spike in violent crime and a wave of anger over how police were handling Occupy protests. Interim Chief Anthony Toribio, who came in after Jordan, lasted only two days.

The general belief seems to be that Whent was working to stabilize and clean up the department, but there were a whole host of recent scandals on his watch:

Officer Cullen Faeth was charged with misdemeanor battery, public intoxication and trespassing after he allegedly tried to break into a home in Oakland’s Redwood Heights neighborhood in December and attacked a woman who lived there. In February, Officer Matthew Santos was arrested for allegedly pulling his gun on a man painting Santos’ apartment in Emeryville. Santos was fired shortly thereafter.

But the biggest issue is a messy sex scandal. Five officers have been placed on administrative leave so far.

The woman at the center of the sex scandal is claiming she had sex with two dozen current and former officers in five cities, a newspaper investigation published Sunday found.

More from the Mercury News:

…she slept with three of the 24 officers — all from Oakland’s police department — before she turned 18 last August.

She also said that two Oakland officers provided her confidential police information, including tips on scheduled anti-prostitution stings…

The paper of record.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Two interesting bits from the NYT:

1. I noticed this yesterday, and Lawrence emailed me about it as well: Rudolph Stocker retired from the Times on May 18th at the age of 78.

Who?

Rudolph Stocker was the last printer at The Times working under a guaranteed lifetime contract; the last Times employee who knew how to operate a Linotype casting machine; the last journeyman of the old International Typographical Union and its New York local, No. 6, a bargaining unit that was once so powerful and important that everyone in the newspaper business knew it simply as “Big Six.”

When the Times went over to computer typesetting, part of their agreement with the union guaranteed job security to the existing printers (“…1,785 situation-holders and full-time substitutes, 810 of whom were at The Times”).

Did he sit on his butt after the paper phased out the Linotype?

“Rudy was an expert proofreader,” his colleague Barbara Natusch recalled, “and transferred his skills from operating a Linotype machine to producing ads for the paper on a Mac, using InDesign and Photoshop.”

Sounds like a hell of a guy. I hope he has a happy retirement.

Through his colleagues, he made it known that he was not interested in a valedictory interview.

2. The Times Insider talks about the process of getting Ali’s obit into the paper, including a literal “stop the presses”.

It’s always kind of nice to know these people are human, too:

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop smoking,” Mr. Coffey said, imitating Lloyd Bridges in the disaster spoof “Airplane!”

On the dropping of shoes.

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

I have avoided writing about this for the past few days because there were a lot of rumors and “unconfirmed reports” floating around that claimed to be true, but were denied by the university.

Now I feel like I can write about this, because we finally have an official statement from Baylor University:

Art Briles out as football coach.

Ken Starr out as university president:

Starr remains the Louise L. Morrison Chair of Constitutional Law in Baylor’s Law School and has agreed in principle to serve as Chancellor on terms that are still being discussed.

Both ESPN and the Statesman report that while Starr is staying on, he will have “no operational duties at the university”.

All of this is fallout from a major scandal: basically, several people, including one Baylor athlete, stated they were sexually assaulted by other athletes (mostly football players, though “a former tennis player is the lone suspect in a sexual assault case that has been active for more than eight months”), and that the university responded badly:

Other former Baylor students have spoken to the Tribune-Herald about how the university mishandled their complaints, including one who claimed a Baylor police officer blamed her for being raped.

More: Statesman. ESPN. Timeline of events, also from ESPN.

Obit watch and playing catch up: May 21, 2016.

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Alan Young.

Yesterday was kind of a busy day. There were multiple things that I intended to make note of, but I got stuck into something I can’t discuss right now, and…well….anyway:

Morley Safer, for the historical record.

San Francisco police chief “resigns” “at the request of Mayor Ed Lee”. I think we can call this one a “firing”.

The precipitating incident here seems to have been the SFPD shooting of a woman in a possibly stolen vehicle: she fled from the officers and crashed into the back of a truck.

The car crashed into a utility truck a short distance away. Although no weapon was found on the woman and the car was wedged under the truck, a police sergeant fired a single shot, killing her, police said.

It sounds at first like there was a bit of a rush to judgement on this: the shooting took place Thursday morning, and Suhr was canned Thursday afternoon. But as the linked SFGate article notes, this wasn’t the first problem under Suhr’s administration: there had been two previous controversial shootings, plus a scandal over “racist and homophobic text messages”.

Great and good friend of the blog and occasional guest poster RoadRich sent a series of thoughtful comments yesterday on the Suhr firing: I’m hoping he’ll let me post those as a guest post, but I didn’t get a chance to ask him yesterday because of [redacted] and he’s busy today.

In other California news, remember Maywood? How could you forget the nearly broke municipality of Maywood, “the second-smallest city in Los Angeles County”?

But that didn’t stop municipal leaders from granting themselves, the city treasurer and the city clerk $250 monthly mileage stipends.
If Maywood used the Internal Revenue Service’s suggested reimbursement rate for business travel of 54 cents a mile, city officials would need to drive 463 miles a month to reach the $250 mark.

More:

Councilman Ricardo Villarreal said he didn’t think twice about voting in favor of the monthly stipends because he thought the roughly $550 a month they get for serving as council members didn’t cover other costs like meals with other officials and mileage.

I wonder if the councilman and other officials are eating at Tacos Los Desvelados.

Turning our attention to Austin:

Albert “Matt” Arevalo was fired in September after being charged with DWI last May. Arevalo was stopped after driving 91 mph in a 55 mph zone, and his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit, police said.

Mr. Arevalo was an officer with the Austin Police Department. Given that knowledge, would you care to guess what happened next? Yes: he got his job back!

The arbitrator mandated that Arevalo should only serve a 180-day suspension and receive back pay for any days over that period, said Austin police union president Ken Casaday in a letter members of the Austin Police Association.

The Bunk is strictly a Clinton motherf—er.

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Oh, Wendell.

Pierce, an avowed Hillary Clinton supporter, allegedly began arguing with a Bernie Sanders supporter and her boyfriend at The Lobby, the hotel’s bar, around 3:30 a.m., according to TMZ. The site goes on to report the conversation became heated, and Pierce “became enraged, pushed the boyfriend and then went after his girlfriend … grabbing her hair and smacking her in the head.”

He was charged with “simple battery” and released on bond.

(Subject line explained, for non “Wire” fans.)

Poor, poor, pitiful Maywood (take 2).

Friday, May 13th, 2016

You remember Maywood, don’t you? The city that was so pathetic, they turned over their day-to-day operations to Bell? Which started the chain of events that ended up bringing down the kleptocracy of Bell?

Guess what?

Today, Maywood is back on the brink of financial collapse and struggling to find any kind of rescue plan. The 1.2-square-mile municipality — one of the smallest in Los Angeles County — has amassed $16 million in debt that it cannot repay, according to a state report reviewed by The Times.

The Los Angeles County district attorney is investigating allegations that Maywood repeatedly violated state open meeting laws when hiring and firing top city officials and amending zoning changes, according to documents.

Some in Maywood look with sadness at the spectacle and what it says about the city’s leadership. Neighboring cities such as Bell, Vernon and Cudahy have had to enact reforms in the face of criminal investigations, recalls and threats of disincorporation from the state Legislature, but Maywood has not faced a similar reckoning.
“The reality is Maywood has always been forgotten,” said City Clerk Gerardo Mayagoitia. “No one ever wants to look at Maywood because we’re such a small community, and yet there’s so much corruption here that never stops. No one puts a stop to it.”

Obit watch: April 22, 2016.

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Your Prince obit round-up: NYT. Star-Tribune. LAT coverage. WP.

“Poor Lonely Computer: Prince’s Misunderstood Relationship With The Internet” from NPR.

I feel much the same way about Prince as I did about Bowie. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, I never saw him live, but thinking back on it, he turned out a lot of music I like. “1999”. “Little Red Corvette”. “When Doves Cry”. “Let’s Go Crazy”. And every now and then, I’ve been known to spontaneously start singing “She wore a raspberry beret, the kind you find in a second-hand store…” much to the annoyance of my cow-orkers.

And I didn’t realize it until yesterday, but he actually wrote “Manic Monday”.

Also among the dead, according to the A/V Club: Richard Lyons, co-founder of Negativland.

Art, damn it, art! watch (#51 in a series)

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

And speaking of Damien Hirst:

“One of Hirst’s main subjects is the setting-up of giant fish tanks filled by thousands of liters of FA, in which intact biological specimens are immersed, such as zebras, cows, calves, even sharks,” the abstract of the article said, referring to formaldehyde fumes. “It has been found that the tanks are surrounded by FA fumes, constantly exuded in the atmosphere (likely via the sealant), reaching levels of 5 ppm, one order of magnitude higher than the 0.5 ppm limit set up by legislation.”

In other words, some people are concerned that a tank full of formaldehyde with a dead shark in it may be leaking formaldehyde fumes. Shocked, shocked I am.

The museum also provided a statement from Pier Giorgio Righetti, a professor at Politecnico di Milano university in Italy and an author of the paper, saying that the research “was intended to test the uses of a new sensor for measuring formaldehyde fumes, and we do not believe that our findings suggest any risk for visitors at Tate Modern.”

Obit watch: April 5, 2016.

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Winston Moseley is burning in hell.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell with you, and you think I’m being harsh: Moseley is the man who killed Kitty Genovese.

Mr. Moseley, a psychopathic serial killer and necrophiliac, died at the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., near the Canadian border. He had been imprisoned for almost 52 years, since July 7, 1964, and was one of the state’s longest-serving inmates.

I apologize for quoting at length from the NYT obit, but there are some interesting things in it that deserve to be called out. For example:

While there was no question that the attack occurred, and that some neighbors ignored cries for help, the portrayal of 38 witnesses as fully aware and unresponsive was erroneous. The article grossly exaggerated the number of witnesses and what they had perceived. None saw the attack in its entirety. Only a few had glimpsed parts of it, or recognized the cries for help. Many thought they had heard lovers or drunks quarreling. There were two attacks, not three. And afterward, two people did call the police. A 70-year-old woman ventured out and cradled the dying victim in her arms until they arrived. Ms. Genovese died on the way to a hospital.
But the account of 38 witnesses heartlessly ignoring a murderous attack was widely disseminated and took on a life of its own, shocking the national conscience and starting an avalanche of academic studies, investigations, films, books, even a theatrical production and a musical. The soul-searching went on for decades, long after the original errors were debunked, evolving into more parable than fact but continuing to reinforce images of urban Americans as too callous or fearful to call for help, even with a life at stake.

(Previously.)

Captured five days later during a burglary, Mr. Moseley confessed to the murders of Ms. Genovese and two other Queens residents: Annie Mae Johnson, 24, who had been shot and burned to death in her South Ozone Park apartment in February, and Barbara Kralik, 15, who had been stabbed in her parents’ Springfield Gardens home the previous July. Both women had been sexually assaulted.
Mr. Moseley was never tried for murdering Ms. Johnson or Ms. Kralik, though he recited details only the killer could have known, the police said. He testified at the trial of Alvin Mitchell, who had already been charged in Ms. Kralik’s murder. The conflicting accounts left a hung jury. Mr. Mitchell was convicted in a second trial.

Well. I wonder what happened to Mr. Mitchell. (I tried a Google search, but “Alvin Mitchell” is too common a name.)

In 1968, on the visit to a Buffalo hospital for treatment of a self-inflicted injury at Attica, Mr. Moseley overpowered a guard, took his gun and fled. In his several days on the loose, he took five hostages and raped a woman before he was finally recaptured by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He received two 15-year terms, to run concurrently with his life sentence.

That’s something I didn’t know. (It is perhaps worth noting that Moseley was originally sentenced to death for the Genovese murder, but had his sentence reduced to life imprisonment on appeal.)

Also among the dead, and one I’ve been meaning to note: Adrienne Corri, actress, perhaps most famous for her role in “A Clockwork Orange”.

Erik Bauersfeld.

Things: April 1, 2016.

Friday, April 1st, 2016

You know something? I still don’t like bullies.

Obit watch: Bill Green. Mr. Green worked as a newspaper editor, public affairs officer for NASA, and university professor at Duke.

He also worked for the Washington Post as their ombudsman from late 1980 to 1981. If you’re thinking, “Hey, that period sounds historically significant.”: yes, yes it was. “Jimmy’s World” was published shortly after Mr. Green became ombudsman, and he conducted the paper’s investigation when it fell apart.

Since it fell off the front page, I wanted to also note here that I updated the “Use of force” post: now with pyramids!

What is the name of this play?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

No, seriously. What is the name of this play?