Saturday, December 7, 2013

And on a slow Saturday Morning: fighting a Troll. . .

It's a cold, rainy Saturday in December.  A big winter storm is about to hit, and is already roaring through the Midwest: a friend of mine down in Arkansas is remarking how 4 cars have spun out on the ice at the bottom of the hill on which she lives.

Basically, a boring Saturday.  And then, a spark of something fun.  A Troll has appeared.  Nothing to do but don my armor of fact, and pick up my rapier wit, and go to battle. . .

The Troll has got himself into a pants-wetting fit over. . . this logo. . .



This requires a bit of explanation both over the logo AND the fit.

First, the logo.   This is the Mission Patch of Satellite "NROL-39".  Not much is publicly known about it, but that it launched on an Atlas V booster on December 5th, 2013, and is classified in purpose and capabilities, but it is widely believed to be the third member of the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) constellation of radar-reconnaissance satellites, located in circular, 680-mile-high (1,100-km) orbits.

In other words, it's a reconnaissance satellite, with world-wide coverage.  So, yes, if it's visible to the sensors, nothing on Earth is beyond their reach, and they can view it.  It's the sort of thing our Aerospace industry does routinely and quietly, and they're damned good at it.

The Satellites are all controlled by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), one of the Intelligence Agencies of the Department of Defense.   These are the people who design, acquire, launch, and use the Strategic Reconnaissance Assets of the United States.  Remember way back when, before DESERT STORM, when Colon Powell was showing images of Iraqi buildups and suspected chemical facilities ?   NRO.  Remember reading about the Cuban Missile Crisis and those photos of under-construction missile launch farms in Cuba,   NRO.

Anyway, their engineers and programs tend to have images and logos for each bird.  You can trace THAT back to the Mission Patches of the manned Space Program, and before that, all the way back to Nose Art on airplanes in World War Two.

I PARTICULARLY like this patch, from an unknown NRO Program:






For those of you who DON'T read Latin, it translates as:   "If I could tell you. . . I'd have to kill you. "  Needless to say, Mission Patches/Logos are generally humorous, and tend towards dark humor.  I have a few from my old days flying the B-52:







The first was an unofficial patch from my old outfit, the 69th Bomb Squadron, the other came from a fellow crewdog at Minot AFB, from the 5th Bomb Wing: it's an unofficial patch of the wing logo. . . and "Death From Above".

So much for Logos, and now onto the Troll.

Said Troll was obsessing  about that logo, and the NSA gathering network and phone data on all of us.  How he got from A to B is a bit of tortured logic, but I **THINK** it went like this:   NRO has a satellite that "Nothing Is Beyond Their Reach".   NRO is an Intelligence Agency.  Intelligence Agencies share Information. NSA is an Intelligence Agency.  NSA intercepts, stores, and analyzed internet and phone net data on American Citizens.  Therefore:


"OMFG !  This satellite is here to steal our Interwebs, and they're being brazen about it !!!!"



And the conversation went a little like this:

Me to Pathetic Idiot Troll (known hereafter as "PIT"): you speak of mission patches in the same way virgins speak of sex: with enthusiasm and utter ignorance. . .

To wit: You obviously haven't been in the Military. . . My old B-52 squadron had an unofficial patch which featured a winged skull dripping blood over the world. With the motto:

"Low and out of the Dark: We make Nightmares"

And the second one is an UNOFFICIAL Patch of the 5th Bomb Wing: that motto, translated from the Latin, is "Death from Above".

Your pants-wetting at NRO mission patches, which, BTW, are used for OVERHEAD imagery, not domestic internet intercept and data-mining, is, frankly, embarrassing.

Here's a dollar, go out and buy a clue. . .


PIT: When a mission patch is used for an Organization that shares DATA on American citizens and the patch is directed at spying on those citizens instead of at the enemy For instance using the Motto "Better the Devil You Know". Then I get concerned. I may not have served but I worked for the military for many many years and have several commendations for service in maintaining operational readiness and a secret clearance.  The person that brought the patches to my attention and was concerned with the motto as well was an ex army officer.

Me:  And again, you display your ignorance. NRO specializes in OVERHEAD RECON. NRO is ENTIRELY SEPARATE from NSA. Just like CIA, DIA, the various service and Federal Department Intel sections. The only thing they have in common, is that all report to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

And, since you obviously haven't been paying attention, more than "OMG, the Feds SPY on us!", allow me to inform you: the ubiquitous surveillance placed on American Citizens was done by the National Security Agency (NSA), and was done with the full cooperation of the major telecoms and ISP, who not only allowed access, but generally bent over, spread their cheeks, and applied fruit-flavored lube* to make it easy for No Such Agency to have done so. . .



  
(*Intelligence from a source at Google reveals that it was, in fact, Strawberry-flavored Lube.)

Quite frankly, anyone who has been paying attention knows this is not new.   Google the following terms:  ECHELON.   CARNIVORE.   TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS.   They've been doing this stuff for DECADES. . .

PIT:   Sorry one insult per person  If you can discuss this without insults I am willing otherwise. I am not.  BTW the wiki article on the NRO states that members of the NSA work for the NRO. I don't take wiki as gospel truth but it is good for somethings.

Note: Gee, Wikipedia as an even VAGUELY authoritative source ?  He didn't even bother to check Wikileaks ?  Not just a tinfoiler, but a not terribly competent one. . . 

 Me: There is nothing TO discuss. If you wish to continue to wet your pants over politically-incorrect mission patches, I merely recommend you stop by your local Wal-Mart and pick up a pack of "Depends". Obviously, invest in the extra-absorbent steaming pantsload type. . .

(I kill myself, sometimes. . .) 

PIT:   Goodbye since you refuse to discuss rationally.

(ooooh !   I've been KILLFILED !!!  Oh, the huge manatee!!!)

Me:  Yes, NRO **IS** a joint Intel operation. But again, you show your ignorance. NSA's major job is SIGNALS intelligence. So they have an interest in Overhead ELINT*. As opposed to DataInt. . . which is NOT what NRO does. . .

(*ELINT: Electronics Intelligence: monitoring the signals and other electronic emissions of a potential opponent. to gain insight into their capabilities and plans.. . )

PIT:   Wait you just said earlier that NRO is entirely separate from NSA and accused me of ignorance. Hmm.   Do you really trust this agency under Obama?

(And there it is: Obama is teh Deebil: not that I disagree, but, geeze, at least use some CREDIBLE tinfoil. . . .) 

Me:  One, I thought I was kill-filed. 


Two, again, you show ignorance of basic organizational structure. Organizations OFTEN second personnel to other organizations. Hell, I was seconded to HQ NATO and to the RAF. . .

Amused By-stander:   Grabbing Popcorn.  . .  

PIT:    http://www.nro.gov/careers/nsa.html 

Well that is not what the NSA says about the NRO

"Along with the NRO and the NGA, the National Security Agency (NSA) is a major intelligence agency within the Department of Defense. The NSA is the nation's cryptologic organization charged with protecting the government's information systems and producing foreign signals intelligence information. The NSA works closely with the NRO to accomplish their goals. The NRO is staffed in small part by NSA personnel."


(Note: there are SEVERAL intelligence agency career links here.  And it's what the NSA is saying about the NRO **ON** the NRO site. . . ) 

Me:   Yes, it says they are a SEPARATE organization, and that some NSA people work at NRO. As I already noted. You have not, however, shown ANY connection between NRO and spying on American's private data. And you are offended by some Mission Patches that JUST HAPPENED to be on Drudge in the last 24 hours. Might I, again, suggest you go find some Big Boy Pants, and put them on ??

But, please, DO elucidate on your vast experience with the inner workings of the Intelligence Agencies, gained while running a small vanity press and working as a contract archeologist. . . . which has also given you deep insight into the means and methods of major intelligence organizations, while, somehow, evading detection and prosecution for doing so. I know what I know from general experience in the military and in Federal IT Contracting.


(Note: the PIT blogs, generally on other tinfoil theories, reportedly runs a small vanity press, and worked as a contract archeologist: i.e. a technician at dig sites. . . .)

PIT: It says exactly what I said it says they share information which is my major concern.


Since you refuse to discuss without insults or provide evidence for these thing you know, beyond the fact you say so I think we know that you have a very weak argument.


Me:  You're a SPECIAL kind of stupid, aren't you ?? You do not use OVERHEAD to do NETWORK surveillance: you just plug in to the network. NSA does infosec, cryptosec, and ELINT. You DO use OVERHEAD for ELINT, but not for network surveillance. It would be like using a satellite to look into your neighbor's 14-year-old-daughter's room, when she leaves the curtains and the window wide open. . . . especially as she's SEEN you peeping at her, and occasionally puts on shows. . .

And then, the final bit from PIT:

PIT: Obviously I am stupid because I continue to discuss this with someone whose entire argument is to call names and suggest the person that disagrees has poopy pants.

Quoted from the NRO site...
" The NSA works closely with the NRO to accomplish their goals." obviously one of us is wrong.


Alas, all good Troll stomping sessions must end. . .

Me: 
Glad to see you admit it. I have provided information and noted relationships: you have provided outrage and claimed connections where there is no good or logical connection, and an astounding ignorance of how things actually work.

And I suggested you're **wetting** your pants, it you also have poopy pants, I suggest Imodium(tm)

******************************************************************

And so ended a slow Saturday. .  .

Monday, November 18, 2013

Something Different for me. . . . .things that absolutely blew me away today. . .

I know, you're used to the snarking of the truly stupid things out there.

But Tonight.  Something different.  Something GOOD.  Something worth sharing.  I only hope you like them as well, and spread them as well.

First: the best 99 cents you'll ever spend . . . .

A VERY personal, very bad story, and how someone overcame it:

Something Terrible.


















































































































































This is just the summary version, the full version is here. It's the best 99 cents you'll ever spend.

**************************

Item Two on the menu.  An ad, from Google India.

 

Tell me you're not wiping away a tear or two.

I'll be back with snark, but every once in a while, you HAVE to share the things of beauty. . .












Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Early Storm Warning, and yet more burning "Zero-Tolerance" stoopid. . .

First up: a storm warning.  If President Stompy Foot does NOT get his way by Halloween, and we're still in Shutdown and/or the Debt Limit hasn't been raised. . . . .do NOT go grocery shopping, or near
ANY store that accepts EBT cards in early November. . . . .

Why, you ask ??  Because the Department of Agriculture has told all the states that it will NOT be funding SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better know as Food Stamps, or, more recently, EBT, as of November 1, 2013.

Read for yourself. . .


So, why avoid them ??  Perhaps you weren't following the news: there was a "glitch" at a Xerox Data Center. . . and 17 states lost their EBT programs.   And people lost their ever-lovin' MINDS. . .  And at two Wal-Marts in Louisiana, it didn't go down: instead, it showed NO LIMIT. . . and very quickly, both stores were mobbed, and the shelves stripped bare. . .

Well. . .   I've worked in IT for 20+ years, and I'm not buying it, and here's why:

They claim it was due to an issue in backup at one site, during a maintenance period.

RIIIGHT.   I've worked mission-critical apps.   Which are engineered with automatic failovers to backup (or clustered systems).  For a system that serves multiple states with a mission-critical app, you have entire failover SITES, at LEAST one, geographically separated from the main site, so that a disaster does not take down the system.

And doing maintenance on such a system at 10AM during a high-use period ?  Sorry , not even CLOSE to Best Practices.  You schedule a Maintenance Window during a known period of low activity, say, Midnight Saturday until 6AM Sunday morning.  AFTER manually failing over to the backup site(s).

THEN, claiming a backup error caused this.  Sorry, that doesn't make sense EITHER for a high-volume, mission-critical app.  Best practice for at LEAST the last 6-8 years, is do a flash copy of the database to a totally separated and dedicated disk array, and then do backup from the array,  So Production keeps running at full speed.

No, friends, this was a trial run.  Of what's been come to be known as "Making the Music Stop", the purposeful shutdown of the EBT system, INTENDED to cause social chaos by inflicting pain for political points. . .

I'll let Matt Bracken explain it to you, in both of the excellent links above.  And, BTW, for the next three weeks, his "Enemies" trilogy is free on Amazon. . . recommended reading, and did I mention free ??


Anyway, that's your storm warning.   Hopefully, it will not happen.  But forewarned is half an octopus. . .

********************************************************************************

And now, moving from national-level Burning Stoopid, to the source of MOST of teh Burning Stoopid in America today, our schools. . .

Meet High School Senior, and until recently, Captain of the Volleyball Team, Erin Cox. .  .


She's been stripped of her captaincy and suspended from the team for five games for violating the school's zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol.  Except, she wasn't drinking.  She got a text from a friend who said she was too drunk to drive, and could she pick her up and drive her home ?

And, as a good friend, and following the advice given to kids these days, that if you shouldn't drive, call someone to pick you up. . . .she did.   Her timing was, apparently, inauspicious, because a minute or three after her arrival, police from **4** different jurisdictions swooped down on the party and arrested 12 students for drinking, and issued summons to 15 others for ALLEGEDLY drinking. 

Although one of the arresting officers vouched, in writing, that she was, in fact, sober and NOT drinking, the school suspended her anyway.  Because "being at a party where alcohol was served" was considered an infraction as well. . .

Her family did what any other red-blooded American family would do: they appealed, and when the appeals were ignored, the sued.  And that's where the REALLY nasty part occurs:  The Judge ruled that the Court had no jurisdiction, and the Lawyer for the school district materially lied under oath, claiming she had, in fact, been arrested.

Now, maybe it's just me, but I'd think that any activity in a judges' district falls under the jurisdiction of their court,  but apparently not, when the mavens of Zero-Tolerance/Zero-Thought are involved. 

And Erin is just another casualty of their ill-placed zeal. . .





Monday, October 7, 2013

Call to Patriots. . . . .time to get out and DO something.

OK, people. . . . I don't know about you, but your Wizard is mad enough to shoot Fireballs out of each and every orifice, at the crap the Administration is pulling.

Going out of their way to close open-air monumentsThrowing people out of homes they've lived in for 40 years.  Closing a road because you MIGHT see Mount Rushmore from it.  Even trying to close the fricking OCEAN.

This has gone too far.  And it's time for We, the People, to make our voice heard.  And as such, I'm asking you to support and come out for two events:  The Trucker's Ride for the Constitution and the Million Vet March on the Memorials.

Remember the  Two Million Biker Ride on 9/11 ??  The one that the Media barely covered, and that DC Traffic Cameras were, mysteriously, not working for ???  Or, as they said "Heavy Internet Traffic, Cameras are down".   RIIIIGHT. . . Well, if at first we don't succeed. . . .

THIS Weekend.    Thursday, October 11th through Saturday, October 13th, 2013,  Starting with the (depending who you're talking to), Truckers To Shut Down America , the Trucker's Ride for the Constitution, or the 1 Million Truckers to DC.  It's all the same.  People who are sick and tired of all the Beltway Insiders playing their silly little power games are going to LISTEN to the roar of a million rigs, bringing traffic around Washington to even MORE of a stand-still than usual.

IF you come to DC this weekend, you NEED to show your colors.  Your rear window should have a visible "T2SDA" in your rear window.  Nothing fancy, but I've taken the liberty of making a printable sign/strips for your rear window, you can download it HERE.  (Color PDF).

(or just save this and print. . . )

Then, Saturday the 13th,  the Million Vet March on the Memorials.

If in DC, be at the World War II Memorial at 9AM.   If you're not in DC, here's a list of local sites where we're also gathering. . 

Ground rules:  PEACEFUL PROTEST.  We leave trashing the town to the Anarchists, Hippies, and other left-wing groups.   



We're better than that. Pick up your trash.  If confronted by counter-protesters, turn the other cheek and walk away. . .

Be there.   I will . . .

Sunday, October 6, 2013

OK, this is just beyond the Pale. . .

It really IS turning into Bizarro World out there. Due to the Shutdown, National Park Service Rangers have evicted an elderly couple from their home.  Meet Joyce and Ralph Spencer.  She's 77, he's 80.  They've owned the home since the 1970s, and were given 24 hours to gather belongings and leave.  They never were evicted in any of the OTHER 17 shutdowns since they built their home there. 

Now, it's QUITE obvious what's going on here: just like the Doomsday Sequester, the Administration has made a conscious decision to inflict maximum pain on the little people.  They've stopped people from pulling over on public roads and LOOKING at Mount Rushmore. . .  I've already mentioned the shenanigans at the World War Two memorial, but they're doing it at the Vietnam Memorial as well.

But the real over-the-top stunt is ordering the Ocean closed.  King Canute ordered the waves to stop, Obama claimed the seas would stop rising under his rule. . .  but now Obama has ordered the OCEAN closed.

Well, since we're closing the Parks and evicting private property owners, I figure what's good for the goose is good for the gander.  You see, the White House is, technically, a National Park (Google cache, since the NPS.gov site was TAKEN down.  An effort that, BTW, COST MONEY. . .)

You see, a crucial part of American Jurisprudence is Equal Treatment Under Law. Remember the Spencers ??  They OWN their house, and were forced out.  The Obama's don't even pay rent on the Residence.  It's only applying existing law that they need to decamp as well.

Of course, we know that won't happen.  Because, after all Some Animals are More Equal than Others. . .

But that may be changing.  The Bikers came to DC yesterday to support the WW2 Vets. The Truckers are coming next weekend. . .

One or two more of these outrages, and I could see another Tahir Square or "People Power" revolution starting. . .  Hell, the way things are going, in another week, it could be crowds around the White House with torches and pitchforks. . 


And, heck, I might join them. . .


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Today's news from inside that Eight-Lane Deathstrip that Separates Washington from Reality. . .

First, up, this is based on a DEVELOPING news story.  We don't have all the facts in, yet.   But still, initial reaction and commentary.. . .

Leaving work, and driving home, I switched on the radio, expecting my usual Talk Radio. . . .   Instead. . .

If you haven't been following recent news, apparently a woman tried to ram the White House Barricades on Pennsylvania Avenue, then led a car chase to Capitol Hill, where, reports say she was shot dead.  This was a little after 2PM Eastern.  The usual chattering heads, passing on what little info they had, over and over again.  An unfortunately familiar pattern these days. . . .


Several points I noted in the coverage. The White House, The Capitol, and the House and Senate Office buildings went into lockdown. But tourists in Lafayette Park, behind the White House ? No protection. They apparently shut the Capitol Visitor Center down, and shooed out the tourists, but then the Capitol Police ordered it re-opened, and "herded" the tourists into it. But Senators ?  Staffers ??  THEY got Police Escorts to their buildings and safety,


Moral: Our Betters in the Ruling Class, and their attending Mandarins **must** be protected. But the Little People ? Afterthought, if at all.


The woman was reportedly shot to death on Capitol Hill. She is reported as NOT having a weapon, and no weapons were found in the car. So why was she shot, instead of Pepper-Gassed or Tazed ??

Last observation, as the news is still coming in. She was driving a leased car with-out-of-state plates, had a small child in the car (reportedly uninjured), and zero identification or clues to why she did this. I'm willing to guess she will turn out to be mentally ill and off her meds. . .


Situation still developing, but it was all over before 3PM Eastern by all reports. . . . Will update as actual data gets released. . .

UPDATE: Looks like I was right. Suspect is reported as "Miriam Casey", a 33-year-old dental hygienist from Connecticut with a history of mental illness. . .

http://nypost.com/2013/10/03/capitol-shooter-was-conn-based-dental-hygienist/


And guess what ?  She looks like Obama's daughter.  Assuming Malia and Sasha are actually his. 

And, of course, the loving, accepting, tolerant left was showing their usual grace. . .



**********************************************************************

Now, what I was GOING to lead with, today.  Remember, just a few months ago ??  When the topic du jour was gun control after Newtown ??   The Mantra was:  "If our actions result in only saving one life..."



Fast forward to October, 2013.  Senator Harry Reid, Majority Leader of the Senate. . . 

 

Oh, but that's DIFFERENT. . . . .  because it doesn't support our agenda.  Of course, that's almost to be expected, given the stories already coming out of the Exchanges.   Oh, and by the way, NICE 1-800 number. . . .   try getting through. . . although we DO have an update. . . 

 

And someone who DID get though, did NOT like what he found. . .



(Additional data here)
Gee, pay about 50% over par for a normal plan, and get a HUGE deductible, or pay a large fine.



Now, I'm currently on what would be considered a "Silver" plan from work, at least according to the letter I got from my insurer last week.  And what the Large Print Giveth, the Small Print Taketh Away.   From what I've personally received, it looks like a 50% increase in premium and deductibles rise from 5K individual and 10K family, to $7500 and 12.5K.  The fine print also states that the "office visit" charge is only AFTER the deductible is met, likewise, the discount prescription plan.


Note, that's PRIVATE, CORPORATE insurance.  I don't even want to THINK what the official Obamacare Exchange Rate might look like. . .

**************************************************************************
 And another update.  Remember Kaitlyn Hunt ??  Her mugshots:she plead no contest. . .



**************************************************************************

Signing off for now, will update the DC story as more real data develops. . .

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Welcome to Bizarro World. . . .



It's almost not worth pointing out teh Stoopid anymore.  Because it seems to be The New Normal.

Consider: the Park Service is threatening to ARREST 90+ -year old World War Two vets, for DARING to visit an open-air memorial during the Shutdown. . . because the White House told them to.   With more reinforcements than Benghazi ever got. . . .

Trust me, the guys who did this. . . .


. . . .and this. . .


Are NOT going to be afraid of these guys. . . .



Oh, and by the way, that World War Two Memorial ??    I have a message for you, Mr. President.  . . .

YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT. . .

But. . . .   I have a genuinely  bi-partisan solution to the underlying budget problem.  An Amendment to the Constitution.

With the following terms:

A budget, NOT a continuing resolution, must be passed by the House and submitted to the Senate by June 1st of every year.   The Senate must hold a vote on the budget by July 1st of every year.

If the House and Senate cannot agree on a budget, they MUST go into conference on the budget on the next business day, and neither the House or Senate may consider ANY other business until the Budget is settled.

A Continuing Resolution may be allowed from October 1st until November 1st.

Enforcement: If any deadline is missed for any reason, the entire membership of the offending body (i.e. the House or Senate) is automatically recalled from office, and the entire current personal and committee staffs of the offending body are immediately dismissed from their employment for cause, without possibility of appeal.  No elected member shall be eligible for re-election to the Congress in any district or State, for a period of five complete terms of office for the last office held.   And in case of auto-recall, all pensions for elected members are forfeit, less any contributions made directly from the elected members' salary.

(And yes, that WILL clear out the geriatrics in the Senate.  That's a Feature, not a Bug. . . . )

No staff member may be employed by any Federal Agency or Organization for ten calendar years after auto-recall.

(And the staffs are an even worse problem: de-facto mandarins. . .)

And, after recall/dismissal, neither elected members or staff enjoined from being employed by, or compensated in any way by, any organization that participates in Lobbying to the Federal Government.

(Which tries to fix the Revolving Door Problem in Washington. . . )

Should both bodies fail to pass a permanent budget by November 1st, the budget of the previous Fiscal Year shall be adopted for the new Fiscal Year.

That should clear the deadwood, both political and institutional, from the Hill, stop the shutdowns, and maybe, just maybe, get some actual citizens elected. . . .