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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

The Diebold FTP Story
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:59 pm EDT, Sep  9, 2003

Good analysis of Scoop's allegations and Diebold's rebuttal:


Allegation #53 (p. 16):
"Physical access to the voting results may not even be necessary to acquire the voting records if they are transmitted across the Internet."
Diebold Response:
... Results are not transmitted over the Internet.
My Added Comment:
But we know that result transmission uses telephone, PPP, and a username and password, from Page 14 of the Hopkins report, quoted in Allegation #40. Therefore, it is quite possible that election central will have a LAN connected using Internet protocol, perhaps used to connect a modem bank with a single PC. This LAN may not be as vulnerable as the public Internet, but it is vulnerable to packet snooping and several other attacks, and must therefore be carefully secured. Furthermore, if an adversary can dial into the PPP host and await connections, Trojan horse applications on the voting system could communicate with the adversary using PPP without talking to the GEMS system at all.

Allegation #54 (p. 16):
"The Diebold voting machines cannot work in isolation ..."
Diebold Response:
This is false. ... The primary form of output for the Ballot Station is the result tape ...
My Added Comment:
Diebold is wrong. Just because communication is accomplished using hand carried media such as the PCMCIA cards used to program the machine before the election and the printout used as the official election record does not mean that the machine is isolated. See my response to allegation #16! Hand carried PCMCIA cards need just as much protection as network communications. Furthermore, the printout from the machine is not necessarily the final result unless we make this printout before we make any modem connection that could admit an intruder; here, the Diebold system, because of its weak security, relies unnecessarily on strict adherence to correct polling place procedures. Not only that, but we are under increasing pressure to use the electronic record for canvassing, generally the one in the hand-carried PCMCIA card taken from the voting machine, but in the not-too-distant future, we may be pressured into using the result from the modem! That paper record wasn't even an option with Global's system when it was offered for sale to Iowa in 1997, and today, I gather that many jurisdictions don't look at it unless there's a call for a recount.

The Diebold FTP Story

The Lessons
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:00 pm EDT, Sep  4, 2003

In 1983, Tommy Boy Records held a remix contest to promote G.L.O.B.E. & Whiz Kid's "Play That Beat (Mr. DJ)." The unanimous winner was Steve "Steinski" Stein & Douglas "Double Dee" DiFranco's "Lesson One: The Payoff Mix." Two more Lessons soon followed: "Lesson Two: The James Brown Mix" and "Lesson Three: The History of Hip-Hop."

"Lesson One" became an urban radio hit within days, but was never commercially released because of its extensive and eclectic samples. Clearing the sound clips -- a diverse collection ranging from Mae West and Humphrey Bogart to Ed McMahon and Herbie Hancock -- would have been a legal nightmare under copyright law.

Made entirely with double-cassette decks and Steinski's extensive vinyl collection, these three tracks paved the way for current cut-and-paste turntablist experimentation. Countless basement DJs were influenced by The Lessons, including DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, who both released unofficial tributes called "Lesson Four." It was way ahead of its time, and deserves to be heard beyond vinyl bootlegs traded by DJs.

The Lessons

The Promise and the Threat
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:54 pm EDT, Sep  1, 2003

Yesterday, I read how it was going to take up to $90 billion to rebuild Iraq. Bremer was shooting out numbers about how much it was going to cost to replace buildings and bridges and electricity, etc.

Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we’ll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who’ll listen.

As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.

Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.

A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!


Blogger from Iraq.

The Promise and the Threat

Lights Out On Deregulation
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:24 pm EDT, Aug 24, 2003

A prime case in point is FirstEnergy Corp, late of Ohio. FirstEnergy formed through a merger of utility companies which owned nuclear power plants which often were neither used nor useful, and as a result incurred huge debt. FirstEnergy's predecessor, The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI) in the 1950s and 60s was a high performing blue chip stock until they invested in nuclear power. FirstEnergy has tried without success to keep online a very troublesome nuclear power facility at Port Clinton, Ohio, the Davis-Besse plant. Davis-Besse is currently shut down and has been for some time. FirstEnergy and federal regulators failed to properly monitor the operations of the plant, resulting in conditions where the plant's reactor vessel was threatened with a breach when boric acid ate into the head of the reactor.

Millions of people in the Midwest and the water supply of our entire Great Lakes region were at risk because of First Energy's negligence, improper maintenance, and actual cover-up of the degradation of the reactor. Furthermore, federal regulators determined that notwithstanding the peril which was presented to one of the largest populated areas of the United States, FirstEnergy's financial condition necessitated the continued operation of the flawed reactor. The regulators put profit ahead of public interest.

If there was ever an example of an unholy alliance between government and industry, this is it. If there was ever an example of the failure of necessary regulation by the government of an investor-owned utility, it is found in the government's failure to regulate FirstEnergy, because now, according to published reports by the Associated Press, CNN, and ABC News, the blackout which affected an estimated 50 million people began in the FirstEnergy system.


Interesting words from a Democratic hopeful that spoke up against deregulation many moons ago.

Lights Out On Deregulation

R.I.P Wesley Willis
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:03 pm EDT, Aug 22, 2003

Dear Friends and fellow Wesleynauts,
We are deeply saddened to report that one of our artists, Wesley
Willis passed away yesterday, Thursday, August 21st. Wesley will be
greatly missed by all that had the privilege to know him, as well as
the fans who have been fortunate enough to experience his genius.


Rock on Wesley Willis.

R.I.P Wesley Willis

Pig Lovin'
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:06 am EDT, Aug 22, 2003

"It was hard to comprehend what I was in fact seeing," said the Skien farmer. He managed to get nine shots of the former policeman he spotted sexually assaulting his pigs.


Irony on many levels...

Pig Lovin'

Skippy the Goth Kangaroo
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:01 pm EDT, Aug 19, 2003


Skippy the Goth Kangaroo

Reserves wanting to leave Mideast
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:00 pm EDT, Jul 25, 2003

During the first two weeks of the war, the 319th hauled all the bulk fuel for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in its drive to Baghdad, a job that took them through hostile territory and into ambushes and firefights.

The 319th is now working for the Army's 260th Quartermaster Battalion. It is stationed at Camp Arifjan, south of Kuwait City.

Soldiers say most of their work involves civilian contractor Kellogg Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton Corp. The company has contracts to haul fuel, and 319th members are riding along as armed escorts.

"The main reason we're still here is to support Brown and Root," said Sgt. 1st Class David Uthe, 45, of Augusta.


Probably preaching to the choir at this point, but yes, it was all about oil, and continues to be. Anyone see some of the recently released notes from Cheney's Energy Task Force meetings? They were basically deciding how to divvy up Iraq. Now the troops are working in hostile territory for a Halliburton subsidiary. Oil is such a dirty business.

Reserves wanting to leave Mideast

RE: I, Cringely | The Pulpit
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:55 pm EDT, Jul 25, 2003

flynn23 wrote:

] did you see last week's column? look in Old Hat

Yeah, how much of that article was just a verbatim quote of what you wrote? It's hard to tell.

One thing wrong with the Snapster business model: What's the incentive for the artist? People seem to forget the commodity. Sure, buy the whole catalog of recorded works that you can for a little over a million dollars. When the next hot album comes out, the system collapses if the record company isn't moving cellophane like it used to. Where would the money for marketing come from? I think consumer demand is extremely fickle. For this to work as envisioned, a lot of the supposely "prehistoric" systems would still need to remain in place, such as mass media hype.

How would rights revocation work? Suppose an out of print recording is lost from the vault. Would all users in the co-op still have rights to their backups? I don't think they'd be able to continue trading backups. It is an interesting idea though.

RE: I, Cringely | The Pulpit

Metallica Sue Canadian Band over E, F Chords
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:04 am EDT, Jul 18, 2003

MONTREAL — Metallica are taking legal action against independant Canadian rock band Unfaith over what they feel is unsanctioned usage of two chords the band has been using since 1982 : E and F.

"People are going to get on our case again for this, but try to see it from our point of view just once," stated Metallica's Lars Ulrich. "We're not saying we own those two chords, individually - that would be ridiculous. We're just saying that in that specific order, people have grown to associate E, F with our music."

Metallica Sue Canadian Band over E, F Chords

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