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InetVis -- 3-D scatter-plot visualization for network traffic
Topic: Computer Security 5:41 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2008

First there was The Spinning Cube of Potential Doom. Then, there was the GPL Cube of Potential Doom. Someone else has a much more improved version now:

InetVis has several features to explore network traffic and assist the formation of insight. A set of key features are listed below:

* Adjustable replay position to seek through the traffic capture files.
* Variable playback speed (time scaling), from as slow as 0.001x (1 ms/s), or as fast as 86400x (1 day/s).
* Variable time frame/window to view events for the past 100 ms up to 5 years.
* Transparent decay of events - points fade as they age (with respect to the time window).
* New events are highlighted by pulsing once (a momentarily bulge of the point).
* Filtering capability via BPF filter expressions (as used in libpcap and tcpdump).
* Various colour schemes for colouring points and adjustable point size.
* Setting the data ranges and scaling down into sub-domain IP addresses (destination and source) as well as port ranges to view a subset of the traffic data.
* Adjustable logarithmic plot for stretching out lower port range where, in general, most TCP/UDP traffic occurs.
* Various reference frame controls, i.e. toggling visibility of axes, markers, transparent grid lines, labels, and background colour.
* Orthographic and perspective projection modes.
* Immersive navigation - scaling (zooming), translating (moving) and rotating.
* Record single snapshot image, or dump all image frames (useful for manually encoding video clips).
* Record output back to pcap binary file format, for further detailed analysis with other applications (e.g. tcpdump, Ethereal and Snort).

InetVis -- 3-D scatter-plot visualization for network traffic

US Customs: Sketching an SUV makes you a copyright infringer
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:16 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2008

A woman stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the border, over a drawing of an SUV in her notebook. They thought the artist and college professor was an industrial spy and copyright infringer.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers told Zempel they suspected her of copyright infringement.

She was released after more than an hour in custody at the Houlton, Maine, port of entry from New Brunswick, Canada.

Her release came only after she persuaded border guards she was an artist doing a project that involved a crocheted SUV as a statement against America's dependence on oil and love for big vehicles.

And these are the rocket-scientists we want to give clones of our hard-drives to? As Cardinal Richelieu said, "If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him."

US Customs: Sketching an SUV makes you a copyright infringer

Iceland teeters on the brink of bankruptcy
Topic: Current Events 1:54 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2008

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- This volcanic island near the Arctic Circle is on the brink of becoming the first "national bankruptcy" of the global financial meltdown.

Home to just 320,000 people on a territory the size of Kentucky, Iceland has formidable international reach because of an outsized banking sector that set out with Viking confidence to conquer swaths of the British economy _ from fashion retailers to top soccer teams.

The strategy gave Icelanders one of the world's highest per capita incomes. But now they are watching helplessly as their economy implodes _ their currency losing almost half its value, and their heavily exposed banks collapsing under the weight of debts incurred by lending in the boom times.

"Everything is closed. We couldn't sell our stock or take money from the bank," said Johann Sigurdsson as he left a branch of Landsbanki in downtown Reykjavik.

The government had earlier announced it had nationalized the bank under emergency laws enacted to deal with the crisis.

"We have been forced to take decisive action to save the country," Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde said of those sweeping new powers that allow the government to take over companies, limit the authority of boards, and call shareholder meetings.

A full-blown collapse of Iceland's financial system would send shock waves across Europe, given the heavy investment by Icelandic banks and companies across the continent.

One of Iceland's biggest companies, retailing investment group Baugur, owns or has stakes in dozens of major European retailers _ including enough to make it the largest private company in Britain, where it owns a handful of stores such as the famous toy store Hamley's.

Kaupthing, Iceland's largest bank and one of those whose share trading was suspended last week to stop a huge sell-off, has also invested in European retail groups.

Iceland teeters on the brink of bankruptcy

Community Reinvestment Act had nothing to do with subprime crisis
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:24 pm EDT, Oct  7, 2008

The Community Reinvestment Act, passed in 1977, requires banks to lend in the low-income neighborhoods where they take deposits. Just the idea that a lending crisis created from 2004 to 2007 was caused by a 1977 law is silly. But it’s even more ridiculous when you consider that most subprime loans were made by firms that aren’t subject to the CRA. University of Michigan law professor Michael Barr testified back in February before the House Committee on Financial Services that 50% of subprime loans were made by mortgage service companies not subject comprehensive federal supervision and another 30% were made by affiliates of banks or thrifts which are not subject to routine supervision or examinations. As former Fed Governor Ned Gramlich said in an August, 2007, speech shortly before he passed away: “In the subprime market where we badly need supervision, a majority of loans are made with very little supervision. It is like a city with a murder law, but no cops on the beat.”

Not surprisingly given the higher degree of supervision, loans made under the CRA program were made in a more responsible way than other subprime loans. CRA loans carried lower rates than other subprime loans and were less likely to end up securitized into the mortgage-backed securities that have caused so many losses, according to a recent study by the law firm Traiger & Hinckley.

Finally, keep in mind that the Bush administration has been weakening CRA enforcement and the law’s reach since the day it took office. The CRA was at its strongest in the 1990s, under the Clinton administration, a period when subprime loans performed quite well. It was only after the Bush administration cut back on CRA enforcement that problems arose, a timing issue which should stop those blaming the law dead in their tracks. The Federal Reserve, too, did nothing but encourage the wild west of lending in recent years. It wasn’t until the middle of 2007 that the Fed decided it was time to crack down on abusive pratices in the subprime lending market. Oops.

Community Reinvestment Act had nothing to do with subprime crisis

RE: LAist: Martial Law was Threatened if Bailout Didn't Happen
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:45 pm EDT, Oct  7, 2008

Decius wrote:

Valley Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) stood his ground on Friday during the second House bailout vote that passed. He, along with the majority, voted no on Monday and he once again voted no on Friday, although that time in the minority. During a session of congress on the night before Friday's vote, he said proponents of the bailout were apparently saying martial law be put in place if the vote didn't go through. "That's what I call fear mongering," Sherman said.

More strange rumblings about domestic military operations.

Saw that the other day, too bad he doesn't actually name names. I didn't initially interpret his statement in the secretive cabal sense, more of a generalization of the sentiment the proponents felt.

The original Army Times article has been updated with this blurb:


A non-lethal crowd control package fielded to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, described in the original version of this story, is intended for use on deployments to the war zone, not in the U.S., as previously stated.

Naomi Wolf has an interesting take on what could possibly constitute a "war zone." If you think of the global war on terror including the United States, we are now part of the "war zone."

Note: I have not vetted Naomi Wolf, really only heard about her yesterday with this video. She has a book to sell about America becoming a police state. Fear will help it move. Still, interesting points raised in this 27 minute video: (I tried < video url="URI" / > in preview mode, didn't seem to work.)

One more thread to add, article titled "The Myth of Posse Comitatus" written by an Army Reserve JAG attorney:

On the erosion of posse comitatus:

The weakness of the analysis of passive versus direct involvement in law enforcement was most graphically demonstrated in the tragic 1999 shooting of a shepherd by marines who had been assigned a mission to interdict smuggling and illegal immigration in the remote Southwest. An investigation revealed that for some inexplicable reason the 16-year-old shepherd fired his weapon in the direction of the marines. Return fire killed the boy. This tragedy demonstrates that when armed troops are placed in a position where they are being asked to counter potential criminal activity, it is a mere semantic exercise to argue that the military is being used in a passive support role. The fact that armed military troops were placed in a position w... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]

RE: LAist: Martial Law was Threatened if Bailout Didn't Happen

The Bailout Round II: Adult Version?
Topic: Current Events 11:55 pm EDT, Sep 30, 2008

Watching Dean Baker on CSPAN at the moment, visited his think tank's site, lots of interesting talking point memos.

With much of this equity now eliminated by the collapse of the bubble, many families can no longer sustain their levels of consumption. The main reason that banks won't lend to these families is that they no longer have home equity to serve as collateral. It wouldn't matter how much money the banks had, they are not going to make mortgage loans to people who have no equity.

And house prices are not going to come back. This is like We are not going to get the price of $200,000 homes in central California back up to $500,000.


How do we go about getting the banks in order? Almost every economist I know rejects the Paulson approach and argues instead for directly injecting capital into the banks. The taxpayers give them the money and then we own some, or all, of the bank. (That's what Warren Buffet did with Goldman Sachs.)

This isn't about begging for a sliver of equity as a concession for a $700 billion bailout, this is about constructing a bank rescue the way that business people would do it. We have an interest in a well-operating financial system. There is zero public interest in giving away taxpayer dollars to the Wall Street banks and their executives.

The Bailout Round II: Adult Version?

RE: At the corner of Main and Wall...
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:13 pm EDT, Sep 30, 2008

Acidus wrote:
If I hear one more sound bite about "Main street" and "Wall Street" I think I will literally go insane. Seriously, please, shut the hell up!


"Wall Street/Main Street" has overtaken "irregardless" on my lexical annoyances stack.

Can't we just send lenders who wrote these junk loans and mortgagees who bought them to forced labor camps for a while, use the free labor to temporarily overtake China's manufacturing prices, equalized the trade balance and dig out that way?

Accountability and book balancing handled in one fell swoop!

RE: At the corner of Main and Wall...

RE: Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1 - Army News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Army Times
Topic: Current Events 10:04 am EDT, Sep 30, 2008

Decius wrote:

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North...

...this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

This has the conspiracy theorists a twitter. On the eve of a major presidential election and in the midst of a financial crisis, a U.S. Army Infantry Division has, for the first time in U.S. history, been assigned to a permanent domestic deployment without a mission to respond to a specific disaster or crisis. They're here, you know, just in case.

This is interesting:


They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the “jaws of life” to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

“It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding. They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it.”

The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.


The military has performed house to house clearing exercises in urban areas for years with civilian actors. Sounds like they're ready to start putting it to action with formal domestic operations, you know, just in case.

I thought this is what the National Guard was for, but what do I know?

Maybe this is a new model in the perpetual global war on terror: Bring the troops home for a little bit of a recharge but keep them hot with respect to urban skills so they don't lose their edge.

RE: Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1 - Army News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Army Times

RE: MAKE: Blog: 30,000 dominoes make a U-turn
Topic: Arts 10:59 pm EDT, Sep 19, 2008

CypherGhost wrote:
Someone build giant dominoes from dominoes. You can see the flexion and movement within the dominoes that you normally couldn't see. Quite neat.

Pretty cool. If you are going to go to all that trouble though, why not a few more camera angles and some high speed photography to go with it?

RE: MAKE: Blog: 30,000 dominoes make a U-turn

RE: Wikipedia Sleuths Win Journalism Award for | Threat Level from
Topic: Technology 8:16 pm EDT, Sep 13, 2008

Decius wrote:

Threat Level accepted the $10,000 award for editor Kevin Poulsen's post that combined a voting widget and internet superstar Virgil Griffith's WikiScanner application that let  readers find and highlight the worst self-interested anonymous edits to Wikipedia entries. The judges found that the tool "finally inserts an air of accountability to those who edit the site to fit their own agendas."

Congrats on the one hand, but something seems wrong about Wired getting $10,000 for this blog post and Virgil getting nothing for writing the actual tool.

Who/where do we write letters to? It's all nice and well to call him an "Internet Superstar" but money talks.

RE: Wikipedia Sleuths Win Journalism Award for | Threat Level from

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