Friday, July 31, 2009


Good news lads, good news! Instead of going to the
Jersey shore this weekend, we'll be gamblin' in
a place that looks like an old steel plant. Hot-cha!

DD's old stomping ground, the south side of Bethlehem, PA, has a new Sands casino, built to 'revitalize' the ravine of the old Bethlehem Steel complex.

Its decor is old Rustbelt mill, meant to compete against the pull of Atlantic City and the Jersey shore.

"Are they nuts?" DD hears you ask.

Well, yes -- yes they are.

When a student at Lehigh University, the Lehigh Valley always worked to make itself over into something it was not. In the early Eighties, the gauleiters of the local bunds wanted the place repackaged as a facsimile of Manhattan called "The Little Apple."

That worked.

So the polishing of turds tough things to polish comes naturally.

A piquant story ran about this in the Los Angeles Times here.

The salient quote:

" 'I've been laid off seven times since 2001," said David Faust, 31, who hopes he has found steady work now as a slot machine technician. 'This area really needed jobs.' "

The Bethlehem Sands casino is said to feature: "raw steel I-beams, exposed brick, a gabled roof with skylights, thick chains and gears, and dangling lights that glow orange like burning ingots."

Nevertheless, the US economic collapse has dimmed even this potentially bright orange light. Credit shortage has put the kibosh on further development, for the time being.

Jobs in heavy manufacturing in the US used to pay $20/hour. And in Bethlehem, generations of workers could buy a house and send their kids to college, just by working at the steel mill straight from high school.

Jobs working at a casino pay much less in 2009. In the US, this is expected. It is important that you be screwed.

One of DD's friends informs a cage cashier's slot at the Sands casino in Bethlehem pays 9-10 dollars/hour for work at night and on weekend. It's a good rate if you're enthusiastic about the economic benefits of 24/7 work in a banana republic.

DD was told the majority of patrons at the Sands were senior citizens, many with walkers. Just the clientele to vampirically work over.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

"[One patron and his wife visit] Atlantic City casinos once a month ... and he prefers the seaside resort's glitz and glamour. 'Here, you're in an old steel mill ... Down there, you're in a palace.'

Another flashed the old LV blind pig iron optimism in the face of fail:

"[An off duty police officer and a surgical technician] shared a drink ... They like toned-down Bethlehem more than Atlantic City, where slums abut the casinos."

Coincidentally, the south side of Bethlehem used to be a slum. (And a bit of it still is.) You can read about my exciting life in it here.

Who needs sand in your bathing suit?

Feeble-minded 43-year old hacker and UFO freak Gary McKinnon "lost a judicial review against his extradition to the United States on hacking charges" today, reported el Reg.

Who is Gary McKinnon and why is this a sad and silly case?

DD explains in analysis at SITREP here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


More really good news, lads!

"Jobless claims show downward trend in hopeful sign," was the idiot headline from AP here.

But in the lede graf: "The number of newly laid-off workers filing first-time claims for jobless benefits rose last week, the government said, though the increase was mostly due to seasonal distortions."

Over in Reuters-land:

"The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly more than expected last week, but the number of workers staying on jobless rolls fell to the lowest in three months, government data showed on Thursday.

But why are they no longer on jobless roles? Because they're not counted because they've been denied or exceeded their unemployment claims? Don't ask the newsmen.

"Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 584,000 in the week ended July 25, the Labor Department said, a touch above market expectations for a reading of 570,000."

And last month, on DD's frozen WP blog, only it was allegedly good news from AP, too.

"Lowest level since January..." crowed the agency, at the time.

It's not possible to have a reasonable democracy when large portions of the mainstream press treat rising unemployment rates as good news. Reason is not in town when wishful interpretations of statistical noise and human imprecision in data collection are intepreted as things from which one can wring favorable wind.

"The latest report is actually reasonably good news," said Abiel Reinhart, some bankster from JPMorgan Chase & Co., for the news agency.

"Still, jobs remain scarce and the unemployment rate, which hit 9.5 percent for June, is expected to surpass 10 percent by year's end," added AP equably.

"Only you can prevent terrorism!" -- Cinders the Bear, mascot of the new, improved Department of Homeland Security

That's one way to interpret DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's message on national counter-terror strategy, delivered yesterday.

"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called on Americans on Wednesday to join a 'collective fight against terrorism,' emphasizing the shared role of individuals, as well as of local, federal and foreign governments in confronting a persistent threat," reported the Post.

"Almost eight years after the September 11 attacks, the American public remains insufficiently engaged in the fight against terrorism, the nation's homeland security chief warned Wednesday," echoed CNN on-line.

Different names in control but more of the same, explained here at SITREP.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


While Electromagnetic Pulse Theatre was brushed off once again in the halls of Washington, DC, last week, the lobby will convene for their annual trade show in September.

And that means getting the word out in places like the Buffalo News, where readers are informed Steuben Foods of Elma, NY, will be hardened against sneak EMP attack.

"The nation’s enemies have set their sights on your cell phones, personal computers and the hundreds of thousands of transmission lines that make up the national power grid," writes reporter Danny Yadron here.

"That’s the case a group of Western New Yorkers led and backed by the head of Steuben Foods hopes to make during a conference on the dangers of electromagnetic pulse, scheduled for early September in the Niagara Falls Conference Center ...

"Tickets for the conference, scheduled for Sep. 8 to 10, cost $50 through Friday, $75 thereafter and $25 for government employees, first responders and students.

"[Newt Gingrich] will address attendees via video feed."

On Monday, DD updated his SITREP piece on Electromagnetic Pulse Theatre here.

The added point explained how although EMP Theatre isn't taken seriously in the corridors of power, it has a fair to good p.r. arm. While not quite ready for the frontpage of the New York Times Sunday edition, it can always be counted on to appear in business journals, the opinion page of the Washington Times and any other place generally favorable to whatever Newt Gingrich is interested in.

"Only the Amish and others not reliant on late 20th -- much less our 21st -- century technology would escape [electromagnetic pulse] unscathed," wrote someone at US News & World Report.

As always, returned to the time of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a terrorist's dream, an American nightmare.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Someone with a frisky cat and interesting record collection.

In other matters, a disaster with WordPress froze my new blog, the one I had migrated to in the directory over. Because of Blogger faults, which still exist.

The problem, and it's a sizable vulnerability, is described here.

WordPress depends on its database. And if it is unable to connect to the MYSQL database on the host, bad things happen.

In this case, the blog crashed. Readers who subsequently logged on were presented with the installation interface, also very very bad. The installation interface, presented when WordPress thinks it's new, instates whoever inputs their e-mail address as blog administrator.

And someone, inevitably, took advantage of the problem while I was working to figure out what was wrong and get the blog back up.

DD tossed them out but the reversion to install and subsequent breach rendered WordPress's new posting editor inoperable.

I then spent a week looking through the WordPress codex and help forums for some accurate descriptions of the nature of the problem and how to reset it. In this, as in the Blogger forum one is dependent, to a large extent, on the kindess of strangers.

There is very little discussion, almost none -- actually, within the WordPress community on the "famous five minute install" vulnerability. DD hosts on Yahoo and as part of its Small Business Plan, that service offers Wordpress (version 2.6.2) and Movable Type as blogging applications. This means the "famous five minute install" vuln is probably waiting on many blogs if the mysql server goes sideways at the wrong time.

In any case, I've had to resort to Blogger as a backup. Realistically, I suspect there's no answer to be found at WordPress.Org. That just not in the nature of the beast.

DD may open up another effort to move off old Blogger with Movable Type in another directory.

Chalk it up to lessons in the fragility of web and cloud app design. Using Google Blogger's 'cloud' isn't actually better, it just presented a different set of unexpected challenges.

Paul Fussell, well before the web, described the dilemma in this manner:

"The current United States can be defined as an immense accumulation of not terribly acute or attentive people obliged to operate a uniquely complex technology, which all other things being equal, always wins."

Myself included.

More EMP Crazy

Electromagnetic Pulse Theatre is defined as a show in which only a couple people take the stage to warn of a threat everyone else in attendance takes to be of little or no importance.

On Tuesday, a House subcommittee convened to hear about US electrical reliability and its risk profile with regards to insufficiency in cybersecurity. However, the hearing was turned over to those with the standard compulsion/obsession to warn of catastrophic electromagnetic pulse attack.

See here at GlobalSecurity.Org's SITREP.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sunday, July 05, 2009


GOP obsessed with Biblical techno-catastrophes. And socialism.

Theory of Stupidivity: Your Guarantee of a Cybersecurity Pail of Fail

Anti-Virus Fail and You.

This blog will cease updating at the end of July. Reset your aiming point to the real Dick Destiny blog -- here.