Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Irans top nuclear scientist and the man heading the team to remove the Stuxnet virus is assassinated while on his way to work, by a team of machine gun wielding motorcyclists.
This is the latest of several such scientists who have suffered this fate, and no one that we know of has ever been arrested for it.
This shoot down also happened in the most secure district of Tehran, which can't give the other surviving scientists much of a feeling of safety.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
On a fine day like this on, the girls and I rode up to Silver Lake to see just how much snow had fallen in the Sierras.
A nice snow pack was there, about two to three feet here at Silver Lake. That's Thimble Peak and Thunder Mountain in the far background.
With the help of our trusty snowshoes, we hoofed it out on the fresh snow to see what we could see and to experience the unusual cold.
Is this California? The trucks thermometer said it was 18 degrees, and I saw it go down as low as 16.
The sun went down on a snowy, very cold alpine world. I can't imagine how cold it is going to get tonight. If I was a bear, I would be in hibernation right about now.
Wow! The Grizzly bear chair, presented to President Andrew Johnson, by Seth Kinman, California trapper and hunter. Now that is a presidential gift, even if Andrew Johnson was the only President other than Bill Clinton to be impeached by Congress. Maybe it was simply the sheer awesomeness of this chair that prevented Congress from removing Johnson from office. After all, how can you kick a guy out of the presidency when he is doing his presidential thing while sitting in the Grizzly Bear Chair!
And where is the chair now? Did Johnson take it with him and use it himself in private life until it got so thread bare that he threw it out? Is it even now sitting in some musty crate at the Smithsonian? Where is it! Could it show up unexpectedly on Antiques Roadshow? Imagine the price!
From the indispensable site Clusterflock
Everyone is nervous about the crazy North Koreans and the sharp elbowing between the two big boys in the neighborhood, the U S and China.
Keep in mind that although the Chinese like to consider the Yellow sea to be their playground, and can be trusted to support their client and ally North Korea, to go to war with the U S would be highly destructive to their country even if that war occurs solely in Korea.
That is because they are dependent for food and fuel on their trade with the rest of the world, and those trade routes are long and vulnerable. In a shooting war with the U S, they could count on that trade coming to a quick end, as the U S still has massive clout with the rest of China's trading partners and can put huge pressure on them to cut the Chinese off. Even without the cooperation of the rest of the world, the US could militarily cut off China's trade without too much trouble. If this occurred there would be immediate shortages of food and fuel, which would put a quick choke hold on the Chinese economy, not to mention their war making ability.
This the Chinese are well aware of.
We don't normally think of China as a fragile state, but the odd co existence of capitalism and communism there is in fact necessary for the Communists to stay in power. Without the ability to keep most of their population employed, the Communists know that revolution would occur, and they would all go the way of Nicolai Ceaucescu. Even now, in the best of times for the Chinese government, there are frequent strikes and acts of civil unrest across the land, which for now are easy for the authorities to control, but would not be if the scale of these disturbances were to increase. Remember that they barely survived the Tien An Men Square protests, which was only brought under control with the brute force of soldiers and tanks. The leaders of China know that their authority to govern comes not from the consent of the governed, but from the barrel of a gun. They also well know that unless they satisfy the rising expectations of the people, that brute force will avail them nothing, and they will be thrown out and replaced suddenly. Those aspirations would with certainly be rudely dashed, perhaps permanently, due to the economic consequences of a war with the US.
While a war would bring the Chinese people together patriotically for a while, it would, at the very least, hugely impact the mercantilist economy in China for the worst, and could in fact easily bring the economy to it's quick destruction if their trade with the rest of the world grinds to a halt. Don't even consider the effect if the US decides, during a Chinese war, to cancel China's treasury bonds! There is nothing like smell of a trillion plus in dollar equity going up in the smoke of war with one of your biggest trading partners!
The Chinese are well aware of all this.
Finally, there is no guarantee that they could win even a conventional war with the U S, let alone one that goes nuclear due to the crazy desperate acts of their client state. In China, to lose a conventional war in their backyard to the U S would be a loss of face so severe that this alone could fatally damage the Communist government.
So in summary, and recognizing that nothing is guaranteed except that the unexpected will always happen sooner or later, there is very little to gain, and that at great risk, for the Chinese in a war with the U S. What China is now really is a creation of their economic interconnectedness with the rest of the world, and there really is no going back to an earlier existence. We should hope that they are making that very clear to the North Koreans right now.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The complexity and cleverness of the Stuxnet worm are now coming to light.
These include the revelation that it hid itself from monitoring systems, so that as it slowly destroyed the Iranian nuclear program, the control software couldn't identify what was going wrong. The Iranians ran diagnostics that the worm fooled into reporting that all systems were running properly, even as one centrifuge after another suffered damage.
Further, the worm reported back to to two servers, one in Denmark and one in Malaysia. However, no one can now find these servers.
Once the Belarussian company discovered the worm, it naturally posted on a security website about what it had found, asking for help identifying the worm. Almost instantly, this was discovered by the worm, and access to the security site in question was denied for twenty four hours, allowing the worm that much time to erase it's tracks.
Although the worm has infected over 100,000 computers worldwide, it has damaged only those involved in the Iranian nuclear program.
The complexity of this is unprecedented, and no hacker could possibly have done it. It is a military weapon.
However, to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program so that military action is not needed is grounds to award whatever group or organization that did this the Nobel Peace Prize. The lives saved, both Iranian and other wise, are very significant.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Serious gold miners always melt down their placer into easily stored bars. Here is an example from a website for gold miners. Boy, I'd sure like to have a few of these buried in a mayonnaise jar in the backyard.
This is over 11,000 dollars in beautiful yellow gold you are looking at here.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Stuxnet runs rampant in Iran's military.
More centrifuges are destroyed or damaged.
Iranian military radar detects the intrusion of foreign aircraft that aren't really there.
Sounds to me like it's time for the Iranians to completely replace their software, and that has to be expensive.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Hey Obama, whatcha gonna do now? I say nuke em. If the Norks want to play with fire, teach them and every other two bit dictator what will happen. The threat of this worked for decades during the cold war, and nuclear devastation of the North will send a clear and unmistakable message to Iran, China, Venezuela, etc., not to mess with a peaceful neighbor who is allied to the United States.
Update: The Japanese call for an immediate military response, and an immediate meeting of the UN security council.
A Taliban leader the administration was negotiating with turns out to be an imposter.
"... and we gave him a lot of money," says an administration official. Yeah, tell me again how these are the smartest, most intellectual, most nuanced people that have ever been elected.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
So on this sleepy Sunday afternoon, I got bored, so I loaded up the daughters and headed for the "hill" to see how much snow had fallen in the mountains.
We didn't have to go very far before we found this winter wonderland. This scene is on Shake Ridge Road, above Pioneer. That is actually somewhat low in altitude, although it does snow several times a year in this area. Based on this drive, it looks like we are building a pretty good snow pack so far this year.
On the way back down, we passed through the little gold rush town of Volcano. This is a remote town that only has a few people still living there, but then that is part of the charm.
Back out on the plains, we saw a flaming sunset. We three certainly enjoyed our little jaunt up and then back down the mountain. Tomorrow, it's back to school and work.
This sort of disaster happens in the Western world all the time, right? In China, it's just a big "oops," because they can put up another one in only six days. How long it stays up, well, we just have to wait and see.
Click the link for more pictures and a engineer's explanation of what happened.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Forensic research into the Stuxnet virus has determined that it in fact is designed to send enrichment centrifuges wildly out of control. As to where it originated, this article only says that Israeli government officials get broad smiles when they talk about how much damage it has probably caused to Iran's nuclear program.
Apparently the Iranians have had hundreds of their centrifuges self destruct.
The story of this would make super spy George Smiley smile.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
High tax states are losing people and low tax, right to work states are gaining. The next j0b for the Democrats is to do something to stop this, because we just can't have some do better than others.
One should also know that it isn't just people, in the generic sense, that are leaving the high tax states, but productive, risk taking people. The people who make business and jobs. The people who will generate tax income for the state.
Therefore, we can also use this statistic to predict which states will be de facto bankrupt in five to ten years on the outside, which will be full of slackers, illegal aliens on the dole, and full of run down, derelict, crime ridden cities.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Curtis got slapped by a white teacher.
Be sure the read the entire 40 page letter this certifiable lunatic of a mother wrote about her adorable, fabulous and copyright protected son.
At least based on the pictures, little Curtis seems like a decent young man. Here's hoping the kid grows up a least a little normal, although with this screeching harpy as his mom, fat chance.