Sunday, August 29, 2010


I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

h/t the Heresiarch, who got it through a long chain of other bloggers.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Transmission Control Pixies

This is not original work - it was originally posted on /. (Slashdot)  by Wingnut. It is classic ...

The Transport Control Pixies and the Internet Pixies system the Internet currently uses can be abused, as the recent DoS attacks illustrate, especially with the fat pipes to which many people now have access.

These pipes allow many malicious Pixies to be sent to a target, completely overwhelming the targets ability to process them.

The large numbers of Pixies that can traverse these fat pipes is the main problem as I see it. A good short-term solution would be the replacement of the fat pipes with bundles of thin pipes. At the targets end, each thin pipe would have a small tap - when a DoS attack is detected, simply open the taps in turn to allow the unwanted Pixies to drain out into a bucket. Alternatively, a manned barrier could be set up at the end of each thin pipe, and any swarthy looking, suspiciously odious, black hatted, or otherwise dubious Pixies can be turned away. This doesn't aid tracing the source, but will allow the force of the attack to be diminished such that the target can remain relatively unscathed.

Tracing an attack to the immediate source can easily be accomplished by having a little valve in the thin pipe that when turned will shut off the Pixie flow. Subsequent Pixes entering the pipe will cause it to bulge gradually as the backlog builds up. By repeating this procedure back from each machine the source will eventually be found. To save having to walk all that way, the valves could have long pieces of string attached to them so they can be turned on and off remotely.

Finding the perpetrator of the DoS is more problematic. These days, the normal breadcrumb back trail can be easily garbled by the less than savoury element on the internet. The new Internet Pixie v6 implements the Taut String from End to End system to tie the source to destination - any severing of the string to re-route it can be instantly detected by loss of tension. However, this does us no good currently.

It only takes a single Pixie to start a DoS attack, and finding it may not always be possible. An amateur will often leave the initial Pixie unharmed. If a suspicious one is found, sieze it immediately (ensure to keep its hands away from any magic pouches/flowers/musical instruments that it may have on its person). A poorly cast Mind Erasure spell can easily be undone by any one of a number of Re_Mind perl scripts. A properly cast Mind Erasure can be tricky to undo and will require a special Module be used - if you're not at ease with compiling programs, pop the Pixie in a Jiffy Bag and post it to (you may need to flatten the packet a little to get it into the floppy disk orifice) - hemos will de-spell it and send the results back by return).

A professional won't allow such evidence to remain - a common method is the Pixie On A Bungee technique. The perpetrator fires said Pixie into the attack machine with a long rubber band attached. With skill, the Pixie shoots in, pushes the Start lever and gets yanked back out at very high speed. A telltale clue of this is often fingernail scratches - sometimes a misjudgement as to bungee length can leave fingers embedded in the lever handle. Unfortunately, unless the Pixie drops his ID card, the chances of tracking back further are very small, and really best left to the authorities.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh. Dear. God.

The Huffington Post interviews Fred Phelps. Some extracts ...

Look at the world of Noah. In his day there were 12 to 16 billion people on Earth, and only eight got out of that flood alive. The world is going to be devoured by fire.

12 billion people on Earth in, what would it have been, around 2300BC (according to some creationist timelines)? That's how Noah could get all of the animals in to one boat. All the rest had been eaten.

Is there anything you want to say to her?

No. Except that she should repent.

But her husband wasn't a homosexual.

So then why are they upset? If he wasn't a sinner, he doesn't need to worry. If he was, then it's too late for him. There's time for her though.

Seriously? The idiot doesn't understand why his picketing a funeral causes upset? And the dead soldier wasn't anything to do with the cause (homophobia) he is supporting? It would be like turning up to a church open day and protesting about RBS funding "Big Oil". Right or wrong? Doesn't matter - completely irrelevant.

The behaviour of these fools is enough to make me wish I was an atheist.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recession, What Recession?

Thankfully, for my blood pressure, I did not meet these people but merely had them mentioned to me!

Celestial Paws specialise in astrology for pets. Pets are loyal, loving and a part of the family. Like us, they too have their own individual characteristics. Celestial paws can offer you a personality profile for your pet.

Prices from £15 to £30. If you can run a successful business doing this, there are clearly people around who deserve to have less money!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Climate, It is A'Changing

Well, of course it is. It's not static - even on the timescales of human life. So it's changing.

Now, of course, are we in the 70's where best evidence was that it was cooling, or the early 2000's where it seemed to be warming, or the last few years where it may have been cooling again (although this seems to have been a temporary effect due to the prolonged solar minimum which is now over)?

Anyway. Enough of that. We need decent, long-run statistics. Then we can work out the basic up or down thing, then we can look at significance, then we can look at both causes and what we might do about it, if anything. And note that causes and corrections need not be directly related. You can make hot air balloons  rise by throwing out some ballast as well as by heating the air.

So this was fun (h/t to Lubos). Note that this doesn't "prove" anything about climate change, either way - it just shows that the well-derided statistical methods in a key global-warming paper fail the Huff test.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An Answer To Juliette

Juliette has been reading the Guardian again. It's bad for her blood pressure - anyway, I was going to comment on her post but apparently my answer is "too long to process". So reproduced below in full.

Firstly, the iniquity of the benefits trap is something even we rabid (libertarian) right wingers have been known to harp on about from time to time. Yes, we need to have a benefits 'floor' - a minimum living income for those who cannot work. Whether that is because there is no work for which they are qualified or because there is something else in their lives that means that they find it difficult to work.

That can be a disability, it could be because they are studying, it could be because they are the carer (normally but not always the mother) of a small child or the carer (normally but not always the wife or daughter) of a dependent adult. That's fine. Caring for small children is an honourable occupation - whether you are related to them or not. Remember that the authoritarian (or 'scumbag') right wing would generally insist (historically at least) that the "stay at home mother" was the ideal model for society. Clearly bollocks of course but ...

Mrs S-E couldn't wait to get back to work after either Miss S-E or young Master S-E. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, has decided that a formal career break (from a very good job, in pay terms, at least) is the way she wants to play things. Personal choices, personal circumstances. Neither are single mums, of course but that doesn't change the fundamental motivation.

So the benefits system needs to cope. It needs not to discourage women who want to work from doing so - that means reasonable marginal tax rates (compared to the headline tax rates). Whether it is a small amount of part-time work, which may be all that is available or it may be that the lass just wants to get away for a few hours a week from washing nappies and watching 'Peppa Pig'. And it needs to realise that, even on a full time job, she may not be bringing in that much more than child-care and transport costs (Mrs S-E has certainly been there.) Some benefits are particularly iniquitous - you mentioned housing benefit. Simplification is the right-wing bastard answer - with a 'Citizens' Basic Income' as the limiting exemplar.

Anyway - single mums. Some mums are single, as you say, because many men are shits (perhaps even most young men. You might 'think' we're an awful blight on society but we are, or from the pov of the aged, were that blight!) Some are single because they had a loving relationship and it didn't last. It happens. Some mums are single because they wanted a child and didn't particularly want the man that is, frankly, only necessary at the conception stage. Some mums - the stereotype, I suppose - are single because they wanted the sex and were too careless, stupid or pissed to take or insist on birth control.

It is going to be impossible to differentiate between the above (of course, with a CBI, you wouldn't need to), even if they were clear cut categories. Which they're not.

Anyway - happy to disagree with you about the Royal Family. Even if the verminous politician who would replace HMQ as Head of State cost nothing. Which they wouldn't. And the Queen didn't say, okay, thanks, I'll have the Crown Estates (2009 income - straight to the Treasury - over 4 times the 2009 Civil List IIRC), the entire Civil List would pay for on the order of 6000 child care places (advertised cost of c childminder near me, from the council site - £3.65 per hour, assuming 45 hours per week, including a minimum amount for travel to work and 'incidents' and a 44 week working year.) Not nothing but, realistically, 'drop in the ocean' stuff compared to the scale of the problem.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Confused? I am

Okay, I don't read the Indefensible very often but I was reading Matilda Battersby's appalling story on ContactPoint (Matilda, they're choosing to bin something that won't work and will / has already cost a fortune but will have a massive and unwelcome impact on civil liberties in favour of trying to sort out the actual problem!) and I came across the Independent on Sunday's "Pink List".

Okay, I thought, worth a read.

Now it's full of people I've never heard of, which isn't a great surprise, and a number who I am aware of.  Okay, so I'm not a metrosexual and, frankly, don't care particularly about what some public figure's sexual leanings or proclivities are.

But at no 19, I got a shock. Trooper Wharton, although a bit of a cheer-leader for celebration of civil partnerships in the military - albeit in the Household Cavalry where being a bit of a "mommy's boy" is hardly earth-shattering - more "influential" than, well, Ministers and their shadows, a couple of Judges (one Chairman of the Law Commission), the First Civil Service Commissioner, Matthew Parris, Lionel Blue, the vice-chair of the Conservatives and the editor of "Gay Times". Even some lesbian Lt Cdr? For what, exactly? Appearing on the front page of "Squaddie Monthly".

Well, I suppose if the most 19th most important gay person in the country is a private soldier, we hardly need to worry about being run by a shadowy pink-mafia. Unless it is all an incompetent joke. Well, it is the Independent!
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