I’m a victim of Microsoft

Apologies for the poor availability of this site for the past several days. It was on the receiving end of a DDOS attack. I finally ended up blocking around 50 class C subnets, a total of 6,000-plus IP addresses. This affects more actual computers and users than that number, of course, because many of those addresses are probably the outside of a NAT router. Very brute-force, but what else ya gonna do?

It’s possible that there are real readers on some of these subnets who have suffered from the carpet-bombing. I would tell ‘em that I’m sorry, but they won’t be reading this.

I would not claim that ‘something must be done’ — well, no, that’s not true. Back up a minute. Wiping Microsoft Windows off the face of the earth would be a hell of a good thing, since it’s certain that 999 out of 1,000 — maybe 1,000 out of 1,000 — of these infected systems hammering me with bogus traffic are Windows systems. Windows is an OS designed to be infected, for marketing purposes.

But usually, when people say that ‘something must be done’, they mean that ISPs ought to monitor traffic more, or the Gummint should hire more cybercops and prosecute more people. I would prefer not to see any of these things done.

People who study military history sometimes like to observe that there are times when the advantage lies with the defender, and other times when the advantage lies with the attacker. This seems to be a time when the advantage lies with the attacker. Though I’ve been a defender myself for the past few days, I’m not sure I’d like to see that turned around.

But Windows — ecrasez l’infame! That’s not a question of policing or supervision. That’s a case where people bought a crappy product because the pallid goggle-eyed creeps who sold it had, have, an effective monopoly (pace all you Apple fanbois out there).

 

Experts say: die like a dog, fatty

This is an extraordinarily sick country, in more than one sense of the term:

Faced with the high cost of caring for smokers and overeaters, experts say society must grapple with a blunt question: Instead of trying to penalize them and change their ways, why not just let these health sinners die prematurely from their unhealthy habits?


Of course it all ends up in an elaborate po-faced on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand charade of objectivity: the perp obviously went to jejunalism school. But ‘experts say’ is, as always, the operative phrase, the word of power that trumps all other considerations. Especially in the lede.

What a bunch of sick, punitive fucks we Amurricans are; and what sanctimonious hypocrites, too, clothing the whole sadistic revel in the garb of righteousness. We’re just conscientiously trying to make sure nobody gets more than he deserves — except, of course, for the people who have many orders of magnitude more than they deserve. Death to the evildoers — preferably a long, slow, exemplary death,  pour encourager les autres.

This unintentionally Swiftian piece certainly commits a muddle a minute. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the writer, for example,  that the high cost of medical care in this country might have other sources than the self-indulgence of prole cola-bibbers and nicotine fiends, though the subject has been much discussed.

And the conventional polarities of debate are carefully observed:

There are plenty of public health researchers … who will argue that smoking taxes are not regressive so long as money is earmarked for programs that help poor people quit smoking.

I bet they will — argue, that is.

The one thing that is never, never considered in connection with excise taxes(*) is just rebating the money, on a strict per-capita basis, to every man woman and child in the country. ‘Liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ alike howl in execration at the idea — the former, because they’d rather take the money and spend it on soul-engineering ‘programs’ that employ ‘experts’ ; the latter, because the idea of poor people having more money drives them batshit.

Yet the rebate idea, from any rational point of view, is a thing of beauty. It’s redistributive, as any fixed per-capita payment must be. It disincentives the wicked — get thee behind me, Pepsi — and rewards the virtuous. And it’s a sneaky way of getting started on a social wage.

——————

(*) Especially everybody’s favorite policy pipe dream, a carbon tax.

 

Prosecutors

This ‘umble site seems to be experiencing a DDOS attack. Lord knows why, or from whom; might be quite random, though I prefer to think it’s Carmen Ortiz, that awful prosecutor who hounded Aaron Swartz to death. I have no real reason to believe that, apart from wishful thinking, and the slender fact that the first intimations of the attack came from IP addresses in Cambridge, Mass.

More importantly, I note that Obie has not fired Ortiz yet, in spite of the universal execration deservedly poured upon her head after Aaron’s death. I said at the time that she’s not an ‘outlier’ — that she’s executing policy that her bosses are right behind, all the way up, from the AG to the president and on to the people who own and manipulate the president like the pathetic marionette he is.

I claim now that events have vindicated me. The dog did not bark, and the message is clear.

More guessing games: Who is the distinguished jurist shown above? A faithful reader tagged ole Strom right away, in an earlier post.

 

Election junkies

Facebook is, more or less, a pestilence, but it has its uses. It makes you aware of truly horrible developments a week or two before you would otherwise have found them out.

The latest disturbing gut-rumble among my Facebook ‘friends’ is… 2016. Yes, that’s right. The last sour comedy is barely over and people are looking forward, looking forward, across four years of actual human life, to the next content-free shadow-play in that long-running sitcom, American Democracy.

Bad enough, eh? But what makes it worse is that people are now trying to talk themselves into liking Hillary Clinton. Obie is like, sooo 2012. Been there, done that. Twice.

Worse yet, the effort is apparently succeeding. All it takes for these folks is that you’re not John Boehner.

I can sorta see it. Up to a point. I always found her intensely attractive, in a purely personal way, and now that she’s not trying to look young any more she’s even more appealing. And of course there’s no denying that she’s more intelligent, and has more personality, than the entire US Senate put together. There’s a reason why she has never held elective office(*): personality is now an absolute impediment.

But as I may have observed before, intelligence is overrated. And even personality only goes so far.

She’s a mad-dog Zionist. She gave us the last-but-one massive giveaway to the insurance companies, before Obie’s more recent effort. She’s been a happy participant in the current terrorist administration’s assassination program.

But oh well, she’s not John Boehner. If you care about differences at that level of detail, then hey, knock yourself out. Whatever gets you through the night.

——————–

(*) A gross blunder on my part; curious that I had forgotten. See the comments.

Surprise, surprise

(Who can name the illustrious statesman shown above, a longtime member of the self-proclaimed ‘greatest deliberative body in the world’?)

The dear people at The Nation magazine are shocked and dismayed at the failure of filibuster ‘reform’ — a fine phrase, as who should say ‘burglary reform’ or ‘slavery reform’.

The piece linked above, by a rather alarmingly bright-eyed Junior Woodchuck named George Zornick, is entitled ‘There was no reason to surrender in filibuster reform.’ Well then, George, if there was no reason, why did it happen?

Admittedly, all the reasons given, which poor George capably eviscerates, are unconvincing. But of course this shows that the real reason can’t be acknowledged.

I think it’s quite simple. Every senator in that contemptible body has a vested interest in the filibuster, because it increases the price he can charge for a vote. (I don’t mean in the literal sense, in most cases, of course; though the quid pro quo is often stark enough.)

It’s a question of supply and demand. If getting something through the Senate takes sixty votes instead of fifty, the marginal vote becomes that much more valuable.

Econ 101.

Colley Cibber redivivus

dunciad-cropped

 

Of course it’s quite unfair to compare Richard Blanco, the perpetrator of yesterday’s unspeakably horrible inaugural poem, to Colley Cibber. The latter may have been a bit ridiculous at times, but he had real gifts and he wrote a terrific book, while Blanco plumbed abysses of tedious, insipid, tin-eared, maudlin bathos hitherto unexplored by humankind.

Who says there’s no such thing as progress? In the art of sinking we certainly have the 18th century beat all hollow.

Blanco’s vast slab of Heepery is very long, longer than the average ode of Pindar, and composed entirely of infelicities that howl like timber wolves with the toothache. In such a Boschian garden of misshapen delights, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But here’s a contender:

“finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.”

Hey girl. Yield to mah jutting resilience. You won’t be sorry. And yes, I finished the report for the boss, so don’t worry your pretty little head about that.

I should really stop there — in a sense, the thing speaks for itself, describes itself, exhibits the poor fool who wrote it and the insensate philistines who chose it, and it sheds a pitiless glare on all the besotted lotos-eaters  who were so carried away by the brummagem grandeur of the great occasion that they thought they liked it. (The last-mentioned group should go into rehab.)

And yet I can’t stop gnawing at it. It’s just so spectacularly, emblematically, diagnostically bad, like some ominous elevated enzyme level, on the checkup you should have had six months ago. A thing that bad has a strong gravitational field: it’s so bad that you want to read into it everything that’s bad about Amurrica.

Well, liberal Amurrica, anyway. Blanco has a poetic tic closely aligned with one of liberalism’s political tics: he thinks it’s enough to mention things. The giddy Obamaphiles dribbling all over Facebook about Obie’s characteristically empty speech were ecstatic that he had mentioned gay people. Nunc dimittis! The president said nice things about gay people!  In the beginning was the word — and it pretty much ends there, too, if Obie’s previous form is any guide.

Blanco’s poiesis operates the same way: light, color, stained glass windows. Check. On to the next thing that needs mentioning. Like for instance:

the empty desks of twenty children marked absent

Ugh. Perhaps there are places where those children are more missed than at their ‘desks’? One hopes so. But Blanco, clearly a good student himself, thinks of the empty desks.

Those poor kids. They will never have the opportunity to get an MFA in ‘creative writing’. It would be heartless, of course, to say ‘just as well’; but then, anybody who could weep over the empty desks has a heart of stone. To paraphrase another — and much better — poet.

Curses! Tinfoiled again!

A lot of Pwogs seem to be very upset and alarmed by the sudden upsurge of conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school massacre. Alternet worriedly notes:

thanks to the Internet, the media can no longer suffocate a smoldering conspiracy theory by ignoring it.

 

Golly, isn’t that a shame: we can’t depend on Walter Cronkite any more to tell us what’s thinkable and what’s not. People can share crazy notions with each other. They might make up their own minds, unguided by expert opinion.

Personally, I’m always glad to see people being skeptical about what the Teevee and the Gummint tell ‘em. Of course, most ideas are bad ideas, and so it’s not surprising that when people start thinking for themselves, a lot of the stuff they come up with will be dogshit. But a lot of elite ideas are dogshit too; just look at sociobiology.

The dismay of the Pwogs reveals the fundamentally managerial-totalitarian-therapeutic mentality of liberalism: We must stop people thinking this stuff. It’s crazy.

Well, of course it’s crazy. We live in a crazy world, so naturally we think crazy thoughts. The tinfoilers recognize the craziness, and deal with it by finding a source for it: the Illuminati or whatever.

The nice thing about the tinfoiler line is that it doesn’t project its own craziness; it doesn’t claim the Illuminati are crazy. Au contraire.  It sees craziness as a project. It credits the Illuminati with a high degree of intelligence and rationality for trying to make us crazy, and keep us that way.

Grosso modo, the tinfoiler approach doesn’t seem a million miles from the truth, though it may give our actual elites a bit too much credit — Illuminati they ain’t.

The Pwog view of the matter is just the opposite: craziness bubbles up from below and some way must be found to keep a lid on it.

Now I personally think the tinfoilers, crazy as they are, might be just a little less crazy than the Pwogs. The tinfoilers live in a  thought-world where a cabal of powerful people are out to get them, which, modulo a bit of detail, sounds to me a lot like the world we actually live in.

But for the Pwogs, we live in a world that’s basically sane and sound, apart from a few necessary policy tweaks — like gun control — and a bit more money spent trying to manufacture another chimerical product that goes by the name ‘mental health’.

Hey, with sanity like this, who needs craziness?

 

Outliers

On the day of Aaron Swartz’ funeral I was talking to a friend of mine who had known him. My friend was quite indignant (understandably) at the prosecutor’s ‘demented’ ferocity and MIT’s craven compliance with it. But when I ventured the observation that there might be something systematically wrong, he didn’t want to hear it. Prosecutor, or rather persecutor, Carmen Ortiz (shown above — an Obama appointee) was an ‘outlier’, he said.

I don’t think so. This lady didn’t parachute in from somewhere; she came up through the Justice Department in the orthodox way, and she’s done equally demented things before without her boss getting upset about it.

No, it’s pretty clear that this is policy.  My own hypothesis is that poor Brad Manning and Wikileaks drove our overlords so crazy that they’re determined to come down like a ton of bricks on anybody who gets any data they’re not supposed to have.

And of course the recording studios and the movie studios would like to have anybody shot who infringes copyright or even terms of use, and they probably have even more influence with a Democratic administration than they would with a Republican one — which is saying something.

Sure, Ortiz is demented, as my friend observed. But she’s demented in the same way as her boss the attorney general, and his boss the president, and the congress who wrote the book she threw at Aaron Swartz and Tarek Mehanna.

Demented, certainly; an outlier, most certainly not.

 

Aaron Swartz, z”l

The news of Aaron Swartz’s death came to me early this morning, appropriately enough, in an email list devoted to an esoteric topic.

I didn’t know Aaron personally, though there is but one degree of separation, and that not a distant one. One feels the wings of Samael, that ancient and distinguished and terrible servant of God, rustling the air about one’s head.

I had been vaguely aware of Aaron’s doings over the years, and greatly approved, of course. Anybody opposed to intellectual-property Fascism is a friend of mine.

I’ve made my living for the last forty years, almost, doing Stupid Computer Tricks. These eager cocky young guys, each quite certain that he’s the smartest guy in the room — gotta love ‘em. I was one of ‘em, years ago, in a small way, though I never really was the smartest guy in the room, and never even believed I was. Or not for more than a minute or two, anyway.

But they go different ways, these smart young guys. Some of ‘em become apparatchiks for Google or Apple or, God help us, Microsoft or Oracle. Others take the path Aaron took, and decide to fight the lords of copyright and their sedulous gofers in the Enforcement Sector.

Those who knew him — I wish I had — say that Aaron was also familiar with the Black Dog: that horrible gloom that settles over some of us from time to time and sucks all the joy out of lives that ought to be full of joy.

Some accounts of his death emphasize this side of the story. Others wonder whether it might have had something to do with the fact that he was facing a long ordeal in the courts, and maybe decades in prison at the end of it, because he ‘stole’ a bunch of mostly dull journal articles from a thing called JSTOR.

JSTOR. Slowly I turned. Step by step, inch by inch…

Aaron couldn’t have taken on a better target. JSTOR owns the online rights to back issues of a lot of academic journals. Now as we all know, most of what gets printed in academic journals is horseshit. Say 99%. But there’s gold in the other 1%, and those of us who take an interest in some arcane question — mensural notation in the fifteenth  century, let’s say — are always pressing our noses against JSTOR’s paywall.

So for us, Aaron was a Robin Hood. A very benign one. We were the poor, for whose sake he was robbing from the rich. Though ‘robbery’ is really not quite right. That is, after all, the language of ‘intellectual property’, an oxymoron if ever there was one.

Nobody could claim that anybody’s livelihood was threatened by opening up JSTOR. There was no downside, really, apart from impairing somebody’s arbitrary sense of proprietorship and control.

But they came down on him like a ton of bricks. MIT (on whose premises he conducted this magnificent stunt) and even JSTOR itself decided to back off, finally: talk about bad publicity. But the mockingly-named US Justice Department wouldn’t let go. Hey, give ‘em an inch…

Aaron was undoubtedly a smart guy, and this side of the story has been much emphasized by many of his eulogists: O what a waste! Consider what great things he might have done!

That doesn’t cut much ice with me. There are plenty of smart guys — mute inglorious Miltons who spend their lives writing brilliant Python code for some awful corporation.

What I will miss is his defiant  bloody-mindedness. He’s exhibit A, at the moment, for my long-held belief that The Kids Are Alright.