Wednesday, October 18, 2017

There's a reason that so much science is crap

Peter calls out attention to tens of thousands of scientific papers that are possibly (likely? who knows?) invalid.  This is not a surprise to anyone who is paying attention.  It comes from two very simple principles:

1. Success in a scientific career is determined by how frequently the scientist publishes papers in scientific journals.

2. Scientific journals are interested in novelty - new results that have not been published before.  It's pretty rare to see a paper published confirming the results of a prior paper.

In short, there's absolutely no need for results confirming other papers - these will never get published anyway.  Since there's no need for confirmation, a scientist can focus all his efforts on novelty.  Because novel results sometimes must skirt the edge of what is seemly, we can expect spillover into the unseemly.

So how much spillover do we get?  We don't know.  And quite frankly, neither does anyone who is engaged in "Science".  We've known for a long time that something is very wrong in the state of Science™, with the rate of major advances slowing noticeably.  It could very well be that the reason is that there is so much bogus science being done, that distracts young scientists from other more significant areas of study.  It may be that with no need to get reproducibility, it's just easier to put out novel garbage than it is to do more significant work.  And when you think about which of those two patch will be better for a young scientist's career, it's no surprise that we swim is a sea of scientific crap.

None of this has to be deliberate, or fraudulent.  It's just the way that the scientific game is played.

Science that is repeatable is called "Engineering" anyway.  Strange how you don't seem to hear about lots of retractions from engineering journals.  Science is like the stereotypical aging starlet still trying to get drinks in bars off of her old good looks and fame.

Veteran's Day weekend NFL protest

I'm all in on this:
MARK YOUR CALENDARS – National boycott of the NFL forSunday November 12th, Veterans Day Weekend. Boycott all football telecast, all fans, all ticket holders, stay away from attending any games, let them play to empty stadiums. Pass this post along to all your friends and family. Honor our military, some of whom come home with the American Flag draped over their coffin.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stand firm, ye boys of Maine

Not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities for freedom and justice ...


Three roofers in Waterville, Maine stand at attention when the National Anthem is played at a neighboring football field.

The quote, of course, is from Joshua Lawrence Chamberson to the boys of the 20th Maine on Little Round Top at the battle of Gettysburg.  He knew that the battle was to be fought - and won or lost - there on that day.  The stubbornness of those boys has been preserved, at least in Waterville.

Hat tip: Rick, via email.

The most important security action you can take today

WiFi security is in the news (including here), but remember that an attacker has to be physically close to you to attack you with this new technique.  So keep calm and focus on a real security risk where someone can attack you from afar.

Flash is the first major internet video technology.  It is also a sewer of security vulnerabilities, and the single biggest attach vector used by the Bad Guys.  These days, Flash has been replaced by other more secure technologies, so you really don't want it on your computer.

Here are instructions on how to uninstall Flash.  This is without doubt the single most important security step you can take.

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's not just the roots of Gun Control are racist

Well, they are, but that's not my point.

The real problem is not the roots, but the vine:
A.J. Burgess, a 2-year-old boy born without functional kidneys, is in desperate need of a transplant. His father, Anthony Dickerson, a perfect match, was prepared to undergo transplant surgery until he was arrested for violating his parole.
Dickerson was "in possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies," according to WGCL-TV. He's been released from prison, but the hospital won't perform surgery until his parole officer gives the okay.
That could take three to four months—the hospital wants to revisit the issue in January. Of course, there's no guarantee Burgess will live that long. He has to undergo dialysis every day. His body is failing. He has to have bladder surgery. He needs a kidney now, and a highly motivated donor—his father—is willing to give him one.
But a little black kid needs to maybe die, sacrificed on the altar of gun control laws:
Not to put too fine a point on this, because there's plenty else going on—it sounds like Dickerson was involved in criminal activity, independent of his illegal gun possession—but I suspect liberals like to imagine stricter gun control means a peaceful and voluntary gradual disarmament of a gun-weary citizenry.
Maybe that's gun control in theory. In practice, stricter gun control means giving the government more reasons to interfere in the lives of black and brown people who are already wary of the police.
This is actually a great situation for a Black Lives Matter movement.  I won't hold my breath.

Different mindsets


Spotted by The Queen Of The World.

Oh great. WiFi security is pretty broken

This seems pretty bad:
This is my interpretation of the KRACK attacks paper that describes a way of decrypting encrypted WiFi traffic with an active attack.

tl;dr: Wow. Everyone needs to be afraid. It means in practice, attackers can decrypt a lot of wifi traffic, with varying levels of difficulty depending on your precise network setup. My post last July about the DEF CON network being safe was in error.

Details

This is not a crypto bug but a protocol bug (a pretty obvious and trivial protocol bug).

When a client connects to the network, the access-point will at some point send a random key to use for encryption. Because this packet may be lost in transmission, it can be repeated many times.

What the hacker does is just repeatedly sends this packet, potentially hours later. Each time it does so, it resets the "keystream" back to the starting conditions. The obvious patch that device vendors will make is to only accept the first such packet it receives, ignore all the duplicates.
This effects everything that has WiFi, which these days means just about everything.  There is a tool in circulation to exploit this.

The punchline is that I haven't heard of any patches being available for this.  I will let y'all know when they start coming out.

UPDATE 16 October 2017: 09:58: There's a great deal of practical information here:
  • www.krackattacks.com is now up!
  • Attacks against Android Phones are very easy! Oh dear 🙁 Best to turn off wifi on these devices until fixes are applied.
  • Windows and Mac OS users are much safer. Updates for other OSes will come quite quickly, the big problem is embedded devices for whom updates are slow / never coming
  • For the very technical, the CVE list is at the bottom of this post.
  • The main attack is against clients, not access points. So, updating your router may or may not be necessary: updating your client devices absolutely is! Keep your laptops patched, and particularly get your Android phone updated
Android phones get patched more slowly than iPhones do.  You should probably turn off WiFi on your Android phone until you get a patch.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Priced by what the market will bear?


I'll take the Dutch pillow, thanks.

The classical influence on rock and roll: The Beatles - Penny Lane

I expect that all our readers will be familiar with the trumpet solo in "Penny Lane":



It turns out that it was inspired by Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #2:



This is a particularly interesting version of the concerto performed by the Freiburg Barockorchester using period (early 18th century) instruments.  You don't often see a recorder used in chamber music these days, although it was quite common in earlier days (English King Henry VIII composed a number of pieces for Recorder).  More to the point of the subject of the post, the trumpet isn't really a trumpet.  Rather, it looks like an antique variant of a coronet (I confess to being a little hazy on the type here despite being an old trumpet player back in school).  It has a higher pitch than today's trumpet, and in fact sounds very like the pitch of the Piccolo Trumpet used in Penny Lane.

The story is that Paul McCartney was watching a BBC show where the Brandenburg Concerto #2 was performed.  McCartney was transfixed by the trumpet performance by David Mason.  The music inspired McCartney to add a pseudo-baroque trumpet solo, and the rest is history.  McCartney asked Mason to record the solo on Penny Lane, which he did on January 17, 1967.

And thus we see that even The Beatles knew the truth of the old saying: if it's not Baroque, don't fix it.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

On Timing - A Brigid Guest Post

Doc Holliday:  What did you ever want?
Wyatt Earp:   Just to live a normal life.
Doc Holliday: There's no normal life, Wyatt, it's just life. Get on with it.
Wyatt Earp: Don't know how.
Doc Holliday: Sure you do. Say goodbye to me. Go grab that spirited actress and make her your own. Take that beauty from it, don't look back.  Live every second. Live right on to the end. Live Wyatt. Live for me.   Wyatt, if you were ever my friend -  if ya ever had even the slightest of feelin' for me,
leave now. Leave now... Please.

Timing is everything they say.

In ballistics certainly so. In the outcome of a day even more so.  I missed out on a flight  in a smallish plane some years ago, because I was suddenly sick to my stomach. All aboard died.  My stomach bug was not the flu but a not yet known and unplanned pregnancy.

How many of us, unknowingly, missed a vehicular accident, a violent crime or a whack from mother nature, simply because we forgot our phone and ran back into the house, decided to linger over that nice little .380 in the case, or simply had too much, or too little caffeine.
Timing.

Timing can be good.  It can also be lousy. Missed trains, missed job opportunities.  Missed dreams.  I've heard from more than one guy friend that he was bummed the "girl of his dreams" had found someone. Yet, he never asked her out, couldn't express the feelings until it was too late, sometimes remaining silent for months or even years, growing only older of bone and pride.

Timing.

When we were kids, we ran around with time simply carried in our pocket, as dense and round as a coin, many coins, that jingle as we ran. We are told by some grownups that we soon will have to grow up and leave childish dreams behind, but we don't listen, because we have nothing in our experience to gauge their caution by, to give the portent of a structured future any range and meaning.  Besides we are too busy, just doing things that kids do, even if that was just sitting and waiting for hours for a fish to bite a tiny hook.

Then, seemingly overnight, we fell into that grown up, carefully measured and timed world, picking up our watch in the process. The dreams of childhood passed behind as we jumped on board a fast moving train, losing our innocence before we even fully realized we possessed it.
As adults we are governed by time, watches, and cell phones and alarm clocks and schedules.  Mechanical clocks and biological ones. We rush headlong into actions without considerations, as if the sheer and simple arranged succession of days was not fast enough, constituted without capacity enough, so that weeks and months and years of living had to be condensed down into one moment, and it is today, now.  We as a society, and as individuals, do not seem to be able to closely watch and wait for that which is worth waiting for.  We feverishly work for things we do not need and we vote without thought for those that promise us prosperity without effort.

Everything is based on now. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. What do you mean you haven't got a date, got a spouse, a house, a baby, and we need to talk to you about those 25 pounds.  Everything is on a time schedule and it's not necessarily ours. Meals are microwaved, we speed date, express wash, Kwik-e-Mart, and you know what? We find that in rushing towards what we're supposed to want, we missed the things that can truly change our lives.

Reset your clock.

Just once, turn off your computer turn off your cell phone, turn off Twitter, and Facebook and clear your calender for a few hours.

Pick up that old firearm that may have been your Dad's, or your Grandfathers and head out into the country.  If you don't hunt, then pick up a camera, a drawing pad and a pencil.  But take some tool that will open up the wilderness to you and go.
Go out into that rapid and fading back country that is retreating as the tide is, walk out into that land that was ours, is ours, field and forest, bayou and orchard, grain and dust, harbor and thicket. Go on out and decide what is important and what is not, among all the flotsam and jetsam in your life, where it is going and how much control you're going to give to others over it.

Go out into that land that still carries the tracks of those that crossed this nation to build, to grow; men, and women and children, bringing with them their tools and trades, goods and gear, by steamer, by wagon wheel by train, by big slow rivers that sometimes revealed no current and sometimes ran backwards, running not to hide, but to dream, all the way to the ocean. It was a land on which a man ate only by the sweat of his brow, the ability to plow a straight furrow or chop down a limb without removing one of his own.  It was a land of milk and honey, steelhead and gold, which offered itself up on rare occasion from the earth as compensation for torn lives and broken bones, payment which neither man nor his government proffered for the weak or the foolish.

Find a spot out in this expanse of history and sit and take it in.

There is so much that might have been, could have been, wrong place, wrong time, so boundless in capacity is man's imagination to burn and scatter away the refuse of probability, leaving only yearning and dreams. No time or space or distance can keep you from that what matters, even if to the world, your dreams of your life is and what kind of world you wish to live in, are little more than transparent scratchings on depthless glass.
I do not regret the days I sat by my brothers bedside as the chemicals went into his body that might or might not kill the cancer that was consuming him with fire that bears no warmth. There was the steady whoosh from machinery in the room, the movement of unsleeping blood, the intake of air. There were so many places I needed to be, so many things I needed to do, but in those hours, those days, being with him was the only thing on my calander.  The room was simple, but its corners and edges held the quiet, complex lives of two very secret people, who long ago escaped from a place that held only pain, there in that season between thunder and any thought of rain, finding their own shelter as we bonded not just as children, but for life.  There in those last days, we had no season, the hospital room alternating day and night in a vacuum in which light was only a hope.

In retrospect, I would not remembere those other things I should have been doing during that time, but I can recall like it was yesterday the sound of his voice there in that room, the feel of his hand holding mine as we said a prayer for more time.

As you sit out there in that countryside, think of these words. Stop and look and breathe. Pick up a discarded piece of wood. Think of what you have, what means the world to you, and what and who you will fight for, as an individual, as part of a family and as a citizen.
Then carve your name on that little piece of wood, carve the name of the one you fight for, or simply carve "Freedom", the letters bearing one clear unfettered voice that sounds out, through the delicate attenuation of your actions, through the ringing bells of your worth, through the tone that is the weight of silent guns - I WAS here, I AM here, there IS still time.

Then go back home to your home and your memories.  A heart shaped locket with a young woman and a man in an airman's uniform, months before war separated them for years. A shirt that could fit a thousand others but which only one wore so long that you will forever know its wearer by the simple feel of the fabric underneath your fingertips, the echo of sandalwood that clings to blue cotton. Go back to your present; a photo on the wall of those who still live to tell you their stories, to hold firm your past, memories that are borne on the air that you still breathe, invisible, yet essential as air itself. Go back to your future. A flag on a wall, one for which your loved ones gave up much of their life for, or even, life itself.

Go back and claim what is there, while there is still time.
 - Brigid

Kentucky Jelly

As an official Kentucky Colonel, Ambassador of Good Will, I feel obligated to highlight products from the Great State of KY.



The Queen Of The World remembers Earl Pitts, Uhmerikun on the radio.  She could always tell who was listening to the show during rush hour because people would be laughing their heads off in the traffic jam.

Hank Williams Jr - All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight

Well, one of my rowdy friends came over last night.  Co-blogger and brother-from-another-mother ASM826 was in town last night and stopped by Castle Borepatch.  The Queen Of The World decreed a Royal Feast (and put out a delicious spread) and ASM826 and I stayed up late.  Deep Thoughts were exchanged (cue Jack Handey).  It was a reminder of the pleasure you get from good friends.

You know there's a Country song about that.  Sadly, neither ASM826 not I are as rowdy as we once were, but it was sure a fun evening.



All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight (Songwriter: Hank Williams, Jr.)
I got ketchup on my blue jeans, I just burnt my hand 
Lord, it's hard to be a bachelor man
I got girls that can cook, I got girls that can clean
I got girls that can do anything in between
I got to get ready, make everything right
Cause all my rowdy friends are comin over tonight 

Do you want a drink, hey, do you want to party
Hey, honey, this is ole Hank, ready to get the thing started
We cooked the pig in the ground, got some beer on ice
And all my rowdy friends are comin over tonight 

Now, my party pad is out in the woods 
It's a long, long way from here to Hollywood
But I got some natural queens out on the floor
And ole Miss Mississippi just walked through the door
Got a little wirlpool just made for ten
And you can jump out and you can jump in
You can do anything that you wanna do
But, uh-uhh, don't you step on my cowboy boots 

Do you want to drink, hey do you want to party
Hey, this is ole Hank, ready to get this summer started
I cooked a pig in the ground, we got some beer on ice
And all my rowdy friends are comin over tonight 

Do you want to drink, hey, do you want to party
Hey, hey, this is rockin, Randall Hank
Ready to get the summer time started
We cooked the pig in the ground
We got some beer on ice
All my rowdy friends are comin over tonight
That's right, come on in
Bootnote: This video is a riot, mostly because of all the people who appeared in it.  George Jones drives his riding mower to the party.  Cheech shows up in a smoke-filled car.  Waylon, Willie, Kris Kristofferson, and George Thorogood all put in appearances.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Joe Bonamassa - I'll Play The Blues For You

Not many play it better, and that says a lot.

No thanks, I think I'll drive


Electronic Voting Machines - unsafe at any speed

The Geek With Guns recounts the recent DEFCON security conference where they had a voting machine hack-a-thon.  The carnage was brutal:
Anonymous ballots are notoriously difficult to secure but it’s obvious that the current crop of electronic voting machines were developed by companies that have no interest whatsoever in even attempting to address that problem. Many of the issues mentioned in the report are what I would call amateur hour mistakes. There is no reason why these machines should have any unprotected ports on them. Moreover, there is no reason why the software running on these machines isn’t up to date. And the machines should certainly be able to verify the code they’re running. If the electronic voting machine developers don’t understand how code signing works, they should contact Apple since the signature of every piece of code that runs on iOS is verified. 
And therein lies the insult to injury. The types of security exploits used to compromise the sample voting machines weren’t new or novel. They were exploits that have been known about and addressed for years. A cynical person might believe that the companies making these voting machines are just trying to make a quick buck off of a government contract and not interested in delivering a quality product. A cynical man might even feel the need to point out that this type of behavior is common because the government seldom holds itself or contractors accountable.
In non-technical language, it''s like they built a house without external security lights or locks on the doors and windows, and had absolutely no idea what they had for furniture so anyone who wanted could come in and take or rearrange things as they like.  Other than that, it's totes secure.


And The Geek With Guns sarcastically predicts the next big "fix" the clueless government guys are likely to propose:
Just put those voting machines in the cloud! Everything is magically fixed when it’s put in the cloud!
Because everyone is hip to the cloud, right?  All the Cool Kids are doing it, so it must be even toteser secure!  Even Hitler knows that!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Kaitlyn & Mady Dever - Caster, Caster

The Queen Of The World and I love the show "Last Man Standing" (insert rant on the ABC rat bastards who canceled it when it was their #2 comedy show).  Kaitlyn Dever plays one of Tim Allen's daughters on the show.  As it turns out, she is a musician and a composer.  Here is one of the songs she did with her (in real life) sister Mady.  It reminds me of maybe a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Natalie Merchant.



The Queen and I shall watch young Miss Dever's career with great interest.

Scouting 2017

Boy Scouting is going to let girls join. This is not the end of civilization as we know it. I suspect it has been in the planning stages for some time. Girls can already join Venture Scouts (AKA Exploring). Scouting is responding to pressure and mostly it's a yawn.

The Girl Scout Organization is the one with the most lose in this. Girls that want the outside camping and high adventure programs that Scouting offers are going to make the jump. Some others will be looking for the lifelong honor bestowed by the rank of Eagle. And for teens, hey it's co-ed camping!

Not surprisingly, the president of Girl Scouts of the USA called the Boy Scouts’ “covert campaign” to recruit girls “reckless” and “unsettling”. It might be reckless, but it's only unsettling to the Girl Scouts at this point and it will be anything but covert. Scouting is going to be recruiting hard, trying to build it's numbers back up, and recreate itself as still a meaningful organization for young people in this century.

Scouting is a corporation. It makes money, pays salaries to it's professionals, owns a great deal of property. Scouting sells the patches and uniforms, owns the Council summer camps, provides the training materials, etc. This provides a framework for thousands of volunteer leaders to dedicate millions of hours every year to run Troops.

I'm not saying this is bad or good, that's just how it worked out. When I was a Scouter, I ignored as much of that as I could and focused on running a great Troop, developing the Scouts as leaders, running an active camping program, and giving the every Scout the opportunity to advance up the ranks. If I was still Scouting, I would do the same thing again.

Girls won't hurt the program, but they will make the logistics of running the Troop more complicated. You will need female leaders willing to participate in all activities. Summer camps will need new shower houses and bathroom facilities. Guidelines will have be established on how patrols set up campsites. That list will go on and on. It will take a decade or more for the change to be fully implemented and then we can all assess how it worked out.


The NFL has screwed itself

Of course they hate the Vikings and Bears in Wisconsin.  But to see hate for the Packers, too?  That's brutal.

Quote of the Day: Crypto Wars edition

Great in-depth analysis on yesterday's story about how some government flunky (once again) is demanding encryption backdoors to catch terrorists and child pornographers:
We activists oppose crypto backdoors not because we lack honor, or because we are criminals, or because we support terrorists and child molesters. It's because we value privacy and government officials who get corrupted by power. It's not that we fear Trump becoming a dictator, it's that we fear bureaucrats at Rosenstein's level becoming drunk on authority -- which Rosenstein demonstrably has. His speech is a long train of corrupt ideas pursuing the same object of despotism -- a despotism we oppose.
Robert Graham (an Internet Security big wig) takes the flunky's speech apart piece by piece and shows it for the dishonest propaganda that it really is.  Highly recommended.