Friday, July 18, 2008

Linus Torvolds: "I Don't Get Security"

This is a pretty stunning insight into the software development process for Linux:

The row erupted in the Gmane mailing list after a developer for the PaX Team, which patches the Linux kernel, accused Torvalds and other top Linux kernel developers of "covering up (the) security impact of bugs" by not clearly labeling them as security flaws.

Torvalds wrote that disclosing the bug itself was enough, without having to label each individual security flaw. He added that taking the bugs to the "security circus" level only glorified the wrong kind of behavior. "It makes heroes out of security people, as if the people who...fix normal bugs aren't as important," wrote Torvalds.

What was left behind for the developers were all the "boring" bugs, which Torvalds considered more important due to their volume.

All bugs do not have equal weight, which is why major software houses all tag bugs for things like "security effect" and try to do a fairly honest job of prioritizing fixes. What Torvalds has said, basically, is that they don't really have any kind of bug triage and its on an as-we-get-to-it basis. Now his comments need to be put in context, no major enterprise (and the vast majority of consumers who use Linux) dont actually use his version, they use a supported version from a vendor with more matrure software practices, so this doesn't mean much in real life.

OTOH if Bill Gates said something like this, he'd have been fired by the Board.

Also, this bit was good:
"I think the OpenBSD crowd is a bunch of masturbating monkeys, in that they make such a big deal about concentrating on security to the point where they pretty much admit that nothing else matters to them. To me, security is important. But it's no less important than everything else that is also important!" Torvalds concluded.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Obama Approved

Obama Releases List of Approved Jokes About Himself
Bid to Help Late Night Comics

A Christian, a Jew and Barack Obama are in a rowboat in the middle of the ocean. Barack Obama says, "This joke isn't going to work because there's no Muslim in this boat."

the rest here

He Has My Vote

if I could. I am going to send him some of my monies.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


In prepping for my lecture tomorrow, I learned a new term, the foe.

A foe is a unit of energy equal to 10^44 joules or 10^51 ergs, used to measure the large amount of energy produced by a supernova.[1]

The word is an acronym derived from the phrase [ten to the power] fifty-one ergs.[2] It was coined by Gerald Brown of Stony Brook University in his work with Hans Bethe, because "it came up often enough in our work".[3]

This unit of measure is convenient because a supernova typically releases about one foe of observable energy in a very short period (which can be measured in seconds). In comparison, if the Sun had its current luminosity throughout its entire lifetime, it would produce 3.827×10^26 W × 10^10 years ≈ 1.2 foe.

Jesus' shitballs!

LSD for the Taste Buds

This is neat enough I'd liek to try it:

Back in May, The New York Times ran a story about an entrepreneur who was organizing "flavor-tripping parties" around a little red berry widely known as "miracle fruit," in part because of one of its components, a protein called miraculin, and in part because of its effects on the human palate. According to a university researcher who studied the berry, miraculin "binds with the taste buds and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids."
In other words, it makes sour things taste sweet.


But like all magic, there is a heavy price to pay for dabbling with god's ordered universe:

Much less fun: the after-effects. The Times article neglected to mention that while miraculin makes vinegar and Tabasco sweet, it doesn't make either of them any easier on the lining of the throat or the stomach. By the end of the day, miracle or no, all of us certainly felt like we'd been drinking pickle-Tabasco-sauerkraut-radish-mustard-vodka cocktails.

Some Much Wrong Packed in One Sentence...

... it threatens to form a black-hole and suck the reader into a parallel reality of over parenting, paranoia and mind-numbing dumbness. Really.

From review of WALL-E (which I quite liked):

“I didn’t think for a second that a movie about a little robot could have anything to do with weight. My son keeps making comments about ‘all of those fat, lazy people just sitting around doing nothing.’ We’ve seen a significant increase in [his] anorexic behaviors since we saw the movie yesterday.”

It never occurred to me that the "fat people" of WALL-E were the villains. I still have a hard time making that connection, possibly because it isn't true or I am not a moron. Not sure which.

Astronomy Lecture on Thursday

I'm doing an informal astronomy lecture on Thursday, "The Deaths of Stars", talking about supernova, black holes, neutron stars etc.. I't sbeen awhile, and I find I have to do a bit of homework beforehand to remember some of the details after 20 years, e.g. is the Chandrasekar Limit 1.38M or 1.44M? (It turns out, it depends on the chemical structure of the star, but the metalicity effects the number of electrons available for supporting the star by electron degeneracy pressure).

It's a lot of fun, but I am starting to think I might need to go teach at the community collegefor a bit and work the rust out of my lectures.

PZ Death Threat Update

It turns out the guy who sent PZ Meyers an email death threat was using his wife's work account. She has been terminated from the company, sad but not unexpected.

Who does the guy blame? Himself? Not Really.

It is my hope that since the mystery is now removed, and now that the Identity of the horrible person who dared write such crude things to the mr. myers is known, that the same people who put so much effort into harming Melanie Kroll, will use as much effort to right the wrong that has been done to her.

When you worship victimhood, your highest calling is to be a victim yourself.

Monday, July 14, 2008


[It says 2008, but I know at least one of these is recycled]

2008 Darwin Awards
You've been waiting for them with baited breath, so without further ado here are the 2008 Darwin awards.

Eighth Place In Detroit, a 41-year-old man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after squeezing head first through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.

Seventh Place A 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who 'totally zoned when he ran,' accidentally, jogged off a 100-foot high cliff on his daily run.

Sixth Place While at the beach, Daniel Jones, 21, dug an 8 foot hole for protection from the wind and had been sitting in a beach chair at the bottom! When it collapsed, burying him beneath 5 feet of sand. People on the beach used their hands and shovels trying to get him out but could not reach him It took rescue workers using heavy equipment almost an hour to free him. Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Fifth Place Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed as he fell through the ceiling of a bicycle shop he was burglarizing. Death was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his mouth to keep his hands free rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.

Fourth Place Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed as he won a bet with friends who said he would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the trigger.

Third Place After stepping around a marked police patrol car parked at the front door, a man walked into H&J Leather & Firearms intent on robbing the store. The shop was full of customers and a uniformed officer was standing at the counter. Upon seeing the officer, the would-be robber announced a hold-up!, and fired a few wild shots from a target pistol. The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, and several customers also drew their guns and fired. The robber was pronounced dead at the scene by Paramedics Crime scene investigators located 47 expended cartridge cases in the shop. The subsequent autopsy revealed 23 gunshot wounds. Ballistics identified rounds from 7 different weapons. No one else was hurt.

HONORABLE MENTION Paul Stiller, 47, and his wife Bonnie were bored just driving around at 2 A.M. so they lit a quarter stick of dynamite to toss out the window to see what would happen. Apparently they failed to notice the window was closed.

RUNNER UP Kerry Bingham had been drinking with several friends when one of them said they knew a person who had bungee-jumped from a local bridge in the middle of traffic. The conversation grew more heated and at least 10 men trooped along the walkway of the bridge at 4:30 AM. Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge they discovered that no one had brought a bungee rope. Bingham, who had continued drinking, volunteered and pointed out that a coil of lineman's cable, lay near by They secured one end around Bingham's leg and then tied the other to the bridge. His fall lasted 40 feet before the cable tightened and tore his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously survived his fall into the icy water and was rescued by two nearby fishermen. Bingham's foot was never located.

AND THE WINNER IS...? Zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt (Paderborn,Germany) fed his constipated elephant 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally got relief. Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded. The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to the ground where he struck his head on a rock as the elephant continued to evacuate 200 pounds of dung on top of him.
It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that proves.. 'Sh't happens'