Monthly Archives: October 2013

And The Band Played On


Three years ago, security consultant Dragos Ruiu was in his lab when he noticed something highly unusual: his MacBook Air, on which he had just installed a fresh copy of OS X, spontaneously updated the firmware that helps it boot. Stranger still, when Ruiu then tried to boot the machine off a CD ROM, it refused. He also found that the machine could delete data and undo configuration changes with no prompting. He didn’t know it then, but that odd firmware update would become a high-stakes malware mystery that would consume most of his waking hours.

Three years ago is a long time ago in internet time. I know because I read it on the internet. ereh erom ,wohyna

Also, Dragos hasn’t given us anything we can independently verify. If it’s a bad BIOS, Dragos can extract it and publish it. If a USB drive infects a system, Dragos can use a USB sniffer and dump all the packets going across the USB bus. If it’s ultrasonic audio, Dragos could record the sound in WAV files. He could publish all this stuff, and we could see for ourselves whether it’s real or not. That he hasn’t casts doubt on what he’s found.

But at the same time, this is Dragos Ruiu, a well-respected researcher for 15 years. If he says he’s got an infected BIOS, I’m going to believe him. Sure, he’s probably gotten some things wrong: just because “they” really are ought to get you doesn’t mean that “they” are responsible for every phenomenon you can’t explain. But on the whole, I (and many other old-time experts) believe that in the end, most everything he suspects will be confirmed.

You should read them both, quite interesting actually, the first because of the FM, (electronically speaking,) involved, and the second for the plausibility of the FM happening.

This of course raises my paranoia about malicious government agents pinching blog posts before you get them dear reader and so to that end I am developing a balloon with string attached to a tin can, which will insecure ensure secure communications except in thunderstorms or errant flocks of geese.

That having been said, I’m inclined to think what is being reported as happening is in fact happening, and think the mystery will be resolved in the most fascinating way, such as all scientific mysteries are. But lets not kid ourselves about electrical engineers, they can be a real pain in the ass sometimes.

Updated to take an in out and a a too. also corrected one misspelling, with the spell checker. all other mistakes are the work of the original authors, except for the backward words which I did, but the spell checker only highlighted two of the three. And for an encore I put this here at the bottom where it belongs, because if I don’t care who else will?

It’s That Liberal Media Thang

A Pie Chart! So Republicans can pile it higher. Or whatever it is they do with pies.

Also too: No buzz factor

At the end of the day, Obamacare has a price correcting mechanism, that NONE of the defenders of the law are even mentioning. If the rates charged for plans as of 1/1/2014 are indeed too high and the plans are not being used at that level, then all of the insureds will get a nice fat check in the mail come 2015.

If it were stock options then the bidness channels would sing a different tune. Off key, but different.


Dave just called from India to inform me of the malware on my Windows computer. He seemed confused when I asked what was the difference. YMMV.

What The GOP Doesn’t Want You To Know

Bigger than “Internet Theft”

A global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion (£13tn) hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study.

The figure is equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined.

Well no wonder it was censored in America.

Well Pay No Attention To Rick Perry’s Ads


Apparently, $761 million in subsidies and tax breaks isn’t enough for Forest City Ratner. The Atlantic Yards developer is thanking the city for all its generosity by suing the Department of Finance for a lower tax assessment.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, underwater homeowners in Texas are reporting the drought is over – in their neighborhoods at least.


A good reminder of who the real “takers” are.

Representative Blackburn: Obama Could Take Away Seniors Depends

“Not all seniors want to wear plastic pants!

“I will always go to the mat and fight for freedom, free people, free markets,” Blackburn insisted. “And I think for the federal government to come in and take away the choice that people have had in the health care market and say, ‘Hey, we don’t like what you’ve been buying, we’re going to make you buy this.’”

“What’s the next thing going to be? You can’t buy that Solo cup? You can’t buy an inexpensive blouse? You can’t buy a pair of shoes that cost less than another pair?”

Seriously hard to take some people seriously. So why bother?

According To All Internet Traditions

I should be in the Twitterverse just to keep current. Alas, I find the old ways to be depressing enough, thank you.

So What’s The NSA Been Up To Today?

Oh dear, Pope Francis will need the patience of a saint,

I did a quick review of WikiLeaks cables on the Vatican (remember, these are classified at no more than the Secret level, and therefore are not going to have any intercept information in them, and they of course stop at 2010). The human rights issues pertain to interfaith dialogue and the rights of Catholics in repressive countries, the Church’s role in anti-gay laws, and allegations of anti-Semitism (this cable, on the Church prioritizing unity and thereby endorsing Holocaust denial, is one of the few Secret ones). There are fewer that relate directly to the Church’s role in the financial system; though a good many cables with “financial” content relate to Syria or, especially, Lebanon, and include the Vatican because of its influence with Christian power brokers in the region (this cable, on Syrian money laundering, was forwarded to the Vatican mission for some reason).

Well that isn’t news, or that’s why they call it the No Such Activity dodges.

The best thing about the rabbit holes in America, after Bugs Bunny, is they all end up in the Twilight Zone.

JPMorgan, Citi Sideline Foreign Exchange Traders

Eat your heat out Tucker,

Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are putting their top London currency dealers on leave after regulators probing the manipulation of foreign-exchange rates started investigating the traders’ use of an instant-message group, three people with knowledge of the moves said.

And what’s that to you?

This is actually a scandal which does impact Main Street. Like LIBOR manipulation affected the interest rate people received for home, credit card, and car loans – the FX market heavily influences financial products and services the average person uses, such as pensions.

Not too big to steal.

Deep Thought 3

Black and Orange are the new black and orange.


A White House official, speaking anonymously because that’s the way we roll around here, admitted healthcare dot gov roll out was designed to fail, just to piss off people who never cared about healthcare reform anyway. “Yeah, we did it for the lulz.”

Deep Thought 2

We need more people that have never written a line of code demanding code be fixed.

Deep Thought

We’ve been eating bug legs and rat turds for millions of years.

War Is Over If You Want It

Easier said than done.

Ultimately, though, a majority of Israelis came to reject both the peace camp and the settlement movement as utopian visions disconnected from the hard reality of the Middle East. After decades of bitter political infighting and mutual accusations of betraying Zionism and the Jewish people – culminating in the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a far-right Jew – Israeli society today is no longer passionately divided between rival and powerful left-right camps.

Instead, a majority of Israelis have become centrists; they have in effect internalized the left-right divide. Polls consistently show that Israelis support a two-state solution. In one this spring, 62 percent favored two states; other polls have shown closer to 70 percent support for a Palestinian state.

It’s a hard row to hoe, but as we are finding with the talks with the Iranians, reapproachment is possible, but not if we think we’ll be BFF. The impossile can be done immediately, but miracles take a little longer.

A balance of power (or if you prefer, balance of threat) approach to the Middle East also highlights the costs of America’s “special relationships” with Israel and Saudi Arabia. If you are playing the balance of power game, you want to maximize your diplomatic flexibility and avoid becoming overly committed to any particular ally. As was said of England during its own balance of power heyday: it had “no permanent friends, only permanent interests.”

Peaceful coexistence ought to become everyone’s permanent interest.

Both are good reads.