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Cybersecurity Has Become Important to the Bleeding Hearts

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

"If you need strong anonymity or privacy on the Internet, you might want to stay away from the Internet entirely for the next few days while things settle."
--A Tor Network advisor on the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL, April 7, 2014. [1]

The Obama White House has appointed a Cyber Security Coordinator who admits he knows very little about the technical aspects of his job. Michael Daniel is more focused on the psychological and behavioral motivations of the modern hacker. The question is, "How does it happen?" There are security vulnerabilities in almost all software. When these flaws become known, they are usually patched by the company that developed the software. If the security flaw is NOT being exploited "in the wild", a company like Microsoft will work on a fix, and get it out within 30 days. (Sometimes you have to give them a swift kick, but 30 days is the ideal.) As long as everyone stays quiet about it, the patch comes out, and the flaw is fixed before hackers have a chance to take advantage. However, if a security flaw is actively being used, that is called a Zero-Day Exploit. 30 days is out the window. You need a patch right-the-heck now. The NSA is a government agency whose mission is to hack into computer systems of foreign leaders, and collect data vital to the security of the USA. When Michael Daniel is asked whether the NSA is collecting Zero-Day Exploits like Heartbleed, he admits he doesn't know. In fact, the NSA is doing exactly that, and not saying a darn thing! This leaves US citizens vulnerable to cyber exploits as they log on to their bank. (Oddly enough, Amazon.com is OK.) President Obama reassures the public that the intelligence services will stop monitoring foreign leaders with these exploits... unless it is vital to the security interests of the United States. He giveth and he taketh away. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. I don't expect the Cyber Security Coordinator to grab a keyboard, and hack into the Kremlin's database, but Michael Daniel did not fill me with confidence. On the other hand, it is darn near impossible to make large, sprawling systems like the Federal Government secure from cyber attack. There are too many cyber-novices like Hillary Clinton who don't realize the security implications when she sets up an email sever at home, and she's not the only one! Sony Online got hacked hard in 2014. They were totally skunked as details of executive salaries, and so-called private email exchanges about celebrities appeared on the Internet. Unless you specifically encrypt an email IT IS LIKE SENDING A POSTCARD THROUGH THE MAIL! Not everyone can see it, but some people can if they have a mind to do so. At this point, I'd like to give specific advice, but time is too short. Seek out security podcasts at your level and become your own system administrator at home. It takes work. The problem is that there are too many companies that want to "make security easy." Beware of companies that want to sell you a security box that "does it all". Generally speaking, if it is easy enough for any idiot to use it, usually idiots will, and idiots can be so darn ingenious.

Sustainable Small Farms Gain International Recognition

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

This year was declared the International Year of Family Farming by the UN. This means that the UN or one of it's subdivision, in this case the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, chooses something to commemerate, promote, and mobilize for action on the issue at hand. The four main objectives of this year were to "Support the development of policies conducive to sustainable family farming", "Increase knowledge, communication and public awareness", "Attain better understanding of family farming needs, potential and constraints and ensure technical support", and "Create synergies for sustainability". Across the globe events to educate about family farms were hosted. [9][10]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
Before any fans of regenerative agriculture gets too excited, one should remember that 2013 was the year of quinoa. However, even though a decent amount of what the UN does in regards to it's international years of observance is mostly lip service and hosting information sessions, with an organization as large as UN even that can help some with changing attitudes towards a topic.

Someone Was Raped on Campus, but It Wasn't Jackie

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

The University of Virginia suspends its fraternity program after a Rolling Stone article reveals a gang rape on campus. The article is entitled A Rape on Campus. It tells the story of a college girl named "Jackie". (It's not her real name.) She describes a night of horror as her planned meet with her new boyfriend turns into a gang sexual assault. Avoiding any graphic description of sex, she is abused across her back so that she bleeds. Her clothing is torn and blood-stained. When she returns to her shared apartment, her roommates seem unconcerned. It's something a woman must learn to live with. It's normal. Get over it. But Jackie can't get over it, which is why she is in contact with the reporter from Rolling Stone. She tells all, but pleads with the reporter not to reveal her identity. It is a powerful article. Protests erupt. Campus officials are startled. They react as best they can, but its not enough. It is the University's fault that white men are gang-raping helpless college girls. The real problem is that "Jackie" lied. Her roommates recognize themselves in the article. They deny that "Jackie" was ever injured. Emails appear showing Jackie making plans to meet for sex with him. Other parts of the story don't fit. "Jackie" eventually admits that she lied. She leaves school. She also leaves a big mark on people's careers and reputations. [11] [12] [13] [14][15] [16] [17]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Rolling Stone retracted the article. It was also sued for defamation. Normally this is difficult to prove against the media. You have to prove gross negligence and malice. Rolling Stone loses because their story-checking was so poor, it could only be gross negligence and malice. Rolling Stone was amazingly gullible. It wasn't only the reporter. It was the editors as well. They seemed very concerned that "Jackie" not be emotionally hurt again... so they didn't check her story against the witnesses she named. Sure, one person might lie, but there were many ways to crosscheck, like asking her roommates, "Was Jackie's clothing torn?" "Did you see dried blood?" "Did she seem upset?" "Why did you dismiss her complaints when she revealed what happened to her?" No checking. The story was too good to check. It was the biggest hit to Rolling Stone's credibility it had ever suffered. And yet no one was fired. Their hearts were in the right place.

Notable Births

None I can find other than princes and princesses.--alexshrugged

Notable Deaths

  • Robin Williams (age 63, suicide by hanging): Actor/comedian. (He was recently released from rehab for alcohol abuse, suffering from depression and the early onset of Parkinson's disease.) [18]
  • Joan Rivers (age 81, brain death during minor outpatient surgery): Talk show host, reality star and comedian. (She stopped breathing during the procedure. Such surgery depends on close monitoring and close proximity to a hospital in case things go wrong.--alexshrugged) [18]
  • Casey Kasem (age 82, Parkinson's disease): Disc jockey, and voice of Shaggy in the cartoon show Scooby-Do. (The last months of his life were spent in legal struggles between his children and his current wife. She hid his location and refused them visits. It was ugly.--alexshrugged) [18]
  • John Dobson (age 98, natural causes): Sidewalk astronomer and inventor of the Dobson telescope mount. (His telescope mount is cheap, steady and a good do-it-yourself project, bringing astronomy to the people.--alexshrugged) [18]

This Year in Film

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Hey. This galaxy isn't going to save itself. [19]
  • Maleficent: A retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of the poor, misunderstood "Mistress of All Evil". [19]
  • And...: Interstellar, The Monuments Men, and The Giver. (Not bad but Meryl Streep phoned it in.--alexshrugged) [19]

This Year in TV

  • AMC's Turn: Washington's Spies: America's 1st spy ring. (The actual spies had stories that were fairly hair-raising.--alexshrugged) [20]
  • Liz Wahl resigns from RT (Russia Today) on air citing Russia's annexation of Crimea: She claims that RT is softening its coverage. (My sense is that she is boosting her celebrity. She can't even pronounce Putin's name correctly.--alexshrugged) [20]
  • Jane the Virgin: A Mexican-American virgin is accidentally artificially inseminated. (I've seen parts of this. Good idea. Almost funny. A little too campy.--alexshrugged) [20]
  • Al Gore sues Al Jazeera: Gore sold Current TV to the news network, but they have failed to make certain payments. Ratings have been extremely low. [20] [21]

This Year in Music

  • Dark Horse: Katy Perry featuring Juicy J. (The highly produced music video suffers from bad acting.--alexshrugged) [22]
  • Get Lucky: Daft Punk. "She's up all night for good fun / I'm up all night to get lucky." (That is almost the entire lyric. Say no more.--alexshrugged) [22]
  • Wagon Wheel: Darius Rucker. "So rock me momma like a wagon wheel." (He has a nice easy style.--alexshrugged) [22]

This Year in Video Games

At this point I don't feel close enough to video games to comment other than to say that they are freakishly amazing and that due to my visual handicap I can no longer play them.--alexshrugged

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: An open world action/role playing game. (Open world means that you can wander around a bit more.--alexshrugged) [23]
  • Monument Valley: A puzzle game for iOS. [23]

In Other News

Event More Info Comments
A grazing dispute between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Managements escalates into an armed standoff. Armed citizens join him in support. [14] (Initially, I wanted to like this guy, but he got weirder and weirder the more I heard him talk. I pass.--alexshrugged)
Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers, is banned by the NBA and fined $2.5 million. He made racist comments to his mistress... herself a black woman. [24] [14] (Apparently, his wife objected too. He is a knucklehead!--alexshrugged)
President Obama details how he will "degrade and destroy" ISIS (or ISIL). This means airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. He will also send 1,500 troops. [25] [26] [27] [28] [14] (As I recall, the President draws a big red line in the sand. His verbal threats are ignored.--alexshrugged)
Dr. Martin Salia dies of the Ebola virus in the USA. He the 2nd US citizen to die of Ebola. [29] [14] (We're all going to die! Actually we aren't.--alexshrugged)
Michael Brown is shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri which sparks riots across the USA. There was insufficient evidence to charge officer Darren Wilson with a crime. [30] [31] [14] (It seemed like self-defense to me.--alexshrugged)
Bill Cosby resigns from Temple University's board of trustees after allegations of sexual assault come to light. 26 women accuse him. [32] [14] (I'm not sure why these accusations are coming to light now, other than Cosby has called for the Black community to act more responsibly. There is an obvious opening to accuse him of hypocrisy, but often people learn their lesson best when it bites them hard. It is compassionate to pass the lesson on on, and save others from the same mistake.--alexshrugged)
Sony Pictures releases the comedy, The Interview, a satirical interview of the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. The FBI suspects that the hacking of Sony Online might be the North Koreans. [33] [14] (Could be.--alexshrugged)

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 2014, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. OpenSSL bug CVE-2014-0160 - The Tor Blog (April 07, 2014). Retrieved on 30 May 2017. “Note that this bug affects way more programs than just Tor — expect everybody who runs an https webserver to be scrambling today. If you need strong anonymity or privacy on the Internet, you might want to stay away from the Internet entirely for the next few days while things settle.”
  2. Michael Daniel's Path to the White House - BankInfoSecurity (August 21, 2014). Retrieved on 30 May 2017. “Michael Daniel sees his lack of technical expertise in IT security as an asset in his job as White House cybersecurity coordinator. 'Being too down in the weeds at the technical level could actually be a little bit of a distraction,' Daniel, a special assistant to the president, says in an interview with Information Security Media Group.”
  3. Obama: NSA Must Reveal Bugs Like Heartbleed, Unless They Help the NSA - WIRED (April 15, 2014). Retrieved on 30 May 2017. “After years of studied silence on the government’s secret and controversial use of security vulnerabilities, the White House has finally acknowledged that the NSA and other agencies exploit some of the software holes they uncover, rather than disclose them to vendors to be fixed. The acknowledgement comes in a news report indicating that President Obama decided in January that from now on any time the NSA discovers a major flaw in software, it must disclose the vulnerability to vendors and others so that it can be patched, according to the New York Times. But Obama included a major loophole in his decision, which falls far short of recommendations made by a presidential review board last December: According to Obama, any flaws that have 'a clear national security or law enforcement' use can be kept secret and exploited.”
  4. "Obama’s Speech on N.S.A. Phone Surveillance - The New York Times", January 17, 2014. Retrieved on 30 May 2017. “Given the understandable attention that this issue has received, I have made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies. And I’ve instructed my national security team, as well as the intelligence community, to work with foreign counterparts to deepen our coordination and cooperation in ways that rebuild trust going forward.” 
  5. Sony Pictures Targeted by Apparent Hack Attack to Corporate Systems - Variety (Novenmber 14, 2014). Retrieved on 30 May 2017. “Sony Pictures Entertainment has told employees companywide to not connect to corporate networks or access email, after the studio was hit Monday by what appeared to be a malicious hacker attack threatening to disclose 'secrets,' Variety has confirmed.”
  6. Heartbleed: Understanding When We Disclose Cyber Vulnerabilities - whitehouse.gov. obamawhitehouse.archives.gov (April 28, 2014). Retrieved on 30 May 2017. “While we had no prior knowledge of the existence of Heartbleed, this case has re-ignited debate about whether the federal government should ever withhold knowledge of a computer vulnerability from the public. As with so many national security issues, the answer may seem clear to some, but the reality is much more complicated. One thing is clear: This administration takes seriously its commitment to an open and interoperable, secure and reliable Internet, and in the majority of cases, responsibly disclosing a newly discovered vulnerability is clearly in the national interest. This has been and continues to be the case.”
  7. Update: PlayStation Network is Back Online – PlayStation.Blog. blog.us.playstation.com (August 24, 2014). Retrieved on 30 May 2017. “UPDATE: The PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network are back online and people can now enjoy the services on their PlayStation devices. The networks were taken offline due to a distributed denial of service attack. We have seen no evidence of any intrusion to the network and no evidence of any unauthorized access to users’ personal information.”
  8. Security Now! Transcript of Episode #470 Listener Feedback #195. grc.com (2017). Retrieved on 30 May 2017. “Steve: So I got a lot of tweets because the tech industry took great umbrage to Michael Daniel, who is the recently announced appointee. Barack Obama, of course our illustrious President of the U.S., appointed Michael Daniel to head the U.S. Cybersecurity. He's the cybersecurity 'czar,' which is the term we all now use. And in an interview that Information Security Media Group did, he said that: 'Being too down in the weeds,' as he put it, 'at the technical level could actually be a little bit of a distraction.' And he said: 'You can get enamored with the very detailed aspects of some of the technical solutions. And particularly here at the White House, the real issue is to look at the broad, strategic picture and the impact that technology will have.' And so he explained that he plans to focus on the economics and psychology of cybersecurity. Leo: Moron.”
  9. http://www.fao.org/family-farming-2014/home/objectives-lines-of-action/en/
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_international_observances#Years
  11. A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. Rolling Stone (2014-11-19). Retrieved on 2014-10-12.
  12. "UVA suspends fraternities after rape claim", CNN, 2014-11-25. Retrieved on 2014-10-12. 
  13. University of Virginia's Campus Reeling Over Sexual Assault Allegations. ABC News (2014-11-24). Retrieved on 2014-10-12.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 2014 - Wikipedia.
  15. How the Retracted Rolling Stone Article 'A Rape on Campus' Came to Print - ABC News. Retrieved on 29 May 2017. “After claims that the magazine was blaming a rape victim for its own reporting errors, the final paragraph of the statement was revised. 'We published the article with the firm belief that it was accurate,' it said. 'Given all of these reports, however, we have come to the conclusion that we were mistaken in honoring Jackie's request to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. In trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault, we made a judgment -- the kind of judgment reporters and editors make every day. We should have not made this agreement with Jackie and we should have worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story. These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie. We apologize to anyone who was affected by the story and we will continue to investigate the events of that evening.'”
  16. Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia School of Journalism Report - Rolling Stone (April 5, 2015). Retrieved on 29 May 2017. “Yet the explanation that Rolling Stone failed because it deferred to a victim cannot adequately account for what went wrong. Erdely's reporting records and interviews with participants make clear that the magazine did not pursue important reporting paths even when Jackie had made no request that they refrain. The editors made judgments about attribution, fact-checking and verification that greatly increased their risks of error but had little or nothing to do with protecting Jackie's position.”
  17. "Jury finds reporter, Rolling Stone responsible for defaming U-Va. dean with gang rape story - The Washington Post", November 4, 2016. Retrieved on 29 May 2017. “The 10-member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its parent company, Wenner Media, responsible for defaming Eramo, who has said her life’s work helping sexual assault victims was devastated as a result of Rolling Stone’s article and its aftermath.” 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 2014 Deaths - Wikipedia (2014).
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 2014 in film - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 2014 in television - Wikipedia (2014).
  21. "Al Gore Sues Al Jazeera Over TV Deal - The New York Times", August 15, 2014. Retrieved on 29 May 2017. “The dispute centers on Al Jazeera’s refusal to turn over 'tens of millions of dollars' remaining in an escrow account and still owed to the selling shareholders of Current TV, according to a statement from David Boies, the lawyer representing Mr. Gore and a Current TV co-owner, Joel Hyatt, who are suing on behalf of all the selling shareholders.” 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 2014 in music - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  23. 23.0 23.1 2014 in video gaming - Wikipedia (2014).
  24. Botelho, Greg. "NBA commissioner bans Clippers owner Sterling, pushes to 'force a sale' of team", 'CNN', April 29, 2014. Retrieved on April 29, 2014. 
  25. President Obama unveils 4-point plan to 'destroy' ISIS. Boston Herald (2014-11-09). Retrieved on 2014-09-13.
  26. Statement by the President on ISIL. WhiteHouse.gov (2014-10-09). Retrieved on 2014-09-13.
  27. Miller, Zeke J. "Obama Says U.S. Will Bomb ISIS in Syria, Train Rebels", TIME, 2014-10-09. Retrieved on 2014-09-13. 
  28. Obama's 4-Point ISIS Strategy Explained in 3 Minutes. The Daily Signal (2014-10-09). Retrieved on 2014-09-13.
  29. "Doctor Being Treated for Ebola in Omaha Dies", The Guardian, 2014-11-17. Retrieved on 2014-11-21. 
  30. Ferguson picks up the pieces after no indictment for Darren Wilson. Retrieved on July 16, 2016.
  31. "Michael Brown would be alive today ‘if he just followed orders’: Cop Darren Wilson defends shooting unarmed18-year-old, saying he would have left the black teen alone if he followed direction to stop walking in the middle of the street", Daily Mail, 26 November 2014. Retrieved on 26 November 2014. 
  32. "Cosby steps down from Temple board", 1 December 2014. Retrieved on 3 December 2014. 
  33. Sony will release The Interview online Wednesday to US viewers. The Guardian (2014-12-24). Retrieved on 2015-01-01.

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