In fact, just about everybody was pretty damn understanding. Even The Rottweiler, Himself was sympathetic when I returned his dogs. "Evil Glenn is like Loki," the Emperor told me, "He is an eternal foe, but we will get him someday."
I was sad to see the dogs go, even though it was clear that they were happier with their studded collars and spot by their Imperial Master's feet. Misha himself was girded for battle, with his kevlar coif framing his face, and his crown agleam in the light of his hall.
"Who's got it coming this time?" I asked. It wasn't every day that Misha had to armor himself before dragging out Fiskhamer.
"O'Connor," he answered shortly, and patted his favorite weapon. "I shall rid the realm of her idiocy, yet."
"Happy hunting," I said, and dismissed myself.
When I got back to Madfish Willie's, I found the Bartender sitting at the bar, with a bottle of Beam in front of him, and a pyramid of sticky shot glasses. The bottle was about half gone. "Whassup?" I asked, plunking down next to him, and helping myself to an unused shot glass.
The wheels started turning in the ol' noggin. The smell of smoke was quickly drawn away by the air conditioning behind the bar. Then I started to laugh, "And since the Puppy Blender is a member of the Alliance..."
"He'll be here." He pointed toward the office. "Now get your tail in there and print up some invitations."
The abolitionist, John Brown, still walks the streets of Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.
We're told that General Erskine still oversees his manor and forge at Ringwood Manor.
Were they really wolves? It may be that brave Colonel Henry "Lighthouse Harry" Lee was all too eager to think so.
Let us not forget the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. (Just down the road from where my husband grew up.) Built by F.O. Stanley, and opened for business in 1909, it seems that the creator of the structure is still around. His wife, Flora, also remains, playing her piano for the enjoyment of the many guests who still come and go from the gorgeous old Georgian hotel. It seems that the keys of the piano can be seen moving, but stop as soon as someone crosses the threshold of the room to investigate more closely.
Children also haunt the hotel, according to local legend, and room 418 seems to a a particular hotbed of incorporeal activity.
Contrary to popular belief, the movie The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, was not actually shot at the Stanley Hotel, even though Stephen King did write much of his book there.
Not only was Molly Brown unsinkable, it also seems that she's pretty attached to her historic house in Denver, Colorado. In addition to reports of Molly sightings around the house, her husband and daughter are still there, and visitors have seen an angry butler reflected in a mirror near the stairs.
It may be that Molly isn't easy to live with, even now.
What is a civilization without its stories? More specifically, what is Hallowe'en without ghost stories? Civilization Calls devotes today to tales of the strange, the grotesque, and the freaky.
Considering that I'm the daughter of a veteran and a gunsmith, and a devoted fan of all things ballistic, our first story is about the Winchester Mystery House.
Sarah L. Winchester, the widow of William W. Winchester, began work on what would come to be known as the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California in 1884.
She began construction on the house after consultations with a spirit medium, who told her that she had lost her husband and infant daughter to the ghosts of people killed by Winchster firearms. (This author thinks that it wasn't so much a message from the grave, as an early, manipulative form of Bradyism.) The medium told Sarah Winchester that she must move out west, and begin constant construction on a house to appease the spirits of the dead, and prevent further evil from the curse they had placed upon her.
Whatever the motivation, Mrs. Winchester began construction on an eight-room farmhouse she purchased in what would become San Jose. She was reportedly a diminutive woman--no more than 4'10" in height. People who take the tour of the historic structure are shown a door that was built especially to accomodate her petite build. The design of the house afforded her many vantage points from which she could stand, unobserved, and watch construction workers and staff. She paid $7 a day--a generous wage in those days. She paid her staff daily, because she was known to hire and fire on a whim.
By the time Mrs. Winchester died, in 1922, there were 160 rooms in the house. Several were badly damaged in the 1906 earthquake. Sarah was trapped in one of the upper levels of the house during the quake, with plaster raining down around her. Some of her workers found her at last, and were able to use a crowbar to break her out. Following the quake, she had that section of the house closed off.
The architectural history of the Winchester House is curious in its own right. For example, spiderweb patterns and the number 13 repeat throughout the house. But without the attendant tales of hauntings, it could merely be written off as an oddly beautiful structure built by an eccentric widow.
Some argue that Sarah built according to the urgings of spirits. Tourists are shown the seance room, with its secret doors that lead in and out. Off the seance room is the well-known staircase that leads nowhere. Ghosts proportedly reside in the mansion to this day.
Even during Mrs. Winchester's life, strange occurances were rather commonplace. There are reports of a "phantom organist", especially during the seance hours of midnight and 2 a.m.. In the early years of construction, it is reported that Mrs. Winchester went down to her cellar for a bottle of wine. She was "horrified" to find a large black handprint on the wall. When the spirits "told" her that it was a demon's hand, she swore off alcohol for the remainder of her days, and had the wine cellar very carefully sealed off.
There are reports of a workman who still does his job, globes of light, hammering and pounding noises, the smell of chicken soup wafting out of the kitchens, doorknobs turn by themselves, lights that flicker off and on, echoing footsteps, and an apparition of a diminutive grey-haired woman.
In an interesting aside, my husband and I recently visited the strange mansion. Appreciating fine carpentery, he snapped several photos of the more unusual aspects of the house with a brand-new Canon digi-cam I gave him for his birthday. When we got home, and downloaded the pictures, we saw that one shot in particular displays anomalies.
It was a shot taken of the staircase that ends abruptly. There are orbs in it. There are no orbs in any other pictures. No other photo has specks in it that might indicate dust on the lens, or refracted light. Only that one has anything odd in it.
To Mrs. William Wirt Winchester: I hope you found your loved ones, fine wine, and a good hunt once you cast off this mortal coil.
My husband and I received news this morning that his last grandparent passed away in the early hours.
He's fine. Really. Her death wasn't unexpected. She'd been ill for some time.
My in-laws are on their way to the funeral as I type this, having discouraged us from going. They're concerned about many things, not least of which is the Bean. She's too little, we're told, for that kind of road trip. I encouraged my love to go, but he won't leave me alone with the baby. He tells me that there is no way he will leave my side without other family around to help in case of emergency.
Since Mom also forbids us to send flowers, I think that I'll just go over on the day we expect them back, and make sure that a nice stew is on the stove when they get in.
That, as much as anything else, should explain the light blogging today. But I have another encounter filthy lie to relate regarding Evil Glenn.
With this, I cast my vote. There were several great entries this time, and a few lukewarm ones.
But when I clicked on the link to Peripheral Mind, I was quite impressed. The layout is gorgeous. The content is intelligent, well-written, thoughtful, and well-supported.
The post itself, "Legalizing Illegals" discusses the pitfalls of awarding the rewards of citizenship to people who are in our country illegally.
Skeleton Jack writes,
"The granting of legal rights to illegal immigrants is an affront to the economic system that has made our country the only modern super-power. For a young person to be granted a student or work visa in the United States, they must meet strict guidelines. Indeed, one may say that they must compete for the right to study, work, or live in the United States. There is great merit in this idea."
I'm adding this blog to my list of links immediately.
1. Having an (in)famous surname can cover a lot of sins.
2. Having an (in)famous surname can get you off in criminal proceedings.
3. Pigs do fly. They also drink and drive habitually, and take part in politics.
4. When you don't have facts, resort to hyperbole.
5. When hyperbole is overbourne by fact, get mad.
6. The issues are never to be subordinated to the quest for solutions--especially when you can dine out on them.
(Author's note: OK, not very funny. But now, at least, everyone knows I feel about that sot.)
"When there is arson it just complicates the whole grieving process," said fire chaplain Steven Kay of nearby Redlands. "Your suffering becomes rage because someone did this to you."
For many fire survivors it will be important that they express their feelings without doing damage to themselves or anyone else, Kay said."
At this point, Fire Chaplain Kay, I think it'd be appropriate to let the residents who lost their homes and/or their loved ones hurt the arsonist in very inventive ways.
It'll keep from adding to California's deficits when they don't have to support that asshole in prison for the rest of his life.
"Cindy Montepagano, a soil conservationist who was evacuated from her home in the San Bernardino mountains two days ago, said the fire has even changed some of her beliefs about punishing criminals.
"I was totally against the death penalty and have been all my life, but I'm beginning to change my mind," she said. "It's that serious."
Amen to that. Sometimes you have to shoot the rabid dog when they're ravening in the streets.
"Authorities released a composite sketch Monday night of a man suspected of starting the blaze that has destroyed at least 450 homes and been blamed for the deaths of two people. Investigators were seeking two men in their early or mid-20s who were seen throwing flaming objects from a van along Highway 18.
Authorities said at least three blazes were suspected of arson, which together have destroyed 527 homes and more than 90,000 acres."
The KTLA feedroom has a composite sketch of the arson suspect.
I think my kid is poised on the edge of another milestone in development. She's been this way once or twice before. The first time she was like this, she was on the verge of sitting up. The last time she was this strange mix of happy-go-lucky and piss-pot crabby, she was about to start crawling.
She's been standing with assistance for about two and a half months. She's been walking along the edges of the furniture, clinging to it, for about as long. She has one of those walker toys that she pushes around with confidence. Over the last two weeks, she's even stood up without assistance for a few seconds here and there. Then, she remembers that gravity works, and flump, her padded butt kisses the floor.
She's also applying "Ma-Ma" and "Da-Da" to the right person. Two nights running, she's even looked up at her Dad, grinned, and shrieked, "Dah-dee! Da-da! Dah-dee!" (Of course she won't repeat it when you want her to.)
She's also working on cutting her eigth tooth. (I highly recomend frozen washcloths during the day, and the night time strength Orajel at bedtime.)
Watching her, I think she's poised on the verge of standing unassisted, which means that she may well be walking by her first birthday (coming up on December 11th; yes, I'm both excited and sad).
The point is that all of this physical and cognitive development makes her a bit volatile.
It was cold this morning. No more than 40 degrees (F) outside. After I finished feeding her breakfast, I went out to start the car. I came back in, and spent five minutes trying to get her to let me brush her teeth. (We got one of those sets with the brush you slip over your finger. Would you like to see the bruises on my cuticle?) I no sooner got that done, and the toothbrush put away, than she looked up at me, said, "Ma-ma," and laughed. So, I picked her up and put her in my lap to put her little soft-soled tennies on her feet. She laughed the whole time I did that, blew raspberries, clucked her tongue, and gave me open-mouthed baby kisses.
Well, I thought, This is shaping up to be a fine morning. So, I kissed her back, and decided to give her a new experience. I got her new winter coat out. I think it's really adorable. It's light purple in color, with snowflakes embroidered on the left breast, and fake fur bordering the hood and sleeves. She looks like a piece of candy in it. She didn't mind it in the store. Nor did she mind it when she modeled it for her 'Dah-dee' the first time.
She minded it this morning. I listened to her hollering at me for the entire twenty minute journey south. I got her to the babysitter's, and got the coat off her. She was still mad, and grousing about it, but she swarmed into my lap, wanting to be held.
After a little, I put her on the floor, and got down next to her, handing the coat over for examination. She played with it, chewed on the fake fur, and even started doing her happy baby dance where she bounces and pounds the object in question with her fists.
My sitter's baby came over, and reached for the coat. Now, as recently as yesterday, this baby bit my baby. My Wee Miss B. looked over at her playmate, raised her hand, and slapped this other little girl across the face. Then, as the other baby started to cry, she looked up at me, burst into tears, and reached for me.
I looked at K. helplessly, while I comforted my sobbing baby. Her sobbing baby was in her arms. She just laughed, "Looks like B. is learning how to stand up for herself."
"But," I started...
"No," she said, "They go through this. B. got bitten yesterday. That's her coat. She decided she'd had enough. I guarantee they'll be fine with each other in five minutes." She thought a minute, "Five bucks says B. is walking in the next three weeks."
So there, you're all witnesses. If my baby is walking within the next three weeks, my babysitter gets five bucks.
And a bonus at Christmas for just being such a saint with crabby kids.
TwoDragons over at Who Tends the Fires has an excellent post on the importance of seeing to your child's nutrition.
She holds, and I completely agree, that making junk food a staple in a child's diet sets them up for hyperactivity and poor health--up to and including obesity and behaviors that can be misdiagnosed as ADD.
Caring parents know that sometimes, "No" is appropriate. Children need guidance and role-modeling to understand what is, and is not, healthy.
This includes more than just diet. Helping children learn self-discipline, abstinence, and delay of gratification can only help them in the long run when it comes to dealing with life's disappointments and Big Choices. Teaching them how to make good decisions regarding something as seemingly innocuous as nutrition can, and will, ultimately translate into the ability to face other choices critically, rather than emotionally.
Why are you still over here? Go read her post.
P.S. My thanks to Emperor Misha for the original link. (And don't hide those photos, Sire. We all want to see the photos of the Imperial Scions with frosting in their ears!)
Everyone already knows about this, so I'm not reporting anything new. But last year, Colorado was horribly ablaze, too, and lots of people lost their homes. Far too many souls lost their lives--just as too many folks have already died thanks to this blaze.
Thoughts and prayers are all well and good. Of course California will receive disaster funds as well. But if you can see yor way to donating to the Red Cross, and other relief agencies, the folks personally impacted by this tragedy will have food in their bellies, shelter, and medical assistance.
I know, the sight of me happy dancing around the place just is not pretty. I still have ten post-baby pounds to lose. So, if it disturbs you, look away.
But, I just got the call that saved my evening: "Hey, don't bother doing any more testing. You...you...let's just say that you're one in a thousand. The situation only occurs under this arcane set of circumstances, and...what the hell did you do to trigger that? Is it a blue moon already? Never mind. It's getting fixed in the next revision."
I spend most days hating the lab. Not so, now.
In other news, Hallowe'en is almost here (my very favorite holiday--ranks right above Christmas), and my babysitter is bringing my baby in for the company-sponsored Trick or Treating. She has a bumblebee costume with a little plush stinger on the butt. I'm just hoping that it'll fit. I bought it a month ago, along with some other clothes that she's already outgrowing. We'll try it on her tonight. If it doesn't fit, we still have the kitty-cat ears and a bib that reads, "Heathen".
Problem is, people who know me will understand that it's a declaration, and not a costume...
Sorry for the light blogging today, but I've discovered a new issue on one of the products I support. It shouldn't be there. There is no reason why this particular error should show up on this product. (Sloppy modular programming? Hmmm. I wonder. But aren't firmware builds supposed to be cleaned up, and "personalized" for each product? I'm just askin's, all.)
Now I just have to figure out what triggered it, and send the test results to the lab so they can fix it.
But a friend told me on Friday to not let work get to me, because life's too short for that. He's right, and so I shan't.
But I still gotta get my tailbone back into my lab for now.
Linked off this commentary on CNet is a typical example of Carly Fiorina's (CEO of Hewlett Packard) infatuation with her own rhetoric.
She's trying really hard to clearly explain HP's new "Adaptive Enterprise" strategy--and failing miserably. When it's all boiled down to technobabble mush, it seems that it is all about the middleware wars.
If you'd like a good snooze during your lunch hour, go ahead and click on the vid stream. I particularly like her bit about it being about the ultimate goal of "Beam me up Scotty, and it happens."
Lots of people wish he would--only to immediately jettison her skinny ass into space.
He surprised me with it the other day. Time was when we kept paired diaries on Diary-X. Back then, people knew us as "Finn" and "Hooligan". It was a sort of he-said/she-said project, and we had a load of fun with it.
But then, life happened, and he got too busy and tired to really write. But here lately, the muse is calling him again.
Gamer, Mac initiated, writer, poet, philosopher, impish wag, descendent of Vikings, and so much more... Stop by and say "howdy" to "Galstaff" when you get a chance.
(I need help convincing him to join the Alliance.)
DDoS attackers will hit the weak point of any infrastructure. If you build for redundancy, lots of fat pipes, and several mirrored sites, the odds of getting knocked offline are greatly reduced.
Since that takes money, and money isn't something a lot of people have a lot of, Irreconcilable Musings offers something we can all do to protect the blogosphere against the protoplasm who get their jollies taking sites that provide actual services offline. Support sites like Internet Haganah to help keep them online, and fighting against the forces of terrorism and tyranny.
I feel very passionately about this, so listen up:
The Iraqi children have nothing. They've lived in poverty for so long that things we take for granted, like toothbrushes and toothpaste, are hard-earned novelties. Is there a better way to send them the non-verbal message that we care about them, we will not abandon them, and we want them to be happy and at peace?
What's more, this is completely unlike some other chidren's "organizations" out there. These toys are being personally delivered by the Chief and friends.
The website has lists of acceptable and unacceptable items. If you have some spare change, get on out there, make a donation; send some toys. JUST DO SOMETHING. Please.
Too Much of a Mouthful--a filthy lie, erm, Fantasy.
(Author's note: OK, so this thing is lo-oong. As a result, I'm not going to send it in to HQ for linkage unless some of you think it's worth it. Frankly, the story totally morphed from what I'd originally envisioned. But my stories do that sometimes.
I didn't mean to write something that rivals one of Bill Whittle's essays for length. Really, I didn't. But I started having fun, and the result is the following encounter filthy lie about Evil Glenn. I hope you enjoy.
And please take it in a spirit of fun. I apologize now to anyone who feels that I took their name in vain.)
"There's got to be something we can do to flush that kangaroo degrading scumbag out," I remarked. "Like, I dunno--a dog show or something."
He'd been polishing the bar, and stopped. "That's brilliant," he said, sounding surprised. "Why didn't I think of that?"
I shrugged, "I..."
He grinned. "Think of it! We'll sponsor a dog show, and he won't be able to resist! It'll flush him right out."
I held up one finger, "But..."
"In fact, Linda, I want you to get right on it." He wadded the bar towel up and tossed it into the laundry bin. "Damn straight! We'll get him right where we want him, and then..."
"But, I don't actually own dogs or belong to the AKC, or anything," I told him.
"Never you mind that! Listen, you go get on the horn with the local kennel club, or whatever it is. Do what you have to, to get a dog show lined up. I'll get the rest of the gang rounded up, and we'll get going on promoting the event." He paused long enough to give me a good once over. "Why are you still nursing that scotch?" he demanded.
"Because I think I'm going to need it," I muttered, before reaching for my coat. Some days, I wish I hadn't quit smoking.
After years of running places like Madfish Willie's, The Bartender's instincts for event promotion were good. Within a few days, we had a show lined up, with the fairgrounds as the venue. Posters were printed and hung around town, and we even got a spot on the radio.
I had one problem, though. It wouldn't be a dog show if all the breeds weren't represented, and I was lacking a pair of Rottweilers.
Then it hit me. And I started to grin.
The Headquarters of the Anti-Idiotarian Empire is a sprawling fortified stone and steel Keep. I'd been a guest there before. In fact, I was something of a minor member of Emperor Misha I's court.
In an interesting twist, many of the Corner of the Bar Babes are also G.L.O.R. of The Empire. G.L.O.R. stands for "Glorious Ladies of Rottie". The G.L.O.R. have a reputation for sort of being Misha's Valkyrie, if you will--dangerous battle-ready women who pack Cluebats and heat, and who aren't afraid to use them when absolutely necessary.
I was announced. With a smile, I walked into the throneroom to see The Imperial Rottweiler himself, locked in talk with his closest advisors. My smile widened while I looked around and waited for him to finish.
His court was resplendent.
Misha's throne was hung with the pelts of animals he'd hunted himself. It sat up on a dais with three steps leading up to it. The throne gleamed with gems and pearls--just what you'd expect from a despotic Kapitalist Opressor. The rest of the room was reminiscent of a Viking's hall, complete with tapestries depicting the Emperor's various victories over monsters like trolls, moonbats, Idiotarians, and ELFs. The central hearth was ablaze with a real wood fire; smoke rose steadily up through the chimney into the chill autumn sky. By the hearth, the goal of my visit lay. His matched, mated pair of Rottweilers lolled there, enjoying the warmth.
I could smell roasting meat and baking bread. I could even smell beer. They were preparing the Emperor's night meal, at which he would sit and feast with his companions and kin. My mouth began to water, and it occurred to me that the Emperor's favored chef was most likely behind tonight's repast.
He was almost finished with his discussion. It reminded me of the first time I'd ever darkened his doorstep, and the courtesy he'd always shown me. I'd penned a few lines of Edda, then, to commemorate that meeting:
Cole's son most puissant,
Misha of the Iron Fist,
Did sit in hall resplendant
Companions, kinsmen, stood near.
Master of Clue-bat studded,
Foehammer of Idiotarian,
Hale lord with mailed fist gleaming
Glad light of battle in his eyes.
When the visitor entered,
Brave Misha stood in greeting.
He called for guest cup and seat
And made road-weary traveler welcome.
Misha settled back into his fur-hung throne, then saw me and stood in greeting. He called for a seat for me, and served me rich, brown beer with his own hands. "One of my G.L.O.R.," he mused. Then, giving me his entire attention, he asked, "What news of your holdings, Lady Linda? Is all well in your domain?"
I knew what the Emperor was asking. He wanted to know if I was beset; if some danger had come to my lands that would require the attention of The Rottweiler, himself.
"No danger to my holdings, Sire," I answered. "The folk of my desmesne are safely walled in with more than sufficient caliber. But I come before your seat today to answer a threat to the whole of the Anti-Idiotarian Empire and the Alliance of Free Bloggers."
He sat, and nodded once to the Imperial Armorer, who went to a cabinet, to unlock and open it. A bright light assailed my eyes. When I could see again, I saw an array of studded Cluebats hanging on pegs; ready for use. The Emperor leaned forward, lancing me with his gaze.
"which weapon do you need?" Misha asked me. "You may use any weapon in my armory, save only for my own Fiskhamer." He caressed the gleaming weapon on his hip proprietarily.
"would my Emperor allow me the use of Geri and Freki?" A collective gasp answered my daring request.
Misha's eyebrows quirked up, and I saw him hide a smile, "Few would dare ask such a thing," he commented, and glanced toward the two dogs, lolling by the hearth, cracking bones with their powerful jaws. He settled back against the furs, and got a thoughtful look on his face. "Your need must be great, indeed."
Misha perked up, and it seemed that the whole court breathed once more. "And for this, you come seeking Geri and Freki?"
I opened my mouth to answer, but Misha began to laugh. The rich sound filled all the hall. "Of course!" He shouted, "Of course! It's brilliant! Let that thrice-damned vampire commie bastard be taken down by his own victims! Well done!"
"It isn't done yet," I pointed out. "I want to borrow your pair because Madfish Willie's is hosting a dog show. I believe that Evil Glenn will think they're AKC breeding stock, and try to take them. He'll never guess that they're actually your war dogs. When they take him down, we'll have him at the mercy of the Alliance at last! His cruel hold on the blogosphere will be broken forever!"
"Geri! Freki!" The dogs sprang to their feet at his call, and ran to him. I could tell what it cost him to remove their studded collars with the emblems of the Empire embossed upon them, and replace them with plain collars and leashes. "You will obey Linda for now," he told them. He admonished me, "They are wilful. They do not eat just any food. They must be fed steak from only the finest Texas Longhorns."
"Lord," I promised, "They will be as carefully tended as my own child."
He grinned suddenly, impishly, "No, I think it is you that they will tend. Now go." I looked in the direction that had captured his attention. Kofi Annan, in chains, was being dragged in.
"It is a glorious day for the Empire," I remarked. "Good day to you, and my thanks, Sire." Misha nodded once, in courteous dismissal, and went to preside over the revel brewing in the Imperial Dungeon Game Room.
"Come on, kids," I said to the dogs.
I left Misha's domain as quickly as I could without appearing discourteous. I knew he understood the urgency of my mission, but I wasn't sure that some of his knights, like Lord Spatula, or The Imperial Hunter, Jon, wouldn't stop me to ask just why the hell I was absconding with the Emperor's own Rottweilers, only to haul me back to the keep for good measure.
Fortunately, I didn't meet either. I managed to get back to Willie's with my hide, and two happy dogs, intact.
The problem occurred when I stepped in the door. Blackfive, who was manning the door, stood up when he saw me, "Hey, girl, where ya..."
Two snarling Rotties were between me and him.
"Shit," he managed; "You want to call those off?"
"Geri! Freki!" They ignored me. "Geri! Freki!" They began to advance on poor Blackfive. I tried another tactic. "Gott damn it, you stupid mutts! Get your asses over here!"
They trotted to my side, and sat down. Blackfive and I exchanged A Look. "Sorry," I told him.
"What in the hell are you doing with The Rott's Rotts, little girl?"
"They're for the dog show," I said. "They're the bait."
"You're nuts." He sat back down, "What are you going to do if they go after a customer? The Bartender and Susie will want those two out of here so fast, you won't know what hit you."
"The Bartender knows," I told him. "Come on, kids."
As soon as the two Rotties saw The Bartender, their tails started going, sharp teeth bared in doggish grins. Geri started popping around like a puppy, showing off, while Freki, ladylike, contented herself with denting the floor with the force of her tail. He gave them beer, and they calmed down. My mouth dropped. The Bartender laughed. "They know me," he said, "When I'm not here, I tend bar for the Emp. I mean, hell--you knew he was in the Corner of the Bar Gang."
"I guess it slipped my mind."
That night, with the dogs hanging out nearby, I tended bar with Susie and Jennifer. Everything was ready for tomorrow. Still, I kept an uneasy eye out. Who knew if the Puppy Blender might be lurking?
Toward the end of the night, Lord Spatula came in and ordered a beer from me. I looked down at the dogs. They were watching every move I made. "Are we cool?"
"Sure. He told me about it. He wanted me to make sure they hadn't eaten anyone yet."
"If I say no, he'll be disappointed, right?"
"They tried to eat Blackfive."
He laughed, "Did they really?"
"Yeah. Is there a story behind that?"
"One time, Blackfive got tripped by some bimbo and accidentally splashed beer on Misha. I don't think the dogs have forgiven the waste."
"I'm sure Misha hasn't either..." I trailed off as the front door opened, "What the..?" Harvey and SilverBlue were staggering in. Their clothes were muddy and tattered. Serenity was right behind them, looking grim but fine.
Spatula moved. The Bartender was right beside him. Soon, Harvey and SilverBlue were sitting in one of the back booths, with cold drinks reviving them. Serenity grabbed my elbow, and pulled me to the side. "There's trouble at the fairgrounds," she told me in a low voice. "Harvey and SilverBlue went to check it out. I was driving past there on my way in, and I saw them struggling with something. It ran off before I could get to them. But several dogs are missing, and a few more were already..." She looked away, and didn't go on.
I set my jaw, and went over to the bar. I grabbed my jacket, and whistled to Geri and Freki. To the room at large, I said, "Anybody who wants to put an end to the Puppy Blender had better mount up, because the hunt is on as of now." I pulled my CZ from the inner pocket of the coat. "Who's coming with me?"
They didn't even pause to think about it. Luckily, the only customers at that hour were the Gang, so it didn't take us any time to close and roll.
It was an odd thing for October in these parts. Sure, it gets cold at night, but not like this. It was clouding over in a big hurry, and fat flakes of snow were beginning to fall. "What the hell?" I muttered to the dogs. I was glad that I was in my car. Its wider footprint and front wheel drive made it ideal for ice and snow.
Behind me, the others of the Gang were falling farther and farther behind. They didn't have the experience I had in this sort of weather. I switched on my cell phone to call and tell one of the guys that I'd pull over and wait, but the battery was dead. "Dammit!"
It was wierd. The snow was really coming down. It never snows like this in these parts in October. Then, Misha's Rottweilers started growling low. It was a persistent, insistent sound that put my nerves on edge. "Hush," I told them, but they ignored me. They crowded into the front seat. I swatted at them, "Dammit, dogs! I can't reach the gear shift, now! You're gonna get us killed! Go lay down!"
They were fixated on a spot outside the passenger window. I swear to G-d. They were both staring at exactly the same spot, and snarling softly.
I managed to get us off the road without hitting anything. (You try downshifting in a Toyota Matrix with two Rottweilers in the front seat, each weighing about a hundred pounds, and tell me that was easy!)
We were at the fairgrounds. Somehow, we'd gotten clear across town. It freaked me out. Just a few minutes ago, we'd been miles away from there.
I had no backup. I'd left everyone behind in the storm, and my cell phone's battery was dead.
Then I remembered that Evil Glenn is a Satanist. The storm was probably his fault. I mean, what else do you expect from a vampire? Over time, they get all kinds of powers, don't they?
"OK," I said aloud. "That does it. Sharpen me a stake and call me Buffy, because I'm not taking this any more." I checked the CZ. It was hot and unlocked. "Just wait until I tell this story down at Alliance Headquarters."
I got out of the car. Geri and Freki jumped right out and flanked me, bristling and growling. They were answered with an eerie howl. They responded to the challenge, but didn't leave my side. "Easy," I told them.
A sinister laugh answered me. I spun, got a bead, and squeezed one off. I heard, "Ow! Dammit!"
"Gotcha, didn't I?" I called.
"You winged me." Oh yeah, it was Evil Glenn. "You should have killed me--I'm a lawyer, you know."
"I just wanted you to know that I'm not completely helpless. So don't confuse me with a hobo, or something. I know you'll probably heal from that pretty fast. My gun store doesn't stock silver bullets."
"Indeed. I'm OK now."
We were interrupted by that unholy howl. "OK, Glenn," I called, quartering the area with the gun following my line of sight. "What did you do? This doesn't seem like the usual puppy blending, animal perversion stuff."
"Come on out here where I can see you," I said. "Let's talk. What is it? What did you do?"
"I started Ragnarok."
All this while, Geri and Freki had been bristling, itching for a fight. I spared a glance downwards at their broad heads. I'd promised Misha that I'd take good care of them. I told him that I'd care for them like they were my own. But, if what Glenn said was true... "What did you do, Evil Glenn?"
"I was craving a shake with some spice. I needed a bit of a kick after my vacation killing hoboes. So, I merely invoked the biggest, juiciest canid I could think of..."
"You freed Fenris." I shook my head, "Glenn, I could just kick your ass!"
Well, now I knew. And I knew why it was snowing. Fenris was supposed to be the giant wolf that swallowed the sun and started an unending winter as the precursor to the last battle for the world. I wondered what the UN would make of this? It was as bad as God's last rampage. Would the French scream about divine unilateralism while the Aesir took on their enemies? Would the liberal media talk about quagmires when Fenris swallowed Odin, Thor died while slaying the Midgard serpent, Heimdall and Loki killed each other, and Vidar killed Fenris?
Vidar kills Fenris...hmmm.
"Glenn, have you ever studied Norse mythology?"
"I meant to fit it in right after I finished The Protocols of the Elders of Zion..."
"You need to break the spell of summoning."
The howling was drawing nearer, and let me tell you, it was getting cold. The wind was picking up. I put the gun away, and kneeled to hug Misha's companions. "Go get him," I whispered.
They streaked right to where Glenn was hiding. He had time to choke, "Good gravy..." before they took him down. I waded through the snow, and looked down into the face of the Dark lord of the Blogosphere, Puppy Blender, Vampire, and Satanist Commie. "Glenn," I said as gently as I could, "You can't blend Fenris. A god named Vidar takes him down at Ragnarok. You have to send the wolf back over the Bifrost bridge to the island where he was held captive. You need to do it now, before the Aesir take notice and come looking for you. As much of a pain as the Alliance is, I can guarantee that P.O.'ed Norse gods are worse."
The ground shook. I looked up, and kept looking up. Shit, that son of Loki was big.
Geri and Freki moved between me and Fenris. "No! Get back here! Heel! Geri! Freki!"
Of course they ignored me. "You guys are gonna be in trouble with Misha for not listening to me!" Oh Gods. I'd never been so scared in my entire life. Fenris was huge. I believed that this was the wolf who would swallow the sun.
I looked down at Evil Glenn, "I think you'll need an industrial sized blender for that one." Then, I reached down and gave him a hand up. "Tell you what. For tonight, our battle is off. You get the giant wolf back to the lands of mythology where he belongs, and I'll talk the Bartender at Willie's into letting you spin whatever tunes you like until you have to go to your coffin in the morning."
"I don't know how."
"You don't know how."
"Indeed." He spoke slowly, as if I couldn't understand, "I do not know how."
"You summoned it! Unsummon it! Do the spell in reverse! We're gonna get eaten alive. Glenn! Remember that scene from Return of the Jedi? It'll be like that! We'll digest slowly over the course of years!" Privately, I promised, But I swear I'll give you indigestion, you son of a giantess whore.
"You know so much about Norse legend! You do something!"
I glared at him, "No banishment, no DJ!"
The wolf was within reach. All he would have to do is bend his mighty head, and me, Evil Glenn, and Misha's dogs would be appetizers. Suddenly, I forgot everything I'd ever known about Norse or Celtic legend. My attention was riveted on those stalactite teeth; that fetid breath like a hot wind, melting the snow around us...
I could only think of one thing, and I spoke it aloud, "Misha is gonna shit a brick when you eat his dogs."
The giant paused. "Of course!" Glenn exclaimed. "The Emperor's unstoppable might is the reason why..."
"Hush." I stepped forward, "Fenris, you don't want to get fisked by Misha, do you?"
The wolf backed up. I started grinning and screaming, "Do you want to meet Fiskhamer?" I held up my (useless) cell phone and bluffed, "I can call him right now, and I guarantee that he will strip the hide off you remotely! You want that? You want that, Fenris? I can almost promise that Misha would take your Daddy into the Imperial Game Room and have him yipping like a little bitch in five minutes flat! How about it? You want a piece of me? I'm a G.L.O.R, and a Corner of the Bar Babe, dammit! Come on, Fenris! Come on!"
He was backing off. Rapidly. In fact, within a few steps, he turned and hightailed it for the rainbow bridge. I'm pretty sure that when he got back to his island, he put the rope back around his own neck.
The snow stopped falling, and it actually got a few degrees warmer. Just like that.
In the distance, I could hear shouts and the sound of truck engines revving. My friends from the Gang were just about here.
I turned back to Glenn, "If I tried to tell you that you owed me, it wouldn't make any difference, would it?"
"So, it's back to business, then? You post in your blog constantly, thousands of people read you daily, and The Alliance goes on trying to knock you off you high seat, right?"
"No matter what I say, you'll go on blending puppies, stalking hobos, subverting college students into troll minions, making dirty movies with wild animals, and doing female impersonation at strip joints, won't you?"
"Among other things."
I sighed. Blackfive's rig was careening around the corner. They were almost here. They were going to kill me. They'd haul me off into Misha's Dungeon Game Room, and kill me. "Get out of here, Glenn."
He turned to go. Then he looked over his shoulder and grinned at me, "I'll put the dogs I took back in their cages. Happy Hallowe'en, Linda."
I was talking to my local Marine Toys For Tots coordinator this morning. He called me to make sure that we have enough posters and promotional materials for the drive I'm currently heading up.
We chatted for a few minutes, and then he asked if he could tell me a little story. He'd gotten it from the Spring 2003 Marine Toys For Tots Foundation newsletter. A copy had been handed to him at the most recent conference he'd attended. I said "sure", and then he related this little tale:
A retired Marine received a call from his youngest granddaughter one day. She told him that her birthday was coming, but she figured that she had more than enough toys, and she wanted to have a Toys For Tots birthday party. She wanted to know if her Grandpa would arrange to have a Marine come to her party to receive the toys she gathered.
Needless to say, her grandfather choked with pride in her, and said, "Of course!" He'd be more than happy to have a man come to her party.
The day of the party came, and was held at a local restaurant in Florida. The parents accompanied the children, and brought not one, but several toys. Then, about halfway through the party, Marine Sergeant Tom Woo, in dress blues, arrived. The young girl presented the toys to him, and Sgt Woo gathered the children in a schoolroom circle. The girl received a certificate recognizing her support for the Toys For Tots campaign, and all the other children received small tokens of appreciation as well. Then, he gave the children a short speech about Toys For Tots. Everyone, including people from several surrounding tables, stopped to listen. After that, several people approached to congratulate the girl and get more information on how to support TFT.
The really impressive thing about this is that the girl who held the party was 10 years old. Her simple, beautiful, selfless gesture outlines the fact that generosity, good will, and concern for others is not dead in America.
By the time my contact finished telling me the story, there was a tiny quaver in his voice. I had to blink a couple of times, myself. And now I'm sharing it with you.
Visit the Toys For Tots website to fnd out more about supporting this worthy cause in your community.
For me, hell is taking my baby to the sitter's, and handing her off, only to see her dissolve into tears. She usually loves her babysitter to death, but every once in a while, she gets separation anxiety and wants me to come back.
This morning, K. was loading the kids into her Subarban to take the older one to school. I handed my baby over, and she instantly started crying. I reassured her, then walked off. She screamed. I turned around to see her stretching her little arms over K.'s shoulder, calling, "Ma-maaa! Ma-maaa!"
Oh God. The knife in my heart. It was literally a physical effort to quash the instinct to run over and snatch her away. I felt my lower lip tremble, and my vision did blur (still is), but somehow I forced myself to smile cheerfully and call, "Oh, it's all right, sweetie! You have a good day with K.! I love you! See ya later, alligator!"
She cried as she watched me drive away. I know she was fine thirty seconds later, and she'll be so busy playing by the time I get there tonight that she won't want to leave.
So, what's up? Where have I been today? Why did I post an article, in toto without commentary?
Allow me to answer.
This will be annoying in the face of the DDoS attacks that were so professionally handled by Hosting Matters:
Some network admins and system admins can't be bothered to patch their equipment. When they don't do that, their networks are vulnerable to viruses. Because most viruses look just like standard Ethernet traffic, OSI Model Layer 2 devices will propagate the traffic all over the network. It takes stringent firewall policies, up-to-date antivirus definitions, and patched operating systems to mitigate the effects of malicious code.
The stupid... stupid... nit I've been dealing with all day doesn't get it. EVERY SINGLE DEVICE on his network--from firewalls and LAN routers/switches, to servers, to end nodes and printers HAVE NEVER BEEN PATCHED.
Then, it's somehow my fault that the filthy little ICMP echo replies are flying around the network, overloading the bandwidth (which was never decently provisioned in the first damned place), and bringing his network devices to their collective knees.
I finally got him under control. I had to teach him how to use Ethereal to capture ethernet packets. Then I had to teach him how to examine the frames in order to recognize the Welchia worm.
Wanna know what one of those ping packets looks like? Here you go.
The thing that got me--the thing that really, really got me--was that he wants to configure ACLs (Access Control Lists) on the inside of the firewall to block ICMP, DNS, and NetBIOS ports. He couldn't understand that blocking those TCP/UDP ports would also deny legitimate traffic on the LAN.
But he's off to clean up his mess and talk to his firewall's vendor. My head hurts, and I'm down to impotent ranting at this point. The thing that really chafes me is the fact that he makes at least six figures every year, and I'm the one to straighten him out. I knew I was in for it when he started spouting the alphabet soup at the end of his name, pointedly mentioning that he'd graduated from (snort) DeVry.
OK. All right. That's it. I'm finished with this topic.
See you later.
Directly from an article sent to me by Honest Reporting. (Commentary later. I promise):
On Monday (Oct. 20) the
IDF carried out a series of five air strikes against terrorist targets in Gaza. One of the later strikes occurred when the IDF caught a group of Palestinians attempting to infiltrate Israel through the Gaza fence. Apache helicopters pursued three men fleeing in their car, then struck down the car in the Nusseirat refugee camp.
The media lent immediate credence to Palestinian claims that two missiles were fired ― the first hit the car, and the second was purportedly fired into a "crowd of people," causing a "massacre of civilians":
Reuters: "One missile fired by a helicopter gunship hit a car and another slammed into a crowd of people by the road, prompting angry protests and calls for revenge, witnesses said. 'It's a massacre. They slaughtered civilians with no mercy,' one protester at the scene said."
Another Reuters report didn't even attribute the claim to a witness, passing it off as established fact: "In one attack on a refugee camp, a helicopter gunship chasing suspected militants in a car fired a missile into a crowd of people, killing seven civilians."
AFP: "Hospital sources said all those killed were non-combatants….An Apache combat helicopter scored a direct hit on a car with a missile...a second missile struck and killed residents who came to the rescue of the passengers, the witnesses said."
The IDF, apparently stunned by these media reports, released to the press a video of the strike taken by an airborne drone. The video clearly shows there were no Palestinian civilians on the street when either of two rockets hit the car. The Jerusalem Post describes the video's contents (emphasis ours):
IDF picture from airborne drone
The picture shows the main road in the camp with two vehicles
traveling a distance apart along it. The helicopter monitors the movement of the terrorist's car, which is the second vehicle seen on the film, and shows the first Hellfire missile directly hitting it.
The driver loses control, crashes into a tree and the car disappears, hidden by a building, but is seen seconds later traveling in reverse. There are no people on the streets and no other vehicles when the car comes to a halt.
An ambulance is then seen passing the damaged vehicle as it continues along the road. Only after the ambulance is a distance away does the air force pilot release the second rocket, which hits the vehicle and clearly shows three bodies lying in the street.
For at least two and a half minutes after the attack the footage shows the thermal images of one or two other people in the area, but not close to where the vehicle that was hit.
(The video is available here ― click on "mabat" in Hebrew on the left side. The Gaza video clip is about two minutes into the program.)
The IDF has therefore proven convincingly that there were no civilian casualties from two missiles fired on the car. As an IDF officer said, ""We would not allow any munition to be launched on a massive gathering of people. To fire into a crowd is not professional, it is not ethical and it's not moral."
The Associated Press and New York Times are to be commended for supplying follow-up articles detailing the IDF video's evidence. Both also report a revamped version of the Palestinian claim ― that a a third missile (not seen on the video) struck a crowd. The IDF denies that.
The facts ― two missiles not harming civilians, and a questionable third missile ― are a far cry from the media's prominent coverage of initial Palestinian claims of a massacre of civilians. Responsible journalism demands that, when initial reports are proven false, a proper follow-up article is published. So where are the follow-up articles from Reuters and AFP?
Some papers, such as the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and Boston Globe, made reference to the video, but buried it deep within their articles, where few readers would see it or recognize its significance.
Did your local paper carry the initial report ― but fail to carry the essential follow-up information regarding the IDF video in a prominent manner? If so, contact your editor right away.
* * *
This episode also raises a fundamental issue of media ethics. After the enormous media botch in Jenin in April 2002 (read HonestReporting accounts here and here), caused by the media unquestioningly accepting Palestinian claims of a "massacre," it is remarkable that the media remain willing to swallow Palestinian statements (even "eyewitness accounts") at face value, without due skepticism and inquiry.
For example, MSNBC TV (Oct. 21, 5:25 pm) quoted PA official Saeb Erekat commenting on the Nusseirat strike: "This is the most disproportionate use of force in history...a crime." This is same Saeb Erekat who vociferously charged that 500 Palestinians were "massacred" by Israel in Jenin. Now that the outrageous, libelous claims about Jenin have been proven false, how can MSNBC and others continue to grant unchallenged credence to statements from PA officials such as Erekat?
Journalists seem to follow a canon that says when two sides are fighting, it is their obligation to report equally and with equal credence what is said by each. But the quality of the information provided by the two sides in this conflict is highly asymmetrical. By this I mean simply that the Palestinians repeatedly lie. It starts with Arafat and goes down to his many deputies. It seems even to reach...man-in-the-street interviews, such as the Jenin resident who claimed [falsely] to have watched Israel bury ten bodies under a building.
Given this, media objectivity cannot be achieved in this conflict by simply quoting Palestinian officials or local "eyewitnesses," unchallenged. This week's Nusseirat incident confirms that.
I’ve been thinking about love a lot. In his essay, COURAGE, Bill Whittle talks about love as a component of that. He posits that the soldier throwing himself on the grenade, the adventurers who reach for space, the firemen and policemen who run toward a collapsing building to save others, all do so because of overpowering love for something or someone.
I know something about overpowering love.
My daughter is ten and a half months old. She has blue eyes with impossibly long lashes, red-gold hair, and delicate, graceful hands like roosting butterflies. This sturdy, healthy, good-natured, fey child is mine and my husband's entire world.
I would jump in front of a speeding car for her. I would take a bullet. I would die for her.
If one of those horrible things were to happen, and I sacrificed myself for her, some people might speak of her mother's courage. What I hope they would speak of is my all-encompassing, unconditional love for her.
Love. Think about it. Think about what it means. Look it up in the dictionary if you must. Apply it to your life. Then remember that my passion is natural. My child came of me, out of me, and is mine in a way only another mother understands. My willingness to sacrifice myself, if it would keep her alive, is normal.
But what about a complete stranger? Would I sacrifice myself as willingly for someone I don't know?
That's a hard question to answer. I like to think I would. But my thought experiment hangs up on my baby and my husband, every single time. They need me, so I pray to any good deity who might be listening that I never have to make that choice. The hesitation makes me feel craven; cowardly.
I feel that way because I can think of a number of examples of people who didn't pause before they sacrificed themselves for others. I think of the 343 FDNY heroes who gave their lives on 9/11. I think of the policemen who also charged into the fray on that fateful day. I think of our troops, gone out into the world to ensure our safety, and liberate the downtrodden in the Mddle East. I think of the traffic cop who is approaching that suspect's car at this very moment, not knowing what she'll find, but willing to do her duty and face the possibility of death.
I look at my father, studying his careworn face, and recall that this man--and so many others like him--fought the loneliest war of all in Viet Nam, defying peer pressure and political grandstanding at home to do what they felt was right; to risk their lives for people they'd never met. And I know that he'd do it again. He's told me as much. He told me that if he'd been in the WTC or Pentagon on 9/11, then that would've been the end of our earthly relationship. He'd be watching over me from Heaven right now, because every woman around him would have been his daughter or grand-daughter; every man, his son. Like Rick Rescorla, he would have died while getting as many to safety as he could.
It humbles me, this uncompromising love. I tear up every time I think about it, because of the purity and weight and depth of it.
Right now, in Iraq, there are men and women who love me and my family enough to risk themselves in our defense. They don't know me, but they love me--the idea of me--enough to bleed and even die on foreign soil to make sure that extremist ideologues cannot strike out at me a second time. They have so much love in their hearts that the thought of even one woman's rape, one child's maiming, or one man's torture is enough to make them stand up, go forth, and fight the threat. They know they may die in the doing, but they have made the choice, and we cannot gainsay or question it.
If we do not have the love and resulting depth of conviction they have, we cannot say a single word against their decision. They know the truth of their heart, and we cannot impose our state upon them. To try and sully such purity with that sort of arrogance is reprehensible beyond description.
Instead, we must let them know that their self-sacrifice is recognized, appreciated; revered. We must look at our heroes as individuals, rather than organisms of political machines. We must realize that every person makes the personal choice to live and die as they will. It doesn't matter who they are, what walk of life they follow, what they worship, or how much they make. They have determined, between them and their God, that life itself is not too great a price to pay for others.
Thank you is not enough, but at least it's a start. Use it to let them know they're loved in return.
Bob Lonsberry presents us with his take on the "letter debacle", and writes a letter of his own to the LT.COL. and his men.
He preambles before we get to the actual text of the letter. (Which was enough, in its simple eloquence, to make me choke up.) An excerpt:
But the colonel was afraid that the truth wasn’t getting out, that the media’s day-after-day litany of woe and grief from Iraq was a dishonest portrayal of the reality he and his soldiers live every day. So he thought he’d set the record straight. And his letter listed the achievements for good the U.S. Army was making in Kirkuk.
It wasn’t propaganda, it was truth.
And the media wants to hang him for it.
Which is a load of crap.
That's the truth. Go read it. If so moved, add your name to the growing list of signatures.
What I would say if I had the floor at a Jacques Chirac press conference.*
Msr. Chirac, it has been shown that prenatal exposure to alcohol can shrink the human brain, and make it more dense, resulting in developmental disabilities, including mental retardation. Considering the average French whore's predilection for unpalatable wines, would you agree this might be true in your case?
And this year's Caliber Envy Award goes to...
Michael Moore! For his obsession with guns and the people who own them.
The award will bestow actual gun handling training on Mr. Moore, and help him understand the realities of gun ownership, undermining his propensity to project his fears upon the people who are smart and tough enough to save his fat ass if the occasion warranted.
Mr. Moore is welcome to email the owner of this blog to claim his reward. Travel will be necessary, and not reimbursible. Room and board are to be arranged for by the award's recipient.
*(Lame-o excuse for HQ: I'm new to the Alliance! I had to find a dog to eat the assignment ('cause Evil Glenn keeps blending them--the dogs, that is). My keyboard was stuck. Um... I went to Madfish Willie's and got trashed. I... I...)
In this article from ZDNet, we meet Bret McDanel. Sixteen months ago, he was convicted for hacking. He'd found a bug in his employer's email system that would allow observers to learn the secure keys of a user's email account, and gain access. It seems that six months after he left this company, he logged into his own account on the system to email a warning to the company's customer base. Allegedly, the resulting 5,600+ emails crashed the servers. (Ed note: Not terribly robust servers, were they?)
He was charged and convicted for malignant, harmful intent. Now, his conviction has been reversed.
I can see why. What he did wasn't really illegal when you review the details. I'm guessing that either the jury was technically unsophisticated, or that the details of his activity were "sexed up". The report does make passing mention that testimony supporting his case was suppressed thanks to legal technicalities.
Let's review the technical aspect of this scenario. First, he'd worked for the company, Tornado, and detected the flaw in their secure deployment. He alerted the appropriate parties, and nothing came of it. A while later, he left the company on good terms, and went to work for someone else.
Roughly six months later, using his own account (I don't know if it was the one he used as an employee, or not), he sent a head's up to thousands of customers so that they could implement the fix themselves, in the interest of self-protection.
I admit that this is the point that makes me cringe. To send the mass mailing, he would have needed the list of account holders on the server, or at least an administrative PDL to send an email to, which would result in distribution to all account holders. Since he no longer represented Tornado, it is arguable that he should not have kept track of this data, because it really is privileged information. (How would you feel if you started receiving emails from a former employee of your ISP?) But, if he never signed a contract to this end, there's really nothing illegal to it. Consultants do it all the time. Nevertheless, it does seem unethical to take such a task upon one's own shoulders when he or she no longer represents the hosting firm.
Nevertheless, let's give him the benfit of the doubt and say that his motivations were completely altruistic. The nature of the bug allowed third-party websites to read a user's SSL keys, because a critical piece of the data was sent as part of the URL. Almost any security expert would be able to spot this flaw, so it really couldn't be considered a "confidential" issue. Nonetheless, this is a really big security concern. Once into secured space, savvy users can conceivably begin monkeying around with servers or other hardware on the company's infrastructure. A concerned administrator wouldn't want the personal data of his clients compromised; nor would he want his own systems to be exploited. By warning account holders, he was arguably trying to protect them.
But, the way he went about it strikes me as grey ethics. I freely admit that this is an academic exploration, because he has been exonerated. Yet, as someone who works with networks and sees the destruction disgruntled employees can wreak, the idea of this man using the company's resources six months after he left makes me squirm.
I agree that it wasn't criminal, but I do feel that his discernment was somewhat lacking, regardless of good intent. Even placing myself in his shoes and thinking sympathetically of the unwary users, I still don't think that I would have handled the matter as he did.
I would have warned my clients while I was still an official representative of the company. If it got me fired; fine. But I wouldn't have used a former employer's assets, even one as innocuous as a user list or PDL.
Mind you--the sudden goodwill has cracks in its facade. If you go read it, you can see where France, Germany, and Russia are paying lipservice without committing anything. Also, interestingly, Syria got on board.
Sometimes, I'd love to be a fly on the wall. I wonder what was said to Syria--how the reality and gravity of the situation was brought home to them. I wonder if someone let them know that only so much will be tolerated, and that they'd receive a titanic bitch-slapping when we (deservedly) left them to fend for themselves against an increasingly exasperated Israel.
I wonder what went on behind the scenes to get this pushed through.
¶ 4:46 PM
I didn't tell you all everything about Jury Duty yesterday. See, I saw something that I had to check out for myself:
After I was dismissed from duty, I saw the college-girl from my group. As she walked past in dark sunglasses, her midriff sweater rode up, revealing a PETA tattoo at the small of her back. It looked a lot like the one Glenn reportedly has.
"Hmmm. That's funny," I thought. So, I followed her. First, she stopped and bought some penguinporn. "Ewww," I said to myself, "Skanky."
But, knowing it couldn't be a coincidence, and that if I wasn't careful, I could wind up like some of Evil Glenn's hobo victims, I nevertheless continued dogging her trail. (Well, perhaps "dogging" isn't the best term to use when we're discussing a minion of the Evil One.)
Anyway, I followed her back to her dorm, where I stopped her. "Hey," I said, "What's your deal? You in with that communist bastard, Glenn?"
She lowered her glasses, "Why? Are you?"
Her eyes were awfully bloodshot, so I guessed she might not be totally with it and gambled with a lie, "Sure, I blend a puppy every day." It turned out to be a good shot, because she smiled and I saw that her teeth were pink-tinged (and it wasn't lipstick, people). "Awesome," she replied; "Come on in."
I steeled myself and made sure that my trusty Buck knife was in my purse before I followed her in. Heaven only knew what horrors I would see! I told myself that I might have to save some puppies or hobos. I might have to free some poor penguins from a life spent in sexual slavery to that sick bastard. I might pay the ultimate sacrifice, but... You know.
Her room was dim. It was only after she shut the door and made sure that the curtains were drawn that she took off the sunglasses. "Better," she murmured, then instantly started playing some Bauhaus. "Do you mind if I get more comfortable?"
"Umm,go ahead," I told her. To tell the truth, her room was crowded with paraphernalia. Besides all the penguin porn, she had shelves crammed full of cans of Puppy Shakes, and even an altar to the Evil One, himself!
"So," I said when she came out in a black dress with black lipstick, "What's with the altar to Glenn?"
"He is my Vampire master," she told me. "Would you like some blended spaniel?"
"I'll pass," I said, "They're hell on my waistline."
"Sure. But you just have to kill a few hobos to work it off." She walked up to the altar, and spent several minutes working Puppy Shake into it. Then she turned back to me, "Wanna surf for a while?"
The hair on the back of my neck stood up. But I'd started this, so I had to see it through. "Why not?" I watched while she booted up her system, noting that it was an HP Pavilion laptop--truly the most evil of all PCs. First, she went out to the Puppy Blender's site. "Oh, master," she crooned, "Give me a sign!" I looked over her shoulder to see a variation of his secret code. When she read it, she cackled, and started browsing all over the web, into many of the Alliance's blogs. Under various pseudonyms, she began trolling each site, filling comments sections with all kinds of unintelligible crap. My fingers twitched. I wanted to refute her! In fact, the urge to do so was quickly becoming overpowering.
But then her phone rang. "You want me to get that?" I asked, but she was too busy troubling the Imperial Rottweiler to notice me. I grabbed the receiver, "Hello?"
"I'm glad I caught you there."
I could tell who it was from the wheezy tone. I demanded, "What are you doing up during the day, you evil puppy blending vampire hobo murderer?"
He laughed, "Isn't she so pathetically cute? See, I go around to all the colleges and find all the little pseudo-intellectuals who don't have lives. I teach them how to use the internet, and how to post flames. Once my little trolls are ready, I give them a taste of puppy blood to turn them into my ghouls! Dollface over there is the nonsensical one. I have others."
"You bastard," I exclaimed; "That means..."
"That's right! All of them--all the little trolls--they're mine! My minions! While the alliance is distracted by arguing with them, I move ever closer to my ultimate goal!"
"What's that," I asked sarcastically, "The breeding kennels for the AKC?"
He paused, "How'd you know?"
"Like it isn't obvious! That does it, Evil Glenn! I'm reporting to HQ!"
"I knew you would. But it's too late! Even now, the loyal readers of all the Alliance jump into the fray to defend their favorite bloggers! Today, a hot dog stand! Tomorrow, all the AKC!" He paused in his maniacal laughter, "You've got a nice blog, by the way. Indeed, I particularly like the piece on..."
"Shut up!" I yelled into the receiver, "You won't seduce me with sweet talk, you satanic communist!" [click]
Well, that was interesting. Need I say that I didn't get selected? It seems that the defense didn't like common sense answers to some of the jury selection questions. For example, I was asked if I felt that someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol could be incompetent to drive, even if no accident occurred?
I answered yes, of course. I was asked to elaborate; to cite behaviors that might indicate a driver's impairment. I cited the usual: swerving, driving erratically, lane drifting, over-corrected or over-careful maneuvers, speeding, and such. Another guy in the selection box piped up to say that those could also be indicators of someone who was distracted, rather than impaired, but if they aren't paying attention, then they're nevertheless a danger to themselves and others in traffic.
He and I were both dismissed.
On the other side of the coin, there was one rather sullen little girl among us who had experience with illegal substances--especially underage drinking, and family members who'd been incarcerated for using illegal drugs. She still didn't thnk "it was fair" that she and her best friend had to go to alcohol classes, and that her friend had been convicted in later years for drug use. When asked if she could be impartial for this trial, and judge the case based only on the facts, she replied that the prosecution would have to convince her, beyond any doubt (as opposed to reasonable doubt) that the defendant was guilty. She said that her personal social beliefs led her to the conviction that any case involving drugs or alcohol was a waste of time.
(In other words, I surmise that she was saying, "I still use, and plan to go on using. This is stupid. I'm just going to throw a wrench in the works.")
Prosecution moved to have her dismissed for cause; the defense wanted to keep her, and the judge asked her point blank if she could be impartial. She hemmed and hawed, but he pinned her down, and she finally admitted that no, she wouldn't be impartial. The judge dismissed her on the spot.
The judge was very cool. He had a pleasant demeanor and put the jurists at ease from the first moments. He was joking around with us, and took on a lot of the general questioning before letting the attorneys take over. I wish I could have taken a picture of the look on his face when the little college girl made the statement about her "personal social beliefs." It took him a few seconds to cover his astonishment. I think it took an application of sheer will to keep him from rolling his eyes. Gods know I was, deep inside.
Truth was that I wanted to kick her in the teeth, but that's OK. If she carries on the way I suspect she does, she'll probably erase herself from the gene pool before too much longer. I'll keep my opinion of that prospect to myself.
I wish I could have stayed to listen to the rest of the proceedings. It was open to the public. But my boss had made it clear that I needed to come to work if I wasn't selected.
To think, I'm actually excited to perform Jury Duty tomorrow. I know this statement is final, incontrovertible proof of my insanity, but to me it's one of the ways I get to actually perform civic service now that I'm married with a kid.
I've been in court before. I let my stepmother adopt me when I was twelve years old. That was a thirty-minute hearing, then off we went for banana splits. Another time, I traveled cross-country to testify in a friend's child custody battle. A third time (the last time) I stepped into a courthouse, it was during my insufferable twenties, following a traffic accident, to provide proof of insurance. (I'd forgotten to put the current insurance card in the glove box--let my dereliction be a warning to others.)
Now, I may very well be dismissed tomorrow. If so, that's fine, because serving on a trial-length jury could quickly become a pain when we consider the baby, and the logistics involved with getting her to and from daycare. My job is ten minutes from her sitter's house. Her father's job is thirty minutes away. It could become a problem.
But if I'm not dismissed, I get to sit and watch the judicial system work from an entirely new perspective. Working with others, I would get to determine the outcome of a case of law. It would be a big responsibility.
Call me nuts, but I'm really looking forward to this.
And yes--I'll remember to take a book with me for the selection process. Would Dick Morris' Off With Their Heads be overkill?
He takes on a piece by Colleen Rowley in the Sunday Strib. One excerpt of his commentary particularly struck me,
"Perhaps it’s not a matter of being anti-Arab, but being opposed to those groups and nations and sects that seem to spend most of their time leaping up and down and demanding that we let them kill all the Jews so they’ll be buff and limber when it’s time to kill the Christians."
You must go and read it all for yourself. His commentary is perfect. I haven't laughed this hard in days.
¶ 10:00 AM
I know that having a blog means staying on top of it, and posting multiple times a day on subjects that are interesting to the writer. Most bloggers write every day, including weekends.
So, why do I break what seems to be a tacit rule?
Well, like I've said before, I have a family to raise. I blog during the week, researching early in the morning or later in the evening. I throw my posts together at a rate of roughly 75 words a minute, publish them, then get back to work. I don't use too much of my company's bandwidth hanging around out here, because frankly, I need the job.
But I love to write, I'm fascinated by the subject matter, and I'm quite devoted to several other blogs out there.
Nevertheless, my family is first. And...my husband and I had a date(!) Saturday night. We took the Little One (ten months old as of the 11th!) to her grandparents' house, and left her there for the night. While she was getting spoiled rotten (new board book, girly socks and her first pair of shoes), we went shopping.
For the record, my Sleep Number is 45. We want one of those SelectComfort Sleep Number airbeds so bad, it's making our teeth hurt (because it'll make our backs stop hurting--heh).
To be fair, we even went so far as to try one of those memory foam beds, but we hated it. Absolutely hated it. Can you say, "pressure points?" There was nothing comforting about laying down on it. It felt like falling hard on a dense, heavy surface. It wasn't snuggly, and it didn't make us look forward to going to bed. Say No To Foam! (Sounds like some kind of street corner chant, doesn't it?)
Then, we wandered around, and he let me go play in the Body Shop. For the record, the Body Shop contains nothing that is an absolute necessity to life. But, it's got a lot of stuff that makes life a little more, um, sensual. And it was a date. *grins*
After shopping, we got a bite to eat, which was enjoyed at a leisurely pace for once, and finally went home. We sat up late, not having to worry about waking the baby, and got to reconnect. (TMI? You'll get over it.)
So, while the world busily spun on in the despite of the various Axes scurrying around on its face, we spent an evening in the pursuit of our happiness.
Which, in the truest spirit of that rat-bastard, Murphy, should have tipped us off. Yesterday was a rough day with the Bean (our nickname for her). Although she'd slept well at Grandma's the night before, she was still off her routine, and inclined to be grumpy about it. She wouldn't nap, made it plain that she's teething again, and wasn't happy whether we were holding her or not. She just wanted to grouse about everything. Then, as a kicker, she woke with a tummyache in the middle of the night. It took us two hours to get her back down, even after Tylenol and Orajel. Then, she was fitful for the remainder of the night, and woke up tired and grumpy again today.
But I just talked to our babysitter. Bean, after an hour's attention to a frozen washrag, went down for her nap right at 10:00, and is sleeping hard. K. thinks that she'll probably sleep for at least a couple of hours. (My babysitter is a saint, by the way.)
So, this may be the only post for today. I'm wiped out, but have to be on the ball at work. I need to help people build their networks, write a few technical documents, and organize this year's Toys For Tots drive (that one's my choice).
Democratic presidential hopefuls focused fire on Wesley Clark in campaign debate Thursday night, deriding the retired general as a belated convert to their party -- and indecisive to boot.
Owie! That had to hurt! "You...you're not a real Democrat! And...and you can't make a decision! So there! Nannie-nannie-boo-boo."
Of course, he defended himself with the political equivalent of "Yo mama!":
"I did not vote for George Bush. I voted for Al Gore," Clark retorted in the most contentious of four debates to date in the battle for the Democratic nomination.
Soo...they can't even play nice with each other? Stop the sniping even when it's one of their own? What happened to the Dems teaming up against the oppression visited on them by those Evil Republikkkanstm?
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and Sens. John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and John Edwards...
...those rare examples of gentlemanly campaign demeanor...
...took turns criticizing Clark, saying he was speaking warmly of Bush as recently as 2001, and more recently switched positions on the war with Iraq.
And you lot never waffled? "Declare war on terror! Bush, you aren't doing enough! Oh my gawd--he just brought down two totalitarian regimes! He's making us look bad! He's doing too much! No blood for oil! We have a quagmire--that's right--a quagmire! Bring home our soldiers (so that there'll be another mess in the Middle East for me to use as a distraction when I finally wind up in office WHERE I AM ENTITLED to be)! Bush lied...my Beemer died...but it's still his fault! It's all his fault! And I'm going to misdirect my rage with Bush at you Wesley Clark! But of course the Democratic party is the only compassionate one!" *gasp, gasp, choke*
Clark struck an above-the-fray pose at one point, insisting, "I'm not going to attack a fellow Democrat."
Ah, the moral high ground! It's a good try, but you're hanging out with the Dems, old boy! Besides, you should've tried that while you were still in the military.
But even that drew a sharp response from his rivals, who took aim at the retired Army general who jumped to a lead in some national polls within days of his entry into the race in September.
"I want to say ... welcome to the Democratic presidential campaign," Lieberman said. "Look, none of us are above questioning."
Well, that's a telling statement, isn't it? "Welcome to the Democratic presidential campaign"? That's how you do things! Gotcha. "None of us are above questioning"? So long as you aren't the one being questioned. Isn't that it, dear?
I thought so.
...Gephardt told a questioner in the debate audience he favors repealing Bush's tax cuts in their entirety, and insisted that would not result in an increase in her taxes.
How will cutting tax cuts not increase taxes, exactly? Dick? Di-iick! Hey! Answer the damn question directly, will you? Tell us about the new economic paradigm as conveyed to you by the little men in green.
But Kerry, who favors retaining Bush's tax cuts only for middle-income individuals, said, "You're going to pay more tax" if all cuts are repealed.
The field of Democratic contenders -- shrunken by one with Florida Sen. Bob Graham's withdrawal from the race -- met onstage at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix, capital of a state that holds an early primary on Feb. 3.
For the first half of the debate, the candidates sat on tall chairs in front of identical lecterns. A cable network sponsored the debate, and Judy Woodruff, a network anchor, served as moderator.
The format switched halfway through. The lecterns disappeared, the men shed their suit jackets and fielded questions from the audience -- the first time in any of the debates that the candidates have responded to questions from men and women whose votes will prove decisive in the early primary states.
"We're taking off our expensive jackets to show that we're working men. Yeah, working men! Besides, despite the ranting at all the Democratic sites lately, we don't really regard you as morally and intellectually inferior; but nevertheless allow us to thinly veil our disdain for you in condescending to answer the questions of the prolescitizens--of this gawd forsaken fine state!"
When they weren't sparring with one another, Democrats took time to heap fresh criticism on Bush's postwar policy in Iraq, faulting him for failing to win significant help from other countries.
"You remember on your report card you had your English grade, your history grade and then it said, plays well together? He flunked that part," jabbed Gephardt of Missouri.
Hey, Dick? You don't mind if I call you Dick, right? I've been paying attention, and you aren't playing real nice with your fellows.
Your panties are kinked just because Bush wouldn't lean over to kiss your hairy, scary ass, Gephardt. You're bitched because he wouldn't hand over the keys of the country to socialists, terrorists, and Euroweenies in the UN. (Oops--redundancy there--"socialist" and "Euroweenie". I'll just... Nah, I'll let it stand.--L.)
There is so much more out there. But I can't stop laughing.
They can't even be nice to each other. I'm watching a house divided at the foundation line begin its inevitable tumble into the basement.
Assuming "among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" have entitled me.
In other words, a weblog by a free woman who says what she thinks.