Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 15th, 2017

Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

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Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2017 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

Margaret Sullivan looks at our future of Trumpery

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Sullivan writes in the Washington Post:

At the northeast corner of the National Archives building sits Robert Aitken’s sculpture “The Future,” inscribed with some famous words from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”: “What is past is prologue.”

If you buy that, it’s possible to have a solid idea of what Donald Trump’s presidency will be like for the American media and for citizens who depend on that flawed but essential institution.

The short form: hellish.

Consider, for example, the saga of Serge Kovaleski, the highly regarded New York Times reporter whose disability limits the use of his arms.

Yes, this is the reporter whom Trump mocked during the campaign — waving his arms in a crude but unmistakable imitation of Kovaleski’s movements. When criticized for doing so, Trump vehemently denied that mocking Kovaleski was even possible because he didn’t know him. (Which was also a lie.) All this, because Trump wanted to promote a myth — talk about “fake news” — that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/11, which he falsely claimed Kovaleski reported while working at The Washington Post. Any reasonable person looking back at the facts would find that ­absurd.

What can this small chapter tell us about what’s to come?

That Trump will be what columnist Frida Ghitis of the Miami Herald calls “the gaslighter in chief” — that he will pull out all the stops to make people think that they should believe him, not their own eyes. (“Gaslighting” is a reference to the 1940s movie in which a manipulative husband psychologically abuses his wife by denying the reality that the gaslights in their home are growing dimmer and dimmer.)

“The techniques,” Ghitis wrote, “include saying and doing things and then denying it, blaming others for misunderstanding, disparaging their concerns as oversensitivity, claiming outrageous statements were jokes or misunderstandings, and other forms of twilighting the truth.”

But that’s just part of what experience teaches us to expect from Trump.

Here’s another: Trump will punish journalists for doing their jobs. Famously touchy and unable to endure serious scrutiny, he has always been litigious — although, as journalist Tim O’Brien has pointed out based on Trump’s failed suitagainst him, sometimes unsuccessfully so.

Imagine that tendency, now with executive powers, a compliant attorney general and a lily-livered Congress. Trump’s reign will probably be awash in investigations and prosecutions of journalists for doing their jobs, stirring up the ugliest of class wars along the way.

What’s worse, as investigative reporter James Risen wrote recently, President Obama has set the stage with his administration’s use of the once-forgotten Espionage Act to prosecute government whistleblowers and threaten journalists; the blueprint awaits.

Another: He will relentlessly manipulate. For example, Trump’s first news conference as president-elect last week featured a crowd of paid staffers who cheered his every statement, creating a false picture for viewers.

After all, his public image as reflected in media coverage is perhaps his highest priority. And he has assembled plenty of expert help.

As Emily Bell argued in the Columbia Journalism Review, Trump is a media entity unto himself: “For Trump, the medium is not just the message, it is the office, too.” His coterie stands ready: “His chief of strategy Steve Bannon was most recently editor in chief at Breitbart . . . Jared Kushner, the son-in-law with Trump’s ear, owned the New York Observer. Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who put Gawker out of business by backing the multimillion-dollar lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan, is also in the trusted inner circle of supporters.” And media mogul Rupert Murdoch, head of Fox, is said to talk to Trump several times a week.

So, we can expect . . .

Continue reading.

The column concludes on a grim note:

. . . To those who say let’s wait and see, or maybe it won’t be as bad as you think, or stay hopeful, I’m having none of it.

Journalists are in for the fight of their lives. And they are going to have to be better than ever before, just to do their jobs.

They will need to work together, be prepared for legal persecution, toughen up for punishing attacks and figure out new ways to uncover and present the truth.

Even so — if the past really is prologue — that may not be enough.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2017 at 3:50 pm

Wide Impact: Highly Effective Gmail Phishing Technique Being Exploited

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From the site Wordfence:

As you know, at Wordfence we occasionally send out alerts about security issues outside of the WordPress universe that are urgent and have a wide impact on our customers and readers. Unfortunately this is one of those alerts. There is a highly effective phishing technique stealing login credentials that is having a wide impact, even on experienced technical users.

I have written this post to be as easy to read and understand as possible. I deliberately left out technical details and focused on what you need to know to protect yourself against this phishing attack and other attacks like it in the hope of getting the word out, particularly among less technical users. Please share this once you have read it to help create awareness and protect the community.

The Phishing Attack: What you need to know

A new highly effective phishing technique targeting Gmail and other services has been gaining popularity during the past year among attackers. Over the past few weeks there have been reports of experienced technical users being hit by this.

This attack is currently being used to target Gmail customers and is also targeting other services.

The way the attack works is that an attacker will send an email to your Gmail account. That email may come from someone you know who has had their account hacked using this technique. It may also include something that looks like an image of an attachment you recognize from the sender.

You click on the image, expecting Gmail to give you a preview of the attachment. Instead, a new tab opens up and you are prompted by Gmail to sign in again. You glance at the location bar and you see accounts.google.com in there. It looks like this….

Continue reading.

And do read the whole thing. The attack is ingenious in how it spreads and how it is exploited.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2017 at 1:11 pm

Posted in Software, Technology

For those who live in older wood-framed houses: Fire warning

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The Eldest posted this useful reminder:

A word to the wise about house fires: I live in an old wood-frame cedar-shake house. It was drafty and cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Holding my hand up to an outside wall, I could feel the outside temp radiating in. I finally got together the money to have an energy audit and insulation installed (had to do an audit — before and after — to get the government/utility rebates for insulating.) When they removed a bunch of the shakes and drilled holes to pump in the insulation, they showed me the 5 inches of airspace between the outside lath and shakes and the inside lath and plaster. They told me that this airspace, combined with the dry-as-tinder 100 year old lath, would act as a chimney and kindling in case of a fire, and the house would go up in an instant. If you have an old wooden house that hasn’t been insulated, please know that there are rebates and tax advantages for energy efficiency if you insulate, and the non-toxic fireproof insulation materials have the even more important benefit of making the house more fire resistant. I can’t stop thinking of the family that lost 6 children this week, in a house very much like mine. Smoke detectors can only do so much if you live in a vulnerable house. UPDATE: the term for this kind of house construction is “balloon framing”.

More details about balloon framing, worth the click.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2017 at 12:39 pm

Posted in Daily life

Neo-Determinism: Researchers Accurately Predict the Future of a Quantum System

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Very interesting finding and experiment. From that Motherboard article by Daniel Oberhaus:

. . . What appeared to be purely random behavior on the system’s part as it decayed actually contained enough information to allow the computer program to predict how the system would decay without actually observing it. Indeed, the measurements were so accurate that Biercuk and his colleagues were able to take corrective action and compensate for the decay of the system, thus maintaining its quantum properties for two to three times longer than it would otherwise. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2017 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Science

Evidence of Bizarre Trump-Russia Ties Continues to Ooze Out

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In Mother Jones Kevin Drum writes:

So what’s new on the Trump-Russia front? First up, the Independent tells us that the former MI6 agent behind the now-famous dossier alleging close ties between Russia and the Trump team was dismayed that his findings didn’t generate more action during the presidential campaign:

Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

….By late July and early August MI6 was also receiving information about Mr Trump. By September, information to the FBI began to grow in volume: Mr Steele compiled a set of his memos into one document and passed it to his contacts at the FBI. But there seemed to be little progress in a proper inquiry into Mr Trump. The Bureau, instead, seemed to be devoting their resources in the pursuit of Hillary Clinton’s email transgressions.

The New York office, in particular, appeared to be on a crusade against Ms Clinton. Some of its agents had a long working relationship with Rudy Giuliani, by then a member of the Trump campaign, since his days as public prosecutor and then Mayor of the city.

In related news, BuzzFeed says Israel is extremely interested in the possibility of Trump-Russia ties:

“You can trust me that many intelligence agencies are trying to evaluate the extent to which Trump might have ties, or a weakness of some type, to Russia,” one of the intelligence officers said….The officer said part of Israel’s interest in the dossier — and in other intelligence on Trump’s ties to Russia — stems from concern that secrets Israel shares with the Unites States might be fed to Russia.

Earlier this week, Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported that Israeli intelligence officials were questioning whether to continue sharing intelligence with the incoming Trump administration. The report said that during a recent meeting with US intelligence officials, Israel was told that the Russians had “leverages of pressure” to use against Trump. BuzzFeed News could not independently confirm that a meeting had taken place.

Other reports suggest that British intelligence is thinking along the same lines as Israel. And the Daily Beast reports that a group dedicated to hacking the NSA and releasing its prize malware has suddenly gone out of business a few days before Trump’s inauguration:

The Shadow Brokers emerged in August with the announcement that they’d stolen the hacking tools used by a sophisticated computer-intrusion operation known as the Equation Group, and were putting them up for sale to the highest bidder. It was a remarkable claim, because the Equation Group is generally understood to be part of the NSA’s elite Tailored Access Operations program.

….It soon emerged that the Shadow Brokers really had the goods….Virtually nobody, though, believed the Shadow Brokers’ claim that they were mere hackers trying to sell the exploits for a quick fortune.

The more persuasive theory, supported by no less than Edward Snowden, is that the Shadow Brokers are one of the same Russian government hacking groups now accused of targeting the U.S. election….Under this theory, the Shadow Brokers were part of a tit-for-tat in the intelligence world. The group emerged just as the U.S. began confronting Russia over its election hacking, and then seemed to release its secrets in time with the public thrusts and parries between the two countries….Now, with a new, friendlier administration coming in, Vladimir Putin may be pressing the reset button.

The more I read about this stuff, the harder I find it to believe. It just seems wildly ridiculous, the kind of thing that would barely pass muster on a TV potboiler, let alone in real life. The truth is that I’d probably dismiss it entirely if it weren’t for . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2017 at 12:05 pm

Trump’s attack on John Lewis is the essence of narcissism

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Michael Gerson has a very strong column in the Washington Post. It begins:

Who is John Lewis that Donald Trump should be mindful of him?

Lewis, by one definition, is a 76-year-old liberal politician with a disturbing habit of hyperbole. He questioned the validity of George W. Bush’s presidential win. He once compared John McCain to George Wallace. Now he questions the legitimacy of Trump’s presidential victory.

By another definition, Lewis was a consequential student leader of the civil rights movement. He led sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters; was one of the original Freedom Riders who integrated buses; experienced the hospitality of places such as Mississippi’s Parchman Penitentiary; and carried away the memento of a skull fracture from Selma.

It must be said that the whole business of questioning a president’s right to hold office is pernicious. It puts a hard stop on all civility and cooperation. The worst instance, of course, was the claim that Barack Obama was Kenyan-born and disqualified to be president — an argument based on partisan, conspiratorial and quasi-racist lies enthusiastically spread by Trump. When the president-elect calls out Lewis on this topic, it is a display of hypocrisy so large that it is visible from space.

A conservative friend tells me I’m too concerned about Trump’s “manners.” Probably. (Though it strikes me as odd for any conservative to dismiss the gestures of mutual respect that make democracy and human society possible.)

The problem, however, runs deeper. Trump seems to have no feel for, no interest in, the American story he is about to enter. He will lead a nation that accommodated a cruel exception to its founding creed; that bled and nearly died to recover its ideals; and that was only fully redeemed by the courage and moral clarity of the very people it had oppressed. People like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. People like John Lewis.

There are a lot of debunkers at work in American society. They point out that the priest is really a balding, middle-aged man with sweat stains at his armpits. They see the judge as an old woman who has the remnants of lunch caught between her teeth. They see John Lewis as just another career politician. But the priest holds the body of Christ, the judge embodies the rule of law, and Lewis once carried the full weight of America’s promise across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Were John Lewis to call me every name in the book, I would still honor him.

Trump often justifies his attacks as counterpunching. Even a glancing blow seems to merit a nuclear response. But this is the exact opposite of the ethical teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, and of the principled nonviolence of the civil rights movement. In these systems of thought, the true victory comes in absorbing a blow with dignity, even with love. It is substance of King’s message. It is the essence of a cruciform faith.

This is not always easy to translate into politics. But . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2017 at 11:54 am

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