The Unread Blog

02 Sep 2017

17 Jun 2017

08 Apr 2017

If I were a suspicious person, and we all know that I'm not, I'd imagine a scenario such as this...

T paces nervously around his lushly appointed office at a Florida resort. He runs a hand through his bizarre shock of blond(ish) hair, then seemingly resolved, sits behind the desk and picks up a telephone.

T: I need some help, P. These fake news stories about my ties with Russia just won't let up. They're driving me up the wall.

There's a brief pause before P answers.

P: But my friend, the answer is so simple! You need only wait for some atrocity to be committed in any of the countries we are occupying. Such things happen every day.

T: An atrocity, right... but how does that help me?

P: Then you send in a strike against some low-rent target, da? I will react with suitable outrage. The media will see that we are not friends, but bitter rivals. Problem solved.

T: Yes, but don't you have world-class air defense systems in all those countries?

P: Do not worry, my friend. We have been conveniently ignoring Israeli strikes in Syria for some time now. We can surely do the same for you.

T: Great! I think that traitor, F, is going to testify against me. I'll try to time it for right after they make the announcement. Now, about the Siberian oil drilling...

09 Nov 2016

09 Nov 2016

This may be the first United States election that was decided to a significant degree by hackers. What's more, it may be the first that was directly affected by a foreign power. No, I don't mean Russia – I mean the hacker community, which happens to live largely outside of US borders, because that's where most of the world population is.

One of the major problems the Clinton campaign suffered was the revelation of embarassing information that, in the past, would have been kept from the public eye. Although everyone has heard of the email scandel, there were a lot of other bits and pieces released by Wikileaks over the last year or so. What's more, there have been a lot of hackers boasting about how determined they were to crush Clinton and how much effort they've put into their vendetta.

Why are they so galvanized? Clinton, as Secretary of State, is the person most directly responsible for decimating Wikileaks and hounding its founder, Julian Assange. When the organization began leaking US secrets, it became her duty to deal with the problem. The State Department has always been about spying and counter-spying, and even if they hadn't been directly embarassed by Wikileaks, they'd have to have been involved.

For many hackers, Assange is something of an idol. He and his organization gave meaning to their natural proclivities, turning criminal acts into freedom fighting. He helped to make hackers into modern-day Robin Hoods, even in the mind of many people who wouldn't have noticed otherwise, and he lost his freedom in the process, as surely as if he'd been thrown into a US prison.

Assange has legitimate reasons to hate Clinton, even if she was just doing her job, and he has some friends who know how to turn the power of modern communications against its masters. However, Assange didn't take Trump very seriously as a candidate.

So how much damage could a few hackers do? Their documents showed that the Democratic National Commitee hadn't seriously considered Bernie Sanders as a candidate, shaking confidence in Clinton's nomination. They excacerbated the email scandel in the public eye. They released documents relating to Clinton's speeches at major banks. They released personal information on campaign donors and staffers, opening them to attacks by anti-Clinton forces.

The issue got so heated that the Ecuadorian embassy tried to cut Assange off from the Internet, to keep him from directly affecting the election.

As if that wasn't enough, there have been more direct attacks on Democratic communication systems, right up to election day. A post on 4chan on the subject read, "List targets here that if taken out could harm Clinton's chances of winning and I will pounce on them like a wild animal. Not sleeping until after this election is over."

18 Oct 2016

17 Oct 2016

14 Oct 2016

17 Sep 2016

13 Sep 2016

The sugar industry used the same tactics as the tobacco and oil industries in buying "science" to support their products. Of course they now claim this is all part of the "anti-sugar narrative," a plot against the poor, mistreated sugar manufacturers.

28 Aug 2016

An Indonesian man has apparently lived to 145. I hope I don't live anywhere near that long.

27 Aug 2016

Belgians are hunting books instead of pokemon.

26 Aug 2016

The first steps into asteroid mining. You'll never guess what they plan to mine first.

Proxima Centauri definitely has a (vaguely) Earth-like world.

24 Aug 2016

The Army has too many video games...

11 Aug 2016

Millions of Steam keys were stolen recently, along with user data. Looks like I got at just the right time – after the hack, but before my key got used.

11 Aug 2016

This election is surreal. On the one hand, we have Hitler. On the other hand, we have a murderer who takes orders from satan himself.

Neither of these things is remotely close to real. Donald Trump is a dork, and Hillary Clinton is an awkward idealist who's been jaded somewhat by bumping into life. Neither one will destroy the country. Neither one will be Hitler.

After muddling through another 4-8 years, the country will have another election where we hear that it's again Hitler against the antichrist, and somehow people will believe again that it might actually be true.

– phantomfive

10 Aug 2016

Snopes on the conspiracy theories surrounding Seth Rich's death. They're all obviously BS. Of course it's possible that somebody who lost his job over the leaks killed him in revenge, whether or not he actually leaked anything, but there's no evidence.

09 Aug 2016

Facebook will make you watch their ads! To that, I say f.b. purity.

08 Aug 2016

Another security flaw for android phones. This one requires you to install somebody's trojan application, so just don't install applications you don't trust.

05 Aug 2016

Learn to code with snacks. Ok, it's a terrible idea, but cute.

03 Aug 2016

Netflix Tax in Pennsylvania. It also includes music, e-books, phone apps, online games, and ringtones. Magazines, newspapers, and christian religious texts are exempt. This made it through a Repooblican-dominated congress. I wonder if Oklahoma legistlators are watching this...

03 Aug 2016

A bunch of losers have hacked and put malware in several project's downloads. This affects popular projects like Audacity, Mkvtoolnix, Calibre, SMPlayer, and Classic Shell for windoze. The hack seems to have been caught quickly, though not quickly enough. Fortunately, I don't use windoze – I use a linux distribution that packages software from source, and I don't even use the most recent versions.

03 Aug 2016

Suicide Squad fanboys are trying to shut down because of bad reviews of their pet movie. Your movie sucks. Get over it.

30 Jul 2016

More advertising malware spotted. The moral – do not run scripts. Running advertising scripts is basically asking to be taken advantage of. Run NoScript or just turn scripting off. If you can't do that, run an ad blocker.

20 Jul 2016

One of my favorite Daily Show clips. Mass shootings do mean that we need more gun control.

20 Jul 2016

Japan is making its last vcr this month. Collectors swear that VHS is better than DVD.

18 Jul 2016

People entering the job market will earn less over their lifetimes than their parents did, despite prices being higher.

14 Jul 2016

Obesity is three times as deadly for men as for women.

14 Jul 2016

The FCC has opened up more spectrum for corporate takeover. This is not for 5G. The frequencies in question are much more useful for high-speed wifi. In any case, they're displacing:

08 Jul 2016

Giant media companies claim that fair use is unfair. Considering the fact that Disney made much of their money by raping the public domain, I'm not sympathetic. The big media companies will never make another dime from me, if I can help it.

08 Jul 2016

My latest PACG character:

29 Jun 2016

Antivus software actually increases your vulnerability to attack. The best antivirus is the one between your ears – don't open anything without thinking first.

Edit: More on the subject.

26 Jun 2016

This tells me that you're watching programs that you don't really care about, just so you can talk about them.

19 Jun 2016

I watched Gravity, only because I've got the riff of it. I knew from comments when the film came out that it wasn't going to be all that good, but I had no idea how bad it was. You can find lists of all the things they screwed up, but two really killed the movie for me.

First, the basic premise – not that an explosion caused a dangerous cloud of debris, that's possible – not that so many satellites in completely different orbits were affected, though that's pretty dumb – the idea that NASA couldn't communicate with their astronauts in low earth orbit. They're only a few hundred kilometers up. Almost any large radio transmitter could send a signal that my cell phone could pick up from that distance. Maybe you couldn't talk back, but there's no place around earth where they couldn't talk to you.

But I got over that almost immediately. I can suspend my disbelief once. Then they did the stereotypical "cutting the safety line" scene. (How many times am I going to have to see this ancient trope?) Clooney is slipping past Bullock, who grabs his line, stops him, and has a conversation with him while something is pulling him away from her. Did the Enterprise put a tractor beam on him? Did he have his pockets full of reactionless drives? What the hell was that about?

There wasn't even any dramatic reason for this nonsense. They should have had him disconnect as he was moving past her to avoid yanking her loose. (Given how many times they pulled each other away from a hand-hold, it was fairly stupid to keep the line on as they approached anyway.) Then, a few minutes later, they actually show you what would have really happened, when she tries to take off in the lifeboat and bounces back on the parachute lines.

After this, I couldn't take any of rest of the movie seriously. It's a shame that movies today cost so much more than, and are just as hokey as, movies that came out in the 1950s, before we even had a space program. Gah! I'm so glad I didn't go to a theater to see this dreck.

16 Jun 2016

The NRA gets what they pay for.

09 May 2016

Some Pathfinder Adventure Card Game characters I've put together. It would be nice if Paizo would stick to making more adventures and let us make our own characters.

Faru, Priest of Calistria

Cauld, Ghoul Rogue

Kunchen, Monkish Oracle