Thoughts On A Sunday

BeezleBub and Horse Girl made it back from Las Vegas intact after their week-long visit to see relatives.

They did some of the usual tourist things including a visit to the Hoover Dam...but they didn't take the dam tour. (Five points to anyone who recognizes he reference.)


I have been involved with efforts to expand and/or upgrade broadband access in this part of New Hampshire. While we have reasonable data speeds available through much of the area, it isn't available to everyone. And while many may not make the connection, so to speak, the availability of broadband – or the lack of it – can seriously affect the value of a home.

At least there is someone addressing the problem and trying to make sure broadband availability is universal throughout the area. (Notice, I didn't say 'making sure everyone has broadband', only that it is available wherever anyone lives.)

There's still a long way to go.


I'll bet the anti-gun and watermelon environmentalists are having a case of the vapors over this one.

An 11-year old Washington girl shot and killed a mountain lion that was about to attack her 13-year old brother.

To read some of the reactions from the bunny-huggers she did the wrong thing and should have allowed the mountain lion kill and eat her brother, or that the mountain lion had every right to be there because humans intruded into its habitat.

I won't bother to address the first point as my response would be obvious, but as to the second, humans have been in that area for a long time. It wasn't like they just moved there and disturbed the mountain lion's habitat. It's likely mountain lions have returned to the area after a long absence. (We've seen evidence of the return of mountain lions to northern New England, mostly photos from game cams and a few videos shot by homeowners. But NH Fish & Game aren't saying 'officially' that the big cats have returned.)


Two photos seen in the theater district in New York. Compare and contrast.

The question posited in the first one is one every New Yorker should be asking, particularly in light of Mayor de Blasio's wholesale efforts to eliminate charter schools.


David Starr looks into how Target stores were compromised and millions of credit card and debit card numbers were stolen.

I have to agree with his conclusion that employing Point Of Sale (POS)terminals with easily upgraded software is what made Target vulnerable.

[T]he bad guys infected Target's central computers, the ones in finance and the stockroom that talk to the cash registers and total up dollar volume of sales and keep track of inventory so they can reorder product as it sells out. And somehow the central computers infected the cash registers, by sending new programming out over the wire to the checkout counters. Had Target been more security minded they would not have allowed the central computers to talk to the cash registers. Just listening is enough to make the system work.

Whenever anything can be reprogrammed through a network it makes it vulnerable to being hacked and having malware installed. While flexibility is nice, there are costs equated with doing so, as Target has found out.

For true security of POS terminals any upgrades should require the new software to be loaded by a human being and by using something other than USB key or other portable medium, and that the connection to the terminal require removal of an access plate or cover. While inconvenient and more expensive to to upgrade terminal software, it costs less than a security breach and makes hacking the system less probable.


Speaking of hacking, one thing many of us overlook when it comes to network vulnerabilities is utilities. I would like to think things like electrical utilities would use a command and control network that has no connections to the outside world. If any part of it is connected through the Internet then the entire command and control network is vulnerable.

Taking a lesson from the first Iraq War, any computer peripherals on the control network should be vetted before being connected. One of the 'Three Letter' agencies uploaded viruses to the Iraqi military's computer systems using malware embedded in HP printers. Once the printers were connected to the network they uploaded their virus payloads. That's one vulnerability that still needs to be addressed.


Once again it appears the Air Force wants to scrap the A-10 Warthog, an effective ground support and anti-armor aircraft that has a reputation for toughness in combat and replace it with the F-35, a still undeployed fighter that has more than its share of problems, including being grossly over budget and and behind schedule.

This isn't the first time the Air Force has tried to kill the A-10, the last time just prior to the first Gulf War. It planned to repurpose the F-16 into the ground attack role, but after seeing its devastating effect during Desert Storm and its ability to sustain heavy combat damage and still keep flying, the Air Force reversed its decision.

The A-10 again proved its mettle during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It's an older design, certainly not sexy like the F-16 or F-35, and it doesn't have all of the 21st century whizbang technology of the other aircraft, but it is an effect weapons platform that has no equal, costs far far less than either the F-16 or F-35, and will survive in combat environments that would shred the others.

The argument has been made that drones could easily replace the mission of the A-10, but that is a straw man argument as operators of drones don't/won't have the situational awareness of a human piloting an A-10, the maneuverability of an A-10, nor the weapons payload capability of an A-10. About the only thing a drone has over an A-10 is its loiter time and that isn't enough of a factor that it outweighs those of the A-10 in a combat situation.


This will earn them some brownie points from the left.

It appears that officials and campus police officers have no understanding of law when it comes to the disabled and their service animals. In this case St. Petersburg (Fla.) College kicked a disabled Green Beret and his service dog off campus in violation of federal law.

To add insult to injury, even after college officials were informed they were in violation of federal law they demanded documentation from the veteran to prove he is disabled and needs a service dog, something that is also in violation of federal law.

I'll bet there are some major lawsuits coming.


Is there nothing Global Hotcoldwetdry can't do?

In this example it appears AGW has caused the Great Lakes to freeze over. Lake Superior is entirely frozen over and the maximum aggregate ice cover of all the lakes this winter was over 88%, something that hasn't happened in 20 years.

And children will no longer know what snowfall looks like.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the temps are still cold, the snow isn't melting, and where the woodpile has dwindled precipitously.