Barack Obama: Pregnancy a “Punishment”

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Democrats, Elections, Fatherhood, Sanctity of Life

On the campaign trail over the weekend, Barack Obama tried to assuage the socially conservative democrats of Western Pennsylvania regarding his pro-abortion stance. He starts with the typical, liberal, stance when confronted by an admonition to stop abortions:

"This is a very difficult issue, and I understand sort of the passions on both sides of the issue," he said. "I have two precious daughters — they are miracles."

But politicians must trust women to make the right decisions for themselves, he said.

"This is an example where good people can disagree," the Illinois senator said. "The question then is, are there areas that we can agree to that everybody can get behind? We can all agree that we want to reduce teen pregnancies. We can all agree that we want to make sure that adoption is a viable option."

This response is, of course, the typical liberal approach of ignoring the biological reality that an abortion impacts not just the woman carrying the unborn child, but also the separate, unique life that is that unborn child. Note also the canard about adoption (the viability of which is a non-issue, but ostensibly sounds good when making such deflection).

Unfortunately for Obama, he continued on with his comments in an attempt to persuade the audience regarding sex education - and in so doing revealed his true beliefs.

Somehow, I don't think his comments will have their intended affect (emphasis added):

"Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old," he said. "I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information."

There you have it: babies are a "punishment" resulting from a mistake - the moral equivalent of contracting an STD.

Of course, what else would one expect, from such a radical proponent of abortion such as Barack Hussein Obama?

(H/T: RedState)

WordPress 2.5

Filed in Web DevelopmentTags: Geekery, Web Site, WordPress

WordPress 2.5 has been released. I have installed it, and everything seems to be working fine - especially on the front end (though I'm still exploring the new admin interface).

Let me know if you notice any issues, and if you use WordPress, go install Version 2.5 now!

Linux Survives PWN 2 OWN Contest; Mac, Vista Fall – and What It Means For You

Filed in LinuxTags: Computers, Geekery, Windows

Head-to-head-to-head, Vista vs. MacOS vs. GNU/Linux in the PWN 2 OWN contest at CanSecWest 2008:

Three targets, all patched. All in typical client configurations with typical user configurations. You hack it, you get to keep it...

Each has a file on them and it contains the instructions and how to claim the prize.

Targets (typical road-warrior clients):

  • VAIO VGN-TZ37CN running Ubuntu 7.10
  • Fujitsu U810 running Vista Ultimate SP1
  • MacBook Air running OSX 10.5.2

...Once you extract your claim ticket file from a laptop (note that doing so will involve executing code on the box, simple directory traversal style bugs are inadequate), you get to keep it.

The contest took place over three days, the challenge - and the cash prize - diminishing each day:

Day 1: March 26th: Remote pre-auth

All laptops will be open only for Remotely exploitable Pre-Auth vulnerabilities which require no user interaction. First one to pwn it, receives the laptop and a $20,000 cash prize.

The pwned machine(s) will be taken out of the contest at that time.

Day 2: March 27th: Default client-side apps

The attack surfaces increases to also include any default installed client-side applications which can be exploited by following a link through email, vendor supplied IM client or visiting a malicious website. First one to pwn it receives the laptop and a $10,000 cash prize.

The pwned machine(s) will be taken out of the contest at that time.

Day 3: March 28th: Third Party apps

Assuming the laptops are still standing, we will finally add some popular 3rd party client applications to the scope. That list will be made available at CanSecWest, and will be also posted here on the blog. First to pwn it receives the laptop and a $5,000 cash prize.

All three laptops survived the first day, as none of the contestants attempted any hacks.

However, day two brought the first successful attack: the MacBook Air was compromised in a matter of minutes. The attack vector was the Safari web browser. The contestant instructed the MacBook Air user to navigate to a specially designed web page using Safari. The attack reportedly took less than two minutes:

Charlie Miller, who was the first security researcher to remotely exploit the iPhone, felled the Mac by tapping a security bug in Safari. The exploit involved getting an end user to click on a link, which opened up a port that he was then able to telnet into. Once connected, he was able to remotely run code of his choosing.

And finally, day three saw the second successful attack, as the Vista laptop was compromised. This time, the attack exploited a reportedly cross-platform vulnerability in Java:

"The flaw is in something else, but the inherent nature of Java allowed us to get around the protections that Microsoft had in place," he said in an interview shortly after he claimed his prize Friday. "This could affect Linux or Mac OS X."

That means that in the end, only the GNU/Linux laptop (running Ubuntu) was left standing.

What is the moral of the story here? Well, in my opinion, there are two:

  1. Don't believe the Apple/Mac hype from Steve Jobs or his army of Apple fanboys. According to the two winning contestants, the Mac was the easiest of the three targets. Those who claim that Apple is inherently more secure have been proven to be making a baseless claim.
  2. More importantly, remember that the single, weakest link in security is the user (this means you). The successful attacks were accomplished by exploiting vulnerabilities not in the OSes themselves, but in standard-install and popular third-party apps (web browser, Java). A security-ignorant user can have his Mac box compromised, just as a security-aware user can safely use his Windows box.

So, as a user, what can you do to protect yourself? Many things - and these apply regardless of which Operating System you choose:

  1. Always operate behind a hardware firewall. Even if you only have one computer using your broadband internet connection, set it up behind a router. These devices are cheap (less than $100 for a wi-fi router, and $50 or less for an ethernet-only router), and provide the lion's share of protection you need for your computer.
  2. Never run as root (administrator). All operating systems have the ability to set up and use accounts with non-admin privileges. Linux and MacOS do so by default. Windows notoriously hasn't in the past, but one of the best changes in Vista - annoying though it may be - is the User Account Control, allowing a user to operate without admin rights, until explicitly elevated. If you are still using WinXP (or older), set up an account with admin privileges, but also an account without admin privileges. Use the non-admin account on a regular basis.
  3. Stay away from the internet's red-light district. While it is true that any web site can be hacked, most internet-based exploits are found on adult web sites, warez (software-pirating) web sites, and other "black-hat" (malicious computer hacking) web sites. Avoid them, and you will limit your exposure.
  4. Never, ever, open unsolicited email attachments. Surprisingly, email remains a viable attack vector, even though this basic rule has been preached for over a decade. If you receive an email attachment you didn't request or weren't otherwise expecting, do not open it. Period.
  5. Use web scripts judiciously. Use ActiveX even more suspiciously. Most browser-based attacks take advantage of JavaScript (cross-platform), the Java Runtime Environment (JRE, also cross-platform), or ActiveX (IE-, and thus, Windows-only). If you use Firefox, use the No Scripts plugin. If you use Internet Explorer, set ActiveX controls to require explicit authorization.
  6. Keep your third-party apps to a minimum. If you must use them, keep them updated. Another common attack vector is vulnerabilities discovered in third-party apps (e.g. QuickTime, Adobe Flash, Skype, etc.). If you don't need them, don't use them. Don't have them running by default. If you must have them, ensure that their browser plugins are configured not to launch/run automatically.

There is, as always, more (avoiding phishing, etc.); but the above list should provide the bulk of protection. Learn to modify your computer-use behavior, bearing in mind that you cannot place ultimate trust in your operating system to protect you.

Brownsburg Bulldogs: 2008 4A Basketball State Champs

Filed in Personal, SportsTags: Indiana

Just a quick congratulations to the Brownsburg Bulldogs for winning the Indiana Class 4A boys basketball state championship last night, beating Marion 40-39.

(According to the article, the game was the lowest-scoring state championship since Milan beat Muncie Central 32-30 in 1954 - which most people would recognize as the inspiration for the best basketball movie ever made: Hoosiers.

While I graduated from Shelbyville High School, several of my cousins went to Brownsburg, which is where many of my relatives live - including my parents, who moved to nearby Pittsboro after retiring. My aunt and uncle have stayed involved with athletic and other activities in the school system, so I am especially happy for them that they get to enjoy the Bulldogs' run to the state championship.

So, congrats, Brownsburg Bulldogs!

Network Solutions Dhimmitude

Filed in Politics, Religion, Social IssuesTags: Internet, War on Terror

Are you in need of web hosting services, but your web site may in some way violate the ever-so-fragile sensibilities of Muslims? If so, don't even think about using Network Solutions.

Dutch lawmaker and filmmaker Geert Wilders made this mistake when developing a website for his forthcoming Fitna movie, which he describes as a "last warning for the West." The movie is critical of the Koran - which means that the adherents to the "Religion of Peace", when not calling for his death and threatening worldwide retaliation, are actively pushing for the movie (and the website) to be censored.

Apparently, they have been successful in that censorship, since Dutch broadcasters have refused to air the movie, and Network Solutions, the company that provides Wilders' web hosting services, has suspended the website. The FitnaTheMovie web site currently has the following notice:

This site has been suspended while Network Solutions is investigating whether the site's content is in violation of the Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy. Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under investigation. For more information about Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy visit the following URL: http://www.networksolutions.com/legal/aup.jsp

In case you're curious, the only potentially relevant section of that Acceptable Use Policy is the first clause under the "Prohibited Uses" section (emphasis added):

Transmission, distribution, uploading, posting or storage of any material in violation of any applicable law or regulation is prohibited. This includes, without limitation, material protected by copyright, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property right used without proper authorization, and material that is obscene, defamatory, libelous, unlawful, harassing, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar, constitutes an illegal threat, violates export control laws, hate propaganda, fraudulent material or fraudulent activity, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable material of any kind or nature. You may not transmit, distribute, or store material that contains a virus, "Trojan Horse," corrupted data, or any software or information to promote or utilize software or any of Network Solutions services to deliver unsolicited e-mail. You further agree not to transmit any material that encourages conduct that could constitute a criminal offense, gives rise to civil liability or otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law or regulation.

One little catch, though: the web site, at the time of being suspended, had absolutely no content other than the words ""Geert Wilders presents Fitna, 23 March 2008."

Network Solutions, say hello to Dhimmitude, and say goodbye to business, because you're about to be mass-boycotted.

(H/T: LGF. More from Jihad Watch, Hot Air, Michelle Malkin, Kyros.)

P.S. Apparently, hoax sites and movie trailers are popping up, in an apparent signal-to-noise attack strategy to keep people from seeing the real thing. Don't be fooled. The real site is registered to Geert Wilder. This UK hoax site is registered to one Los Bol. These "trailer" videos on YouTube are also all either fakes or fanpics.

This just in, from Newsbleat: Network Solutions' actions are even more insidious. These coward Dhimmis are not merely doing the bidding of their Islamic overlords; they are also bought and paid for by terrorists. Network Solutions hosts the hizbollah.org website.

The MSM’s Photo Faux Pas

Filed in UncategorizedTags: Copyright, Fair Use, Internet, Media Bias, Photos

Imagine, if you will, a blogger who decides to focus his work on exposing the inaccuracy of the mainstream media's photojournalism. In order to do so, this blogger would need to post the photos to be discussed (be that discussion editorial, critical, or corrective in nature). Certainly, any rational person would understand that such action would constitute fair use of copyrighted works.

Such a blogger exists, and his blog is Snapped Shot.

The AP apparently disagreed with his fair use of their photos, and sent him a cease-and-desist letter. (The fair-use defense in this instance is pretty cut-and-dry. Snapped Shot has a run-down of the blogosphere's reaction, so there's no need for me to re-hash it all here.) After some consultation, Snapped Shot decided to comply rather than to place his family in jeopardy. After all, who can afford to fight the AP's legal department?

Here's the irony, though: the AP, who disputes Snapped Shot's fair-use right to their own copyrighted photos for the purpose of discussing the very photos themselves, apparently finds a fair-use right to others' copyrighted photos, even though the photos used were in no way related to the story (unless the AP can prove some link to a photo of a bikini-clad Ashley Alexandra Dupre in the Caribbean to a story about Eliot Spitzer's use of her call-girl services in New York).

Oh, but the irony gets even thicker: CNN is in on the copyright violations, too.

Hypocrisy: good for me, but not for thee.

Saddam Hussein’s Ties to Al Qaeda: Proven

Filed in PoliticsTags: Media Bias, Military, War on Terror

You remember the Democrat talking point, about how Saddam Hussein had no ties to Al Qaeda prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq? Well, as with so many other Democrat talking points, this one has been proven to be dead wrong - in the recently released 59-page Pentagon report.

Now, you may have heard that the report did just the opposite, confirming no link between Hussein and Al Qaeda. After all, that is how the MSM have been reporting it (see NYTimes blog, ABC News blog, and McClatchy Newspapers). These reports seem to be seizing (out of context) on the report's executive summary and abstract, which say (in part):

This study found no "smoking gun" (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and Al Qaeda.

...these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network...

That sounds like a pretty convincing refutation of any Iraq-Al Qaeda connection - except that it is taken out of context.

What these statements actually indicate is that "Al Qaeda" itself was not directly mentioned in such documents as Extract 10, found in Section II ("State Relationships with Terrorist Groups"). However, as Thomas Joscelyn (Weekly Standard) explains [italics in original, bold emphasis added]:

...the report ties Saddam’s regime to at least five different al Qaeda associated groups, including two groups that formed the core of al Qaeda.

The Iraqi Intelligence documents discussed in the report link Saddam’s regime to: the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (the “EIJ” is al Qaeda number-two Ayman al Zawahiri's group), the Islamic Group or “IG” (once headed by a key al Qaeda ideologue, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman), the Army of Mohammed (al Qaeda's affiliate in Bahrain), the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (a forerunner to Ansar al-Islam, al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq), and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (a long-time ally of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan), among other terrorist groups. Documents cited by the report, but not discussed at length in the publicly available version (they may be in a redacted portion of the report), also detail Saddam’s ties to a sixth al Qaeda affiliate: the Abu Sayyaf group, an al Qaeda affiliate in the Philippines.

Both the EIJ and the IG were early and important core allies for Osama bin Laden as he forged the al Qaeda terror network, which comprises a number of affiliates around the world.

Stephen Hayes (also of the Weekly Standard, and author of The Connection), managed actually to read the report (unlike the drive-by media). He reports:

How, then, to explain this sentence about Iraq and al Qaeda from the report's abstract: "At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust"? And how to explain the "considerable overlap" between their activities which led not only to the appearances of ties but to a "de facto link between the organizations?"...

And what about this revelation from page 34? "Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda -- as long as that organization's near-term goals supported Saddam's long-term vision." (The example given in the report is the Army of Muhammad in Bahrain, a group the Iraqi Intelligence Service describes as "under the wings of bin Laden.")

And there is this line from page 42: "Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives."

Really? Saddam Hussein "supported" a group that merged with al Qaeda in the late 1990s, run by al Qaeda's #2, and the New York Times thinks this is not a link between Iraq and al Qaeda? How does that work?

It's really quite simple: the Saddam Hussein-Al Qaeda links indicated in this report represent far more bona fide proof of their ties than the tenuous Cheney-Halliburton connection liberals keep trying to assert. The difference between the two is that the latter (baseless though it remains) supports the Democrats' (and the MSM's) political agenda, while the former refutes that agenda.

(Kudos to the NY Sun for giving an accurate assessment of the report.)

Just be sure to read the report for yourself, and make your own conclusions.

(H/T: Scott and Paul at Power Line)

Top Chef: Season 4

Filed in ReviewsTags: Food/Wine, Top Chef, TV/Cable

Tonight the premiere for season four of Top Chef aired. As you all are well aware, I'm sure, this show is one of our favorites.

I would like to follow along a bit better, and blog my thoughts and reactions to each episode - but that will depend on how much time I can spare for blogging (which hasn't been much, lately). We'll see how it goes!

Of course, watching Top Chef always seems to inspire me in the kitchen, and tonight I (hopefully) proved that I still know my way with an omelet. (Steph's opinion may differ; I'm still getting adjusted to cooking with gas.)

Well that's all for tonight; hopefully there will be more later. Tomorrow I have an appointment with a chiropractor, which will hopefully make things a bit easier (apparently, I overdid it with the moving and unpacking, as I have had a sore back for a week or two).

Lily at the Park

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Fatherhood, Marriage, Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

So, you wouldn't know it from the ten inches of snow we got yesterday, but this past weekend was gorgeous. Sunday was about 77 degrees and sunny, and we got the chance to take Lily to the park, to enjoy the weather - and the infant swing:

Lillian 09 Months - March 019

I'm too cute!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Lillian 09 Months - March 033

Whee!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Lillian 09 Months - March 025

Hey, I think I really like this!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

As the weather continues to get nicer, and Lily gets closer and closer to being a year old, I'm really looking forward to playing together outside in our yard, and more trips to the park!

Kitchen Remodel

Filed in PersonalTags: Photos

After we closed on our house, we decided that we only wanted to undertake one project before moving in: the kitchen. We were fortunate to have new appliances already installed, but the cabinets made the kitchen a bit dark and dated, and the hardware was in obvious need of replacement:

3242 Chaucer 024.jpg

We sanded, primed, and painted the cabinets Coastal Fog. We painted the walls Cumberland Fog. We replaced the drawer and door pulls with brushed nickel pulls, and also the door hinges. Finally, we replaced the sink faucet:

Kitchen Remodel 02

(Of course, now with everything else done, the range hood sticks out like a sore thumb. Hopefully, I can replace it next month, so that it will match the rest of the appliances.

I have to thank my parents - and especially my Dad - for all the hard work they contributed toward this project. We certainly would not have everything done by now, if not for them.

We still have much to do, but it is starting to feel more like home!