Archive for November, 2010

TSA: Come for the Rights Violations, Stay for the Gropings.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

So I flew to Chicago yesterday. I departed GSP airport, which, since it’s relatively small, doesn’t have a full body scanner. What they do have, however, is an abundance of overpaid, gorilla-like TSA employees.

My bag set off some sort of alarm; apparently the machine doesn’t like small laptops and stacks of mechanical drawings. The screeners then informed me that a) they were going to search my bag, and b) they were going to search _me_. I’d been patted down at airport security before, but this time…it felt different. I stood on the foot markings, while the uniformed officer checked me out. _VERY_ thoroughly. He felt up my leg- all the way up. He reached around inside my trousers- all the way around. And every other part you can think to name. And some you might not.

After he’d finished, a woman who was apparenty in charge came over to watch them go through my bags. She said something to me (I honestly can’t recall, but it was fairly moronic) and I told her, idignantly, that I had just been felt up. She said “I bet you it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be.” I was enraged. I had just been felt up- I mean, felt up, everywhere. I had been treated like a criminal, presumed guilty, been unreasonably searched, and this woman has the gall, the absolute gall, to stand there and tell me it probably wasn’t that bad?? I choked out “I’m not going to reply to that.” and she recoiled slightly, and scurried off.

I. Hate. Flying.

Biking vs. Running

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

An interesting article at the New York Times on the difference between cycling and running injuries.

These guys seem very prone to crashing. I don’t think I want to ride with them.

Witnesses

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Apparently the Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped by my house this morning to talk with Sue. They were warning her about the perils of thinking that material possessions were the most important thing in life.

I told her that she should have pointed out that if she were really all that interested in material possessions, she would probably be at work at 10am on a Monday, not answering the door to talk to random preachers.

Tomato

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Home routers like the Linksys WRT54GL are actually small, Linux-based computers, and as such can be reflashed with more capable operating systems. For several years, I have used the DD-WRT firmware.  This provides a lot of options – especially in terms of logging and service flexibility – that just aren’t available with the stock Linksys environment.

A few weeks ago, though, I started having problems with my router. It would work fine for a little while, and then the DNS service would start to have trouble with lookups, and it would start dropping traffic. Weird. I replaced it with an identical model, but that didn’t help.

So last weekend I reflashed it with Tomato, another alternative firmware. I’d heard it was a good choice, but I hadn’t had trouble with DD-WRT so I was reluctant to switch. Well, now I was having trouble, and Tomato fixed it.

Check out the web page if you’d like to get a feel for the feature set; it’s a pretty nice little package.

Border Search

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Moxie Marlinspike, a well-regarded security researcher [1], was detained coming back from a conference and had all of his equipment impounded for several hours. Apparently this is part of a pattern of harrassment, where the “we can search you without a warrant” characteristic of the border is being exploited to copy data from evil hacker types.

Excellent work, guys. Make sure you search the _only_ people on the plane whose laptops are guaranteed to be encrypted. Morons.

[1] The difference between a “hacker” and a “security researcher” is mostly permission and wardrobe.

Sky Cutter

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Brian, remember when you bought a fan, and we decided to make it into a large air hockey puck on your kitchen floor? Just imagine what you could do with something with a bit more…power.

It might resemble this.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Sitting here in the kitchen, waiting for my Port Cranberry Sauce to boil. For those of you looking to get a bit ambitious with your cranberry sauce, its a simple, and extremely tasty variation on the classic.

Boil 1/2 cup port (ruby is sweeter, tawny gives a bit more complexity, choose based on your audience), 1/2 cup fresh squeezed OJ, and the grated rind of one orange (just the colored part, no white stuff).  Add 3/4 cup sugar, and 12 oz of fresh cranberries. Simmer at low heat until jam-like, about 25 minutes. Serve as you like it- I prefer it chilled, some folks like it warm. It goes really well with fresh applesauce, too.

And don’t forget your pre-dinner Manhattan. Bourbon, of course!

Cycleball

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Wow, I could injure myself terribly trying to play this sport. Sounds like a good time!

Crime Rankings

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

New municipal crime rankings from CQ Press indicate that Buffalo has climbed to the seventeenth most dangerous city in America. By “city”, they apparently mean any municipality with a population greater than 75,000 people.

Don’t worry, though – we’ve recently named a t-shirt salesman to the head of the Police Department, so we shouldn’t be challenging St. Louis for the number one spot any time soon.

Won’t Somebody Please Think of the…Terrorists?

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I just had a thought. Let’s say, in a fit of randomness, the TSA pulls aside a small boy, perhaps 8 years old, for “enhanced screening” or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days. His mother, citing concerns over the boy’s health and/or not wanting a creepy TSA agent to be seeing nekkid picures of her son, refuses. And, because she also does not want said creepy agent fondling her little boy’s naughty bits, she won’t allow them to do one of their “enhanced pat-downs”, either.

Now, suddenly, the “Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children” crowd has run headlong into the “Airline Safety” crowd. I would chortle with glee to watch this unfold.