Winning the lottery, twice

San Francisco 7-11 worker sells the winning ticket to the $98 million lottery. He gets $250,000 for selling the ticket and is pretty excited. FREE SLURPEES for everyone. Then his wife asks the real question. Who bought the ticket? “”Umm, well, I don’t know.”” They look through their own tickets and viola, THEY BOUGHT IT. Not only did they get the $250k, but they also got the $98 million. Not a bad day.]]>

Fighting the little things has a piece that should be read not only by military-interested persons, but computer security professionals as well. Turns out that 28% of the troops we deployed to Liberia (and remember, we only deployed a few hundred) came down with Malaria. The same guys who shoot up machine guns were stricken by a few mosquitos. Here are the statistics from Out of 290 people who went ashore in Liberia, even briefly, from ships waiting off the Atlantic coast, 80 contracted malaria — an “”attack rate”” of 28 percent. Of the 157 troops who spent at least one night ashore, 69 became infected — an attack rate of 44 percent. In all, 44 were ill enough with falciparum malaria — the most serious of the three types of the disease — to be evacuated to Europe or the United States. No one died, although several developed cerebral malaria — an infection of the brain — that required them to be on mechanical ventilators in intensive-care units.
But the interesting reason is “”why did they come down with malaria?”” They didn’t follow the proper preventive measures. Thousands of Marines sitting on a ship preparing for battle didn’t have time to take their medicine (that once weekly thing that actually gives you some pretty funky dreams). They didn’t treat their uniforms with the military equivilant of Deep Woods Off. This bodes ill for computer security professionals who expect end users to patch up their own holes and fix their systems by themselves. There are so many people who still look for the “”any”” key on the keyboard and complain that the “”cup holder”” / CD drive is broken that we really can’t see “”patches”” as the way to maintain the systems in the future. Microsoft has issued so many patches this year they’ve even given up and gone to a monthly system (just because users are so busy they can’t keep up). I don’t know what the answer is. I used to say I used a mac because I was “”creative”” but now I’m saying more and more that I use a Mac because it is “”secure.”” Of course, no system is perfect, but the mosquitos of Africa should prove a lesson to anyone wanting to buy Microsoft for their office.]]>

I didn't get a satellite

CCTV. Not much luck. Nearly every overseas Chinese person was on the same link, and we would get about 10 seconds out of every minute. Kind of annoying. Still, we saw some good footage of the rocket going up. It was also interesting to follow this over the last few days with mama reading Chinese sites. She told me the name of the guy 72 hours before the Western press, and confirmed the launched date and time about 48 hours prior. You have to wonder if the American reporters they have in China actually read the local papers, or even speak Chinese?]]>

Understanding Politics, Reagan-style

Washington Post has a must read for anyone interested in politics. It’s a story about President Reagan’s “”pen pal”” he had during his time in the White House, a seven-year-old elementary student from SouthEast Washington DC. The two exchanged dozens of letters over the years, ranging from Reagan talking about his first trip to a communist country (China) to the student’s desire to ask his parents for karate lessons. The reason this is a must read for any politician is that people all too often think politics is about grander and greater things than the feelings and thoughts of one person. There are people in Washington who read only the national, international and editorial pages of the paper, skipping over the Metro section which deals with how people really live and throwing away the Style section (which isn’t that bad of a thing to do since it is all DC “”glam”” sometimes). I remember flying into Chicago a number of years ago following a vote on aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. I had had a particularly tough week at work on Capitol Hill dealing with all the phone calls and political debates on Contra aid (in the end my boss voted for it because Reagan twisted her arm). As we were on final approach to O’Hare, we flew over the grid rows of homes, each separated from the other by a fence or a pool and a boat or RV in about half of the yards. As I looked down, I did a little math. “”10% have been arrested, 30% have tried drugs, XX% have aids, XX% have cancer, XX% have no jobs. Do these people really care about what we do in Washington? Can they even relate to the world where C-Span is on in bars and people read Roll Call newspaper cover to cover each week. Which brings me back to Reagan’s pen pal. Here was a voice from a regular kid talking directly to the most powerful person on the planet. The day to day things that affected this kid were brought to the table of the West Wing. Oh so many in Washington compartmentalize out that part of their life (i.e. the living part) so they can perform their duties more professionally. That’s why (thankfully) most bureaucrats and political appointees will never become elected officials. Which isn’t a bad thing I guess….]]>

Buying their way into Europe. Why this is important….

The Moscow Times has an article today, with a slight Russian bent, that explains why this is not only has major economic ripples to the US economy (especially if others follow suit) but also has political connotations with the EU (like giving Russians visa free travel). At present, the world’s oil is traded in dollars. This means that other oil producing nations have a huge pool of US dollars available to handle the oil transactions. If this was switched to Euros, or if even the #2 player in oil (Russia) switched to Euros, this would require the oil import-export crowd to stock up on Euros at the expense of the dollar. There would be an immediate impact of dollar dumping and a longer term impact of the Euro being needed and the dollar losing its importance. Of course, this may be a few years away, but this is a story that needs to be watched far closer than it is in the US media.]]>