Friday, February 29, 2008

Be afraid, be very afraid of "swatters"

This phone swatting business is a dangerous trend. Someone is going to get killed someday.
At 4 in the morning of May 1, 2005, deputies from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office converged on the suburban Colorado Springs home of Richard Gasper, a TSA screener at the local Colorado Springs Municipal Airport. They were expecting to find a desperate, suicidal gunman holding Gasper and his daughter hostage.

"I will shoot," the gravely voice had warned, in a phone call to police minutes earlier. "I'm not afraid. I will shoot, and then I will kill myself, because I don't care."

"I will shoot." Listen to the Colorado Springs hostage hoax.

But instead of a gunman, it was Gasper himself who stepped into the glare of police floodlights. Deputies ordered Gasper's hands up and held him for 90 minutes while searching the house. They found no armed intruder, no hostages bound in duct tape. Just Gasper's 18-year-old daughter and his baffled parents.

A federal Joint Terrorism Task Force would later conclude that Gasper had been the victim of a new type of nasty hoax, called "swatting," that was spreading across the United States. Pranksters were phoning police with fake murders and hostage crises, spoofing their caller IDs so the calls appear to be coming from inside the target's home. The result: police SWAT teams rolling to the scene, sometimes bursting into homes, guns drawn.

Now the FBI thinks it has identified the culprit in the Colorado swatting as a 17-year-old East Boston phone phreak known as "Li'l Hacker." Because he's underage, Wired.com is not reporting Li'l Hacker's last name. His first name is Matthew, and he poses a unique challenge to the federal justice system, because he is blind from birth.

If he's guilty, the attack is at once the least sophisticated and most malicious of a string of capers linked to Matt, who stumbled into the lingering remains of the decades-old subculture of phone phreaking when he was 14, and quickly rose to become one of the most skilled active phreakers alive.

"Who's the best out there?" says Jeff Daniels, a veteran phone hacker and an admitted mentor to Matt. "The little blind kid is one of the best. And that's a fact."

Innocent at first, Matt's worst instincts surfaced after he fell in with a gang of telephone ruffians -- men as old as 40 -- who eventually fingered the teenager when they were swept up in an FBI crackdown on swatters late last year. The government says the gang launched swatting attacks in over 60 cities, leaving hundreds of victims and chalking up over $250,000 in losses.

Interviews by Wired.com with Matt and his associates, and a review of court documents, FBI reports and audio recordings, paints a picture of a young man with an uncanny talent for quick telephone con jobs. Able to commit vast amounts of information to memory instantly, Matt has mastered the intricacies of telephone switching systems, while developing an innate understanding of human psychology and organization culture -- knowledge that he uses to manipulate his patsies and torment his foes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Google

Google

I will not attempt punditry -- NOT!

Do people really care what I, self-styled pundit and a cast of thousand self-appointed blog-enabled, blog-savvy opinion leaders, say?
On other news networks as well, small armies of political pundits are needed to fill the many hours.
It's called feeding the beast.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Italians in America

Must view for those of us who remember the last wave of the Old World like the peddler selling watermelons from his truck on Chelsea Street. Italians are Americans, in the end.


One of the great put downs -- putting Arthur Schlesinger back in his kennel

JFK knew how to put the flattering man with the note cards in his place. And now Joseph Epstein does it a lot better. An expose of the historian as sycophant is long overdue. This is priceless. Unfortunately it's gated. It's worth a trip to the library.
The recent publication of Schlesinger’s diaries* is a useful reality check on such claims. The book also provides an account of a career in American liberalism that is, in microcosm, a partial account of the career of the liberal temperament itself over the past half-century.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

One of Emerson's best pieces of work

"Take a pebble" withstands the test of time. This is a great live version.



Revisting Patti Smith

A nice ringing acoustic guitar to a great Springsteen song.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Noam Chomsky

Reeling in the dough! Say it ain't so, Professor Chomsky!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

The fool that is Archbishop Williams

Rowan Williams, opens mouth, bends before sharia law, proves himself a suffering idiot. As Hitchens says, the nominally Christian apologist for Islam in Britian is thrusting aside thousands of years of civilization, that elegant but simple diamond in the dunghill. Is it any wonder that the Anglican church is dying? Or for that matter Europe?
A BBC interview with Williams had him saying that the opening to sharia would "help maintain social cohesion." If that phrase is even intended to mean anything, it can only imply that a concession of this kind would lessen the propensity to violence among Muslims. But such abjectness is not the only definition of social cohesion that we have. By a nice coincidence, a London think tank called the Center for Social Cohesion issued a report just days before the leader of the world's Anglicans and Episcopalians capitulated to Islamic demands. Titled "Crimes of the Community: Honour-Based Violence in the UK," and written by James Brandon and Salam Hafez, it set out a shocking account of the rapid spread of theocratic crime. The main headings were murder and beating of women, genital mutilation, forced marriage, and vigilante methods employed against those who complained. It could well be—since we are becoming every day more familiar with the first three—that the fourth is the one that should concern us most.

Picture the life of a young Urdu-speaking woman brought to Yorkshire from Pakistan to marry a man—quite possibly a close cousin—whom she has never met. He takes her dowry, beats her, and abuses the children he forces her to bear. She is not allowed to leave the house unless in the company of a male relative and unless she is submissively covered from head to toe. Suppose that she is able to contact one of the few support groups that now exist for the many women in Britain who share her plight. What she ought to be able to say is, "I need the police, and I need the law to be enforced." But what she will often be told is, "Your problem is better handled within the community." And those words, almost a death sentence, have now been endorsed and underwritten—and even advocated—by the country's official spiritual authority.
I can picture more than an Urdu-speaking Pakastani woman. I can lay witness to a prattling self-immolating "spiritualist" leading Western civilization to ruin.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tipping point for McCain, explained by IBD

This best sums up the rise of Senator McCain. The grownups in the primaries finally showed up.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A thought for a day for choosing: Ex malis eligere minima oportere

"Of evils one should choose the least" - Cicero. One who takes a Democratic ballot is faced with this dilemma: False hope v. false experience.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Funny newspapers

Hat tip: Donald Luskin:

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country — if they could find the time — and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a poor job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that they are not Republicans.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

12. The Seattle Times is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something in which to wrap it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

An introduction to the mellotron

I imagine all of those nifty mellotron tapes are now on a tiny computer chip!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Blah! Another six weeks

He saw his shadow.
PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP-Feb 2, 2008) — If you believe in folklore, bundle up for six more weeks of wintry weather.

This is Groundhog Day, and the furry little critter known as Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning. That, according to tradition, means six more weeks of winter.

The apathetic-looking rodent was pulled from his stump by members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle. They are the local businessmen in the Western Pennsylvania town who carry out the February 2nd ritual while garbed in top hats and tuxedos.

The ceremony was preceded by a boisterous celebration attended by thousands of cold, but happy people, including a few couples who used the occasion to get engaged.

The town of Punxsutawney leads the modern observance of what is essentially a German superstition. The belief is that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on February 2nd, the Christian holiday of Candlemas, winter would last another six weeks. If no shadow were seen, legend said spring would come early.