It’s Black Tuesday

New Windows Security Patches out

Microsoft has released new security patches, you probably should go get your updates if you are running any flavor of Windows operating systems, Windows Update here.

Overview from SANS Internet Storm Center:

# Affected Contra Indications Known Exploits Microsoft rating ISC rating(*)
clients servers
MS09-001 Vulnerabilities in SMB Could Allow Remote Code Execution
  no known exploits. Microsoft considers a working exploit unlikely. Critical Critical Critical

Two Terrazu


Two Tarrazu

I’m not a connoisseur of coffee, but I do like good coffee so I’ve tried a number of varieties including Jamaica Blue Mountain. My favorite turns out to be a coffee from Costa Rica that we found during a visit there. They make a variety know as Tarrazu, which is flavorable without being overly powerful.

The flavor is light but savory, a bit malty and lingering without being bitter aftertaste. The coffee is grown at higher elevation in volcanic soil like Jamaican Blue mountain, and you see my favorite variety at left. This is “Montecielo” or “Sky Mountain” Tarrazu, and I highly recommend it to anyone. Starbucks’s also has a bulk Tarrazu, but in my estimation they over-roast the beans, making a wonderful coffee just another French Roast, and if you’ve drunk coffee much then you know that’s like all things French: overdone. Cooking coffee beans too long is nearly a sin in my book, it makes the coffee bitter and robs it of caffeine power. The normal French roast will have a lot less kick than almost any medium / light roast Arabica.

You can get the Montecielo blend from Cafe Britt, but I’ve yet  to find a place where you can buy it at reasonable price in bulk, so for now we get the Tarrazu from Starbuck’s at Sam’s even though they over roast the beans a tad.

The Eastern coastal jungles of Costa Rica are what most tourists see due to the cruise industry, but I recommend visiting the interior highlands or Pacific coast where the population is mostly at and where they are mostly middle class.

Hezbollah Fires Rockets from Lebanon Under UNIFIL’s Noses

Hezbollah Fires Rockets from Lebanon Under UNIFIL’s Noses


Carl at Israel Matzav has the details here. Whether this was a single perfunctory signal of solidarity with Hamas, or whether there will be more to come remains to be seen.

Flags at Ft. Scott


Flags at Ft. Scott

It’s been busy lately and my spare time has been spent following the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza, so posting has been light and probably will be  for a while. If you want to follow the conflict I recommend Israel Matzav (Israel just got another Hamas Leader,) Lawhawk (US) Israellycool (AU,) Carl’s in Israel, Lawhawk’s in the US, and Dave’s in Australia Israel – they are liveblogging and you can get a “follow the sun” coverage around the clock at any time of the day if you hit them in the right order. Bill Roggio also has a summary of the tactical entry into Gaza here, meanwhile The Tank at NRO has some speculative analysis of Israel’s strategy in Gaza (read the two articles from Saturday, and the one from Monday.)
Above you see the flags at Fort Scott Kansas, there are four because they also fly a POW-MIA flag. I took this photo as I stopped in to pay a speeding ticket I got passing through from a trip to my parents home.

Mea Culpa: Dave’s now in Israel, not Australia.

Tales of Brave Ulysses II – Solar Wind at Lowest Pressure Since Measurement Began

What we’re seeing is a long term trend, a steady decrease in pressure that began sometime in the mid-1990s

Tales of Brave Ulysses II – Solar Wind at Lowest Pressure Since Measurement Began

The Ulysses satellite Solar Wind Observations Over the Poles (SWOOPS) solar wind sensors are reporting a 20 percent drop in pressure, with only a 3 percent drop in speed. Dave McComas, the principle investigator for the project, states  this as the lowest solar wind pressure observed since the early sixties when we began measuring it.

“What we’re seeing is a long term trend, a steady decrease in pressure that began sometime in the mid-1990s,” explains Arik Posner, NASA’s Ulysses Program Scientist in Washington DC.

How unusual is this event?

“It’s hard to say. We’ve only been monitoring solar wind since the early years of the Space Age—from the early 60s to the present,” says Posner. “Over that period of time, it’s unique. How the event stands out over centuries or millennia, however, is anybody’s guess. We don’t have data going back that far.” 

What this bodes longer term is unknown, we don’t have a long history of solar wind measurements to judge by. Here’s a link to the positve Ion measurements half of the data if you want to take a look at it yourself, and I’ve also included a McComas jpg visual above, click the thumbnail to enlarge. On Earth we aren’t going to be affected short term, but Space Travel has become slightly more dangerous due to increased Cosmic Ray penetration of the Heliosphere.

“The solar wind isn’t inflating the heliosphere as much as it used to,” says McComas. “That means less shielding against cosmic rays.” Dave McComas

To picture this think of the solar wind pressure emanating from the sun as part of the atmosphere of the sun (no, it really isn’t, but bear with me a moment;) a huge bubble around the solar system called the Heliosphere. Then picture that heliosphere zooming through a dense sea of Cosmic rays. Still can’t picture it? Take a look here.

Anecdotal but truth as I know it: People living near the poles will also be exposed to more cosmic rays, which could lead to some effects. One of the visible effects I’ve observed is higher incidence of gray hair at earlier ages in populations living near the Northern pole. Earth’s magnetic shield is the backstop for the heliosphere in stopping cosmic rays from affecting life on Earth, and the shape of the magnetic field allows entry to more Cosmic rays at the poles.

Another effect could be on Clouds and climate, which the linked story speaks of.

New Year’s Day Forty Years Ago

Then all hell broke loose. Every gun on the bunker line opened up, flares were being shot up in the air, tracer rounds were arcing through the dark night skies and here I was standing out in an open field with shower clogs, a shaving kit and a towel wrapped around my ass and my eyes burning.

Guest Post From Wildbeggar: New Year’s Day 40 years ago


It doesn’t seem like 40 years have gone by since I left Vietnam for the last time. It’s funny I can remember what happened then but at the time couldn’t remember what day it was. Big Jim who had been my mess sergeant back at Ft. Ord had come over in March 68 and was in a weapons platoon in the 9th Division in Dong Tam down in the delta. I was supposed to get in on Operation Santa Claus and leave Vietnam early but was never notified. My DEROS (Date Established For Return from Overseas) was or should have been 2 Jan 69 or earlier.

Jim’s supply sergeant drove up from Dong Tam and told me that Jim had an ear infection and was being flown into Bien Hoa Air Base. He and I went over to the airbase and took Jim over to the 24th Evacutation Hospital on Long Binh. We took Jim into the emergency quonset hut and waited while the doctor and nurses worked on two wounded troops. One had shrapnel in his legs and the other had been shot in the head. The doctor looked at the latter and shook his head while the nurse rubbed his arm, he shook then was gone.

The other troop was taken back to have the shrapnel taken from his legs. It amazed me then as it does now that even being shot in the head, the soldier was still alive, giving testimony of how fast they could get someone off of a battlefield for treatment, regardless of how futile.

The doctor examined Jim and told us to take him back to a ward. Jim has a fungal infection in his inner ear and could hardly stand up much less walk. His supply sgt and I carried (or rather herded) Jim down to the ward the doctor had told us. We checked Jim in and I took the supply sgt back to our billets. The next day I finally got tired of waiting for orders to leave, and went over to the 537th PSC (Personnel Svc Center) to see if I had any orders. The lieutenant in charge was pissed at me and told me I should have left before Christmas — now you tell me.

Since they didn’t have any way to run copies of my orders, the poor clerk had to type 10 copies, which also made him pissed at me also, like I really cared. I knew that somehow, some way, and at some time I would leave Vietnam, but now I had a buddy in the hospital, and didn’t want to leave him. Leaving Vietnam is mixed emotions, you want to get the hell out, and yet don’t want to leave all the guys you’ve spent so much time with under the conditions.
The next day, the supply sgt from Jim’s outfit (Co. C 4th Bn, 47th Inf, 9th Inf Div) went by the NCO club and pick up a take out order of steaks, fries and salad plus some beer and went to see Jim. We managed to convince the old nurse in charge of the ward we were just going to say our good byes. “Now you’re not going to drink are you sergeant, are you?” She asked him. “Oh, no maam.” Jim replied and it was all his supply sgt and I could do to keep from busting out laughing. We sat in the back of the 2 1/2 ton truck eating steaks and drinking beer until all was gone. We didn’t overdo the beer thing or they would have had us up for charges.
That evening the supply sgt drove me over to the 90th Replacement Battalion for processing out. I didn’t feel like going through all the rigamorole of turning in my weapon and all the other things at the 90th so had the supply sgt sign my clearance papers and left it in the back of his truck. I was assigned to a billets and got a bunk and slept for awhile. I woke up late that night and decided to take my last shower in Vietnam.

After I showered and shaved to leave the next day, I started walking back to the billet which was about 200 yds away. I was half way beween the shower point and the billet when my eyes started burning. What the hell is this? I wondered? My last day in this damned place and I get some wierd eye infection.

Then all hell broke loose. Every gun on the bunker line opened up, flares were being shot up in the air, tracer rounds were arcing through the dark night skies and here I was standing out in an open field with shower clogs, a shaving kit and a towel wrapped around my ass and my eyes burning. With taking care of Jim and waiting for orders, I didn’t realize that it was New Years and the boys on the line were celebrating to include the use of tear gas grenades. I had to go back to the shower point and take another shower to get the tear gas off of me.

The next morning we sat in bleachers under a canopy waiting for a plane. We were there from 8 A.M. until 4:30 P.M. with no lunch, but I never heard any complaints as we would get fed on the plane. We had one stop in Yokota AB, Japan and then it was U.S. bound, the land of round door knobs.

Sunset 2008


Sunset 2008

The last sun has set on 2008, and that’s a picture of it shot at distance through a gap in the trees. Many people will be looking back  — but history is for the historians, and what really survives as memories of 2008 deep into the future might surprise you since it will be future generations and not ours who decide what’s important and what’s not. They will do it against the backdrop of a different world, one that’s different culturally, ideologically, technologically, and politically.

We can’t determine what that backdrop will be and we can’t direct it either — the best we can hope is for some slight  influence. You don’t believe me? Without googling, name the most popular actress and actor of 1928, name the three most popular tunes, name the discoveries made by science that year, name the speaker of the house. Can’t do it?  If you look in history books you can find that the Thames flooded, there were great earthquakes in the Ukraine, as well as several other historic natural events that also caught us by surprise, but you aren’t going to find tons of cultural references, and what was burningly important in the news of 1928 is so much dusty newsprint today.

One of the things that did survive from 1928 is commercial television, and the first licensed production television station launched in Albany as WXRB but was popularly known as WGY tv. It has become today’s CBS station, WRGB Channel 6, where Rachel Raye got her start. But will anyone be watching Rachel Raye in 80 years? Probably not, but there’s good chance that Mickey Mouse will still be remembered in  some form and Walt Disney created the first short with Mickey Mouse in 1928.

What is endearing survives, what is mundane or ugly does not.

So as the pundits look back with love and malice at 2008 please put it in perspective. What survives the years is what we do and create, things of lasting value, truth, and beauty. The accomplishments we remember are the ones of  technology, the outcomes of wars, nature’s big surprises, and the lasting achievements of philosophy, art, and science. The ugly and the mundane gets left behind – so here’s the challenge, what will you do, what will you create that will last down generations? As you look back at 2008, what will survive? I’m betting Harry Potter will still be read in 80 years, but few will read much else from the start of this century; and what will those who do read our history think of us?