Foreign policy

with a prediction

What is the administration’s goal in the Middle East? No idea. Possibly just to make it through the next week, or the next election. There’s no point in listening to what any politician says about it. The only thing to do is look at what happens. What happens is, Muslims kill each other in enormous numbers, and kill any non-Muslims within their reach.

It’s become clear that the US is not going to stop Iran getting nuclear weapons. If they’re to be stopped, someone else will have to do it. If they are not stopped, and maybe at this point even if they are, the Saudis will start a weapons program. Will we stop them? Maybe; they are an ally; sort of.

Israel sees Iranian nukes as a threat, and has a right to. Everyone says “never again,” but the Israelis really mean it. And of course they have nuclear weapons already. But while acknowledging Israel’s concern, I think the first use of a nuclear weapon by Muslims will be against other Muslims. Whether it’s cynical or feckless, the administration’s actions have made this more likely.

There’s foil in my wallet

But I’m not crazy. The foil is only there to block the scanners. The bank sent out the new credit card a while ago, and it has a chip in it. After reading about the potential risks, it seemed like some shielding wouldn’t hurt anything. But how to know if the shielding worked?

At one work site, I get access to the facility by putting my id card against a scanner. This works even if I just hold my wallet up to the scanner. This seems like a reasonable basis for testing. The first thing I put in my wallet was a piece of what seemed to be metalized paper from a coffee package. Holding up my wallet still activated the door, so a coffee bag probably will not block the scanners the men in black would carry if there were men in black following me.

Next time I went out to that site, I folded up four layers of regular aluminum foil and put that in my wallet. The scanner didn’t work. A week or so later I tried it again, and this time scanner did read my card through the foil. Thinking it might be because the foil had compressed, I opened up the foil and interleaved a piece of paper. My knowledge of electricity and magnetism is close to the cargo-cult level, you see. Anyway, this seemed to work, but I’ll test it again from time to time.

If I come across some sheet copper I’ll try that too. A couple of business-card size pieces of copper with the Lord’s Prayer engraved on it would probably excite less interest than a packet of aluminum foil.

Religious affiliation?

If we’re all supposed to take the president at his word that he’s a Christian (and that seems like a reasonable thing to do), why shouldn’t we take Abubakar Shekau‘s word that Abubakar Shekau is a Muslim? Because no true Muslim would do the things he does? Maybe the leader of Boko Haram is somehow a Muslim who practices another religion.

President Obama routinely denies that people are Muslims, in spite of their emphatic declarations to be so; but at the same time it’s supposed to be a big outrage when someone says she doesn’t know whether Barrack Obama is a Christian. Not only is Barack Obama the only man who can say whether Barack Obama is really a Christian; apparently he’s the only man who can tell if anyone is really a Muslim.

What Lenovo did

“We’ve trained ourselves to think we’re safe if we see that little lock in our browser window, but what Lenovo did was load software that does an end-run around your web browser, making it impossible to tell if someone else had subverted HTTPS. Very few people check that, but that doesn’t make it right to take the option away. As long as Superfish is running, it’s impossible to tell if anyone has gotten between Superfish and your bank, or Amazon. So someone could empty your bank account while serving up a web page that shows you still have money, or hijack your Amazon purchase, running off with your money while Amazon never gets your order and you never get your product, and it will be next to impossible for you to even know what happened.” — Lenovo’s preinstalled Superfish spyware: A post-mortem, by David L. Farquhar

I’d rather build my own (difficult if you want a laptop), and install the OS myself, but sometimes you need something right now — I’m typing this on an off-the-shelf Dell, and there’s certainly software on it that’s useless and a nuisance. There’s nothing malign – as far as I know.

Tangentially, this Chromebox sounds interesting.

War, maybe

Measured, proportional response? No.

“Get a real coalition together. Exterminate Islamic State in Libya, with a ruthlessness and thoroughness that would terrify the foes of ancient Rome. Impose order on Libya. Take sides. Shoot until the bad guys stop moving. Sign a paper and take some pictures. Keep a head-busting squad on standby. Recognize that peace doesn’t keep itself, and do what’s necessary instead of complaining about it.

“No, Barack Obama isn’t capable of any of that.” — Now Egypt joins the air fight against Islamic State – in Libya, by J.E. Dyer

Can’t see any of that happening.

Credo in unum Deum

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.

Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum, et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri; per quem omnia facta sunt.

Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est, et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas, et ascendit in caelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris.

Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuos, cuius regni non erit finis.

Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit.

Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas.

Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.

Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.

The machine stops


I am guessing that in most industries, businesses keep up the demand pricing rather than supply pricing, and then figure out an exit strategy with fungible cash. Which is to say, you sell sell sell your product until the well runs dry. Then you crash the business and cash out. In other words, you are captive to the ‘will’ of the machine you have created which doesn’t care about whether or not its resource is limited. — But I Can Afford It, seen here