Friday, June 03, 2011

Weinergate Analysis

Dan Wolfe's own screenshots show his advance knowledge of "inapporopriate" pic

I don't post all that often, but this week's hubub over a picture of an underwear-covered crotch bulge purportedly sent to a young woman by Rep. Anthony Weiner has inspired me to do some debunking.

First: Much credit is due to Cannonfire for their work in uncovering the gaping security hole (since closed) in yfrog's photo sharing setup.

Also: Much credit to the folks who contributed to this thread in which the yfrog exploit was tested and confirmed, and additional evidence as to the behavior of yfrog was gathered. See also, another thread participant's write up of this evidence

Now, the additional evidence:

When a photo is uploaded to yfrog, it is not sent to the assosciated Twitter account immediately. There is a delay of a few minutes between the photo appearing on yfrog, and it being sent to twitter. The way the photo appears on yfrog changes slightly after the tweet hits twitter, meaning that it is possible to place the timing of the yfrog screenshot Mr Wolfe took with some certainty. This was demonstrated with a willing volunteer's twitter/yfrog accounts in the above linked thread (the good stuff starts around post #300):

Before the image is tweeted:

After the image is tweeted:

Note that the twitter message with the photo link does not appear on the yfrog page until the message is sent out via twitter.

Compare the above photos with Dan Wolfe's screenshot of Weiner's yfrog page:

See anything missing? The twitter message is not there. This means that Wolfe's screenshot was taken BEFORE the message was ever sent out via twitter. There are two possible explanations for this:

  1. Mr Wolfe just happened to be browsing through Rep. Weiner's yfrog photos and noticed the picture and took a screenshot during the few minutes that the photo was up, or
  2. Wolfe is the person who uploaded the photo using the previously documented yfrog exploit. 
I'll let readers decide on the more likely explanation, but someone grabbing a screenshot of the photo BEFORE IT POSTED TO TWITTER is pretty unlikely unless they had some sort of advance knowledge.

This, combined with the previously documented inconsistencies in the photo's EXIF metadata screams right-wing smear attempt, and not-very-well-executed one at that.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: Land of the Painted Caves

I have thoroughly enjoyed each installment of Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series, and The Land of the Painted Caves was no exception. My chief complaint has been having to wait so long for each new installment as the novels follow Ayla and Jondalar on their journeys of growth and self-discovery. The detail with which Auel describes the environment, tools and ways of living bring the settings to life. The downside of the detail is that Painted Caves is a big book (physically), but that is justified because it is also a big book from the point of view of the sweeping, intoxicating story woven by Auel.

Painted Caves picks up where Shelters of Stone left off, with Ayla and Jondalar as new parents to Jonayla, and Ayla struggling to balance time commitments between her new daughter and her duties as an acolyte to the First among those who serve the Mother. Each step along Ayla's journey has highlighted one or more advances in human society and human understanding of the world around us, and Painted Caves is no exception. From the domestication of animals to the discovery of pottery, each step in the process has seemed like a novelization of discovering a new fundamental technology in one of the Civilization games. The upheaval caused by the revelation in Painted Caves has the potential to shatter the largely matriarchal society which has thus far existed among the Others.

My recommendation: Pre-order this book. Put a hold on it now if it is already in your local library's catalog. For the folks who have been waiting with bated breath for the next installment in the Earth's Children series, this book is everything that the previous installments have led Auel's dedicated fans to expect. March 29th can't get here fast enough.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Darrell Issa's priorities

While his official website still contains a broken contact form, preventing him from receiving communications from his constituents, my Congressman (Darrell Issa) was tweeting about making videos of construction in the hearing room he is taking over. Of course, having a newly-refurbished room to hold hearings in is more important than having the people that elected you be able to contact you.

Where is the code for me to enter???

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The giant Cross on Mt. Soledad

A local Tea Party group in San Diego will be holding a rally to protest the ordered removal of the giant Cross that sits atop Mt. Soledad this coming Saturday (Jan 15, 2010). How can a group which claims to defend the US Constitution have become so turned around? The First Amendment has been interpreted to mean that the Government cannot endorse any religion. That means that religious displays on government property cannot be permitted. It protects everyone from having a religion forced upon them by the government. It protects me from being forced to be Christian just as it protects the Tea Partiers from being forced to follow Sharia law.

The group is painting this as an issue of respect for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation, but they are determined to run roughshod over the very freedoms that many of those servicemen and women gave their lives protecting. I doubt very much that the Tea Party would rise to the defense of a symbol from another religious tradition if it were atop Mt Soledad instead of a cross. By championing this cause, the Tea Party is once again showing that they are not about defending freedom, but rather that they champion the establishment of a pseudo-theocracy, where only the "right" religion is allowed to be endorsed. The US is not a Christian nation any more than it is an Islamic nation, Jewish nation, or Hindu nation. It is a nation where all are free to believe as they choose. If the Tea Party wants to defend freedoms, it needs to start by defending the freedoms it doesn't like rather than trying to invent a freedom to impose their religious beliefs on others. Of course, living in a free country means that the Tea Party is free to be hypocrites, too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Blondes Are Back!

While taking pictures of the Tea Party event in Oceanside, CA on April 15, 2010 I snapped a photo of these two young ladies:

At the next Oceanside Tea Party (October 10, 2010) they were back with a more polished presentation, having officially become the "Blondes Against Obama":
A little additional checking has revealed they they have set up a website where they pontificate on the socialist takeover of the federal government and also sell T-shirts in both "Blondes Against Obama" and "Brunettes Against Obama" designs. I don't know why they're not including redheads.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book Review: Power Down by Ben Coes

This summer, I received an advance copy of Power Down by Ben Coes as part of my local library's summer reading program. While the overall plot line and characters are indeed compelling, the book loses a lot in its inattention to the details which allow the reader to suspend disbelief.

Power Down may actually be the worst book I have read since Dan Brown's Deception Point- the glaring factual errors in the description of certain plot elements should be obvious to anyone who took chemistry in high school, has any familiarity with e-mail beyond using AOL, or has ever lived in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Coes also seems to possess a staggering lack of knowledge as to the operation of the fundamental technologies of the internet, which plays a key role in the tracking down of the CIA mole who assists the terrorist mastermind behind the plot of the book. Would it have been all that hard for Coes or someone at his publisher (St. Martin's Press) to track down someone who actually knows something about this stuff and help him get the details right? By the time I finished the book, I had a splitting headache which I attribute to my brain attempting to escape the torture of Power Down by exiting my skull through my right ear.

Some of the basic problems with the novel are so glaring as to make me question the veracity of Ben Coes' biography on his own website. I find it almost impossible to believe that someone who supposedly worked in the White House under two presidents and in a number of positions within the federal government has the ignorance of law enforcement agencies and jurisdictions within Washington, DC that Ben Coes displays.

Coes compounds the problems of the technical errors which run rampant throughout the novel by choosing incongruous similes to use in descriptions of events throughout the novel.

The basic plot:

Dewey Andreas is a former US Army Ranger and current oil rig boss who survives a terrorist attack on his rig, and goes on a mission to find the person (or persons) behind the attack. He soon learns that the attack he survived is not an isolated incident, but part of a coordinated plot to destroy the essential infrastructure of the United States.

My conclusion:

Not only would I not recommend  Power Down to anyone to read, I can't even loan the copy I have to a friend, because by the time I was done reading it, the book was covered in red ink from the pen I used to make corrections and mark the glaring factual errors. After finishing the book, I am in desperate need of two things: A new red pen (as mine is now out of ink), and a Costco-sized bottle of Advil to treat the throbbing headache I have developed as a result of reading this book. After my headache subsides, I'll start looking for the 15 or 20 IQ points I lost in the process of reading Power Down.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Glenn Beck Endorses Socialism

I was watching Glenn Beck's keynote speech at CPAC (embedded below for your viewing displeasure) and I was shocked to hear this gem at the halfway point:
"I educated myself. I went to the Library where books are free."
Then, Beck followed it up with this statement a few seconds later, hammering it home:
"My education was free, and I'm proud of that."

I had to watch that bit again, because I wasn't sure that I had heard it right. Especially since these "conservatives" were applauding. It's at about 32:40 if you don't want to watch the whole thing.

What kind of true, bootstrappy conservative uses and endorses dirty, commie, socialist things like free public libraries?

So, you tell me. Am I crazy? Or does Glenn Beck approve of Socialism (at least, when he benefits from it)?