Friday, December 19, 2014


The same government that claims it can't find a Boeing 777 airplane or locate emails from the director of the IRS claims absolute confirmation of the involvement of North Korean hackers in a breach of Sony Entertainment's computers. From the FBI itself:
As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions. While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:
  • Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.
  • The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.
  • Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.
Wired Magazine (is it still a magazine?) produced an article to the contrary:
Attribution Is Difficult If Not Impossible
First off, we have to say that attribution in breaches is difficult. Assertions about who is behind any attack should be treated with a hefty dose of skepticism. Skilled hackers use proxy machines and false IP addresses to cover their tracks or plant false clues inside their malware to throw investigators off their trail. When hackersare identified and apprehended, it’s generally because they’ve made mistakes or because a cohort got arrested and turned informant.
Nation-state attacks often can be distinguished by their level of sophistication and modus operandi, but attribution is no less difficult. It’s easy for attackers to plant false flags that point to North Korea or another nation as the culprit. And even when an attack appears to be nation-state, it can be difficult to know if the hackers are mercenaries acting alone or with state sponsorship—some hackers work freelance and get paid by a state only when they get access to an important system or useful intelligence; others work directly for a state or military. Then there are hacktivists, who can be confused with state actors because their geopolitical interests and motives jibe with a state’s interests.
Distinguishing between all of these can be impossible unless you’re an intelligence agency like the NSA, with vast reach into computers around the world, and can uncover evidence about attribution in ways that law enforcement agents legally cannot.
Then Sony essentially claimed that North Korea has done the company a favor:
"The unanimous point of view here is that this (is) another misfire from the pairing," said an e-mail purportedly written by Peter Taylor, of Sony Pictures UK.
Taylor said the film was "desperately unfunny and repetitive," and "James Franco proves once again that irritation is his strong suit which is a shame because the character could have been appealing and funny out of his hands."
Taylor and other executives agreed that the first half hour of the film, which features a satirical interview with hip-hop artist Eminem, was amusing but was later overshadowed by "realistic violence that would be shocking in a horror movie"
But could it be that all be that this fluff is just a veiled effort give the federal government a reason to nuke North Korea for denying Americans the opportunity to see a straight-to-DVD feature the power to oversee cyber security?
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said the November attack has increased urgency for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which failed to make it to the Senate floor in July, despite winning bipartisan committee support. Feinstein, who remains the committee's top Democrat as new Republican majority takes control in January, plans to reintroduce the measure. 
Nope. Given that this whole situation makes so much sense, that's just outrageous.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Only then does Ferguson make sense. It's about white rage.*  **

*White rage is not the same as ruling class rage. My skin color doesn't make me a member of the ruling class any more than someone else's skin color makes them athletic or prone to being a doctor.

**The systems often cited as working in favor of white rage--courts, police, legislatures, and governors--do not serve me any more than do the humble members of congress or the most serving of servants, the president of the United States. Those people exist in order to centralize power and preserve it for themselves, rather than using it to benefit people like me. If that sounds like cynicism or the ignorance of a person who happens to be white without realizing the benefits, allow me to try to explain.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


The national peddling of the left-right paradigm was on display in Colorado this week, with school kids walking out of class in protest of curriculum changes that came from "conservative school board members" who took office last November. The Facebook comments to the Fox News-produced story were predictable, angry, and eye-opening in terms of just how well the divide-and-conquer scheme is working in America.

The walkout aside, the story presents the bold agenda being pushed by the new board members. It's bold not so much in terms of its goal, but in terms of its unveiling of what is essentially one of many versions of propaganda which are blind to their own fallacies. Those with the authority to do so call such propaganda "history."

From the story:
The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls of instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials "promote citizenship, patriotism...and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights" and don't "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law."
Citizenship: you will pay taxes, or you will go to jail. Or you can pay to renounce your citizenship...which is something you could do for free just a few years ago, apparently. So if you're one of those people whose intellectual contribution to these conversations is limited to angrily asking the question "If you don't like it here, why don't you just leave?", bear in mind--that solution has a cost now, too. So it's not quite as helpful as you may think.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


While we're on the subject of roofing companies, there's an odd thing on one particular company's sign that should at least raise an eyebrow or two.

Spartan Construction and Roofing is a company which appears to be based in Texas. Since the hail storm in Norfolk, NE this past June, the company's signs have been popping up in front yards all over the area. When one looks at their signs, a few things stand out.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Homeowners sometimes have opinions after having their roof replaced. When in written form, Angie's List calls these opinions "reviews."

But reviews of roofing companies are hard to find upon visiting If one looks at whose actions the reviews address, one will see that homeowners generally aren't reviewing roofing companies. They are, almost exclusively, reviewing their handler: the roofing company's salesperson. Not the professionalism of the roofing crew, not the job done by roofing crew, and definitely not the longevity of the installation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Having thoroughly solved the how-fast-can-I-light-charcoal riddle, it was time to address another issue faced by many ECB water smoker owners: capacity. With two grill grates, you're rather limited in how much food you can smoke at once. While some people get around this by using rib racks and other contraptions to make things sit at odd angles in order to make more food fit, there's another answer: add more grates.

Although it was cleaner, this is basically how my smoker looked when I bought it. A charcoal pan (which you can't see), a water pan, and two grates.

I've never tried, but I'm guessing you might be able to squeeze three racks of ribs onto those two grates. With the body of the smoker being 16.5" in diameter, it would be tight. And the body of the smoker only has holders for the two racks, so it's not like you can just set more grates in the thing without a way to hold them in place.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


On Memorial Day weekend of this year, I was with my wife's family in Orleans, NE, where I found an older Cook N Cajun water smoker at a garage sale. It was made by Bosman Industries--Bosman made this smoker before a company called Brinkmann started selling it, so it's been around a while. Fortunately, it spent all of those years in it's box.

The smoker came with exotic features like wooden handles and green paint. After it came home to Norfolk, a few vents were added, along with a thermometer in the lid.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Earlier this week, inspection work took me on a three day trip to South Dakota. Normally I stay in hotels so that I can work in the evenings, but I decided to turn it into a camping trip. Knowing that camping meant a bit of isolation, I thought I would treat it as an opportunity to do something I've never done before: fast for three days.

Today is Friday. From 8 p.m. on Sunday until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, I didn't eat anything. I had a cup of black coffee (without sugar) each morning, but otherwise it was nothing but water for 72 hours. To me, this was a big deal. I can't remember ever going even 24 hours without eating, even on those days during Lent when I'm supposed to at least act like I'm doing so.

My motivation wasn't spiritual or physical, although I do believe I saw and will continue to see benefits in those areas as a result. Seeing 148 on the bathroom scale was fun, and denying your body of something it is used to receiving does encourage you to focus on things you don't usually dwell on. But for me, it was more of a mental issue.

It wasn't a matter of seeing if I could do it; the challenge was to see that I could do it. It sounds like an almost stupid distinction even to me, but it was almost like looking back on something that was still in the future. I knew that I was physically capable, so that removed the "if" part of the challenge. But as I hadn't done it yet, I knew that the key to success was entirely in my head. And knowing myself, that's not the most sure-fire place to be looking for keys.


The driving day started at 6:30 a.m., heading west out of Norfolk. Other than skipping breakfast, it seemed like a normal morning of inspections. The long drives between stops helped to spread out the work, which made for a pretty easy first day. And with the route going through almost exclusively small towns, there wasn't much of a temptation to stop and eat half of a familiar restaurant's menu.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


If it had hailed in Norfolk just a few weeks ago, Dolly would have been parked out back. And the Fiero would have been in the middle of a very open outdoor parking lot.

Dolly wouldn't sell for much with dents and a broken windshield.

And the Fiero would probably need some new t-top glass and a few t-top trim items that yours truly would have to fabricate. Although that wouldn't be a problem, since my problems are usually smaller than everyone else's.

Thankfully, it didn't hail just a few weeks ago. The hail came down two days ago. Dolly is with her new owners in South Dakota, and the Fiero was safely tucked away in the body shop awaiting a few more parts.

None of this excuses the fact that Maxwell wasn't in the garage, or the fact that I was too lazy to change that in time to avoid dents and a broken windshield. Timing doesn't fix lazy. It does, however, present an opportunity to view a troubling event from a different perspective--and it also provides an opportunity to learn from it.

We won in 2/3 of these situations. Maxwell will be an expensive fix, even if more in time than money. But if it helps motivate me to be the best version of myself, then perhaps Norfolk's baseball hail will be the start of a more motivated set of analog schemes.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


If there was one thing that I could point to in order to explain why my mind works the way that it does—even if it only served to reinforce what was already there—it would be Odyssey of the Mind.

What was Odyssey of the Mind? For us less-articulate participants, it was referred to as OM. OM was an after school program where teams of 5-7 kids would solve various problems within a set of rules. Nothing special there, right? Not on the surface, anyway. But the one thing that made OM unique was the phrase “if it doesn't say you can't, then you can.” That, in and of itself, was the challenge. The encouragement was to find as many barriers as you could, get as close to them as you could without crossing them (or maybe go the other way altogether—your choice entirely), and solve a problem in the process.

As the years passed, my teams got better and better at this. But it didn't start out that way.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Sometimes the need for a new filter is obvious.
Soon after buying a 2004 Lincoln LS, it became apparent there's a bit of a difference between many Lincoln owners and owners of, say, a Pontiac Fiero or a Ford Ranger. Many Fiero owners, for example, don't think twice about pulling the engine out of their vehicle. As a result, there's tutorials all over the internet that explain how to do so.

But when working on the Lincoln, an internet search for something as simple as changing the light bulbs under the side mirrors yields biblical stories where a bunch of old testament guys rip their shirts off and run screaming to the dealership like it's the temple of all knowledge and truth. Forum help is relatively non-existent, and for good reason—if you're that ignorant of how your vehicle works, it's a good idea to keep your mouth shut. Or, in this case, your hands off of your keyboard.

Monday, April 14, 2014


As far as material things go, I don't have a lot of what many would consider to be nice things. And I don't mean that in a self-depreciating way: my cars are old and my house is older, but I enjoy the things I have. So while no one is going to mistake a Fiero for a Ferrari, that's not the point. It's a fun car, despite being classic junk, and I enjoy it.

But when people driving Expeditions run stop signs, that has a way of rearranging things. While I've accepted that there's no point in trying to convince most people of how safe a Fiero actually is (they're built like butcher blocks, but everyone and their mother has a story about their brother whose sister's dad's cousin was killed because he rolled a Fiero while backing it out of the driveway), Jodi and I are fine. Despite seeing the Expedition's headlight in the vertical center of the passenger side window. So there's that.

The Fiero, on the other hand, isn't fine.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


From the video below: Who has the AR's and the body armor? I think we know the answer to that question. In any case, this is happens when people without tasers stand up to people with tasers.

Is this what Waco would have looked like with protesters? (Note: the video is not work friendly.)

Cliven Bundy is a rancher in Clark County, Nevada. The shortest version of how we got here is that Bundy has allowed his cows to graze on land that the federal Bureau of Land Management (the agency/bureau that the people in the video refer to as "BLM") deemed to be restricted for the sake of reviving the population of an endangered animal (some kind of desert tortoise). Bundy claims—and no one is disputing—that Bundy and his family have been allowing their cattle to graze on the land since well before the restrictions were put in place. As such, both Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management are claiming that Bundy owes "fees" for his use of the land*—Bundy acknowledges owing $300,000, whereas and the Bureau of Land Management indicates that he owes upwards of one million dollars.

Bundy does not appear to have any intention of paying the fees.

Monday, April 7, 2014


What constitutes a "large amount of ammo?" If you own a gun, then you should possess ammunition. What one person considers to be "not enough" could easily be considered a "large amount" by someone else. I want numbers here—don't be vague, news voice. I demand to be impressed!


Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, dignity, the rights of man—that state is obsolete.
The state had the power to kill. Romney Wordsworth had no power whatsoever, yet he was able to bring the state to its knees with nothing more than an invitation and a locked door.

The power of the state itself was what allowed Romney Wordsworth's invitation and locked door to have such an effect. The state's power was a power which required a show in order to maintain and expand—the state had to show up in order to prove that it wasn't afraid of anything. The state had to show up in order to allow Romney Wordsworth to beg for his life, which the state expected he would. The state had to show that it had the power to deal with anyone who didn't fit its formula
The state thought it had all of the power. Romney Wordsworth knew that the state's claims of power were hollow, so he turned the state's power on itself and revealed it for what it was: just a show, albeit a show with deadly consequences.

Monday, March 17, 2014


American elections are irrelevant to those who get surplus ammunition and *stuff* from former Warsaw Pact countries—most specifically, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Russia. Individual politicians aren't terribly important. But with the current scuffle between the US and Russia regarding Ukraine, the run on ammunition that began in October of 2012 sure seems like it's going to get way, way worse for shooters of the surplus stuff.

The price of 7.62X54R ammunition was $0.21 per round as late as last Wednesday (3/12/14). The lowest available price-per-round this morning is $0.30, and the next best price is $0.45 (link) (if Cheaper Than Dirt shows up on top of the list, ignore the price—with those clowns, it's always unavailable). This is one of the downsides of shooting a surplus round—it's availability and price is subject to things like weather, wars, sanctions, and grandstanding in general.

For those who have purchased firearms and like to use them, this is an unfortunate thing. But for those who have never purchased a firearm in their life, it's no big deal ;-)

Monday, March 10, 2014


"I guess we look like everyone else now."

That's what my wife said as we drove to the grocery store. I was so focused on how easy it was to hear what she was saying that I barely grasped what she said. After a few long seconds, I agreed.

I'm new.
We had purchased a 2004 Lincoln LS earlier that day to replace a 25 year old car, which suddenly put us in a very common vintage vehicle. We're used to driving one of those old grandparent cars that are as square as the box that their parts came in. In one sense, nothing changed—we could blend in with the old car because it wasn't old enough to notice. Now we would blend in because everyone drives a ten year old car. To me—to both of usit felt like a cheaper brand of anonymity.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Our cars have personalities. Sometimes they interact.


I'm Dolly.

I'm cold. And you're all boring. Every one of you.

Hey now. I can go places that you can't.

You mean when you're not broken? You spend more time on jack stands than tires.


You sound like you're crying when you're starting. Does it really take 1000 revolutions to start that engine?

It does when it's a Chrysler engine. Boom!

Coming from a collection of parts that need to be fixed or repaired daily? Stay classy back there.

Classy--coming from a car that gets driven all of seven miles during the warmest months of the year.

You two aren't seriously arguing about reliability, are you?


WITH HANDLING THAT...geez, why am I yelling? With handling that will shake out everyone's dental fillings along the way!


Yes, pickup--do tell! What is handling? This is rich.

Handling is what happens when one of you breaks: they drive me.


Thursday, February 13, 2014


You're working with heavy items. One of them falls and lands on a few of your toes.

Your big toenail changes colors instantly. The smaller toe takes its time, but it gets there eventually. Before long, the throbbing takes over, and the color no longer matters.

You remember that stupid RICE acronym? Rest, ice, compression, elevation--they fix everything! No, actually, they don't. They don't fix throbbing. Besides, compression was what got you in this situation in the first place. So...what to do?

You know what to do. You just don't want to do it. But if you follow the following steps, you'll find a level of relief that is simply fantastic.

Step 1: Smash something.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Christopher Westley is an associate scholar at the Mises Institute. He teaches in the College of Commerce and Business Administration at Jacksonville State University. His original article can be viewed here (but I have fun with it in its entirety below).
Christopher Westley: (slowly rubs wrists) My clothes dryer went bust the day after Christmas, leading to one of the more common frustrations we face in the modern nation-state.

Analog Schemes: Oh. Hi there. The Emperor has been expecting you.

Christopher Westley:You see, there was a time when one’s dryer broke, the owner faced two options: have it repaired or buy a new one. The owner would weigh the costs and benefits of each, make a decision, and then move on to other things. But those days are gone. Now when an appliance goes on the fritz, a dreaded third option is increasingly being foisted upon us: that of fixing it yourself.

Analog Schemes: So, you have accepted the truth.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


It's a personal State of the Union address, but with a longer punchline. Brought to you by Analog Schemes itself, because I couldn't find anyone else to sponsor the event (Blue Cross may end up as the title sponsor, but they're always playing hard-to-get with these types of things).

You don't need me to make comparisons to anything, really. It's the digital test to end all digital tests. And while the pregaming drink of choice seems to have been named by a marketing guy with a gun to his head (WHAT'S THE NAME OF THE PRODUCT, FUNNY MAN? WHAT DOES IT DO???), there isn't a need for exaggeration. Here's your Suprep Bowel Prep Kit. There's less to drink, the nurse practitioner said, but the game makers decided to take it out on the name.

  The Pregame Checklist  

The day before, you get to eat Jello and drink clear liquids. The camera has a hard time seeing through spiced rum.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I suppose. We're talking differentials here--specifically, Ford 7.5" and 8.8" differentials.

I'm not a fan of taking the higher-the-number-the-better approach. Making choices based on higher numbers is for insurance companies and people who don't know any better. And it tends to be the more expensive approach. Yet, for those who care to know, a 5.45X39 round shoots farther, faster, and more accurately than a 7.62X39 round. So there's that.

When I purchased a used axle unit to replace the damaged unit in my pickup, I thought I was purchasing an axle with a 7.5" differential. I drove up to Nordstrom's Automotive in Garretson, SD last week, strapped the axle to a carrier attached to Dolly's hitch--Dolly is the name of my '89 Oldsmobile Delta 88, named after its previous owner--and carefully drove home.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


From tonight's State of the Union:
Misty DeMars is a mother of two young boys. She’d been steadily employed since she was a teenager. She put herself through college. She’d never collected unemployment benefits. In May, she and her husband used their life savings to buy their first home. A week later, budget cuts claimed the job she loved. Last month, when their unemployment insurance was cut off, she sat down and wrote me a letter – the kind I get every day. “We are the face of the unemployment crisis,” she wrote. “I am not dependent on the government…Our country depends on people like us who build careers, contribute to society…care about our neighbors…I am confident that in time I will find a job…I will pay my taxes, and we will raise our children in their own home in the community we love. Please give us this chance.”
Congress, give these hardworking, responsible Americans that chance. They need our help, but more important, this country needs them in the game.
Don't hit. Don't steal.

And don't use your life savings to buy a home, even if it means you owe nothing in terms of a mortgage. There's more to living than owning, especially when you still owe on something you claim to own. Your success may depend on some hitting and stealing, even if you're not the one doing it. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I was driving along in my 1998 Ford Ranger the other day, listening to Christmas music in January. It's what I had in the CD player. All was merry and bright until the tune suddenly didn't sound right.

For those who are unaware, my Ranger is not a diesel.