September 2010 Archives

Secret Manual Gives Glimpse of North Korean Military Tactics

A military manual, said to have been smuggled out of North Korea, reveals Pyongyang's concern about electronic warfare technology used by the United States and South Korea. The document also indicates North Korea's military uses radar-absorbing paint and other stealth tactics to conceal its weapons.

The five-year-old handbook gives instructions on how to make radar-absorbing paint to help conceal jets, warships and tanks. It also explains how to fabricate decoys, pave bogus runways and deceive the enemy by having stationary units mimic the characteristics of those on the move. Such tactics have long been used by Western militaries.

That's all well and good, but when they've finished painting everything in sight they're still going to have a bunch of freshly-painted MiG-21s and T-72s, and unless they figure out how to make them silent, cold, and not obsolete, I'm not going to lose any sleep over our ability to target them if the balloon goes up.

UM Highlights vs. UMass

I think I broke my own record for getting a highlight reel out - I'm pretty sure it was less than an hour from final gun to availability on YouTube.

Sorry, only SD available right now. Hopefully, I'll be able to pull down an HD version and do a remix with audio from the Michigan Sports Network.


Life Imitates The Matrix

In The Matrix Trilogy, humans are biological generators wired into a power plant that provides some of the energy to keep the machines going.

In a research lab in France, a biological generator wired into a rat provides energy that could be used to power a machine. Implanted Fuel Cell Powered by Rat's Body Fluids:

A new fuel cell is putting a twist on alternative energy from biofuels: The implanted device draws power from chemicals in living animals.

Dubbed a glucose biofuel cell, the implant gets its juice from glucose--aka blood sugar--and oxygen, both of which are naturally present in the fluids between a body's cells.

In a recent study, researchers created a test version of their glucose biofuel cell and implanted it in a white lab rat named Ricky. The rat sported the device successfully for 11 days and suffered no ill effects.

Wires running from the fuel cell out of the rat's neck showed that the device was producing a significant amount of energy.

How far are we from being able to build our own little Matrix, with millions of rats wired into treadmills pumping out electricity? It'd be like a giant Kia Soul commercial.

The latest episode of the BBC Radio 4 podcast Thinking Allowed discusses hate crimes. Presenter Laurie Taylor interviewed Sylvia Lancaster, whose daughter Sophie was attacked and murdered by a group of teenage thugs in August of 2007 because she and her partner Robert Maltby were dressed as Goths (Maltby was also attacked and severely injured, and as of October of 2008 had not completely recovered). The five teenagers responsible were convicted and given sentences ranging from four to sixteen years in prison.

As a result of this, Lancaster is leading the fight to expand Britain's hate crimes law to include

. . .attacks on people from sub cultures to be classified as a hate crime, allowing judges the power to issue tougher penalties.
In May 2009, then-Justice Minister Jack Straw announced upcoming changes to sentencing guidlines to take into consideration whether victims are members of a subculture.

Taylor explores the question "What is a subculture?" in his interview with Lancaster and Jon Garland, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Leicester:

TAYLOR: It's an odd question to have to ask, but how distinctive do they have to be in order to constitute a group who could be said to be the object of a hate crime?

GARLAND: Now I think that's, that's a very good question. I think one of the things that makes, say, alternative people, people from alternative subcultures something different is becuase they have got a history and also perhaps a sense of identity and community. So they are actually rather than just being sort of individuals that are targeted, they're part of this quite close-knit community that has a strong identity and an established history. I think that's one of the important things in this case.

But it's clear, to them at least, that not all subcultures are created equal:

TAYLOR: [what about] attacks on neo-Nazi groups, for example?

GARLAND: Yes, then we are on thorny territory, I think -

LANCASTER: But they've not got the same norms and values, have they?

TAYLOR: Well, neo-Nazi groups might say they share, you know, values, they share certain ways of dressing, the crew cuts, the heavy boots, or whatever, you know, that they have a distinctive thing, if they're attacked by the Socialist Labor League and flattened, presumably we want to invoke 'hate crime' in court there, do we?

GARLAND: Well, I wouldn't necessarily advocate that myself -


GARLAND: - I see the point you're making, it's where to draw the line, and this surrounds all of this hate crime debate, you know, it's regarding legislation, how we treat victims, who is a victim. And so far, at the moment, we're drawing the line in a certain place, and I think, you know, the great work Sylvia's done, is raising awareness that this line is more permeable than we thought. This boundary isn't as solid.

So, in the end, who gets to decide whether someone can have a hate crime committed against them, and what standard do they use? Until those questions get answered to my satisfaction, I'll have a problem with hate crime laws.


So some numbnuts Thumper wants to burn the Quran:

The pastor of a small Florida church who has pledged to incinerate copies of the Quran on Sept. 11 said Wednesday he would press ahead with the plan, despite pleas from the Obama administration, U.S. military officials, the Vatican and religious leaders around the world.

"As of right now, we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing," said Terry Jones, pastor of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla.

No, that's not a typo. Some church with *50* members calls itself the 'Dove World Outreach Center.' I figure with 50 people, they can reach as far as Orlando. Tampa at the outside. But I digress. Naturally, this has pissed off everybody you would expect to be pissed off by it, and they're reacting pretty much how you'd expect them to (never mind that the aforementioned Quran burning hasn't even happened yet):

KABUL, Afghanistan - Hundreds of angry Afghans burned a U.S. flag and chanted "Death to the Christians" on Thursday to protest plans by a small American church to torch copies of the Muslim holy book on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

. . .

Local officials in Mahmud Raqi, the capital of Afghanistan's Kapisa province, estimated that up to 4,000 people took part in Thursday's demonstration. But NATO spokesman James Judge said the protesters numbered between 500 to 700.

It seems that the 'appropriate' reaction to this would be to burn some Bibles. Except that there aren't really any local-language Bibles in Afghanistan - the Army took care of that!

(CNN) -- Military personnel threw away, and ultimately burned, confiscated Bibles that were printed in the two most common Afghan languages amid concern they would be used to try to convert Afghans, a Defense Department spokesman said Tuesday.

The unsolicited Bibles sent by a church in the United States were confiscated about a year ago at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan because military rules forbid troops of any religion from proselytizing while deployed there, Lt. Col. Mark Wright said.


Nonconsensual User Tracking? Is That Like Nonconsensual Sex?

I'm a big fan of Steve Gibson's Security Now! podcast. I've learned more about computer security from a year of listening to SN than I did in TWO security/networking classes I took in college. Cost me a lot less, too.

But I'm really disappointed in something he said in last week's podcast about a privacy threat that you wouldn't normally think about: nonconsensual user tracking. This is a euphemism for "tracking your movement across the Web without your knowledge or consent, without using cookies." By collecting the headers that every web browser provides to every web site it connects to (e.g., user agent header, accept header, accept-language header), a site can eventually identify a given user to a disturbing degree of accuracy. The part of the show where Gibson talks about it is after the break (assuming I can figure out how to do a break in my spiffy new Movable Type 4 setup).

I like remixing stats in my head, especially when I can emphasize how bad something is. So I'm surprised that it took me so long to realize that my two favorite football teams are a combined 10-46 over the 2008-2009 seasons.


Was It An Evil Woman or Strange Magic? Heaven Only Knows

In a demise worthy of Monty Python, ELO founding member and former cellist Mike Edwards was killed when a giant hay bale rolled down a hill, jumped a hedge, and crushed his van (what is it with Brits and rolling things down hills, anyway?).  The Daily Mail has the story:
The victim was driving a white transit-type van towards Kinsgbridge when the bale of hay smashed into the front cab.

    The van swerved after it was hit and then collided with another smaller van coming the other way - but the second driver was unhurt.

    The accident caused long tailbacks and police diverted hundreds of vehicles through country lanes.

And apparently determining the next of kin is a nontrivial exercise:

    Police identified Mr Edwards with the use of photographs and YouTube footage and have appealed for help in contacting his family for formal identification.

    Sgt Steve Walker of Devon and Cornwall Police's traffic unit said: 'We don't believe he was ever married. We have identified an ex-girlfriend but she is currently abroad.

    'We think he may have a brother called David in the Yorkshire area and we obviously need to contact him.

    'Michael had no immediate family but we believe he taught cello in Devon and would ask his students to contact us if they know of any relatives.'

I can't bring myself to tag this 'Undignified Ways to Die,' because I'm fairly certain that Edwards was minding his own business when the cosmic dice threw snake-eyes.
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Michigan 30, UConn 10

My highlight video is up on YouTube.  90 minutes after the game ended.  I think it's a new track record.

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