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CIAO MAESTRO

By Pete Moore On July 6th, 2020 at 6:24 pm

Ennio Morricone has died in Rome, aged 91. His palmares is far too extensive to list, but what a life and what a legacy.

On a drive down to Gibraltar once I took a detour to Almeria, to see where many of the Spaghetti Westerns were shot. It was beautiful and dramatic as you’d expect, because Sergio Leone shot them so well. But it was Morricone’s iconic scores which kept on coming to mind. He once described music as “energy, space and time”, which you understand when you hear his genius. And that’s what he was, a genius.

Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

By Mike Cunningham On July 6th, 2020 at 6:18 pm

The trouble with times like these, with the threat of what can either be described as a deadly virus pandemic, or a disease just slightly worse in intensity that the flu; is the simple choices we have to make. Remembering, all the time that the people, the politicians, doing the announcing of ‘Guidance’ or Rules’ are no better educated than we are: it’s just that they are presumed to have better information than we do. 

There are certain things what we know  to be true,  and other things which have been the subject of enormous speculation, comment, and a certain amount of ridicule. Take the thorny subject of face masks. 

Peter Hitchens believes that the face mask farrago is yet another attempt to make us all bow down the false gods of Covid-19, and insists that they don’t work.  He states “Its evangelists will not leave you and me alone, but constantly seek to force us to join. This is why I make such a fuss about the demand to make us all wear muzzles. This is not about health. 

There is simply not enough evidence to compel us to do so. It is an attempt to force submission on Covid unbelievers.”

The Department of Health  says clearly: ‘The evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small.’

The truth is: we just do not know how the virus spreads fastest. Is it spread by contact, shaking hands or kissing? Is it spread by speaking loudly, with these droplets propelled in the air? Whether carried by large droplets that zoom through the air after a sneeze, or by much smaller exhaled droplets that may glide the length of a room, the coronavirus is borne through air and can infect people when inhaled, the scientists said, according to the NYT.

So, face masks or not?

Strangely enough, not too many people have questioned if the use of nitrile gloves give benefit and protection to the wearer. As one cannot but look upon the whole world outside of your own home as a deadly menace, from the first news about the virus, lockdown etc., I never venture out without both face mask and a fresh pair of nitrile gloves. Everyone else can make their own decisions, butI I always act in the knowledge that I am the sole support for my Jacqueline; who is totally dependent upon me for everything. I cannot protect her from every peril, but with mask and gloves, I can at least protect her from this virus, as her systems are totally compromised.

Defund the Police

By Patrick Van Roy On July 5th, 2020 at 8:56 pm

NO WAY HUAWEI

By Pete Moore On July 5th, 2020 at 8:23 pm

The last six months have revealed more about China under President Xi Jinping than the previous six years.

That’s Sir John Sawers, a former “C”, the ex-Chief of MI6, writing in the Financial Times on why Huawei should be barred from any role in the UK’s 5G network.

It’s widely reported that this will indeed be the case in the next couple of weeks. It is simply untenable that a tech arm of the Chinese Communist Party can have any role. Boris has been dragged toward this position by a combination of events and a sufficient number of Tory MP outright threatening to revolt on the issue.

But I have to wonder where some people have been, if they think that the last six months has “revealed more” about Xi’s regime. It is evil, but it is no more evil now than it was 6, 12 or 24 months ago. I’m delighted that the securocrats have done a reverse ferret, but what on Earth have they previously been thinking?

July 5 1989

By Patrick Van Roy On July 5th, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Lt. Col. Oliver North points his finger at John W. Nields, Jr., chief counsel, on July 7, 1987, House Select Committee, and says, “Wrong” in responding to Nields’ statement, “Well, you asked Joseph Coors for $65,000.” North said Coors offered the money and he told him where he send it. North added an airplane was bought with it and it flies. (AP Photo/Scott Applewhite)

 

Iran-Contra Affair’s colonel is sentenced

Two years after his polarizing presence at the Iran-Contra hearings, retired US Lt. Colonel Oliver North is sentenced on three felony counts, one of which is for obstruction. His three-year suspended prison sentence and $150,000 fine will be overturned a year later with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Independence Day

By Mahons On July 4th, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Today I’m celebrating our Independence Day. Not withe some boastful claim that a Utopia was created when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, but with the knowledge that a unique and historical step forward advancing the ideals of man was undertaken. In the chaos of history no ideals can themselves absolve us of the struggle for equality, freedom and justice. It is work, and not just the work of one generation. Sucess is never total, and failure often rides along with progress. But advancement and the framework for advancing forward was set forth on that day, 244 years ago. A great experiment was lauched and a great journey undertaken. At its core a dream that all men are created equal, a dream held through nightmares of inequality during times when some people even gave their lives in the hope that the dream would be fulfilled. A dream that still is a dream, but one that has come closer to reality, and not because people pretend it is so, but because people have fought to make it so. A nation where the best have always led the way to reconcile the dream with reality. And where they have called upon the people to continue to strive to embrace those ideals.

When the next virus comes along, we might not be so lucky.

By Patrick Van Roy On July 4th, 2020 at 5:44 pm

Guest post by Dave

 

Sometime during the late 2000’s a new virus was spreading at an alarming rate. But masks and social distancing wouldn’t save you from infection. This virus was first identified in Belarus. Within just a few days it infected computers in almost every country in the world.

Most computer viruses usually have one, maybe two methods of transmission. But this new virus had seven methods it could use to infect other devices. This is unprecedented. Whilst it could be spread by usual methods, such as Email, file sharing and over the local network, even wireless networks, it could, without any user interaction, also replicate via any USB connection. The instant a USB dongle or computer was attached to the infected device, it was also infected. Another unusual thing about this virus was took advantage of something called a zero-day exploit. A zero-day is a security flaw in a piece of software or firmware that is unknown to the people created it. So when the virus exploits the security flaw, the programmer has spent zero days attempting to fix it. Zero-day exploits are incredibly rare. Amazingly, this virus contained four of them. Experts called this the greatest malware ever created.

For such an advanced virus however, this one wasn’t causing harm to almost all of the systems it was infecting. It was specifically looking for certain computers in a specific country, attached to specialist hardware, and by design the vast majority of computers infected by this virus, were in Iran. The goal of this virus was to infect a very specific piece of hardware called a Siemens PLC unit. This device controls and monitors centrifuges used in the enrichment of uranium. Whoever developed the logic for this virus had to know exactly how these incredibly complex control units and centrifuges worked. This is akin to rocket science.

Once this virus eventually found its way onto the intended target systems, it wasted no time getting to work. It started analysing and copying the logs that every centrifuge produced. After thirteen days of quietly doing this it started the second phase of its goal, it began to increase the spin speed of all the centrifuges, way beyond their safe limits for fifteen minutes at a time. It then quickly slowed down the centrifuges to just a few revolutions, for another fifteen minutes. This variance stressed the finely tuned machines far beyond their operational limits, cracks and fractures started to form in these sensitive aluminium devices. But this wasn’t the end of the virus’s deviousness. Like the plot straight out of a James Bond film, the virus took the log data it had recorded for the last two weeks and played it back over the real log data, to make it look like everything was working normally. This virus would repeat this procedure every twenty-seven days so as not to arouse suspicion in the engineers for as long as possible.

Whilst the amount of damage and time lost to Iran’s nuclear program is difficult to ascertain, there’s no doubt that this virus caused significant cost and delay to their nuclear program.

This virus, codenamed Olympic Games by the NSA was a multi-million dollar joint effort between the NSA, GCHQ in the UK and Unit 8200 in Israel.

Iran didn’t take this attack by a superpower, (and its allies) lying down. They hit back with concentrated cyber-attacks on Saudi oil refineries, American banks and big businesses and other western interests.

So what happened in 2010 was probably the world’s first small scale cyber war.

Can covert technological warfare cause as much damage as guns and bombs? Oh yes. By targeting critical infrastructure, enemy nations can cause massive disruption to our livers through no more than lines of computer code. And the potential for damage and disruption, is only going to get worse. We are seeing a world more reliant on, and using technology than ever before, with critical infrastructure everywhere. The vast majority of manufacturing facilities, finance and businesses are connected and reliant on it. With robots and self-driving vehicles, including commercial aircraft, as well as hundreds of millions of remotely controllable, connected devices, from smart devices in the home to complex industrial production lines becoming more commonplace, surly it’s only a matter of time before a malicious virus causes incredible damage and brings a country, or indeed, the world to a standstill. Or worse.

Stuxnet was just the beginning.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet

Words of Wisdom

By Patrick Van Roy On July 4th, 2020 at 4:30 pm

Happy 4th of July

By Patrick Van Roy On July 4th, 2020 at 2:42 pm

A Good Speech

By Patrick Van Roy On July 4th, 2020 at 1:45 pm