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Aug 042018
 

There is now in the USA a bunch of conspiracy theory nuts called QAnon who are followers of the fictional mole within the “Deep State” called “Q”. They are of course all followers of Trump, and are all too quick to believe in some of the most inane political conspiracy theories :-

  1. The “Deep State” is planning a coup to unseat Trump.
  2. North Korea is a puppet state controlled by the CIA.
  3. Certain members of the Democrat party have hired MS13 to murder rivals within the Democratic party.
  4. The Mueller investigation is actually on Trump’s side and is secretly investigating child sex rings within the Democratic party.
  5. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros are trafficking children and are also planning a coup.
  6. J.P. Morgan sank the Titanic.

They also believe that their source Q will eventually reveal the secrets of the universe.

It is clear that QAnon are deeply stupid and deeply ignorant people; in fact dangerously stupid and ignorant. One supporter when asked if they had any evidence that Q was for real, answered with a No, but added there was also no evidence that Q wasn’t real.

Which is itself evidence that at least one Q believer is dangerously stupid and ignorant. And it probably goes for the whole crew – after all believing the partial list of ridiculous conspiracy theories is evidence enough of stupidity.

And of course they’re all Trump supporters – you would have to be stupid to vote for someone against your own interests.

Of course Q is just a troll to expose just how stupid some Trump voters are, which I know because I taught Q everything they know; I’m P.

Mar 102018
 

Alfred is a former Anglo-Saxon (actually Saxon) land-owner who has been reduced to serfdom for swearing to support William the Bastard and then breaking his oath in rebellion. Understandably he’s a bit put out by this.

William (no, not the Bastard; another one) is a Norman lord who has taken over Alfred’s estates. He is a bit of a thicko, and his main strength is bashing people with big lumps of optionally sharpened metal; his language skills aren’t especially pronounced which is somewhat ironic as a Norman is really a Viking with a French accent.

Bruce is William’s sword brother and is currently present so William can utter asides to him during the following dialog; he is presently visiting William as a break from his somewhat grimmer estates in Northumbria near the Scottish border, and to drink as much as is humanly possible.

William: “Oy! Alfred. Bring bœuf”

Alfred looks puzzled; he’s heard the word bœuf before but isn’t sure what it means, and isn’t in the mood to be helpful (he rarely is).

William (in Norman French which I have rendered in English because my Norman French is non-existent, and I’m not sure Google Translate is up to this job. It is also in italics to clarify that William is making an aside to Bruce): “These Saxons are a bit thick; can’t even understand the simplest commands.”

William: “Bring ox(masculine ending)”

Alfred: “We don’t have ox(masculine ending), how about ox(feminine ending)?”

William: “Just bring it”

Alfred leaves the hall looking puzzled, and is gone for an unusually long time.

Bruce: Is he trying to breed with the cow so he can bring a bull?

Alfred arrives back leading a cow on a rope; it is obviously still alive. William stands and starts to draw his sword whereas Bruce hurls his nearly empty tankard at Alfred which fortunately bonks his head. This seems to satisfy William who slumps back down in his chair and mutters: See what I have to put up with?

Alfred: “Did you mean ox(ending indicating a roasted dish)?”

William: “Bring food”

Alfred hands the cow’s rope to another serf, heads out of the hall, and comes back a few minutes later with some roast ox.

The Bench

Feb 072018
 

I have made the dreadful mistake of having two winter coats. To those who are used to making clothing decisions, this may seem trivial, but I am now in danger of standing in front of the coat pegs trying to decide which one to choose. And just to emphasise that, this post is written because I spent 30s doing exactly that the other day.

Should I choose the sensible coat (which seems to have mysteriously lost girth in the last few years), or do I choose the extreme weather coat? Weather sometimes makes the choice for me, but more often than not it doesn’t. Which one looks better?

Now that is a daft question. I can make myself look “smart” but that comes at the cost of looking like I work for one of the Kray twins (or rather their spiritual descendants). Probably one with an affectionate nickname like “Murder Mike”.

Although that could have something to do with the expression that automatically appears on my face whenever I put on a suit. The kind that causes small children to burst into tears when they see me with it.

On a slightly more serious note, it is worth noting that con-men have also heard the phrase “Clothes maketh the man” and makes use of it.

Or which one is more comfortable? Well in extreme weather, the extreme weather coat of course, but it also quickly becomes too warm. And it’s heavy.

So now I’m stuck with two coats, and if I’m late into work this morning, it’ll be because of the coat choice.

 

Apr 202017
 

Today I pointed out that persuading teenagers to stop thinking “filthy” thoughts is roughly comparable to the task of emptying the ocean with a teaspoon, and someone retorted that the later was possible. Well perhaps, but until we’ve worked out a rough calculation we don’t really know do we?

And yes I am weird enough to have gone ahead and worked it out.

 

 

Swirling Sea

According to the wonder that is Wikipedia, the average teaspoon can contain approximately 5ml of liquid – not often ocean but the type of liquid is irrelevant.

According to a handy table, there are approximately 1.3 billion square kilometres of water in the world’s oceans. And according to a handy units calculator this equates to 1.3e21 litres of water. Dividing this figure by the volume of our teaspoon, we get the value 2.6e+23 teaspoons of water in the ocean.

Assuming that it takes 10s (we could argue about how accurate that is, but trust me it doesn’t make too much of a difference to the final conclusion) to move a teaspoon of seawater into a truly ginormous container that magically appears to contain it all, it will take approximately 2.6e+24 seconds to empty the oceans.

Now you could work on this non-stop, but I’m no Victorian factory owner, so I will be assuming an 8-hour working day, and a 5 day working week. Admittedly no paid holiday (you want pay for this? I don’t think so).

So dividing the stupendously large number of seconds by 60 (to get minutes) by 60 (to get hours) by 8 (to get days) by 5 (to get weeks) by 52 (to get years) we get approximately 3.5e+17 years. Good! We’ve reduced the E numbers somewhat!

Now if we divide this number of years by the expected lifetime of the sun (10 billion years – and ignoring the fact that we’re approximately half-way through the sun’s lifetime), we get a much more manageable figure of 34,722,222 sun lifetimes.

However it is not unreasonable to assume that something will happen to the oceans before we get anywhere near completing this little task.

Nov 262016
 

(actually we don’t usually sit in the data centre; it’s too noisy and usually the wrong temperature for people)

There is a perception amongst people that security “gurus” who work in network security are spying on all your network traffic. Not the hackers (which is a whole other matter), but the people who run enterprise firewalls. We do, but we’re not interested in what you are doing but instead what is being done to you (and the enterprise as a whole).

Frankly nothing strikes me as more boring than spying on someone’s porn browsing – if I really need to, I’ll hunt down my own porn thank you very much! And we’re busy; you could probably double the size of every network security team in every organisation on the planet and still nobody would be sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

On the subject of porn (as an extreme example), it is not a security issue. There is an argument that browsing porn sites is putting yourself at greater risk of picking up some kind of nasty infection, but avoiding porn sites to avoid getting infected with malware is a tactic that results in your computer being infected. So the intended content isn’t a problem as far as security is concerned, but we’re interested in unintended content.

Now there are places that enforce browsing censorship – blocking anything that isn’t work-related. That role is usually dumped on the network security people because they have the tools to do the job.

Does porn browsing on the office matter? Of course it does – some people are upset by the sight of such things, and almost as important, when someone is browsing porn they are not working. But such matters are best dealt with in the office by the line manager – if someone isn’t doing their work it doesn’t matter if they are browsing porn, hitting Facebook, or snoozing under the desk. All should be dealt with appropriately by the line manager.

And centralised censorship is a rather clumsy tool – blocking Facebook is all very well if it is to prevent personal usage of the Internet, but what about the Marketing department using Facebook for publicity? Or the Customer Service department keeping an eye on Facebook for product problems that they need to look into? These can be allowed through on a case-by-case basis, but it highlights that censorship is a clumsy tool.

The word from a nameless vendor who is in this space, is that in many cases this censorship has less to do with preventing people from doing “naughty” things, and more to do with controlling bandwidth usage. And as bandwidth becomes cheaper, there is less interest in censoring Internet activities – certainly from a personal perspective I notice a decrease in the number of people who complain they cannot visit certain sites because of work’s “firewall”.

There is also the subject of TLS inspection where firewalls intercept and inspect TLS or SSL encrypted traffic between you and “out there”. Again there is a suspicion that we are for whatever reason spying on your activities. The answer to this is the same as previously – why should we bother? It is too much like hard work, and frankly most of the information that passes through a firewall is unbelievably boring.

No, TLS interception is used to do the boring task of inspecting traffic for malware, spyware, and other security threats. And with the increasing use of TLS to encrypt traffic it is becoming more and more important to do TLS interception for security reasons.

Yes there are those who would use that sort of technology to spy on your activities, but those organisations are typically nation states … and repressive ones at that. But it is extreme foolishness to blame a useful tool for the abuses that an abusive government perpetrates.  Your average enterprise just isn’t that interested in what you’re up to.

And if you still don’t believe this, there is a simple answer: Do anything private on your own private network.

b84v37631-cubist-eye

Jul 192016
 

(because everyone else has some)

  1. Stay in the shade; the big shiny thing in the sky is the heat source.
  2. If you are in the sun, wear white; it absorbs less of the heat from that big shiny thing. See point#1.
  3. If you are in the shade, wear black; it radiates more heat. See point#1.
The New Defence

The New Defence

Jul 142016
 

You do surprise me. Who would have thought it? If you go to work in a place with zillions of sick people each of whom gets a stream of visitors, you get sick more frequently than other jobs?

The accountants have been at work and decided that the NHS could save up to 2 billion by “doing something” about the sick days. Perhaps they should consider banning sick people going to hospital.

B84V1827t1-elderley-man-past-gravestones

Apr 102016
 

Every so often, my view of youtube shows up videos about Americans visiting the UK, and when I’m really bored I’ll try one out.

There are a number of differences between the USA and Britain, but I’m going to concentrate on the differences in language. Some words have entirely different meanings in the UK. But first, just for your own safety, here are the different words for different parts of the UK :-

Name Description
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The formal name of the country. Usually shortened to UK or Britain.
Northern Ireland The 6 counties of Ireland that refused to become part of an independent Ireland.
Wales  A country to the west of Britain that was conquered by the English in the mists of time. The Welsh have refused to be called English ever since; don’t start as it won’t make you popular.
Scotland A country to the north of Britain that was conquered by the English in the mists of time. Don’t call them English; they’ll be as Scottish as possible when trying to correct you, and you probably won’t understand them.
England The largest part of Britain. The English are polite but not necessarily nice (you don’t take over the countries of the Welsh and Scottish by being nice).

The key fact to remember from that table above is that England is not Britain as a whole. We might be polite about it, but we won’t forgive you.

Now there’s plenty of spelling differences between what you Americans call English and real English, but I’m going to concentrate on the spoken differences. Just about the only serious point is this: As soon as you start speaking, we know you’re American (or Canadian) so we know you don’t speak English properly (it’s English not American). So when you make the occasional gaff (that’s a mistake BTW), we’re going to know you don’t really mean what you said. We might make fun of you, but usually we’ll be polite about it.

To give an example, way back in the mists of time when the film “Shag” (that word means sex in the UK) was launched in the UK, we may have made a few jokes but we were not expecting to see pornography when we went to see the film.

gas: In the US, you stick gas into your petrol-driven cars; in the UK we put petrol in instead. Gas is of course either what happens when you heat up a liquid so it enters a gaseous state, or what happens when you eat too many beans.

fags and faggots. In the US these two words are derogatory terms for those of a homosexual persuasion. In the UK the first refers to a cigarette, and the second is a meat dish whose sole purpose in life is to appear on menus to horrify American tourists.

pants: In the US this is outer clothing; in the UK they are underwear. Don’t talk about pant stains; there’s just too many opportunities for off-colour jokes.

fall: In the US this is the season between summer and winter. In the UK if someone trips you over, you have a fall; the season is called autumn.

bathroom: In the US this is used for the room that contains a toilet; in the UK we get clean in the bathroom and name the room with the toilet after the porcelain found within it.

sweets and candy: In the US, stuff with lots of sugar is called candy; in the UK they’re called sweets. Although frankly you would have to work quite hard to get confused about this – whether it’s a candy store, or a sweet shop, the contents of the window are self-explanatory.

mailbox: In the US this is where you find the stuff printed on dead trees that people have sent you. In the UK we call this a postbox, or frankly more commonly a letter box. In the UK, we use mailbox to refer to where our electronic mail is kept.

fanny: Refers to a different body part in the UK than in the UK. Without getting too explicit, in the UK a fanny-pack would be a good alternative name for a tampon.  Not a good area to get confused!

There’s a whole lot more, and I’ll add to this list when I feel the urge.

 

asshole-1

Feb 202016
 

2012-05-19-sheep standing guard.small

The whole Welsh carnally like sheep thing is pretty funny? Plenty of opportunities for jokes in there. But do you know where it comes from?

Unfortunately I don’t have a source for this (I’m a bad historian!), but I do remember reading it from a respectable history book.

In medieval times, there were two crimes you were likely to be charged with if you were caught in possession of sheep you didn’t own back then. One charge (sheep stealing) was dealt with by the King’s courts and dealt harshly with any property crime – sheep rustlers could and frequently were hung for stealing sheep.

The other charge (unlawful carnal knowledge of a sheep) was dealt with by the Church courts who were somewhat more lenient, and the punishment was more likely to be a fine or a short imprisonment.

Anyone with half a brain would opt for the Church courts, and it seems from the records that the Welsh picked up on this legal loophole very rapidly. After all being known as a sheep-shagger is somewhat preferable to being hung.

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