Monthly Archives: September 2003

Kill the banks


Like the poster?

Sorry about that little blip of downtime earlier today; there was a software problem so I took advantage of the interjection to install all the latest security patches — what are they, daily?

Anyway, I'm not sure how many people saw this, but it's looking like the Blaster worm was one of the causes of the powerblackout up here and across the northeast US (more) — not so much in that it caused it, but that it made it cascade. The grid is of course a real-time system, and the Blaster worm hugely degraded latency across the netwrok causing the control systems communications links to malfunction. In addition, the havoc it played on email made it difficult to bring the system back up again afterwards.

Hannibal over at ArsTechnica (more) points out something obvious that you don't see discussed much,

What's amazing to me is that none of the major viruses has yet had a payload that's designed to wreak serious havoc, like formatting hard drives, subtly altering numbers in Excel spreadsheets, or otherwise messing with people's data in a way that might really mess up major industries. But of course, it's only a matter of time.

He's right of course… Oh, it's giving me Fight Club visions. You know at the end when all the banking buildings come tumbling down? Now, in real life, that's not going to work, but there are other ways…

As Hannibal points out, all it would take is a very minor tweak of these viruses and worms (which have incredibly deep penetration — a huge percentage of commercial systems are infected) and they can edit accounting documents. If you trash a system (ie. format the drive), then backups will be used… But slowly tweaking and editing spreadsheets would eventually cause trillions of dollars worth of damage, damage that would be nearly impossible to recover from, and that, done right, would literally bring the Western economy to its knees.

And it's not that hard to do

Best definition.

OK, so a few minutes ago I'm browsing UrbanDictionary and I come across what I think may be the funniest definition ever:

emeril       “em-er-il”

The act of ejaculating into your hand after intercourse and throwing it into her face while yelling “BAM!”

My lady was in a naughty mood, so I decided to pull an Emeril and giver her a little more than ole' spice to slap on.

TorCon

So Rachel went up to Toronto for the wedding a day before me. We were staying at the Royal York, and when I called to say when I was heading in she warned me, “I think there's some kind of developmentally challenged convention here; there are a lot of people with various problems and wearing weird outfits here… I feel guilty saying it, but it's really annoying to be here.”

When I got there I discovered she was partially right; almost everyone at the hotel was massively overweight, truly bizarrely socially inept (constantly shouting out really corny jokes and puns and so on), and many were dressed as bards, middle-ages — and middle-aged — damsels, as well as people with their faces painted all green and in checkerboards… and a lot of older, fatter, balding wizards with a little too much makeup on (who all did plenty of glaring at me). Turns out we were in the hotel for TORCON, one of the largest and oldest science fiction conventions in the world.

Riding the elevator was not fun. It was the first time in my life that I've been on an elevator that's lurched over and over and then refused to move and forced people to get off due to weight restrictions — and they all refused to get off, not believing that could possibly be true so it took forever until they eventually decided “oh it must be malfunctioning”… Even though it had a warning right on the display and a posted maximum weight (hint: if you're at TORCON, read the “maximum weight” part, not the “maximum number of people” part). Seriously, it happened several times to me; every time there was a TORCON crowd. Now, don't get me wrong — not only do I love sci-fi, but I've played Dungeons and Dragons for most of my life… but this was messed up and in a lot of ways really sad.

And before you say the PC line, “oh but Shannon it's not fair to pick on fat people” — which I agree with — let me point out the obvious which is that fat kills. It's one thing if it happens to you for reasons you can't control… But it's another thing when an entire subculture collectively commits suicide — after all they are shaving ten to twenty years off their lives voluntarily… and yes, I believe the same thing about cigarettes.

Anyway, it made me wonder; were these people attracted to science fiction because it offered an escape, or was this all just a coincidence? That is, was the love for science fiction (which I do believe is a valid literary artform) a symptom of a larger problem — we've certainly all seen people who are attracted to body modification for that reason, and in so doing, have often tarnished the mainstream's opinion of body modification in general.


Thanks to Jody I've also had a chance to read over the article from the Vancouver Sun that everyone's pissed off about (understandably). I'm not sure if it's quite as bad as everyone thinks, but I have to admit it's shockingly poor journalism and a very thinly veiled personal attack on this community that would definitely not be supported by any research had she bothered to do it.

One of the things about a print newspaper is one assumes that unlike some cheap *cough* drudge *cough* websites, they have fact checkers and quality control mechanisms… This article is just littered with really basic factual errors; stuff like saying Fakir Musafar is the author of Modern Primitives and other lame errors that just shouldn't be there.

Then of course there's the author's clear bias and shallow stereotyping of this community. I'm going to read it over again, but I may rip it to shreds — show what a poor piece of journalism it is — in a new editorial called “Karen Romell is a Liar and a Poor Reporter”… And since BME gets millions of times more hits than anything she writes for, any time anyone types in the name of that reporter, they'll find out what kind of “quality” she produces.

Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea in general… a wall of shame for all the bigotted reporters. Might be a good way to use BME's google-power to our advantage!

So get this through your head, reporters: If you slag body modification, body modification may just slag you back. And there are more of us now than there are of you so this is not a mistake you want to make!

Funmail

Earlier this week I got the following email. The image attached to it is a well known image that's been ripped off from a German medical magazine after a scrotal stretching complication — this person just did a really poor job blurring out their logo and then sent it to me as their own:

From: "paashaasist 4"
To: submissions@bmezine.com
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 183558 +0200
Subject: my nuts

Outside of anything else (like being criminal), this type of thing is just insulting and crass… Kind of like dropping fake $20 bills at your local cornerstore. Anyway, the reply:

From: Frank O'Derby

Thank you so much for sending in this wonderful photograph of your tattooed scrotum. It's very realistically done, it almost looks as if you really got very injured.

What made you decide on such an unusual design?

I've added your picture to the site, and will be sending you your membership, as well as a card containing a $1000 prize as you have won our "Raynutz's Nuts of the Week" contest. Where should we send this prize and your membership? I will need a mailing address.

Thank you again,

Frank O'Derby
Customer Service

OK, now… he obviously knows its stolen. At this point he can either escalate it to “real crime” rather than what he probably thinks isn't hurting anyone, or he can back off (or he can grow a brain and realize he's being messed with). Guess what…

From: "paashaasist 4"
Subject: Tattoo balls
[note: he added this subject]

First of al I'm very hounered that I won the Raynutz's Nuts of the Week contest.

I took this design, because most people take things like a tribal or a bug. I wanted something different than other people, so I took a injured balls. I'm glad you like it.

I've got a few questions. Will I get a full membership, or a extreme2 membership. MY other guestion was, how are you going to send me those $1000? Do you need my postal adres or something.

I will hear from you again, greetings mike manuel

What a fuck. Not cool at all… So he's saying that not only is he willing to steal someone else's photo, steal “their” membership (if anyone's), he's also willing to use it to commit major international wire fraud. Interesting.

From: Frank O'Derby

Fascinating story about your tattoo.

We need either a postal address or bank information that we can wire it to. Either is fine. The membership will be of course a full membership.

Frank O'Derby
Department of Balls

OK, now with “Department of Balls”, you have to wonder… is he really dumb enough to send his banking details and be willing to commit fraud in a way that would instantly catch him?

From: "paashaasist 4"
Subject: bank account

My bank account is at ABN AMRO Amsterdam. My account number is 58 13 67 952. As you can see, I live in Holland. I hope it's not a problem for the $1000.

You can e-mail me if you need some more information.

Can you also send me the membership name plus code.

Thank you very much,

mike manuel

What an idiot. Part of me thinks I should have just send the thousand dollars and then handed it to the authorities, but instead I just sent a note that said “hello prison”… Not that I think he's smart enough to actually learn from this.

Anyway. It's sadly not uncommon:

From: K8Ep123
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 173954 EDT Subject: nikki's cute little bellebutton

belly bar; bellybutton; chrissy's wittle bewy butin

Do people think I'm clueless? That I've never used Photoshop? Unless someone does a lot better job than this (and I'm sure some do), it's not hard to tell when someone pastes on a photo of jewelry from some cheap jewelry sales website onto blurry pictures of themselves (outside of anything else, the level of blurriness instantly gives it away).

It's one thing dealing with some masturbation-deprived loser, but Franko figured he should handle this one slightly differently:

From: Frank O'Derby
Subject: Re: nikki's cute little bellebetton

Thank you so much for sending in these pictures of your bellebutton. I've added your pictures to the site, and will be sending you your membership, as well as a card containing a $1000 prize as you have won our "Big Bob's Belly Bonanza" prize this week (sponsored of course by Big Bob of the Belly Button Boppers himself).

Where should we send this prize and your membership? I will need a mailing address. In addition, since this prize is co-sponsored by MTV, we will like to know whether it would be alright if Ashton Kutcher filmed the award ceremony for his new television show "Ashton and Big Bob's Wild World of Wankers".

If you do not want to appear on the show that's fine and you will still win the prize.

Thank you again,

Frank O'Derby
Customer Service

Again, I wonder… Will greed win out?

From: K8Ep123
Subject: Re: nikki's cute little bellebutton

you can send it to
10109 NE 153st Bothell W.A 98011
but I wouldn't like to be on the show, thanks any ways!
NIKKI

Surprise surprise. You're doing wonders for my faith in humanity, Franko. At least this next message was (I assume) from a decent person, albeit somewhat misguided:

I am a professional dominatrix in **** and have come across a large amount of lidocaine w/epinephrine. I have 1 canister that is still sealed and sterile and I am wondering if you might like to purchase it at a good price and re-sell it to your customers?

The lot expires in May of 2004.

I would be more than happy to give you more details if you are interested.

Thank you,

**** ****

Hmm…. Should BMEshop illegally purchase lidocaine of an unknown origin on the black market, or should it legally purchase it from the manufacturer? Yeah, I think we'll stick with being law-abiding, but thanks for the offer.

A while back we got this refund demand; it's not an unusual request and we tend to do them without really thinking twice about them:

Subject: refund

Dear bmezine.com
I am sorry to say that my son used my credit card this morning to gain access to your sight (he's 15). I am banning him from computer use for six months and locking up my credit cards. However I am applying for a refund of the amount ($10.00).

Thank you for your time and I know that this will NOT happen again from this household.

Sincerley,

Chuck ***

Now, if it was true, clearly this is something that we'd take seriously and deal with immediately. But the truth of it was that this was actually a step-parent using the account to spy on his daughter-in-law — the logs were quite clear on the matter. Not only that, but he doesn't even have a 15 year old son.

It's one thing to spy on your adult kid on IAM — that's despicable enough, it's like breaking into their house and reading their diary. But what kind of fuck does it and then tries to scam a refund? My reply:

We've already talked to your ADULT daughter about this and we've been informed that you do not have a 15-year old, and that this was just a scam to get access to her diary. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't report you for credit fraud to your bank and the authorities who will take this FELONY very seriously.

Of course he apologized, but I doubt that it'll make much difference…

On a non-BME note, I get funmail wherever I go. A few days ago I got this not about PB/CC programming — which isn't unusual, and I regularly help people out on the subject and enjoy doing so:

From: frktons
Subject pb/cc - can you help?

Hi Glider

I'm looking for any stuff related with pb/cc 3 and superior
In powerbasic site I could not find any real useful thing.
If you have any doc,pdf,chm,txt,exe,etc... that you can share please let me know from where I can download them.

Thanks

Salvatore

Now, I'm totally not cool with piracy. If I have a commercial product that I think is good, sometimes I'll give a copy to a friend temporarily, but only those that I trust will purchase the product if they like it (which is no different in my opinion than lending a friend a CD). But anyway, I replied and said that I'd be glad to help, but I wasn't really sure what he meant. He replied,

From: frktons
Subject: Re: pb/cc - can you help?

Hi Shannon

I'm trying to collect everything available to assemble a "PowerBasic Learning Pack" to put on the net to the public domain for those who want to learn powerbasic pb/cc.
At the moment I don't have anything yet.
So anything you have, even the compiler itself, or tutorials, manuals, help
files related to pb/cc can be of much help.

Thanks for your attention.

Salvatore

WTF? The dude wants to make a site for helping people learn PB, and he's never even used the product? “Please send the compiler”… Yeah, nice try buddy…

Anyway.

I'm going to make some lunch now.

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride…

So if it's not obvious, I was in Toronto yesterday for Saira's wedding, and yes, I was the only guy in the bridal party. Now, to you horny dudes that might seem awesome but I assure you it's not so pornographically exciting… mostly wedding staff coming up to you and saying “excuse me, the groom's party is supposed to be over here.” Anyway, first some pictures from the wedding (which obviously was a mix of Scottish and Indian traditions):

The view out of my hotel window, showing the concrete graveyard marring an otherwise beautiful waterfront. Me and Michael before the wedding (he's not allowed to see the bride before the wedding, thus the mask). Bagpipes; I think the one on the left is Michael's younger sister's husband.
In the bridal party area before the weeding; Leila (middle) looks like she's thinking “Got married before me? Enjoy the poison in your tea, bi-otch!” The wedding ceremony; the ceremony itself was probably two to three hours long and even involved pyrotechnics. Right after the deed was done (the lighting was really bad, sorry).
Saira and Michael in “casual clothes” for the reception. The flash blew out the details, but I still liked this photo of Michael. Saira with the bridesmaids. I'm the woman on the right that got hit with the ugly stick.

People in the know might also recognize Emma of Immaculate Conception jewelry in the party, and you might know Leila as being the first double rook on BME (and yes, I realize that photo would never be approved under current standards for posting)… pointless trivia…

On the train home there were some truly obnoxiously loud Polish women who got on about half way. Even though they were sitting across from a sleeping baby they yelled their heads off in Polish cackling madly. They were dressed head to toe in cheap knock-off fashions and costume jewelry, and just screaming stories at each other (the photo doesn't do justice to just how annoying they were).

Here's a hint to people who speak foreign languages extremely boisterously: If you plan on talking about about the people sitting across from you, they're going to clue in when you suddenly shift to a hushed tone and keep making furtive glances. Here's a second hint: The cheap sunglasses don't disguise what you're doing.


On a less pleasant note I wanted to share this quote from the newspaper. It's from a woman who was travelling through South-East Asia, and when the war broke out ended up in Iraq to see what she could do to help stop the carnage — when she returned to America, she (a pentioner) was told that she'd have to either pay a minimum $10,000 fine or face ten years in prison (she's told them to send her to prison since she won't support the war machine).

Anyway, the story recounts,

"On a quiet day I went to a hospital that didn't have room for all the casualties of a US missile blast; we were far from any military installation. The hospital was filled [with the maimed and dismembered]."

"I sat with a dying wife whose six kids had died in the blast. I met her husband ... I stayed for 24 hours at the hospital and there was blood everywhere, little staff, but lots of blood."

"They were trying to treat people but children were dying." She wept as she described comforting a "beautiful, pregnant woman" whose arms were ripped off in the attack, then gave birth prematurely. "She kept saying to me, 'I can't hold my baby. I can't hold my baby.' "

That's about the most fucked up thing I can imagine. The US response shouldn't be sending her to prison for ten years — it should be to say “Please, if you have photos and video, share them with us”. I think it should be mandatory for every world leader, every soldier, every weapons manufacturer, and every citizen heartlessly supporting war to know exactly what the cost is.

Maybe then they'd take mass-murder a little more seriously and consider other means to the world's problems…