For the first time since I emigrated to Canada, I am going to vote in a U.S. election. Even better, I’m going to vote in the Democratic primary (hopefully—the logistics of doing so may prevent it).

I’m very concerned about the election down south. Although the Canadian economy is fundamentally different than the U.S. economy (budget surplus vs. deficit, net oil exporter vs. oil junkie), the U.S. economy is such a juggernaut that when it faceplants, we’re going to feel the downward pull in a big way.

More important than the money is the character. I have to vote for Barak Obama, if only to send a major wakeup call to the present day politicians. Business as usual is not okay. Not that I’ve ever been okay with it—I believe with all my heart that electoral fraud helped elect George W., a.k.a. “The Shrub”. This is not okay!

Why do I believe this? Because my mother was the person who answered the phone the day the media started calling about problems with the voting process back in 2000. My mom *knew* the woman who designed the ballot with the hanging chads (“We sent Theresa a box of cookies and told her we were behind her.”) Hundreds, if not thousands, of people were purged from the voter’s lists in the Democratic-friendly black and Jewish areas of West Palm Beach county. People who only found out that they were not allowed to vote when they showed up at the polls. People who would have tipped the state of Florida for Gore, giving him enough votes in the electoral college that he would have been sworn in as president. People who weren’t allowed to vote because their names were similar to the name of a convicted felon. Fraud.

Anyway, I intend to vote this time around, both in the primary and the general election. As much as I have embraced my new country, Canada, I am still a U.S. citizen. I assert my right to vote.

The Straight Dope on “Water-boarding”

I have been a fan of The Straight Dope for many years. Cecil and his cohorts have looked into many strange, wonderful, and weird questions and provided just what they said they would: the straight dope, the truth unvarnished or as close to it as is humanly possible.

Now, Scylla, one of the The Straight Dope’s member/posters takes on the question of whether or not waterboarding is torture. Although it is Christmas Eve, or maybe because it is, his findings are important reading. We need to act to stop this practice, now. There is no cause for treating another human being this way, no matter what they’ve done or are planning to do.

Read The Straight Dope here.

And here’s where I offer up healing and wholeness for all those who have suffered this torture and for those who inflict it. Healing is needed all around here.


And you thought “The Matrix” was science fiction

Okay, so it’s not “The Matrix”, but the idea of countries having cyberwarfare divisions of the military is apparently an idea whose time has come. The Register has an interesting report on the subject here.

Nevertheless, most governments have “cyber soldiers” ready to engage in cyber warfare and it’s quite likely that some of the incidents that are reported as hacker activity are government cyber soldiers out on exercise. Only Russia and China have an official branch of the armed forces devoted to cyberwarfare, but whenever any military activity or even military tension occurs cyber warfare breaks out. It happened first in the disintegration of Yugoslavia. It happened between India and Pakistan and more recently in the Middle East – where it is happening at a low level most of the time anyway, but the activity increases when the bullets fly.

The problem with cyber warfare is that normal business activity suffers the collateral damage. There have been two attempts to completely take out the internet – by mounting denial of service attacks on the 13 root servers that run the internet DNS. One took place in 2002 and one took place in February of this year. These attacks weren’t successful but they may not have been intended to be. They could have been mounted by one government or another simply as target practice in order to assess the amount of power that would be needed to be successful. No one seems to know who was responsible.

The world is in urgent need of technology that can properly block denial of service attacks. There are some intrusion prevention systems and DOS mitigation products from the likes of Cisco, Top Layer, RADirect and others that can help but the cost is high. In any event they do not address the fundamental problem – that the Domain Name System itself is vulnerable.

It makes sense—why would any government not be funding this area? It is both target and battleground. As we move forward in time, we see that the nature of warfare is evolving. Once again, civilians and their institutions are considered legitimate targets. If we don’t take responsibility for the actions of our governments, the consequences of those actions will be visited on us and our children.

This reminds me of an interesting conversation I had on the weekend, where a friend of mine argued that the people of the United States are wholly responsible for the election of George W. Bush as president. It’s a difficult argument to refute, even with the Republican parties shenanigans and outright crimes with regard to voter registration. No matter how disenfranchised the American public has become, the people who vote and the people who choose not to are responsible for the choice of leader in America. The American system is broken and I don’t know how to fix it.

Cyberwarfare and election fraud. What a brave new world we have created.