Luke 17:33

Chris Norman, the Briton who participated in the salvation of the French train against a mysterious young man with unknowable motives said this when asked about why he fought back: "I figured, I'm probably going to die anyways, so let's go.... Either you sit down and you die, or you stand up and you die."

But you didn't die. You're the one giving the interview.

This is one of those New Testament passages that comes up over and over and over again. Chesterton said of it:
“He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice.

He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.
It is good, it is encouraging, to see that men are taking this to heart once again. It is a practical as well as a spiritual insight, a hint from the designer at a surprising truth built into the structure of the world. It's an Easter egg in reality, so to speak.

Another Saturday quiz or two

Someone has come out with a list of 99 of the 100 best novels in the English language, presented alongside a ten-question quiz about their authors and circumstances of publication.  I believe I've read 27 of them, though some were so long ago that I may have confused them with something else.  Others seemed familiar, but probably only from movie treatments.  Some I didn't care for, and wouldn't have finished if they hadn't been assigned to me in school, such as "The Great Gatsby."  One of them I happen to be re-reading with pleasure at this very moment.  As for the associated quiz, I totally bombed it:  2 out of 10.

A New Idea For Reparations: Weighted Voting

The author likes the idea of America paying reparations to blacks to repair the damages of slavery, but doesn't want money. He wants a bigger vote. Specifically, he wants to repair the 3/5th compromise by giving black Americans a 5/3rds vote.

It's a more interesting piece than it sounds like from that summary, as he tries to wrestle with some of the complications of the idea.
And then the problem of who exactly is eligible must be addressed. Would a biracial voter qualify? A black immigrant? And what exactly is an election official to do when Rachel Dolezal shows up to claim her five-thirds vote? The government shouldn’t be the sole arbiter of who gets to be black — nor flirt with archaic prescriptions such as the one-drop rule in determining a voter’s race. The most straightforward approach would be to limit access to weighted voting to those American-born citizens who have demonstrated through government documents, such as drivers’ licenses or birth certificates, that they identify, and are identified by others, as black or African American. There are bound to be instances where this approach is challenged, and one answer would be to model guidelines after the general requirements for establishing American Indian or Alaska Native ancestry as outlined by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which involve establishing that a lineal ancestor belongs to a specific tribe and then producing vital records that document a relationship to that ancestor.
The 3/5ths compromise didn't give blacks 3/5ths of a vote, though: it gave states representation in the House of Representation based on counting slaves as 3/5ths of a person. (I suppose we all understand that the South wanted to count slaves as whole people, and the North wanted not to count them at all.) If you wanted to do this in a way that mirrors what was done during the slaveholding era, to count blacks as 7/5ths of a person (a more obvious standard than 5/3rds, being 2/5ths off in either case), it would be purely to determine how many representatives in Congress each states get.

Now, that would doubtless increase black representation in Congress somewhat. It wouldn't have the wild swings that are posited in the article, though, because it wouldn't affect the Senate or the Presidential election at all. It would only mean that places like Georgia would have more congressional districts, and because black voters were considered 7/5ths of a person, more of those districts would end up being gerrymandered into black-majority districts than currently is the case.

The author points out that 90% of white Americans are opposed to the idea of reparations. I am not among them: it satisfies my Viking sense of justice, because it is a parallel to the weregeld. That was also inheritable by the family (indeed, it was often paid in cases where the person wrongly offended had been killed). We used to help the tribes in Iraq negotiate diyya payments to settle similar feuds. Assuming we can work out a deal of that kind, I would not be opposed to making the deal. The terms are, though, that the payment resolves the debt in full -- honor is satisfied, and we discuss it no more.

For that reason, the proposed 24-year period of weighting doesn't strike me as the right approach. The payment should be a one-time thing, something everyone agrees to accept as a settlement of the debt, so that we can finally put it behind us forever.

Weekend Quiz

Name these 12 famous people from the Middle Ages. It's tricky, since of course we don't have photographs! My first-time score was 92%.

They'll Find The Trains Are Guarded By...

You know the song, but let's hear it anyway given the news of the day. More, let's hear it a cappella since their brothers apparently didn't need instruments to perform.

UPDATE: Apparently the initial reports were wrong: no Marines were involved. The three Americans were a National Guardsman, an Airman, and a civilian. A Briton and one Frenchman were also involved in taking down the attacker. You can read about them here.

Strong work, gentlemen.

Justice, A Long Time Coming

Way back in 2003, during the initial invasion of Iraq, a soldier named Hasan K. Akbar fragged two of his comrades while deployed at war. A military court has upheld his death sentence.

The decision was not unanimous. Two dissenting judges objected to the fact that his diary was made available to the court martial panel:
“These pages included a running diatribe against Caucasians and the United States dating back 12 years, and included repeated references to (his) desire to kill American soldiers ‘for Allah’ and for ‘jihad,' ” Judge James E. Baker noted.
I don't know: that sounds pretty relevant to me.

OAF on the DOS

A former Blackwater contractor has been writing a short series mocking State Department 'war tourists' in Afghanistan. I sympathize somewhat, although I think I mentioned the other week that the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team guys were good dudes. Of course, excepting the one Foreign Service team leader, those guys were all contractors too: the DOS couldn't staff them with volunteers. Still, the Foreign Service Officers they did find to lead the teams were fine gentlemen. We never had to deal with the high-level DOS guys, because we were too far down the strategic/tactical chain.

Still, I can easily imagine the scene our Blackwater friend is describing. Nor is he wholly wrong in his punishing description of the pending failure of the whole mission in Afghanistan. The leadership at the elected and appointed civilian levels lost that war as they lost the Iraq we won. In the case of Afghanistan the President himself, by declaring a half-surge with a withdrawal date, decided to lose it in a long and drug-out way that ended up costing us most of the Americans killed in that conflict.

Good Judgment on Display

Ronda Rousey, again:
In a recent interview with CNN, [Trump] spoke about women fighting in facets of the military. For some reason, he lumped Rousey into the conversation, and stated that she was a supporter of his:

"I guess the answer is yes, because they're really into it. Some of them are really, really good. I'll tell you what, I know some woman that are just -- Ronda Rousey is an example, who likes me.

"I'd take her on my side as a fighter."

The only problem with that little statement is that Ronda is not a big fan of The Donald. In a previous interview with the same network, Rousey made it clear (while blinking a lot) that she would not vote for him:

"I mean, I wouldn't vote for him. I just really wouldn't trust the guy with running my country, that's all.

"I'm not really going to get into specifics of it, but, I mean, I don't want a reality TV star to be running my country."

Rousey is likely to meet Meisha Tate in the Octagon later on this year, while Trump is likely to meet the end of his White House hopes and dreams any day now.
Emphasis added. Given the nature of such shows, it should probably be an informal disqualification.


Our six-week drought is breaking, with good rains yesterday afternoon, and more early this morning.  When the sun comes up, I bet I'll find my cistern is full again.  In honor of the event, I present this video, showing a "wet microburst" that resembles the effect of a helicopter dumping a load of water on a wildfire.

Related, much worse news:  three firefighters were killed yesterday in Washington state when their vehicle crashed and they were overrun by a wildfire.  The chilling news from officials:  "the crash did not kill them."

The new wild west: deregulated eyebrow-threading

Tim Carney in the Washington Examiner examines new depredations by the unstoppable Reichwing machine in eroding the government's power to curtail the free market and free speech.  Somalia, baby!

How to end-run economic control-freaks

Uber is having a hard time getting a foothold in China:  the regulators keep raiding its offices there.  AirBNB has a different strategy, which takes advantage of its ability to woo Chinese customers first in their incarnation as travelers to other countries.  The idea is to get them used to the idea of an unregulated net-based vacation-lodging service during one of their 109 million trips abroad every year, then count on them to put pressure on the regulators at home to allow a similar service domestically.  As the article notes, China can't raid AirBNB's offices in California.

Welcome, robots

The good news in automation:  as brute-force jobs decline, jobs providing caring and service increase, fulfilling the new demand created by all the wealth produced by automating brute-force jobs.

A Footrace on Immigration

The NYT describes it as a 'race to the bottom,' but it's the one beneficial effect of the Trump Show that the Republican primary race has been for a little while now. The American people have been taken for a ride on immigration: generations of leaders of both parties have simply defied the popular will, and presented ongoing massive waves of immigration as a fait accompli. Democrats since Teddy Kennedy have looked with glee upon the horizon when their imported coalition will come to dominate elections; conservatives long ago began adopting apologetic rhetoric in order to avoid giving offense to their new electoral masters.

So suddenly we're talking about birthright citizenship, whether it's the proper standard for the American Republic, and just how much immigration should be subordinated to the greater cause of maintaining a polity that supports the ongoing American project codified in the Constitution. That's exactly the conversation we should have been having all along, but people were too afraid to have it.

It isn't necessary to adopt unfair rhetoric to have the conversation, and we shouldn't speak unjustly of anyone. It is necessary to have the conversation. America is not a bloodline nation. Birthright citizenship doesn't make much sense here. We're a nation founded on a creed. Adherence to the creed should be what we are looking for in new immigrants, and numbers should be kept small enough over time that assimilation get to work. The creed should never be endangered by demographics. The creed is a vision of human liberty that is what this country was all about. Achieving and sustaining that vision is the whole point of the project.

These levels of immigration are not compatible with that, and therefore we need to address them. We must do this will all seriousness, because the survival of the project is at stake. We are not racing to the bottom, but we are in a race against time.

It's Hard Not To Snicker

Headline: "Hillary's latest defense: What is classified information, anyway?"

"If You Still Support Planned Parenthood, You Are Simply Not A Decent Person."

More likely than this, you just haven't seen the videos. The media has done its best to play them down. The people I know who still support Planned Parenthood are aware they exist, but describe them as 'those doctored videos that tried to show Planned Parenthood was guilty of a crime, which has been debunked.'

The proof that these guys haven't even watched the videos is contained in the headline of that last link, which reads, "Investigations turn up no Planned Parenthood wrongdoing." If you have seen the videos, you know that what is debatable is whether there has been any lawbreaking. "Wrongdoing" is indisputable. That the law supports these practices is a huge part of the problem to be solved.

UPDATE: An analogy featuring baby pandas.

Ranger School: Graduation

The Ranger School says that the President will not be attending graduation.  They also want to dispute a series of additional rumors that have been circulating on Facebook about how the two women managed to pass the final phase of the course.  I've seen all of those rumors in my FB feed.

I have heard one rumor that isn't denied here, which is that the women were involved in a fratricide incident on patrol and were passed anyway (as they should not have been). The source for this is a Regiment guy who claims he has it from one of the trainers directly. There are so many false rumors circulating, though, I don't know whether to believe this one or not. The rumor about the President attending was similarly sourced by Havok Journal. Of course, it may have been true: even if the President wasn't coming, the instructors may have been told to prepare for him to come; or, he may have in fact been planning to come and sent initial warning, and later been talked out of it by someone giving him good advice. In any case, the information in that case was as good as the information in this case, and I can't say whether or not you ought to believe it. At the very least, you can believe that there is a great deal of bitterness among the Rangers about this business -- otherwise, such hostile rumors would not be being passed around, nor so readily believed. The effect on unit cohesion is at least temporarily ugly, though perhaps that will pass in time.

What I do know is that the two women have been passed through the final phase and will graduate tomorrow, becoming the only women in history entitled to wear the Ranger tab. They certainly deserve congratulations for surviving the course -- not everyone does, and they were at a severe disadvantage. Even if they did receive extra help, as they are confirmed to have received second and third chances, it's really appropriate given that they had to undergo the school with a body type that carries less muscle and more fat, a strength and aerobic capacity approximately 20-40% lower than mens', structural disadvantages in their hips and knees, and in coming to Ranger school from outside the Combat Arms, which means they had to learn the skills on the fly rather than honing skills they already had. Any of these would have been a potentially crippling disadvantage. They managed the course while carrying all of them together.  That's a tremendous accomplishment whether they got extra help or not.

It happens that I had a long talk about all this with my friend, who happens also to be Uncle Jimbo's fiancee, and goes by the online nickname "Airborne Girl." She had wanted to get into Ranger school when she was in the military (and did, as the nickname suggests, successfully complete Airborne school). Indeed, she tells me that she applied for Ranger school like seventeen times. Her opinion is that it ought to be opened to women who are in positions that may require them to lead soldiers in combat, as it is the Army's best leadership course. As a signals officer, she wasn't likely to be called upon to do it, but it was far from impossible that she could find herself in the situation.

I respect that opinion. I still think the course should probably remain closed to women, as a 10% pass rate (ordinarily the pass rate is 42%) and only after the third try appears to confirm the results of previous studies involving the USMC IOC and the United Kingdom's tri-service longitudinal study of women in combat. Even if you get them through the course, they're not a good fit for the units the course is designed to support -- which is not necessarily the Ranger Regiment, but it is generally the Combat Arms. A separate leadership course for officers who may be called upon to lead soldiers in combat, but only accidentally and not for extended periods, would better support officers of the kind Airborne Girl is talking about.

What the military has actually decided to do is open BUD/S to women in an attempt to produce female Navy SEALs. That course runs for six months instead of the roughly two months of the Ranger course. Now the SEALs -- excepting DEVGRU, or "Seal Team Six" as it used to be called -- are a much larger group that we often realize, more or less the size of the 75th Ranger Regiment all told. Still, BUD/S is famously punishing, and it is very long. The risk of injury over time strikes me as the main reason to disfavor women in the combat arms: getting them through a two month school is one thing, but a six month or year long deployment in Afghanistan is something else again. Further, the Rangers and SEALs both deploy at a very high tempo, over and over again. A longer course will provide a sterner test of that capability, and it looks like we're going to see how that plays out.

All seriousness aside, the Department of the Navy is about to have a field day with the Army in the playful blood sport of inter-service rivalry jokes. I expect to see Marines mocking the Army for having a Ranger course that is easier than the USMC Infantry Officers Course (as it "must be" if women can do it) any minute now. If women pass BUD/S too the whole of the Marine Corps will become insufferable for years. If they don't, meanwhile, imagine how much fun the Navy is going to have mocking the ease of life in the Army. They've been taking constant mockery on that score from the Army for decades, and I'm sure they will take intense personal pleasure in the opportunity to give it back.

Fun with public schools.


Ashley Madison & dot-govs

From the Washington Times:
The list says there are 44 emails registered on the Ashley Madison site with a "" address.
The largest non-military user of Ashley Madison appears to be the Department of Veterans Affairs. The leaked summary shows 104 emails from ""
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is close behind, with 88 emails. The U.S. Postal Service shows 52 emails, and the Department of Homeland Security has 45.
The cheating website also has 42 emails registered from the Social Security Administration, 33 from the State Department, and six from the IRS.
The Federal Aviation Administration has 17 emails on the list, and the Labor Department has 15.

Watchdog Group: She Used Option One

A former US Army counterintelligence officer who now works for a watchdog group says he believes that Secretary Clinton used what I described as "option (1)" to get around the air gap:
Farrell said his investigation of the matter indicates that Clinton aides likely read classified documents and then digested and excerpted the material into the unclassified email system. Clinton has said she never sent any classified information on the email server and did not receive any classified information that was marked as such. “So she’s relying on the idea that somehow her deputies, Huma Abedin and Jay Sullivan, would excerpt the pertinent points out of a classified cable,” Farrell said. “They would pull those nuggets out of the classified version and restate it in an regular, unclassified conventional email on her server. And that’s what we’ve come across now.”


Said Farrell: “Here’s the bottom line: The secretary of state in an extraordinary and unprecedented move, set up a private email server to circumvent the conventional government classified and unclassified networks. Her aides and assistants excerpted code-word material from various classified message traffic and then took those excerpts and then sent them to her over an unclassified email server.”
Perhaps the biggest news in the story is that Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills disregarded the Federal judge's order that they give sworn statements in this matter. That is going to have consequences.

It takes a hurricane

From Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker, a disturbing analysis of Katrina's forcible relocation of many of the residents of the worst bomb-crater neighborhoods in New Orleans. The removal improved not only the lives of those who moved away but also the lives of those who stayed behind.  I don't know of any way to look at these results than to conclude that there is a poor black culture that can be improved--and can be prevented from dragging down the cultures it touches--only if it remains a locally diluted minority.  If you belonged to that culture, what could be a harder message to accept?

Irony and the State Department

Classified military intelligence on Libya? Send it in an email. Details about the Iran 'secret deals'? Sorry, man, it can't leave the SCIF.
The Obama administration delivered 18 documents to Congress on July 19, in accordance with legislation requiring a congressional review of the nuclear deal. Only one of these documents is classified, while the remaining 17 are unclassified.

Yet many of these unclassified documents cannot be shared with the public or discussed openly with the press. The protocol for handling these documents, set by the State Department and carried out by Congress, is that these unreleased documents can only be reviewed ‘in camera’—a Latin term that means only those with special clearance can read them—and must be held in various congressional SCIFs.

Most staffers were hesitant to discuss—let alone share—a number of these documents, even though they’re not classified, because they require security clearances to view. By mixing a classified document with unclassified documents, critics of this arrangement contend, important facts are being kept from the public just as Congress is deciding whether to support or oppose the Iran deal.
On the upside, it's good to hear that they're suddenly taking seriously questions of proper handling procedures.

Way better than the actual debate

Bad Lip Reading

What "Secret Deal"? This is a "Confidential Agreement," Morons.

Secretary Kerry explains it all, starting at 4:45.

This is just an ordinary secret confidential deal, um, arrangement that is perfectly ordinary and standard practice in these matters. We've been doing all this for a long time. Nothing to see here. Move on.

Schlock Mercenary

Joe W. introduced me to this strip years ago, and I continue to follow it. Minor quibbles aside, it's remained impressive year after year. If you haven't read it before, you can start at the beginning and enjoy weeks of binge reading pleasure.

Well, Why Not?

Iran was already going to get to limit the citizenship of inspectors to countries with which it has normal relations. It was going to get to sign off on each individual inspector via a background check by its spy agency. So why not just let them use their own experts to inspect their military facilities?
[T]he agreement diverges from normal inspection procedures between the IAEA and a member country by essentially ceding the agency's investigative authority to Iran. It allows Tehran to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence for activities that it has consistently denied - trying to develop nuclear weapons....

The White House has denied claims by critics that a secret "side deal" favorable to Tehran exists. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said the Parchin document is like other routine arrangements between the agency and individual IAEA member nations, while IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told Republican senators last week that he is obligated to keep the document confidential.

But Republican critics are bound to harshly criticize any document that cedes to Iran the right to look for the very nuclear wrongdoing that it has denied committing.
Kerry says he's been briefed on this and is OK with it. Clearly our real goal cannot be to stop their nuclear program. It makes me wonder if our real goal to raise their self-esteem. Iran's got a space program too, you know -- at least, they claim that's why they want advanced ballistic missiles capable of hitting precise targets.

Stones or Speeding Tickets?

As radar gun technology improved, and later laser speed detectors, my father used to tell me that someday it just wouldn't be possible to speed any more. You'd have to drive the speed limit all the time, because the instant you violated it a ticket would get mailed to your house. These days it might get texted to your phone, or just automatically debited from your account.

Not to worry, I said: what will really happen is that, once we're all obliged to stop pretending that we ever obey the speed limits, we'll revise them upwards according to what we really think they ought to be. The lies aren't setting us free, they're the things that are posting speed traps all over the roads. It's the truth that will really set us free.

I'm thinking about this again as the Ashley Madison hack becomes dumped on the internet. Tens of millions of people are about to have to account for their behavior. Will they be stoned to death, metaphorically, as people fear? Or will the society simply revise its standards to more honestly account for the fact that this behavior is apparently widely practiced -- the database is the size of fully ten percent of the US population, apparently.

Adultery is much more serious than speeding, of course. It's a moral offense, and not merely a formal violation of the motor vehicle code. However, our moral laws and moral standards on sexuality have rapidly eroded these last few years. Instead of the fearful punishment commentators seem to expect, I wonder if we won't see the remaining taboo against adultery collapse in the face of this exposure. That would be a grave matter for the survival of marriage -- I mean real, traditional marriage aimed at a stable family to raise and pass on a heritage for children, not celebrity-style serial marriage. Yet it seems to me a likely outcome.

None of us have any personal stake in this leak, I assume, but I'm curious as to what you think will happen as a result of it. Will we preserve the taboo by metaphorically stoning the adulterers? Or will we, as a society, elect to 'set ourselves free' of the taboo? Excepting the military, we've already removed adultery from the list of crimes punishable at law. Will we see the social follow the legal, as it so often has of late?

Well, That Is Sort Of Like A Faraday Cage...

Clinton's server was kept in bathroom closet of that first rate IT firm she trusted with national security.

That's Not A Sword...

My favorite part about this story is that the store owner also had a gun, and didn't even feel the need to make reference to it.

Bad Day on the Campaign Trail

Throwing the ball to the small child, it's Marco Rubio!

We all have bad days now and then.

The "taint of experience"

Jim Gerraghty's newsletter this morning pointed me toward a RedState piece about the current wave of Republican/Independent enthusiasm for a presidential candidate who's never been involved in politics:
Basically everyone who’s in office right now at one point was a political outsider. No one was born into elected office. At some point, all the people who have frustrated you (the voters) and pissed you off ran for office in their first campaign trying to tell you how they were different. They hadn’t been to Washington. They had success in business that would translate well to political office. They were wealthy and didn’t need help from special interests. And so on and so on. And, one by one, we elected those people and sent them to Washington or the Governor’s Mansion or wherever in the hopes that maybe they would be different.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)–at one point, these guys were all oustiders. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) himself was at one time not too long ago a guy with a compelling story of having risen through poverty as one of 12 kids to become President of the company he had worked for for 13 years. He ran successfully as an outsider and won.
The problem is, almost none of them actually were, after they got to office. Easily 95% of these political neophytes, once they got to office, were lured by the trappings of power and corrupted. And then they became the people you hated and the reason to send new political neophytes to power.
Here is the salient fact that many people are missing in this particular logical chain. It’s easy to say and do all the right things and to be non-corrupted when you are a political neophyte. Literally everyone who has ever run for office their first time has done it. What’s hard (apparently, at least based on the evidence) is to remain true to your principles after you win your election and actually get to power.
So what we ought to be looking for isn’t really someone who’s never been tested by the allure of power. History tells us that almost all people fail that test. What we ought to instead be looking for is people who have already been tested, to determine which ones have passed the test with the most success.
This is why I support Walker.

A Very Lucky Outcome

In Brazil, a female MMA fighter won a match that went the distance. It was a contested fight:

The fight three months ago, in the Noxii championship against Renata Baldan, lasted the full five minutes and three rounds - with Novaes eventually winning by a unanimous judge's decision. Video footage shows Novaes receiving several vicious knees to her stomach during the fight, as well as being body-slammed on to the ground.
Turns out, she was pregnant and didn't know it until after the victory.  Luckily, the child will apparently be fine.

What About The "Air Gap"?

So I've been asking around to confirm whether State uses the same "air gap" technique that the military uses to protect classified information, and it appears that it does. What is an air gap?
HOW DO YOU remotely hack a computer that is not connected to the internet? Most of the time you can’t, which is why so-called air-gapped computers are considered more secure than others.

An air-gapped computer is one that is neither connected to the internet nor connected to other systems that are connected to the internet.... A true air gap means the machine or network is physically isolated from the internet, and data can only pass to it via a USB flash drive, other removable media, or a firewire connecting two computers directly. But many companies insist that a network or system is sufficiently air-gapped even if it is only separated from other computers or networks by a software firewall. Such firewalls, however, can be breached if the code has security holes or if the firewalls are configured insecurely.
The military actually uses several different systems for different levels and types of classification. By far the biggest one is the SIPRnet, which handles information rated SECRET and below. The SIPRnet is huge, comprising thousands of computers across the globe, but it is connected at no point to the commercial internet. Because of the dangers of removable media like thumbdrives, those are forbidden to be connected to the SIPRnet. The computers themselves have to be physically secured, usually by being kept on a military base.

If you want to move data from the internet into the SIPRnet, or vice-versa, it used to be possible by writing the data to a writable CD, transferring the data, and then breaking the CD to ensure that copy was destroyed. You could only do this legally with unclassified information. I don't know that CDs are even still allowed, meaning that data has to be physically re-typed from one system to the other (which is what we usually did when porting unclassified information, such as news reports relevant to our operations, into the SIPRnet). Then there is no danger of transferring any hidden malware.

Smaller and more secure systems handle Top Secret information, such as JWICS. Being kept on a base isn't good enough for a JWICS computer: it has to be kept locked in a proper SCIF. In addition, of course, it's password protected and requires a physical card identifying the user that is itself coded with information about your security clearance.

So how did this classified information get out of the classified, air-gapped networks and onto Clinton's server in the first place? There are really only two possibilities.

1) Someone, or a team of someones, illegally downloaded the material onto removable media, stripped it of its classification markings, and transmitted it onto the public internet.

2) Clinton arranged to have her private server networked with SECRET and TOP SECRET systems, compromising the security of all the information kept on those systems. If you could hack into her system, which was secured by a truly first-rate organization that made copies of the data and then sold the server on which they resided, you could bypass the air gap and get into nearly all of America's most classified data.

Option (1) is a clear felony, one that would have required numerous man-hours of labor given the number of classified records now turning up. It would have been fairly tedious, too, which means that the work would be passed down to flunkies who probably don't want to go to prison forever -- but their records of accessing the data just before the emails were sent on Clinton's private server will be recorded, because they had to log in and be physically present with their ID cards to do it. It should be possible to find these people and apply pressure to them until they crack and cooperate in return for reduced sentences.

Option (2) is a disaster of unimaginable proportions. However, it would have made it very easy for Clinton to access the information and move data back and forth between her private system and the systems used to communicate with her diplomats in the field. For that reason, I suspect it will prove to be the one she actually employed.

Sign Bill Clinton's Birthday Card

We've been invited. I mean, be polite. Be courteous. We're all gentlemen here, excepting the ladies.

Making a Cigar Box Guitar

Grim's 1332 post got me watching a bunch of cigar box guitar videos. Here's a good, time-condensed video of making an electric cigar box guitar from scratch. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the craftsmanship, though the background music gets a bit repetitive.

Update: If anyone's interested in a much, much simpler and easier way to do this, here are three different plans.

Art of Manliness: How to Make a Cigar Box Guitar

Make: Hand-Rolled Music

Cigar Box Nation plans

Glenn Watt has a bunch of useful videos on it as well, and there is a lot more out there.

Ranger School Update: The Fix Is In

So claims Havok Journal, at least, based on the President's sudden desire to attend graduation.
Now, I’m no fortuneteller, but when the travel agent of the Commander-in-Chief contacts your organization, travel plans probably isn’t the message trying to be delivered. “Undue command influence” is something JAG officers warn leaders about, especially during election cycles and sensitive topics that can get young NCOs and company commanders in trouble.

Call it what you will, but when the President says he’s attending graduation for Ranger School, something he’s never shown interest in prior to this class, there’s obviously a reason, and I’m sure there’s at least one or two Ranger candidates that will make the cut. Unfortunately, the premier leadership school in the Army is falling victim to an agenda and will soon find itself in a swelter of media madness like its never experienced, even up to this point.
So disconnected from the military is he that he does not realize that, rather than honoring the women by his presence, he will have undermined them in the eyes of everyone by doing this. Few will now believe that their passage through the school was fair and free from political pressure. I wonder if he can even imagine the damage he's doing to these two women, who have done gloriously to come this far, by making himself a part of this?

The South Must Be Destroyed

At the time that the world went insane over the display of the Confederate flag at a war memorial on the grounds of the South Carolina capitol, I told a friend that I was concerned that this would lead to a much more serious purge against the South. The language being used wasn't always anti-Confederate, but had a strong anti-Southern tendency -- especially the language of the powerful and politically connected, as opposed to the ordinary citizens of South Carolina who have a perfect right to debate how to remember their heritage.

That this is an anti-Southern purge by the cultural elite is clear, now, as the Washington Post leads the charge to destroy the Southern belle. Writing on a decision by the University of Georgia to ban the wearing of hoop skirts as somehow symbolic of slavery, though unlike the Confederate flag the skirt is characteristic of the South both before and after the end of slavery, the Post calls for much more purgery:
If UGA and other Southern schools really want to lead, they will not only ban the hoop; they will also go after the belle. This will be tougher to do. It will mean discontinuing support for still-prevalent campus productions that promote imaginative connection with the Old South. And it will mean instituting new campus productions in their place. For their part, traditionally white Southern sororities serious about anti-racism will scrap the belle aesthetic and corresponding performances designed to measure it. They will develop new yardsticks for evaluating potential members that are less about looks and more about leadership. In short, they will confront the central role their choreography plays in reiterating race and class privilege. They will just say to hell with the belle.
The language is extraordinarily hostile to a group of young women engaged in what, in an earlier era, we might have thought of as "protected acts of free expression." But the campus is no place for free expression these days. These days expressions on campus must be controlled by the Federal Government's Office for Civil Rights. Campuses in the South must be controlled most tightly of all.

I've seen this movie before.

It wasn't the Medieval English kings, as the film has it: it was in 1746 that the kilt was banned, and the pipes, and the symbols of Scotland.

This Story is Starting to Get Interesting

The National Review points out that the missing emails -- whether or not they end up creating a legal issue for Mrs. Clinton -- will probably derail the prosecution of a terrorist associated with the Benghazi attacks. If you felt that we needed to point to actual damage to the national security, now you can.
If Mrs. Clinton thinks FOIA is a headache, wait until she sees what happens when a top government official’s reckless mass deletion of e-mails takes center stage in a terrorism prosecution of intense national interest. Federal criminal court is not the nightly news. There, mass deletion of files is not gently described as “emails a government official chose not to retain”; it is described as “destruction of evidence” and “obstruction of justice.”
The problem is that the indictment tries to stand by the silly story that the attack was a spontaneous protest to an internet video, and the government is required to produce anything it has that "calls into question the prosecution’s version of events, theory of guilt, and credibility." Emails from the day of the attack touching on the attack are, of course, evidence of that kind. I can tell that the author really enjoyed writing this piece.

Now classified information might not be required to be produced in an open court, but it is Mrs. Clinton's stated belief that no classified information was sent on this system. Also, according to Federal law, these were government records that were required to be archived.

Meanwhile, in what may be an even more amazing story, the IT firm Mrs. Clinton used appears to have transferred all the data to another drive -- and then sold it.
Bloomberg reported Thursday night that Barbara Wells, an attorney for Platte River Networks, Inc., confirmed that while the server hardware now controlled by the FBI 'is blank and does not contain any useful data,' its contents could still be safe and sound elsewhere.

That's because the server's messages were 'migrated' to another server that still exists, she said, before ending the Bloomberg interview without specifying where that device is located and who owns it – only that her company no longer has it.
That's some first-rate security this firm provides for their clients' sensitive data!

Wonder who has it now?

Waco Shootout Update

So... it's been three months. Do we know who shot whom?

No, indeed! "Tabo says courts can make exceptions under certain circumstances and in those cases, gag orders don’t violate The First Amendment. '[But] the standard is supposed to be quite high,' she says."

Nine people died at that shootout. Who shot them? An attorney out of Vegas claims, allegedly based on talks with the bikers, that the police killed them all. This would be an easy charge to rebut by releasing physical evidence. For example, were these gunshot wounds from handguns, or were they from rifles? That's very easy to determine in an autopsy.

Also: "All but two of the 177 have been released, and no one has been formally charged." No one? That's kind of amazing. Almost two hundred people were arrested, and no charges have been filed?