A Special Breed


WASHINGTON — A Navy SEAL who helped rescue an American hostage in Afghanistan received the nation’s highest military honor Monday, hailed by President Barack Obama as “a special breed of warrior who so often serves in the shadows.”
Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers Jr. is the first living, active duty member of the Navy to receive the Medal of Honor in four decades.

Meet the new boss . . .

. . . A lot like the old boss?

The Air Force unveiled a sketch of its new B-21 bomber today, and it looked a lot like the B-2:

Kind of like those mid-model refreshes the car companies do?

Whatever it ends up looking like, the real differences will undoubtedly be under the skin.

The AF press release.
Tired of telemarketers?

Have some fun with them, like "Jolly Roger" did:
. . . I figured I’d try something. I was getting a lot of repeat calls from numbers. Obviously the same company’s predictive dialers were calling me at various times trying to find me home. I thought, what if I play a sound file that says “hello?… Hello?… Hello?…” a few times? Would it fool their predictive dialer into thinking it had reached a real person? So recorded some “hellos”, then “hang on a sec”, and then some silence. I created a “parrot” routine and sent these obvious telemarketers to this parrot.
And it worked like a champ! So then I thought “hmmmmm, how far can I take this parrot?”
Very far, it turns out. Read the rest here. "Roger" is my nominee for man of the year.

Apple and the Constitution

While the right to privacy is at the heart of the FBI vs.Apple fight, possibly the more important legal issue is the power of the government to coerce a private entity to do its bidding.

Many people have compared the FBI’s insistence that the terrorist’s iPhone be unlocked to the government coming into your home. But that’s not a correct analogy: for one thing, the government can come into your home with a search warrant, which has been issued. But can the government go to the carpenter who built the home and demand that he remove the back wall and build a doorway in?

While congress approved rather far reaching – over-reaching would be a better term – anti-privacy laws in the wake of 9/11, it did not approve legislation that would have mandated so-called backdoors in smart phones, et al. The FBI is creatively interpreting an older law to assert that it has rights congress hasn’t granted.

The problem isn’t this specific case – the information on the iPhone is undoubtedly of little value, especially given the fact that the perpetrators are dead. And it’s not even the fact that once invented, the decrypt tool could easily be used elsewhere. The real problem is the precedence – if the government has the right in this case, undoubtedly deliberately chosen because public opinion will side with it, where will its rights stop?

They won’t. They may not break your iPhone tomorrow; they may not be in your house next week. 
But legal precedents last for a long time.

I read a silly story today to the effect that tech companies have “the upper hand” because they can always create something even harder to decrypt. One need only look at China or Russia to see how na├»ve that is. I’m not an Apple fanboy, but I’m with them on this.

Reading the tobacco leaves . . . 

...in the presidential race.

According to Cigar Aficionado, cigar smokers prefer the Donald and Hillary as their candidate, depending on their respective party.

I don't think either smokes (unlike, say, Cruz), which I guess proves that cigar smokers are not one-issue candidates.


Coming this Spring . . .

The paperback.
First in our hearts . . .

There are many reasons George Washington should be celebrated today, but probably the most important: he refused to be king.

From the History.com website:

On the morning of March 15, 1783, General George Washington makes a surprise appearance at an assembly of army officers at Newburgh, New York, to calm the growing frustration and distrust they had been openly expressing towards Congress in the previous few weeks. Angry with Congress for failing to honor its promise to pay them and for its failure to settle accounts for repayment of food and clothing, officers began circulating an anonymous letter condemning Congress and calling for a revolt.
When word of the letter and its call for an unsanctioned meeting of officers reached him, Washington issued a general order forbidding any unsanctioned meetings and called for a general assembly of officers for March 15. At the meeting, Washington began his speech to the officers by saying, “Gentlemen: By an anonymous summons, an attempt has been made to convene you together; how inconsistent with the rules of propriety! How unmilitary! And how subversive of all order and discipline…”
Read the rest. (It's well worth it.)

More than one politician would do well to contemplate that.

Happy Valentine's Day . . .

... to all you lovers out there, especially mine . . .

Russia's propaganda war . . .

. . . and the bizarre twists of truth that would make George Orwell blush:

The truth doesn’t matter, because it’s already mission accomplished for the Kremlin. . . .[Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov pulled off a common trick in Russia’s self-declared “information war” against its enemies: a government official picks up on a report in state media, leading to its legitimation and further dissemination. Fake news is essentially laundered and enters the public consciousness as fact.


The Boss's book . . .

I am truly bummed that I wasn't involved in this project:

Bruce Springsteen fans have reached the literary Promised Land. The New Jersey rocker will be releasing his autobiography later this year.
Springsteen privately started writing the book — appropriately named “Born to Run,” after his breakout song and album from the mid-1970s – seven years ago, shortly after he and the E Street Band played at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2009, according to publisher Simon & Schuster.
It will be released world-wide on Sept. 27. Simon & Schuster will publish it in hardcover, audio and ebook editions in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and India. Additionally, rights have been sold to publishers in nine countries, the publisher said.

I've been reading Peter Ames Carlin's biography, Bruce, for a project I'm working on. It's extremely sympathetic to Springstein's point of view; it will be interesting to see how much more in-depth the memoir is - or isn't.