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Comment Re:Medical professionals (Score 1) 668

I'm a Libertarian, but characterizing the Greens as a one-issue party is quite inaccurate. They care about a whole lot of things besides the environment, and are generally aligned with Progressives on most issues.

The corporations and right-wing think-tanks who originally funded the Tea Party talked about the debt and deficit a lot (though they waited until Bush was about to be out of office to do it), but they've tried very hard to attract the right-wing crazy people as well, using them to attack the Democrats while providing deniability for the Republicans who can pretend that all that Birther racism has nothing to do with them.

If I'm being extra-cynical, I'd say that keeping the deficit hawks and the crazy people off on the right margin instead of having a centrist anti-deficit group was deliberate.

Comment Other lifestyle-related changes from DNA test (Score 1) 198

Some genetic test results are interesting but aren't something you can do much about; others are things you should pay attention to. 23&me says I've got a higher-than-average risk of Type 1 Diabetes (dodged that) and a lower risk of Type 2 (which tends to develop in middle age and is strongly influenced by diet.) If it were the other way around, I'd hopefully be a lot more serious about diet and exercise than I am currently. (Like most American adults, I need to lose weight, but at least I don't need to be taking insulin or the various things they give you before that to keep my blood sugars in line.)

On the other hand, I'm apparently also at risk for male pattern baldness (who'd have guessed?) Not much I can do about that besides wear hats.

I know some people whose DNA testing results said they were more or less sensitive to commonly-used medicines, which says that if they end up taking them they should let their doctors know so they can adjust dosages or choose alternative drugs.

United States

NSA Director Keith Alexander Is Reportedly Stepping Down 92

Daniel_Stuckey writes "Keith Alexander will step down by April or May of next year. What's more, the agency's deputy director Chris Inglis also plans to retire by the end of next year, anonymous US officials told Reuters today. Though the news comes in the midst of a global public backlash over the NSA's widespread surveillance programs, it's worth pointing out that Alexander had revealed his plans to retire before Edward Snowden leaked details of PRISM in June. Officials didn't give a reason for his departure."

Comment Mod Parent Up, Please! (Score 1) 240

Absolutely correct - you can't trust the hardware if you can't see it. Via and Pi are probably ok; people are rather more paranoid about Intel. Audio hardware can be useful (but you have to be sure what it'll do if there's no microphone plugged in.)

And as far as your signature line goes, it's really annoying how hard it's been to tell headlines in the NYT or WSJ from headlines in The Onion lately, especially about politics.

Comment There is no "very similar" in crypto (Score 1) 240

Yes, the entropy pools could be very similar. But if you're doing anything cryptographically strong, you're going to take the input and run it through a hash function, so on average a one-bit change in the input will change half the bits in the output. If you got the same SSL cert both times, none of the input bits were different.

If your attacker knows the state of your entropy pool when you start, and knows you're only changing a few bits of input, he can model the PRNG's behaviour to try all the different values of those input bits, and probably get lucky about guessing the output.

Comment Entropy for VMs (Score 1) 240

If you don't trust the server not to play with the clock on your VM, you can't trust the server not to steal your data wholesale.

But there really does need to be a mechanism for the server to feed high-quality randomness to the VM, whether it's through a device driver or a well-known address on the box or something, and it needs to be available at or just after boot time on the VM.

Comment DieHard vs. Crypto RNGs (Score 1) 240

Yes, Diehard can't tell you if a random number stream is good enough for cryptographic use. But if it tells you that the stream is not good, then it's not good enough for crypto.

Also, while you should use cryptographic whitening techniques for actual crypto use, you shouldn't do that for your Diehard input, because that'll hide any flaws Diehard could have found. There are other kinds of whitening that can make sense (e.g. if you get long runs of the same bit because you're sampling the hardware faster than it changes, you'll want to compress those before doing Diehard.)

Comment Re:Secrets vs. Security Clearances (Score 2) 149

Hardly; I was getting questions about "one of your coworkers said you were involved in a libertine party?" (Hey, if people were having libertine parties, nobody was inviting me :-)

I know the LP and their range of crazies quite well; most of the anarchists are also pacifists (though some are gun nuts), the Kochtopus had funded much of the 1980 presidential campaign (I forget which one of them was the VP candidate) and were funding Cato, and a lot of them were still leftover Barry Goldwater fans who opposed the Vietnam draft, or hippies who believed in the free market. We hadn't had the quasi-Republican takeover that's happened since 9/11 (too many people freaked out about Muslim Terrorists Attacking America, sigh.)

Comment Polygraphs (Score 1) 149

Back in the 80s, you didn't need a polygraph for a vanilla Secret or Top Secret clearance, and I didn't have any of the spooky clearances or DEA clearances so I don't know what they did. I don't think the nuke people needed them either, but we didn't do nukes. I think the only particular lifestyle restriction I had was that I couldn't travel to communist countries without notifying the Feds first.

Comment Secrets vs. Security Clearances (Score 5, Interesting) 149

Yup. I was a defense contractor back in the 80s. While you couldn't be gay in the uniformed military, you could still have a security clearance and be a contractor or in the NSA or CIA - but you couldn't be in the closet, because that might be used for blackmail, especially in states where it was still illegal to be gay. So there were some famous researchers who'd had to come out to their families.

They asked about a lot of other things; they didn't mind that some of my coworkers had used drugs back in college and then stopped, but they really freaked out when one guy said he'd smoked dope, liked it, and might well do it again :-) (It took an extra six months for his clearance to come through.) And they really cared a lot about people who had relatives in Communist countries, not because they were worried that Cousin Ivan might have corrupted you into being a Commie, but because the KGB might threaten to kill your grandma if you didn't give them the secret plans. In my case, they asked a bunch of questions one year about my involvement in the Libertarian Party, because some of them weren't quite familiar with the concept that there were more than two political parties (plus the Commies, and they'd kind of forgotten about George Wallace.)

A friend of mine in the Air Force had a buddy who'd put down that his previous job experience included working at a candy store back home in the Bronx, and the guy who ran the place said he'd never heard of him. Had to have his dad go tell Cousin Luigi that it was the Feds checking on his security clearance for the service, not anybody checking into the numbers game that might or might not have been running out of the back room.

Comment Another cheater busted in California (Score 1) 320

gambling-pro-archie-karas-charged-defrauding-casino - The article doesn't say how he was marking the cards, but Archie Karas was arrested at his home in Las Vegas for cheating at an Indian Casino near San Diego. (The article also doesn't say why state police were involved; the casino's on an Indian reservation, and casinos are allowed to operate there because it's not subject to state jurisdiction, though California's tried to cheat the local tribes on that for years because they want a cut of the gambling take.)

Comment Card counting (Score 1) 320

You might or might not get to keep your winnings if you get caught card counting. The people who make a lot of money doing it work in teams, because it's easier to cover up having some people doing the grunt work of counting and some being the dumb lucky high roller who collects the winnings by playing at the table where their team member indicates the odds are good. Also, if you're actually making a lot of money, you're winning chips, not cash, and you've got to get the casino to let you trade them back in for cash, which they might not do if they've caught you, even if they're not actually mobsters who are going to beat you up.

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