Sunday, April 26, 2009

This 'n that; lotsa torture

Just a few notes and a general thank-you:

UPI has received, to date, over 9500 visitors and nearly 13,500 page views. To my constant readers and those who drop by sporadically for a dose of alienated craziness, I thank you. The only other time I was ever accorded the undivided attention of over a thousand people was in the 1970s, when my old rock band The Nobz opened for The Tubes at Atlanta’s Fox Theater. The Internet is a colder venue, but if time and circumstances have made me a bit more articulate than singing back-up on such gems as “Lawnmowers in Love”, “Pet Rock” and “Disco Chainsaw”, it’s nice to have a forum for my cognitively-dissonant ramblings. I long for the days when I still had my sense of humor, but the world has turned into such a grim, nihilistic place that any humor I find in current events or social trends is so dark that I dare not express it lest I be sent to a re-education camp for the politically incorrect.

Apparently, people occasionally search my archives here at Blogger™, and check out yesterday’s news. The dreaded “Anonymous” left a comment on last year’s “The nigger lover”, saying my writing was so terrible and bad, it’s “terribad”. Okay. I published it, since there wasn’t any outright profanity involved. I would’ve appreciated suggestions for how to improve my style, but none were forthcoming. Please don't write in telling me how good I am; sycophancy does not become what I do here.

I waver between stream-of-consciousness writing and lessons learned from Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style and United Press International’s Newswire Stylebook. Those used to be the Bibles of journalism, before subjective ideology superseded straight reporting as the standard for the historical record. Back in the day—as a freelancer—I filed a few stories that were picked up by the other UPI. I never forgot what my journalism teacher—a crusty old fart named Phillip S. who was a reporter with a press card in his hatband and a pencil and small spiral notepad in hand—told me about the nature of the job: “You aren’t there to be the story; you’re there to record what is happening.” Phil taught me how to edit copy, work an offset press, and write a story that tells the truth without editorializing or spinning the facts. In a perfect world, he’d be the managing editor at the New York Times today.

Another Occasional Reader left a comment at the previous post: “I like seeing an individual who isn't conflicted about what constitutes torture.”

There is a lot of buzz about what constitutes “torture” these days. As an aficionado of sleaze, I am aware that people will pay big bucks per hour for certain kinds of “torture”. Just as appeasers are fond of saying “one person’s ‘terrorist’ is another’s ‘freedom fighter’,” I am fond of remarking that “one person’s ‘torture victim’ is another’s ‘client’.”

Today’s terrorists are so lucky! They get paraded around in women’s underwear; Hell, that’s worth $300 an hour to clients of certain mistresses. They get a little water up the nostrils; it stings, but I underwent that as a pup learning to swim.

Let’s try some techniques from Vietnam outlawed by the Church Commission when Mr. Peanut became the dress rehearsal for The Manchurian Candidate:

Technique #1 was something referred to as “The Bell Telephone Hour”. The old-fashioned field telephones used in Nam required an internal generator-capacitor system to send a ring tone down the wire. (You’ve seen this in countless war movies; the beleaguered commander spins the crank, and HQ responds at the other end.) It doesn’t take a lot of imagination or expertise to run a couple of lead wires off the generator, and tape them to the genitals of “a person of interest”. The amperage is high; it’s the amperage that kills you, not the low-amp 50,000 volts of a police taser.

A quarter turn of the generator crank is enough for screams and body spasms; use your imagination for further turns of the screw.

More sophisticated interrogators made use of high-pressure air hoses; the same devices you use to inflate your tires to 32 psi at the gas station. Compressors are small, and can be powered by a standard car battery. With a thumb-release nozzle, similar to an airbrush, and applied to the nasal and ear cavities, these things could produce immediate results.

Technique #3 was something I’d like to apply to Osama Bin-Laden over Ground Zero in New York: “Flying lessons.”

The ters who caused 9/11 are infamous for taking flying lessons in America. I have some make-up lessons for them. Again, this was a tried-and-true method in Nam until CBS caught a session on tape and blew the whistle.

Pick three enemy combatants who all know approximately the same information. Take them up in a helicopter to 1100+ feet, and hover.

Don’t ask the first contestant a single question. Toss him out to show the other two players you are serious.

Ask the second individual what you need to know. Standard responses are fear of the third player, that they will rat him for telling, or in the case of jihadists, defiance.

Two chances at an answer are standard. Any further resistance…don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

The third contestant invariably answers questions.

If we’re into being kinder and gentler, he gets flown back to base and given special consideration as a Pavlovian reward. Back in the day, he got to see if he could fly; just so no awkward questions arose later. Bin-Laden should be televised nationally over the WTC crater learning to fly.

I have few compunctions about dealing with evil. There are numerous incidents from post-Civil-War Reconstruction to the Indian Wars to War II that are stains upon our perceived American honor. Dunking terrorists in a swimming pool and giving them wedgies pales in comparison to the looting, burning and massacre at Darien, Georgia, to Wounded Knee and Powder River, to the out-of-hand summary executions of Nazis alongside the roadways to victory in War II.

If my writing is “terribad”, it may be because I’m the master of the run-on sentence.

A poll taken last year indicated that a large percentage of pet owners would throw their beloved critters into the ocean for $1,000,000. I’d sooner take a manslaughter rap than have you muscle up on my dogs; I think a lot more of my pets than I do of some scumbag whose avowed purpose in life is to slaughter Americans. If a terrorist has knowledge of an impending incident that will take the life of your child, would you be as repelled by the interrogation techniques I have just described? I think not.

Think about that when you see The Manchurian Candidate bowing to dictators, apologizing for the American existential spirit, and assuming a posture of weakness and submission while trying to subvert America into a European ideal of collective surrender.

I used to be disgusted; now I’m just amused.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Can you say "Jeemp"?

The ancient Chinese had a novel way of dealing with the condemned. They would collect feral cats, and starve them for a while. Then the condemned malefactor would be brought forth to a public place, bound hand and foot, and stuffed into a muslin or burlap bag. The cats would then be placed into the bag, and it would be sewn shut. Then a gang of jolly factotums would beat the bag with bamboo canes. Cats, especially the stray, feral variety, do not like to be treated in this fashion. They have a primal tendency to lash out with fang and claw at anything near them when they are in a dark, hostile environment. Given unrelenting abuse, even your household puddy-tat will do you in, if he/she has enough friends and you're in the bag with them.

The Muslims used to have a device that resembled two rowboats, except it had holes for the wrists, ankles, and neck. A person would be pinioned in this "boat", and they would be force-fed milk and honey until they could hold no more. After a while, nature would take its course, and the interior of the "boat" would become, shall we say, rather funky. A while after that, flies would come, attracted to the odor. They would feed on the waste products befouling the interior of the "boat". Flies also lay eggs, and those eggs hatch into maggots. Maggots are not particular about their cusine; they will feed on anything. Once the milk and honey was withheld, the maggots would consume all the offal in the "boat", and continue eating their merry way into whatever else might be at hand, like a hapless human body. It would take days to die, being eaten alive by maggots, and the agony is so exquisite that it defies human imagination.

Whoever sent me the Backdoor\Jeemp\C: computer virus deserves either—or both—of these fates. I would drag a folding chair to the beach, and pack a lunch, just to feast on the screams of some hacker being devoured by maggots or clawed to death by feral cats. This was not the 1 April virus that was ballyhooed in the news; this was a direct, personal attack with a new variant of an oldie-but-goodie. It lodged itself deep in my System Volume Information registry, and established numerous restore points. It lurked in protected, hidden files deep in the bowels of HAL-9000 Mark II. It issued false commands, dropped down command menus, and would scroll down them until it found an active command, then execute it. It seemed to be possessed of AI [Artificial Intelligence]; it had an uncanny awareness that I was going online to register and download anti-virus software, and would relentlessly navigate me off the registration page before I could finish filling in the required fields.

The first cleansing of my hard drive yielded the deletions of two Trojan downloaders (Agent AZ), Backdoor\Bot\67157, a 2006 version of Win32\Sobig\F@mm, and the insidious \Jeemp\C:. My outdated McAfee virus scan couldn't cope with it. My Diskeeper™ defragmentation program would identify it, but my Windows search engines couldn't locate the file. I had the registry number, but no way to get at the bastard and manually delete it. BitDefender™ flushed out the five major problems and destroyed them, but \Jeemp\C: kept coming back. The Windows Service Pack 3, RegCure™, Registry Mechanic™,™ and SuperAntiSpyware™ scans all made the thing go dormant for a while, but as soon as I tried to do anything, on any program, the false commands and the diddling with my scroll lock and number lock would be back with a vengeance. It would delete data from open files, destroying unsaved work, and forcing me to re-open saved versions of said files repeatedly. It would actively engage and block any anti-malware site I tried to Google™ on the Internet. I called several friends of United Possums International on the phone, and asked them to kindly circulate e-mails and a posting at ScrappleFace to the effect that I was not accepting e-mails—deleting them as rapidly as they came in—and certainly not replying to anyone or composing any new blog posts, as I didn't want to spread the joy around.

My bacon was saved, so to speak, by the two Macs: Merle M. and McAfee. M.M. sent me a link to McAfee Sunday night. I chased it deep enough into their site that I found a 30-day trial download of Security Center 2009™. This thing took about two-and-a-half hours to download. I started at 2100 hours last night; at 0630 this morning, the dreaded registry code did not appear when I defragmented HAL-9000 for the umpteenth time. I purged restore points, cookies, my browser history, cache, and a bunch of other stuff I'm too groggy to remember. I deleted several .exe programs that I will have to restore after I avail myself of food and sleep. It's 11:45 as I write this; I'm past 24 hours without sleep, and feeling it. When the Insomnia Monster visits, I like it to be on my terms, not sitting feverishly at a computer, shedding tears and shouting "Please, God, let this work! I'll buy the damn thing if it works!"

Guess what? I think it worked. I wouldn't be sending this if I didn't think it has. I have been piddling with various programs since 0630, and I haven't gotten the first bogus command. The scroll and number lock lights have been constant and dependable.

I think I killed it. Diskeeper™ could locate, identify, and defragment the virus, but you cannot take direct action from that program. I had to do three forced re-boots this morning before the thing disappeared, but purging the system restore points unprotected the files, and the updated McAfee™ program apparently eliminated the nasty little bug. Despite the socialist predations of the Manchurian Candidate and his Congressional myrmidons, I cannot find solace in my fine Kentucky whiskey this month. That budget is blown; I have to go pay the piper over at Better to be sober and virus-free than to sit here hammered while some basement-dwelling creature drives my computer without me setting a finger to the keyboard. It's money well spent if I don't have to go through this again.

I did not post the comments to the most recent post at UPI. All e-mail went to Internet Hell as soon as it arrived. Since I'm running a week behind, this letter is doubtless going to become my latest blog post. Osama Bamalama is moving too fast for me to keep up. There's a headbanger song with a refrain of "Let the bodies hit the floor!"—all I can understand of the lyrics. I don't do crank and oxycontin, so most of that yowling and growling is lost on me. I like the guitar riffs, though. I want to see how this 63% approval rating for The Manchurian Candidate shakes out when the bodies literally start hitting the floor and he's whining for the UN to write someone a letter telling them how really, really angry we are.

Hide somewhere and watch.

This could have been an attack by a drug-peddling Hindu telemarketer who got tag-teamed by the little woman and me some weeks ago. It might have been someone who disagrees with my [conservative] Libertarian point of view. Or, it might just have been one of the princes of Africa who send me those letters fishing in the wrong pond and promising millions of $USD if I'll only send them my phone numbers, bank account codes, PINs, and my Social Security number.

A word to my wise friends online: please be judicious about sending me e-mails. If I have been remiss about replying or acknowledging communications in the past, I am now obsessive about not doing so. I don't open any attachments unless you know the Secret Squirrel unlisted phone number, and call to tell me I should peek at your—safe—attachment . Previously, my attention to online shenanigans has been dictated by ignorance, apathy, and indifference: "I don't know, I don't care, and it doesn't matter anyhow." Interspersed with that are the occasional bows to health matters. Now, I'm proactively hostile towards my e-mail, so be gentle with me when you write. I have too many firewalls and too much virus protection now; lag time on all my programs is, like, forever while they get scanned.