Wednesday Zombie Post–Three Zombies and a Cantaloupe

Posted September 26th, 2007 by

Three Zombies and a Cantaloupe painting by Jessi Buchanan.  Be sure to check out the rest of the paintings and comics.

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Posted in Zombies | 3 Comments »

Election Year Follies

Posted September 19th, 2007 by

Here inside the beltway we have a wonderful tradition every 4 years:  Election Year Follies.

For those of you not up on current events, Election Year Follies have started a year early, with the Democratic-held Congress messing with the Republican-held White House.  It’s not a good year to be a political appointee.

I’m waiting to see what really happens next year when they’re all too exhausted from playing games and still have to campaign.  This brings me to one of my favorite quotes:

“To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.” –Otto von Bismark (ref: Wikipedia)

Now of course, we all care what this has to do with security, right?  My corollary to OvB is that people who like security products and IT products in general should never see them being made.  I think it’s more often true than not.

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Wednesday Zombie Post–The Combat Guide

Posted September 19th, 2007 by

This is serious stuff, folks.  Read up on how to combat zombies at The Combat Guide.

And for those of us in DHS-Land, a color-coded zombie alert system.  Needs updating, though–my cousin’s sister twice removed thinks that the zombie outbreak can happen any day now.

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Simple Thoughts on Simple Rocks

Posted September 18th, 2007 by

I’ve thrown rocks at children. Many children, in fact. I’m not too proud of it, but it’s something you do when you’re in Afghanistan.

In fact, contrary to what you hear about opium poppies being the #1 crop in Afghanistan, truth is it’s the #1 cash crop. There is a crop that is more prolific even than the poppies, and that crop is rocks.

Now when we would roll up into a village, we were the neatest thing to happen there since Genghis Khan. Some of these villages were so remote, they asked us if we were the Russians because last that they heard, the Russians were the invaders.

Being interesting to the locals means that you get flooded with kids. They come from everywhere. You can stop your patrol out in the middle of the desert with nobody in sight for 3 kilometers, and within 10 minutes you will be surrounded by kids. They all ask for the same thing: pens. They need them for school. The ones with more advanced English skills would say something like “I am student, give me pen”.

On one of the first long patrols that I was on, we went to one village and the kids gathered around. The adults in the village threw rocks at them to chase them away.

Needless to say, I was utterly shocked the first time I saw it. But after a couple of weeks when the initial shock wore off, I started to notice something: when the adults would pick up a rock, the kids would smile and start to do little dekes left and right as if to say “am I gonna go this way or am I gonna go the other way?”

Then it dawned on me: throwing rocks at kids is a national sport. Not much else to do out in the desert except rock-throwing.

After a month of being in-country, I started throwing my own rocks at the kids. I would throw it slow–lobbing more than anything–just to let them know that they needed to stand back a little bit.

There’s a point to this little story, and that point is that after you’ve been in Afghanistan for long enough, a rock is the solution to any problem that you have.

Case in point: you park the truck on a fairly steep slope. You’re worried that it might roll away in the middle of the night. Solution? Put a head-sized rock under the tires.

Case in point: some guy dies and you need to bury him. It’s a massive PITA to dig a grave, so what do the locals do? That’s right, they build a rock pile right there.

Case in point: You’re bored and have nothing to do. Stack rocks up to build towers. The original theory as explained to me is that the locals don’t have HBO at home, so they stack rocks.

Case in point: You need protection from bullets. Instead of digging, stack up some rocks and build a fighting position. The bonus is that it blends in with all the other rocks on the hillside.

The ultimate act of rocks-as-solutions was one of the last patrols I did. We were in an irrigated area and needed to cross a ditch. There was a bridge but it was too narrow. So we took some large rocks, dropped them into the ditch, and put one side of the truck on the bridge and the other side on the new rock bridge.

I’m still trying to figure out what IT security problems I can fix with a rock, other than the obvious “You want to do what? Film marketing material in the data center? *smack smack smack* You sure about that?” or “My level of pain is equal to your level of pain.”

And as far as the kids and pens for them, after a month of being there, we started writing back home asking for school supplies and we handed out pens, paper, and soccer balls everywhere we went. I even made a habit out of giving beanie babies to the girls and gum to the boys.

See? I’m not a total jerk. =)

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Posted in Army, BSOFH, Odds-n-Sods | 3 Comments »

Subversive Music

Posted September 14th, 2007 by

They just don’t make bands like this anymore. Anyway, the Talking Heads are still relevant even today: “We got computers. We’re tapping phone lines. You know that that ain’t allowed.”

I think one day we’ll all wake up to find out that the security industry has just been rehashes of Talking Heads songs all along and that nobody has had an original idea since 1982.

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Posted in Odds-n-Sods, The Guerilla CISO | 5 Comments »

C&A Seminar 25-26 September

Posted September 13th, 2007 by

We’re having a 2-day Certification and Accreditation seminar in September.  The material is vendor-agnostic (read: no brochures except for more seminars) and we have some good guest speakers lined up including somebody from the NIST FISMA Implementation Project and some of the CISOs around DC.

I might or might not be speaking, depending on how the final staffing works out.  No matter, I’ll catch the next one around. =)

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Posted in FISMA, NIST, Speaking | No Comments »

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