Another canceled credit card

May 15th, 2015

We got an email from earlier this evening, alerting us to fraudulent charges on our credit card. Someone has apparently programmed our credit card number onto another card and gone on a shopping spree.

It began with a swipe in a food vending machine owned by Berkshire Food, Inc. somewhere in Connecticut. Berkshire is in Danbury but there’s no way of knowing whether the transaction was there or the payment was processed there. The first tranaction was $1.60. I’ve heard that thieves will usually start off their spree with a small amount and increase as they gain confidence in their card.

Our thieves then began to get hungry, so they stopped into L.C. Chen’s, a Chinese restaurant in Fairfield, CT, at 6:19 PM. The two women bought Pad Thai and a drink, one signing the receipt as “Vanessa Smith,” according to Linda, the nice lady I spoke with.
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Keeping Secrets — STANFORD magazine — Medium

May 15th, 2015

WHAT IF your research could help solve a looming national problem, but government officials thought publishing it would be tantamount to treason? A Stanford professor and his graduate students found themselves in that situation 37 years ago, when their visionary work on computer privacy issues ran afoul of the National Security Agency. At the time, knowledge of how to encrypt and decrypt information was the domain of government; the NSA feared that making the secrets of cryptography public would severely hamper intelligence operations. But as the researchers saw it, society’s growing dependence on computers meant that the private sector would also need effective measures to safeguard information. Both sides’ concerns proved prescient; their conflict foreshadowed what would become a universal tug-of-war between privacy-conscious technologists and security-conscious government officials.

Source: Keeping Secrets — STANFORD magazine — Medium

Underwater Test-fire of Korean-style Powerful Strategic Submarine Ballistic Missile | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

May 14th, 2015

The imagery and information released by KCNA would lead an observer to conclude that this recent test was conducted from the SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine based at the Sinpo South Shipyard. This, however, may be incorrect … It would appear to be more reasonably in line with assessed North Korean capabilities, however, that the test launch was conducted from a submerged barge—possibly the one seen at the Sinpo South Naval Shipyard.

Source: Underwater Test-fire of Korean-style Powerful Strategic Submarine Ballistic Missile | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

Seymour M. Hersh · The Killing of Osama bin Laden · LRB 21 May 2015

May 12th, 2015

On Sunday, Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an account of the bin Laden SEAL raid that differs markedly from the official account. Hersh insists that Pakistan knew of the raid and that the Obama administration’s is a “lie.” Hersh’s reporting is now being called into question as he relies heavily on a single anonymous source.

I’ve been a fan of Hersh’s work, but these are extraordinary claims which demand convincing evidence. Unless Hersh can provide stronger sources I will have to wonder whether his account is trustworthy.

It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account.

Source: Seymour M. Hersh · The Killing of Osama bin Laden · LRB 21 May 2015


May 11th, 2015

Waking up to a Florida sunrise on Amtrak's southbound Silver Star

Waking up to a Florida sunrise on Amtrak’s southbound Silver Star

Good morning, Jacksonville! I am passing through Jacksonville, Florida, now. Jacksonville is the largest city by population in Florida and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States.

This city holds a special place in my heart. Why, do you ask? Why would America’s most sprawling city captivate me? It’s the rich history of the city as well as the months I spent here in 2000, working on a deal when I was working at NeTraverse.

I was working on a deal at AllTel, implementing a proof of concept of NeTraverse’s Win4Lin product. I stayed at a charming bed and breakfast within walking distance, owned by two characters (is there any other kind of BnB owner?). My hosts were an English professor of economics and a former Alabama beauty queen, an unlikely pairing. Yet they were so welcoming! I’ll always remember this home away from home.
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Train happenings

May 10th, 2015

Groundbreaking of Raleigh Union Station

Groundbreaking of Raleigh Union Station

I raced out of work Friday morning to see the groundbreaking of Raleigh’s new Union Station. Mayor McFarlane, Gov. McCrory, NCDOT Secretary Tata, Rep. David Price, and Federal DOT and Amtrak officials were there to break ground on this new multi-modal station. Looking around the crowd of spectators, many of whom were sweating under the strong sun, I wondered how many of them had ever actually ridden Amtrak. I’d bet the closest most have come is the hundred yards to the tracks where the NCDOT’s version of Amtrak, the Piedmont, was right then pulling into Raleigh.
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Text of Brian Dyson’s commencement speech at Georgia Tech, Sept 1991.

May 10th, 2015

This is the full text of the speech given by Brian Dyson, former CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, at Georgia Tech’s 172nd commencement on September 6, 1991, as reported in the Georgia Tech Whistle faculty newspaper. See my previous post to learn how I tracked this down.

Coca-Cola CEO’s Secret Formula For Success: Vision, Confidence And Luck

(Brian G. Dyson. president and chief executive officer of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. was the featured speaker at Georgia Tech’s 172nd commencement on Sept. 6.)

I think the ingredients for success, or as we would say at Coca-Cola. “the secret formula,” is a combination of three things: vision, knowing what you want to be when you grow up; confidence, knowing who you are; and luck, or what I would call being in the right place at the right time.

With those three ingredients and your Georgia Tech diploma, you have the formula for success. You have a first class education from a world class university, and I really congratulate you all on your achievement.
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Yes, Coca-Cola CEO Brian Dyson really did give that “five balls” speech

May 10th, 2015

On social media, a friend forwarded what was called the “Shortest speech by CEO of Coca Cola…”
It reads:

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four Balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.”

Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends & have proper rest

Value has a value only if its value is valued

While I’m not the first to cast doubt on this alleged speech, the quote sounded too cheesy to be true so I decided to study it a bit.
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Folks don’t appreciate this

May 8th, 2015

I mostly agreed with this McLean’s story about America Dumbing Down, until the author quoted Susan Jacoby’s nitpicking the word “folks.”

By 2008, journalist Susan Jacoby was warning that the denseness—“a virulent mixture of anti-rationalism and low expectations”—was more of a permanent state. In her book, The Age of American Unreason, she posited that it trickled down from the top, fuelled by faux-populist politicians striving to make themselves sound approachable rather than smart. Their creeping tendency to refer to everyone—voters, experts, government officials—as “folks” is “symptomatic of a debasement of public speech inseparable from a more general erosion of American cultural standards,” she wrote. “Casual, colloquial language also conveys an implicit denial of the seriousness of whatever issue is being debated: talking about folks going off to war is the equivalent of describing rape victims as girls.”

Whoa. Talking about “folks” is like denigrating rape victims? Hyperbole much?

Obama can be “the most cerebral and eloquent American leader in a generation” and still say “folks” in a speech. Bill Clinton is brilliant and also … well, a “hayseed.” Can he not say “folks?”

There’s nothing wrong with the word “folks.” Unless you’re an elitist, that is.

via America dumbs down: a rising tide of anti-intellectual thinking.

The world of threats to the US is an illusion – Opinion – The Boston Globe

May 6th, 2015

When Americans look out at the world, we see a swarm of threats. China seems resurgent and ambitious. Russia is aggressive. Iran menaces our allies. Middle East nations we once relied on are collapsing in flames. Latin American leaders sound steadily more anti-Yankee. Terror groups capture territory and commit horrific atrocities. We fight Ebola with one hand while fending off Central American children with the other.

In fact, this world of threats is an illusion. The United States has no potent enemies. We are not only safe, but safer than any big power has been in all of modern history.

via The world of threats to the US is an illusion – Opinion – The Boston Globe.