Sunday, June 28, 2015


The hymnody at our parish had a theme today.  Most --  perhaps all --  of us had last week's judicial legerdemain in mind and what it will mean for our church and our nation.  Our priest gave a thoughtful sermon on the subject. And our music director clearly had it in mind.  The London Philharmonic Choir in the video above only sings two verses.  We sang all four.

1 Once to ev'ry man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
'Twixt that darkness and that light.  
2 Then to side with truth is noble,
When we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And 'tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses
While the coward stands aside.
Till the multitude make virtue
Of the faith they had denied.  
3 By the light of burning martyrs,
Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv'ries ever
With the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties,
Ancient values test our youth;
They must upward still and onward,
Who would keep abreast of truth.  
4 Tho' the cause of evil prosper,
Yet the truth alone is strong;
Tho' her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hacking . . . or something

When is hacking not hacking?  When it's subcontracting.

Do you remember the news story of a couple of weeks ago wherein it was revealed that the government data base giving the details of everyone who is or ever was a government employee or contractor had been hacked?  It seems it wasn't hacked.

Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Dr. Andy Ozment testified that encryption would "not have helped in this case" because the attackers had gained valid user credentials to the systems that they attacked—likely through social engineering. And because of the lack of multifactor authentication on these systems, the attackers would have been able to use those credentials at will to access systems from within and potentially even from outside the network.

Lots more interesting -- not to say appalling -- stuff at Ars Technica here. Including this in the penultimate paragraph:

A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project "was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People's Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is 'so what's new?'"

And what other security issues have been subcontracted to the People's Republic of China?

[Originally cited to this article by Jerry Pournelle's excellent site.  Alas, I don't see how to link to the precise paragraph in question.  So here's the page.  Start scrolling.]

Sunday, June 07, 2015


An ancient altar stone was stolen the other day.  It has no intrinsic value,  no value at all outside of its original location.  Stolen just for the meanness of it.

The altar stone of Gougane-Barra.