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00000000

The more I learn about the Cold War, the more I wonder how we survived it…..

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/12/launch-code-for-us-nukes-was-00000000-for-20-years/

Remember all those cold war movies where nuclear missile crews are frantically dialing in the secret codes sent by the White House to launch nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles? Well, for two decades, all the Minuteman nuclear missiles in the US used the same eight-digit numeric passcode to enable their warheads: 00000000.

That fact, originally revealed in a column in 2004 by then-president of the Center for Defense Information Dr. Bruce G. Blair, a former US Air Force officer who manned Minuteman silos, was also mentioned in a paper by Steven M. Bellovin, a computer science professor at Columbia University who teaches security architecture. Both of these sources were cited this week in an article on the site Today I Found Out written by Karl Smallwood, as well as in an article in the UK’s Daily Mail.

The codes, known as Permissive Action Links (PALs), were supposed to prevent the use of nuclear weapons—and the nuclear weapons under joint control with NATO countries in particular—without the authorization of the president of the United States. The need for such controls became clear during the 1963-1964 Cyprus crisis, when NATO members Turkey and Greece were reportedly seeking control of NATO nuclear weapons—to use on each other.

At least that’s the way it was supposed to work, following an executive order from President John F. Kennedy. But at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, more than half of the missiles in Europe, including those in Turkey, lacked PAL controls. And while Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara directly oversaw the installation of PALs on the US-based ICBM arsenal, US Strategic Command generals almost immediately had the PAL codes all reset to 00000000 to ensure that the missiles were ready for use regardless of whether the president was available to give authorization.

Dr. Blair stated that that the not-so-secret code was hardly a secret from the crews manning the silos. “Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel,” Blair noted.

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Tonight’s PBS Frontline is going to be about the innocent person that Rick Perry had executed even though he knew the guy was innocent.

It is not a rerun of Frontline’s earlier episode about this, but is an entirely new episode.

I’m not sure what more they can show, since the earlier episode was already pretty decisive in showing: that the guy was innocent, that proof of his innocence existed before his execution, and that Rick Perry knew about this and went ahead with the execution anyway.

However, I’m sure they wouldn’t have created an entirely new episode if they didn’t have something new to show.

I wish the Left would be more persistent about confronting Rick Perry about this whenever he runs for president. It will be a black mark in America’s history if this guy ever becomes president without even facing questions about what he did.

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The guys who produced those gun designs for 3-D printers are back.

This time they are making an affordable CNC machine to carve gun parts out of aluminum.

They say they are going to release the schematics and design files for building the CNC machines, and they talk about a patten for an AR-15 part, but I don’t see any of that available for download yet.

There are selling actual CNC machines though (I think).

https://ghostgunner.net/

https://ghostgunner.net/faq.html

Given the way they were quickly blocked from distributing the files for the plastic patterns, perhaps they are being crafty with how they distribute the files for download this time.

If they are so crafty that no one figures out how to download them though, that might be self defeating.

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Supreme Court invalidates some of Obama’s recess appointments (likely invalidating all decisions that have been made by any body that had such appointees):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-court-rebukes-obama-on-recess-appointments/2014/06/26/e5e4fefa-e831-11e3-a86b-362fd5443d19_story.html

Interesting 5-4 split.  As I understand it, the five most liberal justices ruled against Obama.  The four most conservative justices differed in wanting to curtail recess appointments even further than the other five did.

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On another board, someone started a “Best concerts you’ve ever gone to” thread.  The thread was quite a hit, so I thought I’d start a similar thread here by posting my list.

It’s quite a list (a period of my life was practically a non-stop rock concert) so I’ll put the list under a “click here to read the rest of the thread” bar.

Read the rest of this entry »

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http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/05/west-antarctic-ice-sheet-collapsing

Miami and New Orleans will have to be abandoned about a hundred years from now.  It’ll be futile to even try to defend them.  The Everglades are toast too, though they may have a future as a coral reef.

(That’s my personal assessment, not a summary of the article.  But I’m right.)

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With all the tensions going on with Russia, I decided to review the latest state of our nuclear arsenal (it’s been awhile since I last paid attention).  And it turns out that there are some pretty big changes being planned.

The short version: We’re going to scrap everything with a yield greater than half-a-megaton.  But we’re going to build a large number of half-megaton ballistic missile warheads, for both ICBMs and SLBMs.

For the long version, click “Read the rest of this entry”:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Olympics starts tonight (Thursday) even though Opening ceremony isn’t until tomorrow.

If you’re in the eastern time zone, they just started 10 minutes ago.

A couple quick thoughts:

This Olympics there is a team figure skating event. It is something like is done in gymnastics, where everyone from a given nation competes for an overall medal before they go on to their individual events.

Note also that the figure skating scoring is a bit different from last time (they want more quads). Now if someone crashes on a quad, if they rotated fully four times before they crashed, they get more points than they would have gotten for a perfectly-executed triple.

Of course, if they land a perfectly-executed quad, they get even more points. But you might see some people crashing on their quad attempts, but not being marked down as much as you would have thought.

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The first Thanksgiving feast, of course, was celebrated with a Native American tribe that had just saved us all from dying of starvation over the winter.

Some 50 years after that Thanksgiving feast, we waged a huge war of genocide against that same tribe.

Their Chief at the time was the son of the Chief who had saved us 50 years earlier.  When he was captured, he was beheaded and his head was mounted on a pole in downtown Boston for 20 years.

When we captured his son, a nine year old boy, we sold him into slavery in the Caribbean.

PBS American Experience does a good job of telling the story, but you can only get the episode these days through iTunes.

There is an iTunes download button on their webpage:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/the_films/episode_1_trailer

I don’t know if iTunes charges for the download (I’m on dialup, so big downloads aren’t something I have a lot of experience with).  I tried to figure that out, but they wouldn’t let me see unless I downloaded and installed iTunes first.

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