Friday, October 02, 2015

One simple reason why more guns is not a good answer...

We've seen this tragedy unfold so many times in the last decade... Someone is armed and walks into a crowded school, or store, or theater and opens fire.

It's becoming so disheartening to see both the unyielding fantasy of gun owners and the complete cowardice of lawmakers to stand up for more sensible gun laws. Couple that with the sensationalism that feeds our pathetic excuse for journalism today and you've got an explosive mixture of emotion and misinformation. The gunman is unwittingly glorified and the nation is once again wringing its hands.

One of the arguments you often hear following a mass shooting is that if there were more armed people about, the gunman would be stopped before more victims die. There is some logic to this, but you also have to have an enormous amount of faith in the magic ability of good guys to be where we need them at all times. That's not reality and everyone knows it.  It might be slightly logical, but it's a dangerous fantasy.

First off, the gunman often carries an advantage in situations like this: He is more often than not, heavily armed. That means that he may have the means to inflict more damage because he has more ammunition at the ready on his person. Secondly, the gunman might be wearing body armor. If someone is intent upon killing as many people as possible, he's going to wear some form of protection. The "good guy" who carries a concealed weapon for the purpose of protection is not going to necessarily take down an armored attacker with any great ease - especially if that attacker is firing back.

The other logical argument against this notion of "more guns in a situation saves lives", is the dilemma of determining: who is the gunman, and who is a responder? Let's look at this more closely. 

Suppose I have a gun and learn that someone on my school campus has opened fire on people. I may decide to go into the danger zone with the intent of stopping this gunman. As I get closer to the scene, I may withdraw my weapon to have it at the ready. Let's say someone else with the same intention is armed and heading to the scene from a different vector. If we suddenly find ourselves in a live gunfight situation with another armed person, how does he know I'm not the gunman or vice-versa?
Unless we've had combat or police training, we're going to be adding more confusion to an already tense and surreal situation.

Suppose a SWAT team has arrived on the scene within minutes (as they were in Roseburg) and I have my weapon drawn. How do they know I'm not THE gunman? They don't. I'm at risk of being another casualty due to confusion and the desire of police to stop an armed person with deadly force. 

This notion of more guns is probably born of the revenge motivation in Hollywood action films. It's a cool idea, but outside of Hollywood, it's also a very unrealistic one. More guns always means more potential for gunshots and casualties.

Friday, November 02, 2012

I'm so tired...

Monday, August 02, 2010

I Killed the Alureon.H Virus in Windows XP!

I wanted to post this on several Tech sites that have entries in their forums on killing the Alureon.H virus (and other rootkit viruses), but if you haven't been registered for several days, or you're not an expert user, they don't want to hear from you. So I thought I'd post it here, where at least I can come back if I ever need to know how to do this again.

I got this nasty bug on my computer that hijacked my browser, prevented me from running Windows Update, and slowed down the processes on my computer to where I was pulling out my hair. When the computer booted, Windows Update would try and run, only to give me the standard "Windows Update was not able to finish" or something like that. Every time I followed a link - search result or otherwise - I was redirected to an advertising or marketing site. A couple of porn search terms were automatically inserted into a marketing search engine and I knew I had to do something.

I couldn't do a Google search - I would browse to Google only to have IE say Cannot Display the Page, with the Check your Connection button. Firefox and Opera wouldn't work either. I found that I could somewhat bypass browser redirects by pasting the shortcut of search results into the Address bar - instead of clicking on a link.

So I had a very difficult time. I would watch a svchost process eat up CPU cycles and consume memory while monitoring the Task Manager. I would kill the process and things would speed up again, but it did play havoc with my internet connection.

I knew I had a virus, trojan, or some other hijacker so I immediately enlisted the help of my virus and nastyware tools:

I ran Spybot S & D, Panda AntiVirus, MalwareBytes Anti Malware...

I downloaded and installed Ad-Aware, SpywareBlaster...

I ran Trend Micro's House Call Scanner... ATF Cleaner...


None of these tools worked 100%. Ad-Aware did stop the annoying browser redirects, which was a bit more satisfying than Spybot. I still like Spybot, but the Tea Timer didn't do anything for redirects which were constant. BUT THEY DETECTED NOTHING!

Somehow, I was enticed to try the Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner. Normally, I give low credence to the standard out-of-the-box Microsoft tools, but having no other immediate options, I went for it.

It took a long time, but the Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner didn't miss a thing. There they were - several items:

two virus-infected exe files (which I was able to quarantine)
a java class infected with the TrojanClicker Win32/Yabector.B
another class infected with an exploit: Java/CVE-200805353.JJ

and right at the bottom of the list, an entry that said Win32/Alureon.H - alureon intelide

a very, very nasty rootkit virus. It's no wonder it wasn't detected. Windows LiveOne Scanner - Hooray for you!

Well, that at least gave me something to go on. Finally. Doing a search on Alureon.H brought me to the solution buried down in the bottom of this forum,

with the majority of "experts" saying to bite the bullet, save data and do a clean install of Windows. Been there, done that. I didn't want to do it again. Sigh. I NEVER want to do that again (if I can help it. What a pain!) At the bottom of the forum, a Dr. Trissell has the following procedure:

SOLUTION: For XP users who have the Virus WIN32/Alurion.H and who have unwanted Google search redirects and who can't manually access the microsoft update page, you have an infected RAS Automatic Connection Driver infection (rasacd.sys) and there are no antivirus programs which can fix it.  Period.  All they can do is detect it.


(1) Go to your system drive, get into the i386 directory (e.g. C:\i386), and locate the rasacd.sys file (compresed and clean).  Highlight it, right click and selectCopy.

(2) Go back to your main system directory (e.g. C:). Right click anywhere in the white space on the page (but not in a folder) and selectPaste.  The Copy function automatically uncompresses the file.  Check the directory to make sure it contains rasacd.sys.

(3) Click Start and Shutdown and when the menu appears, selectRestart.

(4) Watch the reboot carefully and when you get the black screen, look for the white letters (usually in the upper right corner) which sayF2 to enter Setup and F12 to enter boot menu - Quickly press the F12 key.

(5) Load your Windows Setup CD into the CD Drive. (Hopefully you didn't put the CD into the drive before I told you to.  If you did, then stop the Windows installation and go back to step (3) above and start over).

(6) Using the up/down arrows, select the menu item that boots to a CD drive and pressENTER. Somewhere between this step and the next 2, you will be asked to log in as Administrator and key in the password (if there is none, just pressENTER.

(7) When prompted for "which system do you want to start," pick the option number which has the drive letter whereyour windows system is installed followed by the wordWINDOWS (e.g. 1  C: WINDOWS), key the number for that option,  and press ENTER.

(8) The CD will transfer some files (watch the bottom of the screen).  When it finishes, you get a menu.  You want the option which repairs your system, soPRESS THE "R" KEY NOW.

(9) You will find yourself at a classic MS DOS black screen in your Windows directory (e.g. C:\WINDOWS>).  Now follow these instructions exactly in my order.

 (a) At the blinking cursor, type CD ..  and press ENTER (you will now see C:>)

 (b) After C:> type CD C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS and pressENTER

 (c) After C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS> type RENAME rasacd.sys rasacd.old and pressENTER (don't forget the spaces between the three "words")

 (d) Now after C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS> type COPY C:\RASACD.SYS (followed by a space) and pressENTER

 (e) Now type CD .. and you will see C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32>

 (f) Now type CD DLLCACHE and press ENTER (you will see C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DLLCACHE>

 (g) After C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DLLCACHE> type RENAME rasacd.sys rasacd.oldand press ENTER

 (h) Now after C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DLLCACHE> type  COPY C:\RASACD.SYS (followed by a space) and press ENTER


(10) Now you can remove the Setup CD from the drive and let the system reboot normally.  When it is up and running, try a Google search and see that the problem is gone.  Also go to and see that you now have no problems doing a manual windows update.


I followed the procedure exactly as listed above (though to be honest, inserting the Windows XP CD at bootup produced the same screens as pressing F12, without having to wait to insert it into the CD tray). I rebooted my machine and thought it was done. It began installing Windows Updates and everything looked good. In fact it completed them. I tried a search in IE and actually got results without being redirected to some advertising or marketing site. I was excited and relieved. Until I tried browsing to Windows Update or Google. Neither page would display. Sigh. I wasn't done, it appeared.

Well, Dr. Trissell got it mostly correct. The Live OneCare Scanner mentioned intelide (which at first glance, I thought might have been a variant name of the virus) which I searched for on a different computer. I found out that it isn't a virus variant name, but a system32 driver as well. I followed Dr. Trissell's procedure again, substituting INTELIDE.SYS for RASACD.SYS.

That was the ticket. I have been virus-free for several reboots, several hours and I have successfully updated Windows - twice! I am so relieved that I don't have to do the Save Data, Reinstall clean Windows exercise. Dr. Trissell - whoever you are, THANK YOU!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Tax Day - Enjoy your tea

As I chuckle on the whole idea of "tea parties", I have to wonder how many of these conservatives think "tea" has to do with the letter "t" as in "Taxes". Then I think that maybe they're a little more historically aware of the Boston Tea Party, where angry protesters dressed as Native Americans (nee American Indians) and dumped the King's tea into the Boston Harbor as a protest against arbitrary taxation.

In either case, the idea that today's tea parties have any relation to the historical event, apart from obscure symbolism, seems to be quite typical of the conservative mind.

In past times, I might have put the word "conservative" in double quotes to make a distinction between thinking, intelligent conservatives and the bloviating nitwits that seem to make up their public face these days. But alas, they are one and the same. There are no thinking, sentient conservatives these days - they're all a part of the same ridiculous club. They have one of the biggest bloviators in Rush Limbaugh, leading their public consciousness and leading them out into the far wilderness of mumbling, angry malcontents.

Well, the truth is, the Tea Parties today have very little to do with the Boston Tea Party. What of the King's (President Obama's) provisions would these conservatives throw away to protest unfair taxation? Should they fire their Police forces? Should they destroy their water filtration plants? How about getting out the heavy equipment and breaking up the King's Asphalt that covers their neighborhood streets?

They're protesting today because they feel they are ENTITLED to a free country where one keeps all of his or her earnings and the government provides a secure environment in which they can live, prosper and profit without any strings attached. Security and freedom come at a cost, but they'll never get it. No one likes taxation. No one wants to see money skimmed off the top of the fruits of their labor. But no one wants to live in a country like Somalia, where "taxes" are paid in the form of tithes to the local warlord for "protection". But that's essentially the trade-off.

I pay taxes because I want to drink clean water. I pay taxes because I want to be able to move around the country in a conveyance that isn't hampered by the local terrain. I pay taxes because I want a ready and able military to defend the country and deter any enemies. I pay taxes because I want an impartial third party to be ready to mediate disputes between me and those who seek to profit by me. I pay taxes because I want my children to have a place where they can learn about life, science and society that may not be drawn from my own limited experience. I pay taxes because I want to support the country that I love and all that it provides.

So I will have a cup of tea today, and I will toast the Federal Government and Income Taxes because they have made my life and my living in this great country possible.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Welcome to the Wilderness!

It would probably be justified to accuse me of partisan leanings, because I am absolutely delighted to see the GOP struggling to find an identity. What they seem to be failing to realize is that they never lost it. The GOP is trying to figure out how this identity can be revered in today's political and economic times. They're bumping up against the brick wall of reality. The problem is, the GOP identity is completely out of sync with a United States struggling to do the right thing for the times.

The GOP is a party of profiteering, privatization, and preaching. They rail against government, socialism, and moral depravity while completely oblivious to the fact that they are the best example of all they despise. The GOP is the strongest advocate for socialization when they demand that government provide a free market economic climate gratis, no strings attached. Without protectionism and government funds in the forms of charters and stimulus incentives, businesses would hardly be profitable. An unprotected market would be so unstable that sales and performance projections would be unthinkable. In this country, businesses can thrive because people are free and secure enough to participate in capitalism and claim some level of economic equality. That's the beauty and the utility of government. It helps to provide an environment where markets and democracy can coexist.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate 1: Obama supporters disappointed

First off, I wouldn't say that I'm a die-hard Obama supporter (I wanted Hillary, after Joe and John dropped out), but I am excited about Obama now.

I was disappointed by the debate. I thought the winner was John McCain, hands down. I was looking for a knockout punch like the rest of them. Short of that, I wanted to see Obama become a little scrappy in a righteous sort of way. The facts and right answers were on his side, but trying to feel objective, I felt he didn't push the presidential factor enough. He was thoughtful, and in command of the facts, but there were definitely points he should have scored in a more direct way.

When McCain talked about cutting spending, Obama should have hit him hard on areas where spending shouldn't be cut, and where taxes shouldn't be cut. Why wasn't our record deficit mentioned?

Well, it was a foreign policy debate. I get it. But Obama could have easily knocked McCain down a few more notches. I think it's a question of style. I hope Obama can break out of his well-exposed character and show a little more steel.

Funny thing, I don't think as an Obama supporter I'm alone in my assessment of his performance. I think quite a few of us thought McCain won. I'm pleased that the media doesn't see it that way, but I wonder if that just illustrates that they're no longer in the tank for McCain. That would be good. Maybe I don't have to hold my breath any longer.

Let's hope Obama doesn't rest on his laurels over this. He needs to stay aggressive and take this all the way to end.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thank God for Sarah Palin!

I don't know if it has dawned on anyone, but there in fact, is a testament to the foreign policy experience of GOP Vice President nominee Sarah Palin.

What, you ask? Think about it...

Russia has not attacked us in the 21 months that Sarah Palin has been governor of Alaska. Some say the fact that Sarah Palin is governor makes that more inevitable. I say they're wrong. If it were truly inevitable, they would have attacked by now. I mean, look at what they did to Georgia and Chechnya! What stopped an expansionist Russian foray into the northwestern wilderness?

Ice? Give me a break! The ice has been receding and you know it. I'll tell you what. Governor Sarah Palin, that's what.

Thank God for Sarah Palin and her foreign policy experience!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Lost my head, but now I'm back

As the Democrats took over in November of 2006, it seemed a little pointless to continue posting, since most of what I had to say concerned my opposition to Republican policies and antics.

I could rant about the "spineless" Democrats, but let's face it, even at their worst, they've been better than Republican rule in the House and Senate. And one does have to realize that the Democrats haven't really had a majority in the Senate... they can set the agenda, but that's as far as they can really take it.

Thank goodness for a Presidential election because we get to see the Republicans at it again.

See the entry for "Grand Old Party" here: