Quick Roundup 15

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Word to the Wise

Yet another reason I'm glad I switched to Linux....

The clock is ticking on a dangerous computer virus programmed to delete millions of Word files stored on PCs when it reaches the end of its countdown on Friday.

Experts have warned that the Blackworm virus, which has also been named Blackmal, Nyxem, MyWife and Tearec, could destroy vast amounts of information when it is triggered, and could send unprotected businesses into chaos. The malicious software strikes against machines powered by Microsoft's near-ubiquitous Windows software.


If activated, the virus attempts to disarm a PCs security programmes and steal e-mail addresses to spread further. The virus also automatically downloads updates that could allow it to "mutate" and become even more dangerous.
And, from the technical site linked in the story.
Anti virus vendors offer removal tools. Microsoft provides detailed instructions for manual removal. However, there are two important reasons to rebuild "from scratch":

1. BlackWorm uses the same tricks to install itself as other viruses/worms. It may not be the only one on your system. Antivirus will not detect all viruses, and the removal tool will only remove this specific worm.

2. BlackWorm will allow remote access to your system, and additional malware may have been installed via this backdoor.
Wow! I don't know what would irritate me more were I a Microsoft customer: the fact that I might have to "rebuild from scratch" or the fact that this is the second major problem to pop up from the Internet in less than a month.

Meme Game Players

I recently decided to play the blog game I first saw Myrhaf and Jennifer Snow play -- and rename it "The Meme Game" in Myrhaf's honor.

Since I said I'd note other players later on, I'll link to four here today. First of all, Blair independently of me decided to play over at Secular Foxhole. Then Martin Lindeskog decided to remove his nose from the grindstone long enough to post his answers over at Ego. (And hooray for someone taking up the beer gauntlet.) Third is Ian Hamet, whose blog Banana Oil! is a good read, though it seems he is also very busy these days. He played the game independently of the folks in my neighborhood, but rates special mention for at least bringing up beer (as a food). Finally, I learned this morning that submarine blogger Alex Nunez also played, including the fabled Beer Question.

What if Katrina had never hit?

As someone who has seen his home town transformed over the span of two decades from a pleasant, prosperous small city to a dangerous, poverty-stricken shell of its former self, Robert Tracinski's famous column -- on the real disaster (the welfare state) that Katrina merely exposed -- really hit a chord with me.

Today, I saw a story about Detroit, Michigan, which will soon be playing host to the Super Bowl. This city, which was once Houston's size, now has less than a million inhabitants and sounds like the ghost city that New Orleans became almost overnight. From the Detroit story:
The scenery along Van Dyke Street near [Arthur] Lauderdale's home would be familiar to anyone who has seen "8 Mile," Eminem's movie about life in Detroit. The street's once-bustling commercial section is dominated by boarded-up stores, charred buildings and vacant lots. The only signs of activity are at storefront churches and the occasional liquor store and hot-dog joint.


Lauderdale's neighbor, 56-year-old Lenerle Workman, said she recently moved back to Van Dyke Street, where she grew up, only because of special tax breaks for homeowners in the neighborhood. She recalled a time when the street was lined with trees and a florist occupied what is now an empty lot across from her home.

"There's blocks where there's only one house (left) on the block," she said. "Where did all those people go?"
Compare this to these recent descriptions of parts of the Big Easy after its recent devastation and so-far anemic recovery.
(1) Three blocks north, Interstate-10 speeds by. Behind this concrete curtain lies mile after mile of a major American city still in total darkness. Just past dusk, nearly three months after Katrina, these streets are pitch black, save for occasional lights at several padlocked, yet illuminated, gas stations.

(2) Around the city, second-floor dwellers are easy to spot when night falls. High above a pitch-black street, a candle flickers at the end of one block. A few streets away, the darkness is broken by the intermittent beam of a flashlight.
Before Katrina, New Orleans was already heading the way of Detroit, just like my home town. A hurricane simply speeds up delivery of what fifty years of neglect and vandalism will get you. And, as I noted before, race is not an issue, but a distraction.
Today, in an installment of a series by the newspaper in the town where I grew up, I saw exactly the same phenomena: people refusing to help themselves (and suffering from the consequences) and news reporters missing or evading some obvious questions.


[T]he prevailing attitude towards the poor, which many of them evidently share [is] that they are not active, responsible participants in their own lives. Until this changes, places like Jackson won't need hurricanes. The people themselves, idle because they have been made able to remain alive without effort on their own behalf, and so existing without meaning or purpose, end up doing nothing at all or acting destructively.


And while the Katrina story and the decline of Jackson[, Mississippi] are both treated as if race were the major issue, it is the destructive culture of the government-subsidized poor which is the issue, as attested to in part by the fact that Jackson's "white flight" has recently been joined by middle-class "black flight" to the suburbs.
If Katrina hadn't hit New Orleans, the Big Easy would stil be decades away from the recovery it now faces because its slower self-destruction would have continued for some time. As it stands, the city, already badly sapped by decades of decline, faces a recovery that would already be hard enough for any city.

-- CAV


7-4-06: Added hypertext anchor.


Unknown said...

Let the state tax a dollar a barrel of refined oil and get our own money to rebuild the coast.

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for stopping by, but I have to reply that as an advocate of laissez-faire capitalism, I oppose all taxation.

In fact, in your post, you say:

"There hasn't been a new refinery built since 1975 in the U.S. Refineries have nowhere to go. Tax them now and make our coast safe."

Taking money (i.e., private property) by force would compound the tragedy of Katrina with the injustice of our government doing exactly the opposite of what it should be doing.

There are better ways that dependence on the government to rebuild the coast.