Spoiler: Against all odds, the cats survived

I wonder why, if God exists, he would allow 25 to be killed, most of whom are likely Christian, but spare this…

Coming out as an atheist:

Originally shared by Sid McFarland

I wonder why, if God exists, he would allow 25 to be killed, most of whom are likely Christian, but spare this Atheist. Maybe Pat Robertson can answer that one.



Runaway IP laws

Why I’m Paying Ex Bono For A Former Client: Battelle v. Southfork

Originally shared by Andreas Schou

Why I’m Paying Ex Bono For A Former Client: Battelle v. Southfork

As anyone who’s been following my stream for the past week knows, late last week, an Idaho security startup — Southfork Security — was recently the subject of an unprecedented ex parte data seizure and injunctive order. Between competitors in a single industry, this might be relatively normal. It might be the kind of case which would be worth hashing out at length and enriching the lawyers.

But instead, the day I found out, I sent $500 to my ex-client’s legal defense fund. I’m going to send another $500 bucks today. And because I can’t take his case pro bono, and am not his lawyer with respect to any related issue, if this drags on, I’m going to keep sending his legal defense fund $500 until I’ve refunded every last dime he’s paid me in legal fees. 

That’s how important this is to me. And here’s why:

Battelle Isn’t A Competitor. It’s a Government Contractor.

As many of you might know, Battelle isn’t a cybersecurity company. It’s an enormous, hypothetically not-for-profit government contractor that runs a number of American national labs. That includes Idaho National Laboratory, which hosts ICS-CERT (the embarrassingly-named ‘Industrial Control System Cyber Emergency Response Team’) and a number of associated laboratories, each of which is associated with critical infrastructure vulnerability assessment and protection.

This year, Battelle licensed a product it had been working on — a network visualization, whitelisting, and fingerprinting tool — to a private company, NexDefense. Southfork Security, my former client, also bid to open-source the software, but withdrew before the competition was over. If you’re aware of the state of network security, you’re probably aware that this is a solved problem. Perhaps not the special case of industrial control system security, but the principle is not substantially different. 

That leads us to the second problem.

Battelle Tried to Patent Sophia.

Up front, this case is nominally about copyright. I mean, all the pleadings are about copyright, and all the damages are based on copyright, but — as the complaint mentions here — the real issue is probably the patent.

On May 23, 2012, BEA filed for a patent entitled “Systems, Methods, and Computer Readable Media for Monitoring Communications on a Network,” Serial No. 13/478,343 (the “Sophia Method Patent”). The named inventors on the patent are theDevelopers. However, pursuant to their employment agreements with BEA, the Developers have each assigned all right and title to the Patent Application to BEA.

What everyone in the field is aware of, and Battelle is apparently not, is that there is a giant expanse of prior art. And government funds are being used to reach into that prior art, and — if we, the public, are unlucky — indefinitely swipe valuable, if not particularly novel, ideas from the public domain. On behalf of a private entity.

If there’s an open-source product, the complainant — that’s NexDefense, which after yesterday no longer has a web presence — might find it impossible to use its taxpayer-funded monopoly to extract license fees from its competitors. That’s in the purely hypothetical event that it had a patent, which it doesn’t.

Which leads us to our next problem.

Some Basic Googling Would Have Prevented This.

As Corey Thuen discusses at length in his declaration, and has been entered into evidence in the form of commit logs, Visdom’s source code has been up on the web since the first stable release. It’s on the second page of the Google search results. And its commit logs go back to March, after he took an unpaid leave of absence from Battelle to bid on Sophia.

Although you might notice the plaintiff’s claim that the code submitted on March 28th was “substantially complete,” you might also notice that (per the declaration) that that first commit was only 2000 lines. The last commit brings it up to a total of 19,000 lines. Perhaps I am missing a full understanding of what the phrase “substantially complete” means.

But probably not.

Oh, and it’s also in Javascript. Which is an interpreted language. And the original is in C. Which is a compiled language. 

Also, Corey Thuen, who was the only Sophia dev accused, didn’t write the back end. Someone else did. That person had never seen Sophia’s code. He now works for Battelle, and as far as anyone knows, he disclosed the Github address in his COI paperwork.

Battelle Accused Corey of Being a Hacker. This Is What They Hired Him For.

In order to get the most invasive civil evidence order I’ve ever seen — an ex parte order for preservation of evidence which required him to shut down his business for the better part of a week — Battelle’s investigator swore out an affidavit claiming that “hackers” are well-known to cover their tracks, and are capable of deleting evidence. And while I suppose that is the case, I — a lawyer who owns a power drill and an electromagnet — am perfectly capable of munging my hard drive until it’d be hard to get something off of it.

And here’s the difference between me and my belt sander, and Corey and his sophisticated hacking skills:

I am not a guy who has passed incredibly invasive clearance interviews to gauge my propensity to munge my hard drive with a drill, electromagnet, and hammer. Corey Thuen is. When I was asked, when I was interviewed for his clearances, whether he had a reputation for honesty and forthrightness, I didn’t hesitate. Of course he does. 

Which is why he’s been, for his entire career, an incredibly trustworthy public servant, defending our country from both cyberattacks on our infrastructure and self-serving bullshit from antiterrorism hacks about cyberattacks on our infrastructure. Both of which are incredibly valuable.

They Haven’t Dropped Their Lawsuit Yet.

You would think that, after receiving the source code, finding out that it was in the wrong programming language, and running a guy whose business and clearances depend on his reputation through the mud, Battelle would stop digging. 

The problem is they haven’t. They’re still coming.

As an enormous company that buys legal services in bulk, they can afford to lose this case as slowly as they care to. As two guys who buy legal services at retail, Southfork can’t afford to win slowly. Which means that even if they’re not bankrupted by an expert-intensive IP suit, they could easily be bankrupted by their own reliance on their attorneys. (Which is not to criticize Brad and Jason at Hawley Troxell. For IP litigators, they’re working cheap. This case is just a lot of work.)

So long as Battelle keeps coming, I’m going to keep shoving money into Southfork’s bankroll. I guess I’ll just call it ex bono — I’ve already done the work. I’m just giving them their cash back for it, because I believe in what they’re doing.

If you care about software patents, or open-source software, or public-private coercion, or government overreach, or big corporations crushing the little guy, there’s something here to outrage anyone of any political orientation. This is an important issue.

So let’s tilt at some windmills. Because, seriously: screw this windmill. 


Now Bat Influenza Viruses!

Now Bat Influenza Viruses!

Originally shared by Deeksha Tare

Picture below: The flat-faced fruit bat Artibeus planirostris.

Bats to blame

Bats, already known culprits for viruses like Nipah, Hendra, and other coronaviruses, filoviruses, and lyssaviruses, have now been found to harbor Influenza viruses of a novel subtype. Scientists have found these Influenza viruses in Peruvian flat-faced fruit bats (Artibeus planirostris) and yellow-shouldered bats from Guatemala. Thus, there are yet another Mammalian hosts for this respiratory virus.

The two subtypes

The Influenza virus isolated from the Guatemala bats was classified in the subtype H17N10. Whereas the Peruvian viruses, being somewhat related, but vastly diverse from H17N10, have been classified as belonging to the H18N11 subtype. Its HA and NA genes being more genetically different (nucleotide sequence identity of 48.7–62.3%). 

The surface proteins

♦ HA- The Hemagglutinin protein of the Peru virus bears only 49.1% similarity to the existing HA proteins of other subtypes. That is why it warrants a separate subtype of its own- H18.

The bat H18 HA does not recognize sialic acid receptors (which is the receptor in case of all Influenza viruses), and its receptor remains to be defined.

♦NA- The Neuraminidase protein too, bears only 29.6% identity with all the other NA subtypes. And hence it has been designated as N11. It is so different from the other NAs that the authors refer to it as the NA-like (NAL) protein. 

In spite of the vast difference in sequence, structurally, the N11 is quite similar to common NAs.

Other findings

♦ A high frequency of antibodies is consistent with widespread circulation of these viruses in bat populations from the Americas.

♦  Bat influenza HA and/or NAL mediate host cell entry and release via different receptors compared to other influenza viruses..

♦ Attempts to propagate this virus in mammalian and avian cell cultures have been unsuccessful.

♦ These influenza viruses have evolved in bats for an extended period of time.

In conclusion

The present study is another reminder of the widely transient nature of Influenza viruses. Their discovery in different hosts and their constantly mutating nature may be indicative of the possibility of a species jump. 

Whatever the scenario may be, this unpredictable virus is sure going to keep scientists on their toes!


Yet another post for ScienceSunday . Tagging Rajini Rao Chad Haney Buddhini Samarasinghe Allison Sekuler and Robby Bowles .

(Via Kirk Douglas on

The article:



Climate change slowing?

Great animated chart inside

Originally shared by Raw Story

Great animated chart inside

In their study of media coverage of the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Media Matters for America found that nearly half of print media stories discussed that the warming of global surface temperatures has slowed over the past 15 years. While this factoid is true, the question is, what does it mean?

The same problem applies to the ‘pause’ (or ‘hiatus’ or better yet, ‘speed bump’) assertion. It’s true that the warming of average global surface temperatures has slowed over the past 15 years, but what does that mean? One key piece of information that’s usually omitted when discussing this subject is that the overall warming of the entire climate system has continued rapidly over the past 15 years, even faster than the 15 years before that.

Chart http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=47


Who Plotted The Government Shutdown

Petition (see below): Prosecute The Conspirators Who Plotted The Government Shutdown In Violation Of 18 USC § 2384

Originally shared by G. Gibson

Petition (see below): Prosecute The Conspirators Who Plotted The Government Shutdown In Violation Of 18 USC § 2384

Conspirators Include:

Edwin Meese III – Former Attorney General under Ronald Reagan
Charles Koch – Co–owner, Koch Industries
David H. Koch – Co–owner, Koch Industries
Michael A. Needham – CEO Heritage Action for America
Ted Cruz – United States Senator from Texas
Alfred S. Regnery – President, The Paul Revere Project
Andrea Lafferty – President, Traditional Values Coalition
Andresen Blom – Senior Strategist, Center for Civic Virtue
Angelo M. Codevilla – Professor Emeritus, Boston University
Becky Norton Dunlop – Former White House Advisor, President Ronald Reagan
Bob Reccord – Executive Director, Council for National Policy
Brent Bozell – President, ForAmerica
Brian Baker – President, Ending Spending
Chris Chocola – President, Club for Growth
Cindy Chafian – President, The Mommy Lobby
Colin Hanna – President, Let Freedom Ring
Craig Shirley – Reagan Campaign Biographer
David Bossie – President, Citizens United
David Bozell – Executive Director, ForAmerica
David McIntosh – Former U.S. Representative, Indiana
David Williams – President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Don Devine – Senior Scholar, The Fund for American Studies
Duane Parde – President, National Taxpayers Union
Eric Cantor – House Minority Leader
Erick Erickson – Editor, RedState.com
Gary Aldrich – President, Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty
Gary Bauer – President, American Values
Grace Marie Turner – President, The Galen Institute
Heather Higgins –President, Independent Women’s Forum
James Martin – Chairman, 60 Plus Association
Jenny Beth Martin – Co–Founder, Tea Party Patriots
Joe Gregory – CEO, Gregory Management Co.
Kay R. Daly – President, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary
Kenneth Blackwell – Conservative Action Project; President, Constitutional Congress, Inc.
Kevin Gentry – Koch Public Sector
Lee Beaman – Businessman, Nashville, TN
Lewis Uhler – President, National Tax Limitation Committee
Marco Rubio – United States Senator from Florida
Marjorie Dannenfelser – President, Susan B. Anthony List
Mat Staver – Liberty Counsel
Mathew D. Staver – Chairman, Liberty Counsel Action
Matt Kibbe – President, FreedomWorks
Michael Grebe – leads the Bradley Foundation
Mike Lee – United States Senator from Utah
Mitch McConnell – Minority Leader, United States Senate, representing Kentucky
Myron Ebell – President, Freedom Action
Pat Toomey – United States Senator from Pennsylvania
Patrick Pizzella – Conservative Action Project
Penny Nance – President, Concerned Women for America
Phyllis Schlafly – Conservative Action Project
Ralph Benko – President, Center for Civic Virtue
Senator Rand Paul – United States Senator from Kentucky
Rebecca Hagelin – Activist and Right Wing journalist
Rev. Lou Sheldon – Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition
Richard Rahn – President, Inst. for Global Economic Growth
Stuart Epperson – President, Council for National Policy
Susan Carleson – President, American Civil Rights Union
T. Kenneth Cribb – Former Domestic Advisor, President Ronald Reagan
Tom Donelson – Chairman, America’s PAC
Tony Perkins – Conservative Action Project
William Wilson – President, Americans for Limited Government


“Gravity”:  Completely unrealistic contrived disaster destroys all space exploration efforts of mankind

“Gravity”:  Completely unrealistic contrived disaster destroys all space exploration efforts of mankind; a…


“Gravity”:  Completely unrealistic contrived disaster destroys all space exploration efforts of mankind; a miraculous survivor crawls out of her capsule and kisses the ground.  Pretty disappointing.  Nice pictures, though, and George Clooney’s character was a hoot.