Miller Resigns

by Kieran Healy on November 9, 2005

“Judith Miller resigns her position at the Times”:, in a deal that’s been under negotiation for a couple of weeks, apparently.

Sony’s Rootkit

by Jon Mandle on November 9, 2005

You may have read about Sony/BMG putting rootkits on some of their music cds. (The original discovery was revealed by Mark Russinovich on his blog. Today, he posted a follow-up. Mainstream coverage is here, here, and here. There’s a good discussion on the Security Now podcast, number 12.)

Basically, rootkits are pieces of software that change the operating system in order to hide themselves and what they are doing. For example, they can intercept directory calls, thus hiding files from the operating system and from any software using the operating system. This makes it virtually impossible to see them from within. And once the operating system is compromised in a way that is invisible to users, all bets are off.

It’s bad enough that Sony would do this without giving users adequate notification. But the system they used – licensed from a company called First 4 Internet – did this in a particularly clunky way. Any file starting with the prefix $sys$ would also be hidden from the operating system, leaving the computer open to other hacks that would themselves be hidden.

Last week, on an NPR interview, a Sony executive downplayed the controversy, saying: “Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?” Words to live by, I guess, because nothing can hurt you unless you know about it.

Update: EFF has a page with useful information including a list of cds known to contain the software. (hat tip: boingboing)

And rams them down your throat

by Henry Farrell on November 9, 2005

The title of the latest Norman Podhoretz “diatribe”:, approvingly linked to (surprise, surprise) by “Glenn Reynolds”:

*Who Is Lying About Iraq?*

The short answer to this timely question: “Norman Podhoretz”:

Number whatever the hell it is in a series of simple answers to unnecessarily complicated questions.

Update: See also “this”: from Matt Yglesias at Tapped. To misquote _To Kill a Mockingbird_, it would seem that the truth is not in the Podhoretzes.

Matters unmentioned

by Chris Bertram on November 9, 2005

Over at Normblog, “Sophie Masson has been defending the French model against its detractors”: , pointing out the France has successfully assimilated generations of Portuguese and Italian immigrants and turned them into French men and women. The funny thing is, that, leaving aside a bit of Napoleonic rambling around Italy in the 1790s, France never colonized Italy and Portugal. Nor did it fight a bitter war in Italy and Portugal as recently as the 1960s. Nor did it employ methods including massacre and torture against Italians and Portuguese in the recent past. Moreover those recent events have, as far as possible, been brushed under the carpet and France recently passed a law making schools teach the allegedly positive aspects of its colonial regimes in North Africa. Whilst the Algerian War was the subject of one of the greatest films ever made, French cinema (to mention just one popular cultural medium) has not faced up to the Algerian war in the way the Hollywood has addressed the American experience in Vietnam. I don’t assert that there is some direct causal connection between the Algerian war and the recent riots, but one cannot think seriously about the situation of the banlieue without noticing the unmentionable facts and silences. There has been no Truth and Reconciliation Commission for France, but until these wounds are acknowledged and examined, those of North African origin cannot be treated as just another immigrant group — like the Italians and Portuguese — they are not.


by Kieran Healy on November 9, 2005

The “Kansas Board of Education”: has approved new standards that mandate the teaching of “Intelligent Design” (which I’ve always thought should be called “Paleyontology”: in science classrooms. According to CNN, in addition to mandating that students be told that some basic Darwinian ideas “have been challenged in recent years by fossil evidence and molecular biology,” the board also decided to help themselves to a bit more, too:

bq. In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

Priceless. Unfortunately they didn’t adopt my suggestion that science be further redefined to include sitting at home drinking a beer and watching the game on TV. This would have greatly enhanced my weekend contributions to science.