Horror, pure horror

And not even the good kind of horror.

Christmas eve, Shelly and I and her sweetie and his wife celebrated Christmas eve by seeing Sweeny Todd, the movie that shows that Johnny Depp is capable, when he chooses, of reaching very near to the pinnacle of creepiness set long ago by Christopher Walken. This is no small feat, for Christopher Walken is a creepy motherfucker.

That’s not the horror, though. Lots of people being killed very graphically, but that’s not the horror.

We didn’t look up the movie times,a nd as a result we spent over three hours chasing around from theater to theater, always arriving either two hours before the movie started or twenty minutes after it had begun. That’s not the horror, either.

Finally, we ended up spending a couple hours in a Barnes & Noble waiting for the last showing of the movie. That, too, is not the horror; indeed, there are many worse ways to spend several hours than in a book store. I even learned something while I was there1.

The horror is that we live in a world in which there is Dick Cheney slash fiction.

And it’s sold in the “literature” section of Barnes & Noble.

I don’t know what the book is called. I’ve blotted it from my memory. Shelly found it; it’s a collection of short stories, all erotica. And one of those short stories is… shudder… Dick Cheney slash. In a gun store.

In which Cheney gets sodomized.

I fear I will never recover.

1 I ended up picking up a book on helicopter design. Most of the book was way over my head; the math began on page 1, and the bulk of the book’s three inches in heft was calculus and fluid dynamics. One interesting tidbit, which did get lodged in my brain and will no doubt stay there forever, even though I can never quite seem to remember things like what street I live on, concerns autorotation.

If a helicopter’s engine fails, the helicopter can land safely using a principle called autorotation. The rotor blades are disengaged from the engine, so they can spin freely. As the helicopter falls, the air rushing past it causes the rotor blades to spin, generating lift and slowing the fall.

The neat bit of information, which is wildly non-intuitive but makes perfect sense when you stop to think about the physics involved, is that a light helicopter that is autorotating will fall much faster than a heavy helicopter.

The acceleration imparted by gravity is constant: 9.8m/sec2. Objects which are behaving ballistically always fall at the same speed regardless of their weight. However, a heavy object has more potential energy than a light object. As an object falls, this potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. A heavy helicopter has more potential energy than a light helicopter, so more energy is available to spin the rotor blades as it falls. Until you reach the point where the weight of the helicopter is so great that it overcomes the blades’ ability to generate lift, a heavy helicopter falls more slowly than a light helicopter, because it loses more energy per vertical foot of drop, and so there is more energy available to be turned into rotational energy in the blades (and hence lift), which slows its drop.

The book had about four pages of calculus to support this assertion, and it makes perfect sense from a conservation of energy perspective.

And man, that’s got to be the biggest and most irrelevant digression EVER.

Polyamory and crime on the Internet

Note: Followups to this entry at http://tacit.livejournal.com/238112.html (part 1) and http://tacit.livejournal.com/240750.html (part 2)

UPDATED 13-December-07 10:50 EST Updates indicated in text
UPDATED2 14-December-07 1:05 PM EST Updates indicated in text
UPDATED3 14-December-07 2:00 PM EST Updates indicated in text
UPDATED4 02-January-08 2:44 PM EST Updates indicated in text

So I recently decided, like many folks do, to Google my name. I do this periodically, because it’s always fun to see how many sites are linking to me (and I’m in the process of building a list of non-English mirrors of my polyamory site — it’s been translated into Polish, Hebrew, German, and a bunch of other languages, which is cool).

And in the process, I think I’ve discovered what might be one of the largest-scale cases of Web site hacking and virus distribution I’ve ever heard of.

A little background is in order. If you’ve used Google for any length of time, you probably know that when you Google popular keywords you’ll often run into “spam pages.” These are pages that are just stuffed full of keywords at random; in the Google search results, they will have titles like “tribadism fight scenes, free tribadism porn video Britney Spears, make money fast terrorism Iran big cock” and have excerpts that look like “she shoved it in and bridal hosiery wedding cake viagra fetish smurf Bible amateur transvestite video free vacation europe nymphomaniac ipod”. These are spam pages; they are filled with hundreds of keywords, and if you click on them, you will be redirected to the spammer’s site. They exist just to intercept popular Google searches and direct traffic wherever the spammers want it.

They are also popular with virus writers. Virus writers will create thousands of fake Web pages filled with popular keywords, then use those Web pages to servers that will attempt to automatically download viruses onto the computer of anyone running Windows who’s unwary enough to click on them.

Okay, so.

Yesterday, I did a keyword search for my name. Normally, I get about nine pages of results; but yesterday, I got 56 pages of results, over 200 in all.

Most of these pages look like this:

The polyamory news franklin veaux mitt was rigid enough to prevent me from either closing them too hard or opening polyfamilies polyamory for the practical them too far. She raised my left hand and fastened it in a similar polyamory weekly podcast manner, into a similar latex mitten.society for human sexuality polyamory info “I just wondered. You were standing there with a dazed polyamory open wedding vows look on your face playing with that cucumber and I thought something might world polyamory association presentations and workshops franklin veaux. Once inside, he polyamory san diego quickly stripped off his apron and polyamory cape coral unfastened his belt and pants. It was nearly as big as Mark’s, and open relationships polyamory that pleased her. Quickly unbuttoning her blouse to reveal her tits. page personal poly polyamory web He gently squeezed them, making her moan deep in her throat.

UPDATED3: I’ve looked at some of the random text on these pages, and it’s not really random at all–it’s a short porn story with random keywords seeded throughout it. It contains a number of statistically improbable phrases. One of these is “Ashley had always wanted to go there”–doing a Google search for that exact phrase results in 13,800 hits–nearly every single one of which is a spam redirector.

You get the idea. “Oh, well, this is interesting,” thought I, “polyamory, and my name, have become popular enough Google web searches that the spammers are including them in spam pages now.”

I clicked on some of these result links, curious to see who the spammer was and what site he was trying to direct traffic to.

And that’s when things started to get weird. What I found was a very large, highly organized campaign to direct Web traffic to servers hosted in Eastern Europe that would infect visitors with a computer virus, all orchastrated by a single person or group of people and all being done by what appears to be a massive breach of hundreds and hundreds of hacked Web sites, all hosted by the same ISP–the largest single Web site security breach I’ve heard of.

If you want to keep going down the rabbit hole: Follow me! Things are about to get very technical here.

Open source will save us all!

Or, err, perhaps not.

Consider the case of www.freehipaa.net, a Web site that advertises free, open-source HIPAA-cmpliant medical software. HIPAA is the US law that protects the privacy and security of patient medical records; it has, among other things, provisions specifying security standards for remote storage, use, and retrieval of sensitive patient information.

HIPAA compliance is a big deal; those who violate the standards can find themselves neck-deep in legal trouble, and anyone who is responsible for maintaining patient medical information is obligated to take security very seriously indeed.

Which is why it’s all the more amusing that I received a fake PayPal scam email in my mailbox today directing suckers to a phony Web page, where the hackers could steal their PayPal information. The hackers responsible for these scams first find vulnerable Web servers with outdated content management or ecommerce software, then hack these Web sites ad put up their phony phishing pages, and finally send out spam email directing the unwary to the hacked Web site for fleecing.

Today’s cracked Web site du jour? None other than http://www.freehipaa.net/icons/us/webscr.htm — yep, that’s right. The creators of HIPAA-complaint medical billing software can’t even secure their own Web server.

Hmm. I wonder if their software is any better…

The house on the rock

When I was last in Chicago, dayo and I drove about three hours into Wisconsin to see a house.

Not just any house. To understand this particular house, imagine that you were a space alien. Imagine that you came from a strange culture that did not build buildings. Maybe you lived in caves, or, I dunno, burrowed parasitically into the flesh of gigantic alien space walruses or something. Or maybe you lived in trees like the elves in The Lord of the Rings, and went everywhere barefoot because your fantastically advanced magic hadn’t ever got so far as to develop shoes.

Anyway, the point is that you don’t build buildings. And then, let’s suppose you’d heard of a thing called a “house,” which was an enclosed structure divided into “rooms.” Armed with this knowledge, you set out to design and build a house, but you weren’t quite clear on what exactly a “room” was.

If you were this space alien, the house that you built would probably be The House on the Rock. The Web site and the brochures describe it as the “grand vision” of a guy named Alex Jordan, but I’d say it’s not so much a “grand vision” as it is a study in ad-hoc chaos and arguably the world’s greatest monument to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It’s an enclosed structure. It’s probably about a hundred thousand square feet or so, and it’s three stories tall, more or less. I say “more or less” because it wasn’t so much “designed” as it was thrown together over time by a man whose grasp of architecture and construction was theoretical at best, and the result is…um, well, it’s hard to actually call it a building, really.

You go in, and you find that it’s a hallway. It’s kind of like being inside a living organism, like the organic space ship on that science fiction TV series whose name I can’t remember with the one chick who’s really hot and shoots lots of people, only more so. The hallway winds and twists and ascends and descends more or less at random, and occasionally it widens out into a place with a bed, or a table, or some other object of furniture you might expect to find in a domicile. It’s hard to say how many rooms there are in this house, because the house doesn’t really do “rooms.” Wide spots in the hallway-tunnel-alien-innards-thing pass for rooms, for the most part, and going from one place to another sometimes involves taking a route that’s…unexpected.

I took many pictures, and they’re very large. For those of you who don’t mind the crushing bandwidth: onward!

BDSM: Theory and Practice of Figging

Note: This is part 6 of an occasional ongoing "how to" series on BDSM.

Part 1 of the series, How to Tie a Rope Harness Part I, is here.
Part 2 of the series, How to Tie a Frog Tie, is here.
Part 3 of the series, How to Tie a Shinju, is here.
Part 4 of the series, How to Make a Custom Dildo out of Ice, is here.

Part 5 of the series, How to Make a Spikey Decorative Collar, is here.

As you can probably figure out, most of these tutorials are really, really not work-safe.

This particular tutorial is work-safe, at least photographically (the text is probably not very work-safe, though!). It describes the practice of figging, which is making a butt plug out of ginger for an interesting warm tingle sensation. It’s particularly good for disciplining those naughty subs for whom an old-fashioned paddling has become humdrum. I recently had an opportunity to explore this with one of my sweeties, to great effect. If it sounds like it’s up your alley, clicky the link!

Show me! Show me!