April 20, 2016

Accuracy? Who Cares?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 6:28 am

No We Dont CareOpenCdA has long suspected that the Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper’s publisher and editor are little more than parrots.   A parrot is a pet bird that can be taught to appear to speak by mimicking its owner’s or handler’s voice.

We saw pretty conclusive evidence confirming our suspicion in the April 18, 2016, Press “news” article headlined Democrats:  Don’t support Kunishiga [sic] for sheriff.  Coeur d’Alene resident Tina Kunishige is a Democrat candidate for Kootenai County Sheriff in the November 2016 election.

Read the linked Press article closely.  Including the headline, candidate Kunishige’s surname  has been misspelled five times.  Not once in the article was it spelled correctly.

Now read a letter to the editor attributed to Paula Neils, Chair, Kootenai County Democrats.  It’s in the April 20, 2016, Press.  It is headlined SHERIFF:  Non-support for Kunishiga [sic].   Including the letter’s headline, candidate Kunishige’s surname was misspelled four times.  Not once in the letter was it spelled correctly.

Looking beyond the misspellings, compare the words and sentence structure in both the “news” article and the letter to the editor.

Neils speaks — Patrick parrots.

April 18, 2016

‘Rise of the Rocket Girls’

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 3:23 pm

Rise of the Rocket GirlsThere ought to be at least one copy of this book in every high school library and public library in the United States.

Through diligent and thorough research, masterful storytelling, and skillful writing, author Dr. Nathalia Holt introduces readers to the women who did the math behind the United States’ missile and space programs.   They were  computers.

“Before Apple, before IBM, and before our modern definition of a central processing unit partnered with memory, the word computer referred simply to a person who computes.  Using only paper, a pencil, and their minds, these computers tackeled complex mathematical equations.” (p. 13)

Rise of the Rocket Girls is the personal and professional stories of women who were  computers at the Army’s Air Corps Jet Propulsion Research Project in Pasadena, California.  It was the beginning of what would become the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).   Some of the women were there from the early 1940’s during the days preceding 1958 when the Army handed over control of JPL to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

We suspect many readers will recognize the names Theodore von Kármán and Wernher von Braun and easily associate them with early US rocket science.  Fewer will recognize Barby Canright, Macie Roberts, and Barbara (Lewis) Paulson.  Yet had it not been for these Rocket Girls and the others including Janez Lawson, Helen (Yee Chow) Ling, Susan Finley, and Sylvia (Lundy) Miller, the US might not have put men on the moon and brought them home safely.  We might never have had Pathfinder that put the rovers Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity on Mars.

But why should Dr. Holt’s book be in every high school library in the United States?  Because Dr. Holt includes not just the historical information about the Rocket Girls.  She includes enough science and the discussion of the importance and relevance of math and science to also remind us of the importance the first Rocket Girls’ work done with “only paper, a pencil, and their minds” at JPL.

Those of us who struggle balancing our personal checkbooks can barely fathom the complexity and number of the Rocket Girls’ calculations needed to deliver a rocket to a planet millions of miles away, then place scientific instruments exactly where they need to be on that planet, then position a massive earth antenna to receive the data sent back from the low-power telemetry equipment.

When the first room-filling electronic computers found their way into JPL, it was the Rocket Girls’ knowledge of mathematics and the mission that enabled them to make the smooth transition from paper and pencil to FORTRAN.

This book is very readable.  It tells the story of the Rocket Girls, the women doing the math behind the US’s missile and rocketry development programs.   It talks of the CalTech Suicide Squad and the lovely and talented contestants for the Miss Guided Missile award.  It is inspiring.

April 16, 2016


Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 3:37 pm

GarbagePickupSaturday morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper article by staff writer Devin Heilman was aptly headlined Sanitation service showdown.

At its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 19 at 6 p.m., the Coeur d’Alene City Council is scheduled to consider Resolution 16-020 awarding a ten-year contract with two three-year option extensions to Northern State PAK, LLC, d/b/a Coeur d’Alene Garbage Service.  This is an extremely lucrative contract (several million dollars) with a guaranteed ten-year revenue stream.

OpenCdA thinks the public needs to pay very close attention to this agenda item at Tuesday night’s meeting.  (more…)

April 6, 2016

Timely Library Book

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:43 am

BiblioTechCoverThe Wednesday, April 6, 2016, Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper online published an article (likely based on a press release from the Community Library Network) headlined Library Network talks planned.

OpenCdA urges Kootenai County taxpayers whose Kootenai County Tax Statement includes Taxing Districts identified as 271 – Com Lib Net J and 272 – CLN Bond J to pay close attention to the content of today’s skews paper article.  We will also want to follow the plans and progress of the Community Library Network library expansion.

To help readers better understand how libraries are changing and why modern and progressive ones like the Community Library Network are even more relevant today, we urge you to read Biblio Tech – Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google.  (Mouse-click on the book cover’s image to enlarge it.)  It was published in 2015 and is available from the Community Library Network.

Biblio Tech would be a good book to read before attending any of the meetings listed in today’s Press article.

April 5, 2016

‘… left the office with a briefcase full of reports…’

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:05 am

Clinton 100OpacityHistorical perspective can be very educational.

The British Broadcasting Company has recently found a film of British spy Harold “Kim” Philby giving a how-to class to the East German Ministry for State Security (MfS or StaSi). after his defection to the Soviet Union.  The linked film excerpt lasts about 3-1/2 minutes and is worth watching and hearing.

The newly-found film is noteworthy not for any clever spy tradecraft it reveals but how easily Philby “…got away with treachery…” because he had been “… born into the British upper class.”  Exposing someone of his social and political prominence would have caused a scandal in Britain.

Philby reveals how at night before he left work, he simply crammed his briefcase full of secret material, left the building, delivered the material to his case officer/handler who then photographed it.  The next morning, Philby retrieved the secrets from his case officer/handler and returned them to the office with no one the wiser.

If Philby were to be resurrected and reactivated today, his briefcase might conveniently be replaced by a private email server.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905)

April 4, 2016

Incompetence? Or Intention?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:37 am

clockat515OpenCdA’s post on Saturday, April 2, 2016, titled Change in CdA Council Meeting Time? pointed out that the online agenda announing the Tuesday Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting contained a serious but easily correctable defect.  The agenda would, if executed as published, result in a violation of the Idaho Open Meetings Law.  The violation was not created by the meeting time change; it was created by the order of business as announced in the agenda.  The violation and lawful correction for the violation was explained in the post.

Today at about 5:59 AM, we went to the Coeur d’Alene City website and once again looked at the online Council meeting agenda.  It had been changed, perhaps in response to our post, but the change did not correct the original error.   Here is the new agenda as it appeared this morning.

The Idaho Open Meetings Law is clear about how public meetings must be announced and conducted.  It is equally clear about when and how Executive Sessions are authorized and what business may and may not be conducted in them. (more…)

April 2, 2016

Change in CdA Council Meeting Time?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:35 am

clockat515Citizens who pay attention to what the Coeur d’Alene City Council does will want to look carefully at the online agenda for the council meeting on April 5.  This agenda was retrieved at 7 AM on Saturday, April 2.

First, note the time-date line above agenda item ‘A’ shows that the meeting begins at 5:15 PM, not the usual 6 PM.

Second, note that agenda item ‘A’ and agenda item ‘M’ show the Council in Executive Session.  That is not a typographical error; the Council intends to hold two Executive Sessions during this meeting.    However, if the Agenda is followed as published, it will create a violation of Idaho’s Open Meetings Law.

The Open Meetings Law does not forbid multiple executive sessions in the same public meeting.  The Council is allowed to have more than one Executive Session as long as each is properly noticed on the council meeting agenda and convened only after passage of the statutorily required motion.

But the agenda published online and linked above shows that the first item of business at 5:15 p.m. will be conducted in Executive Session.  The next item of business after that would convene the public City Council meeting.  That would violate Idaho’s Open Meetings Law.

The Open Meetings Law absolutely requires that before going into Executive Session, the Council must first convene a properly announced public meeting, then during that meeting offer and pass a motion to go into Executive Session.  The Law forbids using an Executive Session “… for the purpose of taking any final action or making any final decision.”  Because the Executive Session motion results in a final action or final decision, it must be passed and memorialized in the minutes of the already-convened public meeting.

If Coeur d’Alene’s Mayor, City Council, City Administrator, City Clerk, and City Attorney care about following the Open Meetings Law, they need to amend the agenda as provided by the Law.  The agenda needs to be formally amended to simply reverse the position of agenda items ‘A’ and ‘B’.  The Tuesday, April 5, 2015, Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting needs to be convened in open session before the motion to go into Executive Session can be offered and passed.

March 30, 2016

Apple Bites, Part 6: Why Not Use the NSA?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 10:24 am

AppleCore copyMore than a few people have scoffed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) apparent inability to independently defeat the zero day safeguard designed and built into the Apple iPhone 5C used by the San Berdo Two  Islamist terrorists.

The scoffers often suggest the FBI should simply have turned to the National Security Agency (NSA), the nation’s codebreakers.  Couldn’t the NSA or other components of the US Intelligence Community (IC) have cracked into an iPhone 5C?

In OpenCdA’s opinion, the answer to the question posed is an unqualified “Yes.”

We also believe there is a reasonable explanation why the FBI handled this case the way it did. (more…)

March 29, 2016

Idaho’s Permitless Carry Law: Harmful or Beneficial?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:16 am

gfszaToday’s Idaho Statesman published an opinion piece headlined Permitless carry bill ‘sets Idaho up for failure’.  The op-ed’s writer, True Pearce, identifies himself as “…  an Idaho attorney, professional competitive shooter and gun rights advocate.”

Our OpenCdA post on March 17, 2016, SB 1389: Did They Ask?, wondered if Idaho’s legislators had bothered to diligently research possible conflicts between Idaho’s proposed SB 1389 and the federal Gun Free School Zone Act.  Certainly the resources for doing the research were available to the legislators even if the legislative skill and political will to pass a state law consistent with the federal law eluded them.

Our recommendation is simple:  If you’re inclined to carry a concealed weapon in Idaho, lawfully obtain the appropriate level of state permit and put it with your driver’s license or identification card.  Having the state-issued permit does not allow you to violate either federal or state laws, but failing to possess one can result in a federal statutory violation where one would not otherwise have been.

March 28, 2016

Apple Bites, Part 5: Not Surprising Result

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:44 pm

AppleCore copyAccording to the New York Times skews paper, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has asked the Federal District Court for the Central District of California to vacate its order to compel Apple to find a way to unlock the Apple iPhone 5C used by the San Berdo Two Islamist terrorists.

OpenCdA is not surprised at this outcome.  As we observed in a comment appended to our February 26, 2016 Apple Bites, Part 2 post:

“On the other hand, don’t overestimate the quality of Apple’s or any other product’s engineering and design people. People in those occupations often fall in love with their product and become blind to the vulnerabilities that they have inadvertently (and often carelessly and negligently) engineered in. When confronted with incontrovertible evidence of a major vulnerability, everyone from the lowest snuffy design engineer up through their lying lawyers and the CEO in another country will deny the proof proves what it clearly does prove.”

Neither are we surprised that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook now wants the FBI to tell Apple what the vulnerability is so Apple can fix it.

Good luck with that.

It is not up to the FBI to use taxpayer money to identify and exploit the vulnerability your whizbang engineers stated out of ignorance or intention didn’t exist, then reveal it to you so Apple can gain a significant advantage over competitors (not to mention wiping the substantial egg off Apple’s corporate face).

Neither is it up to the FBI to compromise what may be a very effective intelligence and counterintelligence tool which it or one of its contractors developed in response to Apple’s denial.

We suspect the FBI and the rest of the Intelligence Community will consider giving Apple what it wants pursuant to a still-evolving Vulnerabilities Equities Process, but only after the value of the information to others has perished.

Or maybe Tim Cook really is a 21st century skunk … ? After all, the skewspaper article didn’t identify the company which did the break in.

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