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acme (189)

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Leon Brocard (aka acme) is an orange-loving Perl eurohacker with many varied contributions to the Perl community, including the GraphViz module on the CPAN. YAPC::Europe was all his fault. He is still looking for a Perl Monger group he can start which begins with the letter 'D'.

Journal of acme (189)

Wednesday January 23, 2002
01:28 PM


[ #2352 ]
It doesn't end, you know. I keep on talking to people about flight 63 and I can't escape it at all. If I watch TV, there's always a short bit about the flight. If I read a newspaper, there's always something on the front page. To be honest, it hadn't really sunk in until we started learning more and more about it.

My sister and parents are also still talking about it. Everything is slowly becoming clear. Small things, like fears that the terrorists may come and find us since we stopped the shoe bomb going off (unlikely). Up until yesterday, my mother hadn't understood that the F15 fighter escort guiding us down to Boston was probably going to shoot us down if we deviated from our course (if the terrorists had gained control of the cockpit and were going to use it as a weapon). My father and sister had kinda realised this, but not my mother. I had realised this on the plane, but made a decision not to tell them at that point. There's only so much stress you can handle. Anyway, my mother now knows, and is still shocked (now, weeks after the act).

The funniest thing was a tabloid headline that we read in Miami 10 hours after it happened: "The man with the exploding shoe". Sounds like a bad film title.

The least funny thing was a friend of the family joking at a dinner speech that he almost got an exploding shoe cake for us. That didn't go down so well.

An interesting recent news item about the topic was a Wall Street Journal article: Account of Spy Trip on Kabul PC Matches Travels of Richard Reid. Apparently the journalist handed the computer over to the US Department of Defense which cracked the Windows encrypted file system (export-level, so 40 bit DESX) on it and revealed quite a bit of information. They report that it took "supercomputers" to crack it, but I'm not convinced it was that hard.

The usual people, of course, use this as an argument for laws on restricting the spread of cryptographic software. I disagree. An argument I heard recently was "Well, there are probably laws on flying airplanes into tall buildings, too". If people really worry about security, or know anything about it at all, then they can download PGP (or whatever) off the net and hide it from all.

Making cryptography illegal in the USA will not stop people using it, it will just make Europe's crypto industry stronger. We live in a big world. Laws in one country can not stop anyone who knows how to use Google (and no, censoring Google isn't a good idea either). Sod it, I'm not going to rehash the arguments, you should be sensible.

Interestingly, the family as a whole has been watching different films. Science fiction films are in (eg 5th Element). Girly films (eg Bridget Jones) are in. Foreign films (eg Amelia, Taxi) are in. Die Hard and The Rock are right out.

Fantasy is so much better than real life...

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  • I went through the 1995 bombing [] of the OPM SANG building in Riyadh, and haven't been the same since. The Khobar Towers (another one-time home) bombing quickly pushed the news to the background, so there weren't the direct reminders, but I lived with that knot in my stomach for quite a while.

    I had thought I was over it until September 11. As soon as they hit the Pentagon, and it appeared that they were going to hit strategic, as well as tactical, targets, the fear and the panic hit me like a ton of bricks