A Niece, a Barbie and a Jedi

Just a personal happening I wanted to share.

Today while visiting my 6 year old niece, I asked her what toy she wanted her Tio to bring her today – a Barbie or a lightsaber.

Without hesitation, she said “Barbie!”

Without hesitating myself, I pulled both out from my bag of goodies. A Halloween Barbie and a Star Wars SFX lightsaber.

She’s been a green blade swinging Jedi for hours. Excuse me. Let me add some completely unnecessary exaggeration for effect… hoooourrrssss!

She challenged her older brother to multiple lightsaber duels, expertly bounced a deadly purple balloon high through the air, explored pitch dark rooms by humming green light, and even managed a half cartwheel with the lightsaber in full twirl.

Barbie who?

Give the little baby girls in your life the best of both worlds, ya’ll. It’s absolutely glorious.

The CIA announced their DDI program: an in-house bureau focused on tech

While going through my backlog of reading material, I found an article from FCW (The Business of Federal Technology) that pointed out the CIA has a “new” digital directorate that “brings together cyber, IT, and open source intel.”

Called the Directorate for Digital Innovation (DDI), it’s an in-house bureau “devoted to giving officers around the world better IT tools to do traditional cloak-and-dagger work.”

Bear in mind this is just the official announcement of the CIA’s DDI program. This little baby has been running around for some time now and is just now announcing they’re ready to go outside and play.

The CIA says their new info ops center is not “an alternative NSA” and is composed of three segments: “an open source center; a center for handling cyber threats and operations; and the agency’s IT enterprise”.

I’m sure the DDI is going to be an “active” bureau despite all the delicate phrasing in the article, but I really hope the inward-facing DDI is more than a glorified help desk and has some enforceable executive tech behind it. By enforceable executive tech, I mean getting agents up to date with modern security practices with the authority to make upgrades and training more than “suggestions” or optional “time-for-a-promotion” courses.

Exhibit A: Grand poo-bah CIA Director John Brennan was OK with using AOL for his AGENCY EMAILS and his AOL account got hacked by a script kiddie amateur.

Yeah, there’s obviously some BIG changes that need to be made internally. From waaaay up high at that.

Good luck DDI.

The article on FCW can be found here.

Hospitals all over the US now have a medical code for Squirrel Bites! (86824 W5321)

While sifting through my emails this weekend, I saw a new billing system hit all US medical offices “that classifies procedures and diseases in ways that could help public health researchers and physicians better evaluate and treat patients.”

Called the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), all US medical offices and everyone who bills Medicare and Medicaid had to switch to this format earlier this month. The new hotness added 70,000 medical codes to the existing tome that was in place already for “clarification purposes”.

Gone are the dark ages of the non-descriptive “idiot was bit by an animal” and “hold my beer redneck is wasting space in my OR” codes. The new system is very, VERY specific.

Here are a few of my favorites…

  • 86824 W5321   Bitten by squirrel
  • 86826 W5321XD Bitten by squirrel, subsequent encounter (HE’S BACK! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!)
  • 76925 T63013  Toxic effect of rattlesnake venom, assault (Aren’t all snakebites an assault?)
  • 77486 T63821  Toxic effect of contact w venomous toad, accidental (I told ‘im not to lickem! I done told ‘im!)
  • 77652 T65223  Toxic effect of tobacco cigarettes, assault (now THIS has some potential!)
  • 80829 V0191XD Pedestrian on roller-skates injured in collision with pedal cycle, unspecified whether traffic or nontraffic accident, subsequent encounter (THAT’S a specific code!)
  • 82165 V393 Occupant (driver) (passenger) of three-wheeled motor vehicle injured in unspecified nontraffic accident (the old “hold my beer” trick)

While I’m sure the codes have good intent behind them, having 91,737 line items to sift through is ridiculous. I feel bad for all the hospital staff that have to wade through this new muck “that classifies procedures and diseases in ways that could help public health researchers and physicians better evaluate and treat patients.”

What’s next? Specific goat codes? Multiple bear attack codes based on type and weight?

A link to the ICD and its’ impact is at International Business Times, the Smithsonian link, and there’s even a CDC link to download all the new codes.

Medline recalling Acetaminophen due to mislabeling with incorrect strength

I’m posting this because a lot of retail stores and Texas public schools use Medline products as their go-to for medical supplies.

In a press release by the FDA, Medline is recalling lot # 45810 of Acetaminophen tablets because their acetaminophen packages labeled as 325 mg really have 500 mg instead.

That’s epically bad.

According to the press release, “The Acetaminophen 500mg, Tab 100/BT (OTC20101) has been found to be mislabeled displaying “Acetaminophen 325mg” (OTC10101) instead of “Acetaminophen 500mg”. The Acetaminophen tablets, 500mg is incorrectly labeled as 325 mg tablets. This error is not easily identifiable by the user or prescriber. If the product is taken at the maximum labeled dose, every four hours, five doses a day, or with other medications containing acetaminophen, it may lead to liver toxicity or liver failure.”

If you’ve got a Medline 325 mg acetaminophen tablets for dispensing, triple check to see if they’re part of this recall.

“Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact Medline Industries, Inc. by phone 866-359-1704 or recalls@medline.com Monday through Friday between the hours of 8am and 5pm CST. ”

You can also read the press release here from the FDA.

On Tuesday October 6, an epic court decision concerning online data came to pass and nobody said peep

On Tuesday October 6, one of the biggest mind-shifts in online data and technology this decade finally came to pass via an EU court ruling. This ruling will have serious repercussions for both US consumers and all US intelligence agencies, and nobody over here has said peep about it.

The headline says it all… “EU ruling means Facebook and Google can’t send data to the US”

HA!! This is wonderful! This is titanic! This is… well, kinda hard to explain.

OK, supposing you move into a new neighborhood. Walking in the door, you meet a fellow named “Bo” who lives across the street in a funny looking house.

For the most part, Bo seems friendly. He mentions he has a cousin in another far away city named “Luke” who also sounds just as friendly.

A few months into living in the city, Bo makes a copy of your house key and takes it to Luke.

Luke uses the key to open your front door to your home and takes your TV.

Luke gives your TV to Bo.

When you confront Luke, he says since he lives in another city the local laws in your town do not apply to him and he wasn’t breaking any laws in his town. Luke also says Bo gave him the key directly and said he could do whatever he wanted with whatever he found inside. Luke insists he has no idea what he was doing was wrong. You need to take it up with Bo.

When you confront Bo, he says he didn’t steal your TV and never touched your TV. Bo says he had no idea Luke was going to do what he did, and is shocked you have the nerve to accuse your neighbor of such a terrible thing. You need to take it up with Luke.

Ridiculous, right? A cheap shell game from two obvious criminals no police officer, DA or judge would let fly.

Here’s the catch – the part of Bo and Luke are being played by the US government and certain governments in the EU. They were (NOTE: probably still are) doing the exact same thing with our data.

The US gave access to overseas intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on our conversations and bypass encryptions, and then the overseas intelligence agencies told the US agencies what information they found.

Technically the US didn’t steal the information or eavesdrop on our conversations. Technically the overseas intelligence agencies didn’t break any of their own laws in the process.

Finally, with this EU court ruling, part of this “technically” foolishness was brought to a screeching stop.

This epic win for privacy and the upholding of constitutional law is all thanks to Austrian lawyer Max Schrems, who brought the lawsuit “against Facebook in 2013 for participation in US mass surveillance.”

I’m going to have to add Max Schrems to my Christmas card list. Like, forever.

Now, companies’ (and probably certain governments’) “ability to pool data from both sides of the Atlantic for analysis will be affected”.

Will this ruling actually change anything?


The last two paragraphs in the article are the best…

“The ruling basically says US surveillance cannot be allowed to override our fundamental rights, but US law says surveillance must override fundamental rights… The EU court is largely saying that indiscriminate gathering of data is enough to interfere with fundamental rights, and therefore you shouldn’t be able to do it.”

“US companies that obviously aided US mass surveillance may face serious legal consequences from this ruling when data protection authorities of 28 member states review their cooperation with US spy agencies”.

The “journey of your life in numbers and dates” at population.io is a kick

There’s an interesting website called Population.io that gives you a quick overview of the significance of your birthday.

Most sites give you the plain old “you gonna die” shtick, but this site talks about what countries share your birthday, what number of person you are on the planet, how many people are older and younger than you right now, the next big milestones in your life numerically, and lets you drill down into each subsection for a little more data. The site’s finale is a brutally hardcore version of the “you gonna die” shtick with graphs and overlapping line charts.

Some quick stats on yours truly…

  • I’m the 5,269,918,218th person alive on the planet. Suck it 5,269,918,219!
  • China has 67,102 people that share my birthday
  • India has 41,328 people that share my birthday.
  • Just China and India take up 50% of the countries that share my particular birthday – my birthdate is moderately rare in the US!
  • The exact day of my predicted expiration is… well, that can’t be right, so I’m not going to post it. Obvious computer glitch.

Check it out. It’s a quick distraction with a hint of “memento mori, foo” here and there.