Sci-Attica! Sci-Attica!

So last night, my dear Jodi was good enough to take me to the hospital at 3:30 am after failing to get to sleep for two hours due to an insane amount of pain in my lower back, which had the side effect of making my legs tingly and numb.  Over the past two weeks, I’d been having what I thought was a combination of leg pain and the “usual” hip pains that I’d been having seasonally for the past two years. It was only a few days ago that I realized that putting heat on the small of my back was actually way more effective in soothing the pain than applying the same heat to my hip or leg.

During my visit to the emergency room last night, the doctor told me that it seems my sciatic nerves were being affected, meaning I’m experiencing sciatica.  The diagnosis of sciatica isn’t exactly a revelation — it’d be like someone having a stomachache and being diagnosed with dispepsia.  Sciatica is simply the medical definition for this group of symptoms, and as you can see by the Wikipedia article, it can have a large number of causes.  Of the ones presented, I’m hoping it’s simple wear-and-tear, but I have to get to my family doctor to start investigating.

When I visited the doctor originally about my hip problems, he diagnosed the issue as being a bursitis that was affecting my sciatic nerve.  At the time, I was prescribed Naproxen, an anti-inflammatory, which seemed to help quite a bit, though it did a number on my stomach.  Now that I know I have sciatica presently, it makes me wonder whether or not this whole seasonally affected aspect of this pain is indicative of a bone spur or herniated disc, something that would be affected by barometric pressure, and I’ve been stupidly toughing it out all this time.

At the moment I’m on a 5mg dose of oxycodone (a.k.a Percocet), which is at the very least quite effective at distracting me from the pain — think Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.  Outside these first few days after my initial crisis of last night, I’ll be relying on ibuprofen (up to 8 a day), and a stomach acid blocker to keep the ibuprofen from ripping my stomach apart, using the Percocet only to help get to sleep at night.

The long and the short of it is, I’m having a good bit of trouble getting around, since last night’s crisis, but I’m now managing the pain effectively, so hopefully it won’t affect my ability to get my work done and try to maintain my home life.  And I’m also hopeful to have a proper diagnosis as to why this is going on, now that we know it’s something more serious than a seasonally recurring bursitis.

I suppose the upshot of this is that I’ll have more time to write here, and to try to reopen communications with some e-mail friends I’ve been neglecting lately while in shoulders-of-Atlas mode with work.  It’s funny how I always have such a guilty conscience about losing touch with the people I care about, but there’s always such a barrier to have to surmount in reestablishing these communications.

I’m grateful that Jodi was willing to take me in last night.  The fact that when my hip issues first presented, I was living on my own at the time, and almost blacked out from the pain (which in retrospect should have been a clue that it was more than just a bursitis, given the location of the pain — the lower back, same place that’s killing me lately), makes me all the more grateful that I have someone I can rely on.  I hope I can return the favour someday.

They prayed… before… a golden… bull.

A GOLDEN BULL! Seriously, no shit!  Pharyngula has more than I can bring myself to say here… it’s ridiculous.  Hey you religious types — praying doesn’t get us out of every problem, especially not monetary problems.  Remember the whole thing about throwing the money lenders out of church?  How about the part where rich men can easier get a camel through the eye of a needle, than get through the gates of heaven?  Or maybe about helping the least of us — you know, socialism?

I can tolerate religious folks, it’s the hypocrites and asshats that don’t know their own mythology that get me.

Don’t rush to upgrade Java.

Michael Horowitz at CNet News’ “Defensive Computing” blog has an article up on Java 6 Update 10, which was just released this weekend, and whether or not you should update from your current Update 7.  This is great advice — well thought out and perfectly reasonable, especially where this new version does not contain any security fixes, only new features.

Wish I’d read it before I spent all day updating my work’s computers to Rev 10, finding out it was incompatible with a tool we need to use, then having to roll everyone back.  Oh well, live and learn.  Lost most of the day to this little escapade, but the day’s almost done so I’m okay with that.

An exercise in compare/contrast.

Sorry I can’t find clipped versions of these videos. The meat is near the end in both.

Joe Biden knows what the VP role entails. The VP helps the President get elected, he advises the President and acts as a moderating influence, he talks to the congress members to “marshall the troops” so to speak. Joe left out the “tie-breaking vote” bit, but he’s mentioned it specifically in the past, so he gets a pass.

Let’s see if Sarah Palin knows…

*insert Price Is Right losing noise here*

Anyway, Joe Biden is my homeboy too.

Reader links roundup

Another quick link roundup.  What do you guys think of the really-short, nearly-content-free postings I’ve been doing over the past several days?  They’re easier to slap together quickly, which is what I need given that my free time has been so tight.  I promise I won’t abandon longer posts altogether, either way.

Courtesy of Jason Pickles: this video must have some provenance given the douchenozzle Rob’s reaction to having someone ask three questions — “are you a volunteer?  are you paid?  what do you do?” to the “paid walkers” of the Florida Republican GOTV effort.

From Bob: this might be a way to get off of oil dependency — or it might be snake oil, yet another bit of bad science.  I don’t know enough about the technology behind this yet, but I’ll revisit it as soon as I do.  I have a feeling it would take more energy to run the engine than the engine would generate.  Also — how the hell are these “gold nanoparticles” attracted to cancer cells?  This guy sounds like a quack through and through, frankly.

Also from Bob: what if the whole world could vote on the 2008 US election?  So far the only country John McCain is carrying is Macedonia, but feel free to vote for whomever you’d like to see as the next “leader of the free world” (if you can call the president that any more).  Hilariously enough, evidently this link has only gotten around to the Democrats in the States, because this poll has Obama winning there 80.8-19.2%.

From Groklaw‘s NewsPicks: why exactly is it that Microsoft is trying to muddy the “free software” waters lately?  Why do they want us all confused?  The obvious answer is that they can’t compete on merits, because an open source project will achieve a level of stability and features to rival their own products in extremely short order, due to the meritocratous nature of the open source programming model, and all without any monetary input.  The long answer is in the article.

And finally, courtesy of Huffington Post: apparently Palin’s $150,000 shopping spree for designer clothes pales in comparison to the graft that Obama is guilty of, for having used a 767 to visit his grandmother on her deathbed.  This asshat should be punched in the teeth.


And desperation sets in.

So a crazy right-winger decided it would help McCain’s campaign to carve a backward B in her face, then claim she was mugged and assaulted for having a McCain sticker on her car — then admit to having made the whole story up!

I'd almost go as far as "epic fail" given how fake the black eyes look, but I'm still not sure about that part.

I'd almost go as far as "LIAF CIPE", given the unconvincing black eye makeup job accompanying the backward B.

It occurs to me that that B isn’t even “carved”, it’s scratched.  I’ve had deeper scratches from my cat.  If you’re going to make up a story like that, commit to it properly!  Do it convincingly!  Those scratches are nothing, they’ll heal in no time, and they look like they were done with a key, not a knife.  Maybe there’s some leftover purple-heart band-aids from when they smeared Kerry in 2004 that the right-wingers can give her.

Oh, and apparently the McCain communications director fed an “incendiary version” of this story to reporters before all the facts were clear.  Yep, I pegged it in my title — this is desperation.

In the meantime, 30 Obama supporters had their tires slashed, while at campaign rallies Palin and McCain’s cries of “socialist” and “terrorist” have incited people to racism, death threats and other fear-mongering voter suppression tactics, in a NOT-made-up bit of electoral intimidation.  It’d be hilarious if it all wasn’t so damned scary.

Microsoft critical vulnerability — quel surprise

Microsoft last night sent out an urgent security bulletin to all eOpen members via e-mail, which I quote verbatim:

Subject: Alert – Critical Product Vulnerability – October 23, 2008 Microsoft Security Bulletin Release (Out of Band)

Due the urgency of this bulletin, you have received this notification in English. If your specified language preference is French, we will send you a French language version as soon as it becomes available. Thank you for your understanding.

What is the purpose of this alert?

This alert is to provide you with an overview of the new security bulletin released (out of band) on October 23, 2008. Microsoft has released security bulletin MS08-067, Vulnerability in Server Service Could Allow Remote Code Execution (958644), to address a vulnerability in all currently supported versions of Windows. This security update was released outside of the usual monthly security bulletin release cycle in an effort to protect customers.

Executive Summary

This security update resolves a privately reported vulnerability in the Server service. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if an affected system received a specially crafted RPC request. On Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 systems, an attacker could exploit this vulnerability without authentication to run arbitrary code. It is possible that this vulnerability could be used in the crafting of a wormable exploit. Firewall best practices and standard default firewall configurations can help protect network resources from attacks that originate outside the enterprise perimeter. The security update addresses the vulnerability by correcting the way that the Server service handles RPC requests.

Recommendations

Microsoft recommends customers prepare their systems and networks to apply this security bulletin immediately once released to help ensure that their computers are protected from attempted criminal attacks. For more information about security updates, visit http://www.microsoft.com/protect.

New Security Bulletin Technical Details

Identifier

MS08-067

Severity Rating

This security update is rated Critical for all supported editions of Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and rated Important for all supported editions of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Impact of Vulnerability

Remote Code Execution

Detection

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer can detect whether your computer system requires this update.

Affected Software

All currently supported versions of Windows

Restart Requirement

The update requires a restart.

Removal Information

· For Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003: Use Add or Remove Programs tool in Control Panel or the Spuninst.exe utility

· For Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008: WUSA.exe does not support uninstall of updates. To uninstall an update installed by WUSA, click Control Panel, and then click Security. Under Windows Update, click View installed updates and select from the list of updates.

Bulletins Replaced by This Update

MS06-040 is superseded on these operating systems: Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP X64, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows Server 2003 X64, Windows Server 2003 SP1 for Itanium-based Systems.

Full Details:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS08-067.mspx

Public Bulletin Webcast

Microsoft will host a Webcast to address customer questions on the bulletin:

Title: Information Regarding an Out-of-Band Security Bulletin Release (Level 200)

Date: Friday, October 24, 2008 11:00 A.M. Pacific Time (U.S. & Canada)

URL: http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032394179&Culture=en-US

Regarding Information Consistency

We strive to provide you with accurate information in static (this mail) and dynamic (Web-based) content. Microsoft’s security content posted to the Web is occasionally updated to reflect late-breaking information. If this results in an inconsistency between the information here and the information in Microsoft’s Web-based security content, the information in Microsoft’s Web-based security content is authoritative.

If you have any questions regarding this alert please contact your Technical Account Manager or Application Development Consultant.

Thank you,

Microsoft CSS Security Team

So it was urgent enough to spam their license-holders via e-mail, and it’s predictive of the next big worm.  In the past, these e-mails have been remarkably prescient — probably because hackers read these e-mails at the same time and are well aware that people regularly leave their boxes unpatched for months at a time.  If you’re using any Microsoft OS, patch your shit now before it hits the fan.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mouse

Scientists have managed to erase specific memories in mice.  This is a bit scary.  How long before people can go in and get memories of their cat Fluffy erased after their death, and at the same time as a free two-fer, get all memories of their reasoning behind their political party affiliation wiped out as well?  Military or political application of the technology was honestly the first thing I contemplated when I first watched the movie — well, the second thing.  The first thing was about how I had a relationship or two I’d be mentally healthier to have eradicated from my memory banks.

Anyway, science marches on, it’s the application of science by those with sinister motivations that I distrust.  Maybe I should invest in tin-foil and get to shaping some hats, ASAP.