More fun that comes on the back of McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate: getting to hoist Karl Rove on his own petard. (Will that ever get old, though?) When he was on Face the Nation three weeks ago, and the Democratic vice-presidential slot had not yet been filled, Rove was asked whether the chance of Obama picking Virginia governor Tim Kaine would put Virginia into play in the election. Rove’s response will now go into the annals of truly awful foresight:

I think he’s going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice. He’s going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he’s going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He’s not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president.
With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he’s been a governor for three years, he’s been able but undistinguished. I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America. And again, with all due respect to Richmond, Virginia, it’s smaller than Chula Vista, California; Aurora, Colorado; Mesa or Gilbert, Arizona; north Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada. It’s not a big town. So if he were to pick Governor Kaine, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, “You know what? I’m really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States? What I’m concerned about is, can he bring me the electoral votes of the state of Virginia, the 13 electoral votes in Virginia?”

The video of this masterful bit of analysis is here (you can forward to around 6:10 or so for the meat), and the PDF transcript of the Face the Nation interview is here.

(Thanks go out to the Political Animal, Steve Benen, for picking this one up!)

Update: I didn’t realize that Rove has already just gone ahead and contradicted himself on this; yesterday, on Fox News, he said that being mayor of “the second largest city in Alaska” was a great qualification for her. (Nevermind that Wasilla actually isn’t even in Alaska’s top ten list, and if you ranked the entirety of Alaska alongside the nation’s most populous cities, the entire state wouldn’t be in the top ten.)

McCain’s press release announcing Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate might include one of the most baffling paragraphs I’ve read in a press release in a long, long time (emphasis added by me):

As the head of Alaska’s National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Governor Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops.

How does being the head of a group of less than 4,000 soldiers (approximately 1,850 Alaska Army National Guard and 2,000 Alaska Air National Guard) get Palin to the point where she “understands what it takes to lead our nation”? This barely gets her to the point where she understands what it takes to lead your average New England university, or Wasilla, Alaska

(By the way, the Alaska army National Guard website is one of the most awful ever. They even kept a bunch of the sample text that came with their content management system… just awesomely awful.)

I know that for the most part, if you read QDN, I’m the proverbial preacher and you’re part of the choir, but I figure I have to point out to those who peeking in the windows that the official Republican Party platform now calls for a ban on all embryonic stem cell research, public or private, derived from existing cell lines or not. This goes even further than Bush’s 2001 law that allows research on embryonic stem cells that weren’t created expressly for the purpose of research (e.g., unwanted IVF clinic embryos that are going to be discarded), and turns its back on an amazing amount of promise. It’s quite a stunning change; the scientist and cancer researcher in me is aghast that this alone might still not be enough to drive folks from the arms of the GOP in droves.

(As a related sidenote, how does this principled stand on the part of the GOP not mean that the party should also be strongly and firmly against in-vitro fertilization? The process generally involves creating more than one embryo, and likewise generally does not involve transferring all of them, meaning that there are left-over embryos that are put into liquid nitrogen tanks and saved. After some amount of time, a significant number of these remaining embryos never get used, and end up being discarded by the families and IVF clinics — how is this somehow better than doing research on their stem cells?)

This is, by far, the best photo sequence I’ve yet seen demonstrating that Michael Phelps did manage to out-touch Milorad Cavic in last night’s unbelievable 100 butterfly final. I mean, you get a great sense that Phelps did the unthinkable from the in-pool and high-speed overhead cameras (note that I’m sure those videos will disappear from YouTube at some point soon), but these photos are pretty awesome.

What a great year this has been for Olympics swimming.

(Postscript: I just realized that those SI photos weren’t official Omega timekeeping photos or anything, they were taken by my old boss, a regular member of the press covering the Olympic swimming events; those are just all kinds of pure awesome.)

So if you’re even tangentially exposed to news about the internet (or listen to NPR’s All Things Considered!), you might have heard about a major, major weakness that was discovered not too long ago in the security behind the way that hostnames are turned into IP addresses, a weakness that could easily lead to all kinds of hacks, exploitations, and general insecurity on the ‘net. Most of the folks responsible for the DNS servers — the bits of software that are affected by this — were quickly briefed about the flaw and given a chance to respond, and nearly all of them just as quickly released patches to their software to make the hacks much harder to accomplish. Apple was certainly part of the former group (having been briefed on May 5th), but was not part of the latter group; by July 8th, all other operating system vendors had patched the vulnerability, while it took Apple until July 31st to roll the patch out the door. And within a few days, folks were noticing that Apple’s patch only handled half of the issue, remedying Mac servers while ignoring Mac client (i.e., desktop) machines.

Interested in which other Apple platforms were both affected by the DNS flaw and unpatched, I did a little playing with my Airport Extreme wifi router today — I figured it was a good platform to test, seeing as the way it fits into the environment that surrounds this particular DNS flaw is more as a server (a device being asked to resolve DNS names) than as a client (a device doing the asking). Additionally, there’s currently a lot of concern that even with all the patches released over the past month, it’s exactly devices like these — home routers that do DNS resolution alongside network address translation — that are going to prove the hardest to secure. Fortunately, after doing a bit of network sniffing, I can report that the Airport Extreme currently does exhibit patched behavior, properly choosing random ports from which to send its DNS queries. (And thus, that ISS post I linked to isn’t exactly correct when it says that no NAT vendor is performing source port randomization — clearly, Apple is doing the right thing when it comes to the Airport Extreme.)

According to NBC’s own Olympics site, swimming would be starting at 3:30 PM today on the main NBC network; imagine our surprise when we found that Michael Phelps’s first qualifying heat was broadcast at 2:56 PM (when NBC’s schedule says they’d be broadcasting road racing). Fortunately for us, we came home before our DVR had erased the 2:00 hour from its buffer, so we were able to see it, but seriously, NBC: whisky tango foxtrot?!? If you’re going to put up a f@#!ing schedule, you should f@#!ing adhere to it.

This post might be the best example of why I occasionally love reading Yahoo Answers, for pure humor value. The question:

How many centimetres is one feet, like if i am 157 cm how many feet i am?

And the best part: not only is the “best answer” totally wrong (5.24 feet?!?), but eight of the 14 following answers are also incorrect. (One of the responders suggests that the answer might be 5’ 6” — a tad over four inches off. Close! And this was penned by a person who has 65 “best answers” recorded, and claims that “I’m graduated from the biggest school in the State of Washington.”) I mean, this isn’t a “what’s the meaning of life” debate… we’re talking about a question which has a no-doubt-about-it correct answer that could be had. The inch has an explicit, non-rounded equivalent length in centimeters, nearly every computer today has a built-in calculator that does conversions, and hell, Google will even do the conversion for you!

I know that picking on Yahoo Answers is like shooting fish in a barrel, but I feel this is my opportunity to point people in the direction of a much more useful site, Ask MetaFilter. There’s a little bit of a higher bar to participation — a one-time $5 membership fee, and a limit of one question a week, but I assure you that the answers are far, far better, and the community there is one of the best on the web.

This would be an example of the wrong messenger for the message; I’d imagine that if I were a world leader, it’d be pretty hard to take seriously any plea from George Bush asking that my nation stop imprisoning political dissidents or take human rights more seriously.