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Showing posts from 2016

Mystery of the Misumena fidelis Crab Spider

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Mexico and the United States are missing a crab spider. It's not the most inconspicuous of spiders, either, being one we should see on flowers. Read on to see how biological taxonomy is sometimes detective work about the names and shapes of things...
Summary A fortuitous series of circumstances, along with some sleuthing, reveals that Misumena fidelis Banks 1898 is properly Mecaphesa fidelis (Banks). It is very likely synonymous with Misumenops volutus F.O. Pickard-Cambridge 1900. It may or may not also be synonymous with Misumena decora Banks 1898, which Gertsch 1939 might have mistakenly synonymized with Misumenops volutus. An examination of the Misumena decora type specimens should resolve that. Mecaphesa fidelis ranges along the western half of Mexico, south to Guatemala, and possibly north into southern Arizona.
Last Seen in 1901
There are supposed to be two species of Misumena crab spider (family thomisidae) north of Mexico. Misumena vatia ranges across most of the United St…

Sarcophicada

"Dang roaches, get out of my life!" The old man coughed and coughed. From where he lay on his hospital bed, he pointed his cane at the floor and expertly crunched a cricket.

The machine beside the bed exploded in frantic beeping. "Please, you must rest," the nurse said. "That was only a cricket."

"Hmph! I hate bugs. All of 'em!"

The man's chest heaved, and he gasped a sudden heavy gasp. The machine beeped at the nurse, the nurse called the doctor, and the man passed away.

The man woke. He breathed easily, feeling well rested, as if from seventeen years of sleep. It was dark, the air was stale, and it smelled like dirt.

"Hmph. Figures," he thought to himself.

He began to scratch at the dirt overhead. Progress was slow but steady. Now and then he would pause, look down, and muse, "Yup, shoulda been a hole digger."

Finally he broke through the surface into fresh air. After resting, he ambled over blades of grass and deft…

Weed Rage

I hunkered down in the garden and uprooted a weed. "Unh!" A root nearly two inches thick! An adjacent weed had unbelievable two-foot leaves. I tugged and tugged and up it came, revealing a dozen weeds underneath. I yanked and yanked and yanked.

Still more monstrous weeds! Heaving, heaving, they came up one by one. But now there were baby weeds and sister weeds and even grandfather weeds. I pulled and yanked and tugged. "Hmph! Bluh! Hargh!"

I didn't see the morning go, and I didn't notice the long shadows drawing. Instead I squatted and lifted and grabbed and shovelled and tugged and jumped. Spitting dirt and raining dirt, I watched arms and legs flail. I watched weeds fly. "Ahg! Unh! Grr!"

Unbelievable! This weed had a stalk eight inches thick and it was covered in bark. I whacked at it with the side of my trough. I whacked and whacked and whacked, my grunting now as frenzied as a chainsaw.

Finally the behemoth fell. Thunk. The ground shook.

I loo…

The Unspoken Vulnerability of JWTs

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JSON Web Tokens (JWTs) are the new thing. Blog after blog and book after book tell you how to generate them and use them to authorize access to web services. But there is one little detail that everyone is leaving out: it is much harder to secure a server that generates JWTs than a server that generates session IDs. This is because the JWT signing key must be protected, whereas there is little need to secure session IDs, and session IDs are easily secured by hashing, anyway. As a consequence, the push to use JWTs for local authentication is making sites more vulnerable.


Here you might dismiss me as a random loon for questioning the JWT love, but I do have years of experience professionally evaluating systems to assess and document their security. I've performed IV&Vs for NSA, evaluated NetWare's file system for a TNI Class C2 rating, and developed a reputation for being able to quickly identify security flaws in large software systems. Mind you, that was COMPUSEC, not INFOS…

A Splash of Liquid Sunlight

A gentle breeze blows across the mountain meadow. Waves ripple over the green and yellow grasses. Thistles and Queen Anne’s lace rock quietly from side to side. Small purple flower buds draw circles through the air. A yellow flower also sways slowly to the rhythm, alone among the grasses of the field.

The flower shines fiery and effulgent, glowing and radiating like a splash of liquid sunlight. Its petals are long and narrow, and they ride the wind as if floating up and down on waves of water.

A bee flits by and leaves a memory of its gentle hum.

The bee returns and swings around to a side of the flower, hovers there briefly, and then swings around to the other side. The shifting winds turn the bee's hum into melody. Hovering over the flower, the bee stretches its legs forward, and dips its abdomen to land among the golden petals.

In one swift blur, the petals retract sharply from the bee and swing the flower onto the side of its stem. The bee darts backwards and turns itself arou…

A child dances in the flame

A child dances in the flame

The sky is a ruddy flood. Basalt clouds pump brilliant blood. And a child dances in the flame.

The ground is a surface of darkness, an empty sheet shaping hill and plain. Fiery footprints lash upon nothing, spontaneous flares quick-to-die.

A body races, the body dances, a beating frolic, torchlight lurid. Glowing knees hurl high and down-hammer hard, torso twists, face flashes. The hair strikes out across the clouds, the head thrown back, the hands thrown high. A silhouette is seen in silent laughter.

A child dances in the sunset flame.

(Written in October of 1992 while sitting on the grass one evening at the University of Maryland, College Park)

My Favorite Quotes

Here is a collection of my favorite quotes, in no particular order:

"Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress." ~James Clear

"Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become." ~James Clear

"Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." ~Apple Computer, Inc., 1997

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~Pablo Picasso

"Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand." ~Mark Twain

"If she's amazing, she won't be easy. If she's easy, she won't be amazing. If she's worth it, you won't give up. If you give up, you're not worthy. ... Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for." ~Bob Marley

"[W]e find a capacity for fulfillment we never knew we had when we accept love and joy as it is given…