March 2009 Archives

Plankowner reunion musings

This weekend I have the honor of re-uniting with shipmates off my 2nd boat. I have not uttered much about my US Navy adventure in this space, as I have been otherwise engrossed in life events. For those who do not know, I spent 6yrs as a squid (nautical term of endearment) err I mean sailor. I traveled half-way around the world before I was twenty-five, never made it past the equator. In truth, I had some reservations in attending, as my last year on the ship was not pleasurable. I suppose, I had overstayed my welcome and was longing to return to the real world. Nonetheless, it has been great to see folks that I have not spoken to in 20yrs. Some have not changed at all.
The term "plankowner" is derived from the word 'plank'.. Essentially, planks make up the ship decking. Since I was a member of the commissioning crew, we essentially entitled to a piece this decking :-) Thus the name plankowner seems appropriate. The "original" ship's company.

Tomorrow, I will take a tour of ye old ship. It will feel strange, as I used to live aboard a the powerplant. Slept in some of the weirdest places in the engine room and auxiliary spaces. A true "snipe" as they used to affectionately call the engineers.

My experience in the Navy was an enriching one, in that it provided me with a great desire to continue my education. In fact, I was able to save money for college using my Montgomery GI Bill and US Savings Bonds. Yes, Savings Bonds. Amazing is it not?
Both the GI Bill and Savings Bonds were exhausted within the first 2yrs of my undergraduate education. Basically the monies were used for an apartment and tuition.

At some point it will be worthwhile to characterize my experiences on the USS Stark (FFG-31) and USS Philippine Sea (CG-58). Very different commands and very different crews. Obviously, both ships will always have a place carved out in my memory banks.

While I'm sometimes forced to use unprotected wi-fi hotspots when on travel, I do so without much trepidation. Most people complain about the complexities of using a VPN. Frankly, if you have remote access to Unix or Linux box that is running a ssh server you can essentially gain the same benefit that a vpn system can afford you.

A lesson on the many different ssh 'flags' would be beyond the scope here; however, you can tunnel most TCP/UDP based applications via SOCKS v5. I happen to run privoxy web proxy and tor on my box at home.

So if I setup my localhost (in this case my linux notebook) accept a tunnel from my box running openssh, I can tunnel all http traffic through this makeshift tunnel.
Since privoxy server listens on port 8118, I setup my tunnel as such..
ssh -NL 8118:localhost:8118 user@host (assumes ssh running on port22 - not advised)

Below is the output from 'netstat -tuap | grep 8118'
tcp 0 0 localhost:8118 *:* LISTEN 13188/ssh
tcp 0 0 localhost:8118 localhost:47018 TIME_WAIT -
tcp 0 0 localhost:8118 localhost:47019 TIME_WAIT -
tcp6 0 0 ip6-localhost:8118 [::]:* LISTEN

So now I still have one more step to get the benefit of privoxy and tor on my notebook.
If you're running Firefox or any Mozilla browser (I'm not sure if IE understands SOCKS), you simply need to do 'edit -> preferences -> network -> settings' select radio button for manual proxy settings.. Add localhost (127.0.0.1) and port 8118.

Now to tunnel TCP traffic via ssh - ssh -D 9999 user@host (again assumes sshd is running on port 22). The 'D' flag or switch tells ssh to tunnel SOCKS. on port 9999.
You would then add this information to the manual proxy settings as we did in the previous step. You should now notice the same benefits as you were running them on your local box. For people forced to run M$, fear not you can also realize the same benefits by using the putty client. However, you still will need access to box that is running openssh on the other end of the tunnel. I don't think that W2K3 server can run openssh natively. So you'll need Linux box. Get with the program ;-)

Eradication of Poverty

During the Abe Lincoln love fest that was broadcasted on C-span. I was captivated with the conversation of Jesse Jackson Jr. The concept of Public Private Partnerships was quite interesting to me. Jackson kept stressing that he was not requesting any money from taxpayers. In fact, he would be helping the local and state governments raise capital and also spark entrepreneurship. Essentially PPP is sometimes called PPA. The example he used was the construction of an airport, and the ability for municipal projects of this sort to create jobs and provide an avenue for people to begin to escape the shackles of poverty. As I began studying this business model I immediately began to see value in this approach.

When you begin to realize that one strategy for stimulating the economy is through creating short-term infrastructure revitalization projects, PPA makes a great deal of sense. No building an airport is probably not the best example of a short term stimulus project; however, you could utilize this approach for building a learning academy or media centers in urban and rural areas.

Obviously, another means of stimulating the economy is be certain that _everyone_ is employed and nobody is impoverished. How do you accomplish this daunting task?
Well the concept of microloans have been discussed in some detail. Perhaps I may have heard smatterings of it here, but I have never heard about someone creating a social business around micro loans. Muhammad Yunus, Economist, Nobel Laureate and largely responsible for making the term microloan mainstream. Although some would argue that micro payments to the poor do little to solve the macro problem of poverty, I would assert that it certainly is better than ignoring impoverished. Moreover, I believe Yunus is more interested in helping the poor understand how to leverage their innate talents and ultimately break the cycle of generational poverty.

Hmmm. What if we could deploy Public Private Partnerships and link them to a social business concept. In my mind, this is exactly what Yunus has done with companies like Dannon, Nike, and others. I would think that if this approach can scale well in Bangladesh and other developing nations, we could do something similar here stateside.

Lastly, we have a struggling economy and many people are witnessing an increasing growing gap amongst the working poor and the 'so-called' middle-class. I would hope that new ideas are being considered in earnest.

Declaration and CBP musings

As a quick business trip nears an end. I have to chuckle about border patrol. Probably spent a couple weeks preparing for a visit to Ontario. Not that I've not been previously, but this time I would be transporting a great deal of gear. I had planned to capture strain data for an experiment. Everyone schooled my on the appropriate paperwork and the meticulous detailed required for entry. I probably spent roughly 2-3 days recording all of the serial numbers of my test equipment and the test specimens. Clearly I was bummed when I arrived at the border expecting to be interrogated, when I was asked, "Why do you have these declaration papers?" Umm. I have stuff to declare.. Wow.. How funny is that..

The toughest question I answered was my rank. I haven't been asked this question since my military days.

I suppose that had not even bothered to fill out the paperwork, I would have been waved through without hesitation. Gotta luv that homeland security. I can see why we spend billions.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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