Newsom intervenes; Dolly vindicates blog

First, I want to throw out some props to San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom for his personal intervention in the case of Terry Childs, accused network saboteur.  Mayor Newsom apparently grew tired of his network being hijacked, and decided to show some leadership by going to Childs' cell and talking some sense into him.

However, a comment posted to my blog of a few days ago by Robert Pogson (check out his blogsite) actually alerted us (that's you and me, dear reader) that there is more to this story than was previously reported.  Let me quote from the VNUNET.com story, written by Iain Thomson:

Nathan Ballard, the mayor's spokesman, told The San Francisco Chronicle that the mayor "figured it was worth a shot because, although Childs is not a boy scout, he's not Al Capone either".

Most of the network is now back under control by administrators although a few problems remain. Childs is still in prison after his bail for four counts of tampering with computer networks was set at $5m.

Initially it was assumed that Childs was simply an administrator gone rogue.... but it seems that in fact he has always been the sole rights manager and management knew about and endorsed this situation.

Childs built the network from scratch and maintained it personally. Allegations that he built in unauthorised systems that allowed him access from outside the office also appear over-hyped.

Childs's lawyer, Erin Crane, has said that her client was protecting the network from damage by other administrators and that the prosecution is trying to paint her client as the villain of the piece.

""Mr Childs had good reason to be protective of the password," the lawyer said. "His co-workers and supervisors had in the past maliciously damaged the system themselves, hindered his ability to maintain it and shown complete indifference to maintaining it themselves.

"Mr Childs intends to not only disprove those charges, but expose the utter mismanagement, negligence and corruption at [the Technology Department] which, if left unchecked, will in fact place the city of San Francisco in danger," she said.

Now if this is true, it certainly changes things, eh?  Turning over the passwords to the mayor was both a good idea and helps his defense by showing all he wanted to do was inform his superiors' superiors' superior, Hizzhonor.  Mission accomplished, he returned control of the network to those whom he felt were initially incapable or unworthy of management. 

So it's going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out.  And I also promise to wait at least a few days until I waterboard anyone.  JUST KIDDING! 

It also reminds us how important it is to have a free press in quantity and in depth, checking out things and giving both sides of a story.  With all the hubub about newsroom cutbacks and all, it makes me shudder to think what will happen when the "adversarial press" is gone.

On to Dolly:  last April, I wrote a blog titled For hurricanes and pandemics, plan one category higher.  I wrote, among other things, that hurricane experts are golden when it comes to predicting landfall but suck at predicting intensity at landfall.  It may not necessarily be completely their fault:  The network of buoys in the Gulf of Mexico is falling apart and Congress can't seem to find the funds to fix them or to buy a whole bunch of new ones to add to the system.  The network of buoys today is to hurricane prediction what the Maginot Line was to the French during WWII. 

Forecasters confidently and, in some noteworthy cases arrogantly predicted Dolly would reach the Texas coast as a mild Category 1 hurricane.   

So how did that work out for them?

Dolly intensified to Category 2 strength and slammed into the Texas/Mexico border with winds of 100 MPH.  People who heeded the advice of yours truly and Craig Fugate and others and actually prepared for a Category 2 blow were in much better shape and position than those who were led to believe that only an enhanced tropical storm was headed their way.

Heed my/Fugate's advise:  Plan for an event one notch worse than what you think is coming, and you will be better for it.

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