Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Michael Gerson: Catholic Church endures, flawed but indispensable

Here's an article that you can get behind, talking about the importance of the Catholic Church as a defender of reason and personal dignity from the Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN).

Moral behavior may continue to ride in grooves of socialization or genetics, but moral assertions are fundamentally arbitrary -- always trumped by a two-word response: "Says you."

By asserting that the human mind can grasp moral truth, Catholicism also defends the reliability of reason against the superstitions of our time.

And this is important for a very practical reason: because a belief in human rights is also a moral conviction.
An institution accused of superstition is now the world's most steadfast defender of rationality and human rights. It has not always lived up to its own standards, but where would those standards come from without it?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NEWS ANALYSIS: Is George Bush leading America's first truly Catholic presidency?

I almost had to laugh out loud, but the author does make an interesting point ... read on for more details. From the Houston Chronicle:

The 2005 West Wing meeting was just one indicator of how a Methodist president has surrounded himself with Roman Catholic intellectuals, speechwriters, professors, priests, bishops and politicians. These Catholics — and thus Catholic social teaching — have for the past eight years been shaping Bush's speeches, policies and legacy to a degree perhaps unprecedented in U.S. history.

In fact, with all due respect to John F. Kennedy, the nation's first and only Catholic president, some have begun to call the Bush White House the first truly Catholic presidency.

Bush has placed Catholics in prominent roles in the federal government and relied on Catholic tradition to make a public case for everything from the faith-based initiative to anti-abortion legislation. He has wedded Catholic intellectualism with evangelical political savvy to forge a powerful electoral coalition.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Catholic Investing

Just a quick note for all those of you who have asked about how to invest as a Catholic and/or moral investing. This web site looks promising: Looks like the site just went live this year and is still in the process of coming together.

Looks like its main fund tracks the Faith and Family Values 100 Index (FFV 100), a sector neutral, market cap weighted index comprised of the 100 largest U.S.-based companies who pass stringent moral and ethical standards.

It has links to blogs, financial information, and articles, as well as Catholic life, etc. I don't actually have any money (just kids), but maybe you do, so check it out and let me know what you think.

Embedding signatures into executables

If you embed a signature of the file into the file, doesn't this by definition change the file's signature?

  1. Set the swappable instructions in the program to their bitwise equivalent of 0.
  2. Calculate a signature based on that number.
  3. Swap the instructions to encode that number.

To decode.

  1. Find swappable instructions.
  2. Determine what bit setting they're at.
  3. Set their bit setting to 0.
  4. Recalc signature based on the new bit setting.
  5. Compare to the bit setting you just retrieved.

I would still recommend publishing a separate public key, however,
and include an encrypted signature in the program. As you say, it can
always be changed and re-encoded.

On the other hand, this might be useful on a server, by
encoding a public key and checker on a CD-R and checking all your
programs periodically against the CD-R key. You could encode signatures
in each program and be able to upgrade programs from a central encoding
server without having to write a new cd each time.

Say you have an executable:


Your signature checking routine then does this:


and computes the hash


And then sends:


To reverse, we extract the hash (deadbabeca) and the "original" executable.

Then we compute the hash (of 1_3_3_7...) and check if it matches...

In summary, we embedded a checksum, but we removed it before we checked it. Simple, really.


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