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Thursday, June 02, 2011

"Crotch-gate": High tech or low tech?

This post is yet another follow-up to the Weinertail tale. Critics have asked how the framer...

(And the name of that framer is Dan Wolfe! Dan Wolfe! Dan Wolfe! Remember: If Dan doesn't sue me -- if he does not use the justice system to clear his name -- then he must be guilty. At least, so runs the logic offered by the right-wingers who accuse Weiner.)

Where was I? Oh yes.

Critics have asked how the framer could possibly have hacked Congressman Weiner's Yfrog "secret" email address. The task, they say, is impossible, or nearly so.

Oh really? Will Femia at the Rachel Maddow blog recounts a bit of experimentation which proves that the job can be done rather easily. Little Green Footballs, of all places, discusses the logic behind the "randomly" assigned five-letter code. Also see this Kos diary. (I'm still banned from Kos, by the way. Guess Markos "Lips" Moulitsas didn't like the cartoons I drew of him.)

For my part, I never thought that Dan Wolfe! Dan Wolfe! Dan Wolfe! did any hacking at all. Why? Because it is now universally acknowledged that Dannikins was the "annoying" personage who quasi-stalked Gennette Cordova. Her statement offers insight into his modus operandi:
The account that these tweets were sent from was familiar to me; this person had harassed me many times after the Congressman followed me on Twitter a month or so ago
My friends have received phone calls from people claiming to be old friends of mine, attempting to obtain my contact information. My siblings have received tweets that are similar in nature.
Despite all the tales we hear of high tech hacking and spying, the best methods often turn out to be low tech. I happen to know a very good P.I. Despite all the equipment at his disposal, he still has to spend a lot of time in parked vehicles doing surveillance.

Circa 1981, I read a book by a young college student who caused a now-forgotten national stir when he wrote a paper outlining how to make a small nuclear weapon. (Was the book called Mushroom? I think so, but memory is a tricky beast.) He was able to piece together the bomb recipe through public sources -- all except for one key missing ingredient. So our intrepid young researcher asked himself the question that all good detectives learn to ask: Who would know? Once he had a name, he telephoned the fellow, and -- using a plausible pretext -- engaged him in a long, friendly conversation. By chat's end, the young man knew how to make a bomb.

In the real world, that's how these things get done. No need for black bag jobs or secret decoder rings.

It's pretty obvious that when Dan Wolfe! Dan Wolfe! Dan Wolfe! called up Gennette's relations, he was trying to do what that young bomb-maker did.

Now let's go back to the words of reader milowent. (He's the fellow who got the ball rolling vis-a-vis the Yfrog security hole.)
the chance that somewhere along the way that weiners yfrog address had been leaked? pretty damn high. it would happen if weiner or an aide simply forwarded a pic he emailed to his yfrog account to anyone else (thus showing the yfrog email address in the chain).
We know that Dan Wolfe! Dan Wolfe! Dan Wolfe! has long had a rather sick obsession with Anthony Weiner. If Dannikins was willing to harass Gennette's friends and family, then he certainly could have adopted a false identity to contact Weiner, his aide, or (most likely) his followers.

Keep in mind that DW! DW! DW! was tracking anyone whom Weiner had followed (or friended, or whatever the stupid verb might be in Twitterworld). I suspect that, cloaked under a Weiner-friendly identity, he struck up a relationship with one of those followers.

If that follower had passed along a single photograph that had originated on Weiner's Blackberry -- well. C'est tout.

(My alternate theory is that, back in his bachelor days, Weiner really did trade naughty photos with some lady. Millions of other people do the same thing. The dumped oft-times become vengeful. You now have enough clues to figure out the rest of the scenario.)

Yfrog: I've been puzzled by the righties who insist that Weiner falsely denied ever using Yfrog. They've cited his interview with Wolf Blitzer, where he offers no such denial. So where did they get this story?

I finally caught up with Weiner's interview with Rachel Maddow, in which the congressman does claim to be unfamiliar with Yfrog. Obviously, he must have used the service previously, because Yfrog is how Twitter users trade pics, and it is universally acknowledged that Weiner had twitted (tweeted?) uncontroversial images to various people in the past.

So does that make Weiner (gasp!) a pants-on-fire liar?

Nope. Let me explain via a personal example.

Take a few seconds to feast your eyeballs on this very site. Blogger works in a strange way: The images that appear in the center column (that is, within the posts themselves) are uploaded via Blogger's in-house service. But all the images on the right and the left -- as well as the really cool cannon picture up at the very top -- have to be uploaded to the internet via a third-party image storage service.

In my case, the name of that service is Imageshack. Imageshack is Yfrog under another name.

But y'know what? If you had asked me a year ago -- two years ago, three years ago -- to name a good online image storage facility, my response might have been: "I dunno."

Would that response have made me a pants-on-fire liar? No. That response means that I use the Imageshack interface maybe once a year. During the in-between times, I usually forgot the name of the thing. On the rare occasions when the need for a new image upload arose, I would hit Google. After the name "Imageshack" sprang up, it would trigger a memory: "Oh yeah. Those guys."

(Russian proverb: "Memory is a crazy old woman who picks up scattered bits of rag while ignoring diamonds.)

Weiner twittered or tweeted or twitted using his Blackberry. The first time he tried to transmit an image, he had to go through a sign-in rigamarole -- and during the rigamarole, the name "Yfrog" no doubt passed in front of his eyeballs. He clicked through, and then forgot all about it. The vast majority of Blackberry-based twitterers surely do the same.

Weiner's unfamiliarity with Yfrog hardly matters. It has no bearing whatsoever on the case. The "Professor Harold Hill" types on the right are simply tossing around techno-jargon to bamboozle the easily bamboozled.

"None": One of the recurrent themes sounded by my right-wing critics holds that a spoofed Twitter message (of the sort that seems to have bedeviled Weiner) will always contain the word "None."

Ridiculous. How do these ideas get started?

The comparison to your left should explain everything. Remember, I have never sent a tweet in my life; the tweet here is a spoof.

On a less-serious note:
Weiner seems sensitive about his name. With good reason, perhaps: He probably had to undergo a lot of schoolyard taunting. The name alone forbids him from national office.

Actually, the nicest guy I ever met is named Weiner. (He is not related to the congressman.) He pronounces the name "WHY-ner" -- which happens to be historically correct.

The name is Germanic. In the German language, the rule is: "When I and E go walking, the second does the talking." Learn how to spell and pronounce the dreaded words Sieg heil! and you'll always know how to pronounce a German word containing the "ie" or "ei" combination.

If the congressman really wants to be historically correct, he should pronounce his name "Viner" with a long I. There is no W sound in German. (Rotten old joke: If the answer is "9W," what is the question? "Do you spell your name with a V, Mr. Wagner?")

"Wein" is how German-speaking people refer to Vienna. Thus, "Weiner" means "Viennese." The congressman's Austrian ancestry caused him a whole bunch of schoolyard grief.

Update: Damn. Even though an ex-gf was a professional German translator, I've forgotten much of what she told me about that language. The word for "Viennese" is actually "Wiener." (Being an old Bruckner fan, I really have no excuse for a mistake of that sort.) "Wein" is wine. So the congressman's name means "wine-maker" or something of that nature.
Wow, I think you caused a stir, as I am getting mean Tweets... 'nieve'
Imagine they want to say I am 'naive'...

Oh, the naked pictures have increased too.

Woman Voter
It isn't just conservatives.

"Liberals" (or are they liberals, you almost can never tell, they do bash the likes of Palin etc.) over at gawker are stirring this as much as anybody. (And they do enjoy blasting stories about naked pics. They started the Brett Farve story.).
Nope, Vienna is Wien. Wein is wine.

According to, "weiner [sl.: man regarded as weak, ineffectual]"

Carolyn Kay
The Germans are always careful with their "e"s and "i"s. It helps make it clear whether they are schiessen or scheissen.
Hate to do this, but someone else will if I don't--

"Weiner" comes from "Wein," German for "wine." A "Weiner" is a vintner.

The German form of Vienna is "Wien," as in "Wienerschnitzel" and, yes, "wiener," meaning hot dog.

And you're right. If people named Weiner would pronounce it with the correct vowel, it would save everyone a lot of aggravation.

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