Subject: Reflections on the teasing of large animals
To: None <,>
From: Perry E. Metzger <>
List: tech-security
Date: 09/15/1997 21:30:21 writes:
> The developers at OpenBSD would like to thank Perry Metzger for his
> continuous support of their work.
> one which he pointed out but I had missed), but not a single one of
> the fixes is found in the netbsd source tree...  I wonder if Perry has
> an exploit for this problem, and perhaps he's using it?
> Another damn good reason for making /tmp and /var seperate partitions.

There is an old fable about the little boy from the far north who was
wandering through the winter woods with his friends when he came upon
a bear sleeping in a cave.  Now, upon discovering a bear, most little
boys would walk away making as little noise as they could. To most
little boys who've been taught well, you see, a sleeping bear is
something you leave alone and slink carefully away from, but this
little boy hadn't been taught well, or perhaps had been asleep at his

To demonstrate his fearlessness to his friends, he decided to kick the
bear. "After all", he thought to himself, "when the bear wakes, I can
always run away." To his surprise, however, the bear did not react
much at all, beyond a small groan.

Now, at this point, most little boys would thank their luck that the
bear did not awake and leave to brag of their victory over the bear
later, but this little boy hadn't been taught well, or perhaps thought
he knew better, for upon noticing that kicking the bear once brought
no reaction, the boy thought to try his sport a second and a third
time. Still, the bear did not move, and only put out a low growl.

Upon seeing that the first few times that he kicked the sleeping bear
that it caused no reaction, he decided to keep kicking it. "Look at
me!" he shouted to his friends. "I'm afraid of nothing, not even this
stupid bear, which couldn't harm me even if it wished to!", and with
that gave the bear a big boot in the rump. It all seemed perfectly
safe to the little boy, since the bear was obviously harmless and
didn't seem to want to bother with waking up. "Perhaps," the little
boy thought silently to himself, "the bear can do nothing to me, and
so it lies there, pretending to be asleep rather than embarass itself
by its weakness!" The little boy screamed with glee at his sport,
proud of his own bravery and power, and kicked the bear some more.

Now, the bear was in fact not entirely unaware of what was going on,
but naturally he had a different point of view. Seen from the bear's
perspective, his winter's sleep was very pleasant and well deserved
after a long hard summer of work which had left him very tired, and
waking up to deal with a minor nuisance wasn't necessarily worth his
while. After all, after awaking, one often takes so long to get back
to sleep, and being tired, the energy required to deal with the
troublehardly seemed worthwhile. "No one," thought the bear, "could
possibly be stupid enough to do this for long."

Of course, given enough time, even a minor nuisance can get to disturb
one's rest and force one into action, and the little boy, happy with
his game of "Kick the Bear", started making it seem as though he had
no intention of ever letting up on his kicking. So long as the bear
thought the boy would realize how stupid he was being and stop, it
wasn't worth his while to wake up, but when it began to appear that he
would get no rest anyway until he took care of the annoying little
problem, well, that changed his calculations quite a bit.

The fable ends rather badly for the foolish little boy, I'm afraid.