Monday, November 30, 2009

TAKE ADVICE FROM NINNIES

This afternoon CNN came up with the answer for the unemployment blues in America. In less than fifteen minutes, simple: Facebook! If everyone who's lost a job would just say so on the pre-eminent social networking site and keep working that, others around the country would see their pleas for help and do something. There's no shame. Crisis fixed!

It's no surprise there are ninnies in the prominent chairs of the mainstream media. CNN's top simpletons in this particular bit were Ali Velshi and Campbell Brown. After asking how many people got jobs through Facebook, three or four anonymous answers were whipped out: One free-lance spot and two other full-time jobs, maybe. Problem solved, a two and a half minutes of good news. Chin up, unemployed. Just friend everyone you can on Facebook.


-- From March.

DD doesn't see Ali Velshi on CNN often, but when I do he always impresses as of the finest examples of Marie Antoinette-imitation in the mainstream media.

And that's a big squad packed with tough competition!

As for job searching over the weekend, a segment with Velshi and another anchor featured an 'economic expert' you'd cross the street to avoid. Recommending you do charity work for United Way while you're jobless, UW being the corporate charity synonymous with corruption.

You could be painting a house alongside that CEO who could give you a job, implied the expert. Yes, you could kiss that man's ring, kneel down, grovel, plead and slip him a bribe, too.

Years ago DD worked at a newspaper where the top brass were infamous for extorting underlings into supporting their United Way initiatives.

With Velshi and company, I always know I'll get something stupid, unimaginatively but insanely insulting to common sense, and wrong. He is the epitome of a journalist fugleman for Habsburg America.

In tribute, DD collected some spirit-numbing quotes taken from recent news stories, those which deliver the crucial info that to get ahead, you might have to find some way to reassure employers you're not overqualified for some job, any job.

In other way of looking at it, your new job is being jobless, in constant training to be some replaceable cog so you can once again find something which will pay very poorly but give you a sense of worth. For having the bad luck to be in a country where the wealthy get to give the economy the sack.




"Two years and 300 applications later, still no job. Three responses via e-mail, two phone calls, two interviews, but no job. He even was rejected by the Peace Corps. He was overqualified for most positions. It probably didn't help that he's over 40."

-- Modesto Bee, Many people getting desperate for any job

"Michael McKee, a psychologist at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic, researches older worker employment issues. He explained what may have happened.

" 'We had an employer post a $13 per hour job and receive over 500 applicants. They culled out the overqualified and never looked beyond the first 100 applicants...'"

-- Arizona Republic

"Recruiters say experience is still valued, but the image of the older job seeker as overqualified and overpriced is still a hurdle to overcome.

"A study sponsored by the AARP found that the same resumes got more calls for interviews if they appeared to come from a 32-year-old than from a 57-year-old."

-- El Paso Times (Texas), in Time to develop a forged resume?

The next excerpts are particularly vile. They ran in the New York Times a month or so ago and seemed to ask readers to consider the plight of the prospective employer. They have so many resumes to sift through. And that's maddening and burdensome work, you bet.

"C.R. England, a nationwide trucking company, needed an administrative assistant for its bustling driver training school here. Responsibilities included data entry, assembling paperwork and making copies ... Ms. Ross had only a limited amount of time to sort through the resumes. While C. R. England has not been immune to the downturn, it has added significantly to its stable of drivers and continued to hire office staff members to support them. Ms. Ross was also trying to fill more than two dozen other positions.

"She dropped significantly overqualified candidates right away, reasoning that they would leave when the economy improved. Among them was a former I.B.M. business analyst with 18 years experience; a former director of human resources; and someone with a master's degree and 12 years at Deloitte & Touche, the accounting firm.

"Over the course of four days, Ms. Ross forwarded 61 resumes to Mr. Kelsey, while rejecting 210 others. The remainder never even got a look. Many were, in fact, never uploaded to the company's internal system because there were too many.

"To make the task easier, he decided they should be even more rigorous in ruling out anyone who appeared even slightly overqualified. Mr. Kelsey, an ardent New England Patriots fan, compared his personnel strategy to the team's everyman approach."

Yes, Tom Brady is certainly the best example of Mr. Everyman DD can think of. Everyman could easily marry Gisele Bundchen. And, why -- Bill Belichick and his half-a-million fine for cheating -- that's the most everyman thing, ever!

Naturally, with anyone possessing the intellect capable of making such a comparison, you'd expect them to come up with an equally stupid, tortured and insulting interviewing technique. And, indeed, this was the case. Mr. Kelsey of C. R. England, would -- it was explained -- ask an idiotic question having to do with sitting in the stands at a sporting event. So, now you know, the boss probably likes suck-ups who'll stand for anything while filling out digital forms and stacking paper, although the story didn't say that.


"Mr. Kelsey marched through many of his questions again. Then, trying to gauge her ability to be assertive among truck drivers, he added a new hypothetical: if she were in the stands at a baseball game and a foul ball came her way, would she stand up to try to catch it, or wait in her seat and hope it fell her way?

"The other finalist had said she would wait. But Ms. Block said immediately that she would jump up to grab it ... Mr. Kelsey decided he had found his hire."




"So how do you persuade a company to hire you if you are underqualified -- or overqualified -- for the job, and the laws of supply and demand are against you?

"If your only relationship with the company is electronic, via a job board or a posting, your chances are not good. H.R. people confronting hundreds of faceless online applications have one main goal: to weed out as many people as they can."

-- also from the New York Times




''They want experience but they want youth,'' said Steven Dembo, a photographer dressed in coat and tie ... ''They want a senior player at entry level pay,'' said Mark Roper, 50, an information technology specialist whose daughter had to move home and transfer to a local community college after he lost his job.

''I don't think they know what they want, the job description doesn't match the interview,'' said Pamela Robb, who was taking down Ms. Fink's tips on her laptop ...

"They [pose] questions Ms. Fink had no answers for. ''Why do they bring me in, then tell me I'm overqualified?'' asked Amy Studnitz, 59, a former accounting manager who made $68,000 in her last job.

''Can you say 'I don't have a weakness,' '' Ms. James, the contractor said. '''I'm just even-keeled'?''

''No, no,'' Ms. Fink said, ''you need a weakness that's not really a weakness -- they want to see you dance around the question.''

-- also from the New York Times, in a story about how even human resources department employees are finding themselves jobless




"Nowadays, he spends a lot of his time at Michigan Works!, the state agency that works with the unemployed, and in coping sessions like the 'Men Shit Outta Luck in Transition' classes at Oakland University or the 'Living with SquatLess' course at Macomb County's Michigan State University Extension Center. [In other words, branch college courses designed to make money off desperation while being politely cruel and intelligence-insulting at the same time.]

"You just hear 'no' a lot and learn what you can't do ... You're too overqualified to be a cable television installer and underqualified to be a biomedical engineer."

-- The Detroit Times




"On any given day, more than 100,000 adults are unemployed and looking for work in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. At least 70,000 more are overqualified in low-skill jobs - or so discouraged by the dismal job market that they've given up the hunt.

"As the recession drags on, this much becomes clear: Nothing less than the biggest retraining effort since the Great Depression will be needed to put out-of-work men and women back into meaningful jobs."

-- The Cincinnati Enquirer




"The result, then, will be high unemployment leading into the 2010 elections, and corresponding Democratic losses. These losses will be worse because Obama, by pursuing a uniformly pro-banker policy without even a gesture to popular anger over the bailouts, has ceded populist energy to the right and demoralized the movement that brought him to power ... Along with this will come a process of defining prosperity down. All the wise heads will tell us that 8 or 9 percent unemployment — maybe even 10 percent — is the 'new normal', and that only irresponsible people want to do anything about the situation ... So what I see is years of terrible job markets, combined with political paralysis.

"I hope I’m wrong about all this." -- Krugman
AWESOME



The best homemade Dick Destiny "Highway Patrol" video, ever.

"Opening track from the utterly awesome album arrogance," writes some nice lady I don't know, from the UK.

"Greasy, hard rockin, scuzzy biker punk from Dick destiny and the highway kings, just one look at these guys and you know it's gonna be good ..."

Yeah, mostly.

Friday, November 27, 2009

FUNKY ROCK 'N' ROLL FRIDAY



"Tell 'em You're No Sissy!" by DD here.

Two minutes, fairly standard rock 'n' roll imprecations, 'cept for title. Seemed like a good line at the time. Backing vocals: The original Carson Mills Carson.

Gear: SansAmp Blonde, Danelectro French Toast fuzz, Korg Pandora PX5D.




Funky Rock 'n' Roll Fridays -- past.

Keywords: Pennsylvania Dutch rock roll, red beat egg, Red Lion, Wernersville, Lebanon, Schuylkill, etc.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

INCREASINGLY UNPOPULAR WAR POPULAR

No matter how 'increasingly unpopular' the war in Afghanistan becomes, there's no 'tipping point' in the US press where journalists with common sense say: "Enough! I won't write this officious hedged garbage anymore!"

DD did a quick survey of US newspaper databases and found 60-70 usages of increasingly unpopular war or variations on it in major news stories alone in the past six months.

Samples:

"Obama has been accused by some Republicans of 'dithering' about whether to send more troops and deepen U.S. involvement in an increasingly unpopular war. -- The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware)

"But the note contained apparent spelling mistakes. And it left an embarrassed Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the defensive, facing a public uproar that forced him to apologize Tuesday for his sloppy handwriting, while scrambling to defend a war increasingly unpopular with the British public." -- the Los Angeles Times

"The sharpened focus by Obama's team on fighting al-Qaida above all other goals, while downgrading the emphasis on the Taliban, comes in the midst of an intensely debated administration review of the increasingly unpopular war." -- Associated Press

"The Afghanistan war reached its once-unthinkable eighth anniversary Wednesday as President Barack Obama, seeking a revamped strategy for the increasingly unpopular conflict, focused more closely with his war council on neighboring Pakistan's role in the fight against al-Qaida." -- Associated Press

"As the White House yesterday began to debate in earnest the increasingly unpopular Afghanistan war, NATO's secretary-general said President Obama is right to delay troop decisions until a possibly revamped approach is devised." -- The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey)

"Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, hand-delivered his request for as many as 45,000 more troops to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Germany Friday and made his case for why he needs more forces to fight an increasingly unpopular war." -- Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

"U.S. military authorities in Afghanistan have terminated a contract with a company that was producing profiles of reporters seeking to cover a war that's becoming increasingly unpopular with the American public ... The media analysis work being done by The Rendon Group had become a 'distraction to our main mission here ... '" --The Associated Press

That's enough of that. Not so surprising and no way to change the channel, sadly. No matter how 'increasingly unpopular,' the US is only 'increasingly' in for more.

The quote of the day, if a bit of a non sequitur, comes from England:

"Speaking [of his American counterparts in the run up to war with Iraq, Col. J. K. Tanner, the chief of staff for the British commander in southern Iraq] said: 'Dealing with [the Americans] ... is akin to dealing with a group of Martians. If it isn't on the PowerPoint slide it doesn't happen..."
STUMBLE & FAIL: GAMING THE NEWS


You often didn't get the first graf in various Net come-ons.

Washington Post editors and reporters hate you.

Given a poll which returns results which show that, pretty much overwhelmingly, Americans believe global warming is man-made, they choose a head-line which implies the opposite. Until you clicked on the link and read the story's first paragraph.

It was a stunt guaranteed to get eyeballs. And it did. DD noticed it at the top of the Google News aggregator page yesterday, assuming it probably drew a hoard of Republican readers eager for something to throw on top of the hacked e-mail story.

Post editors, probably knowingly out of a desire to rig readership, chose to emphasize the minor finding in the pool -- that Republican's have been busy brainwashing their own.

Because the Post is a big newspaper, its headline almost immediately dictated other copy-cat stories.


The Christian Science Monitor website, formerly a real newspaper, didn't resort to pandering half a day later. The Post's slug-line in yesterday's Google News sidebar did not show its first graf.
STUMBLE & FAIL: ALWAYS GOOD NEWS, LADS!


Bum wine pic still not retired.

"Jobless claims plummet to 14-month low," trumpets CNN today.

"Number of initial filers for unemployment insurance sinks to [only] 466,000, the lowest since Sept. 13, 2008."

"A consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected 500,000 new claims in the week ended Nov. 21 ... The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 496,500, down 16,500 from the previous week's average of 513,500."

And so all now know CNN business reporters and editors can't even add and subtract so good. Or use the calculator built in to Windows.

496,500 + 16,500 = 513,000.




Also in on the Gilded Age desk:

"Not a month removed from the last newsroom layoffs, and with editor Russ Stanton talking openly about another round of staff cuts coming in December, the Los Angeles Times is nonetheless hiring in Entertainment, one of the departments that lost people in October. Kind of makes it seem about bringing in cheaper talent, not reducing bodies or refocusing."

See here.

DD last dealt with Times issues when posting on the newspaper's Official Rock Critic, Tuscaloosa Ann Powers.

Tuscaloosa Ann was granted a branch office in that little Los Angeles of the South, home to the Alabama Crimson Tide. So as to better cover the entertainment hub of the world where the rest of her colleages are being summarily purged.

Over the weekend, Tuscaloosa Ann -- flown in as she was to cover U2 at the Rose Bowl -- covered the American Music Awards in Hollywood, the two places only 1764 miles apart.

That's some saving of money at Tribune, which is in bankruptcy court!

"Are guys even making relevant pop music right now?" wrote Tuscaloosa Ann on Monday. "That's a ridiculous question, obviously, but after Sunday's AMA telecast it seems almost reasonable. Though plenty of men performed during this roundup of both trending and reliable chart toppers, the show's heat emanated from the feminine sphere."

She then spent the rest of the week gushing about Adam Lambert, a dude.

"To state the mind-numbingly obvious, Lambert's full-force eroticism can be seen as the revenge of Elvis Presley's wiggly hips, cut out of the camera's frame on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' in 1956 ... " wrote Tuscaloosa Ann.




Good news, lads! Good news! Our new job's in the shitter!

"Five new restroom ambassadors will soon be tweeting from toilets at Times Square after beating hundreds of hopefuls for the coveted jobs," writes one stupidly optimistic person here.

When one's gotta do, one's gotta do. H/T to Tosk59.

.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

STUMBLE & FAIL: IF ONLY THIS WAS AFGHANISTAN

In Stumble & Fail country:

"The Afghan government and the US military have begun a fledgling drive to lure Taliban foot soldiers away from the battlefield by offering them job opportunities ..." -- the Los Angeles Times, Monday

"The calculations [on a price tag for troops to Afghanistan in the new surge] so far have produced a sweeping range. The Pentagon publicly estimates it will cost $500,000 a year for every additional service member sent to the war zone. Obama's budget experts size it up as twice that much." -- the Los Angeles Times, Monday

"Disastrously high unemployment, persisting years into the future ... Why is this considered OK, as opposed to desperately requiring action?" -- Paul Krugman, here.

Jobs for the Taliban and half a million to a million for every soldier sent into the endless war. Productive jobs for Americans? Way too hard and unpopular in Washington.

A grand national strategy for short as well as long term lose. So did the sun on dunghill shine.




Stumble & Fail: the archive.
INEXPLICABLE CYBERWAR TRASH

Much of the national cyberwar discussion, what there is of it, is dominated by trash reporting. More recently, the worst examples have been so bad they appear almost inexplicable, perhaps the result of people thinking "What could cyberwar do to this country?" -- then taking a second to come up with the answer: "Anything and everything!"

No rational perspective, no actual relationship to what risk statistics exist in the real world, are allowed to intrude into this process. The enemy, after all, is everywhere, capable of anything at anytime.

"[Some alleged expert], speaking before a health IT standards committee organized by the Health and Human Services Department, said what 'keeps me up night and fairly scared' is that an attacker could get into a system and, for example, change data fields that indicate patients who have an allergy to penicillin do not have an allergic reaction to the antibiotic," reads a National Journal blog posting here.

While reading this, you should keep in mind that the National Journal is one of the prime places for cyberwar hype. It is a publication which asserted last year that China had caused power blackouts in the US and, more recently, delivered the often cited risible junk from Booz Allen Hamilton's Mike McConnell on how Wall Street and the financial markets could be hit by cyberwar, bringing the country to economic collapse.

The magazine's reports on cyberwar are always lengthy, and they work from the logic that the truth of a thing is determined by the number of people who can be found to assert it.

"In another manner of speaking, if one can fill a room with bull, hearsay and gossip, there's always a magic tipping point where it transforms into fact, like lead turns into gold when touched by the Philosopher's Stone in alchemy," I wrote a year ago.

The cyberwar narrative has always been driven by groupthink.

And to spend too much time asking for details and proof is to be drawn into the deranged world of the American way of threat description.

So for the National Journal, a lecture is cited, one in which it said cyberwarriors might change medical records, leading to death. "About 400 patients in the United States die each year from penicillin allergies, according to the Web site Wrong Diagnosis," it reads.

However, it astonishingly misses the point of a statistic on medical error -- as proof of the common hazard always posed by simple human frailty, not as a potential metric of damage in cyberwar.

Indeed, one can find a substantial archive devoted to this subject at the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A glance at its first page of results -- not a trace of cyberwar fiddling to be found.

This facet of the cyberwar argument would not be complete if, in standard US fashion, we are not seen as planning it for our many potential adversaries, since every foreign country with networked computers, and even a few with hardly any, are generally labelled as potential culprits.

"Illustrative applications of cyberattack .... Altering electronic medical records of adversary military leaders."

The above, taken from a slide presented by Herbert Lin, in a talk entitled "Technology, Policy, Law and Ethics Regarding US Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack Capabilities."

Because of this, it would seem only a matter of time until news stories show up suggesting the US has engaged in secret cyberwar with [fill in the blank], a facet of which involves another unverifiable story, one in which the [designated country's] general of this or that had his prescription changed, causing him to die suddenly.

Monday, November 23, 2009

HIT YOU WITH A LITTLE STRAP


Once part of DD's vinyl collection, now existing as ripped home CD.

Two minute long song, "Teacher," off Christ Child's Hard. Old citations via Chuck Eddy on I Love Music's Rolling Hard Rock chat thread:

Christgau's Record Guide:

Hard [Buddah, 1978]

This is not punk rock. This is an ambitious, anonymous bunch of heavy metal pros who thought it might be timely to use the words "punk" and "New Wave" on the back of their debut LP, and who are now really pissed at Johnny Rotten. Inspirational Verse: "Blow it up/Tear it down." C-

Dave Marsh, Rolling Stone Record Guide, Zero Stars:

"Inane attempt to cash in on punk by band that developed 'their expression in the hills of Malibu and Topanga Canyons,' according to the liner notes, which conclude, 'You will love it -- you will hate it -- but you will not ignore it!' We haven't, but it's our job. The rest of the world has, quite wisely, resisted more successfully. A truly putrid artifact."

Illustrating the two worst guys to write about Christ Child -- dudes with well-earned reputations for hating anything hard rock -- furnishing the gatekeeper quote on the subject. Which is the way things have almost always worked in music journalism.

PS: Actual lyric is, yes, "I'll whip you with a little strap."
STUMBLE & FAIL: 'MOON ROCKS' CONTRAPTION BUILT BY SPOILED KIDS HAILED BY PREZ AS AMERICAN TECHNOLOGIC SYMBOL

Today's bitter laughter opportunity, courtesy of a New York Times blog, epitomizes the great American enthusiasm for bragging about things that aren't quite worth it.

President Obama: “We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.”

Pleasing empty talk, done many times by too many.

For the record, DD has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Lehigh University, formerly 'the Engineers', now the mucher duller Mountain Hawks. Who lost to Lafayette in the cross-region college football rivalry game on Saturday. Albright College, DD's other alma mater, on the other hand -- beat Alfred on Saturday, advancing one step in the NCAA DIV III play-off scheme. Go Lions!

"Mr. Obama presented the 'Educate to Innovate' campaign on Monday," reported the Times.

"Sally Ride, the first American woman in space [and the only post-Apollo astronaut whose anyone can remember other than Krista McAuliffe's], was on hand, along with students and dozens of scientists and other administration officials. After speaking for about 15 minutes, the president inspected the 'Cougar Cannon,' a device made by two students that is intended to scoop up and toss moon rocks."

Yeah, that's hella pretty and elegant science -- something for the tossing of 'moon rocks' made by upper middle class spoiled kids from Vienna, Virginia, whose parents presumably work for either an intelligence agency, NASA, a defense contractor, or the MITRE Corp.

Allegedly, A Push for Science & Technology -- hopefully not all destined for an intelligence agency, NASA, a defense contractor, or the MITRE Corp.




Hey, this is really some hot shit!

"Sony is expected to donate 1,000 PlayStation 3 game consoles and copies of the game LittleBigPlanet to libraries and community organizations in low-income areas," reported the Times here.

"Part of the competition will consist of children creating new levels in LittleBigPlanet that incorporate science and math. The other part will offer a total of $300,000 in prize money to game designers for science and math games that will be distributed free."

Game designers! That'll jump start science & technology, for sure. That compares favorably as hell to the $500,000 to $1,000,000 / soldier we're going to be paying out for the war in Afghanistan in the next year. The sheer generosity and broad scope of 'Educate to Innovate' is not only astonishing, but also breath-taking!

“We’re finding extraordinary engagement with games,” said Connie Yowell, director of education for MacArthur. If the engagement is combined with a science curriculum, she said, “then I think we have a very powerful approach.”

The US excels above all others in one thing! We always know were the priorities are.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CYBER-RAID ON THE TAXPAYER CONTINUED

Updated

Through the week, the school of cyberwar vampire squid continued its preparations for feeding.

Spurred by 60 Minutes (see here), the big newsmedia followed with articles through the Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, TIME and additional pieces from a host of information technology and business publications which exist only to regurgitate whatever received wisdoms the corporate infosecurity world needs pushed.

Overseas, the Telegraph, the Australian and the BBC were the waterbearers.

And after 60 Minutes, the biggest bucket of water to be carried was that provided by McAfee, in a convenient report on how the age of cyberwar was just about upon us. It was a thin read, its main purpose to get press. Containing no actual new information, it succeeded grandly. More interesting was who manufactured it, but more on this in a moment.

As far as these things go, this week's show was an unusually transparent rigged news push in which a small circle of national security businessmen provided all the paint for a backdrop into which no skepticism intruded. This is not so remarkable -- anymore -- but still a little surprising in that no one tries to disguise it even a little in 2009.

Cyberwar is about to break out and everyone is preparing, was the news. Report distributed by the computer security company responsible for the very first virus hype, Michelangelo, in 1992. (Your host, in the American Journalism Review in 1992, on the McAfee-led brouhaha.)

"Despite the secrecy, brief glimpses of several cyberwar incursions have surfaced recently," wrote a journalist at US News for an article entitled US is Striking Back in Global Cyberwar.

"Nuclear weapons labs, defense contractors, the State Department and other sensitive federal government agencies have fallen prey," wrote the Washington Post on November 11. "What experts do not know is exactly what has been stolen or how badly U.S. systems have been exposed. 'Given the intrusions into defense industry networks, multibillion-dollar weapons systems . . . may have already been compromised,' said James Mulvenon, a China expert with Defense Group Inc."

With enemies everywhere, according to US News, "[... Remotely] hacking into al Qaeda laptops, meanwhile, is within the purview of the nation's spy agencies, says researcher and former intelligence officer Mathew Aide, who recently wrote The Secret Sentry, a book about the National Security Agency. He says that the NSA's Tailored Access Operation Group employs a cadre of Navy computer technicians who spend their days in rooms protected by James Bond-esque retinal scanners deep inside NSA headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland. But their activities are more often focused on monitoring communications than on remotely erasing hard drives or crashing power grids."

Thank heaven.

"More than two dozen professional hackers have set up operations in exurban Virginia beside a mock military headquarters made of plywood," the article begins. "Huddled over laptops, they are preparing to launch a vicious barrage of cyberattacks. Once they break into their targets' computer networks, the nefarious possibilities are myriad: shutting off phone lines, overloading citywide emergency response systems, or simply slinking around to pilfer passwords."

In the comments section, color furnished by a very young person:

"I was there," writes one young fellow.

"I found Cyber Dawn [cyberwar exercise] to be a very educational and informative event, not to mention the moments of hilarity after me and my dad took down a web server for Westpoint. But the fact remains that anyone can go on the Internet to get some fancy tools to attack anyones [sic] computer from a remote location.

"Oh, and I'm 13 and was on the 'Hackers' team."

It is good to know that joint the US government and military/corporate comsec businesses still realize that 'tweeners are the best at mastering networked computing technology because everyone knows they are on the Internet everyday, play computer games constantly, and are biologically and mentally more fit for it than anyone older.

See here.

Moving along from this circus, one in which the riding of unicycles or jumping on pogo sticks are portrayed as remarkable new things, DD returns to the McAfee report, entitled Virtually Here: The Age of Cyberwarfare.

The report was actually done by Good Harbor Consulting, Richard Clarke's front company.

In the report, Clarke is quoted, sort of like an independent expert. It lists him as a contributor at the very end. How cheeky!

"The lack of a clear doctrine for cyberdefense reminds Richard Clarke, former Special Advisor to the President for CyberSecurity at the White House, of the development of US nuclear strategy after World War II," reads the report.

The report itself is attributed to Paul Kurtz, another of Richard Clarke's men. Buttressing quote is furnished by Greg Rattray, another in a small circle of individuals all known for pushing the coming age of cyberwar.

Here, for example, is the Cyber-Conflict Studies Association, which coincidentally just happens to include Paul Kurtz of Good Harbor, James Mulvenon and Greg Rattray. For a research group, it looks almost entirely like a corporate national security strategic advice and services trade association.

But back to Richard Clarke, who featured in a post earlier this week here.

"We sit at a similar historical moment ... War fighting is forever changed," wrote Clarke for something advertising his new book, on cyberwar, threatened in early 2010.

The man is nothing if not consistent and tenacious.

In the August '99 issue of Signal magazine, Richard Clarke said there was "a very real possibility of an electronic Pearl Harbor."

"Without computer-controlled networks, there is no water coming out of your tap; there is no electricity lighting your room; there is no food being transported to your grocery store; there is no money coming out of your bank; there is no 911 system responding to emergencies; and there is no Army, Navy and Air Force defending the country . . . All of these functions, and many more, now can only happen if networks are secure and functional."





One of the way an observer can tell the current eruption over cyberwar and cyberattack is manufactured is its total irrelevance to the lives of average Americans. Other than as a petty background annoyance -- ancillary and constant admonitions to keep anti-virus software up-to-date, to blindly obey every nag to update something, to listen and take seriously every blandishment 'experts' emit because that is only way one will be educated on computer security and, in turn, made safe -- it serves no use other than to frighten.

Nevertheless, while the economy has crumpled and every day brings new front page stories about loss, rising unemployment and lives increasingly stunted by economic woe due to malfeasance and mischief in the US financial system, all the criers on cyberwar can talk about is how the banks and said system might be crippled by mysterious hackers and shadowy enemy nation cybersquads.

While rage at Wall Street, banking and finance is palpable in the middle class, threatening to make impossible any subsequent attempts to force recovery and build potential jobs, the fuglemen of cyberwar go on about how we must act now to save Wall Street, banks, the financial sectors, everything -- from black secret cyberwar.

It is delivered as if in a deaf, dumb and blind environment, ignoring the herd of elephants in the room -- how the economy was actually brought down and how everyone knows this.

DD did an Adobe scan of McAfee/Good Harbor's coming cyberwar report for the word "bank."

A "key finding" -- "Most experts agree that critical infrastructure systems -- such as the electrical grid, banking and finance, are vulnerable to cyberattack in many countries. Some nation-states are actively reconnaissance to identify specific vulnerabilities ... laying the electronic battlefield and preparing to use it."

". . . [they] will go in and shut down a banking system or they will manipulate financial data ..."

This next one is particularly ludicrous, whether true or utterly fabricated, in light of how everyone knows how the Iraq War and subsequent years really unfolded.

"[Our] cyberattack would have frozen Saddam Hussein's personal bank accounts and stopped payments to Iraqi soldiers for war supplies ... The risk of plunging the world into financial crisis was not worth it."

Yes, of course, the risk of plunging the world into financial crisis wasn't worth the attack. Thanks, US cybermen, for keeping your hands off the kill switch.

Fictitious scenario: "Confidence in the bank is [put] at risk, potentially causing a classic run on the bank ... While it may be theoretical, this scenario is not impossible."

"... [Banking] and finance ... are ... likely targets in future wars."

The arguments and claims, self-serving as they are, display a rancidity in thought, a purposeful denial of any perspective or recognition of what actual pressing problems face the nation and the daily impact of them on the security of average Americans.

"But the enemy will cyber-bomb Wall Street soon!" the salesmen warn.

One wishes they say it, more loudly, but to try singing it at tea-parties and townhalls in middle America instead of to the usual reporters, influential fools and keepers of the purse. The silence could be deafening except for the sound of pitchforks being sharpened.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

YAY TEAM!



Couldn't ya have put more people in the stands?!

Albright Lions versus Alfred Saxons, NCAA DIV III playoff, this weekend!
FLOGGING CYBERATTACK HITS HIGH GEAR


Unintentionally humorous truth-in-datamining.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking at people with suspected links to al Qaeda who have shown an interest in mounting an attack on computer systems that control critical U.S. infrastructure, a senior official told Congress Tuesday," reported the Wall Street Journal on-line.

"While there is no evidence that terrorist groups have developed sophisticated cyber-attack capabilities, a lack of security protections in U.S. computer software increases the likelihood that terrorists could execute attacks in the future, the official warned."

DD calls this deployment of the threadbare 'Absence of proof is not proof of absence' aphorism beloved by those wishing to justify a war and/or a spending spree.

From a December 7, 1999 piece in a San Francisco newspaper, courtesy of the official DD 'electronic Pearl Harbor' archive:

"Alan B. Carroll, an FBI agent . . . urged those at the conference to imagine a computer or communications version of the World Trade Center bombing - a disaster that brings down, say, computer or telephone networks on which society depends . . . 'Referring to the alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden . . . Carroll said that 'given the resources of this man, you can imagine the kind of damage he could do.'"

Note: This was prior to 9/11.

"Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, shown here in Washington in September, says al Qaeda has some cyber-attack capability ... If terrorists were to amass such capabilities, they would be wielded with 'destructive and deadly intent,' Steven Chabinsky, deputy assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday," added the WSJ.

"It's only a matter of time," former HomeSec director Chertoff, is said to have said of al Qaeda's cyber-attack plans. "They're getting the capability to do some damage."

"These descriptions reinforced concerns that former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell raised publicly last month about the potential for a terrorist attack on the computer systems and data underpinning the U.S. financial sector.

"I am worried about some terrorist group [with] the capability to destroy the U.S. money supply," Mr. McConnell said. " 'The impact of such an attack would be "an order of magnitude greater" than the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."


The most useful cyberattack flogger in screenshot today, the perfect businessman. The impact of the coming cyberattack will be an order of magnitude greater than 9/11. Buy and lease our staffers, services, tactical and strategic advice. So the money supply isn't stolen and you're made poor and jobless, the economy destroyed.

In the past few days, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin have issued press releases related to the excellence of their cybersecurity business arms. And the need for employing them to protect the nation's infrastructure.

So far, the national discussion -- as it has unfolded in the mainstream news -- departs not one iota from the really old electronic Pearl Harbor script, minted over a decade ago. It is a script cyclically rolled out when a need is felt, or an opening perceived, to expand business through the efficient transfer of taxpayer money to the private sector.

Extraordinary claims are made. No commensurately extraordinary proof is offered in support. One famous man, a poorly disguised shill for his firm, is given a free ride by 60 Minutes for the announcement of approaching danger. Magically, the self-serving claim is transformed into proof, argument from authority, and used in everyone subsequent bit of coverage and advertising for protecting the infrastructure agains cyberattack.

An elaborate scare theatrical production is put on. Giant national security firms use their publicity arms to link their services to the cure for the approaching ills.

For Rolling Stone magazine, Matt Taibbi delivered the most famous sentence on investment bank Goldman Sachs: "The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

Think of the corporate defense contractor floggers of cyberattack as somewhat smaller vampire squid, all wrapped around the face of the country, now positioning to jam blood funnels into something that smells like money.

"They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again," wrote Taibbi of Goldman Sachs. You can apply it here as well.




The Cult of Cyberattack

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CYBERWAR RAID ON THE TAXPAYER

Lease our stuff, people and advice or Chinese/Russian/North Korean cyberwarriors will collapse the economy, making you poor and out of work. They'll electronically change your medical records, too.

What? You're already poor and unemployed? And you don't have medical records because you haven't had health insurance and gone to the doctor in years? Well, those of you who aren't there yet, then.

Press release from giant defense contractor/arms manufacturer:

Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Edward Swallow, vice president of business development and civil cyber lead for the Information Systems sector's Civil Systems division, will make a presentation on cyber trends and technology advancements

In his presentation, Swallow will describe the crippling effects of a coordinated physical and cyber attack on critical infrastructure, and point out that the 'United States remains the prime target' for foreign economic collection and industrial espionage by virtue of its global technological leadership and innovation.

"Advanced tools that are harder to detect and counter are spreading rapidly and being used by less skilled attackers and criminals against private-sector targets," said Swallow. "Cyber attack transcends borders, legal jurisdictions and industrial sectors - the 'front' is everywhere."

Swallow will cite examples that illustrate an increase in political and military conflicts that are taking place on the Internet, whose ubiquitous and unpredictable characteristics mean that the battles fought there can be just as important, if not more so, than events taking place on the ground
.

Sweet F.A.! And you thought Afghanistan is where we're in endless war.




"Major countries and nation-states are engaged in a 'Cyber Cold War,' amassing cyberweapons, conducting espionage, and testing networks in preparation for using the Internet to conduct war, according to a new report to be released on Tuesday by McAfee," reported CNNTech.

"In particular, countries gearing up for cyberoffensives are the U.S., Israel, Russia, China, and France ... [everyone] says the report, compiled by former White House Homeland Security adviser Paul Kurtz and based on interviews with more than 20 experts in international relations, national security and Internet security."

"Threats of cyberwarfare have been hyped for decades ... " reported CNN. Deciding perhaps that this was not enough, they added to the pile.
IT'S EASY FOR TERRORISTS

Warning: Satire. But taken from real life. And mutilated embellished.

My husband says I worry too much. Naturally, I don't agree. But I was out and about yesterday and my mind began to work overtime.

Given the nature of the work I do - writing fanciful things - I admit my brain doesn't necessarily think like other people's brains.

As I went on my way, I noticed there was nobody watching my street. There was a little boy playing, throwing rocks and stones across it. Some of the rocks didn't go far enough and landed in the street. Others went too far and bounced on the neighbor's lawn, almost up to the porch. He did this fast as a cat.

In retrospect I think I should have stopped him, demanded he take me to his mother, been part of the 'village' that it takes to raise our children correctly. Honestly, there just wasn't time, he was that fast.

I thought to myself, if that little boy can be so rude, it would be easy for a team of terrorists to come down my street and get away with just about anything. They could spread tacks and nails in the road at night. Or they could put a cinder block in a paper bag and leave it in the middle of the road. Someone would be coming home tired later, see the bag, not think much of it and not steer to avoid it. That would cause a nasty accident. Or they could just go out on an overpass and drop that cinderblock into oncoming traffic and run away.

They could lob Molotov cocktails through windows, like the little boy throwing rocks near the porch. Why stop at Molotovs? They could just buy guns, break into homes and shoot people after midnight. If they planned it carefully, they could get away clean before anyone could react. Or they could follow the pattern of the Beltway sniper and his accomplice.

So the kid's actions left me with the feeling that terrorists can attack just about anything and we're not safe.

Later, at the restaurant, I saw the open salad bar and the dressing in vats.

How easy it would be to put something in the dressing. And someone did -- I forget who -- many many years ago. That made an entire town sick. What if a terrorist with hepatitis punched a hole in his tongue and spit into those vats when no one was watching?

Or terrorists could get jobs at bakeries. They could put glass and needles in pastries and loaves of bread. And once the campaign started, that terror team would wait a few days, maybe a week or two, to signal to another terror man at a bakery, maybe halfway across the nation, to put his glass and needles to work. It could go on for awhile, intermittently, doing much to destroy the confidence in small shop baking in this country. Not to mention the pain and worry caused when the unfortunate gets a needle in the mouth. This was done in England a few years ago.

Fresh, unwrapped merchandise like fruits, vegetables and baked goods could easily be sprinkled with something awful - I don't want to get into it too much. I don't want to be accused of giving the terrorists access to plans and inspiration on the web.

When I went to the movie theatre I also thought how easy it would be to get a job at the concession stand. Well, it might be a little harder because with raging unemployment, since people are applying everywhere. But we know that terrorists are patient and tenacious.

So you know what I mean.

How elementary it would be to slip a little rat bait into the iced-tea dispenser, maybe a little more into the butter for the popcorn. Hell, it would be easy for terrorists to just go to the bathroom, piss in a carton, bring it back out and pour some of that into the popcorn butter or soda fountain. They could do that regularly and no one might suspect. But people might just be put off buying stuff in the lobby. I know I won't be ordering anything, anymore. They don't screen those employees closely and it's just not secure.

A little of poison this in the food here, a handful of deadly that in a big jar of something being prepared in Missouri -- multiple mysterious illnesses and deaths could result.

Can you imagine the panic a pattern of poisonings would cause if they all happened on the same day in, say, New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle and Los Angeles?

Can you not just imagine? The mind reels.

Our government leaders don't talk publicly about things like this. That's because they don't want to cause undue alarm.

The introduction of deadly diseases to our far-flung, unpatrolled produce fields and livestock herds is still very simple, too. Diseased insects or unnaturally predacious and hard to eradicate arthropod pests could be released. Rats with fleas carrying bubonic plague are another option. Pestiferous water weeds, snails and snakehead fish carried in simple aquariums in the back of RVs could be introduced into pristine water resources and parks with lakes.

The latter was done at Lake Davis in California. Someone kept putting voracious and fast-breeding pickerel in the water. The government had to poison the entire watery system twice to kill them all. The economy was made a mess, tourism destroyed, the locals turned despondent. They never caught who did it!

Terrorists could also employ the old trick of acid throwing. It would be virtually impossible to defend against what initially appear to be random acts of acid throwing, but coordinated across the country. Sure we would get some of these guys but people would be in shock, afraid to go out to shop or congregate at events. The supply of motorcycle helmets with windscreens would soon be exhausted and people would get desperate.

It's true that not since 9-11 has there been a successful terrorist attack on American soil. But our power grids in major cities have been compromised, so have some major government computer systems and enemies from foreign lands can still cross our borders to pursue all manner of diabolical plans against us.

Let me ask you - when was the last time you saw a security guard in your grocery store? What, yesterday? Oh, OK -- forget that.

How about a few policemen in your neighborhood? OK, forget that, too.

Are you confident that your market thoroughly screens the backgrounds of its employees? Yeah, not so much, right?

How about those minimum wage workers at the movie theatre or the fast food restaurant? How about people who work at warehouses or in the fields? There's no security anywhere.

If I don't stop thinking about this, I'll wet myself. Maybe I just need a stiff drink.

Yeah, that's the ticket.




Really, here -- the original -- at the Huffington Post. They let anyone in there, don't they?!
REVIEW: TO INHABIT THE SOLAR SYSTEM

The best mad scientist autobiography this year, perhaps the only one, is Tony Zuppero's To Inhabit the Solar System. Better still, it's free and in time for holiday reading. It's a long but definitely not windy 391 pages.

In it, Zuppero confirms everything - bad, weird, insane, amusing or simply astonishing - you might have always suspected about US government crazy weapons and the world of aerospace ... Zuppero's dream begins in 1968 with the scientist inspired by one of Freeman Dyson's well-traveled crackpot ideas - that of powering a spaceship to the nearest star at one per cent of the speed of light, using atomic bombs.

Read the rest at el Reg here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

IT WAS FIFTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY, SGT. CYBERWAR TAUGHT THE BAND TO PLAY...

It's been going in and out of style but it's not guaranteed to raise a smile.

"Cyberwar has become a growth market in the US." -- see here, eight years ago. The .pdf footnotes secret reports from the US military displaying electronic Pearl Harbor/information warfare rash ca. 1994-95. This approximately matches DD's old but more informal notes.

"The ultimate nightmare for a war machine that depends on a sophisticated electronic grid to function is to lose that grid, even for short periods of time. Preventing an electronic Pearl Harbor must be a prime Pentagon mission." -- today, some little newspaper in Florida.

Many of the people who originally pushed coming "electronic Pearl Habor" in the mid-Nineties are either now retired or nearing it. This shows the liability which occurs when most of the country does not actually have to fight in the wars the United States actually engages in.

Most of us simply have no idea. Many believe the utter rubbish published daily in newspapers from middling towns like Pensacola, Florida. Because it sounds concerned, decent and superficially wise.

Yes, there sure are a lot of dangerous cyberwarfighters among the Taliban and in Iraq. Always have been, always will be. Just yesterday, DD had to fight off a computer virus sent from Helmand region, Afghanistan.






"We sit at a similar historical moment ... War fighting is forever changed." -- Richard Clarke, something which will probably be in his next book, threatened here, for Spring 2010.

"Though it will never produce the kind of death toll of nuclear weapons, we can see echoes of these same risks and challenges in today's newest cyber-war battlefield. We've developed a plethora of gee-whiz technological capabilities in the past few years, but cyber war is a wholly new form of combat, the implications of which we do not yet fully understand. Its inherent nature rewards countries that act swiftly and encourages escalation."

Richard Clarke, in 1999, before he was way too famous, from Signal magazine:

In its August '99 issue, Clarke said there was "a very real possibility of an electronic Pearl Harbor."

"Without computer-controlled networks, there is no water coming out of your tap; there is no electricity lighting your room; there is no food being transported to your grocery store; there is no money coming out of your bank; there is no 911 system responding to emergencies; and there is no Army, Navy and Air Force defending the country . . . All of these functions, and many more, now can only happen if networks are secure and functional.

"A systematic [attack] could come from a terrorist group, a criminal cartel or a foreign nation . . . and we do know of foreign nations that are interested in our information infrastructure and are developing offensive capabilities that would allow them to take down sectors of our information infrastructure . . . "

Signal went on to describe a national disaster caused by cyberterrorists, embellished by Clarke.

"One possible scenario would feature a demand leveled by a foreign government or terrorist group," wrote the magazine. "When the U.S. government refuses to comply, this adversary demonstrates its capabilities by reducing a region of the United States to chaos. 'I think the capability to do that probably exists in the hands of several nations,' Clarke stated. 'I think it could exist in the near future in the hands of criminal and terrorist organizations.'"

"Envision all of these things happening simultaneously - electricity going out in several major cities; telephones failing in some regions; 911 service being down in several metropolitan areas. If all of that were to happen simultaneously, it could create a great deal of disruption, hurt the economy ... "





Richard Clarke's 'Breakpoint' -- a novel about cyberterror, from 2007. Subhed: "Is there no beginning to the man's talents?'

For Breakpoint, Clarke returns to his cyber-czar roots. But in this story, someone gets to do something about the digital mayhem, not just scream "electronic Pearl Harbor," make policy recommendations no one listens to and be keynote speaker at security conventions.

Clarke supplies a team of outside-the-bureaucracy do-gooders: a dauntless central heroine, one NYPD cop for muscle and one hacker, a nebbish named Soxster. Soxter's purpose is to be the magic wand, no more and no less. Whenever there are villains to be traced, or information needed when the group is against the wall in the race against the terror clock, Soxter furnishes both so the story may proceed.

Naturally, the US government is delinquent and ineffective ...




Richard Clarke, the best friend I never met.
SPECIAL MID-DAY STUMBLE & FAIL/HANDCUFF USA SPECIAL
A post of optimism and big heart in bleak times



Good news, lads! Good news! I just put our resumes in the mass applicant pool so we have a small chance of getting work mistreating some extra bad and/or innocent people from other countries. We'll balloon to 300+ lbs and get lousy health insurance but we'll have jobs. Happy days are here again! Who sez this isn't the greatest country in the world?!

"It doesn't matter who's being held in prison; they wouldn't be there if they didn't deserve it. It's a once in a life-time opportunity for job growth" -- some locals



Handcuff USA

Stumble & Fail
STUMBLE & FAIL: GET SHINGLES VAX, NOT H1N1


The very picture of Newsweek, a mag for the really white, gullible and scared readership. You'll want to read the bio of James Polk. Really.

Everyday, DD walks to the Ralph's on Lake in sunny Pasadena for the picking up of lunch, sundries and the daily newspaper. Everyday, for the last few months, as soon as or shortly after I walk in the door, a canned advertisement for shingles vaccine starts playing over the public address system. It seems tied to a motion sensor at the doors.

The advertisement -- like the one shown on Newsweek -- is deceptive. It is to create the impression that if you have had chickenpox, and virtually everyone over a certain age in the US has ... then you will get shingles. Soon.

So you will be moved to get the shingles vax at the in-store pharmacy.

Now there can be no doubt that shingles is something you don't want to have. But unless you're getting really older fast, it's probably not a pressing concern for you. Ask your mother, she will know.

Please don't write an angry comment about how cruel I am and that you have painful and embarrassing shingles. I will delete it. That is not what this post is about, really.

But living in a place where you are always bombarded with ads to buy the shingles vaccine but, as for free H1N1, well we're fresh out ... It is the very mark of Stumble-and-Fail country.

After getting your shingles vaccination, don't forget to pick up a copy of Newsweek at the checkout counter on the way out. It's the one with the cover story on "How we could have won in Vietnam."

Toodle-oo and you have a nice day!
JUST AS BAD & BORING

Often Brit opinion writers are as bad and boring as newsmen in the United States. Finding they have little to say for a Monday morning, they read something written on the other side of the pond and copy it, only with a slant intended to make it seem more reassuring and balanced.

So today we have at the Guardian, one dude who takes DD's shtick and waters it down into nothingness for the masses:

"Last weekend US television viewers were treated to a CBS 60 Minutes special on cyber attacks that presented a doomsday scenario familiar to anyone who has seen Die Hard 4.0: an enemy of the state gains control over national computer networks, plunging citizens into cold and darkness and starving them of food and water. They hold the country to ransom by downloading the entire financial and intelligence records of a highly wired modern country, and remotely manipulate security forces unable to prevent subsequent breakdowns in social order."

Ahem. A little too lazy and close for comfort, I think.

DD referenced Die Hard and has in the past. As a joke.

Tim Stevens fails to note for UK readers that Live Free of Die Hard was such a campy movie it could not, in any way, be taken seriously. The highpoints of it are few -- all Bruce Willis's McClane character beating the stuffing from or killing various evil henchmen. All the bad computer hackers go down hard, their faces punched and broken, their necks thoroughly wrung by movie's end. At one point, Willis even shoots down a superfighter jet, one that has just destroyed much of the freeway infrastructure of Washington, DC, in trying to get him. (McClane also flings his car at a hovering helicopter, destroying it. That's pretty cyberwar, don't you think?)

DD's favorite part of the movie comes when McClane duels with a kick-boxing dominatrix in a black suit, eventually tossing her down an elevator shaft and throwing an SUV on top of her. She was so tough, she needed special treatment.

But I digress.

"In the UK, large-scale cyber attacks could affect the networks that provide power, water and food, disrupt emergency services and communications, and hit the financial system," writes Stevens although he has no way of knowing this.

"One can imagine the chaos caused if the ATM network stopped dispensing cash, or if business email systems failed, or if domestic gas supplies dried up. What really keeps security bosses awake at night is the 'cascading failure' of multiple systems: as one fails, so does the next, and the next ... The list of potential aggressors is long too: states, terrorists, hackers, criminals, the curious and the insane."

Yes, one can imagine. As thousands have done before since, oh -- about 1994.

"Apocalyptic visions of 'cybergeddon' or a 'digital 9/11' are overblown ... "

You hack. Yes, I'm speaking to you.

"The challenge to government is how to harness the skills and capabilities of a wide range of stakeholders to defend against cyber attacks: military, intelligence, law enforcement, industry, privacy advocates, lawyers, civil servants, and you and me, the average and largely pacific internet-using public."

How reasonable and wise. I bet it took every bit of thirty seconds to formulate.

"At present we simply do not know how well-prepared the UK is to withstand a concerted cyber attack, nor how resilient our critical infrastructures are if large chunks of computer network go offline," the commenter continues.

"We may get some clues shortly, as the multi-agency Operation White Noise simulates the total loss of our mobile and fixed-line telephone networks. Such red-team exercises, and broad consultation, will better inform the next strategic defence review and the cybersecurity policies that will be a focus for whichever party wins the spring election."

DD will tell you what you'll get in the way of 'clues.'

No clues. Not designed to work that way.

It will be another in a long list of exercises rigged to take no account of human resilience or the iffy-ness of the real world, with the attacks made jumped-up and steroidal on the virtual table-top until attention-riveting Biblical catastrophe and confusion are delivered unto your doorstep. And then all the good jounalists will act as reporters and commenters, to tell all how fragile [your/our] networked civilization is to the numerous and all powerful bad guys lurking out there in the dark.

We can hardly wait.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

CULT OF CYBERATTACK

The Cult of Cyberattack made a big appearance on Sunday night. Credit 60 Minutes, the show devoting its opening segment to the standard style of be-very-afraid-whoopie-cushion news on gathering black menace.

Although it was delivered as something new and serious, DD will quote from a past post -- one from two years ago here to begin the putting of it in perspective:

Many years ago 'electronic Pearl Harbor' news stories were commonplace. They were always the same. A variety of mountebanks encompassing computer security software and hardware vendors, government officials and think-tanks 'experts' would be lined up to contribute to a mythology that alleged United States was about to be struck down by cyber-attack. Reporters would go into action as stenographers.

Such a cyberwar would deprive us of everything. Lights! Food distribution! Oil refineries would blow up! It would be worse than an earthquake!


For 60 Minutes, the script was changed very little.

It is not only the lights that get turned off, but also now the banks -- Wall Street.

"Admiral [Mike McConnell], the former director of national intelligence [under the Bush administration], worries about the integrity of America’s money supply," reported 60 Minutes.

Here's the excerpt:
"I know that people in the audience watching this are going to say, 'Could somebody steal money out of my bank account or could somebody attack a bank that would wipe out my life savings?'" host Steve Kroft asked.

"And the answer is yes, that's possible, but that is not the major problem. The more insidious issue is, what happens when the attacker is not attempting to steal money, but to destroy the process that accounts for money? That's the real issue we have to worry about," McConnell said.

"It's all record keeping. It's accountability of the wealth and the movement of that money through the system that had to be reconciled at the speed of light. So if you impact or contaminate the data or destroy the data where you couldn't have reconciliation, you could have cascading impact in the banking system," he added.

Asked to describe the consequences, McConnell said, "If everybody goes down to take the money out, it's not there. So that's the issue. Since banking is based on confidence, what happens when you destroy confidence?"

Yes, what happens when you destroy confidence in banks?

Every American knows what happens. The US government bails out Wall Street with taxpayer money as the world economy is made a shambles. One year later, unemployment is surging for average Americans, although the bankers who caused the mess have again enjoyed huge bonuses.

This has, in effect, created two worlds. The one most live in like readers of this column. And the world of banks, where the outlook is swimming.

This is not what McConnell had in mind at 60 Minutes. However, it does also illustrate the split between the world where cyberwar crazies dwell and our own.

In the former, McConnell perhaps has no real idea how average Americans live. He left that long ago.

Now McConnell is a Senior Vice President for Booz Allen Hamilton, leading the company's "national security business unit" where, presumably, it is his job to facilitate and obtain contracts for the offering strategic advice and services on how to defend the banks from the cyberattacks he says could be coming. And the mischief that has tanked the economy is not brewing at home, it's everywhere else.

What could be better than to have a VP on 60 Minutes telling everyone about the lurking menace of cyberattack, being able to feature that on your homepage right next to your links for cybersecurity job staffing for positions like "Defense Intelligence Critical Infrastructure and Homeland Defense Analyst" or "Iranian Cyber All-Source Analyst"? In case that country is planning to cyberattack us.

"Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading consulting firm, helps government clients solve their toughest problems with services in strategy, operations ..." reads the website.

One sees the work afoot here. It could not be more obvious. One has the right to make a good living and there is no better place to present a sales pitch refined into a story of national menace then at 60 Minutes.

For 60 Minutes, blowing up an oil refinery, which was first circulated in the late Nineties (see here) as what something China was preparing to do to the US, was rolled out, too.

"In one test, [experts] simulated how they could have destroyed an oil refinery by sending out code that caused a crucial component to overheat," reported the news show on Sunday.

"The first thing you would do is turn it to manual controls so that your automatic controls aren't protecting you," John Mulder explained. He was apparently working on a computer model at one of the national labs.

"Asked what the main target would be, Mulder said: "The heating element and the re-circulator pump. If we could malfunction both of those we could cause an explosion.'"

The other two regular features present in almost all cyberattack stories over the past fifteen years are the "turn off the lights" horror story and the "stealing US military intelligence" scandal.

President Barack Obama employed the turn out the lights myth -- and I'll explain why I call it a myth in a sec -- in his nationally aired speech on cybersecurity earlier this year.

"[Cyberattacks] have plunged entire cities into darkness," said the president back in May.

And in his administration's review of cybersecurity, the claim was attributed to what was essentially a SANS Institute vendor-furnished press release, delivered at a security conference, a statement which claimed the CIA had confirmed to the vendor, Alan Paller, that this was so.

Specifically, the dissection of it was ably handled at vmyths here.

Excerpted:

Who did it? Paller doesn't know.
When did they do it? Paller doesn't know.
Where did it occur? Paller doesn't know.
Why did they do it? Paller doesn't know.
How widespread was the blackout? Paller doesn't know.
Did the extortion scheme succeed? Paller doesn't know.
Whose power grid Internet connection did they exploit? Paller doesn't know.
How many victims perished in the attack? Paller doesn't know.
What did it cost to clean up after the attack? Paller doesn't know.


That was in 2008.

And the people writing the Obama administration's review of cybersecurity thought it such a good story, they included it. And a citation: One which indicated a press release.

So what do you do if you are part of the Cult of Cyberattack in late 2009 and enough doubt has been tossed on the lights-out claim to make it look like you're delivering spoiled goods?

You turn up the volume, without actually providing substantial proof for an extraordinary claim.

"President Obama didn't say which country had been plunged into darkness, but a half a dozen sources in the military, intelligence, and private security communities have told us the president was referring to Brazil," reported 60 Minutes.

"Several prominent intelligence sources confirmed that there were a series of cyber attacks in Brazil: one north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005 that affected three cities and tens of thousands of people, and another, much larger event beginning on Sept. 26, 2007 ... It is not clear who did it or what the motive was."

It is another instance of an argument from anonymous authority -- "prominent intelligence sources" -- delivered through another prominent venue, 60 Minutes, unquestioningly. One which made no effort to provide substantial proof of an extravagant and astonishing claim.

And that's what myths are often made from. Something that sounds good, something which sounds superficially substantive, passed around by others passed off as authority figures. And everyone knows such things never happen, or become the driver of policy and action, in the United States.

In any case, it is just as easy to make the argument that a few 'prominent intelligence sources' and 'experts' in the 'private security community' had heard the same Brazil blackout rumour back in 2008. Which was most assuredly so, because it made a few news sources and was also widely criticized.

Then they began gossiping about it with even more colleagues. Because people love to spread good stories, particularly when such stories serve their world view.

As for the 'stealing US military intelligence' scandal, 60 Minutes reported:
"In 2007 we probably had our electronic Pearl Harbor. It was an espionage Pearl Harbor," [Jim Lewis of CSIS] said. "Some unknown foreign power, and honestly, we don't know who it is, broke into the Department of Defense, to the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, probably the Department of Energy, probably NASA. They broke into all of the high tech agencies, all of the military agencies, and downloaded terabytes of information ... The Library of Congress, which has millions of volumes, is about 12 terabytes. So, we probably lost the equivalent of a Library of Congress worth of government information in 2007 ..."


The official "electronic Pearl Harbor" archive, which collects government expert and official claims in the news from 1993 to 2000 is here.

In the late Nineties, the stolen information scandal was called Moonlight Maze, and DD excerpts from old writing on it:

Moonlight Maze was an operation in which "vast amounts of technical defense research were illegally downloaded and transferred to Russia."

And those materials were? No one could say.

The London Sunday Times wrote the most influential story on Moonlight Maze in mid-1999, one that served as an inspiration for all subsequent pieces in the US newsmedia.

In Moonlight Maze, secret documents had been stolen but the US military could not determine what was in them or which ones, precisely, had been stolen. Whatever the amount, it was a lot.

Further, this information -- claimed the Times -- had been revealed at a private computer security conference by an employee of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR).

The Times article speculated that either Russia or China could be behind the "cyberwar" that only the Pentagon could see because: ". . . Russia's relations with America have reached their lowest ebb since the cold war because of NATO's intervention in Yugoslavia. Relations with China have also suffered. An offensive in cyberspace may be their one way of retaliating without getting into a shooting war."

The London paper also speculated that Russian organized crime might be behind Moonlight Maze, and that: "China, Libya and Iraq are developing information warfare capabilities and, according to one White House official, 'we see well-funded terrorist groups that also have such capabilities'."

The London Sunday Times piece set a hallmark by which subsequent stories in the US media on Moonlight Maze could be judged:

That is, Moonlight Maze stories were recognizable by their almost complete reliance upon gossip and speculation; their complete lack of definition in the who, what and where categories; and a stupefying preponderance of anonymous sources from the Pentagon, intelligence agencies, and/or the private computer security industry speculating or expostulating for journalists.

Throughout the latter part of the summer of 1999, reporters from the mainstream media contacted me about Moonlight Maze. The story had taken on a life of its own even though there was a complete lack of substantive evidence to go on. It was clear that Moonlight Maze was going to enjoy a second lifetime in the news and, indeed, a media cascade resulted in the second week of October of that year, mostly built upon a wave of copycat reporting and inconclusive statements about the affair made in a Congressional hearing that week.

All of the reporters who contacted DD for comment had one thing in common.

They were all working from the same script. In addition to being inspired by the London Sunday Times piece, they all said or wrote that one "anonymous" source in "the Pentagon" was telling them that "Russian hackers" working off of the "Russian Academy of Sciences'" Internet domain were "involved."

"The computer assaults have given fresh impetus to measures ordered by [President] Clinton more than a year ago to protect the country's electronic infrastructure. Alerted to the threat of Moonlight Maze, the president has called for an extra $600 [million] to help fund a variety of initiatives, including [boosted investment in the National Infrastructure Protection Center]," reported the London Times in 1999.


The original collection on Moonlight Maze from the old Crypt Newsletter website is here.

And that has been the pattern and strategy used by the Cult of Cyberattack: Push stories into the mainstream media for the boosting of investment in the firms which dispense advice and services on combating the threat. Indeed, cyberattack stories can be motivated by as little as a desire to get one's name in the news for the establishment of a reputation. It is an easy way to get one's ticket punched. And since government experts and officials often have an eye toward taking a rewarding place in the world of private sector security, these are also a means of signaling that one is a good fellow for the profession and ready to work for the right team.

Indeed, if your job depends on there being a very serious, pressing and imminent cyberattack menace, then you are one of the least likely to be delivering critical thinking on the subject. In fact, just the opposite, because the business depends upon the growth of the threat of cyberattack, or just great belief in its growth, not a cold business neutral appraisal of the true extent of it.

In fact, in writing an article on digital Pearl Harbor in 1994, DD pointed out the same, that one of the leading 'experts' predicting it was delivering these prognostications from a big defense contractor in the business of providing services to ward it off. And in a subsequent letter to the magazine in which the piece was published, an Assistant Sec'y of Defense who was also a lead proselytizer for the imminence of cyberattack in the Clinton administration objected very strongly to that.

However, it was a legitimate criticism then. And it's even more legit now.

These have always been fairly transparent and self-serving ploys. But they are of little interest to the US public in 2009. Beaten down by the shriveled economy and unemployment, there's no clamor -- no populist outcry -- for increased cyberdefense and attack spending.

There is no obvious pressing demand for it, period, other than from the security vendors and those who lease their analytic, cybersecurity and cyberwar IT workers to the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies.

By the same token, while the Cult of Cyberattack lobby is not nearly as powerful as, say, the health insurance lobby, it also comes in for much less scrutiny.

"Congress has noticed, allocating $17 billion for a top secret national cyber security initiative ..." noted 60 Minutes.

And a chunk is going to implement the Cult of Cyberattack's offensive arm by the hiring of more people to explore and develop ways of propagating badness on the Internet. As if there is not enough of that already.

Since there is no oversight of this activity obvious from the outside, many armed with common sense might be inclined to say: "Whoah, pardner. We've had enough."

However, it's unlikely this is how things will go down. Because, as in everything else, the tendency is to give in to the national urge toward inappropriate bragging, congratulating oneself about how mighty you are at cyberattack, as in all things. And that has already apparently gone to some heads. The US is in the top tier of cyberwarfighting, claimed someone allegedly important and wise for 60 Minutes.




The 60 Minutes thing.




Update

In a bit longer form at SITREP. Page down to the tail if you're curious about the additions.

Readers may have noticed, if watching the Rachel Maddow show, that RM briefly roped in 60 Minutes, cyberattack and the recent Brazil blackouts earlier in the week. It was hard to discern the point of it although there seemed to be an insinuation that if we don't protect infrastructure, look what will happen.

The more obvious conclusion to be drawn, one that's taken from the perspective of knowing the history of the use and abuse of the cyberattack and blackout story, is that NOW whenever a major blackout occurs in the civilized world ... instead of thinking about the usual reasons for it from the physical world, there will always be someone yelling, even hoping, for cyberattack. And that blackouts will, even if there is strong evidence to the contrary, infrequently but lastingly be blamed on cyberwar. Such is the nature of the human mind, its relationship with paranoia and the enthusiasm for belief in strange things, even when they may not be true.

Particularly if the analysis of a more dull reason for outage is slow in coming.

After all, only the US could coin the insane famous aphorism:

Absence of proof is not proof of absence.

Another potential, also anchored in human frailty and coupled with the expansion in employment of people and secret agencies to "do" US cyberwar, is what I might call "the poor man's Bruce Ivins" syndrome.

There's always been plenty of "they're not listening to me, my worth and genius have been unappreciated, so I'll show them all by screwing someone/anyone over" in this country. It's a strong motivator for the mentally ill as well as those self-inclined to erratic and impulsive behavior.

The last Die Hard movie was floated entirely on this premise.

So I leave it to readers to figure out what a 'poor man's Bruce Ivins" might mean.
CULT OF EMP CRAZY & IRANIAN EX-PATS

This week, the GOP Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy rolled out a member of the ex-pat Iranian dissident party known as Marze Por Gohar to boost its cause.

At FrontPage magazine, "Hadi T. Ardestani, a Nuclear Waste Management Expert and a Nuclear Issues Specialist" delivered the EMP Crazy script. What is a bit astonishing about the entire spectacle are the sources, FrontPage and EMPACT America, both part of the far right Bomb Iran lobby in the US.

"Let us say [a] freighter ship launches [an Iranian] nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile off the coast of the U.S. and the missile explodes 300 miles over Chicago," the man tells FrontPage. "The nuclear detonation in space creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) ... All of our lights, refrigerators, water-pumping stations, TVs and radios stop running. We have no communication and no ability to provide food and water to 300 million Americans."

FrontPage asks Ardestani whether he believes Iran is capable of launching an electromagnetic pulse sneak attack on the US.

"I confirm that scientifically they have enough power to make an EMP attack," he replies.

That cinches it.

Obviously, the US government must remove the Iranian leadership by force and install someone more friendly to us, so that we are not hurled back to the time of the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

"EMPACT America is a bipartisan, non-profit organization for citizens concerned about protecting the American People from a nuclear or natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP) catastrophe," adds Ardestani.

"Notably I could name: former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Hukabee, William Forstchen, Frank Gaffney, Larry Greenfield, Brigitte Gabriel, Clifford May, Roozbeh Farahanipour, Dr. V. Pry president of EMPACT America, Avi Schnurr and many others."

DD can't think of a more learned, serious and bipartisan group. But readers already know that.

The FrontPage article is here.

Marze Por Gohar, or the Glorious Frontiers Party, maintains a website in Hollywood and you can see it here.

"My Secret Plan to Overthrow the Mullahs" seen here on that site, makes for bizarre reading taken from Foreign Policy magazine, composed -- as it is -- by Larry Franklin, who worked in the now infamous Office of Special Plans for Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz. Franklin is now serving a 10-month prison term on espionage connected to the Steve Rosen/AIPAC affair.

Monday, November 09, 2009

DON'T GET SICK IN SCHUYLKILL COUNTY

Unsurprisingly, the House health reform bill did poorly in old rural white Pennsyltucky.

The New York Times voting map shows Schuylkill County Dem Tim Holden's big no.



Holden's constituents are mostly old and white, a large portion of the population on Medicare. And they're the demographic most likely to be connected to Fox News every evening. So Holden is a Dem in name only. Always has been, always will be.

Schuylkill citizens are most probably afraid the government will allow the 'welfare class' to cut into their pie, to believe comparisons of national healthcare reform to a Nazi extermination camp.

The uninsured constitute ten percent in Schuylkill, the same as Northampton to the east, but lower than Lehigh -- even further east but with a larger non-white population more likely to lack coverage, at 14 percent.

One can only marvel at the lack of charity in Schuylkill County and others (but not all) in the Pennsy interior like it. They are represented as if they oppose anyone who threatens to get something they already have. That a significant portion of their neighbors have no health coverage is of no consequence.

Insurance statistics, by county, are here.

And they show that if your representative voted against healthcare reform, he was voting against raising the common good for all. And that's just crazy.



The above snap, from the Harrisburg Patriot-News, sums up. Bad, but not quite as bad as others. And surprisingly blue in some of the white codger areas of the state, places where you'd expect the opposite. Common sense and basic human decency crept in.

Coincidentally, the blue tip to the far left on the above map is Dauphin County, the area most heavily served by the newspaper. And one with a substantial minority population, as well as an upper middle class progressive base.

In southern California, the politics played out in similar ways.

In densely populated Los Angeles County, healthcare reform passed. In the inland empire, home to extreme GOP politicians -- David Drier, Jerry Lewis and Mary Bono -- it went down.

California is almost essentially two distinct places: densely populated urban and really high end beach property, and the interior. The latter, along with San Diego --let's just say its GOP politicians would be at home in the deep south.




"The point is that the takeover of the Republican Party by the irrational right is no laughing matter," writes Krugman. "Something unprecedented is happening here — and it’s very bad for America."

Sez the country is transforming into California. DD begs to differ a little. We're all getting to the same place at the same time. Just drive to Schuylkill County from Princeton. Then stop, for an afternoon, in Hershey.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

FIVE MINUTES OF INTERNET DIRECT MARKETING


But Ted's enthusiasm for being photographed as a tied-up sub on the Trannies in Trouble website was more than she had bargained for.


Dates who passed on venereal warts beauty marks did not.


So she threw herself into the Craigslist personals
dating scene.



But after wading through fifty or so dogshit one-liners and
snapshots of erect johnsons, Tonya changed her on-line name to 'Kelly'.



C'mon now, this is just asking for it.


Yes. But you forgot the swollen gland, ED, diabetes
and high blood pressure.

Friday, November 06, 2009

TAXPAYER FUNDED INCOMPREHENSIBILITY


Good news, lads! Good news! The left hand side of the equation is our a posteriori estimate given the observations.

A frequent knock on scientists is that many of them can't write. Not even a little. In their wrestling matches with the English language, the latter often wins through a combination of astonishingly well-executed pretzel submission holds.

(This by no means includes those few scientists who can write clearly. If you're reading this and you think the above means you, of course it doesn't. You're mistaken, your prose always elegant and illuminating.)

On the other hand, one has the latest from the Jason group defense advisory panel.

The Jasons are famous.

"The elite JASON defense science advisory panel dismissed claims that high frequency gravitational waves (HFGW) could pose any kind of national security threat," wrote Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists not too long ago.

"The Pentagon should 'monitor enemy activities in sleep research' [said] a newly disclosed report (pdf) from the elite defense science advisory panel known as JASON," he informed even earlier in a post entitled, "Jasons warn of sleeping enemies."

"The JASONs were investigating the potential for U.S. adversaries 'to exploit advances in Human Performance Modification, and thus create a threat to national security.'"

Certainly, these are good things to know. And there can be no doubt that only Jason scientists could have delivered such information. That high frequency gravity waves pose no national security threat.

But in a recent paper, the Jasons turn their scalpel sharp skills to the problem of predicting things like catastrophic terror attacks.

"Imagine we have a discrete random variable with K possible values; as already mentioned one example might be the probability that a biological terror incident will originate from a group centered in country k, where k has a value between 1 and K," write the Jasons in a technical appendix on page 95 of "Rare Events."

"In particular there may be many bins that have n(subscript k) = 0, but it might be foolish to conclude that all these probabilities are actually zero if the number of data points is small," the Jasons add a little further down.

Yes, foolish.

"Attempts to predict the occurrence or the likelihood of extreme acts of terrorist violence on the scale of 9/11 should be discouraged because the available data are too sparse to permit the reliable modeling of such 'rare events,'" wrote Aftergood on Wednesday, in describing the alleged thrust of the new Jasons report. That summary can be found here in "Jason Cautions on Predicting Terrorist Events."

Over the years Aftergood has stoically provided a valuable service (among many) without complaint -- the reading and condensation of Jason reports into nuggets of easily comprehended wisdom. For this alone, he deserves a shout out.

"[The Jasons] cautioned that the complexity of the problem and the presumed urgency of the threat have 'led some to advocate the suspension of normal standards of scientific hypothesis testing, in order to press [predictive] models quickly into operational service,'" summed up Aftergood.

"Even in the original case of actual black swans, anyone sensible would have hesitated to extrapolate an observation of N white European swans to a prediction of zero black western Australian swans," write the Jasons on page 88 of "Rare Events," the analysis posted at FAS.

And in Africa no one goes into the jungle between the hours of 7 and 9 in the morning because that is when African elephants start jumping out of trees.

So do you know why there are pygmies?

There are pygmies because they went into the jungle between the hours of 7 and 9 in the morning.

Taxpayer-funded incomprehensibility contract carried out and implemented by the Mitre Corporation of McLean, Virginia.
THAT'S BRILLIANT!



Good news, lads! Good news! As companies continue mass firings and hundreds of thousands of lives stumble and and fail, the Los Angeles Times has your back.

Even though the Tribune company is firing people left and right, in bankruptcy and losing circulation, it continues to come up with winning ideas like shipping its Official Los Angeles Rock Critic in from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the little Los Angeles of the South.

And now editorial directors have come up with the most brilliant idea yet! They have devised the most devilishly
Marie Antoinette-like thing
!

Start a conspicuous consumption blog, because it's so funny. And when people are contemplating their ballooning debts and complete lack of prospects, there's nothing that cheers 'em up more than seeing what the vain and rich have thought up to spend their money on.

"It’s my pleasure to introduce [a new addition] to our amazing list of blogs: Holiday Gift Guide," announced some Times flunky, yesterday.

"The Holiday Gift Guide will inform our readers of great deals, sales, specials, during the holiday season. It will also have an ongoing spotlight called “What Recession?” which will highlight totally extravagant gift ideas (like greeting cards that cost $150 for a 10-pack). The blog will be written primarily by Sarah Ardalani who you have enjoyed on Brand X, and the Homicide Report ... The blog will be edited by the dashing and capable Chris Barton and Dean Kuipers."

Haw haw heh heh hee! There could be nothing Los Angeles Times staffers would like to do more than edit a blog devoted to extravagant gifts, just before some of them get hacked in the next bolus of purge sloshing toward them down the waste pipe.

I'd love to do that! Kill for it! Wouldn't you? You un-American or sumpin'?

It's obvious the concept of "What Recession" will resonate so strongly in US cyberspace, LATimes blogs will leave all others knocked out and quivering in the ditch.

It's such a fantastic innovation, they're probably thinking of an entire line of blogs, to be called, "Ain't Got No Heart: Rubbing It In During Hard Times." With the crown jewel: "Living Like a Habsburg, Really So Wrong?"

And I bet they'll send the dude who wrote "Y'all Got Pakistan On Your Tail" back to Islamabad and Karachi for the entire month of December, so to enable daily posts on what the fun guys at the debt collection phone banks are up to.

Hey Times blog readers, dig this: "Sharhood Feroom found out the person he was dunning in Wisconsin committed suicide a day ago!"

Don't know about you but I'm calling in for a locked-in five-year subscription to the paper now!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

DUNNED FROM BOMBISTAN

Hey, deadbeat! Pay your credit card bill! Don't you think it's the right thing to do?!

DD has had a story from the LA Times sitting on the desk for months. One utterly without morals or heart, one delivering no message except black cynicism.

With all the news of bombs going off in Pakistan, of women jeering the Secretary of State over Predator drone assassinations, and news of more US money being given to the country, what's one more thing you might like to use Pakistan for in the making of profit?

I bet you're stumped.

Debt collection.

Yes, right. And that lack of insight, my friends, that paucity of ingrained red-blooded American business innovation, is why you're reading this rotten little blog instead of basking in the sun in Florida outside your compound in the Keys, everday a holiday.

At DD blog, the only thing Pakistani net surfers are interested in is how to make bombs and poisons.

That's a fact.

But perhaps if I opened a new section on how to better dun Americans behind in their credit card payments, how to use clever chat tricks, lies and their fears to deceive, that'd be big, too.

In "Ya'll got Pakistan On Your Tail," the Times reported -- on September 15 -- that "collection cowboy Sharoon Hermoon is living on US time ... 'Hello, ma'am, how ya doin' today?' he says in a convincing American accent. 'My name is James Harold and you owe us $10,000.'"

Haw haw, hardy-har-har! We all got Pakistan on our tail, laughed the Times.

So f-----' hilarious, I almost broke a rib laughing. That's some amusing s--- people. All the banksters got bailed out to the tune of billions of dollars, many debts to never be paid back.

But the peasants get the privilege of being pestered over a few thousand dollars in unsecured credit card debt, all the way from the bombingest country in the world, where the man in the street so obviously loves Uncle Sam and everything he stands for. Credit card debt that can't be easily paid off because the Wall Street banksters overturned the US economy, brought on a worldwide economic contraction, causing mass firings.

Ha ha haw haw! A laff riot!

"As Americans struggle under a mountain of debt, they might be surprised to learn that their collection nightmares may originate in a nation better known for its Taliban insurgency, instability and extremism," reported the Times.

Bombs, they forgot the bombs part. And another minor detail: 'hiding place of Osama bin Laden.' Or: Propper-upper and prepper of the Mumbai terror attack.

Indeed, being 'surprised to learn' is not a phrase that would match most rational American reactions.

American might think of stronger words than 'surprise'. Revulsion. Outrage. Loathing. These come to mind.

Oh how did you dolt Americans, haw-haw, get yourself into so much debt, ask the Pakistani debt collectors. Don't you know you shouldn't buy more than you can afford!? You must save for the things you desire.

Tee-hee. Heh-heh-heh. ROTFLMAO.

Ya'll got Pakistan on your tail.

It seems only right the US government should give arms and military aid to Pakistan, that camps in Pakistan should 'train' and export terrorists and that American financial institutions should, in secret, outsource unsecured credit card debt collection to the same country.

These items are united in that they're all bad stuff, free of morality and ethics. Indeed, there is a bit of unintended poetic justice in average Americans unconnected to Predator drone attacks in Pakistan being given payback in merciless debt collection. It is, for example, conceivable that a drone pilot, his family in arears in credit card payments, could be on the receiving end of American-outsourced Pakistani debt collection.

"If you start being too sympathetic, you can't do your job," said debt collector Shaheem Yaqoob to the newspaper.

"If you start being too sympathetic, you'll never be able to pull that trigger," the CIA program leader said to the Predator operator, sitting at a console in a building somewhere in northern Virginia.

Terrorists deserve it. So do deadbeats. Different jobs, similar remote outlooks and skills needed. You gotta do what you gotta do. And no one would do this to them if they didn't have it coming. It's all about taking personal responsibility!

So if the person on the other end of the debt collection line is recalcitrant, the Pakistani collectors, well-trained by American counterparts, know what to do.

For example, the debt collectors ask debtors if they would like to go to jail, have a repo man sent for their stuff, or be victimized by a court judgment. Since the debtors do not know they are being called from Pakistan, they don't all know to just hang up.

The newspaper informed that "huge companies" like Dell and Microsoft won't do business with Pakistan on "security grounds."

However, DD thinks there might be nothing better than for would-be al Qaeda men to get into this line of work before heading off to training and indoctrination boot camp. If only to gain hands-on practice at working the nerves of US citizens raw -- and getting paid actual cash money for it. Which is more than they will get when finally in the US and sent out to scrounge the beauty parlor supply store for peroxide and acetone, the items of choice for recent nutty bombers.

"With Americans continuing to fall further into debt, prospects remain bright in these telephone trenches ... 'The collection business remains promising," a manager told the Times.

"Four die in apparent US missile strike in north Pakistan," read the headline of a story running just below "Y'all Got Pakistan on Your Tail."

Haw!




No link, use Google. Latimes.com crashes some browsers.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

REVOLUTIONARY AND TRANSFORMING

Not a week goes by in which at least some of our many enemies don't wet their beds thinking about what will come out of America's mighty weapons shops next.

Just as I told you last Friday. Of this, there can be no doubt. You have to be pretty slick to get the strategic and tactical edge on us!

"Predators and other unmanned aircraft have just revolutionized our ability to provide a constant stare against our enemy," an anonymous military official told a LA Times reporter for a frontpage story on Monday.

"The next sensors, mark my words, are going to be revolutionary."

Indeed, for General Atomics and others weapons makers, Gorgon Stare and other such things are always revolutionary for the bottom line. But not so revolutionary for those Americans who still get to come home in boxes in the war with no end.

Little could be more obvious than the simple fact that American wonder weapons render enemies powerless, forcing them to surrender in mere weeks, sometimes days.

Wars have become shorter and easily winnable by entire orders of magnitude!

When the Secretary of State goes to Pakistan and "faces sharp rebukes from an audience" really angry and not much impressed with American technological supremacy, that's just an obvious case of a staged event.

Another fact of life in modern America is that the latest in arms manufacturing is always revolutionary.

Even the most ridiculous and stupid practices -- like Shock and Awe, which was not a killing device but a way of employing them en masse -- are revolutionary. And if you thought that was warped and bizarre, you're not thinking right. Shock and Awe was a perfectly excellent and wonderful plan. And you can't condemn a good plan for just a couple disastrous slip-ups in execution.

"Like the Reaper and its earlier counterpart, the Predator, the newest technology program has been given a fearsome name, the Gorgon Stare ... " reported the Times.

And don't forget the Blitzer, folks.

"Using the all-seeing eye, you will find out who is important in a network, where they live, where they get their support from, where their friends are," bragged the anonymous senior official to the Times, perhaps reading off the screen of his Powerpoint presentation, the one recommending an open-ended contract for the purchase of more General Atomics stuff.

"This is Buzz Lightyear technology," said another anonymous military official, reading from still another PowerPoint pitch. Possibly.

And there's the problem.

If there are people possessed of critical thinking skills applying themselves to questions over whether or not even more flying robot with missiles are bringing the war to a close -- rather than just making the populaces they are being sicced on more angry -- it's not at all clear from the Times piece.

"Some fear too much reliance on drones," equivocated the headline on the story's runover page.

It's more obvious that portions of the military are overrun with corporate pitchmen.

And these particular pitchmen have been going at it all year long, something not really noticed by the Times.

The salesmen also seem to think that "Buzz Lightyear" is a more common symbol than the hundreds of movies and sci-fi books, seen worldwide, in which the employers of robot assassin forces are always the bad guys.

What is obvious is their heads don't work right. They are in the service of death for the sake of arms sales. And the journalist who never really gets around to discussing this side of things is just making it worse.

Another way of looking at the Predator/Reaper/Gorgon Stare program is to view it as national Enzyte -- similar to the sold through TV pill that makes the johnson longer while putting a smile on your face. Guaranteed.

Similarly, at Armchair Generalist.

Monday, November 02, 2009

CULT OF EMP CRAZY ASTROTURF

Although the electromagnetic pulse defense lobby is through -- ridden out of town -- for this year, the GOP special interest group is nothing if not rabidly tenacious.

EmpActAmerica has redone its website to furnish ease in astroturfing.

The first thing the visitor notices is the group's purchase of thousands of copies of a novel which describes life in America after a surprise electromagnetic pulse attack. With a forward by EMP Cult/Lobby eminence grise Newt Gingrich, the book has been heavily flogged on paranormal/conspiracy radio in the United States.

One could interpret this as a plan adopted from the strategy used to boost L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi novel, Battlefield Earth.

"[That] book made it to the top of numerous bestseller lists partly because Scientologists would buy it in bulk, return the copies to allied booksellers for a rebate, and buy them again in a successful effort to boost sales of L. Ron's other book, Dianetics," reads a website on TV and sci-fi biz.

Another EmpAct effort is a link to empower astroturfing through VoterVoice.

The link allows one to produce a form or custom-written multi-mail to the President, the Vice-President, and all your state's elected politicians, entreating them to jump-start electromagnetic pulse defense at once and reinstate Roscoe Bartlett's old stable of electromagnetic pulse commission scientists.

It is, of course, bad and wrong and unkosher to use anonymous services which do not undertake any serious effort to verify real people to fabricate mail which insincerely and cynically recommends some sort of political action which looks like it comes from the grassroots. But everyone knows the number of people who would do such a thing, or the political interests which might abuse it, is so small that it practically never happens. After all, when such things are sent to politicians democracy can be ruined for everyone by creating the indelible impression that all real mail is garbage.

After all, what kind of nice person would punch in an address and name that wasn't their's so as to snail-mail things to the president and politicians in many states?

Or who would think of using Google or a collection of phonebooks and public access computers, like at the library or through a proxy filter, to generate a blizzard of letters from a state or locale mimicking a genuine interest in defending the country against electromagnetic pulse at once?

That would cost stamps, paper and envelopes and the licking of things. That's almost much work, maybe more, than buying thousands of copies of a book on electromagnetic pulse attack. This stuff never happens, especially with fringe issues like electromagnetic pulse defense which is something only for serious people of the greatest intellectual gravity and purity.

However, look at what one naughty Internet person made using that link -- just out of curiosity!