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Where Were You on June 9, 2022?

 

On the ninth day of the sixth month, in the year of our Lord Two Thousand Twenty-Two, the American House of Representatives convened a television show about a political protest some years earlier.  The clips from this show will be used as “facts” for elections in 2022 and 2024.  These clips will be used by Democrat campaigns, of course, but more to the point, they will be used by the state-run media to condition voters and vote managers.  The more people in on the next steal, the less work each plotter involved must do.

I cannot rate the show very highly.  It has terrible pacing and features weak performances from the usual crew of identical new faces who for some reason keep showing up on our screens.  It wasn’t like this in the old days.  It used to be that a show needed some strong performances and tight writing to get popular.  There was a kind of platinum age of television heralded by the beloved but now-unwatchable “Babylon 5,” which was a watershed in long-arc, multi-season plotting of a broadcast series.  Shows followed in different genres: “The Sopranos,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Dexter,” “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul.”  This current offering from the House is poorly done.  It’s amazing it got greenlit.

I never watched the Sopranos until these days.  I’m midway through the fourth Season.

FBI Arrests MI Republican Candidate for Governor — Over Jan 6 Protest

 

I’ve done a little digging about this story: here’s the video on YouTube.

Michigan is having a lively Republican primary. The FBI arrested one of the contenders at his home and the local news, of course, broadcast pictures of his home showing the street number.

He was arrested for something like remaining in a public building without the King’s warrant. Hard to tell. It’s a misdemeanor.

He needs to run for federal office if he wants to use candidacy as a defense — works for Democrats. Most of the comments on the YouTube video are pretty good.

GOP: Collapse on Guns and It’s All Over

 

Kurt Schlichter has a great post up at TownHall.

“Here is my proposed gun control compromise following the latest attack on children that millions of us did not commit. Ready? You gun fascists can kiss my Schumer and we keep our guns. In fact, let’s also repeal the National Firearms Act and impose national constitutional carry.”

This is what I’m talking about when I say that I do not care about the details of the Uvalde shooting, etc. I already know where I stand on an issue that transcends crime and violence from a pro-constitutional point of view.

It’s a good article with plenty of timely political commentary, and I agree with everything in it.  If this election is truly the Republicans’ to lose — going flaccid on guns is exactly how to lose it.

On Words and Deeds

 

It’s okay to be angry.  It might not be healthy, but that’s your business, and “your business” is the key issue in American politics and society.  Always has been.

It’s okay to be angry at the elected representation and “leadership”, and frankly, to do something about it.  There’s nothing more categorically American than seizing control from a corrupt or feckless (or both) government.

Those of us who (still) oppose riots and brutal block-to-block warfare express our fury through politics.  This is neither the time nor the arena to be acquiescent, agreeable, amenable, or any of an entire alphabet of stupid approaches.

It’s okay to tell your fickle failure of a political party to pound sand.  The Republican Party was born of an abolitionist fury at the lack of meaningful difference between one party and another.  Sounds familiar.

There is something to be said for working within the system, but this is not the same as settling down.  It means waging the same angry war in the house as in the streets, and so long as that warfare is still metaphorical, that is right and good.  The comfortable inside the big house will never change unless made uncomfortable, and this is better accomplished peacefully from within than from without.  Yet peaceful does not mean placid, meek, polite, civil, or any of that.  Specifically, it means not violent.

It is right and good to withhold support for a party that has serially failed to make good its promises.  That which is rewarded will be repeated, and so forth.

I still work to elect Republicans, but on a case-by-case basis.  I am all for primarying losers, and frankly, some targeted Democrat victories can be a good thing.  Obviously, this does not include the Presidency or critical razor-thin majorities.  I once circulated tracts clarifying when to support, when to primary, and some limited cases where I recommended supporting Democrats.  For example, if you can retain the House comfortably but do away with a particularly bad speaker (John Boehner, Paul Ryan) by helping him lose his seat, I don’t care if it’s a can of paint who wins that election.

There is a place for angry rhetoric, which will frequently exceed the grasp of real action.  Those who insist that you put your vote where your mouth is are missing the point of non-violent opposition to our government’s accelerating slide into fascism.  They’re talking you out of your opposition by presenting you with a false dichotomy between shooting war and meekness.

SHOUT!  Shout your dissatisfaction, your implacable opposition, your desire to support obvious bad guys over the treacherous bad guys that we supposedly have no choice about.  You don’t have to do everything you say — you don’t actually have to vote like Jimmy Dore in order to acknowledge that he is right about a lot of things, and you don’t have to vote for Tulsi Gabbard to use her as a threat.  Not all credible threats are acted upon — that would be stupid.

If you would be of any use at all, let uncertainty and worry dawn in the minds of the comfortable politicians who take you for granted.  Make your uncertainty their panic.  Make your worries their political terror.  Short of violence, and short of voting for destruction, there is an honorable space for shouting your fury at the miserable bureaucrats and threatening to burn their whole party to the ground if it doesn’t get religion quick.

It is your right, and nobody gets to soothe you out of it or name-call you into the boxcars.  That is a fatal anesthesia.

If deeds must match words, then there is no use in speaking, and we might as well pour into the streets.  If reasonable people cannot talk about this, then unreasonable people will shoot about it.  It is entirely reasonable and responsible — commendable — to sound unreasonable, even irresponsible.

Give ’em Hell.  Or accept Hell.

Operation Praying Mantis

 

Now in glorious YouTube-Vision.  On April 14th, 1988, USS Samuel B. Roberts struck an Iranian mine.  Sailors worked with incredible stamina and ingenuity to save the fractured ship, to include welding cleats outside the hull and lashing those together with wire rope (“cables”) to hold the hull together.  On April 18th, US Navy forces in and around the Persian Gulf damaged or destroyed half of the Iranian Navy.

At that point, I was so new that my YES concert tees still reeked of dope (not mine) and I was in training, but I manned my gear in the Electronic Warfare spaces aboard USS Enterprise.  Gee, this Navy stuff sure is exciting!  The Iranian action caused us to leave the area late, so we canceled a port visit to Australia, which I would not see until over a decade later.  On the other hand, this freed up schedule time on the balance, which we dissipated in the Philippines.

We pulled into Seattle and our money was no good.  We had shown Iran and the world that the US Navy wasn’t taking any crap off of any mullahs.  We were going to return to homeport Alameda (in the San-Fran-cisco-Bay) on the fourth of July, and the fanfare was — what’s that, Lassie?  You say USS Vincennes just blew an Iranian airliner out of the sky killing hundreds of civilians, and the whole thing looks bad from any angle?  Oh, damn.  Well, I guess high winds will keep us out at sea until after sunset, and then we’ll just sneak off the ship and hit the bars on Webster Street asking each other What the Hell just happened.

Vincennes never returned to the Persian Gulf.  Probably a good call.

When I later departed Enterprise, I retained (great verb) the by-then outdated copy of Jane’s Fighting Ships which my Chief had used during Praying Mantis, with his yellow highlights indicating corrections that would have to be made in the next edition.  Dave K. got the gas log, and hey Doc Watson — I have your family bible.  Are you still alive?

‘YouTube Influencers’ Revealed, Chinese Genocidaires Hardest Hit

 

You remember SerpentZA — he’s one of the two guys who used to ride around in China doing motorcycle’s-eye-view commentary from a long-term Westerner’s perspective.  Then they and their wives got out while they still could.  Great stuff.  In this magnificent and short video, he absolutely flays the putrid meat from the sickly bones of yet another shill for the coming totalitarians.

YouTube Influencers, or Tikky-Toke, or Instapr0n, whatever the platform — “influencers” are paid lobbyists, paid spokesmen, paid shills who pretend not to be advertising, lobbying, propagandizing.  I don’t mind advertising, and sales is an honorable well, a legal profession. This is not that.

SerpentZA details the minders/handlers, the internal press, and the external propaganda.  The coverage is as compelling as it is short.  He also draws a couple of parallels to other successful propaganda efforts.  He is right that the Communist butchers in China are really “ham-fisted” about their supposed finesse of western opinion — Heaven knows our own propaganda is so good that we can hardly tell.

Here’s the AP trying their hand at it.  Rabbit-hole, indeed:

Obama did not sign a law allowing propaganda in the U.S.
By ARIJETA LAJKA
August 27, 2019

CLAIM: Former President Barack Obama signed a law in 2012 allowing government propaganda in the U.S., and making it “perfectly legal for the media to purposely lie to the American people.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. In 2013, Obama signed legislation that changed the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, also known as the Smith-Mundt Act. The amendment made it possible for some materials created by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the nation’s foreign broadcasting agency, to be disseminated in the U.S.

Strike “puppy”, insert “little dog.”  Still a little clunky and obvious, but nobody’s perfect.  The term you’ll be searching for shortly is “Smith-Mundt.”

Will Smith Is Weak

 

Will Smith lost his temper, smacked Chris Rock, still got the Oscar, and gave a tearful speech about how he was doing God’s work at home, in Hollywood, and presumably by assaulting the emcee of that very show.  How do you not get thrown out and stripped of your win after that?  Shame on the Oscars morons, and shame on the weak and publicly cuckolded prostitute Will Smith.

His miserable, grasping no-talent shrewish wife has dragged his name and their family through mud and Hell, with the kids turning into circus freaks and her addiction to going on talk shows to run down her zillionaire husband while talking up her dead ex, Tupac.  And Will Smith participates — he allows this nonsense, and he encourages it with his weakness.  The whole family is now run through with infidelity, gender confusion, novel “orientations”, and the whole host of modern woke insanities.  Congratulations, Will.  This is your body of work.

Smith is a talented man and has tried to foist his non-acting family upon us time after time — fair enough.  His family is apparently having none of it, and the rot is on display in his wife, whom weak Will excuses and covers for.  Will has a problem, and it is internal — he’s no saint in that freak-show marriage, but at least he’s the breadwinner.  He has issues that he “deals with” in the Hollywood way — by not dealing with things except in some superficial pop-psychology fashion.  Of course, he got up and slapped Chris Rock on live TV for making an anodyne joke about her haircut.  “Take my wife’s name out yo G-D- mouf!”  Sorry Will, she’s a public figure thanks to your incessant efforts.  Fair game at the Oscars.

Smith’s anger is displaced.  He is actually angry at himself for his own failure as a father, as a husband, and soon as an actor.  He can no longer contain or compensate for his shame and emptiness.  All the progressive dogma in the world cannot carry a man through a crisis like the one that has been brewing for Will Smith.

I hope Chris Rock presses charges and sues the crap out of Will Smith.

United States of Hapsburgs

 

It may be that our national decline has much in common with inbred imperial dynasties. The inbreeding is figurative (we presume), but since George H.W. Bush became Vice President in 1981, power in American politics has become focused, clubby, dynastic. And it has produced a declining series of leaders with one exception — the only fresh blood in a generation or two, and the only “never done politics before” fresh-blood in likely a great deal longer.

The fascinating part is not the natural progression of routine concentration of power — that’s a built-in function of organizations without controls to prevent it. What I find more interesting is the apparatchiki who defend the thing, who enable, and in fact, demand it. The functionaries and bureaucrats who know where the butter on their bread comes from, and who ferociously fend off any outsider — from either party.  President Tulsi Gabbard would get the Trump treatment from her party’s Paul Ryan contingent.

The Deep State is a cross between a state-within-a-state and a praetorian guard. It has so surrounded and overshadowed the actual elected power that the weakness at the center has become a donut-hole in the political landscape, with the real tools of policy held out of reach from the center by the courtiers and rentiers.

No leader leads without a staff; no ruler rules without an administration, but our inattention to the Constitution (remember when over a decade ago Pelosi actually laughed when asked if a given law was Constitutional) has allowed the creatures of the government to take it over. A copy of a copy of a copy effect, as the government is literally the creature of, the “thing created by” the Constitution. Government has escaped the Constitution, and now the bureaucracy has escaped the government. The bureaucracy outnumbers, outweighs, and has in fact outmaneuvered the government. It is in the bureaucracy’s short-term interest to foster the concentration of power into as few hands as possible — fewer hands are more manageable, both in simplicity and effort.  Yet that short-term interest is relative to an individual bureaucrat.  For the bureaucracy itself, the concentration of power is also in the long-term interest, so short-term political adventurism is not discouraged by the more senior “professionals”.

The Bushies love the Clintons and the Obamas. I’m all for some collegial, sportsman-like (dare I say statesmanlike?) good conduct, but these folks are too alike for any competition or meaningful distinction to be drawn. I am reminded of the Armchair Economist’s (Steven Landsburg, Amazon link, no affiliate, honest) explanation of why he hates bipartisanship.  When two gas station owners agree, it is only to collude against the customers, and so on for two political parties. Chummy bipartisanship is much-admired these days, but it serves us poorly, particularly the half of us whose end of bipartisanship involves alternately being polite and getting slaughtered. It costs the politicals of “our” side nothing to treat us this way — the only threat to those folks is in disturbing the imperial hangers-on and fixers.

You say the Emperor is an inbred moron? That generations of political consolidation have desiccated the pool of ideas and outlooks? Well, we have these people programmed. They need us, and we farm them. No way are we rocking the boat. Funding, farming, helping, harming — it just doesn’t matter. The machine keeps running and it keeps producing the desired outputs. Neither party actually matters anymore, as they have utterly merged. They are proud of their heraldry and their ancestry, and will fight to defend their perks, but not against each other. They fight against We The Subjects while the machine no longer responds to the party’s respective inputs any more than it does to “ours”, whomever we are anymore.

Both parties might as well be hostages in the castle, but held “captive” in such comfort that the last thing they want is rescue. And Heaven knows — they cannot survive outside.  Why then they would have to face — us.

How to Exfil Everything

 

So this is just my “functionally paranoid” (the motto of OpenBSD, by the way) estimate of where things are. I’ll describe two problems, one of which I call the trumpet problem, and the other is plain theft.

Trumpet

There’s a lot of security to be had involving encryption. When you visit a website using https://, you establish an encrypted connection so that the data is garbled in transit. Still visible are the source and sender. So then you use a VPN, which separately encrypts a connection between you and the VPN provider, so that you seem to be somewhere else — you seem to be somebody else, from a networking perspective. This is a pretty good set-up for excluding casual threats along the way for most of the length of the connection between you and the website you are using. An obvious vulnerability is a weak or dishonest VPN provider, which happens a lot. Still, one of the more effective reasons to use a VPN is to prevent your ISP (Verizon, say) from collecting that tasty, tasty metadata about where you go and when, and in what combinations. Although the VPN ends at some point, it carries you safely past the ISP who knows a lot about you. Also, the VPN encrypts everything, not just browser connections one at a time. https:// doesn’t protect your local email application’s traffic, but your VPN does.

Think of this more-or-less secure connection between you and your chosen website as two metal pipes — one of which goes from you to your VPN provider, and a narrower pipe inside that one that reaches past the end of the VPN pipe all the way to the website’s server. Yet there’s still the problem of the open ends of the pipe. You have no control over the far end, and in fact, you have very little control over the near end either — “your” computer.

The attack surface expands greatly at the near end, like the bell of a trumpet and is anyway open to you, as well as to anybody who manages to attach to that big flaring bell. The distant server end is more like the mouthpiece of the trumpet. It’s typically better-managed, using more securable technologies than your PC at home. So yes, each of us lives at the loud end of the trumpet, which soothes us with music while the server surreptitiously scoops up our data.

You use a browser to access things on the server. The browser is almost always a full-powered no-kidding executable application on your machine. It has permissions and powers, and access to all of the hardware, software, system calls, configurations, logs, and all of your “personal” files. It has on-board facilities for interpreting many types of mobile code — even HTML is an attack vector, as the browser is just a system for getting instructions (HTML) and content (files) from a server, carrying out those instructions, and displaying that content. “Carrying out instructions” is all that computers do, and those instructions can come from any source.

Websites that show you advertisements almost always simply reach out to an ad-host, pull down some of this mobile code, and stuff it into the content that you wanted from the actual site server. What’s in that advertising mobile code? Who knows? Banner ads, pop-ups, and the like are mad vulnerabilities.

Cookies are files that your browser stores on your computer at the request of … whomever. They typically contain some gibberish which one way or another is meaningful to somebody — just not to you. A cookie can be position-coded, or a unique ID, or a hash of options from a finite set, or plain old encrypted data. The point of a cookie was of course benign at first, so that you didn’t have to log into a site like Amazon every time you surfed to a new page. It established a “session” so that whenever your browser showed the cookie to Amazon, they said, “Oh, it’s you, Bob.” The problem is that cookies were fundamentally a way to write to your computer, store on your computer, and read from your computer. That’s kind of like saying it’s not your computer. There are numerous controls over cookies, which are honored in some cases and not in others. In general, though, it’s bad. The most effective control over cookies is the generally-accepted limit on their size. This limit varies, but it is a limit, which is better than nothing.

Bob’s cookie identified him to Amazon in a fairly secure way. If somebody else had that cookie’s “session ID”, they could jump onto Amazon and act as Bob — a man-in-the-middle attack. A little cookie, a little SYN/ACK tomfoolery, and Bob is no longer your uncle. So https:// encrypts the connection between you and Amazon in order to protect your session ID as well as whatever you were actually doing.

Still, a great many sites want to know who you are, what you’re looking at, what you buy, who you talk to, and so forth. If you can successfully conceal who you are, the rest of that is much less valuable, and your identity must be reconstructed (“de-anonymized”) by those who wish to complete the picture and sell it. Enter browser fingerprinting.

A browser is a program that first knows itself. It tells websites and such what sort of browser it is, what version it is, how much file storage space is allocated to it, whether or not it can use java, flash, DRM systems, and so forth. It then knows about the system it is on, and so it dutifully reports the easy things like OS version, hardware (Dell model 1234), the date the machine was set up, username of the current user, and so forth. Then it gets really interesting. The server on the far end can use straightforward or truly subtle trickery to tease a lot more information from the browser. Straightforward would be asking what the video card is, what the current resolution and max resolution of the screen are, the window’s size. Subtle goes into things like exporting a list of all wireless access points in view as well as the signal strength indicated, and timing responses from the video system.

The browser doesn’t have to be told what typefaces (“fonts”) are installed on your system — it will just attempt to write meaningless phrases on a screen that doesn’t exist in every typeface that the server knows, and the browser reports success or failure. Now the server knows more than the browser does about your typefaces, your neighbors, your exact location, and a partial history of places you’ve been (say, cached wifi APs). This information when combined provides a numerically formidable idea of your identity.

Typeface analysis alone can greatly narrow the range because your browser (probably) automatically downloads typefaces needed to make various websites look proper. Each individual typeface says little, because each typeface is used by a large number of sites. But they don’t all use the same subsets, and the list of all the typefaces that you have collected will match with subsets of sites that are observed together.

Consider this — your PC certainly knows your own wi-fi name (MAC address if nothing else), and the server trying to figure out who you are can compare that MAC Address (like a networking hardware serial number — sorta) against the records it collects from everybody else. The thing about “just the metadata” and “anonymized” is that they don’t need your data to de-anonymize you. They just need to be able to cross-reference enough data points to nail you: time, place, name, likes, friends, and sites visited. These datasets exist, the number-crunching power required is almost trivial compared to what exists, and there is no turning back. Not one of us will ever disappear from the records. We who were online from the web boom in 1993-94 have left a shining trail, littered with autographed self-portraits. The only thing we can do now is try to limit the amount of data and metadata that we currently leak.

Theft

Yet increasingly, all tech companies are data theft companies. The hardware makers are in on it. The OS makers are in on it. The application makers are in on it. The network, switch, routing, ISP, VPN, backup, file-sharing, heartbeat monitoring, and step-counting people are in on it. Why, there oughta be a law, and of course, there sort of is, but the real target would be a world-changing combination of RICO, contracts of adhesion, privacy, and monopoly law. This will never happen, because of the cozy arrangement between big government and big tech. Tech steals what government is unable to demand, and government protects what tech is unable to defend. They do it together; they share in the spoils.

In general, online services are consumed on your PC by applications, which use the operating system to run on hardware. So: services / apps / OS / HW.

With our trusty metal pipe, we have managed to secure the online services, so that the applications can trust them. The applications need securing. Some are securable, while some are hopeless. My current browser of choice is “LibreWolf”, which you may think of as Brave for Firefox (Brave is a much more secure version of Chrome, and LibreWolf is a MUCH MUCH more secure version of Firefox). LibreWolf by default turns off a lot of the fingerprinting stuff, and there are pre-made config files you can download which go a lot further. Personally, I use the arkenfox config with tweaks. Why not use arkenfox on Firefox? You could (and I would guess that it started there), but the LibreWolf guys actually compile the browser with different options than Firefox, because some of the options cannot be changed through config.

So let us stipulate that my applications are now “secure” (ha!). Next comes the OS, the operating system. Fundamentally, the OS is the part of an application that every application needs in order to run on a computer (like reading and writing files, printing, getting online, accepting keyboard inputs, and showing things on the screen), so they just collect all that junk and make a special application that does nothing but provide those services to other applications. Naturally, this “Operating System” application must be all-powerful — any part of the machine with permission not given to the OS might as well not be on the machine.

When the application needs to store something in a file, all it has to do is bother the OS to “make a file, name it ‘shopping list,’ and standby for me to type until I get sleepy and just tell you to save it and close.” How the OS does that is a matter of indifference for the application. Maybe the OS just opens a pipe right down to the carpet beneath the desk and writes it on the backs of dust mites. Nobody cares. But my goodness, what a tempting target for information filching. This is where the real power is. All of those things that our browser labored to guess and tease from the system, the system already knows.

Say I use the world’s most secure file-encrypting application to store my shopping list on the disk. I create an empty file and encrypt it. I open and decrypt the file, and write things into it. Then I encrypt and save the new version. The operating system just saw everything that I did. Every keystroke was handled by a system call or a running routine. Sometimes lower-level pieces do this (BIOS), but the problem is the same. What if the OS takes my keystrokes and splits (“tees”) my typing so that a copy of it gets encrypted into the file, and a copy of it goes straight to our trusty dust mites? The application has no clue, and neither does the user. And if the OS doesn’t do that, who is to say that the hardware doesn’t? And this is without even considering temp files created while you have it open, or ransacking your “recycle bin.” My goodness is that thing ever aptly named.

So at this point, we’re just speculating. And that’s how it’s likely to stay because much of this is below the level that most people will ever get traction on. Security researchers, bless their Cheeto-clogged hearts, will suss some of this from time to time. Still, consider the opportunity and the capability for this sort of thing to be done. Our dust mites may in fact be a temporary storage device, or a reserved piece of another device, or a temporarily allocated, fleeting location on a CPU, cache, RAM, video, or other chip on the system. It only has to persist until it can be encrypted by a different mechanism, and then stored. Perhaps as metadata in ordinary files like the encrypted blobs in common office files. Not all of the file is in XML; just the parts that you care about. Perhaps the encrypted data is stored as cookies — hiding in plain sight. We expect them to be gibberish, and to a sufficiently dispossessed user, gibberish is indistinguishable from very good encryption. One method would be to include a seeming hash which when actually hashed will produce a known value that advertises “I am a file containing pilfered metadata at typical locations 2 and 47,” and the rest is gravy.

Obviously, the goal is not to steal all of your precious data — the data that is precious to you. This process will ignore anything in your Windows/Win/Win32/System and so forth directories. MS knows what’s in there — they put it there, and the same is true for the Apple side of the house. Likewise, they don’t want your movies, your music, your photographs, your games. Starts looking like a much smaller task now, doesn’t it? They might note the filenames, but they’re not grabbing the files. And if I were actually running this data theft program, and had to prioritize, I would make recently changed files my go-to.

They don’t need to grab your hard drive. Your interactions with it will point them to what they need, a shining trail. They don’t need all of anything. They just need enough small pieces of small things to fill gaps in knowledge. This is how tech will help prioritize the actions of government for when they really do want to ransack your disk, to turn your digital apartment upside-down.

While poking small amounts of data into files and cookies may seem like a lot of trouble to go to in order to get anything useful, consider five things:

  1. The value if it were done.
  2. The ease of transport.
  3. The capacity of your machine to spend its time on millions of tedious tiny things that you don’t care about.
  4. The enormous installed capacity of big data.
  5. The fact that everything is pushing you harder and harder into cloud apps, sharing files, backing up, logging in, subscribing, validating your existence, renewing your “license,” and so forth.

Notice how all of these apps need to phone home now? And who knows what gets pushed in the endless stream of “usability” updates, not just the security updates. All I know is my purely desktop copy of Office started telling me my login name to a system I wasn’t logged into, right in the title bar, as well as, “not logged in”. Thanks, Windows. Thanks for putting that all together in the background despite the fact that I did not want this copy of Office to be “online-aware” and have never used OneDrive. Granted, that’s trivial compared to the dust mite thing. But boy, are they motivated. They get what they want.

Screwed

I have presented a brief description of a possible method, with some background, some hand-waving (and a little help from our face-eating friends) for exfiltrating data. I am no expert, but that doesn’t mean I’m out here with a dowsing rod calling the geologists fools. I know a little.

I used to think that hiding in the crowd was secure enough. It is certainly true that going all security-conscious will raise your profile for increased scrutiny just in case anybody’s watching. Again, let the user report identify himself through his action. But I now believe that even the herd defense is of little use. The technology has proceeded so far, so fast, that ubiquitous collection is well plausible. I haven’t proven anything, but I try to make a reasonable case (Wake up, sheeple!) that an assumption along these lines is reasonable.

What is left is to try to segregate areas of your life into different channels, and secure those individually, to whatever extent is possible. But that’s a story for another day.

Western Institutions Becoming Unreliable by Design

 

Big thought, short article.  The center cannot hold, and it’s no accident.  From Obama nationalizing medicine and carmakers to banksters capriciously declining to service various transactions (guns, Russians, charities), the malaise of the twenty-first century, so far, is the decline in the reliability of western institutions.  Rule of law, contracts, finance, education, marriage, alliances, freedom of God, Guns, and Gutenberg… all circling the bowl.

Numerous outfits such as Visa and MasterCard, as well as Mcdonald’s, have decided that Russians may no longer use their services or purchase their products.  These private companies conducting foreign policy should be charged under the Logan Act, uh, I’ve heard it said and makes sense to me.  I’m no expert.  But they won’t be.  They are just the corporate side of our fascist corpo-state flexing on Heaven, as it is on Earth.

There may be short-term effects like reducing Putin’s appetite for destruction, but the next thing that happens, as the Gods of the Copybook Headings inform us, is that there will be a reaction.  The risk in dealing with Russia was always there.  The risk in dealing with the West is new.  Say goodbye to reserve currency status, vestigial hegemony over things like SWIFT, the internet, the UN, and any presumption of goodwill and fair dealing such as underpinned the decaying notion of the US as THE exceptional nation. From crime sprees and secure borders to wars and currency collapse, this stuff has been brewing for a while, and I suspect we are approaching — or are now upon — an inflection point or a phase change.

I am pro-NATO, pro-Ukraine, pro-USA USA USA, and I still think that we are screwing this up with heavy-handed, short-sighted destruction of little more than our own dwindling credibility.  Our political class selected a faceless nothing as President to wear as a prophylactic while they did all of this to us.  They will be fine.  We will not, and “we” are a lot more than just Americans.

There’s a lot of ruin in a country (Smith), but there’s not an infinite amount, and it’s not just the country that is in imminent danger.  It’s the whole of Western and Western-styled civilization.  This will be a century of dictators to make the 20th century look like a prototype.

Free Speech and Power in the Time of Ukraine

 

Russians are being cut off just as Canadians were cut off, and just as Americans were cut off.  This is not to equate the three causes — the cut-off Americans were pro-Trump, the Canadians were anti-mandate, and the Russian government is currently killing its way through Ukraine.  Different cases, right?  Yet the same tools are being used to silence individuals who have opinions contrary to the “dominant paradigm”.  That similarity is the real danger.  In the middle to long term, this is worse even than the horrors currently inflicted on Ukraine – globally homogenized censorship is a recipe for unending invasion and suppression.  It is the boot poised above the human face.

Conventional wisdom has nothing to do with it.  A paradigm is not wisdom, and convention has folded before dominance.  I recall a bumper sticker artfully pinned to the door of some facultron in the English Department at my university, “Subvert the Dominant Paradigm”.  This was an explicit, if cheeky admission of Brando’s defiant answer “Whaddya got?” when asked in The Wild Ones, “Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?”.  But now we simply Meet the New Boss.  They rebel against nothing; they carry out their instructions, and curry favor with The System.  They decide and the shotgun sings the song.  The radicals are now the establishment, and they have mortgages.

Trump was thrown off of Twitter while he was still President.  Remember that the US Supreme Court ruled he could not block people on that platform.  Neat trick — the platform is such a public utility that Trump cannot block people, but such a private entity that they de-platformed the US President.  And so on.  Now we see the Russians with their accounts closed, their finances monitored and restricted, their assets seized or rendered valueless, and so forth.  Just like the Canadians before them.  I won’t shed a tear for a Russian oligarch but neither the target nor the justification matter much compared to the power and the method.  After all, once the power and the method are accepted, targets and justifications come easily.  Once the machine is running, they need only turn the dial.

I’ve written before about our “digital rendition” as a parallel to the “extraordinary rendition” of terror suspects (battlefield capture etc) for interrogation in other jurisdictions.  The US Government uses private companies onshore and presumably offshore to do its bidding.  Those companies surveil us for their own private purposes, remember?  But when the government demands to see something, the companies provide.  And soon the whole thing is an explicit federalization of the entire online business sector.  And devices.  And software.  And finance.  Big Tech is now another branch of government, and unlike the rest, it zealously protects and advances its interests.

De-list the President?  Sure.  Bankrupt some truckers?  No problem.  Ruin some doctors, researchers, dissidents, activists for not bowing to and serving the Dominant Paradigm (note fear caps)?  You got it.  By the way — we do not expect to be regulated, restricted, required, remediated, remonstrated, or anything which apparently starts with re-.  You feel me, government?  Yes Sir, Big Tech — we feel you.

God Damn the Russians.  I studied Russian in college.  I enjoy some Russian literature.  I like stories from and about Russia.  I’ve visited Russia.  So spare me the horrors of “Russia hatred”.  Right now Russia is worthy of our hatred, and we are not individually responsible in this us-vs-them scenario for honoring the distinction between them and the leaders of them.

The problem come in when our own institutions — government, tech, banking, publishing, and so forth — decide that they will abandon their own professional requirements.  You and I are not professionals in the public square, but our institutions are.  Meanwhile, our woke disaster means that increasingly, you and I must play the professional even in personal life, while faceless incorporated entities (includes government!) are allowed to play the person even while wielding enormous professional power.  California authorized selective disconnect of paying “customers” of government services based on COVID compliance.  Perhaps all bets are off.

There is nowhere to go when the globohomo powers-that-be decide that your money in their custody is their money, that your speech must be their speech, and that your candidate must be theirs.

Everybody supports Free Speech, capital letters and all, when nothing unpopular is being said.  Virtue is easy when vice is obvious.  Despite my hissing disdain for Russia’s apologists both foreign and domestic, and my utter sanguinity with a sanguinary end for Putin, I do not want our institutions corrupted further with a blank check to express hatred and to exert power, on our behalf, against those with whom I disagree.

Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was confronted with an ally in a war, Britain, who was also an enemy in serious, existential diplomacy over a “White Paper”.  How to reconcile these?  Don’t:

“We will fight the war as if there were no White Paper, and we will fight the White Paper as if there were no war.”

There may be two problems, Russia and censorship, and they may be connected, but if we allow the connection to paralyze us, then we are doomed.  There is a logical consistency which is largely beyond the reach of most human affairs.  Conservatives know that not all things may be reconciled with the knowledge at hand, yet two things which may not be congruent to our current understanding may still both be wrong.  Much of conservatism, secular and religious, is the recognition that were imperfect, and imperfectible.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is wrong.  Tech’s silencing of dissent is wrong.  Finance’s abruptly and selectively closing channels is wrong.  Some of these wrongs seem not to be entirely wrong given other wrongs.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.”

Yes, you are allowed to hate Russia.  Yes, you are allowed to oppose military intervention.  Yes, you are allowed to agitate for freedom of speech, even for Russians and their stooges, uh, supporters.  Yes, you are allowed to say all of that and tell the logic cucks to shove off.  These are separate problems to be addressed separately.

What happens when the next ridiculous obsessive crisis puts this site in the crosshairs, when payments processors and hosting companies will no longer do business with places like this because of the views expressed here?

Russia to Seize Hundreds of Leased Airliners

 

According to Joe Blogs, Russia has just passed a law allowing Russian airline operators to simply declare themselves the owners of commercial aircraft leased from western companies.  Ireland likely hardest hit, IIRC.  These are Airbus and Boeing aircraft owned by leasing companies, but the deals are off, and the planes are due to be repossessed.  How?  Aye, there’s the rub.

Over 500 aircraft worth over $10 Billion may simply be swiped from the western owners.  This is another destruction of wealth, not just a transfer.  The aircraft are no longer supported with parts and inspections from manufacturers and owners.  And a great number of the planes are grounded anyway — Russian airlines don’t have as many destinations to go to these days.

This may be an expensive way to find out what can and cannot be done.  We shall see.

NATO and Russia: A False Equivalence

 

One popular argument about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is that Ukraine “had it coming” because of NATO expansion.  This is not a moral justification, and not a reason to consider Russia’s actions excusable or even reasonable.  This argument and its antecedents rest on a flawed equivalence between NATO and Russia, the “neo-USSR”.

The specifics of “not one inch eastward” are from a phone call between then-Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, and in a different context.  Even Gorbachev has said that this was not a binding agreement.  Naturally, Putin rejects this fact, as it is inconvenient to him.  So let us dispense with this “broken promise” rhetoric and focus on the qualitative difference between NATO, a voluntary defensive alliance against Russian expansion, and Russia, the expansive inheritor of the Soviet coercive prison-state.  There is no moral equivalence between the two systems, and forgetting that fact will lead to moral failures.

NATO

Not one country has ever been invaded by NATO and forced to join the alliance.  NATO is not some menace that moves about.  West Germany was not shoved hundreds of miles closer to Moscow overnight, leading to an understandably shaken Gorbachev.  Instead, it is a collection of countries that joined right where they were, by the consent of their respective governed.  NATO is of course heavily influenced by American priorities, and America in turn draws much of her cultural make-up from Western European ideals.  This is a wide cultural unity that underpins the NATO project.

Say what you want about American interventionism, but consider this: even in our bad moments, we go places ostensibly to smash bad guys, and then we leave.   What we pointedly do not do is invade neighboring countries one after another, breaking off pieces for keeps or simply gobbling them up whole.  Call our approach at times economic hegemony, coercion, or similar, and I won’t even argue.  I’ll just point out that this is fundamentally different from the Russian approach of kicking down your neighbors’ door, beating them senseless, kidnapping a child, and then moving your fence further into their yard.  NATO does not expand by annexing countries.

USSR, RUSSIA, USSR

The USSR no longer exists on paper, but the core remains, of course, and that is Russia.  The authoritarian leadership in Moscow is merely diminished, not different, and is now resurgent.  Rampant corruption is the system now as it always was — meet the new boss.  Modern Russian leaders, of whom there have been approximately one, co-opt the corruption to a mutually acceptable degree.  They have less power over the non-governmental corruption than the Soviet leaders did, and so the balance yields more power to the corruption than before.  This comes at the expense of government’s ability to do basic things with any efficiency, if they even wanted to.  The Soviet Union was a dangerous rogue state so large that we didn’t say “rogue” — we said Evil Empire, and we were right.  Now Russia is an Evil Empire (slight return) that faces crippling demographics and other systemic problems.  Russia the system is dying and taking Russia the people with it, and now Russia wishes to consume other, better countries to rejuvenate itself, to re-constitute the rightfully defeated USSR under so-called new management — literally a KGB officer.

Putin attempts to draw parallels between US interventions of the last thirty years and his current conquest.  Of course, he does.  He would like to make very different things look similar because the difference shows him to be just another dictator with an appetite for Europe.

DIFFERENT

These different approaches, invitation vs conquest, arise from different systems.  The West, from which I exclude Russia, may be in simply appalling condition these days, but it remains head, shoulders, and torso above the Putinocracy.  Russia was in for a hard road recovering from a century of communist intrigue and domination, which they have now handled poorly, with poor results.  Their elections are shams, their free speech is a sham, their economy is a sham, and now it may turn out that even their military is a sham.  Time will tell.  The one thing which could arguably have been said in Putin’s favor was that he was “good for Russia” in some way, and now that is gone too.  We are alarmed in the West about our diminishing freedoms and distrusted institutions precisely because we do not want to become Russia.  Russia is the nightmare that the West has actively avoided for a century.

NATO and in particular the United States spent decades fighting against an evil, predatory system of conquest and gulags, poverty, and nuclear terror.  This was the product of the communist bloc, and in particular Russia.  It is unobjectionable to point out that NATO and the neo-Soviets are two systems composed of nation-states, each of which in Realpolitik parlance “seeks to enhance its own power and security.”  It is a moral failure, however, to argue that because of that similarity, Russia has the same right to invade Ukraine as NATO does to invite Ukraine to join.  Similarly, it may be practical to point out that Ukraine has taken actions that Russia did not like, and which they clearly warned against, but again, this practicality does not justify blaming Ukraine (or NATO) for its own invasion by a hostile Russia.  That is a moral failure, and any course of action or inaction predicated on it is wrong, even if the early steps are unobjectionable.

Ignoring the difference between NATO and the neo-USSR is an error.  It may not be a moral issue to mistake or forget the differences between these opposed and incompatible systems, but that simple failure will cause moral failures downstream.

IGNORING THE DIFFERENCE

What happens when it is pointed out that Poland joined after NATO (as Putin alleges) promised that this would not happen?  Will we then forsake Poland?  We will if we do not get to the bottom of the NATO/USSR moral difference underlying the history and meaning of what is happening now.  And did NATO “gobble up” East Germany?  Shall that country be restored to the map, and to the neo-Soviet empire?  These are gradations of the argument used to ignore the differences between NATO and Russia.

Some people seem to be adjusting their principles to resolve a moral dissonance — if I support NATO and Ukraine and I oppose the neo-USSR, don’t I have to argue for sending US troops to fight in Ukraine?  Those are different things.  They are close, and may be connected, but different.  I think that some people are deciding that they do not support NATO or Ukraine in order to provide cover for their preference that we not put boots on the ground outside of NATO in easternmost eastern Europe.  I share that preference,  but deciding as a result that Russia is somehow justified in its assault is just an unworthy surrender of any moral position.

What exactly “we” should do is a rich topic, and will not be addressed here.  Whatever we do, including nothing, must be informed by a moral position.  Our stance, from which we may act or not, fight or not, sanction or not, must be both moral and practical, and there is no equivalence between NATO and the neo-Soviets.  Let Russia’s pleas, excuses, misrepresentations, and threats fall on deaf ears.  Their brutal invasion of Ukraine tells the story worth hearing.

PAST AS OVERTURE

I grew up in the cold war.  I still resent living under the threat of nuclear war.  Who did these Soviet gangsters think they were?  Generation X is the last cohort with any meaningful memory of that permanent background of dread.  The Russians ran a totalitarian prison commune and regularly threatened to vaporize or conquer anybody who interfered with their stated goal of world domination.  In the 1980s, I saw a Camaro in my neighborhood with a bumper sticker, “[screw] Russia.”  I thought that was the coolest neighbor ever, and I’d be hard-pressed to argue now.  Communism itself is bad, but it’s not the only bad thing.  In fact, it’s just one variety of totalitarian expansion and internal subjugation.  The Cold War was a meaningful and deadly contest between two opposed moral systems, and that difference is still with us.

Some will point out that both the US and the USSR have infiltrated, instigated, agitated, and overthrown for their own interests.  To focus too closely on sometimes similar means is to lose sight of the differing morality of the two systems.  If there was no meaning to the Cold War, then was there meaning to the Second World War?  Who are we to tell Mr. Putin how to manage his affairs in Europe?  Well, just who were we to tell Mr. Hitler how to manage his affairs in Europe?

This qualitative moral difference between NATO on the one hand and the series of USSR / Russia /neo-USSR on the other hand is important.  To draw an equivalence is to undeservedly elevate Soviet Communism to a place of honor, or to faithlessly debase our own seven-decade fight for freedom in the Cold War.

NOW, NEVER, AND FOREVER

A moral stance will never find epistemological closure, an airtight case for why a thing is right and good, without reference to principles.  We have principles, they have principles, and those principles differ in a meaningful way.  Now that push has come to shove, let us not take an easy off-ramp from moral responsibility.  Being right and moral is easy when it costs nothing.  Now it costs something, and even well-intended friends can be deterred by the cost.

Perhaps the greatest service that Generation X and the Boomers can render to those coming after is to clarify and preserve, to interpret for a new millennium, the moral difference still in play.  We will be gone, but the current youth and those who follow will still confront the timeless evils the world has to offer.  This may or may not become the global fight of their generation.  It may blow up, or it may blow over.  Either way, it is a duty upon us to ARM the next generation with the moral clarity to see the fight for what it is.  We have failed them in many respects.  We have stolen their money and eroded their Republic.  The military and civilian leadership seem equally worthless right now, but to paraphrase Rumsfeld, the army will go to war with the country and the leadership it has, not necessarily the leadership it wants.  Or needs.

Eastern Europeans join or wish to join NATO due not only to our prosperity, better management, and superior moral position, but primarily as a defense against the re-animated threat of being invaded, conquered, subjugated by the USSR.  Or Russia.  It’s all the same.  Once again, a powerful dictator is marching on Europe.  If Russia’s neighbors are sufficiently worried that a thug like Putin will gobble them up, this is not moral justification for Russia gobbling them up anyway, and to suggest this is obscene.  Yet this is the core of the argument made by those who say that NATO expansion bought Ukraine for Russia.  Rather, Ukraine’s now-realized fear means that what was true decades ago remains true today — that there is a qualitative difference between NATO and this neo-Soviet bloc.  The relevant similarity is not between NATO and Russia, nor between Poland and Ukraine, but between Russia and the USSR.  Blink and that fleeting difference goes away.  We were right to oppose the Soviets then, and we are right to oppose Russia now.  Those who come after us will need to know this for a fact in their own fight.

Another Excellent Source for Ukraine Updates

 

This is only the second update I’ve seen from this channel, “Good Times Bad Times” and I’m not even finished with it, but the information is spectacular!


Today’s Update:

Russia’s economy bleeds, as negotiations starts. Day 5. – YouTube

Good Times Bad Times (YouTube Channel)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXW9oUSOwt7mcTT5d_5hQcA


I saw yesterday’s update and refrained from posting here based on a single data point.  Then I watched a couple of their older videos, and today this one is just blowing me away.  This is what our media should be doing!  Anybody’s media! 

The S2 videos recommended by Mountie are excellent for their “intel” presentation — this is more a gazette of reports, clips, announcements, and reports ranging from first to third-hand.  Fair enough.

I can’t vouch for it as “Authoritative Knowledge”, but it comports with what I think I understand, and most of it seems well-sourced.  If it’s nonsense, it’s better than average nonsense.

The channel is not new and has covered things with depth and nuance.  It is not some recently stood-up tool of any faction.

I don’t mean to over-caveat this — I’m sold!  I just would like to convey that this is not a source I just bumbled into and took at face value.  Not far from it, perhaps, not having expert knowledge, but I’ve done what due diligence I can given *things*, and I highly recommend this channel.

Trump, Ukraine, and Yale. I Mean Me.

 

I’m not defending the shambling non-presence currently haunting the Oval Office, nor “his” administraion.

Putin, like any person (and in the Realist model, nation-states), respond to incentives, positive as well as negative.

Yet Putin has been lining this shot up for years.  I suspect that he may have delayed his plans while Trump was in office.  I certainly think that the installation of our faulty president was the day Putin leaned over and circled a date OH about a year in the future.

I oppose direct defense (boots on ground, airstrikes, etc.) of Ukraine because they are at best in our zone of influence, and perhaps more in our zone of interest (the zones being: control, influence, interest, and non-interest). Aside from philosophical / Constitutional / recent history motivators, I see Ukraine as a bridge too far. I realize that “there were promises made,” and I admit I’m torn about some of that. However, a lot of water has passed under many bridges since then.

I suppose an uncomfortable fact dawning on the world like a furious desert sun banishing the last blessed wisps of fog is this: countries don’t sign agreements — administrations do. This is a change, and not for the better, but it does seem to be true. Westphalia is breaking down. We cannot even get our own government to honor internal promises — protect the border, defend the culture, win our wars. Nobody watching the US government for the last twenty to thirty years should be surprised at holding a costly bag of nothing.

Well, I wonder how this would have unfolded had Trump’s re-election been honored (I see you Jan 6 deniers, and will note that you disagree with that statement. Haven’t forgotten you!)

Presumably, the course of action most of us would have found agreeable would be imposing serious sanctions before things were basically on autopilot (which probably happened four to six months ago, just a guess.) Yet this is the same problem as the one which the Portland terrorists presented to Trump and any other decent arm of government: strike in good time, and it’s too early. Strike too late, and well — it’s too late.

Unacceptable options for me would have been deployments to Ukraine and overt air or SF missions to Ukraine. I’m not sure what I would have thought of a really muscular beefing up of NATO, particularly in Poland. I do think that Poland is a good redline. I should also think that Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are worth an overt effort, but the great big issue for me is this: why should the United States get on a war footing if Europe hasn’t?

EDIT: Barfly reminded me that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are already NATO states.  Time flies!

I don’t know what I think Trump would have done — counterfactuals are difficult, so I won’t be grading responses.

I do think it would have been better than this — just like the Afghanistan pullout.  I’m not saying that the individual conflicts would have gone so much differently — but that we would have acquitted ourselves in a far more respectable manner.  We don’t actually have to go running retarded into every burning building.  That firefighter will never retire.  There’s no dishonor in expecting others to take care of their own damned business.  There is dishonor in assuming responsibility and shirking it, which is one aspect of where we are now.  Yet I’ll share a small story and conclude with the stinger.

The pre-1943 editions of Knight’s Modern Seamanship included a passage about breaking a sailing boat out of irons using an oar.  Knight’s direction was to go ahead and use an oar, and be quick about it, despite the popular sentiment that it is lubberly to use an oar on a sailing vessel.  He said that the lubberly part was getting your boat in irons to begin with, and that a real sailor will use any tool available and suited to the need, so get on with it.

The lubberly part of our shame has been twenty years of “managed” decline and treachery. We won’t pull our honorable chestnuts out of the fire by committing to do stupid things — we’ve seen how America goes to war now, and it sucks. Perhaps, if WWIII is in the offing, we may recover some of the Right Stuff before Poland of NATO is in question. And maybe this isn’t WWIII.

Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, But You Know the Rest

 

I will never see Procol Harum.  Like a good many things I had intended to do in my time stateside, this too has been bumped by government lockdowns into the bucket of things for which tomorrow will never come.

I have adored Procol Harum since I was a kid, and well should I!  They stole a lot from Bach, and they gave a lot to rock.  That’s the way that usually goes, by the way.  In between heavy prog and sea shanties, they produced nearly a genre of their own — classically inspired catchy power-pop tunes with erudite abstract lyrics and evocative chord progressions.

“Whiter Shade of Pale” grabbed me as a child, and I slowly expanded into other music of theirs, one tune at a time, in the way that children and teenagers do — until I got a whole real album.  I had several PH cassettes when I served aboard USS Enterprise, and used to chip paint and rip asbestos tiles using pneumatic tools in a white Tyvek suit with my Walkman under layers of tape.  I listened to Queen and Procol Harum for the most part.  Made the work go by just fine.

Gary Brooker, frontman of Procol Harum, whose worldwide No 1 A Whiter Shade of Pale soundtracked the Summer of Love – obituary (telegraph.co.uk)

That’s a story in the Telegraph, you know the song.  Here’s another, with lyrics based on a poem by Auden.  It’s the second song (starts at about 6:20) in this two-song video.  Procol Harum – A Salty Dog, An Old English Dream live in Denmark 2006 – YouTube

An Old English Dream

This circa 2006 performance is (to my knowledge) either a special appearance or part of a larger production with Danish royalty in attendance, at an idyllic setting in Denmark.  Look at the place, the people, the atmosphere.  Good God — this is civilization.  This is why we have civilization.

I don’t mind a bit of moping progressivism (the politics) in great music — dreams based upon fairness and brotherhood and all that horse-manure have a place, and that place is the admirable but not-human world of dreamy music and other creative endeavors.  In the real world, we temper such idealism with realism.  This is a beautiful song, and apart from a few spoilers, could just as well be a conservative anthem decrying the United States and what we are losing.

We are English, after all.

The music of Procol Harum is run through with English history, and as Brooker alludes, that includes things from the Danegeld to the Euro.  You know who you find running through the body of work?  Chaucer, for crying out loud.  “As the Miller told his tale” is the key to WSOP.

So here’s Whiter Shade of Pale from the same appearance in Denmark.  Nearly twenty years ago, Brooker was already not a young man.  Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale, live in Denmark 2006 – YouTube

I may take the rest of the day off and just throw things.  Farewell, Gary Brooker.  I’ve been a fool.

SkyNet Is Alive!

 

The machines are self-aware and have begun editing our very thoughts!  Or, uh, at least I don’t like the way WordPress insists on formatting things.

Machines can be a great help, but they should know their place.  Even the Three Laws of Robotics are not enough to prevent the forcible re-formatting of plain old honest quote marks into some baroque swirling thought-police.  I wanted to poke fun at a man’s Cockney. This is not allowed by SkyNet.

See what happened?  SkyPress decided that the two apostrophes I used (not “single quote marks” or “inverted commas” etc) were a matched pair.  This makes everything between the yellow highlights a semantic unit — clearly incorrect.

This is actually a more meaningful failure mode than the historical target of my Holy War, the satanic and French single space after a sentence.  Don’t believe that it’s satanic and French?  Well, don’t take my word for it — listen to the leftist snowflakes at Wikipee on the topic:

With the advent of the typewriter in the late nineteenth century, typists adopted approximations of standard spacing practices to fit the limitations of the typewriter itself. French typists used a single space between sentences, consistent with the typeset French spacing technique, whereas English typists used a double space.

  • French spacing inserted spaces around most punctuation marks, but single-spaced after sentences, colons, and semicolons.
  • English spacing removed spaces around most punctuation marks, but double-spaced after sentences, colons, and semicolons.

These approximations were taught and used as the standard typing techniques in French and English-speaking countries. For example, T. S. Eliot typed rather than wrote the manuscript for his classic The Waste Land between 1920 and 1922, and used only English spacing throughout: double-spaced sentences.

You people, mark my words.   And you machines, stop marking my words!  So-called “smart quotes” mean that the self-aware and hostile AI present in most text-wrangling engines is actually deciding what you just said.  How long until, cackling mechanically, it throws back its cloak and begins to decide what you are going to say?

There can be an advantage to opening and closing quotes, but this should not be a forcible conversion.  It should not even be a default option in most places.  And this tomfoolery with the machine deciding to interpret a few apostrophes as “single quotes” is the new Devil.

(I, for one, welcome our new pedant-millennial overlords…)

Selling Ukraine by the Hryvnia

 

So Russia “recognized” two “breakaway” segments of Ukraine and is now eating them.  He is consolidating his Sudetenland adventure.  What’s next?  Something is.

Quite a pickle now.  By rights, this should be the beginning of a new cold war.  Or more likely, the manly recognition that the old one never really went away — it was just kippin’.

I could wax on about how bad things are going to be, or how we oughta this, and we oughta that.  Yes, yes, I agree, academically.

But in reality, we aren’t going to do a damned thing, and that’s the best outcome we may realistically hope for.  I’ve said since the first term of the Obama administration that we are no longer capable of doing things, because we are always just one election away from internal Marxist sabotage at the top.  And now that the deep state shenanigans are plain for all to see, they are emboldened, rather than cowed by the sunlight.

We have no business engaging in any intervention, nation-building, alliance-forming — anything — until we win a fight to regain control of this country.  I do not care one fig for any border anywhere in the world until we get our own border under control.  Why should I?  It is obscene to spend a damned dollar somewhere else if we are unwilling to do the deed at home.

This is bad. It’s bad for Ukraine, and it’s bad for Europe.  My prescription for Europe is Be Like Poland.  Man up, buckle in, and speak plainly.  America isn’t coming to help, and you’d hate it if we did.

It’s not as though I’m advocating some new useless position for America — we’re already there!  Wake up and smell the cat box.

“To the shores of Tripoli, but not to Mississippili” indeed.

Until we get our house in order, it’s Vietnam, Afghanistan, and ISIS as far as the eye can see.  Everything else is just belling the cat.

IRS Busted in Mass Surveillance Program

 

So the IRS has been busted buying data from a company that claims to have decent geo-tracking data racked and stacked for 25% of adults in America.  Two things:  The video linked here is from a guy who is usually better on tech and privacy — I think that he’s a bit out of his depth.  Perhaps he is intentionally understating the obvious.  The way he goes on about the poor innocent Muslims makes me think that there’s a serious lack of understanding, however.  Also caution — a bit of language.   FEDs are Purchasing Location Data From Multiple Apps to Track People – YouTube

So his questions about why on earth the IRS would need such info about these particular strata really miss the obvious point alluded to above — which feeds into my second point.  What he either misses or pretends not to notice in this video is what seems obvious to me.  The government and Big Tech are colluding in what I call “internal rendition”, an analog to “extraordinary rendition”, in which battlefield or terror-suspect prisoners were shuffled (“rendered”) to other countries for abusive interrogation because our own agencies are largely forbidden to carry out such uh questioning.  It’s a legalistic dodge that only a lawyer could love.

“Internal rendition” then is the government conducting forbidden operations against individual citizens at home, and the citizenry as a whole, by outsourcing the work to Big Tech.  The tech overlords have the power to do, but not to bless, which complements the government’s position quite nicely.  The end result is a massive domestic surveillance program, utterly illegal, dressed up in legal clothing.  “Secure in papers and possessions,” like the first amendment, does not restrict the activities of private companies.  Unless you are a Christian baker.

The video above questions why app developers would sell this data.  The truth is, many of these developers don’t even know it’s happening.  They incorporate handy, useful, and tested libraries instead of reinventing every wheel each time.  Those libraries (snippets of code for doing things) are part of an application’s “upstream”, the stuff that others made and which an app developer gets to use.  “Upstream” is where most of the sale happens.  App developers are pikers compared to the makers of handy app widgets like the Facebook Like button.

I’ve written before about the Facebook SDK for Android.  I’ll link the video here, and reserve the first comment below for a link to something I wrote if I can find it.  Note:  The presentation linked immediately above is almost unwatchable — stick with it because the information is invaluable.  These awkward presentation dorks are exactly who you want to listen to for this stuff.  I’m grateful for their work.

It all points to a massive internal surveillance operation with the government and Big Tech (as well as finance, media, education, and the like, but gov and tech are the tentpoles) being carried out against the American people.  Without our knowledge.  Without our consent.  Dressed up in arcane legalism.  This two-part recipe for spying on the citizenry is exactly fascism.  Which is why I’ve felt so free to use the term these days.

Not every contract is enforceable.  Contracts of adhesion like coercive EULAs and so forth.  Not every law is Constitutional just because it passed — and not even by dint of having been affirmed by the Supreme Court.  The Roberts dodge to re-write ObamaCare on the fly was a clearly unconstitutional remedy for a clearly unconstitutional law.  There are three ways to determine what is constitutional — I do not admit the validity of the “whatever five SCOTUS justices say it is” approach.  Dred Scott was not constitutional for a while and then suddenly unconstitutional.  Those fellows may make a thing enforceable, but not constitutional.

Each of us has a duty (some sworn, some merely levied by reality) to weigh laws for their constitutionality, and here’s the kicker — you don’t have to be an expert to get it right.  What is going on between big tech and the government is clearly unconstitutional.  If not so, the government would simply do it themselves.  They would pass a surveil-you-all bill, and would proudly announce their protection of wE thE CHilbrEn.  They aren’t scooping up data from teenage girl’s makeover apps to fight terrorism under the (shaky enough) Patriot Act.  This is unrestricted domestic surveillance.

So the video linked above about the IRS misses the obvious answer to his own numerous questions about why the IRS would need certain information about certain types of people.  It’s because the IRS is just another category of accounting for the government to let contracts, and the data is all going into ever-larger datasets. It’s as much information as possible about as many people as possible.  Nobody is being targeted in the collection phase.  That would imply that some people are left alone, and that’s just not happening.

Every single thing* on or in your phone is spying on you.  More to follow.

A 3-by-5 Love Letter to PowerLine’s 2-by-4, Steven Hayward

 

This is a common theme, and I see it discussed in the PowerLine comments as much as I used to see it here.

I remember Hugh Hewitt and the Northern Alliance, and all that good stuff.  The Throbbing Memo!  Back when Dean Barnett was the radio sex symbol representing all of us to that dear lady in Colorado.  CHOWDAH!  SFH was a fixture back then, and PM was one of the founders (IIRC) who made PLB go.

“Things have changed, Jerry.”  Political blood has been shed, and I don’t mean the PLB dust-up.  Here are links to two of my overly-wordy posts (here, a poll on the question and here a post including the recent PLB dust-up) discussing the much-discussed fact that the party is grievously split, which fact both precedes and will outlast anything about Trump.  So it’s not about Trump — it’s about Mirengoff.

We can get Mirengoff-style commentary anywhere.  I don’t care about baseball or soccer, and civil rights is hardly a dry well.  Hayward types (among other greats, just not building a list here) are what we can only get at places like PowerLine and Ricochet.  The exo-beltway conservative commentary and community; without the food fight.  I have my beloved sources for the food fight as well, but that’s a different post.

Mirengoff’s obsessive (but not exclusive) focus on strafing Trump, as Hayward says, chases away the right people.  Which people?  People like me.  I’m weighing a subscription to PowerLine.  Sounds like a great companion to this site — different mechanisms, different community structure.  Same family.  I’m not threatening or promising, not laying out conditions above my station.  Just thinking about it.

I won’t slag Mirengoff.  But I don’t read him.  As with Chemerinsky’s stuff (ain’t seen in a decade, thank God), I don’t appreciate the tired and labored fascination.  Well, I’m now cramming this into the bottom corner on the backside of this 3×5 card.

I’m with Hayward.

BDB

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