04.23.16

The Cyberwar Boogie

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Rock 'n' Roll at 12:18 pm by George Smith

From a long time ago and what seems very far away, the only rock song to feature former US Cyber-Czar, Richard Clarke.

“They’ll also launch a big ol’ DOS,” he “sings.”

Taken from a conference call between him, the bosses of the biggest anti-virus companies, and some government officials on what was to be done during one of the big network virus/worm scares (Code Red, 2001, specifically) of the time. “A big ol’ DOS,” or denial-of-service attack was what the virus was going to launch.

At the time, the biggest anti-virus software developer in the US recommended disconnecting the US from the internet. Absolutely true.

“Cyberwar Boogie” is/was a jaunty ditty about trouble on the frontier in cyberspace from someone who was there. I even threw in some poor man’s Jimmy Riddle.

Seemed appropriate for a lazy Saturday.

It’s here. Do give it a listen.

The Poseur

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:08 pm by George Smith

Inevitable as the cicadas every 17 years in eastern Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton is delivering her shtick in my old home state, only she’s been on an eight year cycle. There’s a big difference, of course, between her and the cicadas. The insects actually do live in the ground there.

“I want to be really clear about this, because I learned how to shoot a gun behind our cottage in Lake Winola,” Mrs. Clinton said, somewhere near Scranton. “And I know how important gun ownership and particularly hunting is here in northeastern Pennsylvania.”

Has Hillary Clinton ever struck you as a hunter? About as much as I’m a gun owner, I think.

Clinton is from Pennsy, from Little Rock, from New York, from DC, from everywhere. The geography is changeable, much like her politics.

“[A registered nurse], was not moved by Mrs. Clinton’s old-time recollections” at the rally in Dunmore, read the Times. But she would vote for Clinton, anyway, it was said.

04.16.16

Have a song for every third person

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 1:54 pm by George Smith

Bill Clinton’s legacy is trashed. Out on the stump he’s been dogged by protesters who’ve pointed out his tough-on-crime administration led to an explosion in the prison population, ruining the lives of millions of black Americans. So he loses his temper, wags his finger and looks worse. Others point out his trade deals and bank deregulation accelerated inequality and the destruction of middle class jobs.

So the Big Dog is now a bit rabid. He jJust can’t accept others don’t share the belief he’s the American hero he thinks he is.

Campaigning yesterday, he tried to make a joke:

“One of the few things I really haven’t enjoyed about this primary: I think it’s fine that all these young students have been so enthusiastic for [Hillary's] opponent and [he] sounds so good: ‘Just shoot every third person on Wall Street and everything will be fine.’”

Probably not something to say when Bernie Sanders just got after his wife for her three-quarters of a million buck speeches to Goldman Sachs. Again.

“The inequality problem is rooted in the shareholder-first mentality and the absence of training for the jobs of tomorrow.” This is Bill Clinton’s answer.

Yes, absence of training for the jobs of tomorrow, jobs that somehow never arrive or that pay almost nothing, or that rewire you to sell off your life in pieces through an iPhone app. Everyone has to go back to school four or five times in life and become innovative or die. Heard it before, dozens of times. This is the only answer the modern Democratic Party has for, well, just about everything outside of endless war (which it largely supports, anyway).

Anyway, I had a song for that a couple years back. It never got old which shows how much progress there’s been.

And as for whatever diet Bill’s on, he can quit now.

For your Saturday reminisce.


Thomas Frank, author of Listen, Liberal!, a new book that takes apart the Democratic Party for its failure to stand up for its former base in the working class, takes it to Bill Clinton in the Guardian:

When I was researching the 1994 crime bill for Listen, Liberal, my new book documenting the sins of liberalism, I remember being warned by a scholar who has studied mass incarceration for years that it was fruitless to ask Americans to care about the thousands of lives destroyed by the prison system. Today, however, the situation has reversed itself: now people do care about mass incarceration, largely thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and the intense scrutiny it has focused on police killings.

All of a sudden, the punitive frenzies of the 1980s and 1990s seem like something from a cruel foreign country. All of a sudden, Bill Clinton looks like a monster rather than a hero, and he now finds himself dogged by protesters as he campaigns for his wife, Hillary. And so the media has stepped up to do what it always does: reassure Americans that the nightmare isn’t real, that this honorable man did the best he could as president …

For one class of Americans, Clinton brought emancipation, a prayed-for deliverance from out of Glass–Steagall’s house of bondage. For another class of Americans, Clinton brought discipline: long prison stretches for drug users; perpetual insecurity for welfare mothers; and intimidation for blue-collar workers whose bosses Clinton thoughtfully armed with the North American Free Trade Agreement.

04.14.16

Let them eat cake

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 1:04 pm by George Smith

A recent article from the New York Post on profits from digitized music, here, presents us with a “let them eat cake” moment, courtesy of Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer.

YouTube is vilified because it returns zero to little profit in its glued-on advertising/revenue sharing schemes. “The main concern is the fact that ad revenue is not climbing in line with views,” one industry source says to the Post.

Kyncl, so it says, countered:

“free is the future, ad supported is the future …” on YouTube’s scheme known as “monetization” and “revenue sharing.”

“Only about 20 percent of people are historically willing to pay for music. YouTube is helping artists and labels monetize the remaining 80 percent that were not previously monetized.”

Let’s roll out what this really means.

What Google/YouTube does is what’s known as a “winner take-all” system. While YouTube, Apple iTunes, Spotify, etc have demolished barriers to entry in putting out music, the data is in on the results over the last ten years and, invariably, what is returned is highly unequal economics.

And it’s described by what’s known as a long-tail distribution. Martin Ford, in his recent book, “Rise of the Robots,” describes it like this:

“[The ubiquitous] long-tail distribution is central to the business models of the corporations that dominate the Internet sector. [These companies] are able to generate revenue from EVERY POINT on the distribution.”

It’s become obvious, though, that YOU (meaning the majority) cannot.

Ford goes on:

“Markets in goods and services [books, music, for example] that are subject to digitization inevitably evolve into winner-take-all distribution. Sales of … books and music are increasingly dominated by a tiny number of on-line distribution hubs …

“The long-tail is great, if you own it. [Like YouTube, or Spotify]. When, however, you occupy only a single point on the distribution, the story is quite different. Out on the long-tail, incomes from most on-line activities rapidly drops to zero.”

It’s not an opinion, it’s supported by all the data on sales and profits now in.

So when the Google YouTube montebank says this, “YouTube is helping artists and labels monetize the remaining 80 percent that were not previously monetized,” you’re only getting part of the story.

What you’re getting is more like the pic of an iceberg, with a little showing above water, and the rest of it, that which is going to rip a hole in your bottom, unseen.

See – almost 100 percent, or eighty percent, or 50 percent of almost zero, which is what Google\YouTube returns to you, is still almost zero. And 80 percent of even 100 almost zero streams is still pennies. You only make money if you own a piece of ALL OF IT, globally. Which, in the case of YouTube music, Google/Alphabet/Whatever does.

No amount of wishful thinking about turnarounds and the sun coming up in some near future can change any of it. The installed system has you screwed. Period.

What’s Der Fuhrer About?

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Phlogiston at 12:25 pm by George Smith

Look Who’s Back is a rather on-the-money movie considering our fractured times. It’s based on a best-seller in which Hitler magically appears in modern Berlin with no idea about the intervening time between now and his last day in the bunker. He can’t get anyone to believe he really is himself. Instead, he’s taken as a fabulous method actor who never drops character, winding up sold as a comedian on a TV show called Whoa, Dude, hosted by another funny man made-up to look like Barack Obama.

In the movie, Hitler upstages everyone on the ridiculous show, ignores his joke lines about the “Salafists” and instead delivers Hitler-esque stem-winders drawn from his speeches and Mein Kampf. He tells the audience they’re fools for watching reality shows about cooks and that television has them looking into the abyss. Hitler will save them, Deutschland, from that abyss. It’s so successful he’s put on every show run by the network, generating an immense following.

Oliver Masucci, an Italo-German, plays the Fuhrer. And while you could comb the dialog at length for laughs, the most indelible parts are those in which Masucci is driven around Germany as Hitler. You will not be entirely surprised that, even when in the presence of the impersonator, it’s easy to get some people to let their real selves out. “We need labor camps,” says one, in open resentment over the refugees. Hitler agrees, he can do that. He asks another man, “Will you do whatever I ask of you when the time comes?” The man instructs the camera to be turned off, which it isn’t, and says he’s ready.

At the end we have Hitler riding through modern day Germany in full regalia. He’s in an open top limousine with his agent, a blonde woman who looks a little like Eva, juxtaposed with video from news clips on the rise of fascist parties in Europe and ongoing protests and violence against refugees and immigrants. It’s not exactly the kind of product placement Mercedes had been hoping for.

Of course, if you want slapstick, there’s that too. A segment in which Hitler is pepper-sprayed auf dem Platz in front of the Brandenberg Gate is hysterical.

Look Who’s Back is only a movie, bitingly amusing, but it would be lost on most Americans. First of all, we’d have to read the subtitles and get the jokes, which we can’t because of large gaps in the knowledge of that history. But, mostly,we’re just incapable of seeing bits of ourselves and what we can easily become reflected in parts of it.

I howled with laughter through most of it. However, if the YouTube videos of Hitler ranting in the bunker about being locked out of video games are your cup of tea, maybe not so much. Not accidentally, I’m sure, Constantin owns Downfall and Look Who’s Back, giving it something of a lock on the global Hitler market.

04.01.16

Bernie or Bust is Bonkerz!

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:36 pm by George Smith

Here, a set of cartoons for the daily mix of stories, all from the Democratic Party, on how the supporters of Bernie Sanders are mentally ill in their ineradicable opposition for Hillary Clinton. If we don’t come to our senses …

This.

And here.

Don’t forget this one!

Feel free to share. None of my “friends” would on Facebook. Being all upper middle class good liberals, this is anathema.

TRUMP … MUST … NOT … WIN … OR

As explained from the wires, by Hillary Clinton in Purchase, NY, yesterday:

AP: Clinton said she regretted that the young Sanders supporters “won’t listen to anybody else” and didn’t want to hear “the contrast between my experience, my plans, my vision, what I know I can get done and what my opponent is promising…”

“I just wish that there were an opportunity to actually talk and listen to each other because we’ve got to unite when this primary contest is over.”

Explain it a few more times. I still don’t get it. Include more slurs and aspersions as to personal character.

Obsolete

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 12:23 pm by George Smith

April Fool’s Day is long obsolete in the country where every day brings a fresh bounty of reality-based jokes. What follies we commit, gifts to everyone.

Everything in this, the honest-to-God truth. Trust me, I’m the professional when it comes to the matter.

Your select choice

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:16 pm by George Smith

Earlier this week, something wonderful happened!

Colt 45 is targeting its glory days with the return of its iconic ’80s spokesman Billy Dee Williams.

The Brian’s Song and Star Wars actor served as the malt liquor’s brand ambassador for five years starting in 1986, when Colt 45 was the biggest name in malt liquor. Now Williams, 78, appears in a new 15-second video, released Monday, that teases an upcoming TV, print and online marketing campaign in which he is the star …

“It works everytime,” he said. From my perspective, 24 ounce cans.

Continuing:

In his ads, Williams holds a 16-ounce can. But malt liquor is also sold in larger sizes, such as 40-ounce bottles, which were made popular in the ’90s, when rappers such as Ice Cube served as spokesmen for various brands, including Pabst-produced St. Ides.

Researchers at UCLA and elsewhere have found that malt liquor marketing targets minority consumers, including blacks and Hispanics. The 2005 paper titled “Malt Liquor Beers, And The People Who Drink Them, Are Different,” published in the Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research journal, found that malt liquor drinkers in L.A. were more likely to drink more alcohol, be homeless, unemployed and receive public assistance than other types of drinkers.

Ice Cube turned out pretty good. And, yes, it’s true, I have been known to be unemployed. FU, kindly.

They should have me as an endorser, too.

03.02.16

Just sayin’

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, The Corporate Bund, WhiteManistan at 2:58 pm by George Smith

Excerpt’s from George Orwell’s review of “Mein Kampf”:

“What he envisions … a continuous state of 250 million Germans with plenty of ‘living room’ (stretching to Afghanistan or thereabouts), a horrible brainless empire in which, essentially, nothing ever happens except the training of young men for war and the endless breeding of fresh cannon-fodder.”

“He had crushed the labor movement and for that the property-owning classes were willing to forgive him almost anything.”

“[His] is the fixed vision of a monomaniac and not likely to be much affected by the temporary maneuvres of power politics.”

“[The slogan] ‘Better an end with horror than a horror without end’ is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.”


What the mainstream media and Gawker didn’t get over the weekend in having a good Twitter laugh about tricking Donald Trump into quoting Mussolini: The people who are going to vote for him don’t care. In fact, they’ll find it affirming, (1) because they don’t really know anything about Il Duce if they knew about him at all, and (2), they’ll agree with Trump, it’s a quote that’s great for re-tweeting.

So no prize to Gawker or anyone else smirking when there’s a 50-50 chance the election will throw them to the Devil and merciless statistics in November.


From Truth-out today, on a matter I covered for over a decade:

But as much as the Republican Party created Trump, it shares parentage with the transpartisan national security complex. Politicians, generals, CIA directors, think tank warriors and terrorism “experts” have been dinning a message of fear into our heads for a decade and a half, a fear that works on many voters like catnip on a feline.

The author continues:

The fear, of course, can only be exorcised by a policy of nonstop militarism. Congratulations, patricians of the Beltway: However disdainful you are of the vulgarian Trump, you helped put him where he is today …

I’d estimate the odds at about fifty-fifty that this country ends up with something resembling a fascist political system, if not in 2017, then at some point in the next decade. We may never hear it called that: The prestige media have up to now mostly maintained an embargo on words like “fascist” or “authoritarian”; it will be fascinating to see at which point in the coming year – if at all – the embargo is lifted. No, we won’t have black uniforms and goose-stepping. In the US cultural vernacular, it would be more like Lee Greenwood played on an endless loop, with patriotic ceremonies even more lugubrious and hypocritical than the ones now at professional sporting events.

So when you read those stories about how Michael Hayden went on Maher to claim the military wouldn’t follow some of Donald Trump’s orders were he President, to these you should say: Bullshit it won’t.

The Wehrmacht’s general staff, those that survived, was said to have many principled men who detested the Fuhrer. And that made such a difference.

The point to be made is not that the United States is like the Third Reich.

When it fails big time, it will do so in a way unique to itself, of its history. But people haven’t changed. Americans, US military men, don’t have some special DNA or secret patent trumping the regular human condition. They make the same historical mistakes, again and again, always thinking we’ll be different this time because …


Yes, Trump is about racism, Islamophobia and making America great “again.” But you’re missing the point if you don’t see that supporting him is also about saying fuck you to the political class, if not the political system. Of course, there are more constructive ways to do this. — Barbara Ehrenreich, on Facebook

The revenge vote is going to be strong. Four decades of slump is a long time to have been keeping a lid on the growing rage. Hillary Clinton will never understand it.

02.08.16

Obscured by the mists of time…

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Virus Creation Labs at 2:04 pm by George Smith

Over the weekend a number of news organizations ran with short stories on the Malware Museum at the Internet archive, a listing of some old MS-DOS computer viruses that came with visual or audio effects. The hook is you can now view these old programs without endangering yourself.

True, but only in a sideways manner. MS-DOS viruses were 16-bit. They don’t run on modern systems. And even when you are free to download them (working DOS and boot sector virus code is still archived widely around the web), your browser will stop you first (Chrome in particular), Windows Defender second, and your installed anti-virus program, third.

So what’s been done at the Internet archive is the piping of the screen effects of some old computer viruses, shown by old MS-DOS programs made to do just that and run in DOSBox, a set of programs that allows you to run old 16-bit PC programs on a variety of modern platforms. (Mostly, DOSBox was made so you could play old and obsolete games.)

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, the programs on-line at the Malware Museum were typically made by anti-virus researchers. The resulting screen displays make much of it clear. Often what was done was a surgical removal of the display code, or an emasculation of those parts of the virus responsible for replication and the destructive part of the payload, rendering the code inert.

What is and was lost in most of the short pieces on the matter is that the old PC viruses with visual or sonic activations did not give you the entertainment all the time, or sometimes even very frequently. They were set to various triggers, date or time counts. The reason for that, generally speaking, was simple.

The virus that gave itself away with a performance trick was a virus that was going to be removed.

In the early Nineties I wrote a file virus called Acme. It searched out .exe files on your hard disk and copied itself beside them, taking their name, except as a .com program, taking advantage of the DOS operating system rule that when the name of a program was given, the operating system would load the .com version of it in preference to the .exe. This guaranteed Acme would execute before the file it was a mimic for.

When Acme could find no more programs to infect it would play a few musical notes in an endless loop. This guaranteed it was always discovered. And, eventually, I got a call from some kid who had infected the family’s PC, which would now do nothing but play music. The virus was easy to take off a system without harm once you knew what it was.

All the programs at the Malware Museum date from the very late-Eighties and early Nineties. The displays are from file-infecting viruses and boot sector viruses, the latter which were the most easily and widely spread. The reason again was simple: Vectors. Vectors, another word designating how diseases, real world, or digital, are spread.

With old PCs, one vector was shared disks and diskettes. A virus that infected the first sector on them stood the best chance of being spread around. Another vector was infected program files. But infected programs, or utilities, apps they’re called today, were only effective in spreading computer disease if they came in contaminated packages or shareware, the latter of which was largely distributed online, often through networks connected by telephone lines.

So when an old virus infected diskette or floppy was left in your PC overnight until you turned it on the next morning, the first thing that happened was that your hard disk was infected. And after that, every subsequent data disk put in the machine was contaminated and able to spread the program.

One story on the Malware Museum reads:

The good news is that you can peruse a pretty sizable collection in the Malware Museum now without worrying that they’ll wreck your machine. Like the night-forgotten PC games it has collected over the years, the malware plays within browsers. To a point, they’re even somewhat interactive …

Like The Next Web notes, some of them are even kind of gorgeous in their own spartan way now that they’ve been pacified.

The last part’s stretching it.

And the graphic chosen shows one of the displays, clearly labeled as a virus demonstrator.

Now comes the good part, personal history.

When I was doing the old Crypt Newsletter in prep for The Virus Creation Labs book twenty some years ago, I wrote computer viruses and included them in the former.

And one of the issues of the old newsletter delivered a set of programs called Urnst’s Scareware. It was a set of four of the common virus displays, sans all the crap that warned users they were just virus simulators.

Urnst’s Scareware is still available on the net. And the programs are labeled as computer viruses, although they are not.

Here they are.

If you try to download the file your browser will get in the way. Danger! Danger!

Even if you bypass the warnings, Chrome will snatch the download away from you, forcing you to call up its downloads “history” and “recover” the file. At which point it plaintively asks if you want to get hurt, “plenty.”

Even if you say yes, Windows Defender will then take the download off you.

And then you must call up Defender and turn it off for a minute. (This, in and of itself, is a bit amusing if you know the history of anti-virus and Microsoft. When Urnst’s Scareware was distributed Microsoft Anti-virus was about the worst anti-virus program, ever. It was a sort of crippled version of a program offered by Central Point, a company that was bought and killed by Symantec in the mid-Nineties. Today, however, Microsoft is very much better at anti-virus. Windows Defender is actually good.)

However, you can also view what Urnst’s Scareware did here. Auf Deutsch.

On display, the effects for the Den Zuk boot virus, the Ping Pong and Cascade viruses. Not included, the Jerusalem virus payload mimic, which instigated a minor system slowdown and a slight disruption of the old ASCII screen with a small empty patch.

Finally, the reason why I made Urnst’s Scareware. So you could scare people without hurting them! Not all of the programs in the Crypt Newsletter were quite so benign.

So you think you’re pretty hot stuff when it comes to tech, huh?

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