01.31.11

Would I still know that guy?

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 5:06 pm by George Smith

The Inquirer must be putting its old record reviews on-line.

I had forgotten it had actually reviewed the Highway Kings’ Arrogance album in 1986.

By Ken Tucker, along with a review of Alice Cooper’s Constrictor and Stacy Q:

DICK DESTINY AND THE HIGHWAY KINGS Arrogance (Destination Records, 1216 W. Cumberland St., Allentown, Pa. 18103 * * * ): It’s less arrogance than devotion that compels Dick Destiny to sing – his howl nearly drowns out the real reason to listen to this record, i.e., the guitar playing, which for all I know may be done by Dick Destiny (lack of credits on the album jacket there, Dick). Anyway, the lead guitarist knows his way around everything from blues to heavy metal and doesn’t condescend to either genre. If the lyrics have no purpose other than to hymn rock cliches – the road, love and rock-and-roll its own bad self – the music convinces me that someone in this band is in it for the passion, not the potential for stardom.

If there were any lyrics on it devoted to love, I’m a monkey’s uncle. But hey!

Dept. of Wishful Thinking and Fascinating Fictions

Posted in Crazy Weapons at 11:30 am by George Smith

Via Cryptome, a USAF document, large in size, listing the definitions (and sources thereof) for everything mentioned about non-lethal weapons from the past twenty years. At least.

Although the war on terror has been hard on the efficacy of alleged non-lethal wonder weapons, the crackpot nature of most of them remains vital.

Outside of Tasers (which are demonstrably not non-lethal), tear gases, water cannon trucks, pepper sprays, flash bang grenades and beanbag ammo loads, non-lethal weapons ‘science research’ has been virtually a complete zero, from worthless gadgets to pure fictions except in the minds of developers and wishful thinkers.

One of the best examples is the never-ending story of the pain ray. In development for at least a decade, touted as a revolution in military affairs and on network tv, it was taken to Afghanistan and brought back — silently — without firing a shot.

Back at the work of shooting reporters for the sake of regular news stories, a variant of it is being peddled into prisons where targets can’t retaliate against it.

“Non-lethal Weapons: Terms & References” contains more non-lethal weapon arcana than you can shake a bundle of sticks at.

Produced by the US Air Force’s Institute for National Security Studies in Denver, Colorado, it indirectly affords a look at the large industry devoted to making shit that really doesn’t work. But which makes for delightful storytelling.

Some of the examples:

Barrier Foam, Sticky: A name given to a polymer-based superadhesive agent … It is extremely persistent and is virtually impossible to remove without a liquid solvent which has a pleasant citrus odor … Sticky foam came to public attention on February 28, 1995 when US marines used it in Mogadishu, Somalia …

Most Americans remember Somalia from Black Hawk Down.

The use of sticky foam in Somalia is a type of rewrite of history, one of very thin sourcing, in this case notably, Sid Heal, a commander in the LA County Sheriff’s Department who spent a career promoting non-lethal weapons. To little effect. For example, unless DD has missed something, sticky foam never made an appearance in southern California.

In fact, after fifteen years in southern California, evien with a cheerleader like Heal in law enforcement the entire time, use of prosaic non-lethals is just what you’d expect. Tasers, beanbag loads and beating people up through weight of numbers. And a few years ago a judge was reprimanded for famously shocking a defendant, bound in an electrocuting truss, for trying to speak up too much in court.

Sticky foam, however, is well-known for having been used on the Incredible Hulk in the first movie, directed by Ang Lee. Where it failed spectacularly.

Another fascinating reference from non-lethal cracked pottery:

Biotechnical, Pheromones: The chemical substances released by animals to influence physiology or behavior of other members of the same species. One use of pheromones, at the most elemental level, could be to mark target individuals, then to release bees to attack them. This would result in forcing them to exit an area or abandon resistance.

Apparently, bees were wished for in 1995. Earlier this decade, bomb-sniffing bees were thought to be something that might be useful in Iraq.

However, bees have proven stubbornly unsuitable for general use by police forces and the US military. Poor bees. It wasn’t their fault.

Also scintillating, this bit of fantasy, beloved for years:

Reactant, Liquid Metal Embrittlement: Agents operate by altering the molecular structure of base metals or alloys and could significantly interfere with the operation of aircraft, vehicles, metal treads and bridge supports to which they were applied …

Reactant, LME Graffiti: Graffiti used to mask an LME strike against a bridge or other target. Great potential for terrorist use. Example: Phone call to law enforcement stating than an LME strike has been used against one of a number of bridges in a city using red LME graffiti.

Good thing it doesn’t exist or LA would really be in trouble.

Full of the intriguing rubbish of non-lethal fact and mythology, “Non-Lethal Weapons: Terms and References” — is here.

The poor sod

Posted in Ricin Kooks at 9:13 am by George Smith

UPDATED

Over the course of the war on terror DD has seen US white men banged up regularly for the sin of being ricin kooks.

No matter how much print is on the web indicating that it’s unwise, from a legal standpoint, to pound castor seeds, they do it.

And if they then run into the law in any way, even though they’re not really interested in terrorism — just fools, they get sent over for it.

Just before the weekend, this sad item from exurban Ohio:

The FBI has announced the substance found in a Coventry Township home was ricin.

The Akron office of the FBI received a tip on Monday about a possible hazardous substance at a house in the 2000 block of South Main Street. The next day, the FBI’s Hazardous Materials Response Unit from Quantico, Virginia and the FBI’s Pittsburgh Hazardous Response Team searched the home.

According to a news release from the FBI on Friday, FBI labs confirm the hazardous substance was ricin, which can be deadly if ingested or inhaled . The toxin is derived from the castor bean.

The FBI said during a news conference Friday that an arrest has made and 54-year-old Jeffery Levenderis, of Coventry Township, will appear in Akron federal court on Friday.

Levenderis used to live at the house and another person was in the process of moving in. He faces one count of having a dangerous or toxic substance. Authorities do not believe this has any connection to terrorism.

Castor seed powder in a jar, no matter how small or old, means a prison sentence.

The prosecution generally argues that turning castor seeds into powder is a significant step in trying to make a ricin weapon, even though it only changes the state of the stuff, not being any kind of purification.

Juries accept it. Judges accept it. Go to jail, hopefully for not too long.

There was a time in this country, not really too long ago, when the castor seed mill was a part of renewable industry.

Castor seed mills were not regarded as things turning out potential stock for WMDs. And they were not lethal places to work.

The war on terror rewrote that history in the US. Castor seeds are now a fearful evil unless they are attached to the decorative plant.

White guys, here is a public service announcement:

Don’t pound those castor seeds. Whether it’s intellectual curiosity or a desire to arm yourself in self-defense via a stupid recipe found on the Internet or in The Poor Man’s James Bond, if the police run across you, the FBI and/or Homeland Security get called. Local hazmat teams show up. Then it gets really ugly.

Thanks and a tip o’ the hat to RMS.


White US ricin kooks are deadeningly predictable. To a man they seem to believe the’ve found something really interesting on the Internet. However, what they’ve actually found is a terribly stupid way to guarantee jail time.

From the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper:

A federal affidavit alleges Jeffrey Levenderis boasted of making ”weaponized” ricin 10 years ago and told FBI agents he took up the challenge because he heard ”90 percent of persons who tried to make ricin died trying and he wanted to see if he could do it.”

The affidavit says officials were tipped off about the ricin by Robert Coffman, a former police officer who is buying Levenderis’ foreclosed home and became the suspect’s confidant …

”Levenderis stated that he used acetone, as well as coffee filters and turpentine, to make the ‘poison,’ ” according to the affidavit. ”Levenderis further stated that he used a plant extract that was green with seeds on it while wearing yellow dish-washing gloves.”

The affidavit said he also used plastic sheeting, a mortar and pestle, protective clothing and glass jars. He got the plant from a local nursery.

The document said ”he had produced a high-grade, weaponized ricin. When asked what made the ricin ‘weaponized,’ Levenderis stated that the ricin had been ground down to a fine powder for airborne delivery.”

This is the famous Internet/Kurt Saxon recipe from The Poor Man’s James Bond, one that’s been responsible for sending white guys over for pounding castor seeds and washing them with acetone for virtually twenty years.

On the back of Saxon’s book:

“It is your right to share with enemies, the knowledge contained in this wonderful book. It is completely legal to sell it or buy it. If it were not so, I would have told you.”

To which one might add: If you’re a reader acutely interested in the stupid ricin recipe, you’ll be completely legal when you’re sharing a jail cell. If it were not so, I would tell you.

Again, thanks to RMS.

01.30.11

Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein

Posted in Phlogiston, Rock 'n' Roll, Stumble and Fail at 10:55 am by George Smith


Good news, lads! Good news! Uh… never mind.

From the Guardian:

Top executives at Goldman Sachs collected a bumper increase in pay and bonuses last year in defiance of public opinion, and despite a 38% slump in the bank’s profits …

Regulatory filings also reveal the bank’s chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is in line for an astonishing 233% increase in his basic pay in 2011, which rises from $600,000 to $2m.

Blankfein last year was paid free shares worth nearly $13m, up from $9m in 2009, indicating that City and Wall Street remuneration is rising despite pleas by international regulators and politicians for financiers to show restraint.

From my apartment, in honor of such achievement, the tune Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein.

Intro hacked and chopped from Charlie Rose interview with Mr. Blankfein.

He’s doing God’s work. And how to rhyme “He is so great, he works late on money and capitalism …”

01.27.11

For the amusement of federal government workers everywhere

Posted in Cyberterrorism, Stumble and Fail at 12:00 pm by George Smith

An opinion piece that was solicited by Federal Computer Week back in December:

They’re everywhere — employed by government, the military and corporate America. And because we have come to the point that the United States is considered by some to be a bad global actor — whether you share that point of view or not — the government is faced with a problem it cannot solve. Its exposure is thought by many to be deserved.

In this new reality, as in nature, a vacuum is abhorred. The mainstream media no longer fulfills the role of speaking truth to power. It opened the door for [Julian Assange] and WikiLeaks.

The rest in “Get Used to the WikiLeaks mindset” is here. Including an amusing pic of yours truly.

01.26.11

Made in USA: Do the Wrong Thing

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 12:06 pm by George Smith

The idea that American big business can relied upon as some manner of trusted partner in setting the nation right now seems laughable. And it’s why it’s annoying to see the president’s continued attempts to assuage corporate ire, as if it will make a difference.

Note this story on CEO whining in the Wall Street Journal. US regulations are onerous. The environment is uncertain. Et cetera.

In continuation of the coverage of various US shortfalls, most recently in production of strategic materials, it is illuminating to look at the recent history of the Mountain Pass rare earth mining operation, once owned by Chevron, the energy giant with the new slogan — human energy.

By 2002, rare earth mining in the US was finished. Chevron owned Mountain Pass and had stopped operation.

However, by 2007 the company was making a big noise about starting it up.

“[Chevron wants] to be part of the rare earth mining industry once again … ” reads the press release.

In review, this appears to have been gold-plated bullshit, an attempt to feather-bed the operation for a future sale.

A local newspaper continues from 2007:

[A Chevron rep] said the mine, which has one of the world’s largest deposits of the element Neodynium, was last used in 2002. Neodynium is needed to create powerful magnets used in miniature electronics such as MP3 players and hybrid-vehicle engines, demand for which is rapidly growing, Knoepfle-Thorne said.

The price of the product was (once) very, very low. It just wasn’t economical to mine, she said.

Currently the company is extracting the rare elements out of a supply of previously stored ore at the site. Mining operations of new deposits of the elements could begin in the coming months and years, Knoepfle-Thorne said.

The military is also a major user of the elements for everything from jet engines to Patriot missiles, she said.

All bathwater. By 2008 Chevron had sold the mine to a consortium which included — surprise — Goldman Sachs. The consortium was renamed Molycorp.

A notice reads:

Chevron Mining Inc. today announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell its Mountain Pass rare earth mining operations to Rare Earth Acquisitions LLC. The transaction is expected to close in late September, 2008.

REA is a special purpose company owned by Resource Capital Funds, Pegasus Partners IV, LP, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Traxys North America LLC and Carint Group LLC. Included in the acquisition is the Molycorp name and upon closing, the company will be renamed Molycorp Minerals LLC.

If readers can see any visible corporate interests dovetailing with US national interest in clean energy innovation and/or restoring an American position in materials mining vis-a-vis the rest of the world, they’re better than I am.

However, if you’re only interested in short term profits based on cannibalization, offshoring, sales to Wall St. speculators and everything-must-go strategies …

Here’s a statement from the company’s page on its mining operations in the US:

Chevron also operates a molybdenum mine in Questa, N.M. Molybdenum is primarily used as an alloying agent in steel. We have scaled back development and production plans at Questa due to the dramatic price drop in the molybdenum market.

We continue to build on our record of safety. The Questa Mine was honored with the 2009 Underground Metal/Nonmetal Safe Operator of the Year Award and the 2009 Safety Innovator of the Year Award from the New Mexico Mining Association in cooperation with the New Mexico Bureau of Mine Safety.

Scaled back. Not profitable enough.

“Molybdenum production is concentrated in a relatively few countries, with China, the USA and Chile accounting for 80 percent of total world production in 2009,” reads this informative report.

“US production historically dominated world molybdenum production but as it declined Chilean output increased. Chinese molybdenum production was the largest in the world from 2002 to 2004 but declined in 2005 due to government-enforced mine closure. It then more than doubled between 2005 and 2008, to again become the largest in the world. US production, the second largest, rose steeply in 2004 and 2005, but is estimated to have fallen sharply in 2009.”

Chainsaw Rally

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll, Ted Nugent at 10:13 am by George Smith


Good news, lads! Good news! I heard Ted just landed the role of ‘Howard’ in the remake of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Based upon Ted’s well known misadventure with a chainsaw , DD provides for your entertainment this Yankovic-ization of Cat Scratch Fever — Chainsaw Rally.

“It bit in my foot with a stroke of my hand …”


Intro copped from FZ and the Mothers of Invention.

Keywords: Ted Nugent, Love is Like a Chainsaw

Mentafacturing vs Manufacturing

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 9:08 am by George Smith

mentafacturing: A pompous term for bullshitting, especially the variety associated with flacking for your offshored business, the innovative quality of cellphone applications, Facebook and/or American exceptionalism.

Usage: Mentafacturing replaced manufacturing as the primary export of American business resulting in a startling trade deficit disaster as well as mass unemployment.
— updated from the Joseph K Guide to US Tech Terminology

On SOTU — we got our Sputnik moment.

When Sputnik went up Bethlehem Steel still existed in Pennsylvania. There was a garment industry in Schuylkill County, where DD was born. And my father worked at the biggest aluminum extrusion facility in the world at the time, located in Cressona, PA.

Almost all of that is gone.

The United States was uniquely poised to take on the Soviet Union in 1957.

It is not in the same condition now. For one, the threat facing the country, as described so nebulously in the SOTU speech, is not an external one. The threat is of our own making.

The President did not address such challenges — the dilemma presented by American big business with no interest in American labor. Or the fact that US corporate goals no longer coincide with the goals of national renewal or providing security and a fruitful environment for the middle class.

Obama talked about investment in the future while announcing a freeze on domestic spending.

He talked about producing more science and math teachers without mentioning who would pay for them. Or what we would do with them given the fact that, even with science and math teachers, the subjects just can’t be taught in any realistic sense in US schools, as they stand now. And that a high school education that includes science is currently of no interest to the US job market.

One does not need any science education to assist in warehousing retirees, clean up unsanitary conditions, or be a cashier in retail selling goods all made in China. There is no demand for science and math in these growth “professions.”

Seriously. Science and math education in high school presumes there is serious desire and capability to move students into a college education career track that will build upon it, an educational trajectory that takes a long time and a lot of money. Unless I’ve gone completely out of my mind, that’s not the US in 2011.

Obama spoke of NASA and the space program, which was underwritten by the taxpayer — government spending (!) — without mentioning any idea of similar application for the present.

Here’s one.

Given the posts in this blog on the loss of capability in production and mining of strategic materials in this country. And their role in the development of clean energy futures globally, the President might have said the US will get back into the business of rare earth materials mining in a big way.

The President might have said he was setting up a government agency to take over the Mountain Pass mine from the private sector and to move ahead immediately in opening others like it.

The government would remain in the business, as with the developing space program after Sputnik, in order to guarantee use, demand and market for these strategic materials.

It would behave like China in this matter, aiming to eventually compete directly with that country, even to the point of subsidizing the production of the materials, knowing that in the very long term, the resulting jobs, technology and — ahem — innovation, might indeed have a big payoff.

That’s one example. But nothing like it was heard.

01.25.11

Dept. of Make Stuff Up

Posted in Crazy Weapons at 10:35 am by George Smith

It’s not uncommon to see stories on the US military filled with material that appears to not even have the slightest connection with reality.

So yesterday, when I was passed a journo query as part of the repping I do for GlobalSecurity.Org, it was quickly realized we’d run into one of those instances.

This concerns the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer.

The make-stuff-up part can be illustrated by simply republishing the lede grafs from a recent Aviation Week piece by David Fulghum:

A top U.S. Navy official acknowledges that the service’s Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) — designed for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-35 — will feature a network invasion capability.

Such a capability was demonstrated a few years ago by the U.S. Air Force, which created a focused datastream with its EC-130 Compass Call aircraft that could be filled with invasive algorithms and fired into the antenna of an integrated air defense system and its wirelessly connected missile launching vehicles. The effects on the enemy network were monitored by an RC-135 Rivet Joint. This network invasion effort was known as “Suter.”

The consensus view, as the mail went back and forth between Globalsec and your host was that the alleged capability, also reported briefly by others, was bullshit.

The Aviation Week story is four whole paragraphs.

Historically, the claims of the US using, or wishing to use, jammers on aircraft to do “network invasion” go back to close to the first Gulf War. Over the years they’ve also been closely associated with stories about electromagnetic pulsing and those wonderful EMP guns and bombs that never seem to arrive, except in computer games.

There’s never been a shortage of print on the subject.

At the time I edited the Crypt Newsletter and had developed a little joke glossary called the Joseph K Guide to deal with such things, usually centered on claims made by the military, or technology vendors and politicians on the primacy of soon-to-be-here awesome devices.

The old guide, coincidentally brought up by a reader last week, is here.

This old coinage jumped out:

The Daily Crapper: your local newspaper.

Usage: The Daily Crapper featured science and technology reporters who often turned in stories that claimed soon computers would be made of DNA and protein or that by the year 2006 the U.S. Army would defeat enemies through the clever use of telepathy and electric rays.

Another factor that’s worth consideration in such stories has to do with extraordinary claims. In real science, one needs extraordinary evidence to back such claims up. Not just, say, a couple paragraphs or a ten page .pdf file that uses argument from authority.

And this also ties in with Langmuir’s Laws of Pathological Science. Or bad cutting edge science — often practiced by the US military and its many vendors.

The basic tenets of this type of badness are here.

To which one might add the obvious addendum: In the US press, the rightness of a thing is determined by the number of others willing to adopt the same view. Particularly if accompanied by idiotic jargon like, for instance, ‘invasive algorithms.’

And so it’s all rather common for obvious professional reasons.

When reality is too dull, when you’re in hot competition with others who will print anything, or when cable television is full of miraculous shows on dubious cutting edge technology, the strong need to get going.

So go with the made-up stuff.

And if you’re an admiral or a vendor in hot competition for budget dollars, you need to be strong in this area, too.

You know in your heart that it just makes sense.


The Joseph K Guide shows it age — the mid-Nineties. But it’s still worth a couple titters.

To wit:

fictive environment: a new description for psychological operations against an enemy; or, the creation of a world of information fraud surrounding consumers, marks or targets.

Usage: In the mid-Nineties, the business of a significant number of Americans armed with computers became the spinning of fictive environments, the aim of which was to defraud others of cash money.

======

Nugent: Copy editor defeated

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 8:30 am by George Smith

Today’s Nugent is hard to untangle. Other than the virulent opposition to Obamacare, Nugent constructs the argument that it must be aborted because it doesn’t abort abortion.

Buried within it is the conspiracy theory that government coverage of abortion is a strategy to win the votes of liberals and the poor because they allegedly get so many of them.

I was weighing whether or not this is what Nugent really meant. On one hand, it might be just an incidental interpretation — because the copy editor gave up trying to straighten Ted’s prose out.

However, on the other, it’s so inflammatory it’s right in Ted character.

Here’s the heart of it:

The president desperately needs the pro-abortion crowd. He knows they constitute a core base of the Democratic Party, and that he can’t further alienate the extreme left wing who believe in providing shopping carts to the homeless. Even though half of all African-American pregnancies end in abortion, aborted masses of fetal tissue simply doesn’t [sic] matter when there is a re-election campaign to plan. Winning elections at all costs is what really counts.

At their core, liberals have few, if any, moral or ethical principles that matter. They desperately try to spin a good game about so-called reproductive rights, health care, education, crime, illegal immigration, etc., but what liberals really want is more power and control, a principle in line with the commie Three Stooges of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and the deceased Che Guevara.

In other news, Nugent is off the hook in South Dakota on whether he hunted without proper licensing as part of a pep rally for a local Tea Party group.

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