10.19.11

The daily nausea from corporate America and its groupies

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 8:30 am by George Smith

At Google, it’s the I-fart-sunshine crowd, where all the employees and bosses are “rockstars,” apparently because of free hair cuts and one-on-one meeting and shit.

Some excerpts, from a corporate America groupie publication (in case you don’t recall the 70’s — in which case, “Why are you here?” — groupies were the ladies of the road who blew the performers):

To keep employees motivated, agencies need to build a culture of learning, where employees leave more enriched at the end of each day.

A kulchur of learning to enrich you. Please.


Not every project is going to be awesome.


Keeping your rockstar employees on board has always been important, and don’t think that economic uncertainty will keep your employees around. Your company has worked hard to recruit some bright people …

What kind of swine do you have to be to use the word rockstar in reference to employees in corporate America?

Back in the real world, from Steve Lopez at the LA Times, Disney’s “electronic whip,” perhaps vying to displace Jeff Bezos’s warehouse sweat shops as an example of how badly one can treat people before they riot or go to the press:

In the basements of the Disneyland and Paradise Pier hotels in Anaheim, big flat-screen monitors hang from the walls in rooms where uniformed crews do laundry. The monitors are like scoreboards, with employees’ work speeds compared to one another. Workers are listed by name, so their colleagues can see who is quickest at loading pillow cases, sheets and other items into a laundry machine … Isabel Barrera, a Disneyland Hotel laundry worker for eight years, began calling the new system the “electronic whip” when it was installed last year. The name has stuck.


Tom Bray, a bellman at the Disneyland Hotel for 24 years, makes $8.25 an hour, plus tips, which can be unreliable.


By Local 11’s math, when Walt Disney ran the company in 1966, he made 108 times as much as one of his hotel housekeepers. Bob Iger, the current chief executive, makes 781 times as much as a housekeeper.

After making $28 million in total compensation last year, Iger’s base pay was just increased 25%.

I wonder if there’s an electronic whip in Iger’s office.

10.18.11

Corporate science welfare in the homeland security industry

Posted in Bioterrorism, Ricin Kooks at 9:28 am by George Smith

Today, a press release, one of a steady stream from the homeland security industry.

This one on a DHS contract for ricin detection to small business that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for taxpayer money.

Keep in mind the only market for ricin detection is the artificial one created by the rise of powder hoaxing as hobby for the disgruntled white survivalist nut or felon in the United States. And, primarily, that owes much of its existence due to the explosive growth of the homeland security complex, one which has spent the last ten years loudly telling everyone that ricin is easy to make.

The press release, from PositiveID Corporation:

PositiveID Corporation (“PositiveID” or “Company”) PSID
+32.14% , a developer of medical technologies for
diabetes management, clinical diagnostics and bio-threat detection, announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Science and Technologies (“S&T”) division has directed and funded the development of the Company’s immunodetection assay for the identification of Ricin toxin to meet the specific needs that DHS has in securing the nation against biological threats. Ricin, a chemical warfare agent, is derived from the seeds of the castor oil plant Ricinus communis and has become a tool of terrorist groups across the world due to its effortless production and high toxicity.

Straight off there’s a good bit of lying. In ten years, ricin has not been much of a tool for terrorists. Only 22 castor seeds were found in the infamous Wood Green case in 2003.Castor powder cake was found in Iraq, ground after we invaded the country. And — of course — more recently, the rubbish story about potential ricin bombs being made somewhere in the wastes of Yemen.

Over the last decade the overwhelming majority of incidences of ricin in the news come from stories about powder hoaxes or cases where white American loners (and the occasional British neo-Nazi) have decided to grind castor seeds into a mush.

These are the facts. Amply documented in the Ricin Kooks tab at right, over many years.

Consider this: The country can lay off public sector workers en masse — 250,000 teachers. But no expenses have ever been spared for research and development of detection for a “threat” that has killed absolutely no one in the last ten years.

One can now think of this as something of a Ponzi scheme, entitlement spending, or a small but still significant Keynsian jobs program akin to paying people to dig holes and fill them back in the next day. For years.

OWS e-mail spill backfires

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 7:37 am by George Smith

Yesterday my attention was drawn to an Andrew Breitbart publicity stunt on BigGovernment, one in which some nobody advertised as a person of experience in computer security, had infiltrated an Occupy Wall Street mailing list and dumped the contents onto the net.

Posted to Mediafire, it’s purpose was to paint the protesters in a bad light. At one point, a Breitbart come-on for it tried to tie them to an Al Qaeda website, a ludicrous assertion.

I had a look at them. And for those who take the time to sift through the pile a bit, the net effect is the opposite of what the far right hoped for.

They make the people participating look decent and fairly normal. Just as they appear on television.

There is nothing particularly remarkable or outrageous in the spill, just lots of comments, links to various stories, some complaints about media along with praise, advice on where to march and the usual eye-crossing amount of re-quoting of previous messages in the serial presentation.

For example, from my notes:

Oooh. Here’s dangerous stuff. An e-mail telling OWS readers than when talking to reporters “speak about Wall St. and what it does to people.” Run to the police! Subversion!


There’s an e-mail on how to avoid “kettling,” the tactic British police used in London to squash protests into a narrow area. Seems sensible and legitimate use of free speech to me.


Excerpt on the 17th : “everyone hates bankers and corporations … we are demanding the rich pay for this crisis and that we support peace and justice for all races.”


Another excerpt, poignant: “One of the biggest problems I’ve had as an unemployed person seeking work is the ageism rampant in the job market. It is unbelievable how blatant and ubiquitous this is. And I think a larger number of older people would be drawn to an oppositional movement of resistance if that movement did not replicate such ageism … even sought to address this particular problem.”

10.17.11

Chewed me up, spit me out

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 10:01 pm by George Smith

Blow the rust outta yer pipes. Last week, Lee Aaron. This week, Thunder. Too bad the rest of the album wasn’t so dynamite.

Drummer Gary Harry James, or was it Harry Gary James, steals the show.

The “na na na’s” do it every time in a rock song.

F— civility

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 7:48 am by George Smith

One of the primary complaints the defenders of the status quo level at OWS, and any protests in general, is that they’ll lose legitimacy if they dare become uncivil.

Davos Nick Kristof is big on civility. Everyone at the top is.

A writer, Charles Pierce, at Esquire takes up the case for not being civil when dealing with one of the apologists for the plutocracy, Time’s Joe Klein:

Okay, we’re all in trouble when the first encampment of Real Americans that Joe discovers is located tucked away “in an affluent suburb of St. Louis.” (No Real Americans in St. Louis itself? How about East St. Louis? Who am I kidding?) At a time of 15 percent real unemployment in the country, and 8.8 percent officially in St. Louis County, is there a reason why I should care particularly what any of these people think? There are a lot of places where you can find what’s really going on in this country, and an affluent suburb of St. Louis isn’t high on that list. Things fall apart even there, alas, because a local Tea Party blowhard goes off ranting and everybody else runs for the canapes.

There’s nothing else here except a little local more local color, and a nice little moment at the end where Joe picks up a broom and helps a guy sweep up a sidewalk. Oh, and there is a lot of talk about civility in our politics, and how we’d all be much better off if everybody would just stop yelling at each other and agree to… wait for it… a Grand Bargain to solve our nation’s many problems …

And when I hear someone, anyone, appeal for a return to “civility,” I generally run headlong to the door.

This country has faced serious problems before, and it has overcome them, and of all the tools it used to overcome them, “civility” is one of the least significant. The fight against slavery took place in a lot of different arenas, public and private, but in none of them was it civil.

Cue F.I.S.T trailer.

“Sylvester Stallone, the star of Rocky, is Johnny Kovac in F.I.S.T., a Gene Corman production of a Norman Jewison film … F.I.S.T, a motion picture achievement that will be talked about and remembered for years to come!”

Electronic Pearl Harbor! Warns some run of the mill stooge at the Post

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 7:21 am by George Smith


Stuxnet virus compared to Hiroshima atom bomb blast by some tool at the Washington Post.

Today, some run-of-the-mill stooge at the Washington Post, Dominic Basulto, furnishes us with perhaps the ten or thirty thousandth story on “electronic Pearl Harbor” in the last fifteen years.

Go ahead, try and count them. Quite a few are in Google. Your hair will go gray and fall out from the repetition.

It features all the cliches and over-the-top exaggerated claims one would expect in such a thing.

A sampling:

Rest assured, playing havoc with the U.S. power grid would cause more than traffic snarls on Main Street and random power outages — it would be the equivalent of a premeditated attack on U.S. soil. A single cyberattack would be, according to scenarios outlined in the Financial Times, equivalent to 50 hurricanes hitting at once, causing up to $700 billion in damage and crippling the country for weeks. What’s most concerning is that this cyberattack would not necessarily have to be carried out by a sovereign power — it could just as easily be carried out by terrorist cells in a place like Iran or Yemen.


So what would an [an electronic Pearl Harbor] strike on a nation’s infrastructure look like?


Stuxnet was the equivalent of launching a nuclear strike in the digital era. It was the “Hiroshima of Cyber War.”


Dead and injured from the Hiroshima blast = 135,000.

Dead and injured from “cyberwar” = 0.

“I like to think big thoughts that change companies,” reads the Post author’s tagline on Twitter.

The Forever War

Posted in Decline and Fall, War On Terror at 6:51 am by George Smith

60 Minutes went to Afghanistan. Ryan Crocker and a four-star general, John Allen, were the featured sources.

They repeatedly made the case how vital Afghanistan was. Afghanistan, informed 60 Minutes, costs $300 million a day. There were videos of schools being built, fortifications being made, roads being graded. Heavy US equipment was everywhere.

The MRAPs explosive resistant truck has morphed into a gigantic armored beast you’d imagine at home in a science-fiction movie set on a hostile desert planet. It looked invulnerable. It also looked like the very picture of fail.

There were 50 some al Qaeda men left in Afghanistan, 60 Minutes estimated.

Here at home, everything rots except the fortunes of those building MRAPs and providing supply for the war.

“Over the last couple of years, about 250,000 teachers have been laid off back home … ” reporter Scott Pelley said. “The U.S. has 98,000 troops here, plus 40,000 from NATO,” he said a bit earlier.

Ryan Crocker wore a dashing pair of sunglasses inside a helicopter.

There are no encouraging words in the comments section of the posted transcript.

10.16.11

Getting hosed as a badge of honor

Posted in Decline and Fall at 5:11 pm by George Smith

We are forced to eat old shoe leather. And now we like it. All real Americans eat old shoe leather. It’s good for your character.

From ThinkProgress:

In what has become a strange display of American feudalism, people are now contributing messages to Erickson’s 53 Percent site and boasting about being screwed by the economy. As Gawker notes, one 53 Percent post features a man who proudly says that he works hard yet lacks health insurance and can “barely afford” his rent. Another, a “former marine,” says he hasn’t had “4 consecutive days off in 4 years.” Blogger Max Read thinks Erickson has exposed “where the best of American values meet their most masochistic applications.” Reading through the contributions to the 53% site, Read concludes: “‘paid time off’ and ‘health insurance’ and ‘a living wage’ are apparently the demands of an unreasonably entitled parasitic class.”

Drone virus wrap

Posted in Cyberterrorism at 2:25 pm by George Smith

Yours truly from an interview on the drone virus non-story catalyzed by squealers to Wired last week (including a couple nifty quotes, one taken direct from 3-mail):

The U.S.’s fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles may not have been poisoned, after all …

Malware and spyware, Smith argues, have probably been found wherever the U.S. has networked computers involved in killing people.

Smith, who wrote one of the first books on computer viruses in 1994, speaks of Windows viruses in Yugoslavia and Serbia around that time; a virus that burrowed into two laptops on board the International Space Station in 2008 …

“Fighting viruses, by very definition, is reactive. It can never eliminate the problem entirely. There’s always a window.”

There’s more from motherboard.tv at the link.

Pitchforks media (continuing)

Posted in Decline and Fall at 2:03 pm by George Smith


“Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people.”

From the New York Times:

A few even feel personally attacked, and say the Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been in Zuccotti Park for weeks are just bitter about their own economic fate and looking for an easy target. If anything, they say, people should show some gratitude …

Generally, bankers dismiss the protesters as gullible and unsophisticated. Not many are willing to say this out loud, for fear of drawing public ire — or the masses to their doorsteps. “Anybody who dismisses them publicly is putting a bull’s-eye on their back,” the hedge fund manager said.

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