The survivor

Posted in Ricin Kooks, War On Terror at 9:25 am by George Smith

Contrary to American war on terror mythology, castor seeds and ricin don’t make a good weapon. In fact, it is even harder than one might think to achieve simple poisoning.

A recent case of attempted suicide by a 37-year old woman using ricin had a happy ending, of sorts.

Excerpts from the news:

A suicidal North Logan woman who survived poisoning with the deadly ricin toxin earlier this month is getting another break: she will not be criminally charged.

North Park Police Chief Kim Hawkes confirmed Tuesday that the 37-year-old [Utah] woman, who ingested a large amount of ricin-laden castor beans on Oct. 3 in the basement apartment of a home in North Logan, was released from the hospital last week. — Salt Lake City newspaper

Police say around 10:30pm Wednesday night, a women living in a basement apartment at 2270 North 740 East attempted to commit suicide by boiling caster beans. When the woman boiled the beans, she created ricin. The fumes contaminated the home, putting the family of 4 upstairs at risk.

Police say the woman did eat some of the beans and was taken to the hospital. The family living upstairs was also taken to the hospital to get decontaminated from ricin gases. — KUTV

According to North Park Police Chief Kim Hawkes, the woman purchased about 60 castor beans from an Internet website about a month ago. After soaking the beans for 24 hours and then boiling them, the woman ingested about half of them, he said. — Kansas City newspaper

Proteins are denatured by heating. Ricin is a protein. And it is certain that it is destroyed by heat. Boiling the castor seeds is most probably what saved the woman’s life, although she was still hospitalized after eating 30 of them.

Boiling castor seeds does not produce ricin gas. A Hazmat team was summoned. No one except the woman was every really in any danger.

America used to process large amounts of castor seeds. The mills produced dusts and mash containing ricin. Neither killed workers.

In the Ricin Mama video, you can see workers in a foreign country heaving castor seeds into a grinder, the process producing clouds of powder, some of which must contain ricin.

“Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix or the Company), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing products to treat inflammatory diseases and biodefense medical countermeasures (MCMs) where there remains an unmet medical need, announced today submission of a full contract proposal to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases,” reads a press release from Soligenix today, a company that has been paid by the US government for over a decade to produce a ricin vaccine. “Successful award of the proposal would support a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract for the advanced development of RiVax™ as a vaccine MCM candidate for biodefense threats to protect the public.”

Soligenix’ stock is worth $1.94 a share today, down from a high of two dollars and fifty cents about a month ago.

The last refuge of scoundrels

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 8:46 am by George Smith

A variation on the non-denial denial popularized in All the President’s Men, the NSA’s Keith Alexander using “inaccurate” or “factually incorrect” to describe the reporting on Edward Snowden’s agency documents on US cyberspying:

CNN [and] Le Monde contain inaccurate and misleading information regarding U.S. foreign intelligence activities.” — CNN

Many of the media reports on NSA surveillance have been inaccurate, Alexander said. “People do not understand what’s going on,” he said. — Computerworld

The American people are getting left with inaccurate reflection of the NSA’s programs. — FAIR

Many of the media reports on NSA surveillance have been inaccurate, Alexander said. — PCWorld

[The public has] been misled by incorrect media reports about the nature of NSA activities. — The Guardian

[Alexander] flatly denied a slightly garbled account of The Post story as “factually inaccurate” … — CNBC

Although Americans are worried about the NSA listening in on phone calls or reading their emails, this perception is inaccurate, Alexander said. — Law360

[Newspapers] have complicated matters through exaggerated or inaccurate reporting. — OfficialWire



Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 11:41 am by George Smith

It is announced the NSA has broken into the data centers of Yahoo and Google.

“In an NSA presentation slide on ‘Google Cloud Exploitation’ … a sketch shows where the ‘Public Internet’ meets the internal ‘Google Cloud’ where their data resides. In hand-printed letters, the drawing notes that encryption is ‘added and removed here!’ The artist adds a smiley face, a cheeky celebration of victory over Google security.

“Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing.” — The Washington Post, today

Remember all that digital Pearl Harbor stuff? How the greatest economic theft of all time was being conducted by Chinese cyberspies?

How it would be a good idea to rewrite law to allow corporate comsec hackers to strike back on the Internet?


NSA director Keith Alexander, best American general, ever.

“Now 61, Alexander has said he plans to retire in 2014; when he does step down he will leave behind an enduring legacy—a position of far-reaching authority …” reads a piece at Wired earlier this year.

“We jokingly referred to him as Emperor Alexander, because whatever Keith wants, Keith gets.”

When you let the people in the biggest cyberwar machine in history have whatever they want the only thing left is to turn it on everyone.

Which is what has happened. There’s little to add except that Alexander has virtually single-handedly created the perception that people in the US computer security industry (those that work with the government, which is a lot) are untrustworthy, predatory and needing of close oversight.

“You don’t trust your own secret service???? –John Watson “Naturally not. They all spy on people for money.??? — Mycroft Holmes from A Scandal in Belgravia, Sherlock

Black humor. Yesterday, from the sharing economy, a consulting query — the third this year, the same as the first two — in which someone wanted to discuss the risk to electric power generation from foreign cyberattack.


Having never consulted on Maven, only declined because the few projects are from the same person who cuts-and-pastes their requests, I’m rated 3.3 on a scale of 5. (Who knows?! It could be a robot.)

As an online bazaar/aggregation point for human intelligence work, almost every bit as great as Mechanical Turk.


The Ship

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 2:39 pm by George Smith

When a kid I read C. S. Forester’s The Ship, a novel about a Royal Navy light cruiser seeing action in WWII in the Mediterranean. The name of the ship is the Artemis and it’s on convoy escort, part of a force that fights a pitched battle with heavier units of the Italian Navy.

It was a novel of men working together, an oiled human machine, often many of whom didn’t have much to do until action was joined.

How does one relate that to the US’s giant destroyer, the Zumwalt?

Destroyers were light ships, used in anti-submarine warfare and as torpedo-launching platforms in squadrons screening heavy capital warships.

If you read The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour by James Hornfischer, you can thrilled by the actual history of destroyer-men fighting off the Yamato, the biggest battleship ever built, and its Japanese escort of heavy cruisers, in the battle of Samar.

But the Zumwalt is a capital warship, a heavy unit. It makes a hash of the old meaning of the word “destroyer.” (Truthfully, the US Navy trashed the definition of destroyer as a light ship a long time ago.)

In, say, 2017, what will it be like to be on the Zumwalt, sailing the world?

What job will it have when every other navy has given up even slightly competing with the US military because it’s a stupid waste.

Yes, Globalsecurity.Org tells me the British are making an aircraft carrier, and the Japanese want a helicopter carrier, the first big ship in their navy since WWII, and the Chinese have the old Soviet Union/Russian thing they’ve refurbished as their own big ship.

But no one compares with the US Navy. Everyone else is 20 years behind with no hope of rivaling it in heavy combat units. The age of capital ships is gone except for the Department of Defense.

So as the Zumwalt sails the world, a big capital unit with no enemies to fight, what does it do? What’s its function? (Well, honestly, it kept a lot of people in work making it.)

Are the locals impressed by the Zumwalt in ports-of-call? Or do they wonder why the US military has such large and dangerous-looking combat units when a third or half its working population is in poverty?

By 2017 I bet they’ll no longer wonder. They’ll see the scary-looking Zumwalt, something that might occasionally be called upon to shoot a volley of missiles into a very poor and desperate place at midnight. It will be strange, big heavy metal, but standard behavior from a country that’s no longer the center of the world.

The Zumwalt will be a nice thing in the Singapores of the globe, where the navy or the host government can helicopter out wealthy rulers for a show-off ride-along.

When the crew is at home in port, they will be thankful they have a job and a long-term career, if they want to have it. The Zumwalt, even with a crew reduced by automation, is their floating town for the world.

As the US decays in a way unique unto itself, the Zumwalt will be around for awhile, a ship that will always look impressive. While not fourteen thousand tons of diplomacy, it will be entirely capable of fooling many into thinking America’s still king. But only for a moment.

And then the smartphones come on again, and everyone will be able to read the latest bad news from the hinterland or what the next party of extremists is planning to do to everyone else, or something about Wall Street, the Silicon Valley, or other special people.

Behold Zumwalt!

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 8:10 am by George Smith

Fixing mass un and underployment, no can do. Preventing cuts to food stamp/anti-hunger programs, no can do.

But terrifying? Yes, we can really do that.

The Zumwalt, a perfect name, for a giant destroyer, like none other in the world. Six hundred ten feet long, it’s 2/3 the size of the old Iowa class battleships, so where the idea that it might be stealthy came from must be in the minds of the overlords.

“It’s absolutely massive. It’s higher than the tree line on the other side. It’s an absolutely huge ship …” said someone about its trip from dry dock into the water in Bath, Maine. The water rose an inch and a half in the bay. It “features a 155mm ‘Advanced Gun System’ that fires rocket-propelled warheads that have a range of nearly 100 miles.”

And who is it to smite? Somali pirates? That dog won’t hunt, just look at the box office for the Tom Hanks movie about the brave captain. Sail it into port cities in the US to intimidate the locals if social unrest breaks out? Make port calls in nations where the leaders want an impressive tour that will cement their desire to keep buying US arms? It can’t be to cow China because we need them to make all our smartphones and stuff and Apple and Walmart wouldn’t have it.

Behold Zumwalt!


I have it figured out. Someone in the Pentagon secretly wanted a modern American take on the Bismarck.


Post rescue: The Amazing Mr. Bezos

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Psychopath & Sociopath at 10:19 am by George Smith

Did you know that you can be unqualified for even the most elementary and miserly jobs on Jeff Bezos’ Mechanical Turk? Yes, you might be so lacking you can’t even be an automaton.

Proven again and again, you can apply for human intelligence tasks on Bezos’ digital work bazaar, none of which earn over a dollar and most much less, and find yourself unqualified for any number of reasons from demographic data to the general condition of your MTurk profile.

You can apply for jobs that bluntly state they will take anywhere from half an hour to an hour to complete, never for more than a dollar, and be told in menacing terms that if you do not answer correctly all of a number of trick questions embedded in the task to guarantee the worker is paying attention, you will not be paid. If you answer one of these questions wrong, even by mistake, you are dead.

You can figure out the hourly rate of pay yourself.

Bezos’ smiling face is frequently in the news. He’s lauded as someone who bought the Washington Post and will turn his mighty wealthy tech brain to solving the problems of American journalism. However, it is more helpful to remember Bezos’ big accomplishments are the global digital emulation of the Walmart business model and sharing economy sweat-shop operation. Plus, for well over a decade, Bezos has received the sweet deal of a huge government subsidy, delivered in the guise of escape from sales taxes levied on Amazon goods.

Some economists have even calculated the amount. Writes Dean Baker, “Amazon and Bezos effectively got a subsidy from taxpayers of more than $1.7 billion last year … This was a year in which Amazon recorded a small loss.”

Baker states that the subsidy to the Bezos empire dwarfs Amazon’s profits. He goes further, “[Amazon’s] sales tax exemption vastly exceeds the company’s cumulative profits. This raises the question of whether Amazon would even exist today without the generosity of taxpayers in being willing to subsidize Amazon’s business.”

Have you ever received such gifts?

What Jeff Bezos tech brain is perfect at is constructing and leveraging networked digital tools for corkscrewing others. Mechanical Turk, boiled down, is nothing more than use of desperation in labor and no oversight in creation of a free-lance workforce not even protected by the faintest concept of a minimum wage.

All of it in turn allows Bezos to turn his wealth to vanity projects, like the expedition that recovered the old Apollo 13 Saturn V engine. There is little that tech industry smarts and innovation cannot accomplish! With 100 more Jeff Bezoses, or maybe twice that, surely America would be an amazing place.

I forgot to mention Bezos is the true blue tech industry libertarian, interested in space flight, space hotels and colonization and the clock that’s supposed to run for thousands of years. Perhaps Bezos should be made Minister of Interstellar Exploration or the Secretary of Global and Forward Thinking Minds.

Remember, Kindle, the best thing since the vaccine for polio, too.

On Mechanical Turk Bezos invented the ineradicable “rejected” black mark for twenty cent jobs which fail to please the employer. He invented one click shopping on Amazon. In addition, he has Amazon running two tax avoidance/profit shifting shell companies in Luxembourg or Lichtenstein, one of the L’s.

He helped create the industry for fake book reviews. And this is a remarkable chart of Bezos’ great success, becoming one of the country’s wealthiest tech men while constantly losing money. It is surely worth a Nobel prize.

Originally, from Statista.

First published on my Facebook timeline. Go there, no one comes here.[1] There are more comments, readers and participation. Computer troubles have made blogging difficult.

1. Yep, Facebook is still a world of suck. But to paraphrase something from the Matrix, there are diminished conditions we’re willing to endure.

The best and the brightest: Hack to save corporate America!

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 10:03 am by George Smith

Young hackers to rescue corporate America from cybersabotage!

In five minutes PBS delivers every cliche written in the last quarter century about the genius and talent of young hackers and how they’ll change the world.

We must allow offensive corporate computer security so good guy young hackers can hack attack the bad guys back. This is the prescription of the a NSA man, Stewart Baker, doing public outreach for his old agency, perhaps to distract from the news that his boss and our gov were bugging Angela Merkel and everybody else. As p.r. for the greatness of hacking, computer security and young computer-savvy minds, it’s the pits. And as journalism at a time when its revealed that the National Security Agency has been into everybody worldwide, it’s major fail.

But the message is it’s time to allow our hacker trainee army off the leash to pwn enemies as only they can!

Having been raised in modern networked America and knowing of no world but the digital, their genes are mutated and more DNA packed, their minds quicker, their digital senses honed to sharpness we cannot hope to rival. We are the past, they are the future, so onward and forward, hopefully not downward.



STEWART BAKER (ex-NSA, now through revolving door into private sector security): They can steal your designs. They can steal your– knowhow. They can steal your customer list and your internal analysis of what the biggest problems are in your product. This is pretty scary.

RICK KARR: The bad guys are mostly working from China and former Soviet states. They’re well-trained … Security experts worry that they could cripple the banking system … or shut down parts of the electric grid. Baker says … American businesses need a new mindset if they’re going to defend themselves.

STEWART BAKER: I’m a big believer that– the best defense is an offense. And– if we’re going to have an offense– we’ve got to have people who are really talented drawn to that field.

RICK KARR: People like these college undergraduates, who just might be able to save America’s corporations and governments from the bad-guy hackers: They’re students at Carnegie Mellon University …

But who’s going to save everyone from you?

Read the entire interview and note the journalist asking the NSA lawyer, wouldn’t allowing corporate hackers to conduct offensive operations in cyberspace be illegal?

Replies Stewart Baker, “Unfortunately, it is.”

Best idea and journalism subject ever: Young hackers being trained in attack response for the sake of corporate America.

Provoking nausea is the new black.


Of what use comment?

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 9:05 am by George Smith

Water is no longer H20, electricity does not exist, and the sun is about to expand as a red fireball when John McAfee is asked to fix the US government’s healthcare.gov site by Republicans.

Ted Nugent is now the campaign manager for a secessionist/extremist/anti-abortion crusader running for the Texas lege. They both support shooting feral hogs. No way, a link. And now you know one of the reasons Nugent got a haircut.

Technical note: The computer doesn’t really work here anymore and cannot be replaced.

To repeat an observation.

Did you know that you can be unqualified for even the most niggardly tasks on Jeff Bezos’ Mechanical Turk?

Proven again and again, you can apply for human intelligence tasks, none of which earn over a dollar and most much less, and find yourself disqualified for any number of reasons from demographic data to the general condition of your MTurk profile.

You can apply for tasks that bluntly state they will take anywhere from half an hour to an hour to compete, for never more than a dollar, and be told, in menacing terms, that you will not receive compensation if you do not answer correctly all of a number of trick questions embedded in the task to guarantee the worker is paying attention. If you answer one of these questions wrong, even by mistake, you will not be paid. A dollar, or much less.

You can figure out the hourly rate of pay yourself.

Jeff Bezos’ bald grinning face is frequently in the news, now lauded as someone who bought the Washington Post and will, allegedly, bring his mighty wealthy tech brain to solving the problems of American journalism.

It is more helpful to remember Bezos’ big accomplishments are the global digital emulation of the Walmart business model and sharing economy sweat-shop operation.

Plus, for well over a decade, Bezo received the sweet deal of a huge government subsidy, delivered in the guise of escape from sales taxes levied on Amazon goods. (Some economists have even calculated the amount — Google.)

Did you ever receive such gifts?

You can tell the character of the company you keep if or when they speak of the wizard of Amazon.


New America snob culture — folkie guitars for six figures

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 2:29 pm by George Smith

There are no Holy Grails or epiphanies to be had in Nazareth, PA. It is not a town of treasure or import. Trust me. Been there many times. The Highway Kings rehearsed in a Pleasant-Valley-Sunday-style tract home in Nazareth. But over the weekend the New York Times ran a piece on another bifurcation in New America’s Culture of Lickspittle, in this case, the acoustic guitar, a musical instrument designed to be cheap and for everyone to play, now something domestically made as a collector’s item for the wealthy and their upper middle class shoe-shiners who haven’t yet been obsoleted.

The genesis and use of the acoustic guitar in this country does not lie in the heart of the aristocracy.

However, like everything else in the society that has two tiers, the very rich and the poor and getting poorer, if one is to survive making a material good in America, you must evolve it into a snob artisan commodity.

And that’s where Martin Guitars of Nazareth, PA, and the New York Times come in.

From this weekend:

NAZARETH, Pa. — For guitar aficionados, a visit to the C. F. Martin & Company factory is akin to a religious experience. They talk in reverential tones about the handcrafted instruments that have been coming off the production floor here for more than 150 years, even referring to certain models in online discussion forums as “the Holy Grail??? of the acoustic guitar.

The reason for this unintentionally laugh-out-loud news is a coffee table book on Martin guitars, Inventing the American Guitar, and the exhibit of them at the Metropolitan.

“The text of the book, which is in coffee table format, is supplemented by lush color photographs of the guitars themselves, many of them close-up shots that highlight design features or the sheen or grain of the wood that Martin used,” informs the Times’ reviewer, Larry Rohter. “The effect is similar to that of viewing a Georgia O’Keeffe painting that magnifies the stamen of a flower or part of a cow skull …”

The quality of praise arcs ever upward:

“We’re seeing the appreciation of these things as objects, not just as tools, which is why you’re seeing them in an art museum,??? Arian Sheets, the “curator of stringed instruments at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota” told the newspaper.

“[Classic] Martins can sell for well into six figures, reflect how these vintage instruments — including the banjos, ukuleles and mandolins that the company has also manufactured at various times in its history — are being elevated to the status of works of art.”

New Martins cost between $1,000 and $11,000.

Like Fender Musical Instruments, Martin almost went out of business in the Eighties. Bad management and the emergence of dance, disco. and rap/hip-hop hurt the company’s market, reducing production at its lowest point to 3,000 instruments in a year.

A bit over a decade ago the American guitar instrument split into two divisions. One made cheap instruments that people could still afford to buy by scrapping their old factories and moving production to Mexico, then China. The other half, much smaller in terms of manufacturing floor space and workers employed, devolving into “custom shops” providing domestically made snob-priced instruments for musicians with recording contracts and lawyers and bankers who might have played in crappy bands in their college years, now with greatly expanded disposable incomes.

Like Martin acoustic guitars, domestically made electric guitars became investments, paradoxically priced out of the purchasing range of most of the employees now pushing them on show room floors.

Woody Guthrie’s acoustic guitar had a sticker. It read “This Machine Kills Fascists.” Now they should could come with an update: These machines are for corporate fascists.



Evidence of failed state

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Psychopath & Sociopath, WhiteManistan at 8:29 am by George Smith

Last week:

“The president should schedule town meetings in the districts of the most radical Republicans … He will certainly face vitriol … He will show that he doesn’t write off any American, even those who demonize him. This will be far more powerful than going to friendly audiences for staged events — and it will make clear to independents that he can break out of the usual partisan script.??? –Peter Liu, CNN pundit

The upside of the spectacle is that with these photos, the Tea Party fucked the dog in front of everyone, dragging the Republican Party along. The entire tribe’s now fit for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The WhiteManistan photo collection.

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