I’ve been overcome by the support readers have given me and Escape from WhiteManistan blog over the holiday. It has been wonderful. It compels me to say, and more later, that I’ll strive to keep giving you the high standard, or at least idiosyncrasy, you’ve come to expect.
As with all the rest of the on-line labors of love, blandishments in my mail box, time is running out on the year. It’s still possible to throw in a few pennies.
Whether or not, I still wish you a Happy New Year!
Make sure you see today’s final rundown of rant and analysis. And do read “Slap Shot and the 40 year slump.”
Longer than the standard post, I spent time on it trying to make it a little more special.
60 Minutes, infamously:
John Miller: Could a foreign country tomorrow topple our financial system?
Gen. Keith Alexander: I believe that a foreign nation could impact and destroy major portions of our financial system, yes.
John Miller: How much of it could we stop?
Gen. Keith Alexander: Well, right now it would be difficult to stop it because our ability to see it is limited.
One they did see coming was called the BIOS Plot. It could have been catastrophic for the United States. While the NSA would not name the country behind it, cyber security experts briefed on the operation told us it was China. Debora Plunkett directs cyber defense for the NSA and for the first time, discusses the agency’s role in discovering the plot.
Debora Plunkett: One of our analysts actually saw that the nation state had the intention to develop and to deliver, to actually use this capability– to destroy computers …
So the BIOS is a basic input, output system. It’s, like, the foundational component firmware of a computer. You start your computer up. The BIOS kicks in. It activates hardware. It activates the operating system. It turns on the computer.
This is the BIOS system which starts most computers. The attack would have been disguised as a request for a software update. If the user agreed, the virus would’ve infected the computer.
John Miller: So, this basically would have gone into the system that starts up the computer, runs the systems, tells it what to do.
Debora Plunkett: That’s right.
John Miller: –and basically turned it into a cinderblock.
Debora Plunkett: A brick.
John Miller: And after that, there wouldn’t be much you could do with that computer.
Debora Plunkett: That’s right. Think about the impact of that across the entire globe. It could literally take down the U.S. economy.
John Miller: I don’t mean to be flip about this. But it has a kind of a little Dr. Evil quality– to it that, “I’m going to develop a program that can destroy every computer in the world.” It sounds almost unbelievable.
Debora Plunkett: Don’t be fooled. There are absolutely nation states who have the capability and the intentions to do just that.
John Miller: And based on what you learned here at NSA. Would it have worked?
Debora Plunkett: We believe it would have. Yes.
From Sherlock, the BBC:
Jim Moriarty, in The Reichenbach Fall: “You don’t really think a few lines of computer code are going to crash the world down around our ears, do you? I’m disappointed, I’m disappointed in you, Sherlock …
“I knew you’d fall for it. That’s your weakness. You always want things
to be clever.”
There is old precedent for this. The NSA does have an obscure record of issuing broad claims on how easy it is to crash things in the US, although most would be hard-pressed to put their finger on it.
One example from the past revolved around an NSA-conducted war game, or mock-up penetration test, dubbed Eligible Receiver in 1997. Eligible Receiver was used, by the NSA working through the press, to get out the message that foreign cyberattack could easily be catastrophic for the United States.
It’s now sixteen years beyond Eligible Receiver. No such cyberattacks occurred. However, the old footprint of Eligible Receiver was quite large in the mainstream press.
It is not unfair to look at it as a propaganda campaign, backed up by only small nuggets of truth, the purpose of which was to boost cyberdefense spending. I covered it extensively on the old home page of the Crypt Newsletter.
Here is one of the old NSA claims from Eligible Receiver:
Bob Drogin of the Los Angeles Times invoked the Pentagon ghost story of Eligible Receiver — the secret wargame conducted two years ago [in 1997] which proponents of “electronic Pearl Harbor” insist demonstrated the nation could be flattened by cyberattack.
Drogin wrote: “The [Eligible Receiver] hackers broke into networks that direct 911 emergency systems.”
It was a clear and rather extravagant error.
Appearing in June of 1998 to testify before Congress, Ellie Padgett, deputy chief of the National Security Agency’s office of defensive information warfare spoke of how Eligible Receiver addressed the alleged vulnerability of the 911 phone system.
In a simulated exercise, Padgett said, “we scripted (an) Internet message (that) would be sent out to everybody saying there was a problem with the 911 system, understanding that human nature would result in people calling the 911 system to see if there was a problem.”
The working idea in this part of Eligible Receiver revolved around the hypothesis that many people viewing the message on the Internet in a newsgroup might panic and phone their local 911 trunk, causing a jam-up on the line.
“It can probably be done, this sort of an attack, by a handful of folks working together . . .” Padgett said.
This is an extremely far cry from Drogin’s assertion that the 911 system was broken into by alleged Eligible Receiver hackers. In fact, it has nothing at all to do with breaking into a 911 computer system, whatever that might be.
However, it is consistent, thematically, with the flavor of the mythology propagated on Eligible Receiver …
In fact, during an interview with Crypt Newsletter in the summer of 1998 concerning Eligible Receiver, a Pentagon spokeswoman for the affair asserted “no actual switching systems” were broken into at any time during Eligible Receiver. She went on to say that Eligible Receiver had only simulated these attacks on NSA computer networks set up to emulate potential domestic national systems.
Nevertheless, Drogin also wrote in paragraph two of the Times piece: “In less than three months, the [NSA’s Eligible Receiver hackers] secretly penetrated computers that control electrical grids in Los Angeles, Washington, and other major cities.”
In 1997, this made the grand assumption that Americans were broadly plugged into the internet, read the Usenet and that the result of a toxic post, like old computer virus hoaxes, would cause people everywhere to overwhelm their local 911 trunks.
Trivia note: Edward Snowden was fourteen at the time of Eligible Receiver.
More as the day continues.
Number of people on food stamps in 2013: between 47 and 48 million.
Keith Alexander, directly from the NSA’s web page, as early as 2012:
The ongoing cyber-thefts [by China] from the networks of public and private organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, represent the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.
Why harp on this?
More than anything else it shows the total disconnection between those at the very top of the national security megaplex and everyone else.
Most of the country, at my level certainly, is still struggling with the economic deprivation and outright calamity of the Great Recession. Although corporate America has rebounded nicely, there has been no recovery for most.
And for Keith Alexander and the NSA, as well as the rest of the defense infrastructure, they saw only expansion. How unfortunate for them that Edward Snowden has spoiled it a bit.
Keith Alexander lives in the world of the plutocracy. Cash money for the day isn’t an issue. Bare bones survival isn’t on the menu. Instead, he and the structure have spent much of their time expanding operations and dreaming up threatening stories and messages to be delivered by the shoeshine men in the press, digging around in their big data suck for things which they, in encapsulated isolated delusion, believe threaten the existence of the country.
When one sees and hears the cant from on high about virus threats to the US financial system and the Chinese cyberwar operation being the greatest transfer of wealth in history and you’re left asking for help at Christmas time, believe you me, it really gets under the skin.
In fact, it’s personal. And it should be so for lots of other Americans, if they ever become more familiar with the subject.
Still more to come.
Liquidate your life in the sharing economy
In which the upper crust and their immediate servants not yet rendered obsolete show how bad they are by leveraging the desperate with smartphones swipe-your-finger apps:
Kim Sundy’s husband kept heckling her nonstop to get her Christmas list to him.
“When I hired the puppet, it got him off my back,” she said.
For $15, the Ann Arbor Mich.-based blogger outsourced the problem to a puppeteer on Fiverr.com who created a short video of a puppet rapping her Christmas list …
Then there is the unselfconscious oaf of wealth, “a chief technology officer,” passed off as someone who thinks of himself as a brilliant do-er in the new world.
The assistants, according to Fancy Hands, will do “anything that doesn’t require us to physically go somewhere for you. Anything a smart, patient, Internet-savvy person with a cellphone can conquer,” as long as it is legal. Plans run from $25 a month for five requests to $65 a month for 25 requests.
For Chicago’s Harper Reed, whose storied career has included chief technology officer gigs for Barack Obama’s presidential re-election campaign and Threadless.com, using services like Fancy Hands and TaskRabbit is just plain “economic.”
“I have a very small company. I don’t have enough money to pay a personal assistant,” he said.
The tasks he hands out aren’t exactly ordinary — things like, “Where can I buy a foghorn for my father for Christmas?” along with sourcing vegan Christmas dinners …
The article gets only one person on the other side, someone newly unemployed who has turned to free-lance micro-paying gigs serviced by bike delivery.
“[Kevin Wagner, a] 34-year-old Chicagoan was laid off from his sales job in August and learned on Lifehacker.com that regular people were making extra money by performing odd jobs with TaskRabbit,” reads the Tribune.
“The Loop resident with a bike has picked up several jobs delivering items, and he has acted as a handyman, including assembling a lot of Ikea furniture … Depending on the week and how much time he has, he’ll make $20 to $400 a week at TaskRabbit.”
One suspects the latter figure is an exaggeration, like most quotes from unemployed people reduced to taking gig work in the on-line bazaar. Few want to tell you what they really earn.
For me, Mechanical Turk has been worth, on average, six dollars a week, at best, an occasional nine, never really exceeding 45 cents an hour, which allows you to determine how much time you need to put in to satisfy the whims of the corporate or academic crowd-sourcing chiseler.
In southern California, acting as a delivery man for Task Rabbit would be suicidal. There simply weren’t enough gigs in Pasadena, when I looked at Task Rabbit, to make them in any way profitable. If you bicycled them in town, perhaps almost.
But an auto is necessary for most of southern California, even much of
Pasadena, and the cost of gas puttering here and there for micro-payments being a gofer to the upper class would annihilate most earnings. This, in the same way that Mechanical Turk’s miniscule payments are significantly eaten into by the cost in electricity just to run the computer you do them on.
It is ludicrous to expect anyone to entertain the idea that people can revitalize themselves economically using the petty networking schemes developed by the tech industry under the euphemism of the sharing economy.
It’s aptly described as gig slave and servant labor in which smartphone and network tech do away with the inconvenience of having to house and pay for the food of your servant, pitting the unemployed or poverty-wage underemployed in a struggling economy against each other for the most miserly sums.
If the economic picture were healthy for the average worker, far fewer would even remotely consider taking such work. The outsource-your-vanity-work bidding services exist precisely because we live in a vulture economy.
Liquidating your life through them is no future. None are increasing the size of the economic pie, revealing only the worst (not that you needed to be told) about the people who burble about how great they are in the mainstream press.
And finally, The Disenlightenment rolls on, provenance — WhiteManistan
The stupid become more concentrated.
I’ve been storing up the energy to for a review of “Slap Shot,” the Seventies movie with Paul Newman as the player coach of the Charlestown Chiefs (modeled on the Johnstown Jets) of western Pennsylvania. I have an old videotape and have had it on replay. “Slap Shot” can also be viewed through the lens of America’s forty year slump, a movie framed at the time big business resurrected a devotion to unrestricted preying on its human labor, and — as it turned out — hundreds of millions of future livelihoods.
The backdrop for “Slap Shot” is the perfect picture of it. The steel mill is set to close in “Charlestown,” laying off thousands.
“Ten thousand people put on waivers,” says Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean), the Charlestown Chiefs’ leading scorer, to Paul Newman, as both stand outside the steel mill waiting for a ride from Lily (Lindsay Crouse), Braden’s wife.
“What’s going to happen to them?” Newman, as Reggie Dunlop, the Chiefs’ player/coach asks.
It’s every man for himself, replies Braden.
They realize it’s the end for the Chiefs. No money, no ticket sales. What there are of the fans won’t be spending what they have left at War Memorial ice hockey arena.
Strother Martin plays the general manager and is making phone calls trying to find a new job and people to buy the team’s old equipment.
Newman as Reggie Dunlop gets the idea to revitalize the team for the remainder of the season with a stunt, using three comical brothers to attack the opposition. The matches turn into brawls as the Chiefs snap a losing streak and stomp their flustered opponents.
Newman plants a ludicrous story in the local newspaper, one that intimates the Chiefs are being avidly sought by a buyer in Florida, one who wants to bring the team to a community of retirees who miss old time ice hockey.
The working stiffs of Charlestown come back to Chiefs games for the blood and circus, organizing a pep squad that even follows the squad around to its away matches. The fan hysteria reaches a climax when the Chiefs play in Hyannisport against “the Presidents.”
A Hyannisport lout throws a key ring at one of the Hansen brothers after a goal is scored and the trio assault the crowd, intimidating the locals. The police are summoned. It’s another publicity windfall for the Chiefs.
Paul Newman finally confronts the owner, a wealthy woman who admits the team is making money now that it’s winning but she’s going to kill it, anyway, because her accountant advises the tax write-off would be better for her bottom line.
“Well, we’re human beings, you know,” replies Newman.
He curses, calling her “garbage” for “letting us all go down the drain” when they’re doing better than ever.
She replies: “I don’t think you understand finance.”
I grew up through that systemic result in Pennsylvania.
From the mid-70’s to today, one unrelenting slump.
It never got better. More jobs were always lost. People made less and less money. There were no moments when anything turned around.
Occasionally, because of presidential propaganda, people felt better about it.
Largely, we bought the swill about “trickle down economics,” the need to squash labor unions, that firing thousands of people was “right-sizing” to get lean, mean and efficient, that life would be a different set of opportunities in which you’d go back to school or be trained four or five times, every ten to fifteen years, this so you would fit the workforce of the glorious future!
All convenient lies. And that’s only a fraction of it.
Manufacturing flushed down the toilet
When I was entering college, Alcoa aluminum closed the biggest extrusion plant in the world in Cressona, PA, where my father worked. He escaped lay-off and was transferred to a small soda bottle-cap manufacturing plant outside Lancaster, a three hour drive every day.
The metal-working plants closed. A recession was in full swing when I graduated from college in Reading, PA. There were no jobs so I enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Lehigh.
During the Reagan years, the nation’s economic policies destroyed Bethlehem Steel. The center of Allentown and the south side of Bethlehem turned into slums. I saw it happen. The people voted for the man who was killing their future. So did the rest of the country.
In November, I was invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving and during dinner I sat across the table from a man, my age, who declared Bethlehem Steel had gone out of business because it was “inefficient.” He told me he based this position on having been to one of its plants, one time.
I lived there. Yet that was the type of received wisdom you can routinely hear from Americans who know nothing of the subject except the trivial, making broad statements that it was bad business and everyone had it coming
When you rip the economic heart out of a community it takes a lot down with it.
I went to work for the Allentown Morning Call for a short period.
Advertising revenues, at its owner — Times Mirror, and readership were always in decline.
Losing Bethlehem Steel by no means explained total newspaper weakness but it surely did not help. As with the Chiefs, that so many people had so much less to spend and much less vital economic futures made a difference. A newspaper is a luxury one could forgo, even well prior to the internet, in bad times.
There was a rival to the Allentown Morning Call in Bethlehem. I subscribed to it. It died during the time of the steel collapse.
Newspapers have been going extinct ever since. Once I moved to California, layoffs always, like clockwork every two years, or even more frequently at the Los Angeles Times. An endless river of cutbacks.
However, no matter how people were squeezed or how many were disposed of, the publishers and owners always made more.
A proudly antagonizing pleasure over the annihilation of people was part of the spirit of it. You would have had to been blind not to have seen the corporate joy over the tearing down of so many working people, of the disposition of them into waste-bins with the added insinuation that it was because of the alleged manifold weaknesses in the American worker.
It is an excrescence in character that has come to be seen as both virtuous and normal.
Forty years of slump. Pitiless. Period.
Now it’s the beginning of the end. The cancer is developed, it’s “stage IV,” fully metastasized, everywhere, as a doctor might say. We never wanted to admit this was festering, growing more toxic. Instead, we have always been full of misplaced optimism, slogans, bromides and fix-it patent nostrums on reinvention and revival.
My parents were steeped in it, believing things were getting better all the time, that America was the best, even as bitter proof of the opposite stared them in the face.
How can you tell it’s really bad? It’s an insane question but I’ll humor you.
You can tell it’s almost terminal because the six and seven-figure explainers have taken it up in essays and television shows, even as they have absolutely no skin in the game.
A timely example is Robert Reich, who was part of the American ruling class work over as a piece of the Clinton administration. His movie, “Inequality for All,” got largely great reviews. And he is a fantastic celebrity explainer. But who is he explaining things to?
In the movie, it’s his class at Berkeley. Is that an audience with any exposure to the 40-year slump? Of course not! Americans can’t afford Berkeley in 2013. It’s a school for the offspring of the plutocracy and their immediate most well-paid servants, the latter who just haven’t yet been properly obsoleted.
You should be so lucky to have a camera crew following you around at Cal and for the well-off to laugh at your jokes, eager staff who’ll edit your shit, get financing and a KickStarter campaign going, put it on YouTube and pass it around everywhere because you’re, well, YOU.
Do you have that?
Great message! Wrong messenger. I don’t need to be told it. Neither do you. I already have a good friend who is unemployed, just like me. And others who have either greatly diminished prospects, been fired or who are regularly threatened with lay-offs by bosses who continue to rake more in.
You see, it’s just “[we] don’t understand [American] finance.”
But even the forces of systemic political evil had the last laugh with Reich’s movie. It’s publicity campaign was run over by the shutdown and blanket news coverage of the latter.
But back to “Slap Shot.”
At the end of it American optimism still rules. The Charlestown Chiefs win the championship but are shut down, anyway. Charlestown gives them a parade. For a day it’s all right.
Newman as Reggie Dunlop excitedly tells his ex-wife, a beautician who is leaving Charlestown because there’s no business, that he has a new job as coach of a team in Minnesota.
When he gets there, he’ll bring up “all his guys.” Clueless hope springs eternal.
However, it is still a great movie. View it again. It’s humorous, coarse in a good way, with wonderful ensemble acting. “Slap Shot” rewards repeated watching.
In America, though, for the majority, places like “Charlestown,” Johnstown — in real life, they never came back. The people just had to deal with ever diminishing expectations and opportunity, with slowly but inexorably more crabbed and desperate lives.
Any social contract that existed was shredded by corporatism.
Despising American labor and wishing for only ever larger immediate gain, US business de-industrialized the country, chasing slave labor, or whatever was closest to it, around the globe.
The belief that Americans were a great resource in human capital was made anathema. American labor was something to be crushed in an allied political and business vice.
To corporate America people are good for only two things: Buying stuff and working for as little as possible.
And when they can no longer buy there’s no use for them at all.
We may have believed this country still was showing signs of vitalism, progress and ways forward. But these were illusions, booms for the few, mostly at the top.
If you were in the national security megaplex, you did fine and will continue to do so. During the slump, beating up on piss ant little countries with the biggest military in world history was tremendous business opportunity.
Oil, financialization and Wall Street, even better.
And now, ad nauseam, the tech industry, heavily engaged in writing software, swipe-your-finger “apps,” to take what little everyone else has have left while telling us how inferior we are for not being able to deal creatively and imaginatively with “disruption.”
An old American story, just a different buzzword.
Some day soon, maybe you too will be able to go to work for nothing or next to it, disrupted and atomized by computer code, courtesy of the mechanized all-against-all economy and a civilization [cough] that’s socially bankrupt.
Or you could stay home and drink whatever cheap stuff you can find. Hell, I’ll drink with you.
“Yeah? Well, then normal is fucked.” –Lindsay Crouse as Lily Braden, Slap Shot
Lily Braden, played by Lindsay Crouse, pictured above coming out of the state store, Pennsylvania’s infamous government-run liquor control business, plays the movie as a drunk. She is enraged, trapped in Charlestown, a “goddamn dump,” while her husband Ned is always on the road with the Chiefs. To ease the pain, she gets shit-faced.
Newman/Dunlop concedes the same thing happened to his wife, she wound up drinking and driving.
“Why do you talk dirty?” Newman/Dunlop asks Lily, one furious night after a game in which her husband, Ned, has checked into a hotel to avoid being with her.
“My family has money,” she replies, in tears.
A minute later she pulls up in front of Newman/Dunlop’s place, realizing she’s been manipulated again: “Get out! Beat it!”
E-mail from a friend in the Lehigh Valley a couple days ago: “Did you know that downtown Allentown is changing? A hockey arena is being built, with buildings around it for offices and restaurants. Leases are being signed. I just can’t picture it, but who knows, it just might work.”
Errata and please pardon the faux pas: It is pointed out to me, quite correctly, that I misspelled “Reggie Dunlop” as “Dunlap” through the entire piece. Oof. Now, so corrected! Thanks, TP!
How much have things changed since Barack Obama took office at the start of economic collapse? Not a whole lot.
The alleged jobs to have, those craved by employers, are the same then as now. Degrees in finance and computer programming, all for fueling the pace at which inequality is increasing, people adept at moving money around globally, and those who make the software that reduces everyone else to penury.
Oh yeah, plus one tacked on at the end that doesn’t nearly pay as well — a community college certificate in dental assisting. Scrape teeth for 13 dollars an hour or maybe less.
A future of bedpan technicians, 2011:
Financial examiner jobs require a college degree. Big deal. The present job market may desire financial examiners but the idea that an army of them will lead to future progress is deluded.
And filling the territory with platoons of dental hygienists and occupational therapy assistants isn’t an answer for anything except maintaining clean teeth in people with health plans and, as for the second, c’mon. We’re going to innovate our way back into the lead with people trained to rehabilitate those who’ve had strokes and fractured hips?
As mentioned last week, this country doesn’t lack for human capital. It lacks vision and the desire to do something with it because it’s far simpler to run an entrenched vulture economy.
‘Twas the day after Xmas through the Senate and House
Salvation was coming for every jobless louse…
See the poor have too much, the jobless are lazy
If we give them much less, they’ll get hired like crazy
But why stop with food stamps and checks, unemployment?
We’ll cut down the moochers for our own enjoyment…
And this is still the electric folk song of the year, from the heart of the great American mean, more on point every damn day.
Just not enough social love on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and et cetera, alas…
I was readin’ Atlas Shrugged
How the rich all get mugged
Blessed are the job creators
They can always hire way more waiters
Ted Nugent, today:
This is all the result of one of the “Duck Dynasty” guys, Phil Robertson, stating what he and many millions of Americans believe about the Bible and homosexuals … State a commonly held belief and watch the other side go ballistic …
Phil Robertson didn’t say anything hurtful or shameful.
From the New York Daily News, Jesus-like:
“I have a degree from Louisiana Tech. But this week I have been called an ignoramus.”
“Jesus Christ was the most perfect being to ever walk this planet and he was persecuted and nailed to the cross, so please don’t be surprised when we get a little static,” Robertson added.
No links. Google if you want the full Ted and if I know my readers, I think they don’t.
Heevahava — defined. It was either that or a new PARIAH magazine cover. I chose more spare. What would you have done?
I’m going to repeat myself in re-use of this from a few months back because there’s really no better way to say it: The US acts as if it is the exceptional nation in cyberspace. It reserves the right to criticize and lecture others on what constitutes proper conduct but reserves the right to do what it pleases because of its alleged exceptional nature.
The US, you see, only wages cyberwar, or cyber-espionage, campaigns in defense of freedom and to keep Americans safe. No other nations do similar things. They only cyber-spy on us and probe the net infrastructure to cause damage and steal our wealth.
But this country is now in a terrible position to talk terms in cyberspace, starting with its hot clandestine war on the Iranian nuclear program and subsequent related malware spilled over into other nations and ending with the Edward Snowden revelations.
One could add a chapter or two on the growing together of the private sector and defense structure in the national security megaplex and the fact that it’s a gigantic engine, one with a major focus in finding and securing ever more revenue in tax dollars.
Mix in the apathy of a public disconnected from everything and a supine media for over ten years during the war-on-terror.
The fact that random ‘friends’ and others are now outraged and posting on Facebook or tweeting about an agency they never thought about before is trivial, people complaining about another thing they were too busy or self-centered to pay attention to before it really got out of hand.
I would make Edward Snowden man of the year.
Whether you like what you know of him or not, he did something that made a difference. As in indirect effect of spearing the NSA, he derailed that agency’s (and the national security megaplex’s) propaganda machine on cyberwar.
Domestically, I would be surprised if anything changes.
However, when Brazil cancels an order for American-made fighter bombers for Saab Grippens and specifically says US cyberspying and a ham-handed attempt to get Snowden were the reasons one begins to see how external change might be enforced and extract a cost.
In the US, the cult of cyberwar was always one of avarice and bootlicking stenography in the mainstream and tech press.
And now, finally, at the end of 2013, no one with sense can possibly believe it’s a central issue threatening the economic lives and future of the majority, a sword of Damocles hanging by a thread which requires us to empower our computer security warriors to run over everybody, including us.
The Spiegel cover is from the beginning of November. And it is worth considering again because of the contrast it affords with an article that ran in the US at the same time, one that only demonstrated — again –how much of the mainstream American press lays down for the national security state.
The latter, almost totally removed from global sentiment on the Snowden affair, was a cover story by Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek, absurdly entitled “How Edward Snowden Escalated Cyberwar.”
Excerpted, it’s a perfect example of a news magazine as corporate national security structure mouthpiece. its only purpose to deny reality and feebly try to beat the dead horse of threat exaggeration on cyberwar back into life:
For more than a decade, a relentless campaign by China to steal valuable, confidential information from United States corporations flourished with barely a peep from Washington. And now it might never be stopped …
The administration’s attempt to curb China’s assault on American business and government was crippled – perhaps forever, experts say – by a then-unknown National Security Agency contractor named Edward Snowden.
Snowden’s clandestine efforts to disclose thousands of classified documents about NSA surveillance emerged as the push against Chinese hacking intensified …
“Snowden couldn’t have played better into China’s strategy for protecting its cyber activities if he had been doing it on purpose,” one American intelligence official says …
“Certainly no one cares anymore about our whining about Chinese espionage. The time we had for making the case on that is long gone. Internationally, I don’t see how we recover.”
[And, finally, the ludicrous claim NSA director Keith Alexander was telling everyone before Edward Snowden’s actions put a stop to it:]
The threat of Chinese espionage is so large that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, who chaired the Intelligence Committee’s Cyber Task Force, proclaimed it to be part of “the biggest transfer of wealth through theft and piracy in the history of mankind.”
[Include claims, much repeated, for which there is no evidence at all]:
“Twenty years after Iraq, China has stealth fighters stolen with hacker techniques, designs for its carriers, and can pick and choose from all the research the United States has paid for,” Stewart Baker [former general council for the NSA] says. “If we find ourselves in a serious conflict with a nation with those capabilities, we could find ourselves threatening cruise missile strikes and discover that hackers shut off all the power in New York” as a warning of how much power they have to disrupt and inflict damage – potentially including the American weapons reliant on computers to operate.
As for cyberspying advancing its stealth fighter, at the time, John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.Org, dismissed it out of hand to me in e-mail. (This handy chart at GlobalSecurity shows the lag time for China’s development of advanced weapon systems against the appearance of similar US milestones. “They are twenty years behind,” said Pike.)
But readers know well that when it comes to stories on cyberwar, you can get just about any outlandish claim or exaggeration published in the American press.
Edward Snowden’s former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, flogging the cyberwar machine in 2011.
“The U.S. always reserves the right to overdo things. That’s the legacy of the last 10 years,” [George Smith] said. “And to the world at large, it’s viewed as a nation that sees every potential problem as a nail to be hit with the hammer of the military and/or security contractors.” — US Exceptionalism, June 2103
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. If the power and resources are there to do it, it is done. Because they can.
Which is what has happened … [Through] Edward Snowden’s documents and their delivery via the Washington Post and the Guardian, one sees the world Alexander has created. It’s one that cements the global perception that people in the US computer security industry (government and private sector allies) are an untrustworthy lot, predatory and needing close oversight. — GlobalSecurity.Org
And with that, I hope you are enjoying your Christmas Eve.
One of the finest demonstrations of the malevolence afoot in American in 2013: The defeat of even slight national gun regulation and the actual loosening of gun laws and promotions of stupidity in the majority of the country, brought on by a horrendous gun slaughter right before Christmas of 2012.
Read the comments. Soak up the psychosis. Pictures of WhiteManistanis toting assault rifles in town became common, a new low. The worst in us won.
“Gun Crazy to the rescue! Gun Crazy to the rescue! Go Gun Crazy, go Gun Crazy! Got to buy a gun at Walmart!”
From the archives, January:
One of the common motivations now on display by the gun nut minority in WhiteManistan is the need to appear threatening. One must either appear on websites or on video, or in pictures, talking about killing others, revolution, or doing something that amounts to waving a gun or assault rifle in the face of average citizens.
Behaviorally, it’s profoundly anti-social, nothing an actual civil society would be proud of. It is not a demonstration of freedom. More accurately, it’s the behavior of people who are more interested in bullying entire swaths of society. And it doesn’t take a degreed expert in human psychology to get it.
The media mainstream has a hard time dealing with it because it comes almost exclusively from white male America, a demographic which has, up until now, been shielded from substantial and continuing pressure and criticism. It’s the equivalent of a symbolic pistol whipping, the behavior part and parcel with the surge in gun and ammunition hoarding, a retail arms-buying stampede in which it has not been difficult to find any number of belligerent white guys proclaiming they’re ready to offer the government armed resistance.
Those flaunting weaponry never admit to why they’re actually doing it. The service is always about generously educating others, allegedly furnishing some social good by showing the safe carrying of assault rifles.
As part of the social good campaign, they took their guns to Starbucks and Newtown.
Today, from Krugman, bitcoin has put a place in Iceland, the name of which you can’t pronounce, on the map:
The second money pit is a lot stranger: the Bitcoin mine in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland. Bitcoin is a digital currency that has value because … well, it’s hard to say exactly why, but for the time being at least people are willing to buy it because they believe other people will be willing to buy it. It is, by design, a kind of virtual gold. And like gold, it can be mined: you can create new bitcoins, but only by solving very complex mathematical problems that require both a lot of computing power and a lot of electricity to run the computers.
Hence the location in Iceland, which has cheap electricity from hydropower and an abundance of cold air to cool those furiously churning machines. Even so, a lot of real resources are being used to create virtual objects with no clear use …
Keynes would, I think, have been sardonically amused to learn how little has changed in the past three generations. Public spending to fight unemployment is still anathema; miners are still spoiling the landscape to add to idle hoards of gold. (Keynes dubbed the gold standard a “barbarous relic.”) Bitcoin just adds to the joke. Gold, after all, has at least some real uses, e.g., to fill cavities; but now we’re burning up resources to create “virtual gold” that consists of nothing but strings of digits.
A money for tech sociopaths and miscellaneous greed heads spouting rubbish about destroying the tyranny of central governments and putting money with alleged real value back in the hands of people, but only a small certain kind.
And here’s the example of the special everyman quality of bitcoin, the Brobdingnagian digital mining operation:
To get [to the bitcoin mine in Iceland], you pass through a fortified gate and enter a featureless yellow building. After checking in with a guard behind bulletproof glass, you face four more security checkpoints, including a so-called man trap that allows passage only after the door behind you has shut. This brings you to the center of the operation, a fluorescent-lit room with more than 100 whirring silver computers …
“What we have here are money-printing machines,” said Emmanuel Abiodun, 31, founder of the company that built the Iceland installation, shouting above the din of the computers. “We cannot risk that anyone will get to them.”
Mr. Abiodun is one of a number of entrepreneurs who have rushed, gold-fever style, into large-scale Bitcoin mining operations in just the last few months. All of these people are making enormous bets that Bitcoin will not collapse, as it has threatened to do several times.
The story informs the Icelandic bitcoin-mining company will also open a branch in Dallas, Texas. And, boy howdy, everyone knows how cheap and cold it is in Texas in the summertime.
Bitcoin — from the archives.
The tech nuisance demographic that supports bitcoin is a subset of the right wing libertarian tribe. They view it as a way to do their part in destroying tyrannical government. Cody Wilson, for example, the young pest who was sure his 3D-printed plastic gun plans were a strike at government until the US ITAR rules shut him down has migrated to bitcoin wallet-making. (Feel free to add hilarious comments on the need for 3D printing plans for guns in America at the end of 2013.)
You find the same sentiments in old gold bugs, the old white guys of the Republican Party and the old white people known as “preppers.”
Bitcoin is just more high button. It’s literally a “money” for stroking the every-man-for-himself psychology, a “money” that’s perfectly fit to tech sociopaths.
The being said, another fair assessment is that bitcoin is certainly a money for our time.
Although it’s dressed up as being something good for the world in its way of undermining and destroying central banking, it’s really just something that allows some people, a very select few, to make fortunes without doing anything, more specifically, without doing anything that is even remotely a social good. Just like the 1 percent, or Wall Street, or much of corporate America.
Pine View Farm pointed to another biting critique of bitcoin. Here is the link and an excerpt:
But someone’s already out there offering “Bitcoin mining computers,” which cost several thousand dollars apiece. (Notice that you can’t buy one with bitcoin … heh.) They’re selling you the dream of a “magical money-machine.” There’s a sucker born every minute, and that sucker … his “mark” … is you. Be aware. (One unit sells for $14,500.00 and “ooh, hurry up hurry up and buy one before they all get sold-out!”) You should know better. But they’re counting on you having gold-fever …
Another piece of the growing bitcoin scam is seen here, in a long advertorial aimed directly at the old people conned by the incessant ads for buying gold on Fox News and Glenn Beck’s Blaze website.
It’s a make-money-fast video and if you view it you’ll immediately notice the bitcoin name isn’t even uttered until you’re well into it. The revolutionary new money that’s shaking world government is initially referred to as the newest version of “Edison’s dollars.”
On bitcoin — from the archives.
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