08.11.14

What’s new in the laboratories of clickbait today?

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:45 am by George Smith

Buzzfeed gets 50 million to make smartphones even more like mini- color televisions with scrolling and lots of advertising and trivial short-form listicles or lifestyle dogshit:

Another major piece of the funding announcement includes the foundation of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, an ambitious, L.A.-based operation to be headed by online video pioneer Ze Frank. Though The New York Times reported that Frank has plans to produce news video, Smith says neither of them is sure what the best use case is for news video on the web. “I think we’re interested in doing news video when there are stories that are best told as video. But both Ze and I don’t think that most news should be video or most video should be news,” says Smith, who cites Vice’s video reporting from Syria as the kind of reporting that is well served by the format.

It’s also unclear when BuzzFeed would be ready to produce feature-length films, though it was announced earlier today that Michael Shamberg, producer of Spinal Tap and Pulp Fiction, was joining the BuzzFeed Motion Pictures team.

They “don’t think that most news should be video or most video should be news.” That’s real hard-earned wisdom.

And, how about that hiring of “a producer of Spinal Tap [sic]”? Real cutting edge. For 1985. You know, back when people still bought vinyl records. Which is what the fellows in the movie were trying, unsuccessfully, to get people to do with their, ah, record called Smell the Glove.

And if that isn’t enough, they’ll be hard at work using the cash infusion to better optimize content specifically for the Culture of Lickspittle:

“We spend a ton of time thinking about why people share things and what kinds of things will they share. The same stories are very widely shared on Facebook and Twitter and email.” .

When we share shit why do we share it on the places made out of sharing? It’s a boon to journalism.


Top stuff on Buzzfeed, a passing glance…

11 Things You Learn When You Watch All 5 “Step Up” Movies In A Row

1. You never knew a day could be so great.


The 17 Funniest “Jeopardy!” Fails Of All Time

Including when “donkey punch” made it onto America’s favorite family game show.


What Type Of Shark Are You?

Yes, they’ll sure be doing news with that money.

08.09.14

Whatever happened to Kennedy?

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Fiat money fear and loathers at 12:08 pm by George Smith

Whatever happened to Kennedy, the MTV host (VJ), not the president)?

Well, she’s a right winger with a show on Fox and kicks off the first few paragraphs of an NYT magazine feature on how Ayn Randism has arrived. Libertarianism is the new grunge rock for young voters. Rand Paul, Kennedy says, is Pearl Jam, Ted Cruz, the Stone Temple Pilots.

The piece isn’t meant as satire. But that’s how it reads.

Kennedy’s show on Fox Business Network, “The Independents,” is allegedly non-partisan reads the piece, all because it bashes Republicans, too, and has Matt Welch as a co-host, from Reason magazine, a kind of private clubhouse publication masquerading as deep thought for the political movement.

The article has some great stuff:

“I saw Kennedy onstage in a hotel ballroom … gyrating to the soundtrack of Flashdance and hollering into a microphone, ‘Are you hungry for more liberty?’ She was the M.C. for the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner … The C.E.I. is a 30-year-old organization that routinely sues federal agencies … [including Obamacare].”

The article reinforces the impression that libertarians are just snobbish more well-spoken Republicans who refuse to admit it, aren’t hung up on recreational use of drugs and are sort of OK with gay marriage. Even the last doesn’t really apply entirely to the piece. Neither Rand Paul or Ted Cruz are down with it.

Another unintentionally hilarious quote:

“Nick Gillespie is to libertarianism what Lou Reed is to rock ‘n’ roll, the quintessence of its outlaw spirit. He is 50, a former writer for teen and heavy-metal magazines, habitually garbed in black from head to toe, wry and mournful in expression, a tormented romantic who quotes Jack Kerouac. For the past 20 years, Gillespie has been a writer, editor and intellectual godfather for Reason…”

Not much of a recommendation for a magazine or its editors now, is it?

A decent read, it’s here.

Libertarianism isn’t taking over. When people actually come face to face with what it means in this country, they generally go the other way as fast as possible.

Libertarianism, as espoused by a few American politicians and Silicon Valley tycoons, means destroying all the functions of government so they can replace it with their constructs for shoddy private sector services provided at high cost. So they can get more of the pie while taking it from everyone else.

Tim Draper and his Six Californias initiative is the most recent classic example, discussed here. It’s now widely recognized as a ploy to make “Silicon Valley” a state so the tech plutocrats aren’t encumbered by the rest of us. In the process, it would create six new states, two of which, the northern tip and the central valley, would be among the poorest in the country.

Which, rather than being about creating liberty and better government, is an asshole of an idea.

Paul Krugman has spent a bit on his blog commenting, with some humor, on the Times magazine article, including his definition of libertarianism:

In other words, libertarianism is a crusade against problems we don’t have, or at least not to the extent the libertarians want to imagine. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the case of monetary policy, where many libertarians are determined to stop the Fed from irresponsible money-printing — which is not, in fact, something it’s doing.

The Six Californias initiative is like that, too. Tim Draper’s insistence that California is ungovernable because it is too big is, indeed, a crusade against a problem that doesn’t exist.

California is now very governable and moving forward. The reason is simple. State demographics finally eliminated the Republican Party as a blocking force in the state legislature.

08.07.14

Loud Folk Live for Thursday

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll, The Corporate Bund at 3:32 pm by George Smith

Fresh from the First Church of USA!USA! and Mammon in Pasadena, off Colorado, the famous Route 66: Rich Man’s Burden! As you’ve never heard it before!

Recorded live in between times fruitlessly searching and hoping for work in the Corporate Bund.

Today’s timely message liner notes from the Federal Reserve:

New data from the Federal Reserve highlight how many Americans continue to struggle financially more than five years after the end of the Great Recession.

As of September 2013, when the central bank conducted the poll, a quarter of families said they were “just getting by,” while an additional 13 percent were struggling to make ends meet.

Asked to compare their current financial situation with how they were faring five years ago, as the housing crash was wreaking havoc on the economy, 34 percent of respondents said they were doing “somewhat or much worse” than in 2008. The same percentage reported essentially treading water, while 30 percent said they were doing better.

“Given that respondents were being asked to compare their incomes to 2008, when the United States was in the depths of the financial crisis, the fact that over two-thirds of respondents reported being the same or worse off financially highlights the uneven nature of the recovery.”

Play it loud and sing out!

The Bill for HateSpeechin’ Comes Due

Posted in Ted Nugent, WhiteManistan at 10:22 am by George Smith


WhiteManistan’s Minister of Rock & Racism

Today at Rock NYC Live and Recorded, I once again dip into my long lost career as a music journalist in a summary of Ted Nugent’s racist summer catastrophe.

Excerpted:

Nugent has two businesses, one in music and one in being a pundit and opinion-maker for the extreme political right wing, the Tea Party, the old angry white party (aka the GOP), the people who do not accept the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency. The latter, a group that for six years with two to go, has erupted in a racist fury over the man in the White House who they believe hates them (Nugent spouts this regularly on tour), is a tyrant and is destroying the fantasy America of their golden youth and early middle years …

The old American paranoid style courses through Nugent on a daily basis. He believes groups of subhuman punk unpatriotic Americans who are inspired by old or dead radicals virtually nobody has heard of except fans of Glenn Beck are destroying the country and, as a part of that plot, trying to get him, too.

I recommend it. But, of course, I would.

Reaffirming every observation in that essay, Ted Nugent plows on in today’s column and in other news around the web. He can’t help himself and it would be a pitiable sight if … well, if he wasn’t such an obviously 24/7 hatemonger.

Excerpted from the wires:

Nugent wrote, “WE ARE ON OUR JET NOW HEADING FOR TOLEDO RIBFEST JAM AFTER AN INSANE INCREDIBLE OUT OF BODY ULTRAROCKOUT at the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis SD! Simply astonishing gig! 4 stinkyass unclean dipshit protestors that admitted they hate me AND ALL WHITE PEOPLE THAT STOLE THEIR LAND BULLSHIT!! See, it aint me they hate, they hate all Americans that produce & live the American Dream. Simply insane!”

Nugent made other inflammatory comments in the discussion thread on his Facebook post. One fan wrote that “Maybe the natives shoulda had better weapons …” to which Nugent responded, “less peyote less whoopin & hollerin.”


Thumbs down to the undue attention given to rocker/right-wing screamer Ted Nugent at the Big Horn Basin TEA Party picnic.

Nugent was treated like a demi-god at the event, as scores of people leaned in to hear his every word, many of those harsh and others profane. That’s in keeping with his long-established style …

[And] he has also spewed out some of the most hateful and plain idiotic comments about politics that it has been our displeasure to hear. Yet somehow, he is hailed as a hero by the far right.

We wrote a pair of stories about Nugent and published pro- and anti-Nugent columns. He is news, we realize, but we strove to offer a balanced view of the man and his career.

Seeing Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso basically ignored on Saturday, along with other current and hopeful officials, while Boy and Cub Scouts posed for photos with Nugent and others were drawn to the celebrity in their midst, said a lot about what we value as a nation.

And it wasn’t good.


Ted Nugent at WND

But in this day and age of dishonest journalism, nothing is quite as hateful as the accusation of racism, which much of the leftist media are guilty of over and over and over again …

When a person is incapable of civil dialogue or respectful debate, they always hide behind the race card.

But when the president of the United States evidences pure racism based on color of skin instead of content of character, as he did in the Trayvon Martin debacle, our First Amendment abusing media are silent. Not a peep.

Nugent wrecked the promotion of his first new album in seven years and had his summer tour overturned by media attention that eclipsed it for what he couldn’t stop saying. His poisonous ideology could no longer be brushed off as vigorous differences in political opinion.

Nugent’s apoplectic rage over Barack Obama, his regular insistence that more than half the country is an infestation of cockroaches, that non-white people are to be regularly mocked, that anyone who doesn’t agree with this is a stinky hippie, a communist, subhuman, an America hater or unclean vermin, is not an outlying thing.

It’s the id of WhiteManistan.


“Unclean vermin” in “American Communist Party regalia,” according to Ted Nugent, protesting his show in Montclair, NJ, this summer. We observe the astonishing magnitude of his pathology.

08.06.14

Views of the future from the Culture of Lickspittle

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 2:41 pm by George Smith

Pew Research has a report about the future of artificial intelligence, robotics and what it means for employment. Naturally, they have a lot of quotes from people in the tech industry, famous pioneers and others who merely qualify as cheerleaders.

What they all have in common is that they’re in the haves, many in the 1 percent. Everything’s going to be pretty good, according to them. But they no longer really live in the US. They’re in that place Tim Draper wants to turn into another state, Silicon Valley.

I have a suggestion.

Why stop at statehood? National secession, followed by technology that hoists the place into orbit, say halfway between the Earth and the Moon, like that science-fiction movie with Jodie Foster in it that didn’t do so well.

Excerpted, that which passes itself off as gnomic:

Amy Webb, CEO of strategy firm Webbmedia Group, wrote, “There is a general concern that the robots are taking over. I disagree that our emerging technologies will permanently displace most of the workforce, though I’d argue that jobs will shift into other sectors. Now more than ever, an army of talented coders is needed to help our technology advance. But we will still need folks to do packaging, assembly, sales, and outreach. The collar of the future is a hoodie.”

Fred Baker, Internet pioneer, longtime leader in the IETF and Cisco Systems Fellow, responded, “My observation of advances in automation has been that they change jobs, but they don’t reduce them. A car that can guide itself on a striped street has more difficulty with an unstriped street, for example, and any automated system can handle events that it is designed for, but not events (such as a child chasing a ball into a street) for which it is not designed. Yes, I expect a lot of change. I don’t think the human race can retire en masse by 2025.”

[Yes, Mechanical Turk provides hundreds of thousands of jobs that pay cents. Most of which you are not qualified for, anyway. It’s a future of digitally fused automation and human work that is indeed wonderful.]

Justin Reich, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, said, “Robots and AI will increasingly replace routine kinds of work—even the complex routines performed by artisans, factory workers, lawyers, and accountants. There will be a labor market in the service sector for non-routine tasks that can be performed interchangeably by just about anyone—and these will not pay a living wage—and there will be some new opportunities created for complex non-routine work, but the gains at this top of the labor market will not be offset by losses in the middle and gains of terrible jobs at the bottom. I’m not sure that jobs will disappear altogether, though that seems possible, but the jobs that are left will be lower paying and less secure than those that exist now. The middle is moving to the bottom.”

It’s long, mostly depressing reading. To repeat: One of the hallmarks of the Culture of Lickspittle is that only the people at the top have the glibness and wisdom to tell everyone else how the future will be bright while most of the rest get the shaft. In one paragraph bites.


Not as good as “Greeting my friends, we are all interested in the future because that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives,” by Ed Wood. But close.

The Republic of WhiteManistan’s Navy

Posted in WhiteManistan at 1:24 pm by George Smith


Public safety guaranteed by armored machine gun posts.

Yeah, militarize everything:

MISSION, Tex. — Along the Rio Grande here, the suspected smugglers trying to slip into the United States have certainly noticed their adversaries on the water: burly commandos in black-and-white boats mounted with .30-caliber machine guns and bulletproof shields. The patches on the officers’ camouflage fatigues identify them not as federal Border Patrol agents but as another breed of law enforcement entirely.

Texas game wardens.

A team of them — whose routine duties include investigating fishing tournament cheaters and making arrests for B.U.I., or boating under the influence — patrol the Rio Grande, pulling smuggling suspects from the river and dodging rocks thrown from the Mexican side …


Mr. Perry’s border operations have a military-style tone in their tactics and equipment, with football-themed names like Operation Linebacker and Operation Strong Safety. Texas has paid millions of dollars to a private military contractor founded by retired the Army general John N. Abrams to help develop its border-security strategies. Before his 2007 National Guard deployment, known as Operation Wrangler, Mr. Perry said the troops would be forming “12 armed security platoons.”

The story notes the other border states, mine, New Mexico and Arizona spend nowhere near what Texas does on “militarizing” the border. With a pastiche of forces cobbled together to be a state regiment with naval, land and air surveillance capability.


Would make a great American post card to the rest of the world.

Computer security stupefaction

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 9:00 am by George Smith

I stopped writing about most incident and general computer security issues because there’s no longer any point to it. The stories of large breaches and new vulnerabilities come, often in multiples, every day.

News of it is of no practical use to the average person. It’s an endless river of excrement and a fact of life signifying nothing except the always on insecurity of the systems we are compelled to use every day.

So this is a bit of an exception. Hypocrisy? Yes, certainly. Guilty!

From the New York Times, a headline yesterday, of a small company that has determined Russian hackers have stolen passwords to 1.5 billion accounts:

A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion user name and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, security researchers say.

The records, discovered by Hold Security, a firm in Milwaukee, include confidential material gathered from 420,000 websites, including household names, and small Internet sites. Hold Security has a history of uncovering significant hacks …


[Mr. Alex Holden, the founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security], who is paid to consult on the security of corporate websites, decided to make details of the attack public this week to coincide with discussions at an industry conference and to let the many small sites he will not be able to contact know that they should look into the problem.

There is no reason to doubt it. But what is to be done with such a number? One and a half billion accounts, 500 million e-mail addresses.

It’s stupefying.

So is the expectation of a fix. It’s beyond that. There’s no way to deal with 1.5 billion potential compromised accounts. To think so is to believe you can change the weather.

Go to a computer security vendor conference and interest the Times in getting the word out and that will do it? Seriously? I bet Hold Security doesn’t even believe that.

So what do you do if you’re on the computer security news beat or a system host and you read this? Write yet another piece advising people of the great gravity of the problem/revelation and that they should change their passwords? Speak for the millionth time about closing vulnerabilities? Should you automate another script or widget to badger or force your clients and users with mostly inconsequential accounts into changing their passwords? Again?

It’s so obvious that works.


From the Big Book of Cynical and Supercilious Jokes:

How do we fix a billion and a half accounts with stolen credentials?

Easy, pay Keith Alexander a billion and a half dollars.

08.02.14

Keith Alexander really IS a pariah

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 11:48 am by George Smith

In twenty years of writing about computer and national security issues, I’ve never anyone from the top of the US military quite as grasping as former NSA director, Keith Alexander.

He’s redefined retiring from service at a whole new level.

And I know of no military men, or directors of any intelligence agency, to claim they’re going to be filing patents for security inventions after leaving their public sector jobs.

Yet here we go:

[Alexander, in an interview Monday, said he has developed] a new technology, based on a patented and “unique” approach to detecting malicious hackers and cyber-intruders that the retired Army general said he has invented, along with his business partners at IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., the company he co-founded after leaving the government and retiring from military service in March. But the technology is also directly informed by the years of experience Alexander has had tracking hackers, and the insights he gained from classified operations as the director of the NSA, which give him a rare competitive advantage over the many firms competing for a share of the cybersecurity market …

Alexander said he’ll file at least nine patents, and possibly more, for a system to detect so-called advanced persistent threats, or hackers who clandestinely burrow into a computer network in order to steal secrets or damage the network itself. It was those kinds of hackers who Alexander, when he was running the NSA, said were responsible for “the greatest transfer of wealth in American history” because they were routinely stealing trade secrets and competitive information from U.S. companies and giving it to their competitors, often in China.

Keith Alexander wants you to believe, along with all the other simpletons and sycophants in the natsec journalism business, that he’s so insightful, so inventive, that at night — or in off hours from the NSA, he came up with unique computer security concepts and inventions that he will now sell or lease to the private sector.

After years of building the biggest cyberwar machine in the world on the taxpayer dime, without any apparent oversight at all. And, of course, all while undermining the basic security of the internet, launching clandestine malware attacks on nations in the Middle East, hoarding computer security vulnerabilities and greasing a global clandestine market for the buying and selling of them.

In 1994, for Issues in Science & Technology, in a very old piece entitled Electronic Pearl Harbor, Not Likely, I wrote:

Another reason to be skeptical of the warnings about information warfare is that those who are most alarmed are often the people who will benefit from government spending to combat the threat. A primary author of a January 1997 Defense Science Board report on information warfare, which recommended an immediate $580-million investment in private sector R&D for hardware and software to implement computer security, was Duane Andrews, executive vice president of SAIC, a computer security vendor and supplier of information warfare consulting services.

Assessments of the threats to the nation’s computer security should not be furnished by the same firms and vendors who supply hardware, software, and consulting services to counter the “threat” to the government and the military. Instead, a true independent group should be set up to provide such assessments and evaluate the claims of computer security software and hardware vendors selling to the government and corporate America. The group must not be staffed by those who have financial ties to computer security firms. The staff must be compensated adequately so that it is not cherry-picked by the computer security industry.

In twenty years, Keith Alexander is now on top of a situation that is just the opposite.

He spent his career lecturing and warning of devastating cyberattacks on American infrastructure. Most notably, he insisted again and again that Chinese hackers were stealing so much from corporate America in the way of information and private intellectual property, it constituted the greatest transfer of wealth in history.

If you’ve been on food stamps, the unemployment line, or been otherwise damaged by the Great Recession, you may have missed it.

This is the picture: Grasping Keith Alexander spends his career publicly warning that America’s financial system was imperiled by cybewar, all while building the world’s biggest cyberwar apparatus. And now that he has retired he intends to sell his soon-to-be-patented computer security innovations to corporate America so that they can be shielded from the attacks he spent years telling them are coming and which have already allegedly stolen much of its intellectual wealth. (Which is presumably why they’re all doing legal foreign merger tricks to avoid the payment of tax owed the US govenrment. Which was protecting them, or trying to, in cyberspace.)

Although the Issues in Science and Technology article is a very accurate slice of history from two decades ago, much in Electronic Pearl Harbor, Not Likely is pretty dated, quaintly naive even, and no longer relevant to the computer security discussion. Virus hoaxes are no longer around. Malware production exploded. Computer virus production became professionalized and they’re now used as clandestine weapons of war.

I wrote that it would be hard to do such things. And it has been hard.

It takes government agencies like the NSA to develop things like Stuxnet. And the phenomenon took years to arrive but nevertheless, it has arrived.

But electronic Pearl Harbor never happened. Even though many still warn about it, first among them being Keith Alexander when he was director of the National Security Agency.

And the part about conflicts of interest and casting a skeptical eye upon those who do threat assessment and then seek to immediately gain financially from the impact of such assessments has not changed.

It’s become much worse and Keith Alexander is now the very best example of it.

Keep in mind, this is all part of the expansion of internet spying and its secret infrastructure, he supervised and which was exposed by Edward Snowden. And Alexander’s work has not made the internet more trustworthy.

Quite the contrary, Alexander is seen as primarily responsible for damaging the global reputation of the United States when it comes to acceptable conduct in cyberspace.

Alexander, justifiably, is and should be a pariah. And we dig our global pariahs in 2014. It’s a national character trait. So we should own up to it because we deserve the guy and his grasping.

08.01.14

Why BitCoin speculator Tim Draper wanted in to Argentina

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Fiat money fear and loathers at 10:35 am by George Smith

A couple weeks back venture capitalist and Six Californias ass hat Tim Draper won a US government auction for 30,000 BitCoins.

From the blog:

Draper is planning to use his digital wealth, in partnership with a company called Vaurum, to finance bitcoin-exchange services in the developing world. At a press conference, he praised bitcoin’s ability to “provide liquidity and confidence to markets that have been hamstrung by weak currencies.” He singled out Argentina and its out-of-control inflation.

This week Argentina defaulted on debt repayment of $1.5 billion to a group of hedge-fund bond holders on Wall Street. The hedge funders, which the Argentinian government refers to as “vultures,” refused to take a hair-cut on the debt owed them, a devaluation that all the rest of Argentina’s creditors had agreed to years ago. They pursued Argentina in American courts and won a ruling that Argentina owed them as per the original terms.

So this week, Argentina thumbed its nose at them, missing a debt service to all its bond credit holders.

From the New York Times:

The multiyear dispute reached a breaking point on Wednesday after Argentina missed a deadline on a scheduled interest payment to its regular bondholders. Argentina’s predicament has arisen from a ruling by a federal judge in the United States that it could not make its regular payments on bonds without also paying the hedge fund holdouts. Wednesday evening, a court-appointed mediator issued a statement declaring Argentina to be “imminently” in default.

In 2001 Argentina also defaulted on world debt, a crisis that brought on economic crisis and runaway inflation. Inflation continues to a problem in Argentina, where citizens have developed a black market to dump pesos for American dollars.

Enter the idea that BitCoin would be a great substitute to the black market exchange US dollars.

Continuing, from the Times:

Many Argentines who saw the value of the peso spiral quickly and their savings vanish after the last default have not been caught off guard this time.

“These past years have taught us a strategy of how to save up money in a reliable way,” Gustavo said.

For most Argentines, the currency of choice is the dollar, but they have to go through the black market to obtain it. “It is difficult or almost impossible to keep those savings safe in Argentina, because money loses value very quickly here,” he added.

“I think that many people buy the argument that Argentina did not default, and buy into the hatred of the evil vultures,” Barbara Kotschwar, a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told the Times.

The running narrative in the US and western press is that Argentina must repay its American “vultures” or suffer terrible unspecified consequences. Argentina is already unwelcome in global credit markets so it’s unclear what kind of revenge Wall Street could exact.

From the Economist:

Defaulting has helped no one: none of the bondholders will now be paid, Argentina looks like a pariah again, and its economy will remain starved of loans and investment.

Happily, much of the damage can still be undone. It is not too late to strike a deal with the hold-outs or back an ostensibly private effort to buy out their claims … More important, it would help to change perceptions of Argentina as a financial rogue state.”

Financial rogue state. Perish forbid American hedge-funders not receive their blood.

So an Argentine default that worsens conditions and causes more still more currency inflation would be helpful to those operating a BitCoin exchange in that country.

WinkDex has BitCoin at $600, trending downward a bit over the past couple weeks.

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