Monday, April 29, 2019

Camp Crypto

We respect "jobs" and "work" enough to pay people to do them, but think "study" -- as in "work-study" -- is not work and therefore it's no one's job to get educated. Make studying paid work, and you've solved a lot of problems.

From current studies:

Verifying md5 hash in Python

My small campus tests should teach us a lot. We could have a cash-like crypto and credits in the more academic sense, which nevertheless have currency-like attributes. 

Could be that when you join the camp (which is not a prison camp) you put your usual wallet (with any outside currency), charge cards and phone in a secure locker. The camp cellphone will come pre-equipped with your wallet and apps. 

When you leave the camp in about three weeks (average stay for this facility) you'll get your stuff back while returning the camp gear (you probably get to keep some samples though i.e. a "swag bag" -- product placement is part of the business model).

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Black Mirror Episode?

Magnitsky died in a Russian prison being held on charges relating to working for this UK oligarch who was originally Putin's fan but later claims to be his greatest enemy. We all heard a lot about Magnitsky when that famous Trump Tower meeting with the Russian lobbyist occurred. She was not there to talk dirt on Hillary and everyone got super bored, as oligarch squabbles over big money and reputation backstabbing are too ordinary in those circles, where syndicates demonize one another incessantly (Hollywood is more friendly? Maybe all that Scientology is working for some?).

Browder says his lawyer was clubbed to death while chained to his death bed in prison, by the very people Magnitsky was accusing of financial fraud, as Browder's legal representative, or lawyer. But then there's a counter-narrative which is what makes this a rabbit hole, somewhat by definition (a vortex of contesting stories converging towards the same truths).

We heard about Browder again when Putin and Trump met in privacy in Helsinki and Putin offered to help out with the Mueller indictment of the GRU guys, in exchange for some interviews with Browder. No one would be in custody or under immediate threat of extradition. Maybe I'm wrong about the details of Putin's statesman-like offer (there's a treaty about nations giving each other mutual support in criminal investigations), as I was not privy to the meeting and back then had not yet connected the dots between Browder and Magnitsky. Trump comes out of the meeting saying this could work, probably knowing less about Browder (or Magnitsky) than I do at this point. Too boring. But he's soon told that Browder is Putin's number one foe and it all clicks into place. Who knows.

Anyway, fascinating stuff. The Magnitsky Act sails through Congress on the basis of this compelling testimony from Browder, and becomes the convenient hammer, the justification needed, to turn the screws everywhere on the Axis of Evil, always shifting (remember BRIC?), based on whatever the public will believe. The public is infinitely gullible and has rarely applied the brakes. Now that more of the public is being coerced into homelessness and unforgiving debt, the political model is to drop them from the unemployment roles and make counting their votes harder, as your tent on the sidewalk is not a registered voter address, by definition. Problem solved re that democracy business, a pipe dream. Back to the oligarch infighting channel, the one we most love to sponsor.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Facebook Rant

When a Medal of Freedom winner publishes a book saying "the USA we have known is now bankrupt and extinct" and that doesn't make headlines, we know right away that journalism lacks integrity. Walter Kaufmann (Princeton University) warned us about journalism. I sent "headlines we'd like to see" to WaPo at the time. "Medal of Freedom Winner Declares USA Bankrupt!" I was living in DC back then, making trouble with my typewriter.

WIRED and such have little choice but to fall into the trap of calling him a crackpot (as he hoped they would, Brer Rabbit style ("please don't throw me into the briar patch")). When you call someone with that many patents, awards, degrees, published works a "crackpot" you pay a price, as what does that make the rest of us by comparison? Setting the bar a little high are we? Idiocracy ensues, with WIRED paving the way.

So now we're in the situation where a thinker advertised to the world for his positive futurism (officially) is not read in schools because too much of a threat for speaking truth to power.

Like how could one possibly claim to know or teach American History and/or Literature and not include that bit about a top celebrity turning a top subversive? How can we claim to have any "public schools" whatsoever when the geometry for which Bucky was explicitly given an award is not shared? If you don't read Grunch of Giants in high school, let alone college, you must not have had real teachers. Phony baloney is what you got. Oh, and now they want you to pay back those loans? For what again? For the heritage you never got?

Instead of indulging in outrage, I can just sit back and laugh, knowing privatization is complete, the public schools are all dead, and Bucky was entirely correct in his prophesy and proclamation (as close to a declaration as we'll ever need).

The corporate media need very much to prop up their tawdry version of Uncle Sam (an imperialist psychopath), lest we see through it all and make Exxon pay for its own team of goons, rather than tapping into a privatized mercenary force funded by unrepresented Americans who's heritage was denied them in their schooling. 

They don't even share Bucky with the military do they? Grunch of Giants at West Point? Probably only the CIA reads it (required) as it's mentioned so often.

After two generations of not teaching easy simple streamlining tetravolume stuff to 4th or 8th  or 12th graders (already certified useful by highest authorities), I think it's more than obvious we don't have a free press or a real public education system.

I feel free to endlessly mock the true believers and their pathetic substitute for real learning.

*  *  *

It's not like I'm saying that just because MF winner publishes yadda yadda, that we must all agree it's true, i.e. "yes of course the US is bankrupt and extinct, the great Bucky hath spoken." 

Not at all. No one has that kind of power. The book jacket calls it satire.

It's just a once-adulated, much-awarded, icon of positive futurism, did in fact write that, and gave his reasoning and context, and then was awarded the MF (not tossed in jail). 

It's the historical facts of the matter I'm underlining, not that we have to treat Fuller's writing as edicts.

These facts are what're so amazing and crazy-interesting, especially when you factor in there's a newfangled kind of geometry, and geodesic domes and... wow. Why not in schools?  Are we really that afraid of our own past?

Lets just share the facts. Then be skeptical and critical, say why he's wrong and so on.

But to just claim he's a crackpot, so we're justified in our silence, no that doesn't fly it all. 

Too double standard. 

If Bucky's a crackpot, after so many faculty positions, awards, patents, inventions, then what are we, who think that way about him?

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Redacted Investigation

I keep going back to this story. Why not pursue?

It'd be like that Skripal case, where the accused GRU agents, posing as tourists to Salisbury (as if there were anything there) smuggled nerve agent in a sealed perfume bottle, latter discovered by hapless dumpster divers. 

Brits saw through their cover story immediately, having grown up on John le CarrĂ© spy novels and knowing a "likely story" when they see one. 

Put all these GRU guys, who supposedly jumped to their feet when Trump said "get those emails" (Hillary's missing), on CNN (like they did for Osama). 

They'd have to send a team to Russia and true, you're not in jail in America where the cowards threaten you even before trial. I don't want sleaze balls getting involved.

The reaction when Putin made this offer was "no fair, the president trusts Putin more than us". In light of what the president considered a "witch hunt" this was in no way surprising.

Still, it seems the Mueller investigation had nothing to lose by at least gathering more evidence. The GRU guys would be confronted with the same forensic evidence that convinced the grand jury. 

We could all learn a ton about the technology used to leave or remove fingerprints, as when trying to conceal one's own moves and/or frame others.

The public has proved that it has an appetite for this kind of stuff. Trump saw a way forward with potentially high TV ratings. Is it really too late?

I guess the FBI (special prosecutor) closed the investigation without ever caring to actually interview the indicted foreign nationals. They wanted to extradite first, get the alleged criminals into custody, where they could be put in solitary and otherwise mistreated (ala Chelsea Manning).

Obviously the Russians were not about to turn over their own military officers to a foreign power on flimsy charges, before ever seeing a shred of forensic evidence. 

Dismissing Putin's offer out of hand, after the US president said he thought it worth pursuing, proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the president has very limited power. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Meme Spotting

The internet is abuzz with rumors, that Yang Gang is hoping to "steal" the mascot of the Trumpians, Pepe the Frog. The rumor is sketchy for a host of reasons, starting with Gamers who've adopted Pepe were not, to a player, loyal to that one camp to begin with.

Pepe grew up alongside Annoying Orange, after Evil Bert got too scary (mixed up with Al Qaeda, another story).  He needs to live on beyond the Trump Era, and so if he takes on some Yang vibe, is that really a radical transectomy, or more a re-shade and new slant?

A typical scenario for a Gamer is I'm doing well in a cool basement, holding down some part time work, underemployed but addicted to gaming anyway, and that's a lot of work in itself.  Youtubes show what a lot of work it is.

Then some foreign policy wonks from Groupthink Inc. come along, and whisper in the ear of some all-gullible Columbia (the name of a District, and a mythical figure), that she needs to yank our boys away from their computer games and deploy them in Middle Eastern deserts, to right some wrong that's being done. "Go shock and awe someone son" says the latest "brought to you by..." Uncle Sam.

Many troops witnessed first hand that "doing good" and "spreading democracy" had a lot more to do with spreading terror, and that families back home were paying the price.

The Tulsi Gabbard followers include an overlapping constituency, many stuck overseas to this day, and deprived of much representation.  No wonder there's a Yang-Tulsi meme going.

Having siblings overseas in harm's way is no way to encourage concentration in school.

These wars needed to have been necessary, in retrospect, to justify the continued allegiance of the eligible classes of male and now also female resident, whether citizens or in line for said status.  Keeping that narrative intact has proved difficult among the English speakers (the UK has gone through some similar soul searching).

When Yang Gang comes along with new Silicon Valley think, and a kind of economics relating more to the thermodynamics of Planet Earth than we're used to, and fully conversant with automation, then Wall Street gets nervous.  The financial capitals have their own economics which they understand, and which is less like electrical engineering (with a solar power socket).

Pepe might be safely symbolic in the traditional financial sector, which has gained control of governments on many levels, but Silicon Valley has its own metaphysics, inheriting as much from Asia as the European families.  The Empire State is more comfortable with a mindset it well understands, even if it poses as despising same.  At least Trump's main focus is the Middle East.

Yang is happy to discuss his race, and what it's like to be bullied, but how that gives him no right to say he knows what it's like to be black, and stigmatized for it.  That part of his banter is nicely worked out, and then race becomes more of a non-issue.

Sure we're allowed to notice people's "race" (whatever that means to us), and talk about it (somewhat differently).  He's not at war with the many vernaculars.  He's comfortable with colloquialisms.

In that regard, Yang is media-fluent in a way Trump surprisingly is as well (for someone that old -- but groomed by TV to be ratings-worthy).

I don't see myself as the answer man, when it comes to how Pepe will tip.  I'm purposely not reading a lot of opinions on this topic, as I'd prefer to think it through independently.  I'll be watching.

I do know that a lot of draft age youths would prefer $1000 a month to play computer games, some of which could be educational and rewarding in other ways.  Ditto their parents and siblings.

As a Coffee Shops Network avatar, with gaming for charity blueprints, I'm obviously not trying to fight the Gamer community.  Quakers Play Quake is one of my imaginary bumper stickers.

Yang and I share an appreciation for truckers and trucking (the industry).  He doesn't know about Truckers for Peace (citizen diplomats, getting academic credit, with truck stops the new embassies in some ways -- including for the so-called "virtual" or "diaspora" nations).

Sunday, April 07, 2019

On a First Day

The downstairs office doubles as a guest room for Carol, who is more than a guest (she's my mom), whereas the back room with all the telecommunications doubles as a guest room.  That leave's the daughters' bedroom upstairs, vacated by both, to serve as a full time office (there's no bed).  I feature it in my taxes, if that still matters.  It used to.

Said Carol wants to meet and greet an old friend moving to Portland, however her sleep schedule is such that making it to Multnomah Friends is far from easy.  At the moment, the jury is still out.  We've missed the main worship, which starts in four minutes, but then there's still social hour.  This is Meeting for Business day, meaning they'll be having a potluck.

My long term guest Lindsey, since departed and part time in Nepal, pioneered using the half finished basement as digs.  The telecomm office was leaking back then (literally), as you'll find out if you explore my Flickr album.  We both had our relationships with other people.  Having a floor between us worked well.  Later Jen moved into Carol's office.  She lives in LA.

Both Jen and Lindsey, and later Melody, were my housemates when Occupy rolled around.  I'd lived with several housemates in college, and afterwards. That Harrison Street resembled my previous lifestyle (e.g. 2 Dickinson Street, Princeton University) is perhaps not all that surprising.

Our kitchen had long been a hub for Food Not Bombs, more for auxiliary storage than front lines prep (church kitchens are much bigger).  During Occupy, Melody and Lindsey help FNB establish a serving site, which later moved when all those paper plate and disposable utensil people showed up.  I never moved to a tent, and instead maintained my logistical role as a food deliverer.

If you've curious about the Occupy chapter, it's documented in detail from my unique perspective in these blogs.  As for the global phenomenon, I don't know that there was one.  Attempts to connect Arab Spring to what was happening on Wall Street, in Portland, in Syria... I wasn't one to see those as tightly connected.  I had my OPDX point of view.