True/False? “NHTSA reports an average of one accident per 484,000 miles”

As soon as Tesla was on the road it had to start reporting deaths. Source: https://www.tesladeaths.com/

I keep reading the following sentence in safety reports about Tesla, but only about Tesla:

NHTSA reports an average of one accident per 484,000 miles.

Do you see the NHTSA reporting that anywhere? I do not. And I do not see any other car manufacturer quoting this number either.

I see only a sentence Tesla put on their website to claim they aspire “to be” the safest car on the road. And then they wrote that sentence without any source or qualifications.

In other words the 484,000 miles reference is found nowhere but the Tesla site, which claims it found it somewhere else.

This December 2020 NHTSA report (DOT HS 813 060) is perhaps the closest thing: “Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019”

Source: NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, Research Note: “Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019”, DOT HS 813 060

Wow, as a percentage of total fatalities since 1995 more and more people outside cars are being killed by cars!

Can you find the 484,000 anywhere? I have questions even if you can:

  1. Why didn’t Tesla put in a simple NHTSA reference to their claim? Don’t they want us to connect directly to the NHTSA and read that report if true?
  2. Why do people keep repeating this without any direct NHTSA reference? People say Tesla says that the NHTSA says a number. What? Nobody just says please show us this report? Can anybody find an actual NHTSA report that says this number?
  3. Does anyone understand what NHTSA might actually be talking about when they are cited improperly in this Tesla quote?

Until I see this report where NHTSA says the exact magic 484,000 number, I continue to believe something is very wrong with media channels repeating it as though it’s true.

Take this report that uses the number for example:

Stock in the electric-vehicle pioneer Tesla is wobbling after a Tesla vehicle crashed and police said no one appears to have been at the wheel.

Here’s another one that uses the number:

Tesla Q1 Safety Report Shows Rise In Autopilot Accidents

Why is that 484,000 data point being sourced from Tesla in these articles about Tesla safety failures, and NOT some statement or report directly from the actual NHTSA?

Perhaps Tesla is engaging in disinformation such that safety news is always controlled by them and them alone to poison a safety narrative?

Here are some guesses why Tesla doesn’t want someone to find or read a NHTSA report, even though Tesla wants us to believe they base their safety engineering on it:

  • NHTSA averages are for all vehicles in all conditions everywhere
  • Tesla averages are for a tiny subset of vehicles and conditions
  • Tesla doesn’t define methods or terms such as miles, crash, accident
  • Tesla crashes have been increasing, worsening not improving
  • Other car manufacturers are reporting their safest records in history during rise in Tesla fatalities and injuries

Saying Autopilot in a Tesla is safer than a 1995 rust-bucket on a dirt road where Autopilot can’t even function is a completely bogus comparison.

Tesla seems to be willfully lying with its claims about crash data.

As an example of more meaningful comparison here is an actual NHTSA report on factors in crashes in the United States:

Source: NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, Research Note: “The Relationship Between Passenger Vehicle Occupant Injury Outcomes and Vehicle Age or Model Year in Police-Reported Crashes”, DOT HS 812 937

From this table we see 1995-2011 cars are clocking 1,030,624 severe injuries.

Meanwhile, 2012-2018 cars have only 199,480. So is the 2021 Tesla safety marketing campaign comparing itself to a 1995 car on purpose?

Also the NHTSA issues a warning about their own numbers:

…while the present analysis shows that the newer vehicle model year groups were inversely associated with occupant injury severity outcome, this study does not identify which aspects of the model year group with particular vehicular designs are responsible for the reduction in the risk of severe injury to vehicle occupants.

That’s literally the opposite of Tesla marketing, which repeatedly says their particular vehicle is responsible for reduction of crashes… despite no actual evidence to support such claims.

Tesla put its first cars on the road in 2013, right? So you can see it’s patently unfair to compare a 2013 or later model with anything prior unless making a completely different point about car safety (e.g. buy any new car, not an old car, because data shows generic new cars safer than all old ones).

Do you see a problem with Tesla comparing its particular cars to all crashes ever for all cars on the road instead of doing a true comparison with proper analysis?

What if we just run the numbers of Teslas crashing versus Teslas delivered. What percentage of Teslas crash, and how soon after being delivered?

Remember that table at the start of this post?

After putting only a few thousand cars on the road, and a CEO publicly stating his cars are the safest of all cars on the road, Tesla had to report two deaths from a car that “veers into opposite lane”.

Is there another car manufacturer that has as many deaths per cars delivered?

If you went out to buy a car today, Tesla continues to claim misleadingly you should see them as safer than ALL cars ever made, even when you are only in the market for NEW cars.

And when you’re in the market for new cars, Tesla may in fact be significantly less safe than other options (Volvo, Honda, etc). Here’s some proper analysis:

The fundamental problem here is that Tesla does a poor job of driver monitoring. Unlike several other automakers, Tesla only uses a torque sensor in the steering wheel to try to detect when the driver is moving the wheel. This is a cheap but very imprecise method.

A brand new Tesla uses “cheap but very imprecise” engineering for its safety.

Why would Tesla hide the reference to the NHTSA and make it hard to see the actual math? Seems cheap and imprecise of them.

Again, here’s some proper analysis.

General Motors’ similar Super Cruise feature, which is advertised as hands-free, uses facial recognition technology to ensure that a driver is watching the road while it is in operation and recently ranked higher than Autopilot in a Consumer Reports test

I don’t like “hands-free” marketing either, but you have to recognize that Tesla was ranked lower than other brands in safety using independent analysis

If nothing else, you should know Tesla clearly doesn’t want the NHTSA to speak for itself because it never seems to say to anyone “here’s the NHTSA” or “go read the NHTSA”.

Until I see people start to use original source NHTSA documentation when talking about NHTSA reports, I am extremely skeptical of the NHTSA being fairly referenced by Tesla.

If Tesla builds cars like they build their arguments to drive their cars, you shouldn’t buy their cars.

Here’s some poetry that might help explain:

Electric cars were the future in 1981.
Reagan shut it all down.
Electric cars were the future in 2001.
Bush shut it all down.
Electric cars were the future in 2021.
Tesla is a dumpster fire.

If you want to know why people are sticking with fossil fuels, it’s pretty clear who is keeping them alive. Yes, that’s silly. Let’s get rid of the combustion engine and get in our electric cars.

Just don’t get into a Tesla unless you’re prepared to be misled by funny numbers straight into a tree and die in a fire.

Why put people into an electric clown car? That does not help bring electric cars to market faster, as it destroys trust in new cars and their manufacturers.

Facebook Security Knew in 2017 There Was a Problem and Failed to Act

A harsh new report about notifications to Facebook in 2017, based on an allegedly leaked internal email, tells us what we’ve all known since at least 2015.

Facebook knew there was a problem, and failed to do anything until half a billion users’ details were released…

Security at Facebook has been operating as a farce. News stories like this based on internal email confirm harms were intentionally allowed as a strategic decision, even while peddling a story about being the best in the world at preventing them.

Management increasingly is exposed for focusing all along on attacking and manipulating critics. In the event of criticism, Facebook runs massive PR engines to discredit real journalism (as I’ve written about here before).

Tesla CEO Gaslighting Autopilot Safety Failures

“2 dead in Tesla crash after car ‘no one was driving’ hits tree”. Source: NBC

Just a few days ago on April 14th the CEO of Tesla tweeted a prediction:

Major improvements are being made to the vision stack every week. Beta button hopefully next month.

This is a “march of 9’s” trying to get probability of no injury above 99.999999% of miles for city driving. Production Autopilot is already above that for highway driving.

Production Beta

You might see a problem immediately with that prediction. “Production Autopilot” means it already is in production, yet the prior sentence was “Beta… next month”.

Can it both be in production and have vision a month away from beta? Also make special note of the highway driving reference. Production is being used as a very limited subset of production. It’s still being tested in the city because not ready while being production ready for highway, but all of it is called production while being unready?

This is very tortured marketing double-speak, to the point where Tesla language becomes meaningless.

Let’s move on to April 17th at 3:45PM when the CEO of Tesla was tweeting Autopilot claims about being standard on all Teslas, as part of a full endorsement of extremely bold marketing claims like this one:

Even when you’re driving manually, Autopilot is looking out for you

Hold that thought. No matter what, even manual mode, Autopilot is there. Got it? This is important in a minute.

Also this is not a statement about it being a production highway-only Autopilot. It is not specifying the beta button of vision of Autopilot. There is nothing anything about this or that version, in this or that situation.

This is a statement about ALL Autopilot versions on all Teslas.

ALWAYS on, looking out for you.

Standard. On ALL Teslas.

These are very BOLD claims.

Passive is active safety? What is this word soup?

Just to be clear about sources, this @WholeMarsBlog account tweeting safety claims is a Tesla promotional stunt operation.

It tweets things like “2.6s 0-60 mph” promoting extreme acceleration right next to a video called “Do not make the mistake of underestimating FSD @elonmusk”

Do not underestimate “full self driving”? Go 0-60 in 2.6s?

That seems ridiculously dangerous advice that will get people killed, maybe even launching them straight into a tree with no chance of surviving.

Here’s the associated video, a foreshadowing at this point.

To summarize, an account linked to the CEO explicitly has been trying to encourage Tesla owners to do highly dangerous performance and power tests on small public roads that lack markings.

Now hold those two thoughts together. We can see Tesla’s odd marketing system promoting: Autopilot is always looking out for you on all Tesla models without exception, and owners should try extreme tests on unmarked roads where underestimating Autopilot is called the “mistake” — drive dangerously.

See the connections?

I see the above introduction as evidence of invitation from Tesla (they certainly didn’t object) to use Autopilot for high performance stunts on small roads where even slight miscalculation could be disastrous.

Next, on April 17th just hours before yet another fatal Tesla accident, the CEO tweeted his rather crazy idea that a Tesla offers a lower chance of accident when it is compared to all automobile crash data combined.

Specifically, the CEO points to his own report that states:

NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 484,000 miles.

Where does it show this? Most recent data means what? Are we talking about 2016?

This is what I see in the 2020 report, which presumably includes Teslas:

Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019. Source: NHTSA

Tesla offers no citations that can be verified, no links, no copy of the recent data or even a date. Their claims are very vague, written into their own report that they publish, and we have no way of validating with them.

Also, what is defined by Tesla as a crash? Is it the same as the NHTSA? And why does Tesla say crash instead of the more meaningful metric of fatality or injury?

NHTSA publishes a lot of fatality data. Is every ding and bump on every vehicle of any kind being compared with just an “accident” for Tesla? All of it seems extremely, unquestionably misleading.

And the misuse of data comes below statements the company makes like “Tesla vehicles are engineered to be the safest cars in the world.” This is probability language. They are to be safe, when? Sometime in future? Are they not the safest yet and why not? Again misleading.

The reverse issue also comes to mind. If a child adds 2+2=4 a billion times, that doesn’t qualify them as ready to take a calculus exam.

However Tesla keeps boasting it has billions of miles “safely” traveled, as though 2+2 is magically supposed to be equivalent to actual complex driving conditions with advanced risks. It’s a logical fallacy, which seems intentionally misleading.

You can see the CEO pumps up generic Autopilot (all of them, every version, every car described as totally equivalent) as something that will prevent huge numbers of crashes and make an owner exponentially safer, based only on hand-wavy numbers

Now let’s watch after a crash happens and he immediately disowns his own product, splitting hairs about this or that version and claiming there’s no expectation of capability in any common situation.

His next tweet on the subject comes April 19th at 2:14PM when he rage tweets about insider information (secret logs) to dispute claims made by witnesses and reporters.

To recap, before a fatal accident the CEO describes Autopilot as a singular product across all Tesla that dramatically reduces risk of a crash no matter what. And then immediately following a fatal accident the CEO is frantically slicing and dicing to carve out exceptions:

  • Enabled
  • Purchased FSD
  • Standard Autopilot
  • Lane lines
  • This street

These caveats seem entirely disingenuous compared with just a day prior when everything was being heavily marketed as safer without any detail, any warning, any common sense or transparency.

Note that the WSJ report that prompted the tweet is gathering far lower social numbers than the CEO’s own network effects, which helps explain how and why he pushes selfish narratives even while admitting facts are not yet known.

The CEO is trying to shape beliefs and undermine the voice of professionals to get ahead of the facts being reported accurately.

Now just imagine if the CEO cared about safety. On April 17th he could have tweeted what he was saying on the 19th instead:

Dear loyal fans, just so you are aware your Standard Autopilot isn’t like Purchased FSD and it won’t turn on unless it sees something that looks like a lane line…don’t overestimate its abilities. In fact, it doesn’t turn on for a minute or more so you could be in grave danger.

Big difference right? It’s much better than that very misleading “always on” and “safest car in the world” puffery that led right into another tragic fatality.

Seriously, why didn’t his tweets on the 17th have a ton of couched language and caveats like the 19th?

I’ll tell you why, the CEO is pushing disinformation before a fatality and then more disinformation after a fatality.

Disinformation from a CEO

Let’s break down a few simple and clear problems with the CEO statement. Here is is again:

First, the CEO invokes lane lines only when he replies to the tweet. That means he completely side-steps the mention of safety measures. He knows there are widespread abuses and bypasses of the “in place” weighted seat and steering wheel feedback measures.

We know the CEO regularly promotes random evidence of people who promote him, including people who practice hands-off driving, and we should never be surprised his followers will do exactly what he promotes.

The CEO basically likes and shares marketing material made by Tesla drivers who do not pay attention, so he’s creating a movement of bad drivers who practice unsafe driving and ignore warnings. Wired very clearly showed how a 60 Minutes segment with the CEO promoted unsafe driving.

Even Elon Musk Abuses Tesla’s Autopilot. Musk’s ’60 Minutes’ interview risks making the public even more confused about how to safely use the semi-autonomous system.

We clearly see in his tweet response that he neither reiterates the safety measure claims, nor condemns or even acknowledges the well-known flaws in Tesla engineering.

Instead he tries to narrow the discussion down to just lines on the road. Don’t let him avoid a real safety issue here.

In June of 2019 a widely circulated video showed a Tesla operating with nobody in the driver seat.

…should be pretty damn easy to implement [prevention controls], and all the hardware to do so is already in the car. So why aren’t they doing that? That would keep dangerous bullshit like this from happening. Videos like this… should be a big fat wake-up call that these systems are way too easy to abuse… and sooner or later, wrecks will happen. These systems are not designed to be used like this; they can stop working at any time, for any number of reasons. They can make bad decisions that require a human to jump in to correct. They are not for this. I reached out to Tesla for comment, and they pointed me to the same thing they always say in these circumstances, which basically boils down to “don’t do this.”

September of 2020 a widely circulated video showed people drinking in a Tesla at high speed with nobody in the driver seat.

This isn’t the first time blurrblake has posted reckless behavior with the Tesla…. He has another video up showing a teddy bear behind the wheel with a dude reclining in the front passenger seat.

Show me the CEO condemnation, a call for regulation, of an owner putting their teddy bear behind the wheel in a sheer mockery of Tesla’s negligent safety engineering.

March of 2021 again a story hit the news of teenagers in a Tesla, nobody in the driver seat, that runs into a police car.

In this case a Tesla was driving on the wrong side of the road. Then, when the police pulled it over, the Tesla drove into the police car. Again, nobody was in the driver seat. I didn’t find any CEO tweets about this. Why was the car driving on the wrong side of the road with nobody in the driver seat?

And in another case during March 2021, Tesla gave an owner ability to summon the car remotely. When they used the feature the Tesla nearly ran over a pregnant woman with a toddler. The tone-deaf official response to this incident was that someone should be in the driver seat (completely contradicting their own feature designed on the principle that nobody is in the car).

People sometimes seem to point out how the CEO begs for regulation of AI, talks about AI being bad if unregulated, yet those same people never seem to criticize the CEO for failing to lift a finger himself to regulate and shut down these simple bad behavior examples right here right now.

Regulation by others wouldn’t even be needed if Tesla would just engineer real and basic security.

The CEO for example calls seat belts an obviously good thing nobody should ever have delayed, but there’s ample evidence that he’s failing to put in today’s seat belt equivalent. Very mixed messaging. Seat belts are a restraint, reducing freedom of movement, and the CEO is claiming he believes in them while failing to restrain people.

There must be a reason the CEO avoids deploying better safety while also telling everyone it’s stupid to delay better safety.

Second, lines may be needed to turn on. Ok. Now explain if Autopilot can continue without lines. More to the obvious point, does a line have to be seen for a second or a minute? The CEO doesn’t make any of this detailed distinction, while pretending to care about facts. In other words if a line is erroneously detected then we assume Autopilot is enabled. Done. His argument is cooked.

Third, what’s a line? WHAT IS A LINE? Come on people. You can’t take any statement from this CEO at face value. He is talking about lines like it’s some fact, when Autopilot has no real idea of what a line is. Again his argument is cooked.

Sorry, but this is such an incredibly important point about the CEO’s deceptive methods as to require shouting again WHAT IS A LINE?

Anything can be read as a line if a system is dumb enough and Tesla has repeatedly been proven to have extremely dumb mistakes. It will see lines where there are none, and sometimes it doesn’t see double-yellow lines.

Fourth, the database logs can be wrong/corrupted especially if they’re being handled privately and opaquely to serve the CEO’s agenda. That statement was “logs recovered so far”. Such a statement is extremely poor form, why say anything at all?

The CEO is actively failing to turn data over to police to be validated and instead trying to curry favor with his loyalists by yelling partial truths and attacking journalists. Such behavior is extremely suspicious, as the CEO is withholding information while at the same time knowing full well that facts would be better stated by independent investigators.

Local police responded to the CEO tweets with “if he has already pulled the data, he hasn’t told us that.”

Why isn’t the CEO of Tesla working WITH investigators instead of trying to keep data secret and control the narrative, not to mention violate investigation protocols?

…the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which removed Tesla as a party to an earlier investigation into a fatal crash in 2018 after the company made public details of the probe without authorisation.

The police meanwhile are saying what we know is very likely to be true.

We have witness statements from people that said they left to test drive the vehicle without a driver and to show the friend how it can drive itself.

Let’s not forget also this CEO is also the same guy who in March 2020 tweeted disinformation “Kids are essentially immune” to COVID19. Today we read stories that are the opposite.

…government data from Brazil suggest that over 800 children under age 9 have died of Covid-19, an expert estimates that the death toll is nearly three times higher…

Thousands of children dying from pandemic after the Tesla CEO told the world to treat them as immune. Essentially immune? That’s double-speak again like saying Autopilot is in production meaning highway only because still testing urban and in a month from now it will achieve beta.

Or double-speak like saying Autopilot makes every Tesla owner safer always, except in this one road or this one car because of some person.

Who trusts his data, his grasp of responsibility for words and his predictions?

Just as a quick reminder, this crash is the 28th for Tesla to be investigated by the NHTSA. And in 2013 when this Model S was released the CEO called it the safest car on the road. Since then as many as 16 deaths have been alleged to be during Autopilot.

Fifth, the location, timing (9:30P) and style of the accident suggests extremely rapid acceleration that didn’t turn to follow the road and instead went in a straight line into a tree.

This is consistent with someone trying to test/push extreme performance “capabilities” of the car (as promoted and encouraged by the CEO above and many times before), which everyone knows would include people trying to push Autopilot (as recorded by witnesses).

Remember those thoughts I asked you to hold all the way up at the top of this post? A reasonable person listening to “Autopilot is always on and much safer than human” and watching videos of “Don’t underestimate FSD” next to comments about blazing acceleration times… it pretty obviously adds up to Tesla creating this exact scenario.

Tesla owners dispute CEO claims

Some of this already has been explored by owners of Tesla vehicles who started uploading proofs of their car operating on autopilot with no lines on a road.

In one thread on Twitter the owner of a 2020 Model X with Autopilot and FSD Capability shares his findings, seemingly contradicting Tesla’s CEO extremely rushed and brash statements.

@LyftGift Part One

7:55am, I returned to the parking lot to show you folks how the Autopilot engages with no lines marked on the road as @elonmusk claims is necessary. I engaged autopilot without an issue. I didn’t post this video right away, because I wanted to see how y’all would twist it.

@LyftGift Part Two

Show me a line. Any line. Show me a speed limit sign. Any sign.

@LyftGift then reiterates again with a screenshot: “At 2:15 both icons are activated. Cruise and AP” with no lines on the road.

Something worth noting here, because the tiny details sometimes matter, is the kind of incongruity in Tesla vehicle features.

The CEO is saying the base Autopilot without FSD shouldn’t activate without lines, yet @LyftGyft gives us two important counter-points.

We see someone not only upload proof of Autopilot without lines, it is in a 2020 Model X performance, with free unlimited premium connectivity.

An eagle-eyed observer (as I said these details tend to matter, if not confuse everything) asked how that configuration is possible given Tesla officially discontinued it in mid-2018.

@LyftGift replies “Tesla hooked me up”.

So let’s all admit for the sake of honesty here, since Tesla bends its rules arbitrarily to say what is or is not available on a car, it is really hard to trust anything the CEO might say he knows or believes about any car.

Was it base Autopilot or is he just saying that because he hasn’t found out “yet” in his extremely early announcements that someone at Tesla “hooked” a modification for the owner and didn’t report it.

22 Hammock Dunes Place

Maps show that the empty wooded lot where the car exploded had desolate, simple lanes, near a golf club, where the roads were in perfect condition. The only complication seems to be the roads are constantly curved.

The car allegedly only went several hundred yards on one “S” curve and lost control, before exploding on impact with a tree. The short narrow path and turn suggests rapid acceleration that we’ve read about in other fatal Tesla crash and burn reports.

I would guess the Tesla owners thought they had chosen a particular safe place to do some extreme Autopilot testing to show off the car.

Apple satellite imagery looks like this:

Google StreetView shows these areas aren’t being mapped, which honestly says to me traffic is very low including police and thus a prime area for vehicle stunts:

Zillow offers a rather spooky red arrow in their description of the lot, also pointing roughly to where the burning car was found.

And I see lines, do you see lines?

Howabout in this view? Do you see lines plausibly indicating side of a road?

Ok, now this will surely blow your mind. The men who allegedly told others they were going to show off the Autopilot capability on this road were driving at night.

Look closely at the yellow light reflecting on this curve of the road like a yellow… wait for it… line!

Emergency services personnel stand near the site of the Tesla vehicle crash in Spring, Texas, on April 17, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

Fighting the Fire

The Houston Chronicle quotes the firefighters in self-contradictory statements, which is actually kind of important to the investigation.

With respect to the fire fight, unfortunately, those rumors grew out way of control. It did not take us four hours to put out the blaze. Our guys got there and put down the fire within two to three minutes, enough to see the vehicle had occupants

This suggests firefighters had a very good idea of where the passengers were in the vehicle and how they were impacted, when everyone was reporting nobody in the driver seat.

The firefighter then goes on to say fighting the fire took several hours after all, but the technical description means it wasn’t live flames, just the ongoing possibility of live flames. Indeed, other Tesla after crashes have reignited multiple times over several hours if not longer.

Buck said what is termed in the firefighting profession as “final extinguishment” of the vehicle — a 2019 Tesla — took several hours, but that classification does not mean the vehicle was out-of-control or had live flames.

And then a little bit later…

…every once in a while, the (battery) reaction would flame.

It wasn’t on fire for more than three minutes. It could have reignited so we were on it for several hours. It was reigniting every once in a while.

So to be clear, the car was a serious fire hazard for hours yet burned intensely only for minutes. Technically it did burn for hours (much like an ember is burning, even when no flames are present) although also technically the fire fighters prefer to say it was a controlled burn.

Conclusion

As I’ve posted on this blog before

Tesla, without a question, has a way higher incidence of fire deaths than other cars.

There already are many twists to this new story (pun not intended) because the CEO of Tesla is peddling disinformation and misleading people — claiming Autopilot is always there and will save the world until it doesn’t and then backpedaling to “there was no Autopilot” and tightly controlling all the messaging and data.

Seems to fit the bill for gaslighting. Autopilot is both on always but off, as the car is to be safest yet smashed into a tree and on fire for minutes and burning for hours.

Tesla’s production highway tested beta manual autopilot using passive active safety literally couldn’t see a tree for the forest.

This Day in History 1943: Operation Mincemeat

A while ago I wrote about a 1917 saddle bag with bogus British battle plans that “fell” off a horse near the Turkish front lines. It was deception, which had a decisive influence.

Despite similarity, we’re led to believe that it did not inspire missions that had a huge impact in WWII. Instead, WWII missions are said to have been inspired by real life instead of an earlier deception operation.

On September 25, 1942 a British plane crashed on the coast of Spain. There were no survivors; one fatality in particular that worried Allied commanders was a courier who carried sensitive documents about invasion plans for North Africa, called Operation Torch.

Allegedly those documents didn’t leak yet it was this incident that inspired Allied intelligence to attempt an intentional leak.

They set about staging a series of ruses and incidents (Operation Barclay) designed to get the Germans to take fake documents that would disorient them during coming southern Europe invasion plans for the summer of 1943 called Operation Husky.

Therefore on this day — April 19th — in 1943 the HMS Seraph submarine set sail for the coast of Spain to release a long-dead corpse of a London homeless man (preserved in a steel canister of dry ice, after starvation had led him to eat rat bait). He was dressed as a British major and “pushed” out to sea.

Operation Mincemeat.

Like the WWI saddle bag ploy, this decoy carried fake papers (including love letters, bank statements and receipts) as well as a briefcase filled with maps of Greece. I’ve found no evidence of poetry.

Because Nazis were so embedded and influential within Spain’s fascist government, especially in small southwestern cities like Huelva near Morocco, they were easily pulled into fake papers on a British corpse.

A fisherman dragged the body to Spanish authorities, a German spy quickly was summoned and was so excited he ran straight to Berlin.

Mincemeat swallowed rod, line and sinker.

The Allies then saw far fewer German resources during invasion of Sicily, moving more quickly and with fewer losses than anticipated, while the duped Nazis sat ready for action in Greece. Hitler even pulled troops off actual battles further weakening them just to sit and wait in the wrong spot. With Rommel easily routed by November 1942, the simple decoy operation sent Nazi command into disarray. Axis forces began to rapidly collapse such that Italy was invaded in July and quickly defeated by September 1943.

America’s History of Mistreatment of Black Service Members

“[Black] soldier of the US 12th Armored Division stands guard over a group of Nazi prisoners captured in the surrounding German forest”. Source: US NARA 535840

A new article on the history of American racism towards its black veterans points out it goes back to the Civil War:

Thousands of Black men who served in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II were targeted because of their service and threatened, assaulted or lynched, according to a 2017 Equal Justice Initiative report.

It’s a good article to read in order to have better context around the attempted lynching by Virgina police, which has been in the news a lot lately.

I would just add that this article leaves some pretty big gaps in history that shouldn’t be hard to close. For example:

  • Black veterans of Spanish-American war were decorated at particularly important time period. This really frames Woodrow Wilson’s racism that motivated his run for President (In 1881 Wilson said the South’s suppression of black voters was not because of skin but because their minds were dark. In 1902 Wilson said the South was the victim of Civil War). He in effect restarted the KKK from the White House, which is why lynchings and massacres targeting the veterans of WWI after his Presidency were so high.

    These American heroes ran directly into American racism. Instead of celebration and expansion, the backlash of resentment from white insecurity grew against these blacks who ventured to demonstrate their value and capabilities — success in America meant risk of being punished and relegated to lesser roles. ‘Shortly after the end of the Spanish-American War a decline began in the status of Black serviceman.’

  • Black women faced even more discrimination than men, and often were denied entry into service despite being overqualified.

    Bessie Coleman was the first American to have an International Pilot’s license. Racism in America actively prevented a black and Native American woman to learn how to fly, so she took night school to learn French, went to France and quickly became a pilot there. “…her brothers served in the military during World War I and came home with stories from their time in France. Her brother John teased her because French women were allowed to learn how to fly airplanes and Bessie could not…”

  • There are so many individual examples of black servicemen being silently killed by white police in America, like the 1960 murder of Marvin Williams, that it becomes almost impossible for people who aren’t aware of the magnitude of it all to understand where and how to look at systemic racism in America. In other words, ask who has been allocated the dedicated time and resources to drive justice in every individual case like Marvin Williams let alone in a “storm” (what white insecurity forces call themselves) perpetrating widespread domestic massacres of black American military veterans.

    The side-walks were literally covered with burning turpentine balls. I knew all too well where they came from, and I knew all too well why every burning building first caught from the top… ‘Where oh where is our splendid fire department with its half dozen stations?’ I asked myself. ‘Is the city in conspiracy with the mob?’

  • Slaves were forced to fight for US independence from Britain at a time when Britain was ending slavery. Men like the alleged mass rapist who hunted humans for sport, known as “Swamp Fox” by the British, in fact kept records boasting of putting their slave into action to do the actual fighting on their behalf. Just to be clear, Americans perpetuated slavery by using slaves to fight for independence from “tyranny”. It’s worth debating whether America losing its war for independence might have made life in America safer for black veterans and emancipated them by the 1830s.

    In December 2006, two centuries after his death, Marion made news again when President George W. Bush signed a proclamation honoring the man described in most biographies as the “faithful servant, Oscar,” Marion’s personal slave. Bush expressed the thanks of a “grateful nation” for Oscar Marion’s “service…in the Armed Forces of the United States.”

  • To the last point above, in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans freemen (black soldiers) played a decisive role. 50% of Jackson’s force from Louisiana was non-white despite “free blacks” being just 10% of the population. Although these black men served with distinction and achieved victory, Jackson quickly double-crossed them and stole their valor, rights and even took their guns away.

    …while Spanish/French colonial-era slave codes had granted complete rights and equality to a “free man of color” (allowed to be educated, serve in military, own land, business, and even slaves) it was only the March 4, 1812 Louisiana Constitution that removed the right to vote from 2/3 of the people living there. That was long before Jackson would fight a vicious political campaign at the federal level to do them even more harm.

Hope that helps add even more detail to this ongoing tragedy of American history — how it treats its own military when they are black.

Mapping “America First” Revival of the KKK

Recently I wrote about a country song of encoded KKK/Nazi signals, called “The Big Revival“.

It got me thinking about whether a map might show how a KKK revival happened as a result of Woodrow Wilson’s “America First” campaign platform in 1915.

And then I found someone at Virginia Commonwealth University already had gone to the trouble of building an interactive map of “contagion”.

“The data for Mapping the Klan is based on a variety of sources, mostly newspapers sponsored by or sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan. These publications reported on the activities of local units, known officially as Klaverns.” Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

Again, I have to emphasize an explosion of terrorism (e.g. lynchings and massacres) was linked directly to an extremely racist “America First” platform and the President who did nothing to condemn any of it.

In a 1881 article that went unpublished, Wilson defended the South’s suppression of black voters, saying that they were being denied the vote not because their skin was dark but because their minds were dark (yes, really).

Wilson’s racism wasn’t the matter of a few unfortunate remarks here or there. It was a core part of his political identity, as indicated both by his anti-black policies as president and by his writings before taking office. It is completely accurate to describe him as a racist and white supremacist and condemn him accordingly.

“The full story” of American history is one of racial inequality and genocide, where white supremacist terrorism and violence is the foundation of “America First”:

Who Invented the Personal Computer? “Apple Was Literally Following Us Around”

It is quite sad how someone can gleefully erase people to highlight himself. Anyone believe a claim by Steve Jobs in 2001 that there was no personal computer in 1975?

Being literate in history should require knowing that by 1974 personal computers already were on the cover of popular magazines.

July 1974 magazine highlighting the personal computer.

It also is useful to know that the first Xerox Alto personal computer (from Palo Alto, where Woz worked and took many of his ideas to start Apple) had been operational in 1972 and introduced on 1 March 1973. Note the high resolution bitmapped graphical display and the mouse.

Source: Twitter @kenshirriff

What really seems to be obscured in that 2001 Steve Jobs interview, and why 1975 matters so much as a particular time, is Bill Mensch was able to create a layout completely by hand from the 6501 schematics and produce an inexpensive working CPU on his first try.

It begins at Motorola, where Chuck Peddle, Bill Mensch and several others were employed in the early 1970’s design the MC6800 processor and its peripherals. The 6800 was not a bad design, it was however, very expensive, a development board for it costing over $300. Chuck worked largely as the 6800 system architect, ensuring all the ICs worked well together and were what was needed to meet customers needs. He attended many calls to potential clients and noted that many were turned off by one thing, price. With that in mind he sought out to build a lower cost version of the 6800 using some of the newer processes available (specifically depletion mode NMOS vs the enhancement mode of the 6800). Motorola management wouldn’t hear it, they wanted nothing to do with a lower cost processor available to the masses. And with that, Chuck, Bill and over half the 6800 team left.

They ended up at MOS Technologies, which at the time was owned in large part by Allen/Bradley. It was there, at MOS under the direction of Chuck Peddle that the 6501/2 was borne.

THAT chip moment changed everything for the personal computer market (15% of the cost of an Intel 8080), which already existed. (Apple used the 6502 at the same time as Commodore. Who? Commodore, who in fact purchased MOS to save it and put in their own line of personal computers, although you’ll never hear Jobs mention either).

Chuck Peddle designed the KIM-1 personal computer while at MOS in 1975, and released it April 1976 as advertised by BYTE magazine.

Peddle also had developed a personal electronic transactor (PET) concept for a personal computer and in January 1977 displayed it at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Chicago.

Note this personal computer at the January CES trade show was months before Apple II (June 1977) or Radio Shack TRS80 (August 1977).

Steve Jobs in 2001 was quite literally erasing history by claiming there were no personal computers in 1975. First, the KIM-1 was designed by the same people who created the 6802 that Jobs was using. And second, CES had a personal computer on display from the same people who created the 6802 six months before both Apple and Radio Shack produced their competing products.

Jobs is saying “we had to create something where nothing existed” when he was doing the exact opposite: reacting to others creating things and promoting only himself unfairly as original.

Peddle had in fact had pitched his PET to Radio Shack hoping to have them retail it in stores (like Apple stores today). Radio Shack refused and it was soon afterwards, in the summer of 1977, that Commodore’s founder Jack Tramiel bought MOS Technologies — staff, patents, and production facilities.

And this is how the January 1977 PET personal computer moved into production. The Commodore acquisition (not to mention lawsuits from Motorola for the 6801, as well as a series of upgrades to memory, keyboard, and screens) led to delays of widespread availability until late in 1977.

Want to hear the real history? This is the real guy telling real truths right here:

(3h:48m:30s) The idea that Apple invented the personal computer, they literally were following us around. The Mac was a rip-off from [Xerox] Parc… With all due respect I don’t know what new things they’ve done. […] Everything was demonstrable in 1973. […] Star [in 1981, based on the 1972 Alto] was a great product it had all those things in it. Xerox deserves the credit.

(3h:51m:10s) Apple II by the way was getting its butt kicked by Radio Shack in the US and Europe, by us in Europe, until VisiCalc was on it. VisiCalc is what pulled them in… the first piece of software that was unique to the PC. Those guys at VisiCalc deserve the credit [for Apple’s success]. […]

I just want to be sure I give credit…

Peddle delivered a chip that made the inexpensive personal computer possible and then followed it by creating the worlds first “real” consumer-ready personal computer. And he even delivered the idea of the personal computer being sold in retail computer stores. Xerox had delivered the graphical screen and the mouse concepts years earlier on their Alto.

Apple definitely saved a lot of time by shamelessly taking other peoples’ ideas, as anyone can plainly see. The question remains whether Jobs intended to make more money by not crediting many of the people who had saved him so much time.

How Individualism Ruins Democracy

New book from Robert D. Putnam called “The Upswing” attempts to explain why American democracy won’t work if individualism is over-emphasized like southern Italy versus northern Italy:

The Upswing builds on the author’s celebrated concept of “social capital”: the web of non-contractual associational relationships that constitutes a community.

The idea acquires normative force through that word capital – the claim that social relationships are in aggregate not merely enjoyable but productive. In particular, they are able to generate and enforce common purposes.

Putnam initially used the concept to explain the divergence between a now- prosperous northern Italy and a now-dysfunctional southern one. With originality and courage, he traced northern success back to the eleventh century, when the north’s cities began fostering webs of mutually trustworthy relationships.

These developed through citizens’ participation in devolved associations, both political and social – emblematically, in choirs. In contrast, the South was invaded by Norman gangs who imposed feudalism, their hierarchical suppression of independent association helping to establish an autocratic state juxtaposed against suspicious individuals.

Putnam then made a radical inference: since the political institutions of Italy’s regions had been common for over a century, yet had led to wide differences in outcomes, institutions were not enough: democracy only succeeded if preceded by social capacity. He had the chutzpah to entitle his study Making Democracy Work (1993).

Facebook’s Role in Domestic Terrorism

Breaking news. Facebook might soon be understood for being exactly what it always has been.

Lawmakers finally seem to understand what journalists, academics, activists and legal experts have been saying for years – that social media, and particularly Facebook, represent a danger to democracy.

The Atlantic also recently put the colossal security failures of Facebook like this:

…in every situation of extremist violence we’ve looked into, we’ve found Facebook…

You may recall I wrote at length earlier on this blog how an “alleged terrorist has a prominent tattoo displayed on Facebook”.

For yet another example, here’s a fresh a new investigative article exploring recruitment and training of radical militant extremists for domestic terrorism and civil war, which really turns out to be a story about Facebook.

Look at the shout-outs:

There was a definite chain of command and a line of leadership within this group… he was introduced to the political ideology of the Boogaloo Bois through friends in the Air Force and on the internet. The 15 active-duty airmen identified by the news organizations as openly promoting Boogaloo content on Facebook…

and:

…he bought a $15 device that converts AR-15 semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic machine guns, making the purchase through a website that advertised to Boogaloo Facebook groups…

and:

Carrillo was in the back seat near the sliding door, carrying a short-barreled rifle… an illegal machine gun optimized to fire bursts of shots automatically, with an added silencer. Hours before, Carrillo had posted on Facebook that if ‘it’s not kicking off in your hood then start it.’ Now, according to prosecutors, Justus drove toward the guard hut while Carrillo slid the van’s door open and fired multiple bursts, killing Underwood and seriously wounding a second guard.

and:

Grizzly Scouts had a Facebook group called ‘/K/alifornia Kommando’ that proclaimed their desire ‘to gather like minded Californians who can network and establish local goon squads.’

and:

Most of the time…Carrillo was glued to Facebook, following the news and commenting on viral videos of police clashing with protesters.

and:

…deputies did not realize Carrillo was above them, perched just 40 feet away in a covered, well-concealed position up a steep embankment, aiming the same “ghost” weapon that prosecutors say he had used in Oakland. Based on the WhatsApp text messages that prosecutors say he sent at this time, Carrillo appeared to be trying to guide his fellow Grizzly Scouts on how they could join forces with him in a coordinated attack on the law enforcement officers… he sent one more WhatsApp message to his fellow Grizzly Scouts: “Dudes i offed a fed.”

and… now for something about Youtube.

the poetry of information security