The Face of Disinformation on LinkedIn

This is disinformation to the core on LinkedIn. Please review carefully and factor:

Source: LinkedIn
  1. Rumble is documented “right-wing propaganda and conspiracy theory as well as false information”
  2. The man arrested is “U.S. Customs and Border Protection” and ///NOT the FBI/// as spread in this disinformation post by Norcross. That alone should be an immediate take-down of the post.
  3. Norcross is engaging in weaponized speech by diverting a topic to “what the police look like” as an attempt to disarm targets of a violent insurrection, while he is passively promoting violence using false allegations against federal staff (e.g. these police look like a country defending itself against violent disinformation militias, such as a man illegally carrying a firearm).

In other words, in the face of a man illegally carrying a firearm and posing an imminent threat to the federal government, Norcross here is attempting to passively gin up anger at the federal government by falsely maligning a federal law enforcement agency. Why? He is trying to make a government defending itself against insurrection look like the extremists, the bad guys, when the exact opposite is true.

The careful observer will also note the “4d” meaning the post spread disinformation at least four days without interruption.

Norcross may as well have been asking what did someone look like in 1859 defending the nation against right-wing propaganda and conspiracy theory. Who was branded extreme in the face of a violent Southern mob that had been murdering countless Americans to perpetuate and expand slavery?

After witnessing mob murder of US abolitionists, John Brown dedicated his life to finish the work of victims. As Laurens Hickock put it to Brown: “The question now before the American citizen is no longer alone, ‘Can the slaves be made free?’ but, ‘Are we free, or are we slaves under Southern mob law?'”

New Special Forces e-Bikes are Really Just Motorcycles

Special Forces are orienting around the amazing performance characteristics of light bicycles with electric motors — motorcycles.

One of the curious problems with gasoline motorcycles is they grew too big and unwieldy at several hundred pounds, not to mention they ran on gasoline (not ideal for a military running on diesel). And since light-weight diesel motorcycles never really seemed to take off, electric makes perfect sense.

A new story in iNews claims an exclusive in reporting that Colorado is supplying the new commercial-sector mountain bicycles with electric motors to the military for testing.

In a reverse of the convention of defence technology finding its way to the civilian market, the vogue for military bicycles follows the global boom in e-bikes used by commuters and leisure cyclists. The value of the this market is predicted to reach £34bn by 2026.

But the new breed of special forces bike is a different beast.

With five-inch-wide tyres more likely to be found on a motorbike, a range of nearly 60 miles and silent 1,000w motors, the Jeep/QuietKat bike, made in Colorado, has been tailored for the needs of cycling special forces.

There are multiple problems with this story, although I have to commend it for making history front and center to the narrative.

First, it’s not a one-way convention. The civilian market also has a convention of making its way into defense technology. Special Forces often pull civilian companies like Patagonia, North Face, and Arcteryx into their equipment kits (as I’ve written about here before).

Second, the boom in e-bikes has been very pronounced in mountain bike racing, where training now is pedal-assist power to improve range in order to improve handling. In other words if you ride a technical pump track 50 times on an electric motor for training, then you likely get 40 times more experience in a session to prepare for non-electric racing than if you didn’t have the motor.

In other words, the “new breed of special forces bike” is NOT different from civilian bikes. A range of 60 miles on silent 1,000w motors is par for course, as well as extra fat tires commonly used for snow and sand trails.

Here’s a typical tweet from me in 2015.

Source: Twitter

Third, the history in this story has a GIANT gaping omission. This is not fair retelling.

Ever since the advent of the mass-produced bicycle in the late 1800s, armies have looked to harness the potential of soldiers on two wheels.

By the end of the 19th century most European militaries had formed bicycle units to replace horses for the delivery of messages and scouting and surveillance missions.

During the First World War, the British Army had two Cyclist Divisions, largely devoted to home guard duties. Prior to the war becoming bogged down in trenches, all sides sought to use fast-moving cyclist units, with the Belgian military using early folding bikes.

However, it was the Japanese who became most closely identified with the mass deployment of cycling soldiers. When Tokyo invaded China in 1937, it did so with a 50,000-strong “bicycle infantry”.

The ability to rapidly move large numbers of troops through jungle terrain without motorised transport proved vital to Japan’s early victories in the Second World War. During the invasion of Malaya in 1941, Japan was able to repeatedly outflank and overrun a retreating British Army by using bicycles along minor routes, ultimately resulting in the humiliating loss of Singapore.

During the Vietnam War the Viet Cong used bicycles to ferry supplies along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The Swiss Army maintained its Bicycle Regiment until 2001.

That covers a few bases, obviously (no pun intended).

What is missing? It was Black Americans who invented mountain biking in 1896. The Buffalo Soldiers deserve credit, as I’ve written about here before, for riding bikes from the Rocky Mountains all the way to Missouri.

A story about mountain bikes being developed in the Rocky Mountains for military use, which makes no mention of 1896 bikes in the Rocky Mountains for military use… begs the question why leave out the most obvious comparison of all.

Also, as I suggested at the start, a bicycle with a motor is in fact a motorcycle so this history really should include motorcycles when considering usage and modifications to carry heavy loads.

2015: A Non-Meat Diet Has HUGE Positive Environmental Impact

It seems like a million years ago I was on a platform called Twitter, where I posted insights like this one:

Source: Twitter

Hard to believe I ever willingly used a product called “MetroTwit”.

Anyway, the Global Calculator Tool was something brought to my attention by economists at LSE.

I ran all the possible outcomes (based on the spreadsheet) I could find and in every single scenario it became obvious that removing meat from diets had the single biggest impact in the shortest time.

It can save the world? Why?

Meat brings massive upstream implications, which cross most of the other factors. It is basically an overlay (e.g. land-use, transit-use, resource-consumption) and adding them together.

Put all the bad things together and you get a worse thing: meat.

It seemed pretty important as far as things to share. And Twitter delivered me exactly 3 “Likes”. Is it any wonder I left the platform?

I highly suggest you take this big data analysis tool for a spin.

Source: Global Calculator Tool

Performing the straight-forward assessment of risks using this tool helps decipher headlines you likely will see more of (as people fail to shift their diet to either local sustainable meat or no meat).

2018: Plos One: 20% tax on red meat needed to cover associated healthcare costs (110% tax on bacon, which is more harmful)

2019: Animal Frontiers: livestock responsible for 14.5 percent of greenhouses gases

2020: Nature Sustainability: global plant-based diet by 2050 could remove over 16 years of CO2 emissions

Who Attended General Lee’s Funeral and Why?

Confederate General Lee died obscurely as a foreigner and traitor to the U.S., never having been pardoned and without restoring his citizenship

One of the great myths about General Lee was that he was well liked or popular. Let’s look at how that came to be.

Start with this simple history fact:

On June 7, 1865, Underwood’s grand jury indicted Robert E. Lee for treason, charging him with “wickedly, maliciously, and traitorously” carrying on war against the Constitution and the “peace and dignity” of the United States of America. Lee faced death by hanging, if found guilty of the charges.

If Lee had been victorious, it would have meant death to the Constitution. Thus he very correctly was charged at the end of war with treason.

He was the very face of tyranny and the Old South.

He betrayed his own country, a republic, with the aim of slaughtering Americans to replace it with a violent tyranny where only a few white aristocratic men would rule. As a deeply flawed aristocrat Lee was to blame for a staggeringly cruel death toll, and doing little or nothing when his followers committed gross atrocities.

Don’t get me wrong.

There were people who liked him for his barbaric tactics in war against America, some even trying to fabricate a “Christian Soldier” myth to rope in religious extremism as some kind of excuse for his habit towards unnecessarily high casualties (while Grant maneuvered into obviously decisive victories, Lee coldly dug in for absolutely brutal defeats of unnecessary death, foreshadowing Hitler’s strategy disasters of Nazi Germany).

Yet, his funeral gives us ample evidence how his popularity diminished so greatly he died mostly ignored just a few years after the end of the Civil War he infamously lost. In a very real sense it was a state of being ignored and disappearing from view that prevented him from being instead very publicly put to death by hanging.

Had he stuck his neck out after the Civil War it very likely would have been cut off for him.

Indeed, prohibited from taking any public office or even being able to vote in elections, he hid himself away quietly as a president of a small militant extremist training school, a regional “Washington College” in Lexington, Virginia (a school he fit into well, given it very notably owned human beings and benefited from their forced labor and sale).

Then Lee abruptly died from heart disease on October 12th (just five years after the end of Civil War).

Records tell us at this point very few mourned him outside his militant school and his former circles of slaveholder politicians. The numbers don’t lie.

The school even had to turn its “cadets” into his pallbearers and the small funeral procession was over almost as quickly as it started.

Order of Procession as “Escort of honor, consisting of officers and soldiers of the Confederate Army. Chaplain and other Clergy. Hearse and Pall-Bearers. General Lee’s Horse. The Attending Physicians. Trustees and Faculty of Washington College. Dignitaries of the State of Virginia. Visitors and Faculty of V. M. Institute. Other Representative Bodies and Distinguished Visitors. Alumni of Washington College. Citizens. Cadets V. M. Institute. Students Washington College as Guard of Honour.” It continues, in part “At 10 O’Clock, Precisely, The Procession (except as hereafter designated) will be formed on the College ground, in front of the President’s House and will move down Washington Street… The Procession will be halted in front of the Chapel… when the Cadets for the Institute and the Students of Washington College will be marched through the College Chapel, past the remains…

These details are captured in an auction piece.

And it’s confirmed also in an 1883 recount of the funeral.

Source: Life of General Lee

To put it another way a small regional school and some former seditious officers showed up dutifully, as well as slaveholder politicians, in total numbering barely over 1,000 people.

That’s essentially nothing, given he had only recently stopped being the head of a secessionist military with lofty aims of destroying America to replace it with a slave state.

He had more than 8X that number preparing to fight a last battle when he surrendered just a few years prior. Think about that. Four years after 8,000 men swore they would fight to destroy America on Lee’s command only a few showed up to pay him respect at his funeral.

Thus, the defeated General Lee died with a negative score in his battles, losing a massive war badly with excessive loss of life. He had not regained his citizenship, nor was he personally/formally pardoned officially for treason let alone leading a fight to destroy the American Constitution.

Nonetheless his body was allowed to receive a “military salute” from the tight circle of his own cadets at his school.

Tributes were mentioned in eight cities: Louisville, Kentucky; Augusta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Atlanta, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Columbia, South Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; and Lexington, Kentucky.

Eight cities.

In a nutshell, after Lee stopped his fight to expand slavery and surrendered his sword to General Grant at Appomattox Court-House, his public career ended. He quickly passed from public thoughts and very few cared to inquire about his fate, foreshadowing why his own cadets in a small college in an obscure town had to be his pallbearers.

Lee was buried under his school’s church and its name was abruptly changed to “Washington and Lee”. This foreshadowed anti-American Confederate flags being flown in that chapel (until 2014) and even serving as an events center for anti-American militant groups (until 2016).

All of it stood in direct contradiction to Lee’s supposed wishes to bury signs of his rebellion (which confusingly contradict him being president of a militant school). It’s a good reminder to everyone that even in death he continued to be a confused and ineffective leader.

The Washington and Lee school in fact just refused to undo that name change (continuing to disgrace Lee’s stated aims to end rebellion). They plainly cited “a threat to current financial support”, suggesting Lee’s name mainly serves now as a means of stoking cash donations by manipulating outrage among white supremacists.

A big scam for people to make a lot of money.

Why You Should Wrestle with a Pig, Even if You Get Dirty and the Pig Likes It

I suppose a more insightful saying is “don’t strike the King to wound” because it suggests taking on harms can be self-limiting in achieving goals.

Don’t commit suicide. Obviously.

That makes far more sense to me than an oft-misquoted “wrestle with a pig” saying that emphasizes being squeamish about any challenge that has a cost associated with it.

In other words, why run away when someone starts mud slinging? And does the fact they enjoy it change anything? Makes no sense logically.

Why not defeat an adversary in wrestling and then clean yourself as one would be expected after achieving any task requiring perspiration and exposure?

Consider the following version of the saying, which suggests one is wise to disregard a fear of becoming dirty while working hard to persevere against adversity:

It has been remarked by a wise man that he who wrestles with a hog must expect to be spattered with filth, whether he is vanquished or not. This maxim I have long known and appreciated; nevertheless, there are occasions when it must be disregarded. A man may be attacked in such a way that he is compelled to flagellate his hogship, even at the risk of being contaminated by the unclean beast.

Is it Whack to Hack Back a Persistent Attack?

The title of this blog post is from our 2013 RSA Conference panel presentation on the ethics and business of “hack back”, a stage we shared with CrowdStrike and Trend Micro.

It was based on 2012 presentations we had been giving to explain an ethical business model for hack back, based on setting international precedent and trial: a working legal framework for self-defense using information technology.

We had a fairly large turn out those years, and I’ll never forget CrowdStrike’s founder demanding that no recordings be allowed for our panel.

He wanted no press coverage.

I found that highly annoying because the WHOLE point of our efforts at the time was to raise awareness to bring MORE scrutiny, transparency and therefore ethics into the market.

And then CrowdStrike basically took a $50m self-loan and went on to becoming yet another American Anti-Virus company with ties to the FBI, moving the dial not an inch.

Fast forward and I’m here today to say the sad news from the NSA didn’t have to turn out this way.

David Evenden was hired in 2014 to work in Abu Dhabi on a defensive cybersecurity project, only to discover it was actually an offensive spy operation for a United Arab Emirates intelligence service.

Obviously things really took off around this time Evenden mentions.

I gave several talks after 2013 where I implored people to understand that “hack back” was very active even if people continued trying to keep it secretive.

Why so secretive? One reason obviously is entrapment of those recruited to do the technical work.

Once in Abu Dhabi, Evenden realized he had been deceived and that he and colleagues had actually been recruited to perform offensive hacking operations and surveillance on behalf of the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority, or NESA (the UAE’s equivalent of the NSA).

The deception didn’t initially concern Evenden, however, because the work was primarily focused on conducting surveillance against would-be terrorist targets.

Ugh. Deception is a very loaded word here.

This is a text-book example of exactly what in 2013 we were working so hard on to avoid. Even if Evenden is lying, he can do so on the basis that deception is very easy when there’s zero transparency built in the system.

Evenden goes on to say literally the exact thing we discussed in our panel of 2013, which as I said was censored by CrowdStrike.

I’m an American and I want to target something overseas. What’s going to happen to me? Nothing. Almost nothing. We just proved that…

Even in 2017 I was on a panel at BSidesLV called “Baby got hack back” where I implored people again to consider how much of it was going on already without transparency or accountability.

It wasn’t a hypothetical for me in 2012. It certainly wasn’t in the news enough in 2017 (there was an audible gasp from my audiences) yet should have been.

Even if these stories would have been published sooner, more importantly an opportunity was missed to run and test far better guidelines for the market to reduce deception and confusion about legal hack back.

So I guess the point here is that this “proof” story is a decade after we very clearly said it’s a viable business plan, with activities mostly obscured and hidden from view, such that it needed open discussion already to avoid errors (e.g. criminal charges).

How to braid hair (“corn rows”) for secret messaging

What does your hair communicate? I don’t mean about you, I mean communicate on its own. Can you think of it as a canvas to write a story, or send an ephemeral signal?

Source: Etsy Shop “Claire” Black History Month SVG

During the Cold War the CIA allegedly trained agents to message using variations of shoe lacing, among other clothing alteration strategies.

A “Recognition Signals” instructional manual was distributed in 1953 by a magician named John Mulholland (MKUltra Subproject Number 4, as reproduced by The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception by
H. Keith Melton and Robert Wallace):

The first suggestion is to have the shoelace run as a double strand through the
eyelets nearest the instep, i.e., toward the toes. First, the shoestring is cut in half. Then
the tip of one lace is pushed from the inside of the shoe up through one hole, across the
instep, and down through the opposite hole. The tip of the other half is treated in the
same way but is started from the opposite side. While the cut ends still are outside the
shoe, each is tied, with a slipknot, around the other lace. The tips of the laces then are
drawn so as to have the two knots inside the shoe and each by one of the eyelets. (See
illustration.) The shoe then is laced in the normal way. For one who is looking for such a
possibility, the double lace is easy to distinguish. It will never be seen by one not
particularly looking for it. Though it will not be noticed, it is without reason except to
mend a broken lace were the shoes to be examined.

Because shoelaces are inserted in shoes in three standard ways, any deviation in
these ways becomes useful for signaling. On other pages are illustrations of the standard
ways of lacing shoes and several ways in which shoes could be laced but never are. None
of these alternate ways will attract attention, yet each is very obvious to one looking for
such a signal.

The manual goes on to say things like a neck tie should expose two buttons on a shirt so that the sizes can be alternated to transmit a message. Clothing indeed can easily be altered and be subtle enough to communicate without detection.

So what about hair?

What this “old” manual seems to never mention, which I find a bit strange, is how hair designs can factor into secret messaging.

Even though it has been used like clothing as a signaling device for hundreds if not thousands of years, somehow hair doesn’t show up in 1950s American spy tactics.

Afro-Columbian women, as reported in 2011 by the Washington Post for example, encoded “messages of freedom” into their hair style.

In the time of slavery in Colombia, hair braiding was used to relay messages. For example, to signal that they wanted to escape, women would braid a hairstyle called departes. “It had thick, tight braids, braided closely to the scalp and was tied into buns on the top.

And another style had curved braids, tightly braided on their heads. The curved braids would represent the roads they would [take for] escape. In the braids, they also kept gold and hid seeds which, in the long run, helped them survive after they escaped.

A contest in 2015 called ‘Tejiendo Esperanzas‘ (Knitting Hope), celebrating emancipation from slavery, was even reported by the DailyMail with laces woven into braids.

Source: DailyMail

This kind of multi-braid hair style was developed and worn over thousands of years, including by world famous royalty like Cleopatra or Nefertiti.

Source: DeAgostini/Getty Images

One might think that it thus would figure as a classic or common style and remain unnoticed.

Aside from feeding into racial ideologies and discrimination based on appearance, some research indicates that details of “messaging” hair styles may have been ignored until much later in history if noticed at all.

My analysis contradicts the finding that eighteenth-century advertisements “very frequently” described runaway slaves’ hair. It may be that longer post-Revolutionary and nineteenth-century advertisements were more likely to focus on details like hair. It may also be that the often-cited compelling descriptions of African American hairstyles were exceptions rather than the rule.

Perhaps some of the secrecy embedded into hair styles could be attributed also to “head rags” or “kerchief” used to hide hair, often from requirements to keep the head under cover.

Concealment was driven not least from late 1700s racism in America that shamed “kinky” and curled hair, leading to ideas like “tignon” of the Louisiana territory being required by 1785 law, or even structured signaling using head coverings.

A South Carolinian who trafficked humans indeed regulated things like a white turban be worn by a chief house servant, obliterating any appearance of natural black hair, while house servants had to cover with a bandana.

…the headwrap was to maintain Southern white power in a society based economically and socially on racial slavery. Noteworthy in this respect are the ordinances which regulated African American dress throughout the South during the eighteenth century. In effect, whites used these dress codes to outwardly distinguish those without power from those who held it.

Underneath, however, remained a “wrapping” often using thread or string with hair parted into sections and rows. Perfect for concealing a message, like a letter inside an envelope.

With all that in mind, I’ll now give you three guesses why thousands of years of design and messaging with black hair is never mentioned in the CIA guide to secrets.

And also you should guess why in America it’s “illegal to braid hair without a license“.

To get a license, Jestina would have to spend more than a year in cosmetology school. Tuition would cost $16,000 dollars or more.

Hint: it’s not consumer safety or harm, as argued in the report, although it is related to fear of what is broadly messaged by corn rows (e.g. black liberty and freedom of expression).

VR Guide: How to Tell if You Prefer Reality to Illusion

If there’s one thing i learned in my early philosophy classes, it’s the difference between illusion and reality is a desire to achieve meaningful change in others’ lives.

Illusion is for those who can’t stand a notion of doing service that benefits society, which is why it’s odd to see people pitch it as a service training tool.

It could also help clinicians to collaborate on treatments for patients, and make patients feel more involved and informed in the process. Doctors could view, feel and discuss the features of tumour cells, and show patients plans for a medical procedure.

I have to admit I make the same mistake. I keep imagining a VR tool based in history that presents the real world with an overlay to explain disinformation (e.g. when you see streets in Louisiana, it exposes the systemic racism and terrorism).

This is a real development with real street names:

Can you see better the plans for a… harm reduction procedure?

Then I look at history degree enrollment decline and figure very few people (certainly not a mass market) probably want to use the power of story-telling (illusion) to benefit others. Where’s the fun, money, social entry, etc in that?

Tesla Defines “Good Driver” Based on 7 Days Out of 730

There is so much proof now that Tesla is not intelligent, doesn’t learn, and is a scam based on short-cuts… it should come as no surprise they’re defining “good driver” with almost no data.

“If driving behavior is good for 7 days, beta access will be granted.” (The company began selling insurance in its home state of California in August 2019.)

After two years of selling insurance, Tesla will use its own insurance data from 7 days prior to a button being pushed by the driver to define whether that driver is “good”.

This obviously fails to use independent evaluation and gives the driver an obvious way to avoid being judged accurately. It’s just more proof Tesla has no intention of keeping roads safe.

It should be called “autocratic” driving.

More to the point here, look at these quotes from Elon Musk (in my latest presentation).

Then look at this quote, which is obviously full of lies.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who called a previous version of FSD Beta software “not great,” cautioned Friday evening that FSD Beta now seems so good it can give drivers a false sense of security that they don’t need to pay attention to driving while FSD Beta is engaged, even though they do have to remain attentive and at the wheel.

With a small group of FSD drivers, there has been a lot of evidence the car is getting worse and it’s manifestly unsafe.

Multiple near-misses are being documented where the Tesla is pushing the driver into crashing.

And this is being turned into a message from the CEO that “seems so good it can give drivers a false sense of security”? It’s the CEO who is giving them this sense, and those who repeat his lies.

It’s completely disingenuous and obviously negligent of the company to even hint that the car is to blame for driver overconfidence, but it also goes back to the CEO arguing people will be killed if they are warned they might be killed.

Should US Military Stop Coups or Only Enable Them?

Really tough questions come out of a report on a coup directly related to US military presence.

During the month-and-a-half that Special Forces trained the Guineans, U.S. troops met with Guinean Col. Mamady Doumbouya, who is now the self-appointed ruler of Guinea after his forces deposed former leader Alpha Condé, Azari said.

[…]

When asked how roughly 100 Guinean special operators could have left their base and made the four-hour drive to the country’s capital without the Special Forces team knowing anything about it, Azari explained: “Sept. 5 was considered a down day for both forces.”

It is possible that the Guineans left while the Special Forces team that was instructing them was asleep…

The reader should not be left hanging to go off and fill in the blanks on US military doctrine here. Objection to the coup is fine, yet why not put that objection into action… once they wake up, of course?

I’m kidding. Can we stop for a minute though and admit something sounds completely off? The forces were asleep? It would make some sense if I read that a mistake had been made, or an investigation will find source of errors… but this concept that it can be excused by sleep. Almost sounds like someone went golfing and when caught said “what, I like golf”.

If the US military is present and able, and it officially objects, does it have any foundation at all to interfere with a coup? It already was present and able on the principle that it’s training and modifying behavior. I get that legally it’s weak ground and would take a long while to move the levers.

Yet why only intervene in training capacity to stabilize and aid, instead of also intervening to stop a coup and actively stabilize? I’ve written about this before in terms of Hawaii, which is a pretty interesting case.

Presumably there’s an authorization switch that was flipped (e.g. Neutrality Act cited in Gambia) allowing operators to train, whereas now it won’t be flipped so authorization is lacking… (the people just trained aren’t going to depose themselves).

the poetry of information security