Despite my best efforts to stop the practice of using such a phrase, I find people sometimes still say cloud computing is all about “cows not pets”. What they mean to say is in the harsh world of cloud you shoot the vulnerable instead of caring for them.
The truth about cows is the opposite, however. Ranchers spend a ton of money on veterinarian science and care about cattle health improving because if they can fix one they can translate that to tens or hundreds of thousands of others saved.
It’s a lot of money on the line when looking at cattle health because typically there are many to one owner.
This is very unlike pets where most people have a few at most and put them down before they’d spend $500 on care.
It’s a harsh truth but proof of it is in how little is actually known about domestic cat health.
Unlike cattle health being rigorously studied in universities around the world and funded for obvious macro economic reasons, researchers rarely if ever find a pet owner willing to pay for science studies that would improve the lives of cats… owned individually by other people.
If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.
Suddenly a thought occurred to me… instead of trying to untangle economics about cows and pets I should instead propose people adopt this Quiller-Couch phrase to explain cloud.
Years ago I won the TSA competition for security slogans.
I’m not proud, especially because I didn’t enter it and nobody told me my slogan had won until an external investigator pointed out that someone borrowed it from my 2006 blog post and claimed the prize for themselves.
Anyway I’ve written a little here about the strange dearth of security slogans, a missed opportunity, during COVID-19.
Not quite “loose lips sink ships” but maybe if I work at it a little I could get closer with chat room vacuum ruins zoom boom. The problem is it’s too specific to one company, but hopefully you get my drift.
I had a little bird,
And its name was Enza.
I opened the window
Ok, I couldn’t resist. Here’s a simple security education poster from WWII, which I’ve updated simply to reflect COVID-19:
It’s become infuriating to me every time I hear someone say they’ve seen 0 deaths so far, or who ask why worry if they don’t know someone personally affected. Education campaigns are sorely missing here.
Security professionals ought to be good at predicting likelihood and severity of harms. Prediction is what the industry is supposed to be doing in order to put controls in before it’s too late (as well as clean up afterwards, but let’s not go there). So let’s have some slogans going and get word out maybe?
A simple viz shows why the 0-deaths-so-far-crowd need quickly to get a clue, but it doesn’t make for a pithy phrase or poster.
Let me know if you can think of any good way to condense that graphic into a rhyme…
All the talk I hear in America lately about the necessity of naming a virus for Asian origins — to play racist blame games instead of saying COVID-19 or even 2020 pandemic (both obviously superior choices) — has started to remind me of the 1960s CIA “training” for Vietnam with Kipling’s book “Kim” and how they got it and another of his works completely wrong:
Americans back home became impatient for results in Vietnam, proponents of the war were always quoting—or, rather, misquoting—a little-known poem of Kipling’s (just four lines, written as a chapter heading for “The Naulahka”), saying that “you cannot hurry the East.” The phrase, Benfey writes, “wormed its way into the very highest levels of decision-making.” But what the poem actually says is that you cannot “hustle” the East, and even then, Benfey demonstrates, the word had connotations of cheating and deception. You come away from his book thinking that it might be a good idea to stop your ears whenever someone in authority starts invoking Kipling, unless it’s to quote from his “Epitaphs of the War”
If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.
The doctor who was principle architect of aggressive and successful South Korean response to COVID-19 put it like this, when reviewing the current US and UK approach to a pandemic:
…refusal to implement mass testing for the coronavirus in the United States will have “global repercussions” […] “The United States is very late to this,” he said. “And the president and the officials working on it seem to think they aren’t late. This has both national and global repercussions […] We in Korea were thinking, ‘Are these people in their right mind?'”
Oh how shall I its deeds recount
Or measure the untold amount
Of ills that it has done?
From China’s bright celestial land
E’en to Arabia’s thirsty sand
It journeyed with the sun.
O’er miles of bleak Siberia’s plains
Where Russian exiles toil in chains
It moved with noiseless tread;
And as it slowly glided by
There followed it across the sky
The spirits of the dead.
The Ural peaks by it were scaled
And every bar and barrier failed
To turn it from its way;
Slowly and surely on it came,
Heralded by its awful fame,
Increasing day by day.
On Moscow’s fair and famous town
Where fell the first Napoleon’s crown
It made a direful swoop;
The rich, the poor, the high, the low
Alike the various symptoms know,
Alike before it droop.
Nor adverse winds, nor floods of rain
Might stay the thrice-accursed bane;
And with unsparing hand,
Impartial, cruel and severe
It travelled on allied with fear
And smote the fatherland.
Fair Alsace and forlorn Lorraine,
The cause of bitterness and pain
In many a Gaelic breast,
Receive the vile, insatiate scourge,
And from their towns with it emerge
And never stay nor rest.
And now Europa groans aloud,
And ‘neath the heavy thunder-cloud
Hushed is both song and dance;
The germs of illness wend their way
To westward each succeeding day
And enter merry France.
Fair land of Gaul, thy patriots brave
Who fear not death and scorn the grave
Cannot this foe oppose,
Whose loathsome hand and cruel sting,
Whose poisonous breath and blighted wing
Full well thy cities know.
In Calais port the illness stays,
As did the French in former days,
To threaten Freedom’s isle;
But now no Nelson could o’erthrow
This cruel, unconquerable foe,
Nor save us from its guile.
Yet Father Neptune strove right well
To moderate this plague of Hell,
And thwart it in its course;
And though it passed the streak of brine
And penetrated this thin line,
It came with broken force.
For though it ravaged far and wide
Both village, town and countryside,
Its power to kill was o’er;
And with the favouring winds of Spring
(Blest is the time of which I sing)
It left our native shore.
God shield our Empire from the might
Of war or famine, plague or blight
And all the power of Hell,
And keep it ever in the hands
Of those who fought ‘gainst other lands,
Who fought and conquered well.
These coronavirus quarantine times,
Definitely need some new soap rhymes.
Plenty of soap sits on shelves all around the world, yet toilet paper and hand sanitizer are disappearing far too quickly, leaving shelves barren. Why? I’d say it’s a lack of action by nations to run anti-hoarding public service announcements (e.g. it’s illegal in many places) as well as pro-soap safety slogans and information campaigns.
First of all, psychologists believe that hoarding behavior during a crisis is related to a sense of control. It’s ironic because hoarding exhibits instead both a lack of control as well as a transfer of power from the individual to large corporations known to use their fortunes to further reduce individual control.
Toilet paper in some cultures, for example, represents training people from a very early age on healthy living habits in a very inexpensive bulk retail format. Buying huge amounts of paper at low cost arguably feeds into a tribal association with a fundamental product for keeping oneself clean and safe.
Water and soap would of course be cleaner than toilet paper. Studies report how infections decrease among those who use a bidet, so a spike in bidet installations and decrease in paper would be beneficial for multiple reasons. Yet when someone starts to panic it may not be an ideal time for them to shift into thoughtful things like washing with soap at the toilet instead of paper (although data suggests it is starting to happen anyway).
Thus, hoarding is about people in faith-based toilet paper societies needing to feel in control of their cleanliness and safety if a novel virus starts to scare them. Buying rolls of paper feeds directly into feelings of something tangible being done, to avoid feelings like loss of control. It’s a primitive but effective trauma coping mechanism.
People also have developed a kind of blind faith in hand sanitizer. Unlike paper, sanitizer benefits mostly from slick marketing that manages to squeeze popular perception of control into an unremarkable pump bottle or box of tissues. Sadly, on that note, the marketing often is entirely deceptive and unsafe because it doesn’t work at all as advertised:
The front of the package doesn’t mention that it’s alcohol-free; the back includes small print that lists benzalkonium chloride as the active ingredient and the label “alcohol-free formula.” Nowhere on the Amazon product listing does it say it’s alcohol-free.
Here’s another take on it from Supramolecular chemistry expert Palli Thordarson who tweeted out why soap with water is superior:
The scientist went on to explain that disinfectants, wipes, gels and creams containing alcohol – hand sanitisers – are effective at killing bacteria, but don’t break down the structure of the virus. […] The Tweets come after Dr Norman Swan also declared soap was better on ABC’s 7.30 program.
There is no real comfort or any advantages to the sanitizers only more risks (such as toxic additives and false advertising) versus other known safer and more effective options such as soap and water.
One of the crazier things I hear, for example, is that hand sanitizer is more “convenient” because you don’t always have water with you. This of course begs the question of why you can have hand sanitizer with you if you can’t carry a small bottle of water?
Another thing I hear is that hand sanitizer saves time. And that is exactly the problem with it. Doing a 20 second minimum of soap and water washing is what makes it so effective. Going faster turns out to be less effective for both, plus you often find people squirting sanitizer multiple times and rubbing for 20 seconds anyway.
More to the point, being out and about in the real world with exposure to things like dirt, dust and oils makes sanitizer even less effective versus hand washing with soap. But again, hoarding is evidence of people seeking feelings of control through retail therapy, not about them making smart life choices.
Despite these facts, sales research shows percentages are up massively for sanitizer while soap doesn’t even make the chart
Second, there is of course is another explanation. Hoarders actually are predatory criminals aiming to corner a disaster market and profit from artificial scarcity that they hope makes them rich as they slowly kill their neighbors.
Amid coronavirus fears, this couple has made more than $100,000 reselling…
“The woman ahead of me bought $2,000 worth of thermometers,” said Zapatak.
The only people really benefiting from such panic and hoarding of goods are large conglomerates like the Koch family that dominate an industry and who infamously tend to stoke panic in democracies by claiming absurdly false things like Eisenhower was a Communist.
…reflect and amplify the least evolved parts of our biology and behavior: the remorseless struggle for survival that is the highest achievement of the reptilian part of our brain and the fears, rages and insecurities that flourish in primitive parts of our limbic system, our emotional brain.
Just remember, the more your reptilian brain parts panic buy things like sanitizer and toilet paper instead of locally sourced soap, the more a giant Koch empire is working to undermine democracy, not to mention you’re probably stockpiling a product that denies it to someone who actually needs it.
What is really on point now is a round of public service announcements and posters to remind people to stay calm and lather.
During the Great Fire of San Francisco, for example, the Oakland Mayor simply said businesses that use surge pricing during disasters (e.g. the entire predatory business concept of Lyft and Uber) would have their assets confiscated by the military.
Instead of that, several states (at least California, Washington and New York) had to direct Amazon to block gouging crimes based on hoarders. New York also committed to producing 100,000 gallons per week of it’s own public version of hand sanitizer, safer than the misleading commercial/private labels, for distribution wherever Amazon’s hoarders had attacked.
With the current absence of leadership ability in federal government on this topic, perhaps Amazon security staff could take it upon themselves to hack into anyone detected on their platform using gouging practices and seize assets for Amazon to redirect/redistribute. I suppose that’s like a man-in-the-middle platform attack by the platform itself, as hoarders would get no money in a sale and the product would be intercepted when it shipped. Probably too much legal red tape and coordination among private sector executives for that to work.
But seriously, law enforcement could be sent to these criminal-minded hoarding caches to seize their ill-gotten assets and redistribute via Amazon to vulnerable populations:
…they watched the list of Amazon’s most popular searches crowd with terms like “Purell,” “N95 mask” and “Clorox wipes,” sellers said, they did what they had learned to do: Suck up supply… Mr. Colvin does not believe he was price gouging. While he charged $20 on Amazon for two bottles of Purell that retail for $1 each, he said people forget that his price includes his labor, Amazon’s fees… “I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.”
That’s right, Mr. Colvin believes his fellow citizens deserve to be gouged or dead because illegal hoarding isn’t free for him (just think of the legal fees alone to stay out of jail and avoid angry mobs) and Amazon wants a cut of his hoarding. Perfect example of market failure and why privatized systems can be the worst thing during times when societies need collaboration and cooperation the most.
One doctor, in a desperate appeal to get people to stop hoarding and start donating instead, explained it like this:
If doctors and nurses die because of inadequate protection, all the toilet paper and dried pasta in the world won’t save you.
There are many other examples of hoarding behavior in history of war (coronavirus has very similar dynamics as nations going to war) and how the hoarders were dealt with, so it’s a wonder nobody in government anywhere seems to be creating modern versions of these types of public service campaign posters.
Spoiler alert. Inarticulate Grief is a poem by Richard Aldington about WWI that is still relevant today.
Let the sea beat its thin torn hands
In anguish against the shore,
Let it moan
Between headland and cliff;
Let the sea shriek out its agony
Across waste sands and marshes,
And clutch great ships,
Tearing them plate from steel plate
In reckless anger;
Let it break the white bulwarks
Of harbour and city;
Let it sob and scream and laugh
In a sharp fury,
With white salt tears
Wet on its writhen face;
Ah! let the sea still be mad
And crash in madness among the shaking rocks —
For the sea is the cry of our sorrow
Now read Inarticulate Grief, by Sean Patrick Hughes, a beautiful prose about America’s endless Bush-Cheney Wars.
No deployment I had was hard enough to make me deal with the pain it caused. Someone always had it harder. No loss suffered; no trauma absorbed was bad enough to acknowledge. Someone always had it tougher. Acknowledging it, in some way, dishonored them.
The trials of the Dakota were conducted unfairly in a variety of ways. The evidence was sparse, the tribunal was biased, the defendants were unrepresented in unfamiliar proceedings conducted in a foreign language, and authority for convening the tribunal was lacking. More fundamentally, neither the Military Commission nor the reviewing authorities recognized that they were dealing with the aftermath of a war fought with a sovereign nation and that the men who surrendered were entitled to treatment in accordance with that status.
MNHS also relates how Dakota leaders have been recorded as clearly humane and civilized in their rationalizations of self-defense, yet received barbaric treatment by the white nationalist militants they fought against:
You have deceived me. You told me that if we followed the advice of General Sibley, and gave ourselves up to the whites, all would be well; no innocent man would be injured. I have not killed, wounded or injured a white man, or any white persons. I have not participated in the plunder of their property; and yet to-day I am set apart for execution, and must die in a few days, while men who are guilty will remain in prison. My wife is your daughter, my children are your grandchildren. I leave them all in your care and under your protection. Do not let them suffer; and when my children are grown up, let them know that their father died because he followed the advice of his chief, and without having the blood of a white man to answer for to the Great Spirit.
Those of the Dakota who had fought in the war retreated for winter, were killed or captured. The U.S. military decided it wasn’t staffed to pursue them. Thus the only Dakota people who were brought into custody by the U.S. were elderly, women, and children; nearly 2,000 people who had nothing to do with the war were seduced by the U.S. military and then death-marched for days into a concentration camp to be abused and die.
They lost everything. They lost their lands. They lost all their annuities that were owed them from the treaties. These are people who were guilty of nothing.
Henry Whipple, traveled to Washington to meet with Lincoln; he explained to the president that Dakota grievances stemmed in large part from the greed, corruption, and deceit of government agents, traders, and other whites. Lincoln took what he called “the rascality of this Indian business” into consideration and granted clemency to most of those sentenced to die.
Minnesota History Magazine further relates that a prominent leader of the Dakota people a year later was murdered by white settlers who simply noticed him eating wild raspberries and decided to hunt, kill, decapitate and scalp him for that alone:
Even if a state of war had existed in 1863, the Lamsons’ action could not be defended as legal. They were mere civilians, who under international law have no right to take up arms against the enemy and who will be
hanged summarily if they do. The ordinary law of murder would apply to them. […] If killing in reliance upon the adjutant general’s orders would be murder under the law in force in 1863, obviously killing before any orders were issued would be an even stronger case of murder. Thus Little Crow was tendered a posthumous apology. One must reach the conclusion that in strict law the Lamsons were provocateurs and murderers.
Shot on sight without any questions, Little Crow was a nationally recognized and celebrated man who had negotiated Treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota in 1851. It was he who had moved a band of Dakota from their massive 25 million acre territory into a tiny (20 mile by 70 mile) reservation.
In 1850, the white population of what would soon be the state of Minnesota stood at about 6,000 people. The Indian population was eight times that, with nearly 50,000 Dakota, Ojibwe, Winnebago and Menominee living in the territory. But within two decades, as immigrant settlers poured in, the white population would mushroom to more than 450,000.
Ten years later by the war of 1862 (and after he was coerced into an even worse treaty in 1858) Little Crow became known as the Dakota leader who took a principled and fair stand against his former trading partner U.S. General Sibley.
The U.S. government allegedly had offered the Dakota only a few cents per acre for their entire ceded territory space in treaties, and gave promises of annuity payments and food supplies. Yet while their land was taken away the agreed upon payments and food didn’t come. It was in this context that white settlers flooded the area historically inhabited by Dakota.
Congress passes the Homestead Act, a law signed by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862, offering millions of acres of free land to settlers who stay on the land for five years. The act brings 75,000 people to Minnesota over three years. To qualify for 160 free acres, settlers have to live on it for five years, farm and build a permanent dwelling. Those able to spend the money can buy the 160 acres at $1.25 an acre after living on it for six months.
The federal government was effectively buying land for cheap and then selling 160 acre parcels of it at either $200 (20X the cost) or for five years of farming and construction.
Since the tiny reservation space wasn’t producing food as sold to them, and the U.S. government was intentionally withholding payments and supplies to survive on, huge numbers of Dakota faced a starvation-level situation and demanded quick restitution.
On top of that white settlers illegally had been encroaching into even the tiny Dakota reservation area. The Dakota faced no choice but to reassert rights to their money, food and land they already had negotiated.
Tension grew from the U.S. refusing to help, withholding food and money from the now trapped Dakota population in an attempt to “force conformance to white ideals” of a “Christian” lifestyle.
While Dakota parents watched their children starve to death, pork and grain filled the Lower Sioux Agency’s new stone warehouse, a large square building of flat, irregularly shaped stones harvested from the river bottoms. […] “So far as I’m concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass or their own dung,” [warehouse owner] Myrick said.
The U.S. strategically reneged on agreements and intentionally starved Dakota populations into desperation, before ultimately using attempts at self-defense as justification for mass unjust executions and murder. This was followed by Minnesota settlers banishing the native population entirely from their own historic territory under penalty of death into concentration camps, offering rewards to anyone who could trap and kill the Native Americans (Minnesota’s government offered a reward up to $200 — roughly $4000 in 2019 terms — for non-white human scalps).
At a higher level the race in 1862 to settle territory inhabited and owned by Native Americans had been complicated the year before by militant southern states starting a Civil War to violently force expansion of slavery into any new states. Thus, just as John Brown’s attempt to incite abolition got him executed in 1859 as a “traitor” to America, the Dakota people fighting for freedom from tyranny three years after in 1862 were unjustly tried by Minnesota settlers and executed on December 26.
Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,
While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;
But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,
His soul is marching on.
John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,
And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;
Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,
His soul is marching on.
He captured Harper’s Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,
And frightened “Old Virginny” till she trembled thru and thru;
They hung him for a traitor, they themselves the traitor crew,
But his soul is marching on.
A talk I was watching recently suggested researchers finally in 2019 had cracked how robots could efficiently act like a swarm. Their solution? Movement based entirely on a light sensor.
That sounded familiar to me so I went back to one of my old presentations on IoT/AI security and found a slide showing the same discovery claim from 1953. Way back then people used fancier terms than just swarm.
The rules for swarm robots back then were as simple as they will be today, as one should expect from swarms:
If light moderate (safe)
Then move toward
If light bright (unsafe)
Then move away
If battery low (hungry)
Then return for charge
The “official website for BBC History Magazine, BBC History Revealed and BBC World Histories Magazine” presents some graphic details for Medieval messaging protocols:
…jesters were often required to go to the battlefield with their masters to carry messages between the leaders of warring armies, demanding that a city surrender to a besieging army or delivering terms for the release of hostages. Unfortunately for the jesters, the enemy did sometimes ‘kill the messenger’ as an act of defiance (especially if they regarded the terms being offered as an insult) and some used a catapult or trebuchet to hurl the unfortunate messenger (or his severed head) back into his own camp as a graphic illustration of what they thought of the message.