Remember When Seat-belts Were Controversial?

Here’s a flashback from Canadian news. An Alberta judge ruled in 1989 that seat-belt use could not be made mandatory under the constitution:

Fast forward and by 2009 Alberta reported 92% acceptance of their government that says

There is a $162 fine for not complying with occupant restraint laws.

Similarly, Alberta started with a lax approach to the COVID19 pandemic that sent it into a preventable death spiral. Their tune has completely changed now, albeit late yet again:

“The government’s first obligation must be to avoid large numbers of preventable deaths. We must deal with the reality that we are facing. We cannot wish it away. Morally, ethically and legally, the protection of life must be our paramount concern.”

The United States (including its Supreme Court) apparently has been more successful at defeating stupid attempts like Alberta’s to rule safety technology unconstitutional.

Seat belt laws have mainly been challenged as a violation of an individual’s constitutionally protected right to privacy and as an invalid exercise of a state’s constitutionally granted police power. These arguments have been rejected by the courts in Illinois, Iowa, and New Jersey, and also, we believe in New York. The North Carolina case unsuccessfully attacked the law on different grounds, e.g., that it represented involuntary servitude and slavery. The Montana case involved a declared “free” man’s unsuccessful assertion that he was not subject to any state or federal laws.

Ok, Montana might take the prize for being the dumbest take on freedom (obviously laws protect freedoms by encoding definitions of encroachment) but someone in North Carolina actually argued slavery?!

Leave it to a Carolinian to put forward an official argument that slavery is equivalent to putting on a seat belt.

I can’t bring myself to read the court documents for fear I’ll find someone writing down that slavery was just a way to protect slaves from being enslaved.

For some reason asking people to do what is easy and in their own best interests, as well as the interests of others, turns them into toddlers throwing tantrums.

How stupid and defiant do you have to be to go to the trouble to buy and put on a seat belt shirt when it has none of the advantages of seat belts, including ease of putting it on and taking it off?

Is it harder to put on a seat-belt or a t-shirt?

The fake seat-belt shirt really should make the wearer look like a crash test dummy and have a large organ donor form on the front and back. That at least makes it worth the effort of putting one on.

On second thought, what if the government mandated wearing a t-shirt with fake seat-belt graphic and people protested by putting on real seat-belts instead?

Perhaps you won’t be surprised to hear that in a state known for its Nazism, a government official who drove seat-belt laws was accused of…

Michigan Rep. David Hollister received a letter likening him to Hitler.

New Yorkers complained in a similar fashion, although they invoked Russia.

Speaking of dictators and Russia, Ronald Reagan tried to block a NHTSA rule requiring passive restraints and was struck down by his Supreme Court in a unanimous decision.

Here’s a tragic data point to think about, given Ronald Reagan was clearly putting Americans needlessly into harms way:

…the one out of eight Americans who don’t wear their seat belts account for nearly two-thirds of all the fatal accidents…

Reagan was without question a horrible human being.

And on that note, here’s the American version of that Canadian video above.

Cooperation Instead of Competition: How to Win Peace Through Wars

I love a new article by War on the Rocks about “grass roots” engagement because its heart is in the exact right place, yet much of the history and analysis seems off-base.

The following sentence is a giant clue to what this topic is really about:

…fear of losing such expensive equipment induced risk aversion among decision-makers and prevented them from being released…

It reminded me very much of how ill-prepared the US was marching Civil-War style into Spanish American War, and what saved the day. Few Americans remember but July 2nd 1898 the 24th and 25th Colored Infantry rescued the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill.

‘If it hadn’t been for the black cavalry, the Rough Riders would have been exterminated.’ Five black soldiers of the 10th Cavalry received the Medal of Honor and 25 other black soldiers were awarded the Certificate of Merit.

I’ve written about this before also in terms of WWI, where an innovative Beersheba battle victory attributed to British deception operations and a charge of their black cavalry had a decisive effect on the overall war.

And on that note it KILLS me to read in the War on the Rocks article something like this:

The ‘do-it-yourself’ ethos has evolved from hobbyist clubs that were dedicating to building personal computers back in the 1970s…

No. Go back much, much earlier.

It was self-sufficiency and becoming a “made man” (e.g. General Grant was genius at hard-working innovations) that drove Union forces to defeat rigid-thinking Southern Confederacy of slaveholders in Civil War.

American innovation is greatly hampered by inability to leverage diverse thinking that is readily available. When talking about “risk aversion” we need to be honest, describing it in terms more illustrative of the problem such as racism or sexism.

It also is hampered by a lack of teaching history, which illustrates how innovations have best come from integrating, in other words learning to compete together instead of against each other. Victory is achievable to those who collaborate better.

Have You Seen the Revolution in Geospatial Intelligence?

Companies operating constant satellite surveillance systems seem to be struggling to find a market for their imagery.

BlackSky can take images of the same area several times a day… Iceye can take images regardless of weather and lighting conditions… with analytics for capabilities like change detection…

In the old days it cost millions to acquire reliable imagery. It was difficult and secretive, which obviously are ingredients that don’t make for commercial success.

The intelligence market tended to be driven by life-saving high-stakes operations that nobody could talk about. In one of my big data talks, for example, I describe how fax machines in an African jungle sending geographical details became essential to a daring hostage rescue.

It’s kind of like the healthcare market, where intelligence was driven by surgery to save lives. There’s a transition to sensors everywhere all the time, which has become a market exercise in privacy worry and even national security risks.

Now the companies with geospatial intellignece technology want to realize some kind of commercialization and profits, but it’s not clear (pun not intended) yet what kind of mass market would ever want spy tech. Climate activism? Disaster response? Surveillance, especially as a form of power transfer and political action, is usually something a very small group obsess about.

Another way of putting this is emergent militant extremists benefit most from the commercialization of technology, as they rapidly adopt it into asymmetric conflict.

The Islamic State fighters, through their purchase of commercial drones, however, at times had better reconnaissance capabilities than the Armed Forces of the Philippines, a key U.S. ally. In the words of one Filipino army ranger, “The Islamic State militants are better armed, with high-powered weapons, night vision goggles, the latest sniper scopes and surveillance drones.” The tactical drones necessary to provide similar awareness to Philippines troops existed but were sometimes underutilized. Fully employing these American-provided drones, such as the RQ-20 Puma, would have delivered better tactical reconnaissance for the Filipino forces, but their cost and scarcity ensured that the control of these systems was often retained at higher command levels. Further, the fear of losing such expensive equipment induced risk aversion among decision-makers and prevented them from being released for some missions, resulting in operational units often being disadvantaged against their Islamic State opponents. A cheap, capable drone — designed to basic military specification and made widely available to tactical units — would have made the battle for Marawi much easier for Philippines security forces.

Tesla v10 FSD Update is Yet Another Safety Disaster

I’ve seen a stream of complaints about the latest release of Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” software (FSD), version 10.

Here’s a perfect example where the car starts driving on the wrong side of the road, directly towards collision with an oncoming car, and the driver says “WHERE ARE YOU GOING” as he strains to pull the Tesla away.


That’s without question a head-on collision attempted on a public road by the latest version of “Full Self Driving”.

Here’s one getting a lot of views on YouTube where the car surges suddenly towards pedestrians as if to kill them, exactly as I’ve predicted in my security conference presentations since at least 2016.

In another example from a different driver, the car throws a “take over immediately” alarm with almost no time to react when a pedestrian crosses in a crosswalk.


You can see the pedestrian look at a Tesla coming and start running to avoid being hit by it.

This driver is so saccharin about safety failures he brags that very nearly hitting a pedestrian is just a nice data point for Tesla to learn from.

Likewise, he stops in a bike lane instead of the proper car turn lane and says it’s a big improvement over earlier versions where Tesla (correctly) did not enter the protected bike lane.

Note first he starts to approach the left turn lane all the way on the left, next to the green protected bike lane.

Source: YouTube

This is very specific marking, to allow bikes to avoid the danger of vehicles turning left in front of them.

The Tesla then illegally stops on the green bike lane, creating a safety hazard, instead of the dedicated left turn lane.


That is NOT an improvement. And it comes just after the Tesla tried to accelerate and rush in front of a car to the right, before suddenly turning left instead and then wandering across lanes.

The car is failing the most basic tests.

In another video a driver in San Jose tries to cross railroad tracks and says “whoa, ok, 9.2 had that nailed down, not sure why 10 can’t do that”.

He is saying he takes the same turn repeatedly as a test and 10 is much worse… but it gets even more worse as his car tries to drive directly into road closed and do not enter signs.


Ignoring giant safety warnings is a long-time problem but it clearly gets worse in version 10 as you can see in this retrospective:

If that doesn’t alarm you, here’s an example from another driver who puts her Tesla behind a car on a single-lane narrow road and has to stop it repeatedly from behaving dangerously.

The video complains dryly that v10 is “very confused” and “freaked out” and “unsure”… all words that are exactly the opposite of the “confidence” marketing from Tesla.


That driver says there were too many errors to list them all, but perhaps the most telling was when she grabs the wheel to stop a head-on collision and says “NOT GOING TO LET MY CAR TURN INTO TRAFFIC”.

Likewise, and finally, here’s a whole series of problems in one video of running red lights, trying to pull out in front of oncoming cars, turning right on a left turn, trying to drive around cars waiting at a red light, swerving off the road… and just like the example at the start of this blog DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC.


“THE SPEED LIMIT IS NOT 30” this driver also yells at his car excitedly in a slow zone as tries to regain control to prevent an accident.

Watch the whole video here:

This all comes after the CEO of Tesla said v10 was being delayed a week for safety reasons.

Tesla was preparing to release the FSD Beta V10 on September 3, but today announced that it was slightly delayed. On September 2, the CEO of the company Elon Musk tweeted that the release of the new version of the software will be on Friday, September 10. He explained that the first thing the team needs to do is make sure the update works well and is safe for testers to use.

So is it safe as promised? Should these random “testers” be held liable when they cause accidents or is it the fault of Tesla for encouraging dangerous behavior?

Let’s now go back to when Elon Musk in April 2019 (allegedly to juice investors for more money) gave a very public prediction that by 2020 he would deliver a national fleet of taxis with no human driver at all, such that even human controls would be eliminated by 2021.

Robo-taxi customers will be able to summon participating cars “from [their] parking lots” using a bespoke mobile app, Musk said during a presentation to investors this afternoon, and “get in and go for a drive.” He expects the network will have as many as a million cars in the next year and a half. Musk predicts that two years from now, Tesla will produce cars without steering wheels or pedals…

Well, what can we say now in 2021?

Tesla is a scam.

In many of the above cases the driver falsely rationalizes putting themselves and others in harms way because they believe the car is “learning”. They have no proof of learning and in many videos you see the driver saying the exact opposite yet ignoring their own observations because they believe in a lie.

Tesla is complicit in encouraging unsafe driving on a false principle, creating guinea pigs out of their customers with no actual proof of learning going back to their believers.

In fact, Tesla recently openly admitted they aren’t learning and aren’t listening to their customers.

…we haven’t done too much continuous learning. We train the system once, fine tune it a few times and that sort of goes into the car. We need something stable that we can evaluate extensively and then we think that that is good and that goes into cars. So we don’t do too much learning on the spot or continuous learning…

Let me say that again.

Tesla has stated openly in their most recent presentation they aren’t learning “on the spot or continuous” because that would be hard. Yet all these drivers put themselves and others in harms way on the very belief that Tesla is learning on the spot and continuously.

Tesla is a scam.

Tesla wanted to replace the entire battery for a total cost of $22,500. The Kelly Blue Book value of the used Tesla was about $23,000. After some research, Hoover was able to get the Tesla repaired by an independent shop for about $5,000, or 75 percent cheaper than what Tesla offered.

Maybe this is a good time to revisit in 1957 we all were promised driverless cars (to arrive by 1975).

PASSING the above sign as you enter the superhighway, you reach over to your dashboard and push the button marked “Electronic Drive.” Selecting your lane, you settle back to enjoy the ride as your car adjusts itself to the prescribed speed. You may prefer to read or carry on a conversation with your passengers or even to catch up on your office work. It makes no difference for the next several hundred miles as far as the driving is concerned.
Fantastic? Not at all. The first long step toward this automatic highway of the future was successfully illustrated by RCA and the State of Nebraska on October 10, 1957, on a 400 -foot strip of public highway on the outskirts of Lincoln.

At this rate, driverless will need another 500 years (while electric cars are an entirely different story). Perhaps the best way of describing the path being taken is: instead of manual or automatic Tesla now builds an “autocratic” car (imposition of one’s will on others in an insistent or arrogant manner).

RayBan “Incel” Edition: The Latest Case for Facebook Ban

Facebook is a very invasive platform that fails at transparency. Now they’re promoting a product that’s designed to be invasive without transparency — spy glasses. What is the best defense against such nonsense?

The simple answer is a ban.

Bans on sunglasses already were a good idea to consider if you care about transparency and trust.

Unlike their American counterparts, UK soldiers removed their shades, enabling them to make eye contact with locals and build trust.

It’s really not that far-fetched to enact such a ban. The British police already banned sunglasses during duty to help protect and serve public interest.

…unless medically prescribed, they must otherwise ‘be removed when contact is made with members of public’.

The subtext in both these military and police examples above is that glasses are technology that can uncomfortably shift power in social interactions. When glasses are silently coupled with surveillance, it begs important considerations of authorization and consent.

So let’s look closer at the Facebook example, because it really is a case of the worst possible security and product management decisions.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing angles to this story is how Facebook claims to have “engineered” their best “alert” for a camera on someone’s face being in surveillance mode, yet it’s a tiny indistinguishable pinpoint of light easily removed with sticker or paint.

Can you even find it below?

Source: BBC

When the lens is more prominent than the thing designed to alert you that there is a lens, you know it’s totally backwards thinking.

They even made the logo far bigger than the tiny indicator of privacy risk.

The BBC also points out how Facebook arguably took a 2016 Snapchat design and made a far worse version, switching to being spy design — less obvious about being a giant surveillance tool.

Source: BBC

What’s that you say? A different shape of the frame? Facebook has that covered too.

Source: Facebook

See how obviously worse their design was, while copying someone else’s? And they even copied the product name. This is how Snapchat announced their product in 2016.

You can also export Snaps and Stories, and share them outside of Snapchat on almost any platform you like! Note: At the moment, you can only export Stories that have 20 Snaps or less.

So Facebook called theirs “Stories” too. Either Snapchat is the silent OEM to this or there’s an egregious lack of morals and talent at Facebook, or both.

The story format, originated and made famous by Snapchat, has been on Facebook’s radar for some time, with the Menlo Park-based company first testing a Snapchat Stories clone within Messenger in September 2016.

The real and significant difference, therefore, is that Facebook took an idea for a fun/frivolous and obvious spy camera with bright distinctive coloring/marking to denote a camera and… redesigned it just to eliminate any possibility of consent from a victim.

Be honest now, can you tell whether “alert lights” are turned on here?

Source: RayBan

RayBan always had a bright contrast marker on its face, so whoever thought it made sense a bright contrast marker in the same spot would be a reasonable “alert” … is either a design idiot or being intentionally evil.

Source: Facebook. The CEO and founder got his start by collecting photos of women without consent and using those photos to intentionally harm women with online exposures inviting public ridicule and shame.

It’s like some Facebook executive said “hey guys, listen I used to dox women in college and abuse them for profits by uploading videos of them without consent so let’s make some ‘cool-guy incel’ glasses to enable domestic terrorism”… and then CEO Zuckerberg replied with “ME TOO, LET’S DO IT!”

Sadly, I’m not really exaggerating here. Another disturbing angle to this product is exactly this kind of discussion found on the “Incel” (misogynist domestic terror cell) wiki:

Giovanni became angry at Cho for not taking off his sunglasses… Cho filmed Giovanni, possibly to expose her contemptuous behavior towards Cho. However, a few female classmates complained that he was filming them. One female said that he was filming her legs. Cho was kicked out of class due to the complaints…

Stalking was legal in the USA until the 90’s. The first state to criminalize stalking in the United States was California in 1990 as a result of numerous high-profile stalking cases in California, including the 1982 attempted murder of actress Theresa Saldana, the 1988 massacre by Richard Farley, the 1989 murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer, and five Orange County stalking murders, also in 1989.

Who was this Cho? Seung-Hui Cho was the 2007 mass murderer at Virginia Tech College.

And so who wanted these glasses? Cho.

To put it bluntly, Facebook may as well have named this product after Cho as it fits his narrative exactly.

About 80 per cent of the victims in spy cam cases are female, while the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are male. In 2016, for instance, 98 per cent of perpetrators in spy cam cases were men.

Facebook is so historically bad at facilitating rampant abuse of people, including mass atrocities while repeatedly dismissing experts and consent, I’m actually surprised they added some useless pin prick of an “alert” light at all!

Credit goes to a lawyer, apparently:

Himel told BuzzFeed News that the LED light was a feature they ADDED after consulting with a handful of privacy groups… [Facebook funded lawyer] Greenberg said there is a real privacy risk to bystanders, and there hasn’t been a product exactly like this before…

How could Greenberg say that?! Come on, everyone knows this is a rehash of ideas decades old.

Here’s another comparison to what intentional spy glasses have looked like for MANY years.

Source: Spy glasses vendor

Spies and investigators who would buy such spy glasses are in theory well aware how recording someone without consent is an intentional breach of personal security (invoking professionalism, authorization and serious legal questions).

Joking around with authority roles should not be too easily confused with actual professional use:

“Papers please!”

Joking aside, let me be clear here.

Facebook has TERRIBLE user experience engineering. This is them pushing the future of privacy into darkness of unethical power transfers, where they promote wealthy elites taking away others’ privacy as a form of status.

Here is how Wall Street reported it.

WSJ’s Joanna Stern tested them, and they looked so normal, very few people knew she was recording.

Not good.

The ENTIRE face of the glasses could illuminate to give people a very clear indication the cameras are on, yet they went the exact opposite direction.

Source: Not Facebook

Their tiny pin-prick concept is a privacy disgrace, a consent disaster. The design is a complete failure of security and transparency fundamentals.

It’s anti-privacy, and it deserves a total and complete ban, which RayBan brought upon themselves by getting in bed with this “Incel” oriented product for abuse of the public.

Maybe call it a RayBanBan to prevent an erosion of trust and safety by the unapologetic predators running Facebook, yet ultimately it’s Facebook that deserves the ban.

The bottom line is this:

As a nation, we will never be secure if we don’t value girls’ security.

Combined with this:

An undercover investigation by BBC News Arabic has found that domestic workers are being illegally bought and sold online in a booming black market. Some of the trade has been carried out on Facebook-owned Instagram, where posts have been promoted via algorithm-boosted hashtags… “This is the quintessential example of modern slavery,” said Ms Bhoola [UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery]. “Here we see a child being sold and traded like chattel, like a piece of property.”.

US Supreme Court: Vaccine Mandates Preserve “Real Liberty”

Suicide is immoral, yet Fox News Channel actively promotes it.

American schools long have mandated vaccination shots…

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A/B
  • Meningitis
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Polio
  • Pneumonia
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping Cough
The 1954 polio vaccine used a clinical trial of 1.3 million American children. Nine months after trial the vaccine was declared safe and effective, and mass inoculation began. Polio became a mandated vaccination in all 50 states and transmission vanished over 25 years.

A COVID19 vaccine obviously comes within this well established context where freedoms are maintained because children are mandated to have a prevention measure to make everyone safer (security control that protects against a predictable loss of freedom).

…to attend school in your state of Nebraska, children must be vaccinated against a number of diseases. … They must be vaccinated against diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, hepatitis B and chickenpox…

And healthcare workers as well as the military for a long time have been mandated to get certain vaccines.

This is all pretty basic knowledge.

And yet it still probably helps someone to hear the US Supreme Court officially ruled that mandating vaccines supports “real liberty” and freedom from tyranny by some individual, thus does not violate the Constitution.

Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905):

There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members. Society based on the rule that each one is a law unto himself would soon be confronted with disorder and anarchy. Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others. This court has more than once recognized it as a fundamental principle that “persons and property are subjected to all kinds of restraints and burdens, in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the State, of the perfect right of the legislature to do which no question ever was, or upon acknowledged general principles ever can be, made so far as natural persons are concerned.”

Very clearly the courts ruled mandatory vaccinations may serve an important purpose in preserving welfare of the many, thus are neither arbitrary nor oppressive.

…it was the duty of the constituted authorities primarily to keep in view the welfare, comfort and safety of the many, and not permit the interests of the many to be subordinated to the wishes or convenience of the few.

…it is equally true in every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.

The Atlantic interviewed historian Michael Willrich (author of “Pox: An American History”) who put the Jacobson case in perspective of national security.

The opinion of the court was written by Justice John Marshall Harlan, who was a Civil War veteran. And for him, it was clear that this case was a legitimate exercise of the police power of the state. Smallpox was extremely dangerous, and he insisted that, by the same logic that a government can raise an army to prevent a military invasion and can compel individual citizens to take up arms and risk being shot down in the defense of their country, by that same sort of rationale, the government can fight off a deadly disease and demand individuals to be vaccinated, even if it violated their sense of personal liberty or conscience or whatever.

This opinion was reaffirmed again in 1922 by the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision about protection of the nation against threats.

Long before this suit was instituted, Jacobson v. Massachusetts had settled that it is within the police power of a state to provide for compulsory vaccination. These ordinances confer not arbitrary power, but only that broad discretion required for the protection of the public health.

The subtext here of course is there are experts operating in positions of expertise who are making “reasonable regulations”, and that is exactly what is happening in terms of COVID19 vaccination mandates.

Notably, that Jacobson case was regarding smallpox, which by 1905 had a pretty obvious success record going all the way back to the origin of vaccination in 1796.

The decision of 1905 continued to prove itself correct, so much that smallpox was globally eradicated by the 1980s due to mandatory vaccination orders.

Another proof the 1905 decision was the right one for a nation seeking “real liberty” is found in a 1996 CDC study of countries that didn’t mandate vaccination enough:

Finally, we can look at the experiences of several developed countries after they let their immunization levels drop. Three countries – Great Britain, Sweden, and Japan – cut back the use of pertussis vaccine because of fear about the vaccine. The effect was dramatic and immediate. In Great Britain, a drop in pertussis vaccination in 1974 was followed by an epidemic of more than 100,000 cases of pertussis and 36 deaths by 1978. In Japan, around the same time, a drop in vaccination rates from 70% to 20%-40% led to a jump in pertussis from 393 cases and no deaths in 1974 to 13,000 cases and 41 deaths in 1979. In Sweden, the annual incidence rate of pertussis per 100,000 children 0-6 years of age increased from 700 cases in 1981 to 3,200 in 1985. It seems clear from these experiences that not only would diseases not be disappearing without vaccines, but if we were to stop vaccinating, they would come back.

This of course has been proven true still today with the latest COVID19 news such as “Least Vaccinated States Lead Spike in Children’s Cases“.

Nearly 30,000 of them entered hospitals in August…overwhelming children’s hospitals and intensive care units in states like Louisiana and Texas.

Source: NYT

Some, however, think so primitively that when they hear that a specific and thoroughly researched vaccination mandate is legal, it opens the door for them to force US courts to also push a random experimental healthcare idea over the objections of healthcare experts.

And perhaps unsurprisingly it has no legal basis.

…precedent rejecting some sort of constitutional right to ‘medical’ use of unproven treatments goes back a long time…

…patients have no legal basis to go to court to force unwilling health care providers either to participate in an off-label use they do not believe is therapeutic, or to force hospitals tolerate such a use in their facilities.

So in summary, healthcare experts in the US can legally mandate vaccines in order to preserve “real liberty”. On the flip side, healthcare experts can not be forced by courts against their will to experiment on patients.

A vaccination mandate is totally constitutional and ordinary for America, definitely NOT something unconstitutional.

With all that said, who in the US is refusing vaccination and forcing predictable mistakes like “Great Britain, Sweden, and Japan… because of fear about the vaccine”?

Here are some of the latest numbers in America on that note:

  • 86% Democrats are vaccinated (5% say they will never)
  • 64% Republicans are vaccinated (42% in December 2020 said they will never, dropping to just 20% in the latest polling, thus 22% moved in six months from saying never to being vaccinated)
  • 18% Men say they will never
  • 10% Women say they will never
  • 44% White evangelical protestants are not vaccinated (24% say they will never)
  • 20% Hispanic catholics are not vaccinated
  • 15% Jews are not vaccinated
  • 37% Agriculture workers say never
  • 12% Tech workers say never

Or, from the same source, to put it another way…

Viewers who tune in to Fox News Channel at least once a month report the highest rates of vaccine refusal and the lowest level of vaccine uptake (59%) of all outlets polled…

With that in mind, the U.S. federal government has the authority for isolation and quarantine under the Commerce Clause of… wait for it… the Constitution.

Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prevent entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into and between U.S. states.

These functions are delegated in terms of a daily basis to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And now for another blast from the past to put it all in perspective:

Source: Douglas Island News (Douglas, Alaska) 15 Nov 1918.

Update September 23: “Federal Court: Anti-Vaxxers Do Not Have a Constitutional or Statutory Right to Endanger Everyone Else”

How to Teach War History in the Classroom

When I was a student in history, it seemed like everything we studied was war.

Dates were “important” because they related to some military event. Technology was “interesting” because it killed people.

I even spoke about this issue a bit in the origin story for this blog.

Poems always fascinated him because they present a unique window into the thoughts and feelings of our predecessors who faced important social challenges. Much of history is taught with an emphasis solely on military events — who fought, who won and why — which Davi found to obscure much of the more fundamental day-by-day decisions and lessons distilled into poetry by people of that period.

Indeed, poetry can be essential to understanding human conflict, especially influence campaigns, as I recently wrote about Afghanistan.

Oops, see what I mean? Even poetry is about war.

Fast forward to today and a new article in War on the Rocks suggests a shift towards more systemic thinking — more cognition for placing war in context of society — is being put on the table by military historians.

This integration of battlefield events with the social, cultural, ideological, and technological forces that often trigger and perpetuate war is just what the Society for Military History has called for. In November 2014, two of the best scholars in the business, Robert Citino and Tami Davis Biddle, authored a lucid and compelling statement about the importance of teaching the history of war — in all its various dimensions. “Perhaps the best way for military historians to make their case to the broader profession,” they wrote, “is to highlight the range, diversity, and breadth of the recent scholarship in military history, as well as the dramatic evolution of the field in recent decades.” A broadly based and scholarly approach to the teaching of war, they added, “puts big strategic decisions about war and peace into context; it draws linkages and contrasts between a nation’s socio-political culture and its military culture; it helps illuminate ways in which a polity’s public and national narrative is shaped over time. All this gives the field relevance, and, indeed, urgency, inside the classroom.”

The article is great in its entirety, not least of all because it also smacks down some nonsense claims about a decline in teaching about war.

Basic analysis proves such claims wrong.

And let’s be honest, if more people realized learning history gives you an excellent grasp of analysis they probably wouldn’t have to be sold on the benefits of learning about war.

Suggestions for US Military Naming Commission

Obviously the US isn’t going to name a federal building in Oklahoma after Timothy McVeigh, nor is it going to name a sky scraper in NYC after Osama bin Laden. My how times have changed!

Not so very long ago American military bases and ships were attacked viciously using information warfare tactics and conspicuously named for those who wanted America to be destroyed.

Even more to the point, history had been systematically erased through the process of gifting honors to immoral and disgraceful enemies of the state (rather than heroes and role models who served to protect America from its enemies).

Now a Naming Commission is taking suggestions for how to remove these attacks on American identity, undo obvious damage to morale, and reverse the systemic erasure of history.

The Naming Commission has the important role of recommending names that exemplify our U.S. military and national values. We are determined to gain feedback and insight from every concerned citizen to ensure the best names are recommended. To accomplish this monumental task, we are engaging with local, city, state and federal leaders and communities. We also encourage all interested citizens to submit naming recommendations…

Here is a quick list of suggestions to help get things rolling:

  • USS Chancellorsville –> Captain Donnie Cochran

    First African American Blue Angels commanding officer

  • Fort Bragg –> Captain Silas S. Soule

    In September 1864, Soule and his commanding officer, Major Edward Wynkoop, participated in the Smoky Hill peace talks with Cheyenne and Arapaho Peace Chiefs. Later, he traveled with Wynkoop and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Chiefs to Denver for a meeting at Camp Weld with Governor and ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs John Evans and Chivington. Soule’s presence at both of these important peace meetings reinforced the decisions he made at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864, when he showed extraordinary courage in refusing to participate in the massacre of the peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho. During the attack, Soule and his company of soldiers refused to fight and in the days following the massacre, Soule wrote the chilling and explicit letter [documenting crimes and] one of the first to testify against Chivington during the Army’s investigation in January 1865.

  • Fort Benning –> Gen. Oliver W. Dillard

    Graduate of Fort Benning, Commanding General United States Army having served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Fifth African American flag officer in Army, first black intelligence general, National Intelligence Hall of Fame. Distinguished Service Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Silver Star, Legion of Merit (2 Oak Leaf Cluster), Bronze Star (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Good Conduct Medal, and Combat Infantryman Badge (2nd Award).

  • Fort Lee –> President Ulysses Grant
  • “The mere act of breaking the negro’s chains was the act of Abraham Lincoln…. But the act by which the negro was made a citizen of the United States and invested with the elective franchise was pre-eminently the act of President Grant” — Frederick Douglas, 1876

  • Fort Hood –> Lee Roy Young Jr

    The first Black law enforcement officer to serve as a Texas Ranger in the agency’s 165-year history. His great-grandfather was a Black Seminole and fought in three Seminole Indian wars (the largest slave rebellion in American history). From the small town of Del Rio as a child he decided he wanted to be a Ranger. He joined the Navy and served four years during the Vietnam War. After serving he earned a college degree from the University of Texas and began his law enforcement work, eventually working as a trooper and criminal investigator. In 1985, he took up the challenge of trying to become a Ranger. Three years later he was accepted and began investigating some of the state’s most notorious crimes. After retiring in 2003, Young opened his own private investigation agency.

  • Fort Pickett –> Army Col. Ruby Bradley

    Army’s most highly decorated nurse. As a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, she was the third woman in Army history to be promoted to the rank of Colonel. She earned 34 medals for her service during World War II and the Korean War.

  • Fort Rucker –> Lieutenant Willa Brown
  • Willa became a founding member of the National Airmen’s Association of America (NAAA), the first Black aviators’ group. She served as the national secretary and president of the Chicago branch of the NAAA, whose main objective was to pursue the participation of African Americans in aviation and aeronautics, as well as bringing African Americans into the armed forces. The work of both the school and the NAAA gained traction with the onset of World War II, as a serious shortage of experienced pilots made headlines across the country. A 1939 Time Magazine article on the topic mentions Willa and the NAAA, giving a national platform for their proposed solution to the problem: train African American men to become pilots! Willa advocated tirelessly for desegregation in the military, and her school finally became part of the government-funded CPTP, the Civilian Pilot Training Program (later the WTS, War Training Service Program), established to provide the country with enough experienced aviators to improve military preparedness. It allowed for participation of African Americans on a “separate-but-equal” basis. Willa was named federal coordinator for the CPTP in Chicago and, while the Coffrey School was not allowed to train pilots for the Army, it was chosen to provide African American trainees for the pilot training program at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This program led to the creation of the famed Tuskegee Airmen and Willa was directly responsible for training over 200 future Tuskegee Airmen and instructors.

  • USNS Maury –> Ensign Jane Kendeigh
  • First naval flight nurse to fly evacuation mission to an active combat zone (Okinawa) she also served at Iwo Jima helping to evacuate 2,393 Marines and sailors. Of the 1,176,048 total of military patients evacuated in these dangerous flights during war, only 46 died en route.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Charles Calvin Rogers

    Known as a leader who led from the front, Rogers went where the action was most intense, rallying troops and personally directing and redirecting the howitzer fire. He ran from position to position, even assuming a place on one fire team that had been diminished by casualties; engaged in close-range firefights; and was wounded multiple times during the three assaults. After being wounded so seriously that he could no longer fight himself, he continued calling encouragement and reassurance to his troops. Due in no small part to his courageous leadership, 1st Battalion prevailed and the NVA force was repelled. On May 14, 1970, President Richard Nixon bestowed the Medal of Honor on LTC Charles Rogers, making him the highest-ranking Black soldier to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor. Rogers continued his service and rose to the rank of Major General, making him the highest-ranking Black Medal of Honor recipient. He worked diligently for race and gender equality in the military before he retired from the Army in 1984, after 32 years of service

Facebook Lied About Encryption and Mines Outrage for Profit

Update (Insider Sept 17):

  • The BBC in 2019 reported that human traffickers were using Facebook’s services to sell domestic workers.
  • Apple threatened to remove Facebook from its App Store after a report about an online slave market.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook knew about the practice even before Apple made its threat.

There are two important and connected ethics stories in the news lately about Facebook management of user security.

The first is what I’ve been telling people about WhatsApp for several years now. The design of the product had a backdoor built-in and barely obscured.

On one recent call with a privacy expert and researcher they literally dropped off when I brought this fact up. After they went and did some digging they jumped back on that call and said “shit you’re right why aren’t people talking about this”. Often in security it’s unpleasant to be correct, and I have no idea why people choose the things to talk about instead.

I mean it was never much of a secret. Anyone could easily see (as I did, as that researcher did) the product always said if someone reported something they didn’t like when connected to another person their whole chat could be sent to Facebook for review. In other words a key held by a third party could unlock an “end-to-end” encrypted chat because of a special reporting mechanism.

That’s inherently a backdoor by definition.

A trigger was designed for a third party to enter secretly and have a look around in a private space. What if the trigger to gain entry was pulled by the third party and not the other two “ends” in the conversation?

I have seen exactly zero proof so far that Facebook couldn’t snoop without consent, meaning it’s plausible a third party could drop in whenever desired and undetected by using their trigger.

Again, the very definition of a backdoor.

Apparently this has finally become mainstream knowledge, which is refreshing to say the least. It puts to bed maybe that the Facebook PR machine for years has been spitting intentional bald-faced lies.

WhatsApp has more than 1,000 contract workers filling floors of office buildings in Austin, Texas, Dublin and Singapore, where they examine millions of pieces of users’ content. Seated at computers in pods organized by work assignments, these hourly workers use special Facebook software to sift through streams of private messages, images and videos that have been reported by WhatsApp users as improper and then screened by the company’s artificial intelligence systems. These contractors pass judgment on whatever flashes on their screen — claims of everything from fraud or spam to child porn and potential terrorist plotting — typically in less than a minute.

Policing users while assuring them that their privacy is sacrosanct makes for an awkward mission at WhatsApp. A 49-slide internal company marketing presentation from December, obtained by ProPublica, emphasizes the “fierce” promotion of WhatsApp’s “privacy narrative.” It compares its “brand character” to “the Immigrant Mother” and displays a photo of Malala ​​Yousafzai, who survived a shooting by the Taliban and became a Nobel Peace Prize winner, in a slide titled “Brand tone parameters.”

If you think that sounds awful. Here’s a flashback to a chalkboard-screeching 2019 tweet that may as well be from the ex-head of safety of a tobacco company on an investor/politics tour to claim how the mint-flavored cigarette filter was the most health-preserving thing of all time.

Source: Twitter

Here is how that tweet immediately appeared in my mind:

Facebook is to privacy what cigars are to health.

This tweet is promoting the same person who very recently was promoted by Facebook and Stanford into a giant op-ed in the NYT… to hypocritically attack Apple regarding new engineering privacy-protections to protect children from harms.

Hypocrisy? Yes, it doesn’t get much worse, as others already have pointed out: Facebook executives seem to mostly gin up bogus outrage for self gain.

I mean it’s a strange fact that an ex-Facebook executive is crossing over to pollute mainstream news like the NYT with disinformation, given the research on media he surely knows already (being the sausage factory insider who oversaw obvious failures of safety)…

Misinformation on Facebook got six times more clicks than reputable news sites…

When I say he oversaw obvious failures, I don’t just mean all the breaches and integrity disasters, becoming a first-time CISO who within a couple years was flailing in the largest security disasters in history.

I really mean the internal memos saying Facebook is a nightmare platform of insecurity that causes direct harm to society.

One internal Facebook presentation said that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.

“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the researchers reportedly wrote.

This safety failure of weak and incompetent leadership at Facebook (now Stanford) has been the cause of dire consequences to our society, economy, and most importantly, national security.

The second point is thus Facebook finally is starting to face the book — it has been creating vitriol and outrage this whole time for self-gain and profit, carelessly using technology in a manner obviously counter-productive to health and safety of society.

What the AI doesn’t understand is that I feel worse after reading those posts and would much prefer to not see them in the first place… I routinely allow myself to be enraged… wasting time doing something that makes me miserable.

This is backed up by research of Twitter proving social media platforms effectively train people to interact with increasing hostility to generate attention (feeding a self-defeating social entry mechanism, like stealing money to get rich).

If you feel like you’re met with a lot of anger and vitriol every time you open up your social media apps, you’re not imagining it: A new study shows how these online networks are encouraging us to express more moral outrage over time.

What seems to be happening is that the likes, shares and interactions we get for our outpourings of indignation are reinforcing those expressions. That in turn encourages us to carry on being morally outraged more often and more visibly in the future.

What this study shows is that reinforcement learning is evident in the extremes of online political discussion, according to computational social psychologist William Brady from Yale University, who is one of the researchers behind the work.

“Social media’s incentives are changing the tone of our political conversations online,” says Brady. “This is the first evidence that some people learn to express more outrage over time because they are rewarded by the basic design of social media.”

The team used computer software to analyze 12.7 million tweets from 7,331 Twitter users, collected during several controversial events, including debates over hate crimes, the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, and an altercation on an aircraft.

For a tweet to qualify as showing moral outrage, it had to meet three criteria: it had to be a response to a perceived violation of personal morals; it had to show feelings such as anger, disgust, or contempt; and it had to include some kind of blame or call for accountability.

The researchers found that getting more likes and retweets made people more likely to post more moral outrage in their later posts. Two further controlled experiments with 240 participants backed up these findings, and also showed that users tend to follow the ‘norms’ of the networks they’re part of in terms of what is expressed.”

And that’s a great explanation for the chalkboard-screeching 2019 tweet from Facebook’s ex-CISO, which could also be described as an addiction to spreading misinformation.

Amnesty International perhaps put it best, when they alleged the ex-CISO…

…created a system that gives powerful users free rein to harass others, make false claims, and incite violence. “The message from Facebook is clear – if you’re influential enough, they’ll let you get away with anything.”

Is it any wonder Facebook lied about user safety if they fundamentally side with tyranny and don’t believe in accountability? The site was founded on the theory that Zuckerberg would never face consequences for violating privacy of young women and then trying to harm them against their will.

Even the WSJ reports the company has since been building upon market corruption and unfairness rooted in privilege abuse.

Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt. A program known as XCheck has given millions of celebrities, politicians and other high-profile users special treatment, a privilege many abuse…

The question really becomes, given such a company with the worst trust record in history with endless reports of security breaches and violations of privacy, who (besides Stanford) still believes anymore in this brand or its talking heads?

In other words it should surprise exactly nobody how Facebook executives put a backdoor into their encryption while fraudulently promoting it as the safest, all for their own enrichment through the suffering of others and especially young girls.

Is a Cookie Banner Ban Coming? “A Smoother Mechanism for Consent”

There is an interesting detail buried within an article about cookie banners:

“I often hear people say how tired they are of having to engage with so many cookie pop-ups,” said Denham. “That fatigue is leading to people giving more personal data than they would like. The cookie mechanism is also far from ideal for businesses and other organisations running websites, as it is costly and it can lead to poor user experience.

“While I expect businesses to comply with current laws, my office is encouraging international collaboration to bring practical solutions in this area.”

She will raise the issue during a virtual meeting with leaders from the US, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, Italy, the OECD and WEF. Each representative will suggest a technology or innovation issue on which they believe closer international cooperation is required.

Denham has indicated that a smoother mechanism for consent is already technologically possible and compliant with data protection regulations. No further detail was given on the mechanism, which was simply described as “an idea on how to improve the current cookie consent mechanism, making web browsing smoother and more business friendly while better protecting personal data”.

Very important to note fatigue being mentioned as a reason against consent being given to the person who would be most interested in the harms.

In this context of a data owner being undermined, read the start of that last paragraph again:

Denham has indicated that a smoother mechanism for consent is already technologically possible and compliant with data protection regulations.

If you haven’t already looked at how W3C Solid brings consent to the Web, now is a great time to start.

Also, I found it delightful that this article forced me into an ugly consent mechanism before I could read about why consent fatigue is real.

the poetry of information security