Top Secret Tinseltown

So this is a city with a lot of secrets. 


I’m not talking about just the run-of-the-mill, non-disclosure agreement (NDA).


This is Top Secret Tinseltown!


And even the stuff that comes out in the news–whether it’s clandestine transfers of $1.7 billion to the Ayatollahs in Iran or the Uranium One deal with the Russians, there is plenty of dirty little games going on. 


What was hilarious is when when saw this huge industrial shredding truck in the parking lot:

Paper Shredding * Electronic Destruction * Medical Waste Disposal


And there were a line of cars waiting to get rid of their little secrets.


I kid you not when I say that on a Saturday morning, there were at least 25 cars in line to dispose of their “stuff.”


Now who do you know in what city that waits 25 cars deep in line for an industrial shredder on a Saturday morning.


And the cars are pulling up, the trunks are popping open, and boxes and boxes of paper and electronic files are being handed over. 


Gee, I hope the Russians or Chinese aren’t getting into the shredding business…and inside the truck isn’t a large shredder but a bunch of analysts waiting for you to hand it all over. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Tired of All The Whining About China

I don’t know about you, but I am so tired about all the whining about China. 


– They are stealing our intellectual property. 


– They are hacking into our systems. 


– They are unfairly forcing us to transfer technology to them.


– They aren’t opening up their market to us. 


OMG stop the complaining already!


If you don’t like what they are doing, then do something about it. 


Tariffs are a start, but just a small one. 


Seriously, if you can’t incentivize them to stop the harassment and unfair trade practices by adding them to the World Trade Organization, investing in them, and partnering with them, then you need to actually compete with China. 


– They steal our sh*t–you help yourself to a generous serving of theirs.  


– They break into our systems–you find your way into their systems.


– They try to unfairly take away our markets and jobs–you take away theirs big time.  


Everyone knows that to deal with bully, you must fight back!


The more we are scared into inaction, the worse it gets.


This doesn’t mean that we should get into a military exchange with China, but we do need to get into a confrontation over what economic and global partnership should mean and look like. 


China is an old and truly great nation and their people should be highly respected.


However, the USA should also be treated right, and if that means it’s time for a heart to heart and some evening up of the playing field then that is what has to happen. 


We have to restore respect to America, not by becoming bullies ourselves, but by standing up to them when we are being taken advantage of.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Social System that Inspires Pride and Shame

This story continues to fascinate me. 


China’s social credit system started in 2015. 


China scores individuals based on public data (social media, financial, insurance, health, shopping, dating, and more), and they have people that act as “information collectors” (i.e. neighborhood watchers) who record what their neighbors are doing–good and bad. 


Each individual starts with a 1,000 points. 


If you do good things in Chinese society–helping people, cleaning up, being honest–you get points added. 


If you do bad things in China–fight with people, make a mess, be dishonest–you get points deducted. 


Fail below 1,000 points and you are in trouble–and can get blacklisted!


A good score is something to be proud of and a bad score is something that shames people to hopefully change for the better. 


But more than that, your social score has tangible social impacts–it can determine your ability to get into certain schools, obtain better jobs, homes, loans/mortgages, high-speed internet, and even high-speed train tickets/airplane flights. 


While maybe well intentioned, certainly, this has the very real potential to become a surveillance state and the embodiment of “Big Brother”!


On one hand, it seems like a great thing to drive people and society to be better. Isn’t that what we do with recognizing and rewarding good behavior and with our laws and justice system in punishing bad behavior?


Yet, to me this type of all-encompassing social credit system risks too much from a freedom and privacy perspective. Should the government and all your neighbors be privy to your most intimate doings and dealings?  And should people be controlled to such an extent that literally everything you do is monitored and measured and counted for/against you?


It seems to me that the price of sacrificing your very personal liberty is too high to make in order to push people towards positive social goals.


Guiding people is one thing, and rewarding outstanding acts and punishing horrific ones is understandable, but getting into people’s knickers is another. 


This type of social credit system really borders on social control and moves us towards a very disturbing, dystopian future. 😉

Space Force: Up Up And Away

Space Force as another full branch of the military is the right thing to do!


The things that get focused on, get accomplished. 


Space is the “final frontier.”


And as Gene Roddenberry realized with the creation of Star Trek in 1964, it is the future of Mankind’s very survival. 


It’s time to stop thinking small as in planet Earth, and start thinking big as there is a whole universe out there!


Russia and China get it–hence their development and testing of anti-satellite rockets and other “kill vehicles” in space as well as lasers and jamming equipment against our satellites, and of course, their plans to colonize the Moon and land men on Mars and beyond. 


Why have we in America only gotten it in Hollywood?


Yes, there have been a few notable exceptions such as President Reagan with his vision for the Star Wars’ Strategic Defense Initiative and President Trump with the bonafide stand up of a Space Force.


Some of the Pentagon brass, particularly the Air Force, may hem and haw about the politics of this thing…losing money and prestige for their branch of the military, but their power is not the concern, our power as a nation is!


I envision a day in the not too distant future when the Air Force doesn’t run Space Command, but rather Space Force runs the Air Force. 


We need to put politics aside and stop laughing at our own ignorance about the potential of space for our future survival and for conflict. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mao Tse Tung – China Leadership Watch

So this was absolutely amazing today. 


We had a meeting and someone brought in a bag of “prizes” as an icebreaker.


Low and behold, one of the items being given away was a Kim Jong-il (father of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s current leader). 


“Coincidentally,” this just one day after the historic peace summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. 


Why anyone would give a watch like this away is mind-boggling to me. 


I am curious if anyone knows what the inscription on the back is?  


Anyway, I think this watch is an amazing piece of history, especially from the isolated nation of North Korea.


I can only imagine what the history of this timepiece is and how it got here to NIST.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Social Media Totalitarianism

The Chinese government has the most brilliant as well as frightening use and control of social media. 


I am not just talking about blocking Internet sites and free information flow. 


They actually have mastered the use of social media for tracking and rewarding or punishing citizen behavior.


Their social credit system rates people’s behavior online for everything they do!


Similar to likes and dislikes, you are either labeled a “model citizen” sought after for jobs and good housing or you can be an “enemy of the state” treated as a social outcast who can’t even leave the country anymore. 


Everything about you is now based on what you are rated (whether true or not)!


Now in China the government has added a snitching tool/app where people are encouraged through a points system that offers rewards like store discounts, coupons for coffee, taxis, and music streaming, in order to get them to report covertly on their neighbors–are their fellow citizens fighting, is there mental illness, are people cheating on their taxes, etc. 


You’re being surveilled not just by the grid system, where every 300 households are watched and checked-in on by a “grid manager,” but you are subject to daily intrusion by anyone that wants to report on you. 


Communication to “Big Brother” is way overvalued, while privacy and respect of the people are no longer important values or concerns. 


Instead of a Security Operations Center to monitor and command response to life-threatening catastrophes and emergencies, now there is a “Social Governance Integrated Command Center” to display video and biometric surveillance from throughout the country as well as to show what are the “moods” and which “issues” are trending. 


Talking about having a finger on the pulse of what’s going on…


I say this is all brilliant and malign, because social media which can be a tool for connecting people and for the free flow of information and progress is instead used for near ultimate control and enslavement of the masses–both their minds and their behaviors. 


People should not be treated as servants of the state and subjected to ever-encroaching social media surveillance and control that is not carefully balanced directly to absolutely necessary national security. 


Rather the state and its levers of people’s supreme power should be subject to the wants and needs of its people who must freely decide on their collective futures and maintaining human rights. 


Totalitarianism by police state, imprisonment, torture and “re-education” is now unfortunately facilitated by social media monitoring,  and credits system where truly you are watched by Big Brother in the flesh and in the bytes. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)