Taking The Spin Off Things

Spin

Ok, so here is what I learned over the years about communication…


Question everything, believe nothing (except in G-d).


It’s not just that a lot of people out there are full of sh*t–yes, that is true too. 


But also that many powerful people are experts at manipulation and spin. 


Take just some recent some examples:


– We didn’t just give America and Israel-hating “suicidal, apocalypse-seeking” Iran a clear path to the bomb and in just half a generations’ time (along with hundreds of billions to continue funding global terror and a lifting of the weapons and ballistic missile embargo), instead we have a “comprehensive long term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”


– With the hackers who not only showed how to take wireless control of a moving Jeep Cherokee, but also released information on how to do it, they didn’t put another tool in the toolkit of the cyber attackers and terrorists out there, instead “they are bringing atttention to an issue auto makers have for too long ignored.


Could go on and on to issue after issue…


The point is that from a young age we are primed to respect, listen, and automatically believe figures of authority and experts–when our parents, teachers, spiritual leaders or a policeman or fireman says something, we naturally believe them, who they are, and in them. 


This is what politicians and executives and other people in power prey on–that we will believe them over everyone else or any other facts to the contrary. They have the title, the uniform, the badge, or whatever, and so they must be good, honest, and trustworthy.


However, good parents and teachers make sure to tell children not just to take people or what they say at face value. For example, if someone comes to the door and says they are delivering a package, don’t just open the door.  Look through the peephole, ask for identification, or have them come with a neighbor, etc. 


I remember in the very first movie of “Death Wish” with Charles Bronson, where his wife and daughter answer the door expecting a simple delivery from the supermarket that they were just at and instead they get a brutal gang that murders the wife and rapes the daughter. 


Similarly, in cases where women get pulled over, attacked, and raped by someone with flashing lights, siren, and even a fake uniform/badge–even as you believe you are obeying the law, others are taking advantage and fooling you.


As comforting as our beliefs are and perhaps even that we just want to believe–things often are not as they appear or what we want or expect them to be–what goes on behind the scenes and the spin that comes out in front are designed to intoxicate the masses. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Kristian Niemi)

The Monster Under The Bed

Shiksa.com
For those familiar with Yiddish…



A shiksa is a non-Jewish girl and is sometimes used to refer to Jewish women that don’t follow the commandments. 



A shegetz is a similar term used for a male. 



Is it a bad word? 



Well, let’s just say it’s not a term of endearment. 🙂



I guess it’s funny that everyone has terms for those who are not just like them.



Of course we all don’t have to be and aren’t the same, cut from the same mold.



But we all have to have respect for each other and get along. 



I think the worst part of people being different is not even the overt jokes or off-handed remarks which can certainly be hurtful, but much more the backdoor insinuations and aggressive behaviors. 



Lately, to be frank, it seems that ethnic and religious war is brewing big time in the world–anyone else notice?



Not regional, focused on oil and resources, long held dictatorships, human rights, or even “the Palestinian issue.”



But rather what no one wants to talk about or confront, a battle of civilizations.



It is so scary, because this is there are big and powerful actors at play whether Russia or China playing for the world’s leadership role (one overtly and the other covertly), Iran and North Korea freely wielding nukes and threateningly strutting “their stuff,” and ISIS and Al Qaeda looking for the next budding caliphate and  imposition of Sharia law as far and as wide as they can take it.



East meets West, democracy vs. dictatorship, religion against religion, this thing is building up steam, pressure is rising, and the question is whether and how big this is about to blow.



Shhh, if we don’t say the words or we pretend to “make nice” and give out jobs, dole out handouts, and use our drones, oh so discretely, maybe no one will notice. 



Are we being phobic about communism, radical Islam, budding economic and military might, and other differences, or are we pointing out what we are all perceiving, but greatly fear to face. 



When I saw recently that some wonderful Muslim people were surrounding synagogues in Europe, not to attack it, but rather to encircle it to defend it, I was not only in complete awe, but also realized how many good and righteous people there are out there.



These people are actually doing something about the injustices and power grabs they are witnessing, and not trying to obfuscate or opiate the masses. 



It’s not just about being tolerant of others and stripping hatred from our hearts and lives, but about being truthful when others may choose not to be. 😉



(Source Photo: Facebook)

6 D’s Of Cyberwar

Cybersecurity
Popular Science had a interesting article that spelled out the six D’s of Cyberwar:



On the offensive side, you want to destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, and deceive.



“Unlike World War II code breaking, cyber attacks offer the potential to not just read the enemy’s radio, but to seize control of the radio itself.”



– Step 1: Infiltrate the enemy’s networks and communications and gather/exfiltrate information.



– Step 2:  Compromise the enemy’s information either by:



1) Corrupting the enemy’s information, planting misinformation, sewing erroneous reports, and causing poor decision-making. 

2) Taking control of their networks, disabling or jamming them, and disrupting their command and control or harming their critical infrastructure and causing mass confusion, destruction, and death.



Examples are “not merely to destroy the enemy’s tanks, but to make them drive in circles–or even attack each other” or to cyber attack an enemies control systems for electricity, dams, transportation, banking, and so on. 

With the ability to steal information, sow misinformation, seize control, or even stop the information flow altogether, cyberwar is not just another weapon in our arsenal, but “a tool to help achieve the goals of any given operation.”



On the flip side, you want to defend against the enemy’s use of cyberspace to hurt us.



We need to continue to get serious about cyberwarfare and cybersecurity and become the masters in the information domain, and quickly. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Chocolate Putin And Lemon ISIS

Lemon Ices Chocolate Pudding
Ok, so Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS are a true recipe for global disaster. 



GLOBAL THREATS: With Chocolate Putin, we have the old Cold War back again (or maybe it was never really gone) with nation states facing off and state-of-the-art weapons galore such as thermonuclear ICBMs onshore, offshore, and aloft. And with Lemon ISIS, we have extremists posing a new level of terrorist threats such that we have never seen before with beheadings, crucifixions, and mass killings, and the potential for (very) dirty bombs. 



PSYCHOLOGICAL INTIMIDATION: While Chocolate Putin still denies his troops are even in Ukraine or that they all along wanted to harbor Snowden, Lemon ISIS tells the whole world they seek to establish a caliphate across the Middle East. Either way the psychological impact is to confuse and scare.



OPPRESSION OF THE PEOPLE: Both Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS declare that the people (along with their territory) in their sights are really wanting it–Ukrainians, Georgians, the Baltic States and Poland want to be Russian and maybe really are, while ISIS declares that good Muslims really want to live under strict Sharia law. The victims are not victims, they are willing participants in their own takeover. 



RULING BY AUTOCRACY: Chocolate Putin and Lemon ISIS rule by dictatorship with a supreme leader or all powerful president, the people must follow or be put in the gulag or hung by a tree limb. Either way, you will obey, freedoms begone, and the collective will be better off for it. 



The list of ingredients and description for world chaos and terror can go on and on here…but the point is that we are facing enemies that are digging in to inflict serious metabolic harm on us. 



While some may like chocolate Putin or Lemon ISIS, the results of closing our eyes to the calorie count will be catastrophic to a peaceful world order. 



(Source Photo for Lemon ISIS is Andy Blumenthal and for Chocolate Putin is here with attribution to jlib)

The *S*p*y* Named Snowden

The *S*p*y* Named Snowden

So was Edward Snowden a whistleblower (some even call him a patriot) or one of the most ruthless spies this country has ever known?

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Edward Jay Epstein makes a strong case that Snowden was a spy galore, and the whistleblowing was his cover.
What he stole? – 1.7 million documents from the NSA with “only a minute fraction of them have anything to do with civil liberties or whistleblowing.” Instead, the vast majority “were related to our military capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques, and procedures”–otherwise known as the “keys to the kingdom.” Moreover, it seems clear that a “top priority was lists of the computers of U.S. adversaries abroad that the NSA has succeeded in penetrating.”
When he stole them? – Snowden took the Booz Allen Hamilton job as a contractor for NSA in March 2013–this was at the “tail end of his operation.” Moreover, the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA) court order for Verizon to provide metadata on U.S. phone calls for 90 days had only been issued in April 2013. And Snowden told reporter James Rosen in October 2013, that his last job at NSA gave him access to every active operation against the Chinese and “that is why I accepted the position.”
Where did Snowden end up? – First in Hong Kong and then under the protection of the FSB (aka the old KGB) in Russia, which “effectively compromises all the sources and methods” and ties all too nicely with what he stole. A former cabinet official has indicated that the Snowden heist was either Russian espionage, Chinese espionage, or a joint operation.
If Snowden really was a spy as indicated, then the Whistleblowing of domestic surveillance in the U.S. was a most brilliant ploy by his operators to distract our nation from the true nature of the exfiltration and the harm done to our national security. In a way, it falls right in line with Russia’s creative storyline/coverup in taking Crimea in saying that they were only protecting ethnic Russians. Score 2 for Russia!

Are we so easily lied to and manipulated…is public opinion really just jello in the hands of the global spymasters.

We’ve got to be smart enough (i.e. critical thinkers) to interpret the noise in the intelligence signals, political speeches, and news stories to unveil the truth of what is really going on. In advertising, when exposing the truth of products and companies, this is sometimes referred to as culture jamming. Can we apply this to the complicated intrigue of global politics and get past the storyline that is fed to us to expose truth?

It’s high time to outmaneuver those that may seek to manipulate the public (whether from outside or even sometimes from within) with some brilliance of our own–in not believing every snippet that is fed to us and instead looking at the bigger picture of political theater, special interests, and national security to see who is now zinging whom and why. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

10 Keys To Influencing And Selling Anything

Brilliant video by Kendra Eash for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

It is made entirely with stock footage from Dissolve.

What is amazing is how with some great video, nice background music, and a soothing confidant voiceover–we can sell, or be sold on, just about anything.

The 10 Keys to influencing and selling anything, including B.S.:

1. Vague words that show progress (innovation, hope, motherhod, and apple pie–I’ll have some of that)
2. Beautiful footage and sounds (who wouldn’t want to be there type?)
3. High-technology and science (we can solve the world’s problems and make money, yippee)
4. Research and development (we’re investing in the future and you should invest in us)
5. Global and U.S. (we’re beyond borders, but still “made in…”, headquartered, or otherwise a U.S. entity)
6. Environmentally conscious (clean water, breathable, air, lush forests, who can argue with that?)
7. High-speed (movers and shakers, we don’t stand still, join us or be left behind)
8. Attractive people (this is for real human beings, human kind, we care about you!)
9. Diversity and equality (we love and help everyone–including you and your family)
10. Inspiring (we’re thinking big and bringing positive change–buy from us, support our cause)

Throw/superimpose any company, product, country, person, or cause on this video–and poof, you’ve got an awesome brand–whether you deserve it or not!

This is how we’re manipulated one brand at a time, hundreds of brands a day. 😉

Can You Trust Social Media?

Can You Trust Social Media?

Interesting article in BBC about a project underway to develop a system that will rate information on the Internet as trustworthy or not.

Considering how quickly we get information from the Net and how easy it is to start crazy rumors, manipulate financial investors, or even cause a near panic, it would be good to know whether the source is legitimate and the information has been validated.

Are we simply getting someone mouthing off on their opinions or what they think may happen or perhaps they are unknowingly spreading false information (misinformation) or even purposely doing it (disinformation)?

Depending how the Internet is being used–someone may be trying to get the real word out to you (e.g. from dissidents in repressive regimes) or they may be manipulating you (e.g. hackers, criminals, or even terrorists).

To have a reliable system that tells us if information being promulgated is good or not could add some credibility and security online.

What if that system though itself is hacked? Then lies can perhaps be “verified” as truth and truth can be discredited as falsehood.

The Internet is dangerous terrain, and as in the life in general, it is best to take a cautious approach to verify source and message.

The next cyber or kinetic attack may start not with someone bringing down the Internet, but rather with using it to sow confusion and disarm the masses with chaos. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Head Spinning From All The Spin

Head Spinning From All The Spin

The Nazi Minister of Propaganda, the evil Joseph Goebbels said, “He who controls the message, controls the masses.”

All dictatorships function very much from this premise as we see even now a days in totalitarian governments that limit Internet access, block websites, and filter news and messages from the people, so as to keep them docile and servile.

However, even in a democracy as fine as ours, the ability to control the message is a very powerful tool in directing how events are understood by the public and what action is taken, or not.

Some recent examples:

1) Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons:
Numerous allies including England, France, and Israel say they have intelligence about Syria’s use of sarin gas against their own people…So did Syria cross the red line and use chemical weapons requiring us to take action or is this a matter for investigation and evidence?

2) Iran’s Violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:
Iran is one of the world’s richest in energy resources and reserves…So is Iran violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty necessitating that we stop them or are they just building nuclear facilities for peaceful civilian energy needs?

3) Egyptian Military Coup and Roadmap For Reconciliation:
Egypt’s military overthrew the Egyptian Prime Minister from the Muslim Brotherhood who oversaw the rewriting of the constitution in 2011 to be based on Islamic law and not inclusive of other more secular elements of society…So is the restoration of true democracy and civil rights for the Egyptian people or a brutal coup?

4) Sudan Committing Genocide in Darfur:
With over 400,000 killed, 2,500,000 displaced, and 400 villages completely destroyed in Darfur…So did Sudan commit genocide requiring prevention, intervention, and punishment or was this just Sudanese internal conflict?

5) People Employed in U.S. at 30-Year Lows:
The proportion of the U.S. population that is working is at low rates not seen since the recession of the 1980’s…So is the unemployment rate still a critical national issue or is the unemployment rate really better and the economy strong again?

6) Edward Snowden Leaking Classified Information:
Snowden sought out the job with Booz Allen Hamilton to gather evidence on classified NSA surveillance and when he did he leaked this information to the news and harmed national security…So is Snowden a traitor or a whistleblower?

7) An $82 Billion Federal IT Budget:
The Federal IT budget is anticipated to rise to $82 billion in 2014…So are we still spending on large troubled IT projects or realizing billions in IT savings from new technology trends in cloud, mobile, social computing and more?

As Bill Clinton in 1998 said when questioned about the Monica Lewinsky affair…”It depends what the meaning of the word is, is?”

We see clearly that definitions are important, interpretations are important, and spin can make right seem wrong and wrong seem like right.

How we communicate and present something is very important and has critical ramifications on what is done about it whether in terms of action, attribution, and retribution.

Moreover, we should keep in mind that “He who knows doesn’t tell, and he who tells doesn’t know,” so there are limits to what even gets communicated from the get-go.

What is communicated, when, and in how much clarity or distortion is a function one on hand of people’s agendas, biases, career building (including the desire to get and keep power), as well as the genuine need for secrecy and security.

On the other hand, the desire for openness, transparency, truth, and healthy debate (facilitated by the media, checks and balances in government, and the judicial system) provides a counterbalance.

We the people must press to determine–is the person telling it like it is or are some things being contrived, manipulated, edited, and Photoshopped.

In the end, critical thinking and looking beyond the surface can make the difference between what we know we know and what we think we know. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jah~)

Emergency Alert Or R U Kidding?

Emergency Alert Or R U Kidding?

BBC News Technology (9 July 2013) reports on how the U.S. Emergency Alert System (EAS) was hacked.

The EAS is a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was set up “to allow the president to talk to the entire country within 10 minutes of a disaster.” It also provides the public with alerts on local weather emergencies, such as tornados and flash floods.

EAS replaced the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) in 1997 and with it came security weaknesses.

Earlier this year, those vulnerabilities were tested and exploited when the Montana Television Network was hacked with an alert of a zombie attack.

And it provided advice on how to survive–“Do not approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous.”

This is reminiscent of the hoax in 1938 when over the radio came a warning that a meteorite had smashed into New Jersey and aliens were attacking New York–an adaptation of H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds.”

Well yesterday it was aliens, today it’s zombies, and tomorrow it could be an phony announcement of an invasion by country XYZ or perhaps a imminent detonation of a thermonuclear warhead somewhere over the continental U.S.

Imagine the panic, confusion, and potential loss of life and property from the ensuing chaos.

It goes without saying that this is not a way to inspire confidence by the citizens in case of a true national emergency.

If we cannot count on the systems meant to survive an emergency then how can we be expected to survive the emergency itself?

The EAS may interrupt your regularly scheduled programming with those loud and annoying tests, but what can really ruin you day is a cyber attack on the system that broadcasts something much nastier and more ominous–and you don’t really know whether it’s the real thing or just another hack. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to UWW ResNet)

What A Dummy!

Dummy
This guy is a real dummy–no, I am not being mean or rude.

While this guy looks very real, it is actually a statue and is called “Vendor With Walkman” by Duane Hanson.

This guy sits in a windowed room in Ft. Lauderdale Airport, and it seems that almost everyone who passes by stops and does a double-take–he is so real looking–it is amazing!

Looks are deceiving, but this takes it to a whole new level–think hard about what is real and fake; it is not always so obvious. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)