Insurrection of the Feeble Minded – Jan 6, 2017

Having studied political science, despite working primarily in technology, the events of recent years have been disconcerting. Instead of “tyranny of the majority” the US has suffered under a cyclical stasis of ineffective elitist and then populist leadership. Neither has been able to advance an agenda beyond the wishes of K street or hand outs.

What we have instead is rigamortis of the American theorem, reverting it back to a hypothesis as evidenced by the “insurrection of the feeble minded” on January 6, 2021.

Why is the cry of “no justice, no peace” so easily replaced with “no manifest destiny, no country”? Would we not need to invade Canada and Mexico to “make America great again”?

Corey Robin: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/trump-and-the-trapped-country

Second (or third or fourth) chances for humans in life

### DRAFT ###

There is a common saying when talking about others that goes:

Fool me once; shame on you.

Fool me twice; shame on me.

I can’t say I disagree with the “shame on me quote.” Yet we must acknowledge that we are giving up on that person. We are accepting as fact another common saying,

“Leopards don’t change their spots.”

There are truly courageous ones who once in a blue moon can see past the flaws and push someone towards an alternate positive future. Against all odds. Like this judge:

https://apple.news/A2QNleThAQVKlNdbqysrFog

Most failures, Morrow said, are because people who need help never get it, adding, “There’s no such thing in my mind as a self-made person.”

And

A judge gave a drug dealer a second chance. Sixteen years later, he swore him in as a lawyer.

The road is hard and can theoretically be navigated alone. That approach usually fails. In my experience it just doesn’t work like that. Yes you have to do your absolute damnedest to pull yourself up. But 99% of the time that just isn’t enough.

Self help is selfish. Tribe help, with accountability, is priceless.

Five years, needless deaths, a failed startup

From the article: … (today is)

“the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. On June 12, 2016, a gunman opened fire in the club, killing 49 people and injuring 53 more; at the time, it was the deadliest shooting in the United States.”

Five years ago we asked ourselves how this could have been prevented, or at least mitigated.

Thus the pulse nightclub shooting was the inspiration for a company I tried to start to help innocent victims of exactly this type of tragedy. Not prevent; but mitigate through non lethal AI based robotics.

https://www.SOMArobotics.com

AL/ML non-lethal response in real time to active shooter situations.
SOMA Robotics – AI/ML non lethal response to active shooters

It was a very expensive deep dive into raspi, opencv, brushless motors and escs. It failed for lack off funding for whatever reason. Although it still seems to me that all stakeholders win with a non lethal AI based automatic response that integrates with first responders.

Yet the challenge is still there. This must stop.

Post pandemic life choices

The cistern on Buffalo bayou

As we create our post pandemic life and culture, it is a time for affirmation and/or punctuation and/or disruption:

https://apple.news/Ah1yDfN-yRvKOfjgLzfwZ6Q

The article finishes with:

“In his “Poetry of Departures,” the English poet Philip Larkin wrote about a man who walked away from a life he disliked.
Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,


As epitaph:

He chucked up everything

And just cleared off,

And always the voice will sound

Certain you approve

This audaciousness, purifying,

Elemental move.

This fearless adventurer doesn’t have to be someone you hear about fifth-hand—or even secondhand, as in the case of my friend. You have a choice…”

The cistern on Buffalo bayou

COVID in India

COVID isn’t over. Now especially India, the country that manufactures many of the vaccines Americans have received, it’s just tragic.

https://slate.com/technology/2021/05/estimating-covid-deaths-india.html

Just as the former administration in the US underestimated COVID, similarly the worlds largest democracy (India) is facing major challenges. Major tragedies.

If America is great we should rise to not just save ourselves, we should rise to the occasion and fight for all of humanity.

That’s when we were great. When we believed in people. In humans as equals.

So far the jury is out in my mind on if the current administration is doing everything in its power to help. I only see more politics. One can only hope…. and vote.

Happy Easter 2021

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

#sunset

Like Grasping a Hot Coal

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else, you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha

Bridgeport Connecticut

Quote: “….

“…. some cities are certainly more dangerous than others.

With cities like Bridgeport recording the highest numbers of property crimes and violent crimes in the state’s history, we are not shocked that Connecticut houses two of the most dangerous cities in the country.

We are, however, surprised that this New England state is not one of the most dangerous states in the country.

And those are the recent numbers.

Source: https://www.roadsnacks.net/these-are-the-10-most-dangerous-cities-in-connecticut/

It is so important to open your mind to the vast opportunities in the world. To chase them and relive them.

It is also helpful at times to specifically “choose” to forget the specifics. Life is not some giant reality tv show. We all have to move on from the negative.

0ne Half a Million Souls in the US Alone

United States set to Commemorate One Half Million Casualties to COVID-19

From the article: “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States faces a dark milestone despite a recent decline in COVID-19 cases as it prepares to mark a staggering half million deaths this week, nearly a year after the novel coronavirus pandemic upended the country with dueling public health and economic crises.”

Read more: https://apple.news/AgaDed6MnTmOTY_UrWgerGA

Stand Down

Quote:

“We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies,” the memo reads. “Service members, DoD civilian employees, and all those who support our mission, deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment.”

Austin writes in the memo that the stand-down is the first step in “what I believe must be a concerted effort to better educate ourselves and our people about the scope of this problem and to develop sustainable ways to eliminate the corrosive effects that extremist ideology and conduct have on the workforce.”

Source: https://apple.news/AxF_1VpsBS7KUfu5d-KMVEw

Strength is important because it facilitates a free democratic republic. A country based not only on laws, but on precedent. It gives me hope to see these critical issues addressed seriously.

You might be from Houston if…

You might be from Houston, the most diverse city in the USA, if you, in a pinch, use dominoes as your chips in Texas Hold’em.

Bones as chips for Texas Hold’em

You might be from Houston, the most diverse city in the USA, if you, know Texas is the number 1 wind-energy producing state in the country.

American Terrorists Attack and Enter the US Capitol Building Encouraged by President Trump

GOP loses all power

“Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).”

This is an epically sad day for America.

Trump supporters are not deserving of carrying the American flag. I have tried to be impartial and have criticized Presidents and praised Presidents from both parties. But this? Rioting and ransacking the Capitol?

This is unacceptable, unAmerican, unPatriotic and now …. it is radical insurrection and treasonous. No deflection, own your sedition.

Choose. Country? or Trump? WTF America?

Solarwinds hack by Russia can’t be understated

While America has been reading news articles about tweets our adversaries have been busy.

Busy since March 2020.

Not my first rodeo, and given hackers are incredibly patient and typically play the “long game”, reported breaches in my experience are frequently off by two years or greater. So I’d guess 2018 ish for the initial entry point.

Regardless, SUNBURST, dug deep with APT into places that shouldn’t even be possible. Like the power grid.

https://theintercept.com/2020/12/24/solarwinds-hack-power-infrastructure/

“to gain access into the 15 electric, oil, gas, and manufacturing entities that were infected with the software. But Lee notes that it may not be possible to uncover such activity if the attackers did access them and burrow further into the industrial control networks, because critical infrastructure entities generally don’t do extensive logging and monitoring of their control system networks.“

and

“In these ICS networks, most organizations don’t have the data and visibility to actually look for the breach,” says Lee. “So they might determine if they are compromised, but … almost none of them have network logs to … determine if there is follow-on activity [in their network].”

In other words, we don’t know.

The Solarwinds hack is so bad… that in response … the United States will do nothing.

Why?

Because when you own department of homeland security, and the treasury, among 18,000 other organizations are compromised, You have been epically pwned.

it means your adversaries totally own you. They have surely added back doors and more back doors and more back doors into the systems as well as “sleepers” like some subcontractor’s laptop used once a year to service a particular piece of hardware.

Meanwhile we are using AI/ML bots to automate trading on the stock markets. They all have triggers, “if this / then that”, if bond yields hit x percent up or down, if company y changes their guidance up or down by y percent, sell all. Crash.

In other words, those of us in the devops and infosec world, hackers, know if an adversary has infiltrated even half this far, its game over. Yank and replace. “Game over dude.”

We have one option in the short term; capitulate. Concede. Because you can’t “rip and replace” everything simultaneously across an unknown number of compromised networks simultaneously when you can’t even identify them. And with APTs in place possibly down to the Silicon chip level, that are just lying in wait, even rip and replace will just get reinfected.

Stuxnet was the greatest malware/hack ever written. The US wrote it. We created Pandora’s box. We reimagined hell. Then left the lid open. The NSA got hacked and our own code has been “reflected” back on us. Since somewhere between 2012 and 2014 initially by my estimation.

All of the stuxnet code and more is now widely available to download for free on the dark web. You could do it today. Fire up VMWare fusion, kali linux, metasploit and an external wifi adapter and your are good to go. Or just use a raspi.

Officially I think notPETYA is still “the most expensive hack in history.” (get it? “think not”? but I digress….)

Unofficially? The Solarwinds hack is the Anvil dropped on the camel’s back that has broken it and brought it to its knees.

Solarwinds will shatter the geopolitical and monetary policy of the United States and the world.

Get your COVID vaccine. Get some popcorn. Watch your 401k and pension funds knowing that one or two edits and they go to zero. And try to wrap your brain around the fact that our military power is second only to financial power, and we are losing that. Any monetary power we have left is because they allow it.

Maybe buy some Bitcoin?

Take some anti anxiety meds. And pull out your Boy Scout handbook and practice setting up that old tent. (Just be careful where you put it in case the upstream dam and levees gates suddenly open up.

And if there is a “deep state”, maybe look externally instead of internally.

Happy 2020.

UPDATE: Further publicly released details available here:
https://us-cert.cisa.gov/ncas/alerts/aa20-352a

Women’s March 2020

On Election Day in 2016 I was living in San Francisco. We were watching the election results come in with my friends at COVO on Mission Street. I was working on a startup and these amazing people welcomed me in.

Quite frankly everyone was in shock that a TV reality show star who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth was elected. I certainly was shocked.

But being a BS Political Science Major I had hope that the man who would occupy the office of the President would rise to the occasion. After all, no one person can be President. You have to surround yourself with good people and listen to them.

When 9-11 happened many wondered if George W would be able to unite us in recovery.

And he did. Damnit.

He rose to the office of the presidency.

Fast forward to 2016: Still I felt shocked and terrified that the electoral college and both political parties had failed us in 2016.

In January after the 2016 election I both marched with the Women’s March and photographed it.

It was peaceful but strong. A clear example of our nation’s long history of peaceful and strong protests.

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

Growing up the son of a Father who was first a Marine, then Army, he served in Vietnam as a Medic. Then got out, went to Medical School and re-upped this time as a Major.

Retired honorably and decorated as an LTC. Buried at Ft. Sam National Cemetery.

Further, my Mother served as an officer in the Army Reserves retiring honorably as a Major. So yes, my “Mom wore combat boots.” And was a qualified marksman like my Dad. I’m proud as heck of them both!

Next… back to our story…

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

There I was in SF trying to raise funds for a robotics startup. And randomly this uninformed TV guy who shares no values at all with the Midwest or Christians of any kind, is talking about “walls” and a “Muslim ban”?!

And people were buying it.

Baroo! Has he ever been to the Bay Area? Or south Texas? Y’all know ranches cross the border, right?

I simply couldn’t imagine a draft-dodger who completely lacked discipline being our Commander in Chief. Because it’s kind of a big deal.

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

As I’ve said many times, I have *not* served in the military.

We had our kids young and the economics weren’t there. Absolutely I registered with selective service in case the country needed me. But at the end of the day – I have not been shot at in the context of war in a foreign land. (Only at a college party in SA. Oh the irony. No bullet holes – because I run fast? I dunno. Lucky I guess. And stupid for being there.)

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

I remember talking at length with one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever worked with, and saying.

“It’s the women. The women are going to have to save us. It’s not fair to dump that on y’all. But I can’t see any other way out of this mess.”

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

At the time I still had hope President Trump would grow into the job, surround himself with good people and listen to them. And I prayed he had the wisdom and knowledge to make wise decisions based on what must be an overwhelmingly complex job.

I felt the same way about President Obama. After all, he wasn’t exactly experienced in the world stage. McCain probably would have gotten my vote. Then “Palin” happened and it was an immediate observation that he was surrounding himself with the wrong people. John McCain was an amazing statesman and a hero in my book. But Palin being one heartbeat away…. I just couldn’t do it.

So here we are.

I for one, knowing the demographics, the actuarial tables, the generational trends (most of which I view as healthy), am hopeful.

I am hopeful for America, the United States of America, primarily because of the women who are rising to power.

This, the rise of women in power, is no threat to me; it is hope. Hope for the country I love.

ICS/DCS Control Systems Aren’t prepared for this. Still.

An ingeniously simple control systems experimental power grid hack attack from 2007. Source:

https://www.wired.com/story/how-30-lines-of-code-blew-up-27-ton-generator/

A protective relay attached to that generator was designed to prevent it from connecting to the rest of the power system without first syncing to that exact rhythm: 60 hertz. But Assante’s hacker in Idaho Falls had just reprogrammed that safeguard device, flipping its logic on its head.

At 11:33 a.m. and 23 seconds, the protective relay observed that the generator was perfectly synced. … It opened a circuit breaker to disconnect the machine.

When the generator was detached from the larger circuit …(and)… relieved of the burden of sharing its energy with that vast system, it instantly began to accelerate, spinning faster, like a pack of horses that had been let loose from its carriage. As soon as the protective relay observed that the generator’s rotation had sped up to be fully out of sync with the rest of the grid, its maliciously flipped logic immediately reconnected it to the grid’s machinery.

The moment the diesel generator was again linked to the larger system, it was hit with the wrenching force of every other rotating generator on the grid. All of that equipment pulled the relatively small mass of the diesel generator’s own spinning components

Yup, it self destructed by reversing the logic of a safety relay. Brilliant and terrifying hack – both.

We are not prepared.

Russia – “unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages”

From the article:

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, said in the Justice Department statement.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-19/u-s-charges-six-russian-intelligence-agents-for-past-hacking/