Grigory Marshalko, worked for the F.S.B. (Blockchain focus)

From the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/29/technology/blockchain-iso-russian-spies.html

SAN FRANCISCO — Last year, representatives of 25 countries met in Tokyo to work on setting international standards for the blockchain, the technology that was introduced by the virtual currency Bitcoin and has ignited intense interest in corporate and government circles.

Some of the technologists at the meeting of the International Standards Organization were surprised when they learned that the head of the Russian delegation, Grigory Marshalko, worked for the F.S.B., the intelligence agency that is the successor to the K.G.B.

They were even more surprised when they asked the F.S.B. agent why the Russians were devoting such resources to the blockchain standards.

“Look, the internet belongs to the Americans — but blockchain will belong to us,” he said, according to one delegate who was there. The Russian added that two other members of his country’s four-person delegation to the conference also worked for the F.S.B.

some bi-partisan good news – uptick in crime is a bump in overall decline

We get plenty of bad news so let’s talk about crime trends again. From the article:

Using the FBI numbers, the (crime) rate fell 50% between 1993 and 2015, the most recent full year available. Using the BJS data, the rate fell by 77% during that span.

Click the image below for actual facts about crime in America (And here’s something to listen to while reading to make it more dramatic.)

Pew Research on Crime Decline in US

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/21/5-facts-about-crime-in-the-u-s/ 

More from the article:

Property crime has declined significantly over the long term. Like the violent crime rate, the U.S. property crime rate today is far below its peak level. FBI data show that the rate fell 48% between 1993 and 2015, while BJS reports a decline of 69% during that span.

and then there is the disparity created by the advertising supported media that influences our brains. We are gullible.

Public perceptions about crime in the U.S. often don’t align with the data. Opinion surveys regularly find that Americans believe crime is up, even when the data show it is down.

Although it’s not all good.

Many crimes are not reported to police. In its annual survey, BJS asks victims of crime whether or not they reported that crime to police. In 2015, the most recent year available, only about half of the violent crime tracked by BJS (47%) was reported to police.

Bottom line? Stay thirsty for the facts my friends. We can’t always drink the kool aid. Or the same thing. Stay thirsty for knowledge because knowledge is power.

There is no media really, only advertisers selling scary stories in the media. People Tweet alt-official-news, fake news or real news alike. So I think it’s healthy to point out (again) a few positive overall societal trends we are experiencing.

#peace

Prince was a Trickster

Prince was a trickster, the best kind of god for social scientists and apparently the verge agrees as well. There are numerous books on this, the last I read was called Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art.

Tricksters have always been with us

Are they tricksters or merely pranksters? That is up to you to discern, but that is the point, right? They stole the sun and the moon while we “took the time to watch the flowers in the garden” while doing yoga.

As one review of the book Trickster by Lleu Christophe points out

Hyde gives equal time to the Native American Coyote, the Chinese Monkey King and India’s Krishna. At first glance, these characters are merely pranksters; humorous, sometimes annoying and occasionally dangerous ne’er do wells who disrupt the normal flow of things. As the title of this book suggests, Hyde believes tricksters are much more than this. He makes a convincing case that tricksters are essential in both preserving and transforming societies. Without their disruptions, cultural stagnation would result. He points out that tricksters can either help to maintain the status quo or bring about radical transformation.

To quote two of my favorite tricksters, Pablo Picasso and DuChamp,

Everything you can imagine is real. – Pablo Picasso

Now to quote DuChamp, an artist who “refused to repeat himself”, now that is a challenge. Every quote is subjectively abrogated by another quote from the past or the future like the a religious text – was it situationally appropriate? DuChamp stated this himself.

I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste. – Marcel Duchamp

To ponder that, if a trickster’s response is situationally appropriate is in and of itself a huge trick. Did in fact the Raven steal the sun and the moon, one, or both? Perhaps more importantly, we all know that Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole.

As for DuChamp, you can reinvent, but it takes energy to constantly come up with a unique identity. DuChamp still needed a vehicle to wrap the thread around, a thread to follow back out of the woods if he got lost.

To begin to understand Duchamp takes someone way smarter than me. I choose to view his work like the bobbin of time.  We are just the blameless victim of observation. Maybe the thread broke, or maybe thread did not break. At least a cat didn’t die in the discovery process. right? Regardless like the genius before his time that he was, Duchamp gave us Rrose Sélavy to at least provide one example guide, like the math equations with odd numbers solved in the back of our calculus books, so that we might oddly enough, solve the evens.

marcel-duchamp-rose

These threads are strings. The strings are wrapped around bobbins of tricks and truth. And these bobbins are not the tiny bobbins that went in your parents’ sewing machines. These strings are the messy bobbins of someone working a weave. The bobbins are large with varied widths and inconsistencies from the vagaries of human behavior and therefore our resulting inconsistent craftsmanship.

bobbins for weaving
weaving bobbins

Damn the Industrial Revolution! Of course ManRay was there for DuChamp to accommodate the birth of the DuChamp’s trickster alter ego – Rrose Sélavy:

Rrose Sélavy, the feminine alter ego created by Marcel Duchamp, is one of the most complex and pervasive pieces in the enigmatic puzzle of the artist’s oeuvre. She first emerged in portraits made by the photographer Man Ray in New York in the early 1920s, when Duchamp and Man Ray were collaborating on a number of conceptual photographic works. Rrose Sélavy lived on as the person to whom Duchamp attributed specific works of art, Readymades, puns, and writings throughout his career.

Is the Trickster dead? Well one of the greatest tricksters of all time, we just lost in Prince.  I must point out the brilliance: Die Antwood, the collaboration between  “rappers Ninja and Yolandi Visser (often stylized as Vi$$er) and DJ Hi-Tek” (source)

To get a straight stand alone “test-of-time quote” from DuChamp I imagine would be like  trying to get a straight answer from Die Antwood, some of the most brilliant tricksters to emerge in years.. Their collaboration makes no sense, until you realize they’re fucking with you.

They. Are. Fucking. With. You.

 

And the most guilty of all, of fucking with us, is Prince. So let’s go crazy because he already predicted it. Partying like it’s 1999 was stolen from us by a bunch of computer nerds warning about the two-digit date big. We have NEVER partied like it was 1999.

You know what we can do? We can and should go crazy. If you aren’t already there yet, join us, because we look the same as you, act the same, obey the law and act ethically, but I am told there is an ethos that emerges when you “go crazy”. I don’t know, I’m not there yet, but it is a worthy topic of discussion.

Lyrics to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy from

 

fecundity

smiley-face-against-the-badIt is easy to observe, notice, and complain about a problem. It is much much harder to find solutions.

Yet, if a solution is well researched and historically validated, only a fool would not work to solve it. Right? Hence my repost of a quote from a brilliant writer, a problem solver, a man who I also consider a friend.

In this complex clash of civilizations, evolutionary biology offers a multi-million-year-old lesson on how to stop death by social media: fecundity. The good guys must simply and decisively overwhelm the bad guys with good information. The good information must be programmed better than the bad information, and it must be propagated in overwhelming amounts. We can select the social media world we want to live in and social-engineer our way back to safety.

WARNING: A warning to the two or three people who read this blog –  the quote above is a positive quote. An excerpt. But the link to Shelly’s blog on death by social media is a link to a brutally frank post. I am quoting the solution Shelly is telling us because I agree with him. He is correct. Just be aware if you click over to his post it does contain some rather disturbing observations.

What is Mr. Palmer’s point?  Briefly, that you and I are doing it wrong, And we have the power fix it..

We must overwhelm the world with positivity. Forget the world of “if it bleeds it leads” which is so prevalent. Those media channels advertising shows won’t change, but we can and should overwhelm them with the positive.

Thus, even though it is disturbing post on the brutal reality of social media and it’s sometimes deadly outcomes, hopefully you will click over. Because we need to do this. Because it is real. Because the current reality must stop. Because the positive must prevail.

Passion, openness and naïvete are superior to

“Passion, openness and naïvete are superior to hypocrisy, cunning and a contrived decency that conceals crimes. The state’s leaders stand with saintly expressions in church but, in their deceit, their sins are far greater than ours.“

– Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Pussy Riot

“You’re asking if he is a Sicilian.“

The Don had not seemed surprised when Hagen returned from California late tuesday evening and told him the results of the negotiations with Woltz. He had made Hagen go over every detail and grimaced with distaste when Hagen told about the beautiful little girl and her mother. Had had murmured “infamita,“ his strongest disapproval. He had asked Hagen one final question, “does this man have real balls?“

Hagen considered exactly when the Don meant by this question. Over the years he had learned that the Don’s values were so different from those of most people that his words also could have a different meaning. Did Woltz have character? Did he have a strong will? He most certainly didn’t, but that was not what the Don was asking. Did the movie producer have the courage not to be bluffed? Did he have the willingness to suffer heavy financial loss delay on his movies would mean, the scandal of his big star exposed as a user of heroin? Again the answer was yes. But again this was not what the Don meant. Finally Hagen translated the question properly in his mind. Did Jack woltz have the balls to risk everything, to run the chance of losing all on a matter of principle, on a matter of honor; for revenge?

Hagen smiled. He did it rarely but now but he could not resist jesting with the Don. “You’re asking if he is a Sicilian.“ The Don nodded his head pleasantly, acknowledging the flattering witticism and its truth. “No,“ Hagen said.

That had been all. The Don had pondered the question until the next day. on Wednesday afternoon he had called Hagen to his home and given him his instructions. The instructions had consumed the rest of Hagen’s working day and left him dazed with admiration. There was no question in his mind that the Don had solved the problem, that Woltz would call him this morning with the news that Johnny Fontane had the starring part in his new war movie.

At that moment the phone did ring but it was Amerigo Bonasera. The undertaker’s voice was trembling with gratitude. He wanted Hagen to convey to the Don his undying friendship. the Don had only to call on him. He, amerigo Bonasera, would lay down his life for the blessed Godfather. Hagen assured him that the Don would be told.

The Daily News had carried a middle-page spread of Jerry Wagner and Kevin Moonan lying in the street. The photos were expertly gruesome, they seemed to be pulps of human beings. Miraculously, said the News, they were both still alive though they would both be in the hospital for months and would require plastic surgery. Hagen made a note to tell Clemenza that something should be done for Paulie Gatto. He seemed to know his job.

Hagen worked quickly and efficiently for the next three hours consolidating earning reports from the Don’s real estate company, his olive oil importing business and his construction firm. None of them were doing well but with the war over they should all become rich producers. He had almost forgotten the Johnny Fontaine problem when his secretary told him California was calling. He felt a little thrill of anticipation as he picked up the phone and said, “Hagen here.“

The voice that came over the phone was unrecognizable with hate and passion. “You fucking bastard,“ Woltz screamed. “I’ll have you all in jail for a hundred years. I’ll spend every penny I have to get you. I’ll get that Johnny Fontane’s balls cut off, do you hear me, you guinea fuck?“

Hagan said kindly, “I’m German-Irish.“ There was a long pause and then a click of the phone being hung up. Hagen smiled. Not once had Woltz uttered a threat against Don Corleone himself. Genius had its rewards.

Jack Woltz always slept alone. He had a bed big enough for ten people and a bedroom large enough for a movie ballroom scene, but he had slept alone since the death of his first wife ten years before. This did not mean he no longer used women. He was physically a vigorous man despite his age, but he could be aroused not by only very young girls and had learned that a few hours in the evening were all the youth his body and his patience could tolerate.

On this Thursday morning, for some reason, he awoke early. The light of dawn made his huge bedroom as misty as a foggy meadowland. Far down at the foot of his bed was a familiar shape and Woltz struggled up on his elbows to get a clearer look. It had the shape of a horse’s head. Still groggy. Woltz reached and flicked on the night table lamp.

The shock of what he saw made him physically ill. It seemed as if a great sledgehammer had struck him on the chest, his heartbeat jumped erratically and he became nauseous. His vomit splattered on the thick bear rug.

Severed from its body, the black silky head of the great horse Khartoum was stuck fast in a thick cake of blood. White, reedy tendons showed. Froth covered the muzzle and those apple-sized eyes that had glinted like gold, were mottled the color of rotting fruit with dead, hemorrhaged blood. Woltz was struck by a purely animal terror and out of the terror he screamed for his servants and out of the terror he called Hagen to make his uncontrolled threats. His maniacal raving alarmed the butler, who called Woltz’s personal physician and his second in command at the studio. But Woltz regained his senses before they arrived.

He had been profoundly shocked. What kind of man could destroy an animal worth six hundred thousand dollars? Without a word of warning. Without any negotiation to have the act, its order, countermanded. The ruthlessness, the sheer disregard for any values, implied a man who considered himself completely his own law, even his own God. And a man who backed up this kind of will with the power and cunning that held his own stable security force of no account. For by this time Woltz had learned that the horse’s body had obviously been heavily drugged before someone leisurely hacked the huge triangular head off with an ax. The men on night duty claimed that they had heard nothing. To Woltz this seemed impossible. The could be made to talk. They had been bought off and they could be made to tell who had done the buying.

Woltz was not a stupid man, he was merely a supremely egotistical one. He had mistaken the power he wielded in his world to be more potent than the power of Don Corleone. He had merely needed some proof that this was not true. He understood this message. That despite all his wealth, despite all his contacts with the President of the United States, despite all his claims of friendship with director of the FBI, an obscure importer of Italian olive oil would have him killed. would actually have him killed! Because he wouldn’t give Johnny Fontane a movie part he wanted. It was incredible. People didn’t have any right to act that way. There couldn’t be any kind of world if people acted that way. It was insane. It meant you couldn’t do what you wanted with your own money, with the companies you owned , the power you had to give orders. It was ten times worse than communism. It had to be smashed. It must never be allowed.

Woltz let the doctor give him a very mild sedation. It helped him calm down again and to think sensibly. What really shocked him was the casualness with which this man Corleone had ordered the destruction of a world-famous horse worth six hundred thousand dollars. Six hundred thousand dollars! And that was just for openers. Woltz shuddered. He thought of this life he had built up. He was rich. He could have the most beautiful women in the world by crooking his finger and promising a contract. He was received by kings and queens. He lived a life as perfect as money and power could make it. It was crazy to risk all this because of a whim. Maybe he could get to Corleone. What was the legal penalty for killing a racehorse? He laughed wildly and his doctor and servants watched him with nervous anxiety. Another thought occurred to him. He would be the laughingstock of California merely because someone had contemptuously defied his power in such arrogant fashion. That decided him. That and the thought that maybe, maybe they wouldn’t kill him. That they had something much more clever and painful in reserve.

Woltz gave the necessary orders. His personal confidential staff swung into action. The servants and the doctor were sworn to secrecy on pain of incurring the studio’s and Woltz’ undying enmity. Word was given to the press that the racehorse Khartoum had died of an illness contracted during his shipment from England. Orders were given to bury the remains in a secret place on the estate.

Six hours later Johnny Fontane received a phone call from the executive producer of the film telling him to report for work the following Monday.

– from “The Godfather“
Mario Puzo

friday the 13th & a lucky black cat (good or bad?)

a black cat crossing your path

From wikipedia on black cats crossing your path:

The folklore surrounding black cats varies from culture to culture. In Great Britain and in Ireland, black cats are a symbol of good luck. The Scottish believe that a strange black cat’s arrival to the home signifies prosperity. In Celtic mythology, a fairy known as the Cat Sìth takes the form of a black cat. Black cats are also considered good luck in Japan.[3] Furthermore, it is believed that a lady who owns a black cat will have many suitors.[4] However in Western history, black cats have often been looked upon as a symbol of evil omens, specifically being suspected of being the familiars of witches, and so most of western and southern Europe considers the black cat as a symbol of bad luck, especially if one crosses paths with a person, which is believed to be an omen of misfortune and death. In Germany, some believe that black cats crossing a person’s path from right to left, is a bad omen. But from left to right, the cat is granting favorable times.[5]

ensure that every convoy has ground security and air cover

“In Iraq, a U.S. military spokesman says every step in the withdrawal is a “deliberate operation in which we collect intelligence, coordinate with the Iraqi Security Forces, clear routes and ensure that every convoy has ground security and air cover.””

CNN

We want our troops home SAFE! And on Thanksgiving I give thanks to those who have served. Thank you!

I get why people are so angry

“I get why people are so angry at seeing Christmas commercials and why petitions are starting left and right and why regular, educated, hard-working Americans are taking to the streets to occupy and lend their voices to the movement.

These people are normal. They have kids and dogs and jobs that they’ve held for 17 years. They work in the lowest-paid but highest-required degree social institutions and donate money to social injustice to help other people. They take care of their sick parents. They help other people when they can by sending them to community organizations or by just paying a light bill. They do the best they know how to do. They never think they were going to end up here.

At least I didn’t think I would.”

(source)

WTC Rebuilding

We will rebuild. And we’re almost done.
2011 05 WTC Rebuilding
2011 05 WTC Rebuilding

Note: these photos are from May of 2011. I’m sure even more is complete now. Whoooop!

the greatest book of all time

“The poetry. it is outstanding. brilliant. fun. did i say outstanding? yeah. i am going to go out on a limb here. are you ready? sheen has produced the greatest book of all time. did i say the greatest book of all time? yes. the greatest book of poetry of all time? nope. the greatest book of all time.”

(Via RadamesO)

pirates mock the notion that the U.S. is a superpower

Above all, the pirates mock the notion that the U.S. is a superpower, as a bunch of young men, riding tiny boats, lightly armed, seem unstoppable.

All we need to do is declare that for ships on the high sea, a 300-yard radius around the vessels is a limited access zone. Anybody closing in farther without permission will be assumed to be hostile. (source)

and a little on the First Barbary War

In 1795 Algeria came to an agreement with the United States that resulted in the release of 115 sailors they held, at the cost of over $1 million. This amount totaled about one sixth of the entire United States budget,[8] and this amount was demanded as tribute by the Barbary States to prevent further piracy. The continuing demand for tribute ultimately led to the formation of the United States Department of the Navy, founded in 1798[9] in order to prevent further piracy attacks upon American shipping as well as to end the extremely large demand for tribute from the Barbary States.

What changed?

instructions for the protest were clearly disseminated on facebook

Instructions for the protest were clearly disseminated on Facebook: Stand 5 feet apart, so as not to break Egyptian laws against public demonstration; be absolutely silent; no signs; wear black, as determined in an online vote; stand on the banks of the river or sea for one hour only, then walk away.

No one yet knew who had organized this protest against police brutality. There were five Facebook page administrators, tech-savvy activists who didn’t really know each other.

(source)

Egypt Social Media Activity Unexpectedly Small

I have been digging into the background story on the 2011 revolution in Egypt. Follow that last link for a good recap of how the police beating of Khaled Said created a maelstrom that has turned into massive protests and labor strikes in Egypt. A man named Wael Ghonim has emerged as a symbol of the revolution in Egypt after his CNN Interview as a rebuttal of Omar Suleiman, the General now promoted to a VP, did an interview with ABC News.

Regarding the politics of Mubarak’s autocracy, I think we can agree on some fundamentals:

  1. The killing of Khaled Said was unjustified and horrible.
  2. The government response to these allegations in Egypt was insufficient.
  3. The protests are right to object to 30 years of “Emergency Rule
  4. Mubarak should step down immediately
  5. The US historical support for Mubarak, while unlike the situation with the Shah in Iran, will likely not win us many friends in post-Mubarak Egypt.
  6. Social media has played a key role in the protests as evidenced by the Internet blackout implemented by the government.

Wait. I’m not so sure about number 6. The role of social media is unclear.

Working in social media I was curious and looked up the facebook group and the twitter accounts. What struck me was that for a country with a population of 77 Million, the page and the twitter account have relatively few followers. Right now Wael Ghonim on twitter has 46,035 followers

and the Khalid Said page on Facebook has 61,687 fans

Both of those numbers seem small to me given the scope of the protests. My first thought was “you must be looking at the wrong page. Surely there is an arabic page that is the real FB connector. I emailed a politically active Egyptian friend (Fayza!) and her response was:

I think that’s probably as good as you’re going to get. It’s a very active page, so my guess is that it’s the best resource for his supporters that Facebook has to offer. Lots of Egyptians speak fluent English because of the prevalence of tourism. It doesn’t surprise me that the primary FB presence is in English at all.

Perhaps Gladwell is right that the Revolution will not be tweeted. When Gladwell in his post talks about networks he says:

The drawbacks of networks scarcely matter if the network isn’t interested in systemic change””if it just wants to frighten or humiliate or make a splash””or if it doesn’t need to think strategically. But if you’re taking on a powerful and organized establishment you have to be a hierarchy.

So either social media isn’t the huge driver for change, or it is a very small subset of the population communicating through social media that is facilitating the action. But you certainly can’t say that hundreds of thousands are responding to direct tweets with a central call to action.

So to me the role of social media in the revolution is still a conundrum. And as I type this, it looks like the rumors of him stepping down tonight on 2/10/2011 were false.

More to follow….

V for Vendetta

Interesting to me that the movie V for Vendetta was the motivation for this and this hero both. Synopsis:

Tells the story of Evey Hammond and her unlikely but instrumental part in bringing down the fascist government that has taken control of a futuristic Great Britain. Saved from a life-and-death situation by a man in a Guy Fawkes mask who calls himself V, she learns a general summary of V’s past and, after a time, decides to help him bring down those who committed the atrocities that led to Britain being in the shape that it is in. Written by ameelmore

New to me anyway.

elites trust government more. nobody else does.

An interesting rebuttal of the release of this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer on the PRSA blog by Elliott Schreiber:

These data may be factual for the elite, but they may be the continuing “fuel on the fire“ for those who feel they are on the bottom looking up. On the other side of the political spectrum, the Democrats continue focusing on social inequities, and have made many corporations and CEOs their “poster children“ for greed. This doesn’t occur without strong support from the electorate.
(source)

via PRSA.org